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British Military Operations in Aden and Radfan (Hardback)

100 Years of British Colonial Rule

Military > Post-WWII Warfare P&S History WWI > By Year > 1915

By Nick Van der Bijl
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 250
ISBN: 9781783032914
Published: 3rd November 2014



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The book examines the military history of Aden Colony from 1839 including the fractious turn of the century Border Commissions with Turkey and the defeat of British forces near Aden by the Turks in 1915. Great Britain successfully defended the base for the rest of The Great War and throughout the Second World War.

The period after 1945 was one of rising tension as Great Britain drew down its Imperial commitments from the Near and Middle East. Britain's intention to retain a military base in Aden was rejected by Egypt, who, having embarrassed Great Britain during the 1956 Suez Crisis, set about supporting Yemeni aspirations with subversion, in concert with the Soviet Union and China. This led to Aden coming under increasing pressure from Yemeni nationalism during the late 1950 and early 1960s. When an attempt was made to murder the British High Commissioner, a State Emergency was declared. Initially, while operations were confined to the mountainous Radfan region near the border, the internal security of Aden became increasingly fragile as nationalists escalated attacks on the Security Forces and Service dependants with grenade, shootings and bomb attacks in the narrow streets.

When the British declared that they would leave in 1967, the British forces were caught up in inter-factional fighting with 20 June 1967 proving a black day with twenty British soldiers murdered. This led to the famous occupation of Crater district by Lt Col 'Mad Mitch' Mitchell and his Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. By November that year, after conducting a masterly withdrawal in contact, the British left Aden for good.

This book does what it says in the title: it gives a reasonably detailed overview of British military operations in South Arabia up to the withdrawal from Aden.
There is much useful detail, particularly in the final years.

The British-Yemeni Society Journal

A fascinating book on a neglected topic.

Britain At War

Very interesting and entertaining.

Military Archive Research

The author has established a reputation for finely drawn reviews of 'small wars' and this new book is a worthy addition to his portfolio. The territories at the south end of the Suez canal were very important to the British communications between the home country and the huge colonial areas East of Suez. This was particularly true in the age of sail and the early age of steam when a safe base in the area was important for vessels coming round Cape of Good Hope and then through the Suez canal when it opened. The author traces the long period of colonial rule and its ending during the dash from Empire that followed the end of WWII. It was a period where the US and the USSR both put pressure on the British Empire, the USSR as part of its plan for world domination and the US as part of its plan to take over markets previously enjoyed by Britain and its Empire. A well written account, illustrated by an interesting photo plate section.


About Nick Van der Bijl

Nick van der Bijl is a former soldier. He has written numerous books including Nine Battles to Stanley, Victory in the Falklands, Operation BANNER, Confrontation and The Cyprus Emergency. He lives at Mark, Somerset.

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