The 1967 Aden Mutiny: A Detailed Account of the Arab Police Rebellion

The South Arabian Army (SAA), formed by amalgamating the Federal Army and the Federal Guard, was a formidable force in the mid-1960s, comprising approximately 15,000 troops. This army was equipped with its own artillery, armour, and engineers.

Initially led by British officers, the command structure underwent a significant change in 1967 as Arab officers took over in anticipation of British withdrawal.

However, the loyalty of the SAA was uncertain, with many soldiers being covert supporters of FLOSY (Front for the Liberation of South Yemen) and the NLF (National Liberation Front).

In June 1967, the Arab world faced a monumental setback when Nasser's Egyptian Army was decisively defeated by the Israeli forces in the Six Day War. This event strained the already tense relations between the Arab populace in Aden and the British, as there was a widespread belief that Britain, along with the United States, had supported Israel in the conflict.

The Aden Mutiny was triggered on the night of 19th June 1967. It began when members of The Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, who were watching the film "The Battle of the Bulge" at a cinema, heard gunfire and rushed to their barracks at Waterloo Lines to secure the area. The following morning, Arab soldiers at Lake Lines mutinied, setting fire to their barracks. This mutiny was prompted by the suspension of three Arab colonels and exacerbated by internal tribal rivalries within the SAA.

The mutiny escalated as Arab soldiers at Champion Lines broke into the armoury, leading to violent tribal confrontations. The situation deteriorated with the Arab and British officers of the SAA barricading themselves in the camp guardroom, while Arab soldiers began firing into the nearby Waterloo Lines.

The mutiny further intensified when a truck carrying men of 60 Squadron came under heavy machine gun fire from SAA troops, resulting in the deaths of eight Royal Corps of Transport members. Reverend Robin Roe, the chaplain of the 1st Battalion Lancashire Regiment, displayed extraordinary bravery under fire, rescuing wounded survivors and earning the Military Cross for his heroism.

During their tour in Aden, the 1st Battalion Lancashire also lost Rod Blenkarn and Charlie Roberts to sniper and grenade attacks, respectively.

C Company of the 1st Battalion King's Own Royal Border Regiment, led by Major David Miller and supported by the Queens Dragoon Guards, was tasked with quelling the mutiny at Champion Lines. Despite coming under fire, which resulted in one British soldier killed and eight wounded, the troops maintained discipline and successfully disarmed the mutinous Arab soldiers without further bloodshed. Major Miller was awarded the Military Cross for his leadership.

Meanwhile, the Arab Police in Crater, alarmed by the escalating violence, armed themselves and took strategic positions. A patrol led by Lieutenant John Davis of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers faced a deadly ambush in Crater, with Davis and his team disappearing under heavy fire.

As the situation in Crater worsened, 2nd Lt. John Shaw of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers led a patrol into the area, only to encounter intense resistance. The patrol faced heavy gunfire, with a Sioux helicopter sent for support being shot down, though the crew and soldiers survived.

The day concluded with a tragic toll of 22 British soldiers dead, and Crater falling under the control of armed Arab insurgents and the police.

In response to the escalating violence, Col. Blenkinsop of the Northumberland Fusiliers and Col. Mitchell of the Argyll Sutherland Highlanders sought permission for a combined attack to retake Crater. However, the decision was made to seal off Crater instead of engaging directly, leading to the deployment of 45 Commando and the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers in strategic positions.

The next day, Cpl Terry Beal of 9 Plat Y company was critically wounded by a sniper, but miraculously survived and recovered after being flown back to England.