After 128 years of imperial rule, the
British withdrawal from Aden in 1967
was a sombre and unpleasant affair. Instead
of cheering crowds, the streets of
shuttered shops echoed only to the roar
of armoured cars and the whine and
rattle of rooftop gun battles between the
rival Arab contenders for political power.
And at Khormaksar Airfield, scene of
the biggest airlift operation since that of
Berlin in 1948, exploding mortar-bombs
sped the 16,000 departing British servicemen
and their families on their way.
Relinquishing their tough peacekeeping
role, the Royal Marine Commandos
embarked by sea on November
28. On the same day the High Commissioner,
Sir Humphrey Trevelyan, flew off
by helicopter to H.M.S. Eagle without a
hint of ceremony - just a terse message of
"happiness and prosperity" to the new
People's Republic of South Yemen of
which Aden was now a part. The question
of future British financial aid for the new
state was left politely in abeyance. Union
Jacks' still flying bravely over military
depots were hauled down for the last
time at sunset on November 29 and rearguards
and the men holding the perimeter
of Khormaksar Airfield finally flew out.
This picture shows A helicopter airlifting military baggage and stores from Steamer Point to a waiting aircraft carrier during the final stages of the British withdrawal from Aden.
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