To: The Editor of The Times,
Address: Printing House Square, LONDON.
Date: November 1967
Before closing the latest chapter of Aden’s history, I should be glad if you
would allow me to pay tribute to the British Servicemen who have kept the
peace in South Arabia and kept the terrorists in check in Aden State for the past
four years of the Emergency since December 1963.
I have no doubt there are many expatriate civilians like myself who have
lived and worked in Aden recently and who will share the gratitude I feel to the
young soldiers, marines and airmen who provided us with constant protection
from the bomb-throwers and gunmen as we went about our daily lives in the
town. For the most part we were enabled to continue our work, do our shopping
and enjoy our leisure safe in the knowledge that alert and capable troops were
within call at every street corner and on watch at countless roadblocks up and
down the busy streets.
When the floods took us by surprise in the Spring, broke all our
communications and put half the town under water, the Servicemen went
swiftly and selflessly to our aid to repair the homes, roads and equipment that
had been damaged and to clear up the mess in the streets. Countless numbers
of the Adeni Arab population shared the benefits and the law and order that we
enjoyed in those days and must now in their hearts regret bitterly the departure
of the British Army and Air Force.
Many expatriates will I feel sure appreciate the admiration that I experienced
for the competence, good sense and energy of these young men who controlled
the terrorist threat with a careful balance of firmness and patience, of technical
skill and warm good humour. They raised the business of internal security to a
perfect science, although it must often have been tedious work and sometimes
very dangerous. The occasional examples of bad behaviour among the troop of
which we heard were merely the exceptions that tended to prove the rule of a consistent high standard of conduct.
It is unfashionable to talk of loyalty and of patriotism, but in doing an
unsavoury, difficult and hazardous job to the best of their ability and for no
special reward or recognition our troops in Aden displayed a high sense of duty
and qualities in the best traditions of the Services.
It has been perhaps a sordid little struggle in a shabby corner of the old
empire of which we are more than half ashamed, but numerous Regiments who
have done a spell in Aden in the past four years have enhanced their reputation
and won new honour for the courageous and above all efficient conduct of their
young men there. That they could gain no conclusive victory over the terrorists
was no fault of theirs.
It would, however, be an added shame on the British public if, in the
indignity of hurried withdrawal, we were to forget the debt that is owed to our
Servicemen for working so well and honourably in their attempt to keep the
peace and keep the place together in its last years as a colony.