Trevaskis was a career diplomat who had served in Northern Rhodesia and the Horn of Africa before transferring to the Aden protectorate as a political officer of the Western Aden protectorate in 1951. He became deputy British agent in 1952 and adviser and British agent in 1954. He was in an environment, essentially Muslim, where his experience, personal qualities, and sympathies were at home.
His first success was the inauguration on 11 February 1959 of the Federation of South Arabia, for which he was appointed CMG. Three years later, largely due to the diplomatic skills of Trevaskis, exercised in fluent Arabic, Aden agreed to join the federation, a necessity if the federation were to cease to be economically dependent on Great Britain. Trevaskis became high commissioner on 16 August 1963 and was advanced to KCMG.
Trevaskis worked tirelessly with the colonial secretary to bring the Aden-South Arabia Federation to a successful birth. This policy was bitterly opposed by President Nasser of Egypt. In fact, a hand grenade was thrown at Trevaskis at Aden airport in December 1963; two lives were lost, and he himself was wounded.
The efforts at Federation were aborted in late 1964 due to the general election result. It was won by the Labour Party who were hostile to attempts to maintain British influence east of Suez, and to 'feudal and reactionary' rulers such as those envisioned in the Arabian peninsular.
Anthony Greenwood, Labour's new colonial secretary, summoned Trevaskis home. While he waited to see the new minister, his successor, Sir Richard Turnbull, was being dispatched to Aden. It was felt by the Labour party that Sir Richard Turnbull might be a better bet to prepare Aden for independence. This was all done in secret with not a word being leaked to the press until the transition had been made. Trevaskis had his commission terminated on 23 November 1964.
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