Sir Humphrey Trevelyan

Sir Humphrey Trevelyan 1967 at Khormaksar Airmen's Quarters. Trevelyan was widely regarded as an outstanding diplomat coming from the generation that was obliged to cope with the immense difficulties of Britain's disengagement from empire. He had something of a reputation of dealing with the difficulties of the Middle East, having come through Suez relatively unscathed and also dealt with the chaotic situation in Iraq of the 1950s.

In May 1967 the foreign secretary, George Brown, persuaded Trevelyan to come out of retirement for one last assignment, as high commissioner to Aden. Trevelyan's task was to oversee Britain's withdrawal from the south-west Arabian peninsula, leaving behind an independent government which could ensure stability. 'Poor man,' said Harold Macmillan on hearing of the appointment. The situation was so dangerous--with the British caught in fighting between the Front for the Liberation of South Yemen (which was backed by Nasser's Egypt) and the National Liberation Front--that his wife was not allowed to accompany him. Tensions became even more aggravated following Israel's humiliation of Egypt in the Six Day War of June. Tired of British soldiers being killed by political gangs, Trevelyan visited London early in September and secured ministerial approval for Britain fixing a date for leaving, whatever the internal situation. He and the last British troops duly left Aden on 29 November as the military band played, to the delight of the press, 'fings ain't what they used to be'.

In the following year he was created a life peer, as Baron Trevelyan, of St Veep.

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by Stephen Luscombe