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Aden and Bahrain 1956

1st Battalion News: (Back Badge, December 1956)

April 1956: The journey from Kenya to Aden was made by air. The last night in Kenya was spent in an RAF aircraft hangar at Eastleigh. Brigadier C.H.P. Harrington, DSO, OBE, MC, commander of our Brigade, was there to bid the Battalion farewell. The Battalion flew to Khormasksar, Aden and went under canvas at the RAF camp there. The main Battalion responsibility was Internal Security duties within the colony, with two companies stationed at the Little Aden. Another company was based at an outpost at Mukeiras in the Western Protectorate on the Yemen border. "D" Company were only in Aden for a short time, in transit for Bahrain; they were joined there by "C" Company in June. The CO flew to Bahrain on 25th August and that afternoon "A" and "B" Companies embarked on HMS Kenya, bound for Sharjah in the Trucial Oman States. HMS Kenya then returned to Aden and brought up the HQ and Support Companies.

Company Reports: (Back Badge, December 1956)

HQ Company: "After a series of air-lifts the Company gathered itself together in Singapore Lines and there sweated out the hottest months of the Aden summer. The only real "flap" saw a platoon standing on guard at the Hedjaff power station; the threat was enough and not one rock was thrown in anger. Life in Singapore Lines was not pleasant and it was almost with relief that the news spread that we were to make another move. We sailed from Little Aden in HMS Kenya and after a hot and crowded voyage lasting three days we disembarked and were billeted in a block of flats. The flats, however, had not been completed and the imagined comforts had not yet been installed."

Intelligence Section: "Since arrival in Aden the Intelligence Section has been reduced to one officer and one clerk. Lieut. Yeaman continued to preside and Pte. Dominy. Sergt. Godwin has moved to the 3-inch Mortars. The Intelligence Tent in Singapore Lines possessed the only telephone in the vicinity and also provided very welcome hospitality to weary officers seeking refuge from the sun. Often, though, it was empty due to its extreme vulnerability to sand-storms or because both of its occupants were busy loading aircracft for the relief of the Mukeiras companies. In Bahrain we live in the utmost luxury. Outside the main door stands a special guard with red turban and bayonet fixed."

MT Platoon: "Lieut. Gilmore has taken over command of the Platoon with Sergt. Buckley as his 2 i/c. On arrival in Aden we took over about a hundred assorted vehicles, some of which were very far from reliable. Driving in Aden had certain hazards not encountered so frequently at home, and we were warned that any hand signal given by an Arab driver bore no relation to what he was really going to do, throw in large numbers of jay walking goats and camel carts without lights of any sort; also it became apparent that the "dip" switch on every vehicle was removed on entering the Colony! And so we come to Bahrain; some of our vehicles were brought with us from Aden. We were intrigued to see some old Daimler armoured cars, but we understand that they are the property of the local ruler."

Signal Platoon: "On arrival in Aden Capt. Allison gave up the platoon after two years in command, and handed over to Lieut. Henderson. One of our main tasks was to establish a link to the companies at Mukeiras. Whilst in Aden, Pte Hutton past his driving test on a motor cycle at 1000 hrs and was involved in his first accident at 1200 hrs; is this a record? Fortunately there was no serious result. In Bahrain we shall have to concentrate on morse to try and establish a link with "A" and "B" Companies, 400 miles away in Sharjah.

"A" Company: "For the first few weeks in Aden we were under canvas at the RAF Camp at Khormaksar, where we received the first draft of new arrivals from the UK. Towards the end of May the Company moved to Mukerias to join "B" Company and build sangars whilst battling with dust storms which hit the camp daily. Eventually "B" Company moved to Little Aden and we were left to run the camp alone. Later the Company was relieved by "Sp" Company and we moved to the air-conditioned and luxurious surroundings of Little Aden. We were there for two months. Towards the end of August we received an order to make a quick move to an unkown destination in the Persian Gulf. After an enjoyable three day voyage with the Royal Navy we found ourselves ashore at a place called Dubai in the Trucial Oman States. Our destination was 12 miles away at an RAF camp at Sharjah. Here we are agreeably surprised to find air-conditioned buildings waiting for us, with plenty of opportunities for football, cricket and swimming and a cinema show three times a week. Capt. A.E. Strange has gone to "B" Company and CSM Boyce to HQ Company. Their places have been taken by Major W.L.D. Morris and CSM Hall."

"B" Company: "We arrived in Aden at the end of April, and were greeted with the news that we were to be on detachment at Mukeiras. By 0400 hrs on the third day we were on a plane for the 30 minute flight to the borders of the Aden Protectorate and Yemen Territory. Mukeiras is about 3000 yards from the border, but the Yemeni are not always of the same opinion. By mid-day the whole Company, together with a platoon of "A" Company, commanded by 2nd Lieut. Brereton, had arrived at the tented camp. Having settled in we resigned ourselves to a six week stay and set to work and fortified our camp with sangars placed in strategic positions around the perimeter and walls, to protect the tents. Cookhouses and ablutions were etected by civilian labour, electric light and refrigerators were installed. During all of these we were continually attacked by sandstorms. We soon made friends with the local Naib, a most hospitable and cheerful man. There was only one hostile incident during our stay at Mukeiras. At about 2000 hrs one moonlit evening a shot was fired in the direction of an officer, who had just left his tent. It was action stations and in a very short time everyone was in position; but nothing more happened. After three weeks we were joined by the main body of "A" Company. The two Companies visited the town of Mukeiras to watch a traditional dance. Not to be outdone, at the end the lads, led by CSM Walker on drums, demonstrated the Congo. The Arabs were delighted and local good will was firmly established. At last we left our desert out-post and went to Little Aden. This is about 20 miles from Aden and is the home of the British petroleum technicians. We were welcomed and everyone was most kind to us. At the end of July our Company Commander, Major Reeve-Tucker, left us to visit Australia on military business; we expect him back in October. In the meantime the Company is commanded by Captain Strange, who returned from UK after a very hurried leave. He arrived just in time to move with us to the Persian Gulf.

"C" Company: "There was no shelter from the leaden skies of Kenya as we stood shivering on the tarmac at East Leigh airport, Nairobi, receiving a final taste of East Africa's uncertain weather. The outlook has been more settled since we arrived in Aden and were welcomed with a blast of hot air. We moved to Little Aden. Six weeks later we tried to leave Aden on four aircraft of RAF Transport Command to join "D" Company in Bahrain. One aircraft couldn't manage to get off the ground, another had to turn back. Two managed to reach Salallah, an unpleasant little aerodrome in the Muscat and Oman. One of them made an appalling landing, the other flew on to Bahrain, the sole survivor. The Salallah party were left for three days awaiting a spare wheel to arrive from Cyprus. While they waited the other two aircraft came through. Finally "C" Company was together again, at our new base, HMS Jufair, the Royal Naval Base at Bahrain. In July Lieut. Jarman left to get married and to join the Parachute Regiment."

"D" Company: "We left Kanya on a day marked by one of the biggest rain storms ever. On arrival in Aden we lived in tents at Khormaksar and we flew out from Aden on 5th May. On arrival in Bahrain we found that we were to live with the RAF at Muharraq in air-conditioned barrack blocks. In Bahrain we found "A" Company of the 60th Rifles about seven miles away. There was still tension in the air after the March riots. During Muslim feasts we had a platoon standing by at one hour's notice. We shoot on the police range and do field training in the oil-fields in the south of the island. In June the 60th Rifles left and "C" Company joined us."

Support Company: "On arrival in Aden we moved to the oil refinery at Little Aden. After eight weeks we moved to Mukeiras where we remained until our move to Bahrain. Mukeiras is a village on the Yemen border, 80 miles from Aden and situated in the hills, about 6000 ft high. After eight weeks we were suddenly recalled to Little Aden to prepare for the move to Bahrain. This took place on 6th September on HMS Kenya. We are now located on the airfield at Bahrain, sharing accommodation with "D" Company."

1st Battalion News: (Back Badge, June 1957)

When the Suez landings took place, Tactical HQ and elements of Support Company from Bahrain, together with "A" and "B" Companies from Sharjah, were embarked on HMS Superb and spent 14 days at sea off Kuwait. Rioting broke out in Bahrain on 1st November and the Battalion was called in. Order was quickly restored and for the next three weeks we kept the peace in Bahrain. During this period we were reinforced by the KSLI from Kenya and a company of Camerons from Aden. "A" and "B" Companies were disembarked and set up camp at Sitra, near the oil refineries. After a threat to the oil fields, they mounted patrols. By Christmas notification arrived that the Battalion would move to Cyprus in the new year.

Company Reports: (Back Badge, June 1957)

HQ Company: "Soon after our arrival in Bahrain the riots began. We produced one operational platoon, under Lieut. J.N.G. Graham, and also found static guards. We had the distinction of firing the one and only shot during the defence of the Kingdom of Bahrain - fired by 23152128 Private Lewis through the roof of the Political Agency. Lewis is now in the Officer's Mess for his sins. After a riotous Christmas we prepared for the move to Cyprus."

"A" Company: "September found us in a rather gloomy Sharjah. The weather was hot, the food was grim and we missed the civilisation of Aden. We were then packed onto HMS Superb for a 14 day cruise in the Persian Gulf. Finally we were disembarked at Sitra and in December had to mount patrols after a threat by Nasser to sabotage the oil fields."

"B" Company: "From Sharjah we joined "A" Company on board HMS Superb. After 14 days in the Persian Gulf we disembarked at Sitra and set up the tented camp with "A" Company."

"C" Company: "We were living in comparative luxury at HMS Jufair when rioting broke out in Bahrain and "C" Company was given the task of looking after Manama, the capital. It was fairly tense for 72 hours but then matters quickly quietened down and we were relieved by a company of the KSLI; we then shared duties - 24 hrs on and 24 hrs off. In the middle of December we managed to do a little training and also we provided an honour guard for the Ruler of Bahrain on New Year's Day for the Durbar."

"D" Company: "Early on the morning of 1st November 1956, Lance-Cpl. Stone died of heart failure in the Station Sick Quarters at Muharraq. This loss was the more sad as it was unexpected. He had only recently become an NCO but was promosing well."

Roll of Honour

23140522 Lance Corporal G. Stone - died 1st November 1956 - Station Sick Quarters, Muharraq, Bahrain ("D" Company)

Award for Bahrain: Major H.L.T. Radice - M.B.E.