News and events
About the Society
The Armed Forces
of Aden 1839-1967
Cliff Lord and David Birtles
Helion & Company (26 Willow Road, Solihull,
West Midlands B91 1UE), 2000. Pp. 112. Illus. Appendices. Maps. Glossary.
Index. Bibliog. Hb. £29.95. ISBN 1 874622 40 x
At first sight the price
seems somewhat daunting for what is a very slim volume of little over 100
pages of A5. But there is an immense amount of information tucked away
between the covers. Every single unit to have been raised in the former
Aden Protectorates from 1839 until independence is listed and described.
From the First Yemen Infantry used to keep the Turks at bay during the
first World War to the Zeylah Field Force used in Somaliland in 1884, they
are all here. Sensibly, most coverage is given to the major units familiar
to anyone who served in South Arabia from the 1950s onwards: the Aden
Protectorate Levies (APL — later the Federal Regular Army and, finally,
the South Arabian Army); the Government Guards —later the Federal
National Guard (FNG 1), and the Tribal Guard — later to become FNG 2.
Then in the former Eastern Aden Protectorate, the Kathiri Armed
Constabulary, the Mukalla Regular Army, and the better known Hadlirami
Bedouin Legion (inspired by the Jordan Arab Legion); and in Aden colony,
the Aden Police and the paramilitary Armed Police. State police forces are
also listed, and some oddities such as the Imad Levy raised in 1915 to
fight in the hinterland which at that time was mostly dominated by the
Turks and their allies. British units, whether stationed for long periods
in Aden, or rotated for shorter terms of duty such as the 1964/5 Radfan
campaign, are also mentioned.
Extensive appendices supplement the main text, describing insignia (cap
badges and shoulder flashes), campaign service medals and other
decorations, and ranks (my favourite always being the ‘Bash Shawoosh’
or Staff Sergeant in the pre-1957 APL!). There are also good maps and a
comprehensive bibliography Almost the best feature of this well turned out
volume are the excellent photographs, many from the late Jim Ellis’s
collection, scattered throughout the book. Jim Ellis wrote the Foreword
and obviously gave much assistance to the two authors; it is fitting that
the book is dedicated to his memory.
This book is a valuable addition to any Aden archive. ‘A supplement
volume’ is apparently in preparation and the co-authors are asking for
relevant inaterial.There are stirring tales yet to be recounted about the
exploits of some of these tiny forces, so less well known to the general
public than their more illustrious counterparts elsewhere in the former
British Empire. Aden may have been a colonial disaster, but that does not
detract from the work of so many officers and men who served a distant
King and Queen with loyalty and fortitude.