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  Book review

The Armed Forces of Aden and the Protectorate 1839–1967

Revised and expanded edition by Cliff Lord and David Birtles, Helion & Company Ltd, 2011. Pp. xiv + 124. Numerous b/w and colour illustrations. Appendices. Maps .Glossary. Index. Bibliog. Pb. £30. ISBN 978-1-906033-96-5.

The A5 hardback edition was first published in 2000 and reviewed by Peter Hinchcliffe in the Society’s Journal of the same year. The authors had always planned to publish a supplementary volume and had appealed for further information. Additional material and photographs have now been incorporated in the reprinted A4 paperback edition.

The enlarged layout of the book has a clearer text and the quality of reproduction of the many illustrations is much improved. These have all been listed and credited at the beginning of the book for ease of reference. They come from a variety of sources but special mention must be made of the extensive collection of images provided by Sultan Ghalib who has written the Preface to this revised edition. Tony Ford has also contributed many other fine colour as well as black and white photographs taken during his service with the FRA. Seven pages of colour plates showing the detail of the many different uniforms of the Armed Forces, such as 653 Squadron Army Air Corps whose helicopters and light aircraft will be remembered by all who served in the final days of the emergency. There is even a short reference to the formation of the Aden Air Raid Precautions (ARP) during the Second World War.

This new edition also provides additional enlarged maps as well as three new appendices. These include new lists of awards and details of the military vocabulary used in South Arabia (the transliteration of many of the terms leaves much to be desired). However, there is more to this book than military memorabilia; the various descriptions of military operations form a valuable historical record.

There is a newly added appendix on the period from 1945–63 when the rise of Arab nationalism caused civil disturbances and border incursions. Another new appendix on Air Control explains the short-term success in keeping order in the Protectorates with air power while employing a minimum of forces on the ground. It was a policy that was applied in other countries in the region. Comparison may be made with a similar tactic being used in Yemen today where instead of piloted aircraft dropping bombs on recalcitrant tribesmen, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or ‘drones’ are used ostensibly to target al-Qa’ida. 

In his review of the original edition of this book Peter Hinchcliffe paid tribute to ‘so many officers and men who served a distant King and Queen with loyalty and fortitude’. It is right and fitting that in this new edition which adds substantively to their story, the role and service of the Armed Forces of Aden and the Protectorate has been given further recognition.