The Royal Marines Farewell to Aden
45 and 42 Royal Marine Commandos
The overall plan, for the withdrawal of the British Forces, was to move the majority of troops, out through Khormaksar Airfield, whilst the equipment, went by sea. The privilege of being the last to leave, was accorded to the Royal Marines. Fittingly, Four-Five, was the last major unit, of the permanent garrison, to be withdrawn. 42 R.M. Commando, would hold the airfield, then they would withdraw, to the naval task force, and their Commando Carrier, HMS Albion.
By the September of 1967, all service families, had been evacuated, and 45 Cdo R.M., moved into their flats, after leaving Little Aden, the home of the unit for the best part of seven years. 42 Commando, Royal Marines, arrived aboard HMS Albion, on October the 11th. In their distinctive, olive green, jungle dress, they took up positions, North of the airport. This was the line, that had been held by British troops, since September. Roadblocks, and OP'S,(observation posts), sealed off the peninsula, from the North, and kept the airfield, out of mortar range.
The NFL, was busy defeating FLOSY; the Southern Arabian Army, had left the Federation, and joined the NFL, and in one last fling, decided to mortar, 42 Commando's positions at Tawahi, on the 11th, of November, 1967. Marine Blackman, had the unfortunate distinction, of being the last, British serviceman, to be wounded, in Aden, during this action.
Shortly before midnight, on the 28th, of November, 1967, the first, of 13 loads, of 45 Commando, was airborne. Throughout the morning of the 28th, the outward flights, took away the remaining members of the Aden Garrison, and, by 1230, the last company, Y Company, of Four-Five, had been relieved, by elements of 42 Commando, who, up 'till then, had been holding the line, between Khormakser, and Sheikh Othman. Overhead, the helicopters from HMS Albion, maintained a shuttle service, from the airfield, to the naval task force. Following the formalities, the High Commissioner, Sir Humphrey Trevelyan, and the Service Chiefs, left, and then, a brief farewell, took place, between the commanding Officers, of 45 Cdo, and 42 Cdo. It was the CO, of 42 Commando, Lt-Col Dai Morgan, who had brought the advance party, of 45, to Aden, over seven years before.
At one-thirty. on 29th November, 1967, the last aircraft left Aden. The last to board, were the Commanding Officer, 45 RM. Commando, Commanding Officer, Royal Air Force, Khormakser, Commander, Aden Brigade, Brigadier, General Staff, and Senior Air Staff Officer, Middle East Air Force. The perimeter, was still being guarded, by 42 Cdo, C company, of the King's Own Border Regiment, and 8,(Alma), Light Commando Battery, R.A. 42 Commando, was the last to leave, in their helicopters, on the 29th. The last defiant act, of the 45 Commando, was the appearance, of the Union Flag, and White Ensign, as if by magic, -Recce Troop, Royal Marines, magic-, on one of the peaks, of Jabal Shamsan, overlooking Ma'alla, placed there, during the last day, before departure.
But, I would think, the last man to leave the shores of Aden, was a Royal Marine landing craft crewman, slipping the bow line, from the bollard on the quay, and stepping onto the craft, as it got under way, thinking, "was it worth it"?
The epitaph, to all servicemen, of all the British Forces in Aden, who were killed, in this seven year war, was written, by a Fleet Street journalist, who described the troops in Aden, as, men, whose steadfast patience, had been tested, and found to hold firm, on thousands, of unrewarded, forgotten, occasions.