The RAF in the Radfan
When the emergency in the Radfan was declared in February 1964, a makeshift Aden Brigade was formed and included in this were a squadron of ground-support Hunters, Shackleton bombers, twin Pioneer transports as well as ten Belvedere helicopters. The Brigade Air Support Officers were Roy Bowie with David Whittaker. The general task was to stop the tribal revolt and the attacks on the Dhala road.
On 30th April 45 Commando set out to capture the high ground in the Dhanaba Basin and that same night the Parachute Regiment was to drop from Beverleys onto the Wadi Taym. The SAS, who were to mark the drop zone for the Paras, were stumbled upon by a local lad and all the locals started shooting at the nine-man patrol. Hunters of No.8 and No.43 Squadrons were ordered to fly support missions until it got too dark. Another SAS troop was helicoptered in but they were badly hit by machine-gun fire and pulled out.
As the SAS tried to break out that night, two men were killed and their bodies had to be left behind. They were mutilated and their heads displayed in the Yemen. The bodies were later recovered.
The Marines went in at night and the Paras in by foot. When dawn came the Marines were on Cap Badge and the Paras were still on the Wadi floor. The Paras cleaned out the village at the bottom of Cap Badge and then they were fired upon. The battle lasted for about an hour where they had two of their number killed and the Hunters were called in to strafe the enemy.
General actions of the RAF during the Radfan emergency included leafleting an area and telling the locals to clear out with twelve hours warning. If they refused to move the Hunters would go in after the leaflet raids, rocketing the odd house. The Shackletons would keep the Radfans on the move by going in at night and dropping 25lb practice bombs on any fire they saw, keeping the Radfans from having cooked meals and making life miserable for them.
When word came around that the RAF were leaving things got nasty. Grenades were lobbed into cinemas and parties and a curfew was announced that you couldn't be out after midnight or have more than twelve people in a party in your quarter.