With tribute to:

Martin Spirit

James Paul

Co-written by:

David Carter

Britain's Small Wars

The preservation of British Military History

Radfan 1964-1967

"Into the Hills"

Operation Nutcracker


By January 1964, a significant force was in position to oppose the Radfan tribesmen, with No.45 Commando sent to quell an Army mutiny in Tanganyika, then Brigadier Lunt prepared Operation Nutcracker to penetrate the country east of the Dhala road and quell the more intransigent Radfan tribes. For this task, Brigadier Lunt had at his command three battalions of the Federal Army, some light tanks, batteries of field artillery, Wessex troop carrying helicopters and 815 NAS Wessex HAS.1 helicopters from H.M.S. Ark Royal alongside RAF Hunter ground-attack aircraft. 815 NAS had disembarked from H.M.S. Ark Royal in December 1963 in preparation for this role.

Within four weeks, this force had driven the tribesmen away from the Dhala road and enabled the Royal Engineers to build another road up into the heart of the Radfan itself. This advance into the centre of the Radfan was greeted with great enthusiasm by the loyal tribes and Brigadier Lunt was presented with an engraved sword by the Emir of Dhala. Unfortunately this effort could not be maintained, and when the force withdrew, the tribes reverted to their old haunts and attacks.

HMS Centaur arrived in Aden without a helicopter squadron - it only carried to SAR Whirlwinds. On completion of Nutcracker 815 embarked on Centaur and, subsequently took part in the assault on Colito Barracks in Dar Es Salem with 45 Commando (embarked in Aden and left in Dar). Centaur then got relieved on station by Victorious and sailed to Singapore. The Centaur then returned to Aden in May for further Radfan operations.