Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Scout Down

 A Warning: The recent temperatures seem to have melted my proof readers computer, and so this article hasn't been proof read.
The operation to sweep the Wadi Dubsan was now considered, as the Para's were on the Bakri ridge they were over looking the Wadi, to reach it they had to go down a 3000ft cliff, clear the village of Bayn Al Gidr, and then begin their push along the narrow Wadi. To get down the cliff there were two footpaths, one was the main route used by the locals and one a treacherous footpath which was of much lower quality. Deciding that either of these footpaths would be the logical place to put ambushes on, the Para's found an alternative straight over the edge of the cliff. A boulder strewn stream bed started some 30ft down a cliff, and following it would bring them out on the rear of the village. The Para's abseiled down the cliff face to the stream bed and followed it, while they were spotted by sentries the few tribesmen abandoned their position leaving the village in the hands of the paras.
 At day break, learning from earlier experiences of in the Radfan, a company of Para's now advanced along the sides of the Wadi, as they did so a large number of Rebels were seen to leave their ambush positions on the better of the two footpaths down from Bakri ridge. At the same time the Re-enforcing company of Commando's advanced down the middle of the Wadi. This lead to a blistering firefight that lasted for several hours. It was reported as one of the most savage battles of the entire campaign.
Anthony Farrar-Hockley was in command of the Para's, he decided to take a Scout from his command post at Bayn Al Gidr to the front line to see what was happening. The tight nature of the Wadi caused lots of problems for Helicopters and it was extremely difficult for them to fly in. However one was provided, flown by Major Jackson, and with the front line coordinates in hand the scout set off down the Wadi.
As they approached the map reference the Officers in the Scout saw groups of Rebels on the cliffs above them. The Tribesmen opened fire with everything they had, the noise of the Scouts engine drowned out the impacts, but a wash of fuel sprayed over the front canopy, and the engine began to rattle and scream.
Turning around the Scout juddered through the air, suddenly up-ahead the front line of British troops was visible. The Scout finally came o rest in the middle of no mans land, with about fifty rebels closing in. The British front-line started shooting and fire was sleeting both ways around the Scout, Farrar-Hockley, Maj Jackson, and the intelligence officer,  Lieutenant Ian McLeod, all bailed out of the Scout and made it to the British lines. Only Lt McLeod was wounded when he was shot through the wrist.
The battle was finally won by a company of Para's marching around Jebel Haqla and outflanking the Rebel positions. The locals then began to withdraw about 1600, allowing the British to push up to the damaged Scout. The Scout was a problem, it couldn't remain in place, and the Para's only had enough supplies to last them for 24 hours total, and they'd already been on the ground for 12 of that. Their stay could not be extended due to the problems with re-supply, only scouts could get into the extremely narrow Wadi, and they couldn't carry enough supply. Air drops would scatter all over the place and be useless.

The commanding officer of the Scout flight flew in to inspect the situation, he thought the scout was repairable, and so two fitters were brought in at last light. They erected a screen around the scout and began to work with torches and hand tools. At dawn Major Jackson remounted his steed, turned the engine over and pulled up on the helicopters controls. The Scout rose and was able to fly out of the Wadi and over the mountains. The Para's completed their sweep of the Wadi and climbed out, whereupon they were met by the Wessex helicopters of HMS Centaur and airlifted back to Aden.
FRA troops on a mountain in Radfan
The final actions of the campaign happened about a week later. The Stalled operation along Wadi Misra. the 1st East Anglian regiment was brought in. Ad in the Wadi Dubsan, forces advanced along the edges of the Wadi as well as its base. After a few minor skirmishes, and one casualty to a mine, the Wadi was cleared and the British were at the base of the Jebel Radfan. To take the Jebel a steep mountain climb was needed, however there were some doubts as to the ability of the British forces to do it. Thus a Federal Regular Army battalion was brought forward. These were Aden native troops. They charged up the slopes with some considerable dash and elan. As the FRA troops got near the top of the mountain, the Rebels, enraged by the trespass into their core domains came out to fight. The Rebels sent a large force to attack the FRA battalion and a battle ensued. This battle was a long range engagement, the FRA still equipped with Lee Enfield's displayed a level of skill at musketry that was very effective. The accurate fire pinned the Rebels in place, unable to advance or retreat they provided a perfect target for the RAF. For the rest of the day the Hunters strafed, bombed and rocketed the Rebels. That night, the survivors of the Rebel forces withdrew, and from then on there was no more organised opposition. The East Anglians and FRA pushed on, capturing Jebel Huriyeh and Jebel Radfan by the 10th of June.

image credits:
If you don't follow my facebook page, then you'll have missed the post earlier in the week. The jacket for my upcoming book has arrived. The post can be found here.