Film ID:
NEFA 11343

CLOSE UP: ADEN - GEORDIES IN THE SUN

1966

Visitor Tabs

Description

An edition of the Tyne Tees Television current affairs programme Close Up, first broadcast in 1966 about the lives of men of the 1st Battallion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers who are stationed in the port of Aden as a peace-keeping force during the years of the Radfan Uprising. Reporter Dennis Ramshaw visits Aden and speaks to both officers and soldiers from the north east region and their families who are living on this war zone. The programme also includes footage of soldiers on patrol in Aden and  interviews with some wives and mothers of serving men back home on Tyneside.

The film starts with general views over the rooftops over Aden. Interview with Mrs Vera Davidge back home who saw her injured son on a news bulletin, the kind of thing that you believe only happens to other people, she says. Close-up of a newspaper photo of her son, which was splashed over the front pages and opened everyone's eyes to the fact that "Geordie was at war". He was one of five British soldiers injured when a terrorist hurled a grenade at troops of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers as they moved in to disperse a crowd of demonstrators in the Crater district of Aden, South Arabia.

Next, there are general views of troops relaxing at their barracks and others on the alert. Interview with the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Blenkinsopp from Ponteland. He says the work here is sporadic, the men do have time off, but that the danger is very real. Terrorism has escalated and it is their job to maintain law and order and to protect the communities, both local and European residents. Interview with his wife at home in Ponteland about the her husband's job and the situation in Aden. [Note that the Royal Northern Fusiliers were not able to take their wives and families with them.] Interviews follow with other women back home about reports of Geordie troops "putting the boot in" with local Arab men.  Newspaper reports had sparked disgust at the violence by British troops. These women (probably wives of soldiers stationed in Aden) are mostly in favour and feel it is probably justified. 

General views of troop activity in Aden with voiceover by a soldier about a grenade attack, He says it is a rough life. Other soldiers say it is alright but they can't wait to get back to Newcastle. They joke about some of the dangers but they point out that they rarely get a chance to shoot back as the "enemy" fights in a devious manner, in the dark, behind walls, from crowds of innocent people.

Interview with Major Paddy Baxter about the troop activities, which include setting up observation posts, crowd control operations and so on. He considers what will happen when Britain pulls out next year.

General views of troops surrounding and searching a house, with voiceover by an officer describing the operations.

General views of the  "Black Museum" of captured weapons. Interview with Captain Nigel Robinson of Gosforth, the Battallion Intelligence Officer. He talks about the kind of weapons in use by the 'terrorists' and the sources of the arms.

General views troop patrol along "Murder Mile". Dennis Ramshaw accompanied the soldiers and they were in fact fired upon. Interview with two Fusiliers, Alf Hemmings from Stockton (left) and Dave Hall from North Shields, about the incident and about other such incidents. 

General views of a private beach on the Red Sea in Aden with families of other servicemen that the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers have to guard. Interview with Iris Ryecroft from Consett. She says it is a nerve-wracking siltation. She has been there for twelve months but is going home the next day. Interview with Mrs Joyce Watson from Sedgefield.

General views and interview with the army chaplain, Captain Jack Stacey, about the attitude and faith of the Geordie soldiers. He says that they have seen death and suffering and have learned about other cultures.

Music track over general views of the occupied Aden landscape and communities.

[Picture continues after sound]

[The Aden Emergency, also known as the Radfan Uprising, was an insurgency against the Occupying Forces of the former British Empire in the Protectorate of South Arabia, which now form part of Yemen. Ever since they occupied Aden as a territory in 1839, British troops were subjected to attacks. From 1962, Britain was engaged in an escalating conflict in the protectorate. Using grenades, bombs and rifles supplied by regional and world powers, nationalist groups such as the National Liberation Front (NLF) and the Federation for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY) targeted British troops and their families. By November 1967, the situation was untenable and Britain’s ‘permanent garrison East of Suez’ was abandoned.]