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Veterans unveil memorial bench to mark 40th anniversary of Aden withdrawal

26 November 2007

Veterans are to unveil a memorial bench at Edinburgh Castle to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the British withdrawal from Aden. Thousands of service personnel and civilians spent time in the former colony which is now part of Yemen.

Many Scottish servicemen and women were also caught up in the Arab insurgency, known as the Aden Emergency, which preceded independence from the UK in November 1967.

The bench, which has been paid for by the 1,300 strong Aden Veteran’s Association (AVA), is to ensure that those who served and in the conflict are not forgotten.

It will be unveiled at a ceremony on the esplanade to be attended by veterans and senior serving military personnel on 27 November at 2pm.

The permanent location for the bench will be inside the castle.

Barbara Smith, Edinburgh Castle manager, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide a place for the memorial bench.

“The castle is home to the national war memorial and is a fitting place to commemorate all those who were involved in the Aden Emergency and who lived and worked there in the years before independence.”

Space for the bench has become available due Historic Scotland’s project to replace the old ticket office on the esplanade with a state-of-the-art reception centre inside the castle walls.

Brian Bryson, who heads the Scottish section of the AVA, said: “As this year is the 40th anniversary of the withdrawal, and there won’t be so many of us left by the 50th, we felt the time had come to do something permanent.

“There were thousands of people, military and civilian, who were involved in Aden both during the emergency and before.

“Although it was a small conflict compared to many, it was an important one, and deserves to be remembered by future generations.”

The crisis developed in the last days of the empire while Britain was attempting hand power to local, but in this case unpopular, rulers.

As a young lance corporal Mr Bryson was among those who came under attack from factions fighting to expel the British.

“In June 1967 my driver and I came under fire while we were returning to our camp at Radfan. On that day a Lieutenant Young lost his life.

“I also knew a number of those killed in another ambush as they returned from the Salt Pans. But like soldiers throughout the ages we had a job to do – there were no ifs or buts – we just got on with it.

“There are many people across Scotland and the UK for whom the 40th anniversary will be an important moment to look back and remember those who gave their lives for Queen and country in Aden.”

The unveiling ceremony will follow a weekend of events during which members of the AVA will hold a dinner dance and attend a church service in Stirling.

Some will then go on to Edinburgh where they will be joined by a number of welcome guests including Captain A MacDonald (retired), Chairman of the AVA, Major General E Loundon CBE, Brigadier CDM Ritchie CBE, Colonel Campbell (Dept Comm 52 Inf Brig Edinburgh Castle).

Notes for editors
·For further information about the AVA please contact Brian Bryson on 01506 842022.

·Aden was a British Crown colony from the late 1830s and for much of the time was a staging post for vessels traveling to other parts of the world and empire.

·The protectorate gained new importance after the Suez Crisis of 1956 when it became a became one of Britain’s most important overseas bases and ports, giving ready access to Middle Eastern oil.

·A state of emergency was declared at the end of 1963 due to the growing number of attacks by increasingly well-armed guerilla groups. Scottish troops, including the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, played a prominent role in the conflict.

·Among the last British forces to leave in November 1967 were the Royal Marines, who had been the first to enter the area when it first came under British rule. The People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen was then formed from Aden and the former Protectorate of South Arabia.

·In 1990 the north and south formed the single United Republic of Yemen.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Historic Scotland
Marketing and Media Manager
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871