Crouching behind rocks in the rugged mountains that rose abruptly out of the Yemen desert, were three British soldiers, former members of the SAS, together with their commander, Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Cooper.
They had lain in wait, machine guns at the ready, all through the cold desert night. At 9am the first Egyptian soldiers advanced into the wadi (gully), their infantry packed shoulder to shoulder, followed by tanks and artillery.
Behind the rocks, nobody moved. The success of the ambush depended on surprise. Then, as the enemy reached a small plain that Cooper had designated as the ‘killing ground,’ he gave the signal.