This is the second part of a series. You can read part one here.


The Canberra Times, 1964.

“2 Soldiers’ Beheading Confirmed.”

“Earlier, Britain was shocked by the grisly report that the [SAS] men had been beheaded and their heads publicly displayed on sticks in Taiz, twin capital of Yemen.”

But how did it get to this?

For centuries, the Queteibi tribes have called the hills and mountains of the Radfan region, 60 miles to the North of Aden, home. These tribesmen were notorious for their martial skills, violent nature, and duplicity. Historically, Britain had made them a compliant partner by furnishing them with money and weapons. But now the British were leaving, and their cash and guns were going with them. Jumping at the opportunity to fill the power vacuum was the Yemen Arab Republic, or North Yemen, which had turned Communist in 1962 after an Egyptian-backed coup d’état.

Communist guerrillas infiltrating from the North supplied the Radfan tribesmen with heavy weapons and Marxist ideology alike. In January 1964, they combined forces and attacked government and British convoys on the Aden-Dhala highway, inflicting heavy casualties. The road was closed. A Joint Reaction Force (Radforce), composed of Royal Marine Commandos, Paratroopers, infantry, and armor, was sent to crush the Rebellion. RAF planes and helicopters provided air and transport support.