Hunter 1958 - 1965 (8)

The call came over the army ground net explaining their difficulties and the BASO staff called the Hunters in. The SAS never carried ground to air radio equipment so they had to speak to their HQ on their discreet net, who passed the information to us and we passed it on to the aircrew –long winded but it worked. 208 was the duty squadron on that day and a constant cover was maintained during daylight hours. At one point the SAS leader called to say that some of the opposition were creeping up on them

and they could be heard but not seen “could the RAF do something about them” (17). Anthony Mumford was leading the flight and reported that he could see the immediate attackers but they were extremely close “about 25 yards” – “OK Go Ahead” was the response”. A brief pause and then a very laconic “Bloody good shooting”. A few days later the Minister of Defence (Air), Mr. Hugh Fraser, on a visit to Aden told the correspondents and I quote “I think that it is amazing that the troops in the forward area have been calling down RAF fighters to strike dissident strongholds only 25 yards from their own positions. This not only emphasises the skill of the Hunter pilots, but also underlines the confidence of the troops on the pilot’s ability to press home their attacks with pinpoint accuracy” (18). The great sadness of this event was that following the SAS patrol’s break out under cover of darkness their leader Capt Edwards and their signaller Signaller Warburton were killed and then decapitated and their heads stuck on stakes in Taiz the capital of the Yemen. A sobering thought for all those involved in the operation.

A few days later 8 Sqn were called in to attack a suspected arms dump at the base of an extensive cliff. The problems of firing into a cave at the bottom of a cliff from a 30 degree dive all done at about 5000 feet above sea level bears some thinking about but the 8 Sqn team did the job and the resultant explosion and increase in the cave’s size was a “joy to behold”. Our main offensive weapon on the Hunter at this time was the 60lb rocket – a weapon developed in the Second World War to be delivered against shipping from Blenheim and Beaufort aircraft. Originally they were fired at 240 knots in level flight from a range of 400 yards whereas we were firing them at 400 knots in a 30 degree dive against hard rock and therefore required a firing range of no closer to 800 yards; nonetheless shrapnel was still picked up. Initially the aircraft were firing the HE variety but they appeared to do no damage to the mud forts because the heads were penetrating the mud and detonating on the hard ground within the fort. Someone then came up with the good idea


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