Military Cross

Neil Mclean has found that the following Awards were given for action that took place on
the 30th May 1967 in Aden when a convoy of Royal Engineers was ambushed.

The first two Awards were for Royal Engineers.

The other two Awards were for the other British Forces came to the aid of the Sappers.

The Official description of the Ambush makes graphic reading.

Distinguished Flying Cross




23rd January 1968.

The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to approve the following awards for gallant and distinguished services in Aden:


Military Medal

23659685 Corporal (acting Sergeant) Ian Roderick SCOTT, Corps of Royal Engineers.


On the morning of 30th May 1967 Sergeant Scott was in command of the leading group of a convoy moving down the Wadi Matlah, South Arabia. At about 0815 hours the vehicles ran into a strong dissident ambush and came under heavy fire from rockets, machine gun and small arms fire. Both the leading vehicle and Sergeant Scott's vehicle were hit and many casualties were sustained by the men as they dismounted to take up fire positions.


Although under heavy fire from only 30 or 40 yards distance, Sergeant Scott first called the roll to establish who was wounded, then organised the men so that they could bring effective fire to bear. Six men were lying injured and two men were killed in an area swept by heavy fire. Sergeant Scott personally assisted the wounded to a safer area and administered first aid. After helping one seriously injured man to safely he was himself wounded.


For about twenty minutes he, with one other unwounded soldier, kept up a continuous fire at any enemy who moved. After a lull in the firing a dissident group attempted to assault their position, one reaching the road. This assault Sergeant Scott and his companion beat off. Then, regardless of his own safety, he made his way to the radio vehicle which was in an exposed position, only to find that the radio had been damaged. Though pinned down by enemy sniping he returned the fire and contrived to encourage his men and the wounded, until reinforcements arrived to drive the enemy back, this being accomplished some two hours after the ambush was sprung. It was not until he returned with the remainder of his troop to the unit base that he revealed that he himself had been wounded in the chest and arms as a result of which he had to be evacuated.


By his coolness and presence of mind and by showing great personal courage and initiative Sergeant  Scott was an inspiration and an outstanding example to his men, and displayed leadership of the very highest order. His actions undoubtedly saved the lives of some of his comrades.  


Newspaper Reports on Sergeant Scott's Award


Military Cross

Lieutenant Michael John CONROY (480271) Corps of Royal Engineers.


Lieutenant Conroy was in command of a party which had set off from Habilayn, South Arabia to carry out repair work on the road from Habilayn to Aden. The party consisted of a convoy of engineer equipment, tippers, small vehicles and a Saracen armed personnel carrier. It also included two small piquet's of Federal National Guard. At about 0815 hours the leading group of vehicles ran into a strong dissident ambush and came under heavy fire from close range and from the surrounding Jebels with rockets, machine gun and rifle fire. On hearing the firing Lieutenant Conroy, travelling with the second .group of vehicles halted them and reported the contact to his Headquarters. He found that he was unable to contact the ambushed vehicles by radio. So, regardless of his own safety, he drove his rover group into the ambush area to take command, even though he knew that he would be under heavy fire. By this time many men were injured and the 300 yards length of the ambush was under constant and accurate fire.


Lieutenant Conroy first reorganised the men for their better protection and, in order to bring effective fire to bear on the enemy, he brought forward a light machine gun which he sited before handing it over to a soldier and dispatched another soldier to establish contact with the Federal National Guard piquet who had taken up fire positions in the jebel above him. He then called for Hunter Strike aircraft by radio. By this time he and his radio operator were wounded and Lieutenant Conroy moved the latter to a safe area. He then returned to his wireless vehicle, gave details of the enemy positions for fighter ground attack aircraft. He remained in this exposed position, sending target adjustments until his radio was put out of action. He then ran along the side of the road to another radio vehicle in order to re-establish contact with the aircraft.


For over an hour Lieutenant Conroy had been in an exposed position in an area being swept by small arms fire. When his commanding Officer arrived at the scene, Lieutenant Conroy had to be ordered to move to a safe area to await evacuation. By his great coolness and presence of mind and by showing great personal courage and initiative, this young and inexperienced officer showed inspiring leadership and was an outstanding example to his men.


Military Cross

Lieutenant Terence Peter Phayre KNOTT, Royal Marines.


Early on the morning of 30th May 1967, Lieutenant Knott was commanding the Reconnaissance Troop of 45 Commando Royal Marines, which was the emergency standby troop at Habilayn Aden, and was at fifteen minutes notice to move. Lieutenant Knott reported the troop ready to move within five minutes of news of an ambush. Dispatching four men in a Scout helicopter to act as picket for the ambush position, he emplaned with the remaining fifteen men in a Wessex helicopter. After orbiting the area whilst fighter strikes were put in, the Wessex was directed on to a landing point believed to be clear of enemy and to the north of their position.


As the Wessex came into the hover over the landing point, it was plain that the site selected was in the middle of---the enemy position. The pilot of the helicopter was unable to land owing to heavy rifle and machine gun fire. Lieutenant Knott decided to deplane his troop, who jumped out on to rugged and precipitous rocks whilst the helicopter was still some ten to twelve feet from the ground. They immediately came under fire, not only from the enemy on whose positions they had landed, but from other strong enemy supporting positions behind them on the top of the Jebel Lahmahr. This ridge completely dominated the landing point. Led by Lieutenant Knott the troop killed one dissident on landing and then moved into a steep gully to avoid the fire from the Lahmahr.


As they did so a dissident emerged from a small cave and fired two rounds with an automatic rifle at Lieutenant Knott at point black range. Lieutenant Knott and one of his troop fired back and the dissident, having been hit, withdrew to a sangar in the cave. Approaching the cave from the side Lieutenant Knott threw in an M26 grenade which the dissident picked up and threw back. Avoiding the explosion which followed, Lieutenant Knott, completely regardless of his own safety, went into the cave and personally shot the dissident dead. Lieutenant Knott's outstanding example of personal bravery and his coolness and judgment under continuous heavy fire greatly inspired his troop, which included a number of young marines who had not been in action before. The determined action of his troop effected the relief of the Sappers who were still under fire. Finally the casualties inflicted on the enemy were so severe that this dissident group withdrew from the Federation. The action took place immediately before the period covering the withdrawal of British Forces from the Federation and undoubtedly deterred the enemy from further action at this critical time.


Lieutenant Knott's gallantry, his very professional example and his coolness and judgment whilst in action were of the highest order.  


Distinguished Flying Cross

Lieutenant (acting Captain) David John RALLS (472605) Royal Corps of Transport (serving with Army Air Corps).


Early in the morning of 30th May 1967, a convoy of Royal Engineer vehicles was ambushed by a dissident force of about thirty men in the Wadi Matlah in the Haushabi province of the South Arabian Federation. An urgent call was received at the command post of 13 Flight Army Air Corps at Habilayn for two helicopters, one in an armed role and the other to evacuate casualties. Although not officially on stand-by Lieutenant Rails and his gunner were air-borne in an armed Scout over Habilayn in seven minutes.


He reached the ambush position five minutes later. As he was unable to get in touch by radio with the ambushed troops, Lieutenant Rails landed in what appeared to be dead ground in order to obtain an up-to-date report. The aircraft was immediately shot at and Lieutenant Rails took off to pinpoint the source of fire. Firing at the Scout continued, but it was some minutes before the enemy position was located. In order to indicate the target to Fighter Ground Attack aircraft which were over the area, Lieutenant Rails flew over it and his gunner engaged it. At this stage his Scout was hit by enemy small arms fire.


Notwithstanding, Lieutenant Rails circled to drop a smoke grenade to mark the enemy position and then directed three Hunter strikes on to it. When the strikes were completed, Lieutenant Rails tried to observe their effect and again came under fire from an unseen position. He continued to engage the enemy, who could be seen in the area of a cave, until the arrival of troops from 45 commando Royal Marines in a Wessex helicopter. Although still under fire, the Scout led the Wessex in to a landing point just above the cave. As a result of this operation three enemy dead were subsequently recovered.


Lieutenant Rails then landed in the ambush position and, after lifting out four of the casualties, he returned to Habilayn to re-fuel. It was then discovered that owing to the damage it had suffered from enemy fire, his aircraft was no longer airworthy. With his gunner, Lieutenant Rails transferred to another Scout and immediately returned to the area of operations, where throughout the day he provided general support for the follow-up troops. This support involved many landings in very rugged terrain calling for considerable skill and courage on his part. The very high temperature and the height of the jebels on which this operation took place made flying most difficult. Coupled with the resolution shown by the enemy, this made conditions extremely hazardous.


Throughout the day, under the most exacting circumstances, Lieutenant Rails displayed the highest standards of flying. Largely due to his determination, coolness, and military judgment it was possible to extricate the engineers from the ambush position. Furthermore his control of the strike aircraft and his selection of a landing point for the Wessex were instrumental in causing at least two, and probably more, enemy casualties.


The courage, flying skill and initiative displayed by this very junior officer throughout the action were of the highest order and a magnificent example and encouragement to all troops in the operation.


The Westland Scout involved the the above action

Details :- AH.1 XR628 from 8 Flight AAC, Habilayn 1967, armed with two skid mounted General Purpose Machine Guns and one pintle mounted G.P.M.G in the cabin.



Photgraph taken by David Biddulph, electronically scanned by Richard Stockley

Author :- David Biddulph & Richard Stockley 20 July 2010



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