Tribesmen backed by the Yemen and Egypt sought to destabilise the South Arabian Federation in 1963, shooting up and mining the Dhala road in the hot dry Radfan mountainous region 50 miles north of Aden. 3 PARA formed part of the British response, when it was decided to intervene the following year.
A concerted operation involving 3 PARA, 45 Commando and Federal troops to capture the Dhanaba Basin, a Radfan tribal stronghold, began at the end of April 1964. 3 PARA lost two killed and several wounded clearing the fort and village buildings at El Naquil in concert with 45 Commando.
The Bakari Ridge rising 5,000 feet and dominating the Wadi Dhubson was regarded as impregnable by the tribesmen and housed their leadership. 3 PARA soldiers scaled these heights carrying 90lb loads traversing 11 miles in two night marches occupying the ridge by dawn on the 24th May after a number of skirmishes and a hot action at Qudeishi.
A precipitous descent from the ridge to the Wadi Dhubson floor, requiring a 30-foot rope descent at one point, totally by passed surprised dissident strong-points. A fierce fight during which the CO’s helicopter was hit and force landed followed. Strafing support from RAF Hunter fighter-jets and concerted battalion fire broke rebel resistance and they withdrew, leaving six dead and weapons behind.
The Wadi was dominated for a further 48 hours when villages were searched and food and arms dumps destroyed. Within nine days, 200 square miles of rebel territory - much of it never entered by Europeans before - was subjugated, and many dissident tribesmen killed.
3 PARA withdrew back to Aden on 28th May having won a DSO, an MC and four additional medals, three MIDs and six CinC commendations. D Coy, 3 PARA were deployed on 6 June and remained behind for a further four weeks.
Rebel morale was seriously undermined and their impregnable stronghold demonstrated vulnerable.