Fort Walsh

1 PARA under command of Lt Col Michael Walsh completed an operational tour in Aden in 1967 to cover the British withdrawal and hand-over of the Colony. ‘Fort Walsh’ was one of the strong points established to protect the mission.

On May 25th the paratroopers took over the districts of Al Mansura and Sheik Othman, known trouble spots for civil disorder in the Colony. The intention was to keep open the north-south route from the border to Aden and prevent the use of Sheik Othman as a terrorist base for insurgents allegedly funded by Egypt and the Yemen.

Strikes were called to clear the streets of civilians to enable the insurgents to engage in gun battles with British troops. One paratrooper was killed and four wounded after one such day-long confrontation on 1st June when six rebels were killed, five captured and four likely wounded.

When the Six-Day Arab-Israeli War broke out on 5th June Colonel Walsh decided upon pre-emptive action and deployed his battalion. One of the companies was ordered to take over a disused Mission Hospital in the heart of Sheik Othman. Three strong Observation Posts (OPs) were established nearby to protect the Police Station, the Mission and ‘Grenade Corner’. Firing broke out and continued until nightfall.

As this was going on the rest of the battalion at Radfan Camp to the south east was filling sandbags to the accompaniment of the firing clearly heard to the north. By dawn the sandbags had been moved forward and the newly occupied buildings were swiftly labelled ‘Fort Walsh’ by the soldiers. Colonel Walsh occupied it with his tactical headquarters to control the street battles. Strong-points had been established in the hot-spots capable of resisting any attack.

After facing three General Strikes, the fall-out from the Arab-Israeli War and an armed mutiny among the police and South Arabian Army, 1 PARA was secure in well fortified positions like Fort Walsh. Life settled to an endless round of patrolling, manning check-points and cordon and search operations from stable bases. Companies revolved on four-day rotations manning these outposts in Sheik Othman and Al Mansura until withdrawal in November.

Lt Col Walsh had seized the initiative and with strong points like Fort Walsh dominating Sheik Othman, 1 PARA retained control.

See also: Lt Col Michael Walsh

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