Return to Aden: Synopsis
By Peter Richards (decd. 2000)
Editor and contributor: Andrew D. Richards
304pp (Paperback and PDF)
Published 2004, GF Murray Creative Information Solutions, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Current public perception of the history of extremists and terrorist organizations in the Republic of Yemen tends to begin its timeline with the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Even after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, no one recognized that the history of terrorism in the Yemen dated long before the USS Cole sailed into the port of Aden.
Peter Richards was a young British serviceman in the 1960’s who journaled about his 18 months stationed in Aden near the end of its status as a British Crown colony. After he retired from the Royal Air Force in the 1990’s Peter Richards began to write more formally about his experience there. After his death in May 2000 his son Andrew Richards, a retired British Army soldier, completed, edited and published the work as Return to Aden.
Starting out as a nostalgic look at life as a serviceman in the colony, the book traces the history of terrorism in Southern Yemen through the successful Radfan campaigns to thwart the infiltration of communist and Nasser backed guerrillas. It then follows the urban guerilla warfare campaign, the loss of hundreds of British servicemen and Britain’s ultimate withdrawal.
Throughout the book you can draw striking similarities to current events in Afghanistan and the rest of the Middle East. Andrew Richards contributed the final chapter, “Life After Britannia.” He traces trials and tribulations in Aden from its Independence Day, to days of Soviet influence and massive migration, to the signing of the Aden Agreement, through to the Gulf War – a war that Andrew Richards, who served as a tank commander, says did much to alienate Yemen making it extremely vulnerable to pressure by Islamic fundamentalists and inviting to future terrorists.
Return to Aden is a poignant personal and historical account, complete with original photography, that leaves American readers asking, “How did we miss this?”
Copies of the book can be purchased by contacting Mrs. CE Richards