Hussar Officer who extracted ambushed infantry patrol under heavy terrorist fire in Aden. (Image)Richard Vaughan-Griffith as Troop Leader, 5th Troop, ‘C’ Squadron, The Queen’s Own Hussars in his Saladin - Aden 1967.
Richard Vaughan-Griffith joined The Queen’s Own Hussars from his Troop Leader’s Course in April 1967 during Troop Training on Salisbury Plain. The Regiment was then converting to Saladin Armoured Cars in preparation for an active service tour in Aden. It was there only some four months later that he was involved in the action that was to result in the award of his Military Cross.
The British Government had decided to withdraw from Aden and to hand over power to the National Liberation Front in preference to the Federation for the Liberation of South Yemen. President Nasser of Egypt with Russian backing was using FLOSY as a stalking horse in furtherance of his ambition to take over Aden following the British withdrawal. Nasser intended thereafter to use it as a base from which to attack and destabilise the Gulf States. NLF did not want to be seen as lackeys of the British and continued their attacks on our troops. Shortly before The Queen’s Own Hussars arrived in Aden, the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers suffered twenty two casualties when they were ambushed in the Crater by mutinous police who had broken into their own armoury and taken to the roof tops.
‘C’ Squadron, The Queen’s Own Hussars was tasked with supporting both 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment and the Lancashire Regiment who were responsible for the towns of Sheikh Othman and Al-Mansoura respectively. Al-Mansoura where the action took place is in the North of Aden. On the edge of the town was the gaol in which those convicted of terrorist offences were confined and in which one Company of the Lancashire Regiment was permanently based.
A patrol of The Lancashire Regiment was ambushed in the town and forced to take cover in buildings in which they were pinned down by intensive machine gun fire from terrorists in surrounding buildings. Their radio had been hit so all communication with them had been lost and two men were wounded. 2nd Lieutenant Vaughan-Griffith was faced with extricating the Lancashire Regiment’s patrol from these buildings with a half troop.
This was a formidable task which involved first identifying the buildings in which the incommunicado patrol had taken cover. One of the patrol poked a beret out of a window thereby allowing Vaughan-Griffith to pinpoint their position. By using his armoured cars as shields and by returning the heavy fire thus keeping the terrorists’ heads down, he made it possible for a Saracen Armoured Personnel Carrier to manoeuvre into a position that enabled the first group of infantry to escape from the building directly into the rear of the vehicle. Having extracted the first group and delivered them safely to base at the gaol, Vaughan-Griffith returned and rescued the second group from another building under identical conditions. Six terrorists were reported killed and seven wounded during the course of the action.
Throughout the two hour operation Vaughan-Griffith was forced to eschew much of the protection of his Saladin turret thereby exposing himself to the heavy terrorist fire. Being compelled by the situation to remain static presented a further risk as stationary armoured car gave the terrorists an opportunity to move into a position from which to launch a ‘Blindicide’ bazooka with which they were well supplied against it or to lob a grenade into the turret.
Had Vaughan-Griffith had been allowed to use his 76mm gun against the buildings in which the terrorists were concealed, it would have made for an easier task. However the principle of minimum force required that express authority first be obtained from Brigade to use main armament. A pusillanimous commander had twice refused to give permission for 1st, The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, The Queen’s Own Hussars’ predecessors in Aden, to use main armament during the slaying of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers in the Crater. There was therefore no prospect of Vaughan-Griffith being given any such permission here and he had confine himself to using his .30 Browning Machine Guns.
In addition to Vaughan-Griffith’s award of the Military Cross, the NCOs commanding his other vehicles were each awarded a Mention in Despatches. The citation to Vaughan-Griffith’s Military Cross concludes “that he achieved this self set task successfully under the most difficult operational conditions is the measure of his outstanding example of courage, leadership and determination.” The streets comprised a high proportion of dirt roads making them ideal for laying mines and a few weeks later, Vaughan-Griffith’s Saladin passed over an anti-tank mine which blew off a front wheel station disabling it and slightly injuring his driver and gunner. Although stunned by the explosion, Vaughan-Griffith helped his injured crewmen into the back of an accompanying Saracen Armoured Personnel Carrier in the course of which they came under terrorist fire. Vaughan-Griffith then retrieved his camera from the Saladin calmly photographing his damaged vehicle before taking cover inside the Saracen.
Richard Vaughan-Griffith was born on 15th December 1945. His Father, who had served in Probyn’s Horse, transferred to the British Army on India being granted independence.
The family lived in Suffolk and Vaughan-Griffith attended Woodbridge Preparatory School before Framlingham College where he was Captain of Cricket, Rugby and Hockey.On leaving Framlingham Vaughan-Griffith enlisted in the Army entering the Royal Military Sandhurst in January 1965 and was commissioned into The Queen’s Own Hussars in December 1966.
After service as a troop leader in Aden and Hong Kong and as a Squadron Second in Command in Germany, Vaughan-Griffith was posted to Sandhurst as an instructor where cadets under his instruction reportedly liked and respected him enormously. After returning to The Queen’s Own Hussars as Adjutant, he resigned his commission and embarked on on a career in the Security Business starting in Brinks Mat until it became apparent that there was no foreseeable prospect of further advancement in the company.
Following a period undertaking kidnapping negotiations on behalf of the Lloyds Insurance Market and then as Managing Director of a United Kingdom based Risk Management Consultancy, Vaughan-Griffith formed MacIvor Grant Ltd. in 1992 starting with a contract with a drilling company operating in Indonesia and Pakistan. The company was successful and it expanded first into International Risk Consultancy and then Political Risk Analysis. It later opened an office in Houston, Texas specialising in services to the global oil industry.
A natural sportsman in every way and a very popular officer with both his brother officers and his men, Vaughan-Griffith was extremely loyal to his old regimental friends maintaining contact with his old troop sergeant until his death last year. He was instrumental in setting up and organising the Rocking Horse Lunches, an irreverent reference to the White Horse of Hanover Cap Badge of The Queen's Own Hussars, as informal gatherings of old friends.
Richard Vaughan-Griffith died aged 66 on 4th January 2012. He married first Jan Halliley by whom he had a daughter and a son and second, Jennifer Young, all of whom survive him.