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'I Mean You No Harm Royal, Honest'
By Derek Blevins

In 1967, 45 Cdo's Air Troop were based at Habilayn Airfield in Aden, supporting the unit during an up-country tour. One of the convoys from Little Aden to the border post of Dhala had been fired on from a village overlooking the Dhala road, so it was decided to 'visit' the village with a Rifle Company from 45 Cdo.

I flew the Company Commander to the outskirts of the village as his Company began to sweep through the mud huts, chatting to the villagers in a 'hearts and minds' campaign. ( However, the Company Commander's private view was that if you grabbed someone by the balls, their minds would automatically be yours!)

Getting bored with guarding the Sioux I wandered into the village, and soon spotted a small wizened old guy with an ancient rifle much longer than he was, which had at least a .5" bore. There was a long piece of cord tied to the muzzle, and the cord had a number of large knots at various intervals.

Using 'Royals' vast command of the local lingo, we engaged in a conversation about his rifle, and the purpose of the knots in the cord. It transpired that the knot farthest from the muzzle was the estimated aim off he used when firing at an RAF Hawker Hunter, the next knot was for the RAF Beverly Transport Aircraft, and so on. When I pointed to the closest knot to the muzzle he burst out in a cackling laugh, and pointed at my Sioux!

He meant no harm, but he was a tribal rifleman, and just couldn't resist seeing if he could hit a target; any target!

I added another 1000' to my transit height after that visit.