Soldier in the Sun (BBC 1964)

Soldier in the Sun is a newsreel type production of the British Army in the Radfan in Aden in 1964. Shot completely on location in Aden and featuring real soldiers talking unscripted about their experiences.

I caught Soldier in the Sun on the BBC iplayer where it is still available more or less indefinitely. If you can’t get the iplayer then it is available on YouTube in two parts (embedded below).

What struck me about Soldier in the Sun was that, kit aside, it could just as well have been filmed 50 years later in Afghanistan. The situation in Aden was of an unseen enemy consisting of hill tribes armed with a variety of weapons.  Roads were mined and ambushes common. Outposts took sniper and mortar fire and were sometimes assaulted. Resupply was mainly by helicopter and air support made the enemy disappear, sometimes just by flying over.

The soldier commentary was interesting. They talked about the conditions and getting used to them.  They complained about all the things you’d expect if you’ve ever met soldiers.

Another interesting scene was a sniper attack on the outpost, followed by the clearance patrol. The camera crew went with them and filmed a cave being cleared with a grenade.

PS as I was looking for an iplayer link to Soldier in the Sun I discovered that there are a load of these at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/group/p02g70hx

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About Author:

James has a keen interest in military history, backed with experience as a TA reservist and a 17th century re-enactor. He has designed and run several face to face social games and is the editor of MilMud, the journal of the CLWG game design group. He is currently working on a book on the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution.

3 thoughts on “Soldier in the Sun (BBC 1964)

  1. pity this documentary could not be purchased – as one who served in Aden in 1964 I was well aware of the Radfan operations and saw the choppers coming into the Crescent at Steamer Point with the wounded for the RAF hospital up the Hill and this war merited a Gong `Radfan` but I soldiered on to June 1965 and the war was now in Aden town itself – 50 years ago seems to have slipped by and Yemen is still in a mess but we will meet at York in November – Lest We forget !!!

    1. Charles, that is for commenting and I’m glad I’ve helped a veteran find out about the film. My RSM when I was a recruit was an Aden veteran, he was an Argyll.

  2. Hi
    Also found your film by chance whilst surfing re Falaise camp.
    Was there dec 63 to dec 64 with 45 Cdo RM. Billeted out at Falaise initially and up country at Dhala for 3 months.
    Covered Cap Badge and have brilliant memories of the blokes there and the special dinners laid on by the Emir.
    It may be cited as a nasty forgotten little war but certainly not by the troops out there, the guys we lost are certainly not forgotten and there memory is brought back by seeing films such as this.
    Thanks for jogging those memories back into the light.

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