Colin Campbell Mitchell born 17 November 1925 died 20 July 1996, is a modern British hero who found the best way to serve his country was to rebel against the anti-British and emasculated politicians who are betraying their country. This is a story of one who rebelled against the wet, defeatist elites who rule and became a national hero only to be victimised by corrupt and vindictive elites.
He served as as a lieutenant Colonel in the British Army and became a national hero in July 1967 when he led the his regiment the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders in the re-occupation of the Crater district of British colony Aden. On 5 July 1967, Lieutenant-colonel Colin Mitchell, was CO of the 1st Battalion in Aden and led his men the reoccupation with 15 regimental bagpipers playing “Scotland the Brave” and their regimental charge "Monymusk".
Mitchell became famous as “Mad Mitch” and the re-occupation of Crater became known as "the Last Battle of the British Empire". It was not Colonel Mitchell's last battle, though. He fought hard and sincerely to save the his beloved and legendary Argyle and Sutherland Regiment from Socialist Prime Minister Harold Wilson's anti-British manoeuvres to disband or amalgamate regiments loyal to Britain with long and noble fighting traditions. The regiment was not disbanded, it was reduced in strength and many of the soldiers were placed with other Scottish regiments for a time but there was a massive public appeal which was extensively covered by the media at the time.
It was a very successful campaign to fight-back but the regiment was probably saved because of the troubles in Northern Ireland. The British army needed to be at full strength to cope with the situation in Ireland and to fulfil its commitments throughout the world. This same defeatist mentality governs the present Conservative leaders and they are taking the opportunity of the economic crisis to amalgamate our forces with European forces. Our new aircraft carriers will have French aircraft on them. They are out of touch with global realities and seem to think there is no longer any danger in the world. It is a utopian and foolish attitude.
The retaking of Crater became a symbol of the true British spirit. This is an example of when righteous rebellion is heroic. Mitchell is a role model for a new generation who are having their inheritance dissipated by the elites.
On June 20 British forces had been driven from the district with the loss of 22 lives. Mitchell knew that 500 well-armed police mutineers and terrorists had taken up positions there and were prepared to fight. He recalled: "It is the most thrilling sound in the world to go into action with the pipes playing. It stirs the blood and reminds one of the heritage of Scotland and the Regiment. Best of all it frightens the enemy to death."
The Treasury building which held the currency reserve for southern Arabia was retrieved from the police mutineers. By the end of the night it was clear to Mitchell that the push into Crater had utterly demoralised the enemy. Mitchell later said "To me that single moment in Crater was worth all my quarter century of soldiering".
The reoccupation and subsequent control of the Crater district were condemned by The Brass. The GOC Middle East Land Forces, Major-General Phillip Tower, feared that reoccupation of the Crater would provoke more disturbances. Tower, a veteran of the North African campaigns and Arnhem, also thought a full reoccupation of Crater was pointless as British withdrawal from Aden was already decided by politicians. Tower authorized a probe into the Crater to be led by Mitchell using the Argylls and other units but Mitchell took the initiative and reoccupied it. Tower instructed Mitchell to "throttle back" on his operations within the Crater. Mitchell stated that he thought Tower’s to be “wet hen tactics”. The situation was described in The Times:
"Mitchell frequently appeared on television: a small, handsome man with a direct, pugnacious manner, speaking the robust, unminced words that the British had not heard from their army officers since the acceleration of the Imperial decline had begun nearly two decades before. Newspapers took him up as a popular hero, proudly bestowing upon him the sobriquet of 'Mad Mitch'.”
Some MPs asked questions about the re-occupation in Parliament. They didn't want heroes countering their defeatism. Tam Dyell asked: “If "Mitchell had disobeyed operational and administrative orders of his senior officers during the recapture of the Crater". Mitchell himself later stated that he had been rebuked by General Tower. This was explained by Defence Minister and Bilderburger, Denis Healey:
“… the brigade commander thought it necessary to emphasize to Colonel Mitchell that the maintenance of law and order with minimum force leading to an orderly withdrawal from Aden with minimum casualties was the policy that had to be followed.”
The final British withdrawal from Aden took place in November 1967 and Colonel Mitchell and the Argylls arrived back at their Plymouth garrison on 27 November. All other battalion commanders from Aden were decorated but not Mitchell. He received only a Mention in Dispatches not the expected DSO. An OBE even would not have been unexpected but politicians bore him a grudge for his heroic attitude and by the time the British withdrew completely from Aden in November 1967, Mitchell was a marked man by the elites. It was made clear there was no room in the military for Mad Mitch.
In July 1968, he gave notice that he intended to resign from the Army at the end of the year. This was not the customary 7 months’ notice required of senior officers, but was accepted accepted with effect 1 October 1968.
Characteristically certain types made allegations of abuse and mistreatment. However, top Yemeni lawyer Sheik Tariq Abdullah recalled: "They were very rough. They tried to show as much restraint as possible but in general during that period you would find most of the people complaining."
Mitchell knew what they called Argyll Law was the only way of tackling the insurgents who killed 200 British soldiers in Aden. In 1996, he explained: explained why his methods were right:
"A great many Arabs are alive today because we used these methods and a great many Argylls are alive today because we used them. This to me is the complete exoneration of anything, if we needed exonerating, which we don't and never have done."
Maj Alastair Howman, who served with Colonel Mitchell in Aden, said the Argylls had nothing to apologise for on the 40th anniversary of their withdrawal. The end of British rule left a power vacuum which resulted in the deaths of thousands of people in the decades of civil war that resulted.
Maj Howman saw the same spineless weakness as in today's politicians and accused them of failing to learn the lessons of the Aden Emergency: "Crater was run on Argyll Law and that is perfectly sensible because there wasn't any other law. Once somebody declares what date they are going leave a situation it is fraught with danger for the people who are there. "That happened in Aden and it seems to certainly be happening in Iraq. I don't think politicians ever really learn this lesson. I don't think they read their history books."
Colonel Mitchell wrote his memoirs Having Been a Soldier, did some freelance journalism and worked briefly as management trainee with Beaverbrook Newspapers. However, he was a national hero to the people and serving military if not the elites. He became Conservative MP for Aberdeenshire West which he won from the Liberals by a 5,000 vote majority in 1970.
Mitchell was an excellent constituency MP whose main political interest was the British Army. He was critical of the Army’s leadership. For example, in August 1970 he was quoted: ”… those bastards in Whitehall”. He was on the patriotic or traditional wing of the Conservative party and opposed British membership of the European Community(now the EU), sanctions against Rhodesia and the arms embargo on Israel. He was prominent in the Monday Club and the Anglo-Rhodesian Society. Mitchell was one of 39 Conservative rebels who defied the Party whip to vote against British entry to the EEC(EU) in the Commons vote on 28 October 1971.
The Times diary reported on a Monday Club fringe-meeting he addressed at the 1976 Conservative Party conference on the subject of white-ruled Rhodesia:
“I went to mock, but came away with much sympathy for Mitchell personally rather than for the lost cause he espouses. He is quite at odds with the world in which he finds himself.”
Now, however, from our deteriorated condition he stands forth like a beacon to inspire us in our darkest hour.
Having Been A Soldier
It has been of print for some time but you can still pick it up from specialist booksellers. There are copies on Amazon and a search on Abebooks you should find someone selling a copy.