HC Deb 14 July 1958 vol 591 cc64-5W
52. Mr. Grimond

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on recent incidents on the Yemen border.

53. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he will hold the Yemen Government responsible for the shooting-down of British aircraft near the Yemen border recently; if it was attacked when flying over the Yemen or over Protectorate territory; what Yemeni aircraft have been observed near the border; and what further representations have been made to the Yemen Government in respect of Yemen-British relationship.

Commander Noble

Only minor incidents had occurred on the Aden-Yemen border for some weeks before the serious incident on 8th July which involved the shooting down of a British aircraft. This aircraft was one of two which had been ordered to make a counter-battery attack on Yemeni machine-guns which were firing across the frontier on a platoon of Aden Protectorate Levies. The two aircraft came under heavy anti-aircraft fire from other guns sited in Harib and one aircraft was hit and crashed near the position of the machine-guns. The guns continued to fire at our aircraft and subsequently one of the guns was attacked and destroyed. In the circumstances it is impossible to say exactly where the aircraft was at the moment it was hit. The important point is that it was taking part in an action to defend Protectorate forces who were being subjected to an unprovoked and unwarranted attack from the Yemen. As in all cases of such unwarranted attacks Her Majesty's Government consider that the Yemeni Government are responsible for all the consequences. As regards the other points raised by the hon. Member for Leyton, no Yemeni aircraft have been observed near the frontier, as far as I am aware, since a helicopter was seen on 13th April. We are continuing our efforts to establish contact between officials from Aden and the Yemen to discuss ways of settling and preventing border incidents. The Yemeni authorities have now indicated that they will grant a visa for the new British Chargé d'Affaires.