The true history of Aden
Aden, 1965, sets the scene for the BBC’s new period drama, The Last Post.
The port city of Aden is part of what is now the war-torn region of Yemen, where East meets West.
The area was seized by the Royal Marines in 1839, and governed by Britain until 1967.
It was the first addition to the Empire of Queen Victoria’s reign.
Aden’s oil industry was rich, and it provided a useful trade route through the Gulf.
Tension between local civilians and British military began to escalate in the mid-sixties. The National Liberation Front was formed, in the hope of expelling the Brits from Aden.
The area became a battleground, riots and guerrilla warfare continued for several years.
In 1967, Britain gave up control of the area, their government collapsed, and the last of the troops retreated.
The Last Post focuses on the British Military Police and their families, living and adjusting to life in an unstable, desert environment.
In the show, the wives fill their days sleeping around, drinking gin and swimming at the local BP Club.
In reality, it wasn’t all that different.
Britain was in the throes of a sexual revolution. The mini skirt had just made its debut on the catwalk, and the Pill was becoming freely available.
The women were starting to feel a new sense of freedom, the men full of passion and desire to be heroes.
80,000 British servicemen were stationed in Aden, many with wives and families in tow.
The social scene was unofficially nicknamed “The Bored Wives Club.” With little activity to fill their days, many turned to adultery and cheap liquor.
The British Petroleum Social Club was a real place, where the army wives were often seen gossiping, playing cards and downing gin before midday.
“They had freedom, sunshine, money – and time to play,” says Jonathan Walker, author and historical advisor to the show.
The stifling heat, mixed with duty-free alcohol and idle days was quite intoxicating. Exotic and glamourous lifestyles, with a hint of terror, made for a turbulent cocktail.
Understandably, the families struggled to maintain a sense of normality.
The feeling of impending danger made the Brits even more inclined to “live in the moment.”
“Young married couples in the heart of the Sixties, living in close proximity in a dangerous and alien environment… has always struck me as ripe territory for drama,” says the show’s writer Peter Moffat.
See for yourself. Watch the attractively fascinating new drama right here.