The Defence of Jordan - 1958: Operation Fortitude
On 17th July 1958, following a revolt in Iraq, King Hussein and the Prime Minister of Jordan requested British forces be dispatched to Jordan. A telegram from Her Majesty's Representative in Jordan was passed to the Prime Minister, Mr Harold Macmillan. The King of Jordan said that Jordan faced an immediate threat of internal disorder by the United Arab Republic and that Jordan's territorial integrity was threatened by the movement of Syrian forces towards her northern border and that information revealed a coup would be attempted. The Government dispatched forces from Cyprus by air to help stabilize the situation and assistance was also being sought from the United States by Jordan.
The deployed troops, 2000 men of the Parachute brigade were flown into Jordan, with Israeli permission to overfly the country to gain access, and landed in Amman at about 8am on 17th July. With Comet, Beverley and Hastings aircraft of RAF Transport Command carrying the 16th Independent Parachute brigade into the airport under the escort of Hawker Hunter fighters of 208 squadron.4; The Brigade was under the commander of Brigadier T.C.H. Pearson.3.
The United States voiced support for the British action, while the Soviets vocally attacked the British movements alongside American landings in Lebanon.2.
American tankers airlifted petroleum products into the country to alleviate the problems being encountered by road tankers from Lebanon and Iraq following the problems in those countries at the time.3.
19th Brigade was alerted for overseas operations earlier during the week, and two BAOC aircraft were charted to fly the first elements of the brigade on 18th July, the Brigade was made up of 1st Battalion, The East Surrey Regiment, 20th Regiment, R.A., 34th Light A.A. Regiment, R.A. under the command of Brigadier H. Grimshaw.3.
RAF Transport command aircraft continued to fly supplies into Amman. While H.M.S. Eagle was deployed to the area11 and the third battalion of the Parachute Regiment is in reserve in Nicosia.
Israel later withdrew its' permission for British and American overflights on 4th August5, the US airlift later resumed on 6th August.
The Cameronians arrived in Jordan on 7th August from Aden, having been taken to the port of Akaba by the Carrier Bulwark12 and from there they were flown to Amman. The Cameronians were in Jordan to maintain the line of communications from Akaba to Amman while the airlift is suspended due to Israeli concerns.6.
HMS Albion sailed for Mediterranean on 22nd July 1958 as part of the force to defend Jordan following revolt in Iraq, carryiing 42 RM Commando and some military equipment.13
The UN Secretary-General reported to the General assembly on the UN on 30th September that the UK would begin withdrawal of its' troops from Jordan on 20th October now that the immediate crisis and threat to Jordan's borders was over.8.
The first British troops left Jordan on 20th October, men of the 33rd Parachute Light Regiment, R.A. left Akaba by sea on the Tank landing ship Charles Macleod.9. More troops were flown out in later days after minor delays getting permission from Damascus, the last troops leaving Amman airport on 29th October.10.
2; The Times, Friday, Jul 18, 1958; pg. 8; Issue 54206; col G
3; The Times, Friday, Jul 18, 1958; pg. 10; Issue 54206; col A
4; The Times, Saturday, Jul 19, 1958; pg. 6; Issue 54207; col C & http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/milestones-of-flight/british_military/1958.cfm
5; The Times, Monday, Aug 04, 1958; pg. 6; Issue 54220; col G
6; The Times, Friday, Aug 08, 1958; pg. 8; Issue 54224; col E
7; The Times, Wednesday, Oct 01, 1958; pg. 10; Issue 54270; col A
8; The Times, Wednesday, Oct 01, 1958; pg. 10; Issue 54270; col A
9; The Times, Tuesday, Oct 21, 1958; pg. 9; Issue 54287; col A
10; The Times, Thursday, Oct 30, 1958; pg. 8; Issue 54295; col C
11; Aircraft carriers of the Royal and Commonwealth Navies; Cmdr D.Hobbs, MBE, RN. 1996, Page 84
12; Aircraft carriers of the Royal and Commonwealth Navies; Cmdr D.Hobbs, MBE, RN. 1996, Page 65
13; Aircraft carriers of the Royal and Commonwealth Navies; Cmdr D.Hobbs, MBE, RN. 1996, Page 34