RAF Riyan, in 1962
Written by Ian Cheal
Early in 1962 we went on an expedition up to Seiyun in the Hadramaut which was an interesting trip, we had a 3-ton Bedford & a Landrover which the CO John Pugh drove, Mick Collier drove the 3-tonner. I had checked the two vehicles over before the journey & took spare parts for use if we had problems. The first day saw us leaving the coast and heading inland on the west road, if you call a dirt track a road, and climbing steadily up through the mountains until we reached the plateau at about 4500 feet above sea level, crossing the plateau until we arrived at a government rest house in the late afternoon. We had a meal prepared by our cook Norman?? and a few beers to ensure a good sleep, it was very cold at that altitude and the Arab guards all had duffel coats which were certainly needed and a big fire to keep warm.Where they got the firewood from was a mystery as we had hardly seen any vegetation all day!!
The next morning we loaded up after breakfast and continued across the plateau until we reached the edge of the Wadi Hadramaut and started to descend into the wadi.The road was a series of tight bends and Mick had to back up with the 3 tonner on a lot of them, we all abandoned the truck and walked down for safety, finally reaching the bottom. Then followed a drive along the wadi among the palm trees, we stopped at an oasis with clear water pool containing small fish( once again how did they get there?) before continuing our journey, arriving in Seiyun late afternoon.
We were staying in another government rest house in the town so got unloaded before going to the house of Don Guthrie where we had a communal bath and changed into clean clothes prior to having our evening meal. Don had laid on a typical Arab meal for us, I think we all avoided the goats eyes offered to us!! After a few beers we all had a good nights sleep & spent an easy next day looking around the town, the focal point being the Sultans palace which was very impressive.
After a second night at the rest house we loaded up and headed out for home, this time taking the west road which followed the wadi and was virtually level going all the way back to Riyan but it was extremely dusty and we were filthy by the time we arrived home early evening. It had been an interesting and enjoyable trip which I shall remember for the rest of my life.