I believe at the time it was not the military's policy to return the deceased to the UK. The cemetery also has a number of civilian graves.
The name Silent Valley is supposedly because radios would not work in the area.
As a BP Aden kid and later as a serving member of the RAF I was based at RAF Khormaksar from 1964 to early '67. In answer to your question re those KIA, Jonathan is right, servicemen/women,married or single were buried in the country of their demise were it to be due to enemy action,illness, or accident, no sentiment in those days, nor was there any compensation, financial or otherwise for the bereaved.
As for Silent Valley and the origins of the name I was always led to believe it was because if you stopped and listened it was comletely silent, not even a bird could be heard......hence the name.
Silent Valley was/is an amazing place, towering volcanic rocks frame the valley; and the valley floor was rocks and sand with one stretch of sand dunes. It was incredibly hot by day; similar to crater, it trapped the heat on windless days.
We sometimes went for a drive there and sat in the coolness as the sun set. The sun sets were amazing for their colour and for how quick they were. To get a photo of an Aden sunset was quite a feat for that reason.
Hopefuly the heat of Silent valley will keep it free from the encroachment of habitation and our War Dead can be in peace in their corner of England.
-- ----------------------------------------- --
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is forever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam;
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
-- ----------------------------------------- --
Prior to the burials at Silent Valley, British servicemen were buried in Ma'alla cemetery, along with civilians. In 1964, I believe, the move to Silent Valley was made, for what reasons I have forgotten.
Ma'alla cemetry was desecrated when North Yemen forces entered Aden after unification of North and South.
My recollection is that families of British servicemen and women killed in Aden (as in other foreign countries) were offered the option of having the body flown home or attending the funeral in the country of his or her demise.
Silent Valley is a Commonwealth War Graves Commision cemetery, Ma'alla was not.
As long as we have a consul in Sana'a the cemetery will be maintained. At present it is tended by one elderly man. I do not wish to think about what will happen when he dies.
Vic Balsdon (former Royal Marine- Aden 1966-67)
I served with the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards in the Radfan 1965 A new recruit Gdsm.Edge flew out to Aden an was immeadiatly sent up country, he was introduced to our tent and Jake Bourton and myself were told to stand down from guard that night. Brummie Edge and another lad took our place,Unfortunately Brummie was killed by energer grenade that night.I looked up Silent Valley but he was not on the Roll of Honour so I assume he was flown home.
Some parents paid for their sons to be flown back which I thought was disgusting. My view was that if they were good enough to lay their life on the line
then they were good enough to be brought home.
One such Sapper was a lad called "Aggie" Webber who was at the time driving a Bulldozer and grading the sides of the road we were around the corner so to speak when we heard a scream and a thud, when we rushed round to see the problem the Dozer had gone over and pinned him to the floor, he was still alive, but when they put chains around the Dozer to lift it off him, the release of the pressure killed him, he was a great guy. I attended his Funeral which was at "Silent Valley" a very sad affair and also a very quiet lonely place. I just wish ALL the boys who died over there rest in peace I will never forget them. It is also true that it was because of the surrounding rocks and mountains that you could not get a signal and it was deathly silent that they eventually called it "Silent Valley" God Bless them all.
From March 1967 onwards, the families of dead British servicemen and women could request that their bodies be flown back to to the UK for burial.
However, in Aden, the burials had to take place soon after death, possibly because of the heat and the lack of refrigerated mortuary facilities. Hence, arrangements for repatriation could often not be completed before the expiry of the time limit.
It was a policy that created an enormous amount of unnecessary grief, anger and resentment.
Anthony Bamford. Ex 1st RHA, Aden Sept1965 - May 1967
Regarding the quick burial of soldiers in Aden. Your posting about there not being enough refrigeration facilities is not correct. I was a Medical Orderly with 1st RHA and we had 8 members of our regiment killed in various actions. All bodies were flown or taken to Steamer Point Hospital and after being medically examined and documented, were stored in the Cold Store until the day of their funerals, and only then were they moved to Falaise Church for the burial services.
Hi again, Anthony
I can't remember where I read that bit about the lack of refrigerated mortuaries, but as you have had first hand experience of the situation, then it was obviously wrong, and I apologise for posting something that was incorrect.
My father, Sgt Stanley Aiston, B.E.M., died in Aden on 13 January 1964. A policeman brought the news to our home at approx 11pm that night. The next morning when we phoned the MOD to ask about having him brought home we were shocked to learn that my father had already been buried as bodies had to be buried within 24 hours. He was interred in Maala Cemetery.
That was my understanding (ref. bodies having to be interred within 24 hours).
I also believe that 1964 was the last year that British service personnel were buried at Ma'alla Cemetery - from then on the burials took place at Silent Valley. Perhaps the refrigerated mortuary facilities were not in place at the time that your father died.
I have talked with a representative from The Commonwealth War Graves Commission with regard to this matter and it was a helpful and informative discussion.
I should also like to add my condolences for the loss of your father, even though it was so many years ago.
They say that time heals, but memories remain.