Corporal Saleh Haiderah Yafai MM

The lack of political cohesion in the region made the South Arabian scene very confused, with fragmented, rival groups contending for power in the Yemen. Some tribes such as the Upper Yafai were out of reach of any power block. Consequently, members of the Yafai tribe were highly valued members of the Aden Protectorate Levies (APL) predominantly for their reliability and independence.

Corporal Saleh Haiderah Yafai, Military Medal pictured wearing 1939-45 Defence and War ribbons.
Corporal Saleh Haiderah Yafai, Military Medal pictured wearing 1939-45 Defence and War ribbons.

On the 14 May 1950, a small airfield reconnaissance party comprising 4 Regiment Officers and 20 Arabs were returning to Aden from Azzan when it was ambushed at a cleverly-sited road block in the pass. The enemy numbering between two and three hundred commanded the heights from well concealed positions on either side of the route.

Corporal Yafai was the NCO in charge of the section acting as an escort to the party. When fire was opened simultaneously from both flanks, Corporal Yafai took up section defensive positions and returned the enemy fire. Orders were issued to break contact and use the vehicles to drive out of the ambush, which had subsequently become a magnet for the intense and accurate enemy fire. Corporal Yafai continued to control his section’s fire until the vehicles were clear of the ambush, he acted coolly despite one of his section being KIA and being wounded in the leg himself.

His actions were in the highest traditions of the Service and his outstanding leadership was largely instrumental in adverting a complete disaster. Little more is known of Yafai, however he served during WWII probably with the Levies and was subsequently promoted to Sergeant.