Gunner John Edward Cain


Gunner John Edward Cain

Isle of Man
Death 6 Dec 1966 (aged 24)
Lahij, Laḥiǧ, Yemen
Burial Aden, ʻAdan, Yemen
Plot 7.B.4
Memorial ID 189809896 View Source
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23821256 Gunner John Edward CAIN, Royal Horse Artillery, age 24, died when the Sioux AH.1 (XT125) helicopter of 13 Flight, Army Air Corps in which he was the obsever/gunner crashed while en-route Musaymir to Habilayn after taking off overweight. The crash site was near Musaymir, 13°26'N, 44°36'E. The aircraft caught fire killing the three on board.

1st Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, served in Aden from mid 1965 to mid 1967 and was based at BP Camp Little Aden Barracks opposite the Marine Commando Barracks. The Regiment consisted of 3 Batteries (Chestnut Troop, E Battery and B Battery)

Chestnut Battery lost its Battery Commander in a Helicopter crash. All on board perished:

Captain John Alec Fleming, RHA, pilot
Major John Theodore Dixon Sharpe, RHA, OC Chestnut Battery, 1 RHA
Gunner John Edward Cain, RHA, observer.

On 6 December 1966 Captain John Fleming RHA was flying Major John Sharpe, Officer Commanding Chestnut Troop 1 RHA, around his battery positions in a Sioux helicopter, Gunner John Cain sat in the rear, beside a store of grenades and ammunition, cradling his SLR rifle. As they neared Musaymir, along the Yemen border, the helicopter suddenly spiralled out of control and crashed into a gully, the fuel from the ruptured tank showering downwards and exploding the ammunition.

The men were all killed instantly and the resulting inferno destroyed most of the aircraft, making any accident investigation extremely difficult.

When contact had been lost, a search started, and although Sergeant Pilot Forde spent several hours looking for Fleming's machine, in the end he had to return to base empty handed. He recalled that as he landed, 'a lady rushed out and asked if I had found John Fleming — it was his wife'.

Luckily an FRA patrol was in the area and soon arrived at the crash site and began looking for clues. Gunner Cain's SLR was missing and bizarrely, one of the bodies had obviously been mutilated after the crash. Several weeks later a recce troop from Four Five Commando was in the area, going to the assistance of an ambushed RE convoy.

The bodies were recovered by Lt RD Grist in a Scout helicopter.

They themselves came under attack from a cave sangar and the Troop Commander, Lieutenant Knott, threw a grenade into the cave to silence the opposition. He then went in and found a dead tribesman with a rifle containing parts from Gunner Cain's SLR rifle.

Due to lack of evidence, the subsequent accident inquiry could not determine the reason for the helicopter crash. But the fact that rebel tribesmen had quickly arrived at the crash site and exacted their customary retribution on a fallen enemy indicated that they had probably shot down the aircraft.

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