COS 5/71

Restricted Distribution




Note by the Secretary

1. The Chiefs of Staff have approved (1) the report (2) at Annex A.

2. In approving the report the Chiefs of Staff agreed:

  1. To forward it to the Secretary of State.
  2. To authorise its use as the Ministry of Defence input for the Committee of Officials (3).
  3. To instruct the Commanders-in-Chief Committee (West) and the Commander-in-Chief Far East to proceed discreetly with the necessary detailed planning as a matter of urgency, using the amended note at Annex A as a guide.
  4. To invite the Defence Secretariat to make arrangements for the necessary liaison and planning with the Home Office.
Chiefs of Staff Committee
  1. Sale of Arms to South Africa - Evacuation Contingency Planning (15 pages).
  1. COS 3rd Meeting/71, Item 2.
  2. DOP 701/71.
  3. COS 1006/6/1/71  paras 2 and 3.
Ministry of Defence
Main Building
Whitehall, SW1

13 January 1971

COS 5/71



1. In 2 previous Notes (1) (2), related to the issue of arms sales to South Africa, the Director of Defence Operational Plans summarised the threat, the existing contingency plans, and the forces that could be made available after 18 January 1971 to take any required action. following the DOPC meeting (3) of 4 January, a Committee of Officials, on which the MOD is represented, as been set up to coordinate the further work necessary to meet contingencies concerned with possible threats to UK citizens in Africa, and to report to a Ministerial Committee. To provide the MOD contribution to the official's committee, we have examined the implications of the Services-assisted evacuation from the affected countries in Africa, together with any measure that might be necessary to increase the effectiveness of plans and improve preparedness.


2. As has been previously noted (1) there are no evacuation plans in existence for the 2 countries in which UK citizens are likely to be at most risk, Zambia and Uganda; nor for Tanzania which is assessed at somewhat lower risk. There are, however, protection plans for these 3 countries and for Kenya. The question of any protection/intervention operations has been considered separately (4). There is now a need to consider the possibilities of evacuation from all the affected countries using Service assistance.

3. All Service plans will be essentially an augmentation of the corresponding civil plans. We are advised that, in the event of any evacuation becoming necessary, the relevant civil plans would be implemented in the first instance with the maximum use of charter aircraft and ships, although no action would be taken prior to signs of trouble because of the probably adverse effect in Africa. It is likely therefore that the numbers to be evacuated by the Services would be considerably less than the estimated total. However, as no estimate of the scope of the civil plans is possible, we have assumed for the purposes of this paper,


  1. ACDS(Ops)7/2 dated 29 Dec 70.
  2. ACDS(Ops)7/2 dated 1 Jan 71.
  3. DOPC(71) 1st Mtg, Item 1.
  4. COS 6/71.

and as an indication of capability, that the total commitment would fall on the Services. A list of  countries in order of priority for evacuation, with the total numbers that might have to be evacuated is at Appendix 1.


4. We have made the following assumptions:

  1. The announcement by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on the decision to sell arms to South Africa will not be made before 25 January 1971.
  2. Any evacuation will take place with the consent of local governments who will not impede it in any way, although this would not necessarily apply after the initial stages.
  3. Sufficient overflying routes in Africa would be available.
  4. Mounting and reception facilities would be available in South Africa and Portuguese Africa. However, use of these facilities could invalidate the assumption at b above and they are only likely to be used as a last resort.
  5. Rhodesian facilities would only be used as the last resort.
  6. The immediate task would be to evacuate white UK "belongers".
  7. The task of evacuation would take priority in the use of relevant resources of the Services.


5. Details of forces available for a Services-assisted evacuation and their notice are listed at Appendix 2.



6. There is a variety of circumstances that could give rise to the need for evacuation. In the worst case there could be a requirement to evacuate from all countries, rapidly and concurrently. Furthermore the expulsion of "non-belonger" UK citizens would greatly increase the burden of evacuation. On the other hand we might have to evacuate from only one country in slow time.


7. We examine now our capability to evacuate from the 2 most likely trouble spots, Zambia and Uganda and from Tanzania using airlift as the primary means, augmented by HM Ships. In the case of a rapid evacuation it is possible that reasonably friendly Black African countries such as Malawi and Kenya could provide safe havens. Some UK "belongers" might well move of their own accord to safety in Rhodesia and South Africa. This would reduce the evacuation problems but the extent of the reduction cannot be forecast. We have considered below the case in which Portuguese and South African bases only would be available for mounting and for the reception of evacuees; however, it should be remembered that if these bases are used other African countries may be alienated to the extent that they withdraw cooperation in any evacuation from their countries. Onward movement from these points would be by ST and charter aircraft and/or ships' further study is needed into the availability of routes and airfields.

8. On the assumption that 5 reception points/bases are used and that the reception problems do not slow up the flow of aircraft, the concurrent evacuation "belongers" from Zambia, Uganda and Tanzania could theoretically be completed, using the 1st line availability of ASC in 9 days.

9. There would be great difficulties in carrying out such operations, particularly if the numbers involved approached the estimated total. Some of the more important of these are:

  1. An evacuation with the local governments' consent could deteriorate to one in which British lives were being lost. Under these circumstances it would become difficult to protect the Service personnel involved in the evacuation.
  2. There would be formidable reception problems in the safe havens which could require initial Services' assistance. The Home Office, with Services' assistance, would be responsible for reception in UK.
  3. Separation of "belongers" and "non-belongers", unless all were to be evacuated, would be a very considerable and complex problem. Normal movements staff deployed for evacuation operations would need to be greatly augmented for crowd control.


10. The main implications of mounting operations on the scale that might be required are:

  1. The Gulf and Far East rundowns would be affected by any large scale use of ASC.
  2. There would be temporary withdrawal of ships from NATO and the Far East.


11. There are a number of military measures that could be taken to increase preparedness, but many of these would be difficult to conceal and might therefore be regarded by Black Africa as being provocative. Some would also incur severe penalties and seriously affect other commitments. We discuss below only the more realistic measures that could be considered.

HM Ships

12. HM Ships positioned off Lagos/Dar Es Salaam could provide some evacuation capability. Those with embarked helicopters could be particularly valuable. The only major ships which could be sailed with relatively little likelihood of their change of programme becoming known are:

  1. HMS INTREPID, if she sails from Singapore on the same day as that scheduled for her work-up - 18 Jan 71.
  2. HMS EAGLE, if she is diverted after sailing from Devonport for her third work-up on 19/20 Jan 71.

13. HMS TRIUMPH is not programmed for sea until 8 Feb 71. HMS ALBION is due to sail on 28 January on completing a dockyard maintenance period. The advancement of these dates would create speculation which might lead to unwelcome publicity.

14. In the case of the INTREPID and the TRIUMPH a cover plan for extra helicopters being embarked would have to be devised. The ships of the Beira Patrol and RFAs at sea could be used to support the INTREPID with little or no warning and are within about 2 days steaming of Dar Es Salaam. To provide Wessex 5 and their stores for EAGLE in addition to her Sea Kings would entail use of aircraft ex-BULWARK now at RNAS  Culdrose with a consequent high risk of speculation. The Fleet Commanders and selected staff officers would have to be informed by 12 January 1971 at the latest to meet a sailing date of 19th. If ALBION is required to be off Lagos by 31 January immediate measures will have to be taken for the earlier completion of her current dockyard maintenance period and preparation for sea including informing the Dockyard Departments.

15. If there is a relaxation in the strict need-to-know restrictions by say:

  1. 12 January 1971
  2. 18 January 1971

the major RN units could be off Lagos/Dar Es Salaam as shown:

Warned 12 Jan
Warned 18 Jan
EAGLE (Lagos)
27 Jan
27 Jan
ALBION (Lagos)
31 Jan
5 Feb
INTREPID (Dar Es Salaam)
24 Jan
27 Jan
TRIUMPH (Dar Es Salaam)
24 Jan
29 Jan

16. EAGLE and INTREPID would be the most suitable ships to select. However for both ships to be in position with a reasonable chance that this would be achieved without speculation the Prime Minister's announcement in Parliament would have to be delayed 3 days. With the same postponement of announcement, and if the risk of some speculation was also accepted, it would be possible to have EAGLE, TRIUMPH and INTREPID in position. If a postponement of the announcement by 7 days was accepted, ALBION could also be positioned, but with higher risk of speculation resulting from the action required for earlier completion of her dockyard maintenance period.

Standby Army Units

17. Although in the context of this paper no requirement for protection forces is envisaged, a number of Army units may be required to assist with the evacuation. The following units could be required for the duties shown, and should be included in any plans:

  1. Administrative units for marshalling the great number of evacuees that will assemble at all evacuation and staging airfields. Sub-units might also be required to augment RAF Movement units.
  2. Signals units to provide communications between diplomatic missions, evacuation and staging airfields, and the UK.
  3. Medical units for evacuation and staging airfields and reception points.
  4. Logistic units to augment arrangements that will be made by the Home Office at reception points in the UK

18. Warning orders to Army units must be issued at least 7 days before G Day.

Air Support Command

19. Measures to increase the overall readiness of the ASC transport fleet could include:

  1. Warning aircrews and bringing them to a higher state of readiness.
  2. Strengthening ship crews already positioned along the route.
  3. Pre-positioning ground equipment and personnel where facilities are limited.
  4. Ultimately curtailing exercises and administrative trooping.

20. However, we believe that many of these measures could not be concealed and would cause unwelcome publicity. Moreover we consider that the present states of readiness are adequate.

Earliest Alert Measures

21. Discussions initiated by the Prime Minister in Singapore on or about 18 January might cause repercussions in Africa at any time after this date. Some preparations for an evacuation against this eventuality ought to be initiated now, but if they were the likely result would be a loss of security with the likely resultant repercussions in Africa. However there will always be some reserve capability available at short notice, even without prior preparations.

Arrangements with Other Government Departments

22. The setting up of the FCO Emergency Unit, when this can safely be done will greatly facilitate liaison and planning between the FCO and MOD staff, particularly outside normal working hours. A similar arrangement with the Home Office would also be required.

Further Planning

23. CICC(West) and CINCFE have been instructed (5) to carry out the necessary detailed planning on a need-to-know basis as a


  1. RT 122014A Jan/SECWEST 01/SECSEA 17.

matter of urgency for the possible evacuation of UK Nationals from Commonwealth African countries, using this paper as a guide.


24. The earliest possible date the Prime Minister can announce his decision in the House of Commons after his return from Singapore is 25 Jan 71 and on this basis we identify the following dates as being critical:

12 Jan
Fleet Commanders to be informed of firm requirements for ships to be off the African Coast by 24th and 27th. If ALBION is required by 31st Dockyard Departments will have to be informed.
13 Jan
The latest date on which HMS INTREPID must be warned to enable her to sail to be off Dar Es Salaam by 24 January. This would entail transferring the Prime Minister's dinner party to another venue.
15 Jan pm
The Prime Minister's dinner part for other Commonwealth Prime Ministers aboard HMS INTREPID.
17 Jan
Reducing the note of the proposed Army evacuation force for a possible move on the 25th.
18 Jan
The Prime Minister is expected to mention the subject of arms to South Africa in his speech in the Commonwealth Conference


25. We conclude that:

  1. Evacuation would be by air augmented by ships.
  2. The concurrent Services-assisted evacuation of UK citizens "belongers" from the 2 highest risk countries and from Tanzania could theoretically be completed in 9 days. However it is unlikely that the total commitment would devolve on the Services.
  3. The situation could deteriorate during an evacuation which started the local governments' consent. We would then be in a poor position to intervene militarily, and there could be difficulty in protecting military personnel concerned with evacuation.

  1. Although bringing forces to readiness or pre-positioning beforehand would make a rapid evacuation more effective, overt measures before the arms sale announcement could provoke reaction by African countries.
  2. Warning orders to Army Units must be issued at least 7 days before G Day, accepting that there could be a leak.
  3. The present state of readiness of Air Support Command is adequate.
  4. The only useful preparatory measure we could take without seriously infringing security is the sailing of INTREPID and EAGLE without embarking Wessex helicopters on 18 and 19/20 respectively (their present planned dates of sailing), to arrive off Lagos and Dar Es Salaam on 27 January. However for both ships to be in position with a reasonable chance that this would be achieved without speculation, the Prime Minister's announcement in Parliament would have to be delayed 3 days. With the same postponement of announcement, and if the risk of some speculation was also accepted, it would be possible to have EAGLE, TRIUMPH and INTREPID in position. If a postponement of the announcement by 7 days was accepted ALBION could also be positioned, with a higher risk of speculation but certainly no higher than would be involved in embarking Wessex helicopters in EAGLE and TRIUMPH. A cover plan for some to go in INTREPID might be devised by CINCFE.
  5. Overt preparations against the possibility of reaction to the Prime Minister's statement on 18 January would be counter productive.
  6. The FCO Emergency Unit should be activated when required, and similar arrangements should be made by the Home Office.
  7. CICC(West) and CINCFE should now carry out the necessary detailed planning as a matter of urgency using this paper as a guide. This should be a need-to-know basis. If ALBION is required by 31 January 1971 instructions should now also be given to Naval Dockyard Departments for her immediate preparation for sea.

COS 5/71


1. Although no general breakdown of law and order is expected, mass demonstrations against diplomatic mission and British expatriate communities could get out of hand. Zambia and Uganda represent the greatest danger. Relevant details of the 7 countries most likely to be affected are:

  1. Zambia
    1. 44,000 UK belongers
    2. Possibility of organised attacks against "white faces", beyond the ability of the police to control.
  2. Uganda
    1. 7,000 UK belongers
      50,000+ non-belongers
    2. Considerable risk. General attack on the British community unlikely, but distinct danger of violence towards individuals. Security forces may have difficulty in controlling the situation.
  3. Tanzania
    1. 4,000 UK belongers
      15-20,000 non-belongers
    2. Risk not very high; local security forces should contain trouble.
  4. Kenya
    1. 28,000 UK belongers
      90-100,000 non-belongers
  5. Nigeria
    1. 16,000 UK belongers

  1. Ghana
    1. 6-7,000 UK belongers
  2. Sierra Leone
    1. 1,360 UK belongers

Note: "UK belongers" are UK citizens. "Non-belongers" are UK citizens of Asian origin.

COS 5/71


      1. Major Units
Availability to Deploy
Latest Deployment Date to be off Lagos on 24 Jan
Austere Emergency Lift Capability Assuming more than 24 hour passage
(a) EAGLE (Devonport) 19/20 Jan 3rd Work up
  1. If Wessex 5 are to be embarked a decision is required on 12 Jan 71
  2. 2 days for FW work-up flying would be desirable while on passage in range of diversion airfield. This would only be possible if she could arrive off Lagos later than 27th
At 20 Kts 16 Jan
At 24 Kts 17 Jan
Earliest arrival 27 Jan
(b) ALBION (Portsmouth) 29 Jan
  2. Deployment date to Far East 23 Mar in jeopardy
  1. 845-18 Wessex 5 embarked
  2. 41 CDO embarked
At 29 Kts 16 Jan
At 24 Kts 17 Jan
Earliest arrival 5 Feb
Operational with Commando embarked possibly 250
Non operational up to 1000
(c) FEARLESS (Devonport) Approx 30 Jan
  1. Post refit sea trials
  2. FOST work up
  3. Army support exercises IDC
Refit CD 22.1.71
Earliest arrival 6 Feb
Without troops embarked 500
      1. DLG
Availability to Deploy
Latest Deployment Date to be off Lagos on 24 Jan
Austere Emergency Lift Capability Assuming more than 24 hour passage
(a) GLAMORGAN (Devonport)
(Portland area)
  1. 47 hours
  2. 8 hours
  1. AMP CD 12 Jan
  2. Work up 14 Jan-24 Feb

14 Jan
(b) LONDON (Portsmouth)
  1. 47 hours
  2. 8 hours
AMP CD 19 Jan

14 Jan
(c) FIFE (Malta) 8 hours
UK date for repair 30 Jan

16 Jan
      1. DD/FF
Availability to Deploy
Latest Deployment Date to be off Lagos on 24 Jan
Austere Emergency Lift Capability Assuming more than 24 hour passage
(a) WHITBY (Gibraltar)
8 hours
Gib Guardship commitment

18 Jan
(b) CAVALIER (Med force level)
8 hours Cagliari visit 12-16 Jan

Approx 17 Jan
(c) JUNG (Portsmouth area)
ZULU (deploying to Far East) (19 Jan)
8 hours
8 hours
  1. Earlier deployment date
  2. Late on F.B.S. station chop date 22 Feb
There is slack in the programme to Far East by cancelling visits
16 Jan
8 hours Bahamas patrol

Approx 15 Jan
      1. Units not covered in detail
Further DD/FF and RFA are at short notice in UK areas.
      1. Major Units
Latest Deployment Date to be off Dar Es Salaam on 24 Jan
Austere Emergency Lift Capability Assuming more than 24 hour passage
(a)INTREPID (Singapore)
47 hours notice
  1. Work up
  2. FEBEX
  3. P.M. dinner party 15 Jan
  1. Recommissions at Singapore 8-18 Jan
  2. Elements of 3 Cdo Brigade could embark
13 Jan
Without troops embarked 500
With troops embarked possibly 100
(b) TRIUMPH (Singapore)
47 hours notice
Far East Fleet maintenance (LLANDAFF, NAIAD, CHARYBDIS, LYNX, DIDO)
Notice dependent on FF/DD maintenance state
Approx 12 Jan
With full complement 500. With reduced complement up to 1000
(c) FORTH (Singapore)
Approx 47 hours notice
  1. Submarine support
  2. FEBEX
  1. Good lift capacity
  2. Max speed 12 knots

(d) LSL SIR TRISTRAM (Singapore ETD 6 Jan)
On passage Mauritius Simonstown 15 Jan-21 Jan
UK date

Approx 19 Jan
Up to 400 dependent on current loading
(e) LSL SIR GALAHAD (Singapore)
Extended notice
DED 2 Jan-3 Feb
Approx 8 Jan

(f) LSL SIR BEDIVERE (Gulf area)
13 Jan
Gulf Support
Repairs CD 13 Jan
Approx 17 Jan
Up to 400 dependent on current loading
      1. DD/FF
Latest Deployment Date to be off Dar Es Salaam on 24 Jan
Austere Emergency Lift Capability Assuming more than 24 hour passage
(a) PUMA (Beira Patr)
SALISBURY (Beira Patrol)
Immediate Beira commitment
21 Jan 100
(b) TARTAR Mozambique Channel area Beira 22 Jan Non operational at Gan until approx 13 Jan 21 Jan 100
(c) ASHANTI Immediate on passage Singapore Gulf 8-20 Jan
  1. Gulf force level
  2. AMP

Approx 18 Jan 100
(d) ESKIMO Immediate Gulf Area
  1. Gulf patrol
  2. Visits including probably Massawa Navy days

Approx 19 Jan 100
Immediate Passage Madras-Simonstown 6-19 Jan
UK date for DED

Approx 18 Jan
(f) CHARYBDIS (Singapore)
47 hours
  1. AMP CD 19 Jan
  2. FEBEX

13 Jan
(g) LLANDAFF (Singapore)
47 hours
  1. AMP CO 30 Jan
  2. FEBEX

13 Jan
(h) LYNX (Singapore)
  1. 47 hours
  2. Passage Beira 11-22 Jan
  1. AMP CD 11 Jan
  2. Delay Beira relief

13 Jan
Approx 19 Jan
(i) NAIAD (Singapore)
47 hours
  1. AMP CD 17 Jan
  2. Relief Hong Kong guardship

13 Jan
(j) DIDO (Singapore)
47 hours
  1. Docking CD 14 Jan
  2. AMP CD 6 Feb
  3. FEBEX

Approx 10 Jan
(k) AURORA (Hong Kong)
8 hours
  1. Hong Kong guardship
  2. Manilla visit 25-29 Jan
Not considered available for task

      1. RFA
Latest Deployment Date to be off Dar Es Salaam on 24 Jan
Austere Emergency Lift Capability Assuming more than 24 hour passage
  1. Beira Patrol 3-21 Jan
  2. FEBEX
21 Jan

(b) DENDALE (Gulf-Indian Ocean)
  1. Loading Gulf 16-19 Jan
  2. Mahe visit probable crew change and leave 26 Jan-9 Feb
  3. Beira Patrol 20 Feb
Approx 16 Jan
Approx 100

(c) Up to three more RFA
Singapore/Indian Ocean areas
  1. Freighting
  2. RAS

  1. ARMY

SPEARHEAD Bn Gp leading elements (Tac HQ and one coy)
24 hours to emplane
Remainder of SPEARHEAD Bn Gp
72 hours to emplane
An Airportable Bde Gp
7 days to emplane
Signals, Medical and other logistic units
7 days
    1. 4 Hercules and one Britannia to airlift leading elements of SPEARHEAD are at 24 hours notice
    2. 75% of ASC can be generated in 72 hours.

The National Archives of the UK: Public Record Office DEFE 5/188/5
© Crown Copyright 1971.
Reproduced under the terms of the Crown Copyright waiver on unpublished public records.