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Authors: John Urwin

The Sixteen

BOOK: The Sixteen
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A Bristol Sycamore helicopter on operations in the 1950s.
Known as a ‘hack’, this was the type used by ‘The Sixteen’.

This book is dedicated to the memory of the extraordinarily unique men who were THE SIXTEEN, especially Dynamo, Chalky, Spot and Ken, whoever you were – wherever you are.

riting this book has been a long, difficult task that could not have been achieved without a great deal of encouragement from my beloved wife Helen, who brought me back to life again.

Thank you, my darling, for putting up with me. Your endless patience, understanding and love got me through the difficult times.





ohn Urwin is my friend. We both operated clandestine operations in the Middle East – that is, in Nicosia, Beirut, Syria, Cairo and other locations.

John’s work was much more dangerous than mine as he was on the ground most of the time and I was in the air most of the time. Twenty years separated our tasks, John’s in the middle 1950s, mine in the middle 1970s.

Reading his book, I marched right along with John because I was so familiar with the areas he operated in. The reader will be just as enthralled as I was as John recounts every step of his involvement with The Sixteen, a highly classified and extremely efficient group of soldiers.

John introduces us to ‘The Machine’, ‘a weapon or tool which will enable you to disarm your enemy no matter what weapon he is carrying, whether pistols, rifles, sub-machine guns, machetes, batons, knives etc., and no matter what protection he might be
wearing.’ He goes on to elaborate: The Machine ‘programmed into your subconscious’ gives you the ability to control your adversary, kill him or to do sufficient damage to prevent him from fighting back, without incurring any injury to yourself.

He then introduces us to the ‘Sash’, a weapon so effective yet so innocuous as to defy believability. Each chapter of
The Sixteen: One Step Beyond
has us riding in helicopters, boats and all other manner of transportation on secret missions against an assortment of enemies, real and named.

Just when we’ve thought we’ve heard everything, John tells us about his encounter with what are known today as ‘flying saucers’, which he calls ‘secular flying objects’, and to further blow our minds with a description of the capture of a small, black, oblong box containing ‘Advanced Technology’, during a mission north-west of Amman, Jordan, which included eliminating thirty or so hostiles.

John Urwin’s book tells an amazing story that happened over forty years ago, and his narrative brings the reader along every dangerous step of the way.


, Las Vegas

very individual SPECOPS operator, whether from a military, law-enforcement or intelligence-agency background, needs to be able to survive in a high-risk environment. Such survival must be achieved without weaponry or any form of logistical backup. Today’s SPECOPS operators need to be able to operate effectively on their own and make use of locally available resources.

Unarmed combat situations are one of the most stressful situations a SPECOPS operator is likely to face. During such encounters, tunnel vision occurs and it is difficult, if not impossible, to perform complex or fine motor movements.

The key to survival in any hostile environment (HE) involving close-quarter combat is to have a system that is simple, yet brutally effective. A system that provides for the maximum chance of success, with a minimal use of physical and mental energy.

There is a need for a close-quarter combat system that is both instinctive and natural. Specifically a system that can be used
to defeat every conceivable form of attack from either single or multiple assailants.

The Urwin Combat System (UCS) meets these needs. It is a close-quarter combat system that can be used effectively to dominate any hostile environment.

The Urwin Combat System is based on a series of biomechanical movements known as the Urwin Machine. The Urwin Machine comprises a series of gross motor upper-body movements that are learned by consistently practising them until they become instinctive. Once these simple and repetitive movements are learnt, the SPECOPS operator can defeat a variety of assaults by assailants armed with blunt weapons, knives, pistols or long arms.

The Urwin Combat System is not a new development in the field of unarmed and close-quarter combat. However, it has only recently been introduced and marketed as it has proven its adaptability to any hostile environment, whether on sea, land or air.

The Urwin Machine is a critical element of the Urwin Combat System which is a wholly integrated close-quarter combat method. As such it provides SPECOPS operators with the confidence to survive high-risk encounters.

On completion of any one or all of the courses provided by UCS-accredited instructors, students will have the following:

A method of close-quarter combat that is able to neutralise any attack by armed or unarmed assailants in a close-quarters environment.

The confidence to apply a set of simple gross motor movements to neutralise any attack in a close-quarters environment.

The ability to operate in an undercover or close-protection role without requiring personal weapons or logistical backup.

Put you in control.

RWIN, 2015

wo jerks on the rope – my signal to go. Spot, who was also holding the rope, tapped my shoulder.

‘OK, Geordie, off you go!’ he hissed into my ear, then turning away whispered slightly louder, ‘Chalky, Dynamo’s on the ledge! You’re OK to go!’

‘OK.’ A faint reply came from further along the clifftop where Chalky had set up another belay point.

Apprehensively, I readied myself on the edge of the cliff. No matter how many times I practised, it always gave me a weird feeling to launch myself over a precipice into a black void not knowing where the end of my rope was. As quickly and quietly as I could I abseiled down to where I knew Dynamo would be waiting below. The cliff face consisted of huge rocks and boulders interspersed with little shrubby bushes and smaller, looser rocks and stones, several of which I dislodged with my feet as I made my way down. They clattered ahead of me into the blackness below
and, as I couldn’t hear them hitting the ground, I realised just how high the cliff must be, but as it was pitch dark I had no idea just how far it was to the bottom.

As my feet made contact with solid ground, two strong hands suddenly grabbed my shoulders and pushed me hard against the face of the cliff. ‘Take it easy, Geordie!’ Dynamo’s voice quietly urged. ‘Be careful you don’t move too far away, stay as close to the cliff face as possible. I think this track is only a few feet wide so try not to dislodge any boulders or anything like that; if we knock something over the edge and they hear us we could be in real trouble,’ he whispered. ‘We’ll have to find out just how big this ledge is before the others get down, it could get a bit crowded.’

It was so dark that I could barely make out my own hands as I detached my ‘dog-clip’, a 9-inch-long karabiner, from the heavy rope and gave the signal for Spot to follow me. (A karabiner is a metal clip with a spring-loaded gate, used by mountaineers for connecting ropes, or anchoring a rope to a piton.)

As he began his descent, Dynamo and I dropped to our hands and knees and inched away from the cliff face. For a few moments we fumbled around in the dark as we tried to find out just exactly how wide the track was. Moving only a fraction of an inch at a time and cautiously placing one hand in front of the other, I made my way forward for about three yards, then suddenly my outstretched hand felt only empty space beneath it and I realised that I was only a couple of feet from the edge. Picking up the smallest stone I could find, I dropped it over to see what would happen – but heard nothing! Carefully I shuffled backwards and whispered over my shoulder to Dynamo.

‘I’ve found the edge, mate, you were right it’s only about nine feet away from the cliff face so watch what you’re doing,’ I warned him as Spot landed just behind us.

‘We’ll have to find a safe place to rest up until daylight,’ Dynamo said quietly. ‘Get your gear and try to find yourself a little hole somewhere, Geordie.’

I carefully crawled back to the cliff face to collect my bag and gear and then moved off to my left in order to investigate a little further in that direction. A slight scuffling noise stopped me in my tracks and then I heard Chalky urgently whispering.

‘Hey, chaps, I’m over here! Are you all OK?’ His voice sounded as if it was coming from a slightly higher position a bit further along the track.

‘Yeah, we’re alright. How about you? Where are you, Chalky, I can’t make you out?’ I replied as quietly as possible, turning my head towards his voice and peering into the blackness.

‘Bloody well dangling in mid-air – I’ve come to the end of my rope!’ he hissed. ‘I can’t see a bloody thing either, Geordie, but you sound a bit of a way off – over to my right.’

‘Can’t you try to swing across and drop off over this way or try to go back up and come down our rope?’

‘No! There’s too many loose rocks just here and if I dislodge any it’ll make a helluva a racket. And I can’t go back up, I haven’t brought my rope keys.’

‘Well, I’ll try and work my way further along towards you then, just hang on a minute.’

‘Oh, very funny! Where the hell am I going to go?’

With my face pressed against the cliff, I slowly and cautiously began to feel my way along it with my hands outstretched, fumbling along its uneven surface. Suddenly, without warning my left foot found nothing beneath it and I stumbled and almost fell – the track had completely disappeared. I desperately scrabbled for a handhold, digging my fingers into the cliff face to prevent falling any further, and quickly got my foot back on to the solid ground.

My voice came out in a hoarse whisper: ‘Bloody hell, Chalky!’ I exclaimed, ‘I don’t think there’s anything under you, the flamin’ track peters out just here. Whatever you do don’t attempt to drop down. I’ll go back for our rope and try to get it across to you.’

Warily I began to edge my way back towards Spot and Dynamo, whose quiet voices I could just make out as I fumbled towards them.

‘We’ve come down in the right area, Geordie,’ Dynamo said quietly. ‘According to our map this used to be a very narrow road around the cliff past the front of the cave. There’s not much of it still intact, it must’ve been washed away, and in fact I think this bit of ledge is all that’s left. But I’ve just been along it quite a way to our right and it gets a little wider further on, just where it leads around to the entrance of the cave where we saw those truck lights last night. The trouble is it looks too open, if we go in that way we’ll have no cover and we’ll lose the element of surprise. If they spot us on that ledge we won’t stand a chance, it’s so narrow there’ll be nowhere to go. We need to find a back way into this place. What’s it like along that way?’

‘Any sign of Chalky, yet?’ Spot asked before I had time to answer.

‘Yeah, he’s hanging over there to our left. He’s come to the end of his rope with nothing beneath him, this track just disappears about twenty feet along that way,’ I told them. ‘I couldn’t see him but he sounds OK. I think he’s going to need help to get down though, I don’t think he’ll be able to manage it on his own.’

‘Great that’s all we need! I always knew that silly sod would come to the end of his bloody rope one day!’ Dynamo said evenly.

‘But he shouldn’t be! I reckon this cliff to be only about 110 feet and he’s got a 120-foot rope.’

‘I know what’ll have happened; he’s obviously come down
from a higher point than us in the dark. But still, this track shouldn’t run out just there,’ Spot pointed out. ‘According to our map it should go along that way for at least another hundred yards or so; there must have been some pretty heavy flash floods in the area, which would explain why so much of it’s been washed away.’

Flash floods were a problem at this time of year, especially in the mountain regions. Our journey up here in the dark had been fairly tricky for the same reason, when we’d encountered a similar hazard on the narrow track we’d been following where it had almost disappeared.

In order to avoid bumping into an army patrol or a group of terrorists, we’d been travelling without lights along a little used and fairly steep path, which eventually disappeared into nothing more than a goat track. As it had progressively narrowed to barely the width of the jeep, the vehicle’s wheels had suddenly spun out over a sheer drop where the edge had been completely washed away. It had been obvious to us that the rest of our journey would have to be made on foot and so Dynamo had pulled the jeep off the track on to a small clearing beneath a cliff overhang and we’d concealed it as best we could behind some little scrubby bushes and small trees.

We’d all closely studied a detailed map of the region before we set off, so we knew that we’d be able to follow this old track to where we believed the terrorists were holed up. It would be difficult in the dark due to the rough terrain but, by taking a circular route, we’d eventually get to within at least two to three hundred yards west of the area.

Earlier, on our way up we’d caught sight of the tail lights of a truck across the gorge, which had been a stroke of luck for us, as we hadn’t wanted to travel much further in the jeep and maybe
alert the terrorists. By spotting it, we’d saved having to search the entire vicinity for their exact location.

‘They must be pretty confident that they won’t be seen, to use their lights like that,’ Chalky had commented dryly. ‘Let’s get to some higher ground and have a look around.’

We’d begun to climb, but had only gone a few hundred yards from the jeep when he’d suddenly stopped us and pointed ahead.

Following the direction of his outstretched arm, we’d been able to make out a small red glow and looking through our binoculars, we’d clearly seen the dark outline of a man standing smoking a cigarette, lit from behind by a flickering light, possibly from a fire within a cave. Another stroke of luck: now we had an exact position for them!

We’d grouped together, pulling our jackets over our heads, and checked our bearings on the map. It was obvious that by walking and climbing the rest of the way, we’d be able to manoeuvre into a position above and behind the terrorists to a point where we could descend a cliff face with a drop of roughly one hundred feet on to a narrow old track. Once on there, we’d be able to stay in that place until daylight, but failure to get it right would result in possibly having to abseil down more than two hundred feet on ropes that were only one hundred and twenty feet long! Although we had the ability to do this if necessary, it would have been a difficult descent.

Now, it appeared that by abseiling down from a point further along the clifftop, Chalky had run into a bit of a problem, although neither Spot nor Dynamo seemed unduly concerned about the situation.

‘We’ll just have to leave him there until it’s lighter,’ Spot said casually. ‘We might as well get this rope down now, Dynamo; we won’t need it to climb back up if you think we can get around that way.’

‘Here, I’ll do it,’ I told him and gave a yank on the light line, which Spot, as last man down, had brought with him.

This light line was attached to a 5-inch metal wedge and tied on to the other end of our heavy rope, which was held in place by a highwayman’s noose around a small tree about ten feet from the edge of the cliff. The wedge was holding this noose in place and once it was removed, by sharply tugging on the light line, the noose in the heavy rope was released and both it and the light line came crashing down at my feet.

Grabbing one end of the abseil rope, I quickly coiled it up, wrapped it around my shoulder and carefully felt my way back towards Chalky. I didn’t like the idea of leaving him hanging in mid-air for over an hour; I knew just how painful the rope harnesses could be. Besides, it was freezing up here and it hadn’t stopped raining for hours.

‘Chalky,’ I hissed. ‘I’m going to try to throw a rope to you. Get ready!’

Although I could hear him and knew he couldn’t be that far away, I only had a rough idea of where he actually was, as I could see nothing at all; it was going to be difficult to get the rope to him. Feeling my way with my hands and feet, I got as close to the edge as I dared in the dark, when my left hand brushed against a small bush at the base of the cliff. I tugged at it to see how good a hold it had, then swiftly tied one end of the rope around it, so that it would be easy to retrieve it if it fell when I threw it out to Chalky. I coiled the rest of the rope up and with difficulty threw it across to where I believed him to be. But it missed and I heard it fall.

On my second attempt, I tried to throw it higher and further, hoping it would drop down on top of him, but again it was an awkward throw, right-handed, between my body and the cliff face, and once more the rope missed him. Gathering it up again,
I decided to give it another go, but this time I’d try it with my left hand.

‘What’s that racket? What are you doing, Geordie?’ Dynamo’s urgent whisper came out of the darkness to my right.

‘I’m trying to get a rope over to Chalky.’

‘Just leave it until it gets a bit lighter, you can’t do anything in the dark.’

‘OK. But I’ll just give it one more go.’

Gathering the rope into extra loops in my left hand, I held on to a rock jutting from the cliff face with my right hand and leaned out further, as far as I dared, in order to swing it higher; this time it seemed to catch on something so I gave it a yank.

‘Have you got it, Chalky?’

‘Have I hell!’

Just then, I felt the rope drop and, as it fell past, I made a grab for it. But thrown off balance, I instantly lost my footing, fell over backwards into the dark and began to slide down an embankment on my back towards the edge. Desperately I twisted and struggled, trying to use my right leg to push my body over on to my front, all the while grabbing at anything I could to try to stop my fall – but still I slid downwards. Then suddenly, the back of my right knee hooked on to something and I came to an abrupt halt, upside down with my head and shoulders hanging in space. Immediately I froze solid, too terrified to move a muscle.

I was breathing heavily and could feel my heart pounding in my chest. I appeared to be caught up on a small bush or shrub, which was all that was preventing me from falling, God knows how far, and I gripped it as hard as I could with my leg. If I hadn’t had my knee bent at that precise moment, or had been just a few inches further over, either way I would have completely missed it and that would have been that!

Damn, I thought. My first job and already I’m messing it up.

I was worried but tried to compose myself. Clearly, something was preventing me from falling further so I reasoned that if I could grab on to it I might be able to pull myself back up. I made a desperate attempt to get hold of the bush or shrub but the second I grabbed hold the whole thing bent towards me and my body began to slip. Instantly I froze again. It was obvious that if I tried to move I was going to fall, besides I couldn’t risk dislodging anything. There was nothing else for it, I was going to have to try to attract the attention of Spot and Dynamo and risk whispering as loudly as I dared.

‘Dynamo! Spot!’

BOOK: The Sixteen
13.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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