On January 19, 1839, the British East India Company landed Royal Marines at Aden to occupy the territory and stop attacks by pirates against British shipping to India. The British Army considered Aden an important place due to its location, as the Navy could easily access the port at Aden for fueling purposes. Following Britain’s treaty concerning the colonization of territory in the present day Yemen, the Sultanate of Lahej resisted which led to a series of skirmishes between the two sides. In response to the incidents, a small force of British warships and soldiers were sent to Arabia which succeeded in defeating the Arab defenders, who held a fortress on Sira Island, and occupied the nearby port of Aden.
In 1835, an agreement was made with the local Sultan to use Aden as a coaling station. Two years later though, locals were accused of maltreating the survivors of a shipwreck. The Sultan agreed to sell his port to the Bombay government as restitution. However, the Sultan’s son and other local chiefs objected when a Naval delegation arrived to finalize transference. An expedition was dispatched by the British East India Company.
In 1839, Captain Stafford Haines of the Indian Navy landed from Bombay with 700 men and a couple of Royal Naval sloops in support. At a cost of only 15 casualties he annexed Aden to the Bombay Presidency. It was the first imperial acquisition of Queen Victoria’s reign and one destined to carry some flavor of the Victorian Age far into the twentieth century. It was soon to prove the strategic worth of its location when the main telegraph wires linking Britain to India came ashore in Aden in 1859. This was some 5 years before the main telegraph line linking Britain to India was functioning fully.
Later, British influence extended progressively into the hinterland, both west and east, with the establishment of the Aden Protectorate. Aden soon became an important transit port and coaling station for trade between British India and the Far East, and Europe. The commercial and strategic importance of Aden increased considerably when the Suez Canal opened in 1869. From then and until the 1960s, the Port of Aden was to be one of the busiest ship-bunkering, duty-free shopping, and trading ports in the world.
In 1937, Aden was separated from British India to become a Crown Colony, a status that it retained until 1963. It consisted of the port city of Aden and its immediate surroundings (an area of 192 km², 75 square miles). The Aden Settlement, and later Aden Colony, also included the outlying islands of Kamaran, Perim and Kuria Muria.
Scott #39 was issued on October 1, 1951, part of a series of surcharges upon the introduction of new currency to Aden Colony (100 cents = 1 shilling). The 3 annas rose carmine and dark brown stamp originally released on January 19, 1939, portraying the capture of Aden received a surcharge of 20 cents in black ink. The recess-printed stamps with multi-script CA, perforated 12½, had the surcharge applied by Waterlow & Sons Ltd., the original printers.