Stephen Miles played a critical role in saving the newly independent Tanzania from a military coup in 1964. He was Britain's Acting High Commissioner in Dar-es-Salaam when, on the night of 19 January, he received word that a section of the army had mutinied against President Nyerere. For an hour, Miles and his American counterpart were arrested by the mutineers before being released.
British warships, including the aircraft carrier Centaur, were on exercises in the Indian Ocean. Nyerere, who feared civil war, asked Miles for British assistance in putting down the rebellion.
Miles helped to fan the 'winds of change' towards decolonisation that swept through African countries from the 1950s to the 1980s. He served in nine Commonwealth countries, more than any other diplomat of his generation, particularly those seen as hardship posts by his Foreign and Commonwealth Office colleagues.