I am not on about your hair,your teeth or you libido,I would like to know from the lads who were there at the end,what happened to all the equipment etc.Did you leave fuel,compressors,spares,tools,fire engines,all the other vehicles. Were they all removed over a time or were they left?. Did the mcu lads sail their craft home? ,what about the golf clubs,sailing dingys,canoes,radio gan transmitters records etc? All the gym equipment,naffi stores,booze from the bars and various messes? Mpbw stores and equip,and all the met gear?.Then on your last day,did you all get up,march up to the airfield,leaving your beds,lockers,posters etc and just go?..WHO TOOK THE SIGNPOST OUTSIDE THE BLUE LAGOON,THE CROSS FROM THE CHURCH,THE 180 CLUB SIGN,THE FOOTBALL TROPHIES ETC?? Come on boys let us know what happened at the end or the run up to it...Larry
All the heavy equipment was dumped in the sea Geordie. The plant, aircraft towing tractors, landrovers etc were all driven off the end of the jetty.
Some of the newer vehicles were flown back to uk, but most of it was just ditched.
I think a lot of the portable kit was given to the Maldie room boys.
I would like to find out what happened to the rest of the kit, especially the signpost
Me too, lads,I would love to find out where the signpost, the 180 Club sign and the Siggies bar sign ended up.
Well, the signpost is not in my garage, so someone else must have it - so gonna check behind the fridge, that's if I can move it....gotta empty a few more first....
I've a feeling I saw the signpost in a photo of Gan after we left. There was also one outside the Hermitage Club.
Just about all of the MPBW "Plant" was shipped back to the UK on the MV Port St Lawrence and some came back as deck and hold cargo on RFA Sir Percivale. To my knowledge nothing was "dumped" as everything else was handed over to the Maldivian Government. The airfield was handed over as a working concern including the tower, Met., and all radio and navigational aids. They had even been reclibrated by the Cal Flight Argosy which many of us flew with during their stay at Gan. The CO's staff car and the crash landrover came back on Sir Percivale but the other fire vehicles were left.The foam layer and a fairly new fuel bowser were shipped on Port St Lawrence. The MCU Pinnace and RTTL were left along with the landing craft. The RSL 1667 came back as deck cargo to the army port unit at Southampton along with NAAFI Stores and the NAAFI Wagon on Sir Percivale. The aircraft crash lift and recovery equipment and all the specialist oils and lubricants were recovered on Sir Percivale.
As far as I know Radio Gan equipment was also recovered and brought back but what happened to the Golf and Sailing Clubs gear I haven't a clue.
6SU was of course recovered by REU Henlow just after Christmas and we operated from 38Grp air transportable cabin equipment. The Photo Section was left as is including all the kit except for the cameras that I brought back and were eventually handed over to the Equipment recovery section some 12 months later (I thought I had gained a Pentax kit!!!)
Don't know about the other signs around the camp, but the 180 signs were burnt on a bonfire on the beach at the last bar-b-q.
If you look through my gallery you will see all these in photos, but rest assured there was no sea dumping of equipment other than possibly any ammunition or pyros that were around Gan.
A lot of RAF Gan was subsequently shipped up th Male including the RTTL 2756 which the old President grabbed as his personal yacht.
All the bikes were corraled at Suppy Squadron, but for the life of me I cannot remember what we did with our rooms. I think the room boys returned all the bedding to Stores on the penultimate day. The last night we all slept on Sir Percivale and then those caught for the parade, plus Dave Chappel and myself went back to the island for the final parade and handover.
The afternoon before, when everyone was on Sir Percivale, I stayed on Gan by myself and walked round the totally deserted island taking some last photos, a most weird experience!!
That must have been a very sad and emotional day, dont know if I could have done it. Still get a bit choked up sometimes thinking about the place.
Hoping you would come on Richard. Looked your photos many times,but still best to have personal touch regards explanation. I did not know if the VC10 or the ship was last to leave. Lorraine Lee who came onto the site was crewing the last vc10. I knew they must have left some fire/rescue equip just for the last vc10,also some nav/aids,but wasnt sure if they had trained some Maldies to man the ATC just for the last take-off. First time I went back and started asking questions the Maldies were at pains to tell me that Male had come down and taken anything of any use,leaving Addu to get on with it.Addu did not like it then and do not now,hence the army camp on Gan..That first time back I also walked the whole perimiter by myself at dusk,and that did set the shivers down ones spine 35 yrs on..Dissapointed at the signs being burnt but where would you put them if they had gotten home?.I still think someone will know where the signpost is or went.I have since been told that the locals took the bedding/catering equip and stores that were left,and that they had to be quick as the government werent far offshore waiting till the RAF were far enough away.Regards any ammo etc,when I was in Borneo[RAF Tawau] at the end of the confrontation,we spent a week in the armoury wiping grease from all the ammo etc 7x3tonner loads all loaded onto a navy minesweeper and dumped at sea,probably the same on Gan..As another aside I know you were station photographer at Raaf Butterworth where I was with 33sqdn[bloodhounds] after leaving Borneo in late 66.I have seen your photos of the twin pioneer that crashed into the paddy fields at the end of the runway.Well I did 2 nights guard on that crash and anybody out there that thinks they have seen a few snakes should have done those guards with anice fire to atract the snakes in their hundreds,and also a few Malays trying to steal a few bits.Never saw a snake on Gan,but my pal Derek once disturbed a mass of them in an old ILS building...Never mind Richard,I would like you to e-mail me your adress so as I can send you this dvd we made 69/03/05,an hour of nostalgia and no charge...Thank you Larry
I thought some other of you last-leavers would have come on and given your thoughts,for instance did the camp just come to a halt or was there still air traffic right up till the end.Did the swo have you all getting things ready for to be shipped.Did the Astra close early,did the 180 keep open until the last morning?.How much notice did you have of RAF Gan closing,did you get a choice of postings.[we had little choice in Borneo,10 days to the closing of RAF Tawau and told where you were going,no choice!].Also,when did the FEAF close down for good,and where did they use for stopovers once Gan was gone...Larry
It was all there when I left, so suggest you ask the last guy who turned the light out.
I left in the February so don't really know what happened to it all but I would like to know what happened to the THUNDERBOLT sailing boat.
I contribute to the RAF Seletar forum and this is where the Thunderbolt was designed and built. About 10 or 12 of them I think. I sailed Golden Eagle at Seletar and when Seletar closed down the boats were distributed, mostly to Hong Kong I think. Seem to remember it was 'Stormy Eagle' (black hull) that finished up in Gan.
Anyone know where it went?
RAF Seletar Association Website http://www.rafseletar.co.uk/home.htm
Go to 'Reunions' / 'Members Forum'
Many of the records from Radio Gan wound up at BFBS Belize where I would spin them again from Jan 83-Jun 84. Rumour had it that they first went to the BBC where they introduced some kind of fungus that started wrecking the other vinyl there.
I left on the next but last VC10 in January 76. I was a civvy in the Met Office. At the time we were all asking what was going to happen to all the stuff. If my memory is correct (unlikely!), and I don't know if this all actually happened, but: the airfield was to be left operational. Personnel (ATC MET Fire Brigade etc) necessary for aircraft operations, would see off the last VC10 and return to UK on the boat. The Met mercury barometer was to be presented to the Atoll Chief. It couldn't be returned to UK cos the mercury in it was dangerous air cargo. The CO's car was also going to the Atoll chief. (gotta keep your chickens somewhere) and almost everything else was going in the oggin!!
Sorry all for not getting back sooner. Been travelling and only got back a matter of hours ago.
Whilst in Cyprus we were able to visit RAF Akrotiri with the help of the local RAFA Branch. I'm afraid the RAF just isn't the same and I'm rather pleased that I served my time before the "wonder boys" at MOD and in Government started experimenting. It appears that it will only take one more mad move at the top and all RAF aircraft will carry "EasyJet" markings and Squadrons and personnel will be "sponsored" and carry sponsors logos and markings!!!!! So all of you thank your lucky stars that you served your Queen and Country when you did.
As far as the final days go, the last VC10 with Lorraine, left the day before RFA Sir Percivale. The airfield was then still fully operational, ATC, Met, Fire Section, Medical, Comms etc. As soon as the VC10 made contact with Masirah and came under their control, and Cyprus, the mad rush to recover all the kit that was to be recovered took place. That was when I stayed on the island by myself and did that final walk-about.
I had forgotten about your Butterworth connection Larry. As well as being Chairman of the 103MU Reunion Group and editor of the Newsletter, I'm also a member of the RAF Butterworth and Penang Association and distribute the Newsletter for the Association. I have a library of photos of Butterworth about the same size as my Gallery on the Gan site.
I was on Base Radio at Butterworth, so our bosses were all RAAF, though we did have an RAF F/Sgt at transmitters. As well as looking after the ATC and NavAids I spent some time looking after Bayen Lepas and Alor Star as well as spending time at Gong Kedah and a great deal of time at Bidan/SongSong.
One of the rules for servicing any of the airfield NavAids equipment that was stressed very strongly on arrival, was that one made a lot of noise on approaching the buildings and banged the aerials and any cable entries before entering. You also took great care lifting any cable duct covers inside.
Bidan/SongSong was even worse and I know of at least one very close shave with a Crate that was curled round a support on the "bridge" that connected one of the plotting towers to the island. That particular day a group of us walked from the beach where we got off the RSL across the rocks instead of along the cliff path. As we climbed up to the tower, the lad who was leading reach up to grab the support and just spotted the Crate in time. A very close shave indeed!!! Bidan of course was alive with Cobras and King Cobras and there were always Sea Snakes around which was why we kept so many dogs around the camp area.
Still this is not the place to remonise about Butterworth. Strangely though one of the Sgts at Butterworth, Ray Morgan I met again for the first time for some 30 years at the Odiham Gan Reunion. We have stayed in touch and he also attended this years 103MU Reunion having also done a stint with the Unit.
Been back to Penang and Singapore three times and going again next year, possibly for the 50th *****ka Celebrations.