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The Royal Air Force as seen by John Cooper

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205/209 Sunderland Squadron RAF Seletar


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It has been proposed to hold a 50th anniversary of the closure of the last Sunderland base in the RAF which occurred in May 1959. On soundings already made to record this event there are two static Sunderlands on display in the UK, one at the RAF Museum Hendon which you are able to walk through from the starboard door at the rear and one at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford where you can view the inside from a ladder platform through the bomb door. Although on the last reunion to Duxford IWM Duxford bent over backwards to accomodate our wishes and really put on a first class show by allowing 19 of us to 'crawl' throughout the aircraft and to sit in the cockpit with photos being 'officially' taken.   This event would be held in May 2009 and if you served on any Sunderland squadron whilst in service anywhere and would like to attend this reunion please let me know by email on the contact on the header of this page.
 

A moth-eaten rag on a worm eaten pole,
It does not look likely to stir a man's soul;
'Tis the deeds that were done 'neath the moth-eaten rag,
When the pole was a staff and the rag was a flag.
Sir Edward Hamley

From Alex (Tich) Carrie service records,
13-2-1958 to Trincomalee. 23- 2- 1958 back to Seletar
24-9-1958  to China Bay    4-10-1958   back to Seletar
17-12-1958 to China Bay    21-12- 1958 back to Seletar
The three times that I went to China bay two were overnight stops on the way to Gan, and one was to do an engine change on DP198 "W" The engine change, I went to China Bay on a Hasty bird with the new engine on board and flew back on DP198.
The aircraft that I went to Gan on were ML797 "P", the last flying boat in RAF service and RN303 "R" the latter one was the Aircraft that nearly never made it back and was declared cat. 5 on our return and never flew again. I thought one of these trips was in 1957 but I see from my service records that I flew to Labuan on the 19-11-1957 on an anti piracy patrol then to Kia-Tak on the 6-12-1957 and came back on the 4-1-1958 so the first trip to Gan must have been on 13-2-1958.
 
 
Denis Williams wrote: 

I was quite busy, trying to free a fuel jettison pipe, which had been left down on landing on a Sunderland Flying Boat. Not too difficult a job, on land, but this had to be done on the oggin. Fitted  out with the usual accoutrements, hacksaw tied to one wrist and file to the other, I jumped into the sea. I'd spent the best part of an hour, most of it underwater, sawing and then filing the offending object, when a voice said." Do you need any help"?

Looking down at me from the galley hatch, was a young, recently arrived Sergeant , whose name evades me: armourer as I recall. I intended to ask him to remove the free end of the pipe, from inside the aircraft, whilst I carried out any adjustment from under the hull. I answered him with. " Yes I would thanks".  My surprise, as he stripped off his shirt and jumped into the water, quickly turned to laughter as he was swept past me by the ten knot current, arms waving lips shouting some obscenity. 

He hadn't noticed that I was secured to the aircraft by a rope, but was rescued within minutes by the bomb scow. I don't think he ever spoke to me again, or repeated his experience to many.
 
Any more stories...................... visit here for members of this squadron and station http://RAFForum.activeboard.com/
 
 

205 Squadron
 
Number 205 (M.R.) Squadron originally formed as No. 5 Squadron Royal Naval Air Service at Coudekerque, France on 31/12/1916 and was equipped with Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter aircraft. The squadron was allotted the task of day and night bombing, but by the end of July 1917 was re-equipped with D.H. 4's when the main role changed to day bombing. In February 1918 No. 5 Squadron was attached to the 5th Brigade Royal Flying Corps for operations on the Western Front, and during the German Spring Offensive was engaged in attacking enemy aerodromes , dumps, canal bridges, troops and transport. The opposition encountered during March was extremely severe, numerous combats taking place , during which 17 enemy aircraft were either destroyed or driven down out of control by pilots and observers of the Squadron. When the R.F.C. and R.N.A.S. were amalgamated on the 01/04/1918 to form the Royal Air Force, in order that the squadrons and wings of the two services should retain their original identity, it was arranged that all R.N.A.S. squadrons should be re-numbered with the prefix 200. No.5 Squadron R.N.A.S. therefore became known as 205 Squadron Royal Air Force. When the British offensive opened in August 1918 the Squadron's main task was the bombing of the Somme bridges, and during the general British advance was continuously engaged in harassing the enemy withdrawal. After the Armistice the Squadron returned to England and was disbanded in January 1920. It reformed again in April at RAF Leuchars where it remained until again it was disbanded in 1923.

On 17/05/1927 a special formation of Southampton flying boats was formed at Felixstowe, Suffolk and five months later left Plymouth under the command of Group Captain Cave-Brown-Cave for a 24000 mile 'cruise' to Australia. The Squadron arrived at Seletar on 28/02/1928 to become the first unit of The Far East Command. This was commemorated on the Squadron crest which includes the motto 'Pertama Di Malaya' (The First in Malaya). The unit was re-designated No. 205 Squadron on 08/01/1929. At the beginning of 1935 the Squadron was re-equipped with Short Singapore flying boats and became the first R.A.F. unit overseas to be re-equipped by air.

When the Japanese first struck in December 1941 No.205 Squadron was still at Seletar and had re-equipped with Catalina aircraft in April that year. operations against enemy shipping were carried out during December and January, with severe losses, and in addition to anti-submarine patrols, bombing attacks were flown against airfields in Malaya. Special attention was also paid to the area where The Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk, to prevent the Japanese sending divers down to the wrecks searching for technical data. By the end of January 1941, air raids made the position at Seletar untenable and on the 31/01/1941 the Squadron with the remaining aircraft moved to Batavia (Djakarta). Two days later it moved again , this time to Oosthaven, Sumatra. After the fall of Pelambang the squadron with four remaining aircraft moved to Tjilatap, Java where daily patrols were maintained. One aircraft flew to Colombo, Ceylon, carrying important service passengers, another was sent to Emmhaven on a special task whilst a third was damaged beyond repair when depth charges exploded when being unloaded. When emergency evacuation was ordered,the Squadron's one remaining Catalina, which was only partly serviceable flew to Broome, Western Australia. The remaining Squadron personnel were evacuated by sea and eventually 112 got through to Melbourne. The Squadron disbanded at the end of March 1942, the last action being on the 03/03/1942 whn long range Zero fighters attacked the Catalina which had just arrived from Emmhaven, killing most of the crew and destroying all aircraft on the water and landing ground. No. 205 reformed at Koggala, Ceylon in July 1942 and continued the operational task of of anti-submarine patrols, shipping escorts, weather reconnaissance and search and rescue duties until the Japanese surrender in 1945. During this period it re-armed with Sunderland flying boats.

In October 1949 the unit returned to Seletar and during the Korean War operated with the UN forces from Iwakuni in Japan. In Malaya the Squadron played an important part in the war against the terrorist gangs in the jungle, being used for bombing and strafing the bandit camp areas and other targets in the remote jungle. In addition to these operations the Squadron's responsibilities for search and rescue operations were maintained and aircraft were frequently called out to help shipping in distress. At the beginning of 1958 the Squadron headquarters were moved to RAF Changi when being re-armed with Avro Shackleton Mk.1A but this must have been unique in Royal Air Force history when two squadrons were equipped with two completely different type of aircraft,one a land based squadron, the other a shore based squadron at different stations but a handful of miles apart.

 

209 Squadron

Formed out of Number 9 Squadron RNAS on 1st April 1918 at Clairmarais, 209 Squadron hit the headlines on April 21st 1918 with being credited with the shooting down in air to air combat of Baron von Richthofen in his famous Fokker Triplane. Captain Roy Brown flying a Sopwith Camel took the credit for this feat of airmanship however in recent years the credit has gone to an Australian Sergeant who fired at Richthofen's Fokker from the ground. Whatever the arguments 209 Squadron was instrumental in downing the first world war fighter ace who had previously accounted for 80 British and French aircraft victories. Further reading on Manfred von Richthofen at www.anzacs.net/MvR_English.htm

Squadron disbanded 24.06.1919

Reformed  15.03.1930 Iris Flying Boats

                          1934 Perth Flying Boats

                          1936 Singapore Flying Boats

                          1938  Stranraer Flying Boats

                          1939  Lerwick Flying Boats

                          1941 Catalina Amphibious Aircraft

                          1945  Sunderland Flying Boats

To RAF Seletar, Singapore 18th May 1946 renamed "City of Hong Kong "  Squadron

January 1st 1955 209 Squadron merged with 205 Squadron and on 1st November 1958 demerged from 205 Squadron.. 

 

  



It was at this time, February 1958, that my first posting resulted in me ending up on the last Flying Boat Squadron in the RAF, my service records state 04/02/1958 and after 24 hours on Singapore Island was asked to sign for my General Service Medal (GSM) with clasp 'Malaya', this was 'awarded ' on 12/03/1958. The squadron was still known as 205/209 until a change of title to 205 Squadron on 01/11/1958 after this date I was 'surplus to requirements' and posted to RAF Katunayake in Ceylon on 12/12/1958. Click on to http://rafkatunayake.tripod.com/


I arrived at Paya Lebar airport in Singapore after a 10 day trip from Blackbushe airport in the UK on an Airwork Handley Page Hermes G-ALDC. Taken immediately to RAF Seletar by an RAF coach was an experience I shall never forget where every child I saw waiting to go to school was immaculately dressed with those pristine condition white shirts and a parting in their jet black hair. I was not aware of my place of work until the necessary form filling was achieved at Station Head Quarters where upon I was informed that my posting was to 205/209 Sunderland Flying Boat Squadron. At 18 years of age the world was my oyster, I had reported to the Squadron headquarters in the only hangar on East Camp and was shown around the hangar, and how the aircraft were serviced and then I was taken to the crewroom on First Line Servicing, would you believe it this was Seletar Yacht Club complete with verandah, here was my first 'real' posting in the RAF, someone took me on to the pier and then we travelled out to one of the last seven flying boats in the RAF on a motorised dinghy in the Causeway, a wide strip of water separating Singapore Island and the Malayan mainland.

Was this all a dream, well it turned out to be reality for 10 months, sunshine every day with usually torrential rain at about 1600hrs but that didn't matter, in one minute you were soaked to the bone and within 5 minutes of the rain stopping you were dry again almost as if you had been working in a laundry with the heat extracting every ounce of moisture from your clothing. I could never recall seeing a Flying Boat in real life but here I was inside one, to me this was huge and the terminology used was that you were more on a boat than an aircraft, mooring bollard, anchor, galley, bilge pump, aft hatch, boat hook, bunks, gangway planks, a fog bell, ad infinitum........

As an engine mechanic I was shown the Before Flight and After Flight Servicing schedules and shown what to check for on the 4 Twin Wasp engines, how to sit on a propeller boss or stand on the engine cowlings and filing the chips out of the propeller blades where the water had damaged the fine edge. Or dropping the work platforms from the leading edge of the wings to access the engine components and God help you if you lost your spanner or screwdriver because often the sound would be clink, clonk, splash! The refuelling was performed by floating bowsers operated by local labour with always the Flight Engineer overseeing the operation.

Twenty minutes later we would be back in the Yacht Club waiting for the next job, such was life! I cannot recall the number of daily Sunderland movements that took place only it appeared perhaps one or two as the Shackletons at Changi were taking over the Maritime Role. when I arrived on the Squadron the seven remaining 'boats' that remained were:

RN270 Struck off Charge 25/09/1958 Kilo
PP127 Struck off Charge 01/06/1959 Lima
SZ572? Struck off Charge 24/07/???? Mike
RN282 Struck off Charge 13/05/1958 Nan
PP112 Struck off Charge 30/06/1958 Oboe*
ML797 Struck off Charge 30/06/1959 Papa(The last 'boat')
RN303 Struck off Charge 24/01/1959 Romeo

(Serial numbers and SOC dates kindly supplied by SAC Terry 'Ken' Ball)
*This date is definitely incorrect as I flew in 112 on 07/12/1958, the RAF usually SOC aircraft several days after a 'write off' or on scrap, I think 1958 should read 1959 along with 'Papa' although the aircraft would not have flown for several weeks before this date. There is no doubt that ML797 flew the last trip, this is very well documented.
It is also thought that SZ572 was scrapped not in 1957 as shown, as Kan Ball and myself recall this aircraft having just arrived from the UK (Pembroke Dock). Ken continues that it was the last Sunderland to be manufactured and after undergoing acceptance and a Minor servicing at Seletar the aircraft was towed out of the hangar when upon a tight turn to line up with the slipway at the Yacht Club end of the hangar the aircraft jumped off its tail trolley hit the ground with some force and broke its back! We understand the person in charge was shipped out to China Bay!

There are a number of short stories that both Ken and I recall:

Perhaps the most humorous was the Airframe Assistant who I will call 'Ahab' was with Ken on Flying Boat Guard, all guards at Seletar were armed due to the Malayan Emergency Crisis but the 'boat' guard was only mounted by Squadron personnel, upon approach to the Sunderland the coxswain of the dinghy would draw up alongside the door and officially tether his craft to the handles whereupon one member of the guard would take up his duty on the boat. On this one occasion Ahab was on a rough sea with a swell running and as often was the case the coxswain would hold the handle near the door whilst the guard stepped aboard but due to the swell and the dinghy coxswain no longer able to hold on to the handle and let go just as Ahab was about to board the Sunderland, the dinghy parted company with Ahab somewhere in between, Ahab managed to get aboard but his .303 Lee Enfield rifle didn't make it and it was lost to the depths of the sea. Put on an immediate 'fizzer' by the guard commander, Ahab was on the mat in front of the Squadron Commander next morning charged with losing equipment belonging to Her Majesty. When asked to account for this, Ahab retorted by saying 'I haven't lost it Sir, I know where it is I just can't get to it' and with that the Squadron Commander dismissed Ahab and the charge!

There was also the episode in 1958 when the local native coxswain blew himself up and the dinghy he was using illegally trying to smuggle fuel over to the mainland from a fuel lighter in 5 gallon drums hidden under the dinhgy's floorboards, somehow hot exhaust and evaporation of fuel resulted in a mighty explosion, the coxswains body was found a few days later eerily entangled amongst the buoy mooring chains, Lloyd Fenton was retrieving his pet monkey from the pierhead when the explosion tore through the night sky, he informed the Duty Sergeant. John Joyce from the Marine Section helped retrieve his body.

I also recall from the wicker chair within the verandah area of the crewroom seeing one particular 'boat' landing, the waterway had been 'swept' just beforehand (as was usual)by a waterborne fire tender checking for driftwood when there was a splash as the starboard float hit some flotsam, wrenching the float off, where it was left hanging by its wires. A myriad of bodies were seen coming from below deck through the upper escape hatch and sitting on the port wing whilst the captain gingerly brought the 'boat' up to the mooring. Those guys stayed there until sandbags were delivered to take their place!
 
 
A TRIP TO HONG KONG
by
Alex 'Tich' Carrie
 
 

 

Fifteen days after getting back from Labuan in Borneo I went into work as usual at eight o clock on the 5-12-1957 and waiting for me with his sly grin was Corporal Andrews.

“Morning Tich, what are you doing tonight?”

Hesitatingly I answered, “Playing darts? I said, knowing that something else was in the wind.

“You aint now, your packing your suitcase, your off to Hong Kong for Xmas.”

“Wow! That’s some Christmas present Andy, Thanks.”

“Its not your turn for another detachment but its over Christmas and the married blokes want to spend Christmas with their kids, so your it.”

“I don’t mind, any time” I replied.

I never knew it at the time but this reply was the best reply I could have given him, as it planted a seed in Andy’s mind that I was willing to go anywhere at the drop of a hat. Consequently when a detachment came up and the powers that be wanted an electrician to fly with them, he knew where he would get no argument.

Hong Kong, this caused great excitement, I had more visions of the mysterious east, old Chinamen with wispy beards, Dragons on everything, wonderful paintings, mysteries, wonderful food the list was endless and all mine for discovering. Lots of questions were racing through my mind. How long for? What aircraft were we taking? How many men? All sorts of things were racing through my head.

Andy put a bit of the dampers on the aircraft question by telling me we were flying up there in a Hastings from RAF Changi. I had flown in a Hastings before from RAF Topcliffe in Yorkshire to Ballykelly In Northern Ireland on detachment and back again, when I was working on the Neptunes, that was enough. The noise inside a Hastings was horrendous you could hardly hear yourself speak. The aircraft themselves always seemed too high off the ground to me and gave you the impression you were flying before you got off the ground. Also one look at those big balloon tyres made you feel that if you came down a bit hard you would bounce back up where you had come from, about eight thousand feet up. In answer to my other question I was told that there would be two of each trade going at least, plus a few NCOs and that we were going for a month.

We were to be outside the billet with all our gear at 06.00hours in the morning, dressed in our working blue uniform, as it was cold in Hong Kong this time of year.

The coach turned up on time next morning and we all piled on board, arriving at RAF Changi dispersal about an hour later, The servicing crew gave us a funny look, us all being dressed in blue, and them in KD. (Khaki dress). One of them asked us where we were going and someone told him the bloody Artic and he believed us. We then boarded the aircraft. I don’t remember too much about the flight, as it was over the sea all the way, bloody noisy, boring, and seemed to last forever. I only had one fright on this trip.

On our arrival at Hong Kong I was looking out of one of the starboard windows as we made the approach, below us was what you could only describe as a shanty town, hundreds of huts made up of bits of wood and tin sheet and no order to the lay out the town looked like it had a moat between it and the main road with a bridge over it at the entrance. I was later to find out this was the Forbidden City a place that you dare not enter. Even the Police went in as a squad, O, and me on my own one night. I turned to look out of the port window and I nearly shit blue lights, there were boulders and bushes whizzing past the port wing, I thought we had had it. Apparently this was a normal approach into Kai Tak airfield, you flew along the side of a mountain then turned to starboard and did a quick descent onto the runway. I for one was very glad to be down on the runway in one piece. When I got off the aircraft I looked back to where we had just flown in and saw a Dakota on the same approach that we had made. It was way below the mountain in the background and looked like it was going to fly straight into the side of it. I held my breath, then it turned at the last moment and dropped down onto the runway, I would not like to come in here at night I thought.

We disembarked from the aircraft with our suitcases and I couldn’t help thinking of old Piss and Importance and wondered what he would have said (You will have had to read previous chapters to know who piss and importance is, suffice is to say he was a DI sergeant.)

“Squad Deeee---Aeroplane” or some such bloody nonsense. We had to walk to our billet about a couple of hundred yards away these were silver painted Nissan huts that were to be our home for the next month. I hated Nissan huts as they usually had an old coke stove in the middle for heating. To fire these stoves up usually took about two hours, then two more hours to heat the place, and a further two hours to choke you to death with their fumes. When you went to bed and left the stove burning you would wake up in the morning with a feeling right at the back of your nose that you had a bad cold coming, coke fumes.

Next it was down to the mess for supper, we had to eat in the mess as we were hungry, all they ever gave you to eat on RAF Transport aircraft was a packed lunch consisting of two dry sandwiches, usually corned beef and an apple or an orange. If you had a good cook in the mess making up the packed lunch, you would have a piece of cake as well.

Supper in the mess usually consisted of whatever had been left over from tea and a big mug of Coco thick as shit mixture we used to call it, as when you had drunk the liquid the last inch you had to eat with a spoon.

Our Sunderland was arriving next day, just one, and this aircraft was becoming my favourite, RN 282 ‘NAN’ it moored up approximately off the end of Kai Tak runway or just past it, in Kowloon bay. We had to go down to the Kai Tak Yacht Club to get the dingy to go out to the aircraft to do our servicing, pre flight, and after flight inspections. If the aircraft took off then we had to wait till it got back and after the servicing was done the rest of the day was our own. For this period of waiting we used the Yacht Club as a crew room. The old Chinese manager that looked after the place hated us, every cup of tea was served with a scowl and an under the breath muttering in Chinese, he was a real miserable old sod. When he was not wiping the table under your nose and knocking your fags on the floor with his cloth, he was polishing the Yacht Club bell.

 Not long after we got there, one of the chaps that was stationed at Kai Tak, came into the billet and asked us if we wanted any dhobi doing, if so he would fix it. We told him we would want some done, if not today in the near future. He went away and came back with a Chinese laundry man and spoke to him in fluent Chinese we were amazed. I asked him how long he had been here and the answer was eighteen months. He had had the good sense and foresight to learn the lingo and he had done that in eighteen months, that’s all the time it had taken. I would never have mastered this language as it sounded as if it was all grunts and squeaks, and you had to forget the letters ‘W’ and ‘R’ ever existed, also you had to go up and down the scale as you spoke working the noises from deep in your throat for the low notes to the nasal passages behind the nose for the high ones. You could see why people called them sing song Chinamen.

We settled in fine but never went to the City of Hong Kong that week as we were all broke but when payday came around that was a different tale. We had been told by the Chinese speaking lad not to bother going to Hong Kong but to stay on the main land and go into Kowloon where there was a much more interesting night to be had.

We took him at his word and a Taffy lad and myself teamed up and away we went with a pocket full of dollars, a Hong Kong dollars was worth one shilling and three pence in 1957 so we had almost twice the dollars as we had in Singapore and felt very rich. We arrived in Kowloon and I was amazed to see Tram Cars running along the streets, I hadn’t seen a Tram Car since I left Scotland at the age of nine where I used to get a Tram to Paisley baths to go swimming. We walked round the shops in Kowloon drooling at what was on sale such as Elephant tusks intricately carved, ivory balls carved inside other ivory balls and many other wonderful items, not over priced either. I seem to remember that one tusk with a beautifully carved camel train on, and in it, about three feet long was one hundred and seventy dollars, still we had more important things on our mind, a drink, a Chinese meal, and see what the local talent was like.

We went into a bar called the Bamboo Toby just off Nathan road for a wet and came out about two hours later nearly wet enough, and quite happy, to look for a place to eat. Trouble was we passed another bar called the Waltzing Matilda run by some Australian chap and decided to see if he had any Australian beer. I cant remember if he did or not but I do remember a picture of a Castle on the wall that intrigued me and I was sure I had been there and even knew what it looked like inside, a case of déjà vu no doubt. When I asked the landlord where it was he told me it was in Australia, so there was no way I could have been there as I had never been to Australia. Thinking about it later I had never heard of a Castle in Australia either so I think he was taking the piss. A couple of hours later we decided to resume our hunt for some grub only to fall into another bar called the Baldega. I can recall these names because when we were in Kowloon we always seemed to use these same three bars.

Some time later we staggered out and started to make our way back along Nathan road the way we had come and were crossing over a bridge when, we were approached by a very nice looking Chinese girl.

“You like short time”

She had just got these words out when she was approached by three men who turned out to be plain clothed policemen, or so they said. They started to talk to her in the local lingo and she started to protest whereupon Taffy started to argue with them. One of the men turned round and said in perfect English.

“ We are police officers and we are arresting this girl for soliciting, don’t interfere, and carry on where you are going”

Being strangers and not very street wise yet, we decided this was good advice so we staggered on, the trouble was this incident had given Taffy ideas and he insisted on going back to the Bamboo Toby where there was a bar girl he fancied. Me, I fancied them all I found the Chinese fascinating, the far eastern women had the softest skin imaginable, especially around the thigh area.

One beer and a fag later we were fixed up with two girls, what Taffy had said to them I have no idea but when I came out of the bog there were these two lovely Chinese girls all over us.

A few more drinks and an hour later we were on our way back to their place, which turned out to be just up the road from the bar. We entered through the street door into a drab half lit hallway that smelt of decaying wood. On the right was a set of stairs and as we went up these stairs they wobbled and creaked something awful and felt like they were going to collapse. On reaching the landing we went through a door into the front bedroom that was partitioned off with blankets hanging from the ceiling and several beds about the place. The blankets hanging from the ceiling must have been off the beds as there were none on them.

I was naïve enough to think we had struck gold till this girl turned round and demanded five dollars off me.

“What for?” I asked.

“For me, I not do it for nothing”

Penny dropped at last, they were prostitutes and this was a brothel.

“Bugger off, I have never paid for it yet and I aint going to start now, besides I have no money left.”

I had plenty of money but there was no way I was going to let this lovely little scrubber know that.

All hell was let loose, she started battering me with her hands and pushing me towards the stairs which I half fell down and she was right there behind me pushing me out the door onto the street and all the time yelling something at me in Chinese. Once out the door she had a final swear off at me, then stormed off down the street back to the bar, forgetting no doubt that she had cost me quite a few dollars in drinks, I was learning fast. I waited by the door fully expecting Taffy to follow me out but there was no sign of him. After about ten minutes a little old wizened Chinese woman that had been hanging about in a doorway watching all this going on, approached me and said.

“ You want Wankiee Johnee? two dollar”

 Christ, what a place I thought, she must have been seventy if she was a day, if not older. She had obviously weighed the situation up thinking that I had not had the five dollars to pay the girl but I might just have two dollars that she could extract out my pocket. I declined her offer telling her I had had too much to drink and was just waiting for my friend. I don’t suppose she understood a word of it as she repeated her offer after hanging about for another couple of minutes. Eventually wandering off murmuring under her breath.

I waited another ten minutes and as there was no sign of Taffy I decided to go back in to see if I could find him. Back up the rickety stairs I went to the bedroom door, which was open, I looked in and through a gap in the blankets hanging from the ceiling I had a birds eye view of a moony bum going up and down in a slow rhythm, like it was on one of those long springs that you see on wooden toys hanging in shop windows that have a never ending up and down motion. This bum was lit up from the light of the street outside the bedroom and as I watched I was thinking Taffy, you’re taking your time mate, the beer has beaten you, when I noticed the rhythm had a new urgency to it. Wont be long now I thought when I saw a woman’s hand appear from under the leg that was sticking out from under this bum and give a sharp pat on his bum with the words

“Hulliee up Johnee.”

I grinned as the bum stopped moving, that’s the worst thing she could have done, it put him right off his stroke and the beer took charge once again.

The bum slowly started to move again to a slow rhythm once more and I thought to myself, poor bugger he has had to start all over again.

Just then I was startled by a tap on the shoulder, I looked round and there was Taffy grinning at me in the dimness of the hallway. Shit, so the bum never belonged to Taffy after all, must be another client.

By this time Taffy had seen what I had been watching and with a grin he whispered.

“Dirty bugger.”

 Whether he meant me, or the bloke on the job I never found out, it didn’t matter.

I put my finger to my lips in a keep quiet sign and said in a loud singsong voice in the best imitation of the Chinese girl that I could muster.

“Hulliee up Johnee.”

I just had time to see the bum stop again as we turned and made a dash down the rickety stairs and out onto the street.

We ran up the road and took the first turning right where I had to stop as I could not run any more for laughing so much. At the same time Taffy was doubled over, out of breath, laughing, and suffering from a stitch. After we had recovered we strode along singing that old ditty.

Up the rickety stairs we went, Parley Vous

Up the rickety stairs we went Parley Vous

Up the rickety stairs we went, stole her knickers and away we went,

Inky dinky Parley Vous.

And many more verses now long forgotten.

 We made our way back to Nathan road and got a Trishaw back to camp, still laughing about our little adventure. This was

 Referred to afterwards by Taffy and myself as the rickety stairs affair. Eventually the Bamboo Toby became known to us and all the detachment as the rickety stairs.

I had quite a few adventures in Hong Kong the most frightening of the lot was being taken into the Forbidden City.

We had been warned not to go in there under any circumstance, as we most probably would never come out and if we did we would probably be floating down the open sewer face downwards. We most certainly would have been beaten up and robbed. When the police wanted to go in there they would go in thirty or forty strong so we were told.

I had been drinking with a few of the Squadron lads in Kowloon, and as usual some had disappeared with the odd girl and some had gone to eat while others had been left behind in bars that we had been in so that I found myself all alone, a bit the worse for wear, no more money and out of fags.

I decided that as funds had come to an end and I’d had enough to drink anyway, that I would make my way back to camp, which was a fair step from where I was. I stumbled out of the bar onto the main road and stood there wondering what to do when a Trishaw pulled up and the owner said.

“You want Trishaw? Where you go?”

“Kai Tak, RAF side” I replied getting into his Trishaw with the intent of borrowing the fare off someone when I got back to camp.

“How much?” I asked

“Two dollar”

“I got no money”. I informed him.

He looked at me sitting there, weighing things up in his mind no doubt.

“ What you got? Watch, ring, gold tooth, he said this last bit with a laugh, I laughed with him and was glad he had a sense of humour, as I still had no money.

I remembered I had a fountain pen in my shirt pocket that I had brought along to write some postcards that had never got bought or written. This pen I had bought in Thieves Market in Singapore for two dollars, a Parker, probably fake, so I offered it to the Trishaw man to get me back to camp.

“Look very good pen, very expensive, gold nib, cost a lot of dollars in Singapore” I lied.

“How many dollar Singapore?”

“Ten dollars in Singapore” I replied.

“OK, I take you Kai Tak.” He said as he examined the pen then put it in his shirt pocket and started off.

“Hang on, that cost me a lot of money so I will settle for a lift back to Kai Tak and twenty Lucky Strike”

He stopped, looked at me then said.

“Ten Lucky Strike”

“No twenty they don’t do ten packs”

“OK twenty” he said and we were off again.

I was very happy with the deal as I sat there being peddled along at a fair pace. We had come a fair way when I realised that we were leaving town and I still had no fags.

“Hey how about my Lucky Strike” I asked.

“Soon, Soon” was the reply.

This was all I got out of him so I gathered he knew of a place to get fags on the way.

We had almost reached the mountain end of the airfield and I could think of no shops or anyplace to buy fags from here to camp.  I was thinking I’d been had, when suddenly my driver turned left straight over a bridge and into the Forbidden City.

By the time I had got my wits together it was too late we were in there. I must admit it was a very interesting place and I would have loved to explore it, as this was my idea of the mysterious east. The alleyways were about six feet wide and it was just row upon row of shacks, a better maze you couldn’t have designed. It had that smell of cooking food, sewerage, animals, and the smell of humans living too close to one another. There were lots of bits of tin and plywood covering the alleyways so that you were completely closed in. I realised also that after two minutes I was completely lost in this maze when my driver stopped, hopped off his bike and disappeared through a half door. It looked more like a gate as it was made up of slats with gaps in between as many of the doors were, with just a curtain hanging behind it. The ground was just dust and looked very hard where a million feet must have pounded along it over the years and I thought it would be a mud bath when it rained. It was then I realised why the alleys were covered over. There were other interesting things to look at such as bird cages hanging from overhead beams hidden among clothes, hung out to dry no doubt, what sort of birds were in them I had no idea it was too dark to see but they were twittering well. I could see plenty of chickens wandering about the ground and in and out of the shacks and Chinese music coming from a host of radios scattered about the shacks somewhere.

I waited about three minutes, though it seemed much longer when I was aware that people were coming out of their shacks and just standing looking at me sat in this Trishaw. I was sobering up fast and very uneasy when my driver appeared and saying something to the gathering crowd, they laughed and he grinned, climbed back on his bike, threw me twenty Lucky Strike with another grin and peddled back out of the Forbidden City much to my relief.

I arrived back at camp safely about twenty minutes later, a little wiser, and feeling a little sorry for telling the Trishaw owner that the pen I had given him was worth ten Singapore dollars, after all he had kept his side of the bargain. I just hoped that I wouldn’t bump into him again.

At breakfast the next morning a couple of the lads that I had been out with the night before asked me what had happened to me as they had been looking for me. I related my little adventure about my jaunt into the Forbidden City they just looked at me like I was mad.

One lad had a tattoo done of a leopard clawing its way over his shoulder and it looked great, though sore. Now, I had said I would never have a tattoo done unless it was a Dragon done by an old Chinaman in China, never thinking that one day I’d be here. Well here I was, though it was called Kowloon and British territory it was still the Chinese mainland so I had no excuse. The next day I set out with this lad that had had the Tattoo done, he was going to show me where to go. First of all we had to stop for a couple of beers then another couple till eventually we ended up at this Tattoo shop pissed. It wasn’t a shop as such just an old Chinaman sitting on a chair outside his home with a table full of books with Tattoo’s in them. I chose the one I liked whereupon he shaved my forearm and put a transfer on it. Next he got a bottle cork with a needle poking out of the bottom end of the cork, dipped it in some blue ink and started to stick it in my arm following the line of the transfer.

That was bloody sore and felt like the needle was red-hot every time he poked it through my skin. At last it was done and I was thankful and went to get up, the old man grabbed my arm and pulled me back down, all he had done was the outline now came the filling in. That was worse he kept wiping away the blood to see where to stick his needle in next till it was finally done. He then washed my arm and put a tissue paper over it and asked for his money, five dollars, it had taken over two hours to do and had four colours in it. I had a couple more tattoos done a year later with an electric needle and the pain was nothing compared to the old man with his needle in the cork.

The tattoo healed and pealed in two weeks and I had my Dragon done by an old Chinaman in China and I was quite pleased with it.

Next it was Christmas day and we were all looking forward to Christmas dinner. Though it was in the mess the cooks usually excelled themselves over Christmas and put on a good show, the officers served us common ranks with our dinner and we all got a free bottle of beer. Over the Christmas period you could pretty well do what you liked and a blind eye was turned if you happened to be in a state and fall down drunk in front of the guardroom or some such place. You might with a bit of luck trip over the orderly Corporal or Sergeant lying there.

This Christmas was no different and after dinner was over another of our crew called Mick and myself got drinking with two Zobbits till they could hardly stand up. We then decided to help them back to the Zobbits mess and asked them if we could go in for a beer, they thought this was a good idea.

The Officers mess was just opposite the camp gates and up a hill so we all trooped up the hill singing some dirty song or other and duly arrived outside the hallowed hall where no common airman was ever allowed to tread.

It turned out to be no different this time, these two Officers told us that they dare not let us in but if we waited there they would bring us a beer out.

More fool us, we waited about an hour and nothing turned up so we marched back down to camp singing the ‘All coppers are bastards’ song except we substituted the word Officers for coppers.

The detachment was nearly over and we had one payday left and we were looking forward to this, as funds were almost nonexistent.

Our CO used to pay us in the Yacht Club and as we approached we heard shouting and on turning the corner there was the miserable old sod of a manager jumping up and down shouting “205/209 steal our bell, 205/209 steal our bell, he was mad as hell running round, waving his skinny old arms, pointing at us and shouting at the CO.

Now this was a common practice to lift a souvenir or two from another RAF camp while you were on detachment, it was frowned upon by some people but was generally accepted as one of those things that just happened.

You could see that the CO was getting a bit pissed off with this Chinaman jumping up and down in front of him like a jack in the box, so he took him inside the Yacht club to calm him down.

Mean while the other paying Officer and the shinny arse from pay accounts set up a table to pay us.

Out came the CO.

“Right chaps, there will be no pay till the bloody Yacht Club bell turns up”

“Anybody know anything about it?”

Silence, even if any of us knew who had half inched the bell we would never have told him and he knew it.

“Right we will adjourn till this time tomorrow morning and if the bell has turned up you will get paid, if not we will try again the next day.

We all went off to work accusing each other of pinching the bell in a good humoured way but no one was letting on if they knew anything about it.

Next day it was still not back so no pay again, we were all getting a bit desperate now especially the smokers as no one had any fags.

Then as we turned the corner on the third day there was the bell, hung up by its clapper upside down half way up the Yacht Club flagpole. No one dared to touch it in case they got the blame for nicking it. As soon as the miserable old git of a manager turned up it was pointed out to him and he made a B line for the flagpole and started to lower the bell which immediately spilt a load of liquid over him much to our delight, especially when it turned out it was piss.

We got paid that day with a grin from the CO. It was probably him what had pinched it in the first place or one or other of the aircrew.

It took a day for the Chinaman to clean the bell and get it shiny and bright again then he refused to sell us any more tea. That was fatal. We only had a couple of days left there so every time we passed the Yacht Club we spat on his shiny bell.

The day came when we had to leave and I was not looking forward to flying back in that biscuit tin of a Hastings aircraft so when a couple of volunteers were asked for, to help load some goods on the Sunderland and fly back with it I stuck my hand up in a hurry.

Alan Sangester and myself were selected so down to the yacht club we went and waited. An hour later a van turned up with a couple of the aircrew on it and it was loaded up to the gunnels with boxes.

This lot we had to load onto the dingy and take out to the aircraft, there were large things like Camphor wood chests that we had to load through the bomb bay doors the rest got loaded through the galley hatch. O to be rich, live like an officer and be able to afford such luxury items and get them transported free. I found out later that they had a shopping list as long as your arm and had been shopping for their mates back at Seletar, as things were a lot cheaper in Hong Kong.

All loaded and with a last gob at the yacht club bell we went out to the aircraft and got under way and taxied out between Hong Kong Island on our right and the mainland on our left dodging Junks and Sampans till we had a clear run then the engines were opened up and away we went. I got down to my usual chores of firing up the primus stoves and brewing the coffee, also having a good rummage through the rations to see what I could concoct for dinner.

The rest of the trip was uneventful except that I got a glimpse of Vietnam as they call it these days away in the distance, I think it was called French Indo China in those days and I did my first Sunderland night landing on arriving back at Seletar.

I learnt a lot on this trip especially how other people live and a few of their customs. I also learnt that the Chinese food while excellent was not as good as that of Singapore. When I asked for a Nasi Goring in Hong Kong they had never heard of it. I found out some years later it was an Indonesian dish and Hong Kong being a lot further from Indonesia than Singapore was probably the reason why. I also learnt that in Hong Kong any girl that took you home on the first night you met was most probably a prostitute and even old wrinkled women were scheming how to extract the last dollar out of your pocket, and to keep clear of miserable old Chinamen with skinny arms that polished bells, but a bloody good detachment nevertheless.

On getting back we got all the news of the goings on at Seletar over Xmas, the most exciting being, some of the lads stoned out of their faces had wandered over to West Camp. There being two camps on Seletar West and East with the runway in between them. There they had borrowed a Harvard training aircraft that was out of service and had the outer wings missing. They pushed this Aircraft all the way to East camp and dumped it on the parade square. Then turned it upside down and attempted to set fire to it. On the way from East to West camp there was a confrontation with the orderly Sergeant and a few Snoops, demanding they put the Aircraft back. After telling the orderly Sergeant and his henchmen where to go, the Sergeant threatened to get the riot squad out to them. This caused great amusement when the Sergeant was informed that they were the riot squad. What was the end result I don’t remember but the Aircraft was written off or declared CAT 5 in Air Force terms. I was glad I had been in Hong Kong at the time or I would have been among them.

Copyright A. Carrie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

2748.jpeg

This photo of RAF Seletar Yacht Club by kind permission of Tony Harris whose web site at RAF Changi Grammar School can be found by clicking here.

2748.jpeg

I only had the one opportunity of flying in a Sunderland, that was on 07/12/1958 in PP112 believed to be the joint last boat to be struck off charge on 30/06/1959. Flight Lieutenant Jack Poyser was the skipper and we went on a Search and Rescue mission looking for a Japanese tanker that had sunk somewhere off the Indonesian coast, we found some wreckage but no sign of survivors or bodies, we were airborne for 4 hours and 40 minutes, fortunately I had my camera with me and was able to take a few shots of Seletar on finals, the quality of the prints are not too good, so if anyone can improve on these I would be delighted to see them. Tragically two days later on 09/12/1958 we lost one of our sister aircraft a Shackleton MR.1A VP254 from 205 Squadron Changi and all 11 her of her crew, apparently she flew into the sea off Sin Cowe Island in the Gulf of Thailand whilst on an anti-piracy patrol. All available aircraft from the region were called upon to look for survivors, alas none were found.







========================================================================================================================
AIRCRAFTSMAN IVOR JOHN GILLETT AGED 21 THE GEORGE CROSS

26/03/1950 SZ573 Short Sunderland GR 5 209 Squadron RAF Seletar

Whilst the aircraft was being prepared for a sortie, a bomb exploded and two men Signaller I A R Green and LAC S A Summers, together with others, were injured. Unfortunately, two others were killed and the aircraft was written off. In saving the life of another man, Aircraftsman 1st Gillett was killed. The citation for The George Cross is as follows:




Aircraftsman Gillett, a fitter armourer, was a member of the groundcrew on board a Sunderland flying boat which blew up at its moorings at the RAF flying boat base Seletar on 26th March 1950. Rescue craft were quickly on the scene but the aircraft and a bomb scow alongside sank rapidly and survivors from the explosion were hurled into the water. A lifebelt was thrown to Aircraftsman Gillett from a rescue launch but he was seen to throw the lifebelt to a severely injured Corporal who was in danger of drowning near him. In the confusion, the rescuers had not been able to reach the Corporal. Gillett was a great friend of his and knew he was not a strong swimmer. The lifebelt kept the Corporal afloat until he was rescued unconscious from the water several minutes later. In the meantime, Aircraftsman Gillett disappeared and his body was washed ashore two days later. It was discovered that his body had suffered terrible superficial injuries and his death was due to the combined effects of blast and drowning. By his action in deliberately saving the life of his friend , whilst injured and in great danger himself, Aircraftsman Gillett displayed magnificent courage, extreme unselfishness in his last living moments which resulted in the sacrifice of his life to save another was seen in this act of great heroism which was in accordance with the highest traditions of the Royal Air Force.

Flight Liutenant William Harry James Kearney
Aircraftsman 1st class Ivor John Gillett GC 21

 

Information re this accident is urgently required for a book publication in Jan/Feb 2006 details are here if anyone can help

http://www.activeboard.com/forum.spark?forumID=46291&subForumID=107656&action=viewTopic&commentID=5063523&topicPage=




========================================================================================================================

The above has been extracted from the book 'Last Take Off' by Colin Cummings, Nimbus Publishing, NN6 6ZE. ISBN 0 9526619 3 4

POST WAR ACCIDENTS INVOLVING 205/209/SELETAR SUNDERLANDS

27/03/1946 GR5 PP103 209 Two engines cut on take off at Seletar(13)
21/04/1946 GR5 PP132 209 Overshot and ran aground on landing at Kai Tak
18/07/1946 GR5 RN264 209 Damaged beyond repair in a typhoon at Hainan, China
18/07/1946 GR5 SZ559 Ditto above
14/07/1948 GR5 NJ276 209 Tail Broke off on take-off at Seletar

20/11/1949 GR5 NJ176 of 88 Squadron Overloaded and crashed at Seletar (5)
26/03/1950 GR5 SZ573 209 Bomb exploded on loading at Seletar (2)
19/07/1950 GR5 PP164 209 Damaged beyond repair at moorings at Yokohama
03/10/1950 GR5 SZ569 205 Ran aground at Trincomalee
28/01/1951 GR5 PP107 205 Flew into mountain in poor visibility off Taiwan (14)
14/10/1951 GR5 RN277 205 Damaged in typhoon at Iwakuni, Japan
28/06/1953 MR5 RN269 205 Damaged on landing in Philippines
21/06/1954 MR5 SZ599 209 Damaged beyond repair on landing Christmas Island, Pacific

SHORT SUNDERLAND GR V 209 squadron   NJ276 Crashed RAF Seletar 14th July 1948
 
WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?
 
This is the story never been told before, it has lay hidden for 54 years and makes for some very interesting reading. It all started some few months back from this date in November 2002 when an ex Leading Aircraft Airframe Mechanic contacted me on this website, for he was a member of 209 Squadron Sunderland Flying Boats in July 1948. As was often the case the crew could ask for a fitter, either engines or airframes, to accompany them on a Continuation Training Flight to show that those fitters had confidence in their work!  
 
At the same time as an engine and airframe mechanic were to go on board, so too did a 'Check Pilot' (Checker) present his warrant card to the Captain of NJ276 to say that he was also to be on the flight checking on the capability of the crew. Nothing untoward about this as it happened frequently, although the captain in this instance a New Zealand Flying Officer assumed control of NJ276 the checker could override any decision the pilot(skipper) made at any time.
 
NJ276 started  up its engines, the aircraft slipped its moorings and off it went to the waterway in the Straits of Johore, all the pre flight checks were satisfied and within a few minutes NJ276 was airborne. It returned in very short time to make a landing, both of the fitters were on the flight deck to see what was going on as neither had been on a similar flight before, the Airframe Mechanic (we will call him Ron) recalls what happened next:
 
"The aircraft landed as normal and then took off again, I asked the (Air) Signaller seated behind me what was about to happen, where the Signaller said 'that there would be a forced landing where an engine is throttled back so that the pilot could be checked to see that he could land it (the aircraft) safely'. We were watching this with interest, we got up to about 100' and the check pilot reached over and throttled back one of the four engines, the pilot would then put the aircraft down on the water safely.  The New Zealand pilot thought he would be more clever than that and really wanted to show the check pilot how good a pilot he was and throttled back the remaining three engines. By this time there was no power whatsoever, at 100' up we dropped like a stone into the water below, BANG!"
 
"The Signaller who could see what was coming and shouted out 'brace yourselves', I by this time had got hold of the Captains seat, and both of us fitters ended up on the floor, the aircraft bounced on the water and took off (again) as it were, 20-30'up, the second time we hit (the water), the nose of the Sunderland went completely under water and we were sinking".
 
" The skipper said 'everybody out'  and then someone opened the escape hatch above our heads when the Air engineer pushed me up  and the skipper, as normal, was the last to leave. Initially I thought this was great fun, I couldn't wait to tell the lads back in the billet what fun we had, but I hadn't realised how serious it was until I stood on the wing and by that time the emergency dinghy had inflated on the wing. By the time I got into the dinghy two others were already in there! The tail of the Sunderland had broken off and that with the turret section was floating steadily away, apparently the salvage teams never did find this section of the aircraft.  By this time the Skipper had got into the dinghy and the aircraft had slipped beneath the water in the Causeway". 
 
"The (Air Sea Rescue) Launch arrived at the aircraft from the pierhead and picked us up and we recalled on the way back to the pierhead what had happened. Someone said 'what happened, what happened' the pilot had throttled the engines back came another retort SHUT YOUR MOUTH, YOU NEVER SAW OR HEARD ANYTHING came another reply, as I was just an erk I just obeyed instructions!" 
 
"A few days later the remains of the Sunderland were recovered on the slipway near to the pier, the aircraft was upside down and the hull of NJ276 was crushed right up to the flight deck, fortunately there was only 8 of us on board and we were all on the Flight Deck This made me sick seeing this upside down Sunderland crushed like this".
 
This story was narrated to me (John Cooper) by 'Ron' at a reunion meeting at The Imperial War Museum Duxford restaurant on Wednesday October 9th 2002 in front of others, the means of communication was via an audio tape recorder and extracts taken from this tape and transcribed here.
 
When I asked Ron for an opinion as to who was to blame he recalled "The Board of Inquiry was held at the Squadrons headquarters and I was reminded by an aircrew member that 'you saw nothing' and 'that you just felt a bang', 'keep your mouth shut, you don't need to know anything more'. The air of secrecy after this Inquiry was probably whitewashed over"
 
I finally asked Ron if he thought there was any mechanical failure or pilot error. "DEFINITELY PILOT ERROR, and the CHECK PILOT would have carried the can!"   
 
The Form A1180 Official Accident Report Form supplied into the Public Domain under the 30 year rule states:
 
Sunderland V NJ 276 209 Squadron crashed at Seletar 0918hrs 14/07/1948
 
Purpose "Continuation Training"
 
"OFM (?) Forced landing after a practise engine cut on take-off at 80-100', aircraft touched down straight ahead, bounced, and controls failed - tail  of aircraft appeared to break off, aircraft nosed under and filled with water rapidly and sank".
 
[In different handwriting]
 
"Port Outer Engine cut for practise by pilot. Possibility of driftwood most likely. Striking hull and opening same".
  
 Recommendations and Action:
 
"Court of Inquiry. Most likely cause driftwood struck on landing. AOC in C concurs. Pilot not blamed".
 
End of report   
 
 
 
 
 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Hastings crash Seletar 1961
by
Stephen Cochrane
 

I was wandering around just looking at stuff this morning
and came across a site about the RAF Hastings transport aircraft. This
reminded me of a crash of one of these aircraft at the Royal Air Force
base at Seletar in 1961 when I was there flying with the Target Towing
Squadron. Thus, I came across your site asking if anyone remembers this
event.

As I recall, the aircraft came in from the north over the Strait of
Johore and made a slow run and dropped some supply parachutes at the
south end of the runway. It was in a 'nose-up' attitude and turning
slightly to port when it lost an engine and quickly dived into the
jungle area.
I was a member of the party that was dispatched to the sight and was
there, as I recall, for two nights sleeping in tents. One of my lasting
memories of this event--oddly--is that we didn't get eaten alive by
mosquitoes!  Perhaps it was the heavy smell of the aviation gasoline
that was everywhere---the aircraft having gone nose first into a swampy
pond next to a kampong. The gas was everywhere and was flowing away
down a couple of streams and I recall some local joker throwing his hot
charcoal into the water  in the kampong and setting everything on fire.
 Very entertaining!

The most lasting memories are, of course, the recovery of the bodies of
the 13 crew members---five RAF aircrew and eight RASC dispatchers.
Things like that stay with you for ever but so ,too, do all the good
memories of those wonderful days in 'the far'. What great times we had
in those far off days of our youth.   Tiger beer and nightly trips to
'Pops' curry shop  down in Jalan what-ever-it-was. God, his curries
used to blow our heads off!   And how about the huge parade on the
run-way that got hit right in the middle of the whole thing by a raging
'Sumatra'? Absolute bloody chaos!  Running out of gas as we touched
down on the runway at Changi after a towing sortie out in the South
China Sea  and having to be towed back to the squadron to all the
jeering and cat-calls of  our 'buddies'. We were not so aware of
mortality in those days. Taking a bunch of the aircraft up to
Butterworth and having lunch courtesy of the Aussies and then smuggling
a ****-load of duty-free beer back for the squadron piss-up. And how
about flying as close to the Communist Chinese border out of Kai Tak in
Hong Kong as we dared and broadcasting, loudly and clearly, 'The Owl an
the Pussycat'.  Later, we would all howl with laughter at the thought
of those communist idiots writing this stuff down and expecting an
invasion at any moment.

We are all senior-citizens, now, but the memories of those wonderful
times will never fade, will they? Best regards, Stephen Cochrane.


The above text and photographs are the copyright of John Cooper unless otherwise stated.
 
 
 
Those attending the Duxford Reunion on Wednesday 09th October 2002
 
TERRY BALL    Airframe Mechanic     Sep 1956-Sep 1959 Lincolnshire
 
TED BEVIS  Flight Engineer  1957-1959 Hampshire
 
PETE BIGGADIKE   Airframe Fitter   1958   Norfolk
 
NORMAN CALLISTER   Airframe Mechanic  Sep  1956-Sep 1959 Isle of Man
 
ALEX 'TICH' CARRIE  Aircraft Electrician 1956-1959 Suffolk
 
JOHN 'GARY' COOPER Aircraft Engine Mechanic Feb 1958-Drc 1958 Suffolk
 
LOU FRANK  Airframe Mechanic 1947-1949? United States of America
 
BERT 'JOCK' GREEN  Air Electrician 1958-? Ayrshire
 
MICHAEL 'DIZ' JORDAN Airframe Fitter 1957-1958 Home Counties?
 
 
GRAHAM LOCKLEY  Ground Radio?  1957-1960 Somerset
 
ROB ROMANO  Airframe Fitter  1956-1958 Cumbria
 
GRAHAM PATTRICK  Airframe Mechanic  Sep 1956-Sep 1959 Suffolk
 
JOHN SLEIGHT  Airframes  1957-1958 Yorkshire
 
TONY STEVENS  Armourer Mechanic  1958-1959 Leicestershire
 
DAVID TAYLOR  Air Instruments Fitter  Sep 1957-Dec 1958 Yorkshire
 
IVAN WELLER  Airframe Mechanic Sep 1956-Mar 1959
 
JOHN WHITE  Air Instrument Mechanic Aug 1956-Oct 1959 Hampshire
 
BILL WHITER   Navigator  1957-1959 Buckinghamshire
 
DENIS WILLIAMS  Airframe Mechanic  Sep 1956-Jan 1959 Lancashire
 
Not attended but in contact with
 
Lloyd 'Dango' Fenton Air Electrician 1957-1959 Suffolk
 
Harry Dobkin Photographer 205/209/88 Sqn 1950-1952 Herts
 
Terry Cresswell Instrument Fitter 1956-1959 Shropshire
 
Ian Honeywood Aug 1956-Feb 1958 Air Electrician United States of America
 
Terry Smith Engines 1958-1961 Dorset
 
Harry Mallinson  Air Radar 1955-1957
 
Kevin McDermott son of Sgt McDermott  1958-60
 
George Goultry left May 1957 now residing Felixstowe
 
Mick Blakey Air Radar 1956-57
 
 
 
 
 
E&OE

Station Routine Orders dd 11th September 1958 SRO #146 signed by A R J Mc**ttie, Flight Lieutenant, Station Adjutant, RAF Seletar.
WEST CAMP INSTITUTE - JUKE BOX
1. Owing to continued vandalism in West Camp Airmen's Institute, the "Juke Box" has been removed and will not be replaced.
2. Continuing acts of vandalism by a small number of personnel in West Camp (the breaking of a piano during the Christmas Period 1957 is another example), has resulted in the withdrawal of similar amenities in the Institute and until these few learn or are taught by their comrades (What not Russians?) how to behave, no further amenities will be provided in West Camp Institute.

 

Thanks to Alun W     ex 81 (PR) Squadron West Camp

A new forum about this page, want to meet ex mates? Click here!

They say that the Sunderland's a mighty fine kite
This we no longer doubt.
If you get caught with a MiG up your ar*e
This is the way to get out.
 
Keep calm and keep cool and sedate
Don't let your British blood boil,
Don't hesitate, slam it right through the gate
And smother the Bastards in oil!

Some excellent photos of Seletar 1958-1960 from Pete Biggadike's site here

A huge site for enthusiasts and modellers alike Seaplanes and Flying Boats Click Here

 
Were you here?
If anyone was stationed at RAF Seletar on 29th May 1961 and recall a Hastings crash with the loss of all on board would you kindly contact me with your recollections of the accident, thank you.   John Cooper 

09/08/2002 There is an excellent book titled 'Short Sunderland in World War II' by Andrew Hendrie, Publishers Airlife Publishing Ltd ISBN 1-85310-429-9, All Sunderland boats are recorded with a Post WW2 Operations Chapter, among which is a photo of PAPA ML797 The Last Sunderland above the slip at Seletar with a guard of honour in attendance. There is mention of the last CO's of 205 Sqn (209 had already been disbanded) Wing Commander R A N McCready and Flight Lieutenant Jack Poyser. Well worth a read to any ex webfooter! 

Before leaving why not have a look at this RAF Forum

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Copyright John Cooper