Make your own free website on Tripod.com

The Royal Air Force as seen by John Cooper

Home | Hastings TG577 | Guestbook | - | The PJM Medal | Handley Page Hastings | . | . | Index | - | RAF Changi | The Goldfish Club | RAF War Pensions | RAF Gan | RAF Negombo/Katunayake | An Airmans Daily Diary | The Civil Service Within The MoD | Bizarre and Tragic Accidents | Splashdown in the Med TG613 | 205/209 Sunderland Squadron RAF Seletar | Service Personnel Names | - | Hastings Bangs and Prangs and Splashes and Crashes | Hastings Elevator Problems | Contact Me

RAF Gan


free hit counter

E mail in from Terry Druce Signals Section Gan 1958-59 10th March 2004
 
A couple of names I remember are Dave (Spider) Web and Arthur Wherrit(?) with whom I shared a room in the new accommodation after my stint in the Kadjans up the other end of the Island. Its funny the little things one remembers. The new huts had nowhere to string a mozzy net so Arthur and I did without and we didn't get bitten. Maybe it was all the "peggies" that were consumed confusing the critters. In the room next door they did manage to rig nets and one poor moonie had so many bites that he got a sickie. After a full nights drinking from opening to closing Arthur would buy a case of peggies (Pegasus) to keep us going. He wouldn't sleep until all 24 tins had been consumed!  I really can't remember if Tiger was on offer at that time I know they had guiness and red barrel. I dont think we were allowed spirits but not sure. One of the wireless ops at the time also comes to mind He could write with his left hand whilst sending morse with his right hand. then for a change he would swap over with each hand doing the other task.
When I first joined the drinkers it was very intimidating. A sandy floor kadjan walls and orange boxes at the base against the walls. When you finished a tin it was hurled across the room against a distant wall with as much force as you could manage it would then drop off the wall into a waiting crate so you spent your time ducking and weaving to avoid the flying tins! Another hazard were the red dusters (merchant types know what I mean) which were strung horizontal by their corners up in the roof space where they were filled up by cans being lobbed into them.After a while one of the corners would become detached and a load of empties would fall onto whoever had chosen to sit there. Buying a drink was confusing too cause there was always a shortage of change, offer a pound or a few rats and youd get pennies rats and plastic NAAFI tokens. Bloody hell. whats this!. The lack of change and requests for copper coins from the uk by the admins caused a right stink because to ship out 100 in copper cost several arms and legs and HMG was not amused by the second third and was it fourth request? Where did it go? Well the Addus were paid in odd coins by us for odd jobs and they saved them or beat out the coppers for ornaments arrow heads or what have you.
 It took me a long while to feel comfortable I.e. not embarassed to use the bogs while someone else was in there since talking over the waist high hessian to the next perch's occupant while having a crap was not for the faint hearted and pretending they weren't there was stupid. I was after all a wet behind the ears 18 yr old. I will fish out some pictures too, I have one of the Brit landing  and one of a Sunderland in the lagoon which was quite stormy (blowing 30 - 40 knots) and a picture of the real control tower, a small kadjan shack with a flap propped open when in business and two T/R 5043 on the floor (run off a pair of ginourmous lorry batteries) to speak to the aircraft.

Received from Alex 'Tich' Carrie on 10th March 2004
 
I was a member of 205/209 Squadron on the last of the Sunderland flyingboats.
We flew from RAF Seletar in Singapore on the 15 - 2 - 1958 heading for China Bay in what was then Ceylon before they started buggering the names of countries about, 14 hours later we arrived over Trincomalee harbour and alighted in China Bay. We were met by a fuel bowser on the Quay and a three ton truck, which took us to the Welcome Hotel a quite posh establishment run by a long white haired old Irishman that went by the name of Paddy O' Shaughnessy. We were given a room each and a dinner then off we went to look for the bar. No luck, but then we were told we could order drinks from the waiter. A small bottle of beer cost 7 shillings and sixpence so we had a couple and got talking to a couple of Russians who could do nothing but brag about their space achievements and noticed they were drinking three star Brandy so we ordered a bottle, the cost, seven shillings and sixpence.
Next morning early we took ourselves and our headaches down to the aircraft and departed for Male the Capital of the Maldives where we picked up the Sultan and one of his mates. The Sultan was a nice old boy who wore a Fez and an Andy Capp hat both at the same time, I cant remember which was on top but it gave us a laugh.
Arriving at Gan we got to the shore in the Sultans Barge as it was called landing at Costain's pier where we were shown to our Billet, a bloody Tent. Having settled down someone asked where the bog was, that was another shock, a wooden thunderbox to sit on and you shat into a trench that was full of yesterdays dinners, bog paper, and flies and stank like a dead dog. There was a row of these lovely convenience's and you soon learned to pick the one up wind.
We were on Gan for a week while the Sultan had a pow-wow with his mates on another Island so all we had to do was a pre-flight inspection on the aircraft every morning and the rest of the day was our own. I had a pair of flippers, mask and snorkel with me so spent most of every day in the Sea. According to a friendly Snoop? there were 90 airmen on the Island and 30 of them Snowdrops, who were there to stop the Packie's pinching this and that. From what I could see they were watching the wrong bunch as I found out in the NAAFI one night. There was an airman pinching bikes and flogging them to the Packie's for ten shillings then reporting the bikes stolen and the Snoops would go and recover them, only for the bikes to go missing again later, and so on and so on.
We tried to have a game of Snooker in the so called games room, a thatched roof and walls and part of it open to the beach. you hit the snooker ball and it would meander up the table a foot and stop, or take a turn in any direction during it's journey to the pocket. On close examination there was coral dust engrained into the cloth so we gave that up.
Pictures was a few sheets put up between some poles and you had to grab a chair from the mess hall and park anywhere in front of the screen. you soon learnt to sit at the back as when a Fruit Bat flew across the screen a shower of beer cans would sail through the air after it. That was always more fun than the picture, needless to say a few were aimed at the heads in front.
One very memorable thing happened to me, on waking on the first morning I found the fronts of both my K D socks had the front eaten out of them for the full length, it was land crabs so I was told, these crabs were smart as they never touched the feet, clever crabs. Apart from the guy flogging bikes they were the smartest things I found on the Island.
That week on the Island was the week that the NAAFI started to serve meals and I had the distinction of buying the seventh meal served by them, I think I should have that stamped on my GSM as it was a far greater risk than doing Firedogs over Malaya.
The time to go back eventually arrived so we loaded up the Sultan and his mate and took off for Male. Now on flights like these we cooked up meals on two Primus stoves and me being of the lowest of the low, an SAC in fact I cooked up some sawdust sausages (Remember them) and other bits and pieces. I then went and told the Skipper dinner was served and should I feed the Sultan. Not bloody likely was the reply, so the crew sat down and ate their dinner in front of the poor old boy. When they had all eaten and gone back up to the flight deck to their crosswords I cooked up some more sausages for the Sultan and his mate.
When we got to Male it was too rough to land so we circled a couple of times and headed off for Ceylon. The Sultan by this time was on his knees on the seat in the wardroom looking out of the porthole and having a good jibber jabbar with his mate and at me.
Not being able to speak gibberish, only when drunk, I just kept saying Ceylon, eventually he calmed down and went to sleep.
When we landed at China Bay and arrived at the Welcome Hotel our Skipper who shall remain nameless ( Ben Ford ) took old Paddy O' Shawnesy aside and told him that we had the Sultan of the Maldives with us and could he put him at his table. Paddy O' Shaughnessy took one look at him and said" Not bloody likely he can eat out in the annex with the hired help."
Next day we left for Singapore and left the Sultan there. I often wonder if he had to do the washing up?
Alex ( Tich ) Carrie
10th March 2004

 

From Jim Duncan on 6th August 2004

I was on detachment from Negombo for a few weeks in 1958, which were spent on SASF under old Henry Moon! There were only about six ground crew, and I was replacing a rigger who had gone to Singers. I chummed up with Ginge Wombwell, and spent many lazy days on the reef, swimmimg in the shark net that only had two sides! I also did a couple of runs to Gan, looking after some Costain Pakistani Contractors during the flight, ( so they wouldn't set fire to the Pigs!) On one such flight, I was in the cockpit for the landing and as we taxied down the runway, there was Henry at the end waving his yellow lollipops all over the place!. The pilot said, " Oh no! It's that bloody mad Christmas tree again!
Ginge and I built a raft made from 5 gal drums, bits of wood, and rope. When he both sat on it, our bums were well below water! In these days sharks were looked on as a bit of a threat, and we had one or two moments when we had to paddle furiously for the beach!
I recall Henry giving out amendments for APs, and was furious when he found they were being used as toilet paper! His favourite remark was, "I might as well speak to my namesake up there!"
Last year someone told me where Henry might be living, but if he is, then he'd have to be bloody old! Seemingly, he retired a WO.
On Gary's website there should be a picture of Henry and the ground crew (including me) during the Abandoned Earl's visit, are you on it? Tony Hawes took the photo.

Jim, (Jamie) Duncan ex-SASF Neg/Kat 1956-1959

Yes Jim when I was down on Gan May/June 1959 I worked in that tent on the side of the new pan, the runway was still not complete, and some sergeant (maybe even Henry Moon) gave me a load of amendments to do. The trouble was the amendments to these AP's superseded all the other amendments and were well and truly binned there were thousands of 'em.

Does anyone recall that new pan that was so white and made out of crushed coral, if you didn't wear sunglasses you could be temporarily blinded. I'm told by those who have been back in the last few years that the vegetation now is so lush, a bit different to my days there where most of the coconut trees were bulldozed into the sea!

John Cooper

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

I often talk about Gan Pioneers meaning guys that were stationed on Addu between 1957-1961 here is a true Pioneer!

Dear John.

Many thanks for showing interest in my Gan memories and I think I should start by explaining how I managed to get to Gan. I was a T.A. soldier in 1939 and was called up in August of that year. I had joined the First Surrey Rifles a unit in London where I was born. We were then made R. E.'s and spent the early days touring around the southern parts of country putting up Anti Aircraft defences. After some months when the bombing intensified we were made Gunners and trained on Artillery and spent our time going around the country trying to guess where the next Air Raid would be. I was for a time on West Malling Aerodrome and controlled our guns from the Control Tower under the orders of the Officer in charge. During my time there I was selected to be an Instructor of Gunnery and with one officer and 12 other N.C Os we were put on a draft to go to India. and sailed to there on a troopship with 8000 others all going to different places.

My draft ended up in a camp near to Karachi and we were given 100 native recruits and told to train them to become Gunners. This was the beginning of 1943 and it took us nearly a year to make soldiers out of them. and then towards the end of the year we were put on an old Chinese boat and sailed out of Bombay without a clue where we were going. The boat was rife with cockroach and toilets were metal cubicles in a line on deck. The smell and the heat was unbearable and to add to our troubles because the British wouldn't pay the charges for food we had to take our own food on board.

We eventually arrived on this Island and it was only then that we were told where we were. What an eye-opener that was. We had Tents for our accommodation, a table and a bench as furniture and a Charpoy bed. We had six Gun sites and a troop head quarters with one small vehicle. The sites were spread around the Island and over on Willigilly we had Heavy anti-aircraft Guns.

A navy supply ship The Haitian was anchored in the harbour and the air defence was one Walrus which landed on a strip of coral rolled flat. There were a number of coastal Artillery guns around the entrance to the anchorage these were manned by a Punjabi Indian unit. The Navy was responsible for medical cases and had a Operating

Theatre, a wooden hut alongside tents that were used for the patients. The toilet in the wards was a bucket with a canvas screen and you called an orderly when you were finished. You only went sick if you were on the verge of death.

The Cinema was palm trees to hold the roof on and that was made of the palm leaves plaited together and laid very much like large tiles, The films shown were Indian, Monday to Saturday and an English film on a Sunday. This of course depended on the coming of the supply boat. Usually this would arrive every two or three weeks and that would mean we would have fresh meat and vegetables, the mail and the film of the week. I was the troop sergeant and responsible for rations etc and on delivery day would collect a couple of live Goats for the natives. We just had a couple of joints and fresh veg, when the supply boat was late and it was very often we had to watch the same film as the week before and one film Radio City Revels we saw four weeks running. The petrol was supplied in two four gallon cans housed in wooden boxes and these boxes when fixed together made chairs and cupboards and things of that nature. Bath's were unknown so I made a shower out of a Forty gallon drum sat on the top of four legs and a short pipe from the tap to a potato tin with holes punched through. Used to get the Water cart to fill it up when needed.

We did get a ration of beer and cigs. The drink was a bottle of spirit and a tin of cigarette's 50 fags in the tin and these were brown where they had been stored in a damp building. They didn't last long if you were a smoker so had to fall back on smoking the Indian Bidi. We were never let off the Island other than across the causeway to I think it was called Veti. (Fedu) We had to stand -by every time a ship was found on the radio until it was recognised when we had a quiet spell.

No doubt you will know all about the Insects. Mosquito's and the rats that came out of the Palm Husks when you knocked then down to get the juice to go with the Gin. and the mysterious illnesses that you caught but know one knew what they were.

I can only think I have bored you to pieces and at the age of 85 I often do that to people but looking back I can only think I may have done something wrong and Gan was my punishment. I would suffer Gan if I had been there during the RAF years.

Regards

Bert Morris

Added Jan 1st 2004
 
From Doug Simpkins ex 19th Signal Regiment (Air Formation) on RAF Gan in 1959. Extracts from 'The Wire' May 1960.
 
Winners of the station bar competition on the island of Gan Christmas 1958 Signal Regiment.
Winners of the station bar competition on the island of Gan Christmas 1959 Signal Regiment (called the Casino Bar) tied with the RAF Regiment bar as adjudged by the Station Commander.
 
Also at Christmas 1959 in the island Dhoni race over a stretch of water covering approximately one mile the Signal Regiment won this race with 14 other boats competing. 

The following attended the RAF Gan & RAF Negombo/Katunayake reunion at Duxford on Sunday 8th June 2003:-
 
John 'Gary' Cooper SASF Negombo 1958-1960 +Gan
John 'Benny' Fenton SASF Negombo 1957-1959
Jim Garrod Mobile Oxygen Unit Negombo 1957-1958
Terry Norman 1957-1959 Negombo Comm Centre
Alan Giles Signals Centre Negombo 1958-1960(Feb)
Stewart Tucker SASF Negombo 1959-1960 +Gan
John 'Spike' Castle SASF Negombo 1959-1960 +Gan
Tom Hodnett 5001 Squadron Construction Gan 1957
Alex Carrie China Bay/Gan visiting Sunderland Squadron
Harry Shepherd Navigator visiting Sunderland Gan 1957 +CB
Brian 'Ricky' Smith SASF Gan 1959-1960 +Negombo
Nan Wilmer wife of Brian SASF Gan  March 1959-1960
John 'Jack' Lake SASF Feb 1959-1960 + Negombo
Jim Collins RAF Gan 1961
John Bawden Station Signals Gan 1959-1960
Mick Hill Gan 1961
Doug Simpkins Army Signals Section 19AFS Gan 1959
Stuart Wittering Fire Section Negombo 1959-1961
Andy Mutch SASF Gan 1959-1960 + Negombo
(Plus Andy's Mate Bill Lowson ex #1 Squadron Tangmere)
Rod Rumsby ASF Changi 1957-1960 + Ceylon
Reg Wheatley OC Signals Section Gan Apr 1959- Apr 1960
Ray Grummett Gan Comm Centre 1960-1961
David Cooper Gan Station Signals July 1960-1961
Harry Stanley #8RFP Gan 1959-1960
Clifford Rogers Gan Visiting Shackleton crew 1959-1960
Sylvia Hambidge wife of MT Mech Negombo 1957-1959
Bill Brown MT Section Gan 1959-1960
Harry Powell Orderly Room Gan 1959-1960
Roy Fox Pay Accounts Gan 1960
Terry Medland Pay Accounts 1960-1961 Gan
Tony Hole SASF Gan 1960-61
Alan McKeating Hospital/SSQ Gan 1959-1960 
Rob/Robin Moore Air Movements Section Negombo/Gan 1958-1959
 
Errors and Omissions Excepted E&OE 
 

dux9.jpg
Andy Mutch, John Bawden and Alex Carrie unfurling the RAF Ensign circa 1960 in the Duxford 'NAAFI'

Tony Sirrell's website on RAF Gan

RAF GAN 1957-1961 
 
In the mid 1950's the British Government were being informed that their bases in Ceylon were to be closed down but as the bulk of the Royal Air Force Transport Command fleet were still operating medium range aircraft to serve its Empire East of Suez it would be necessary to find another Staging Post between Aden and Singapore to replace RAF Negombo. 
 
Several possible sites were examined but only one could fulfil this role and the decision to build on Gan in the Addu Atoll of the Maldives was made. This base was used by the British in World War 2 but was evacuated soon after hostilities ceased in 1945. From 1956 until 1976 there were military personnel based on Gan, here follows some extracts from a booklet received from Rick Vince whose father Stan, worked for the Air Ministry Works Department (AMWD) from 1958 to 1960.
 
ACQUAINTANCE with the MALDIVE ISLANDS
(June 1957)
 
Extracts from a UK Government booklet issued to all personnel visiting Addu Atoll in 1957
 
The Maldives
Topography
 
The Maldives form the middle third of a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean, 360 miles West of Ceylon running North/South approximately on longtitude 73  degrees  00' E. The Laccadives administered by India are situated to the North and the Chagos Group ,administered by the Government of Mauritius, to the South. Addu Atoll is the most Southerly of the Maldive Group and lies just South of the equator in latitude 0 degrees 36' 30" S.
 
    

The atoll (Addu) is roughly heart shaped measuring 10 miles from East to West, 6.5 miles from North to South, and comprises a perimeter of long narrow islands composed of broken coral shingle overlaid by coral sand and a top covering of sandy humus soil from decayed vegetation.The islands are flat and low lying generally no more than 5 feet above M.S.L. Their coast lines are fringed with thick belts of palm trees and bushes. Dense jungle is met further inland except in the case of Gan where much of the vegetation was removed from the Central Area to make way for an airfield during the late war (WW2) and on the other islands where clearings have been made for clusters of houses. 
 
The islands themselves, surrounded in each case by a reef, enclose a deep water lagoon of 22 square miles which affords a good anchorage  at all seasons, varying in depth between 20 and 40 fathoms with a tide range maximum of 3' 8". Of the four available entrances, that known as the Gan Channel between Gan and Wilingili is the most suitable for large vessels having a minimum depth of 7 fathoms and a safe width of half a mile. The largest ship to use this entrance was R.M.S. Queen Mary during the last war (WW2). 
 
Climate
The climate is tropical oceanic with shade temperatures of 75-90 F and a humidity ranging from 70 -95%, Whilst at times the humidity is extremely high there is generally sufficient breeze to prevent conditions becoming uncomfortable. The advantages of the sea's cooling influence is lost on moving any distance inland.
 
Winds are generally light. ranging from 5-15 knots except for squalls when gusts up to gale force are experienced. These usually precede rainstorms and last from 20 minutes to one hour though blows of longer duration do occur. Rain when it comes is usually heavy, lasting anything from one to twelve hours often to the accompaniment of thunder. 
 
There is no marked variation in the seasons though it does tend to become progressively hotter and drier from December to April  during the North-East monsoon when the wind blows from a N.E. - N.W. direction, March being the hottest month. From May to November during the South West monsoon, winds generally range from S.S.E. to West  and the humidity tends to the higher limit with a like increase in the amount of rainfall. The heaviest rains occur between August and October.
 
Development
 
As a whole the islands are extremely underdeveloped, there being only one doctor in Male (Capital of the Maldives) to cater for a total population of 93000. The capital is over 300 miles from the most distant atoll and there is no regular system of communication between it and the pther islands or between individual atolls apart from the chance voyages of sailing ships, dependent on the direction of the monsoon, and the occasional visits of two Government owned motor launches. Communications with the outside world are carried on through a small Government transmitter/receiver station at Male (Pronounced Marley) maintained by the RAF in Ceylon. Mail is transported to and from Colombo in sailing vessels at the changes of the monsoon or by a charter ship which makes occasional trips to Male from Colombo.
 
Addu Atoll has a population of 6080 persons and comprises 25 named islands of which 5 are inhabited. It is certainly the most isolated and probably the most backward atoll of the whole group. Being 330 miles from Male qualified medical assistance is non-existent from local sources although the Chief Priest on each island administers dubious remedies to the sick.The only contact with the locals make with the outside world comes from periodic voyages to Colombo of the locally owned "ODIES", sailing vessels of 40-80 tons, at the changes of the monsoon, to market fish etc.
 
Wartime Occupation by H.M. Forces
 
Commencing in 1941 Addu Atoll was developed as an advanced operational base and provided a safe anchorage and refuelling point for units of the Royal Navy, an aerodrome and base hospital situated on Gan, and a flying boat base at the South end of Hitaddu Island manned by the Royal Air Force.
 
All the larger islands had units of the forces stationed on them for purposes of defence and provision of essential services such as wireless communications. Practically all the wartime installations have been removed, destroyed, or overgrown. The destruction was carried out partly by the departing forces in 1945 and completed by order of a late Maldivian Prime Minister during the period of the Republic immediately prior to 1953.
 
Living Conditions (British Personnel)
 
The above gives a brief picture of conditions as they will be seen by service personnel on their arrival in Addu Atoll from Ceylon. It must not be imagined, however, that a tour of duty on the atoll will be anything but pleasant provided the correct mental approach to it is made from the outset.
 
The people are simple, cheerful and of a friendly disposition; the scenic colouring will be a memory carried  for life and for those interested, sailing, fishing and bathing can be enjoyed to the full. In addition with only a small amount of preparation of the ground, tennis,hockey, cricket and football can be played when the main heat of the day is past.
 
As in all tropical climates personal hygiene, suitable clothing and moderation in all things are essential for the enjoyment of a successful tour.
 
Health
 
There is an imposing list of diseases which can be caught in the atoll by those who who do not pay strict attention to nedical instructions. Of these Cerebral malaria and Scrub-Typhus are probably the most dangerous. The first is most effectively nullified by the regular daily dose of Paludrine issued by the M.O. in tablet form, by sleeping under a mosquito net, and by obeying the dress regulations promulgated in orders. The second by ensuring that socks and clothing below the waist receive regular applications of di-butyl Phthallate if they are to be worn in areas of scrub.
 
Dysentry is so common amongst the locals that it if taken as the natural state of affairs and therefore it is of great importance to ensure that kitchen boys and domestic servants wash their hands with soap and water and rinse in a disinfected solution before handling food, plates, glasses, etc. Uncooked food and drink from native sources, in  particular fruit, vegetables and soft drinks, are all potentially very dangerous and should not be consumed, it is possible to disinfect fruit with an antiseptic solution but advice should be sought from the medical or catering staff on the correct strength of the available disinfectant to use. Local hospitality should only be accepted in exceptional circumstances and with a realisation of the risks.
 
For some the best method of taking increased salt is to add extra to some part of each meal. The specific food to which it is added being a matter for individual tastes. Some men cannot take salt in the form of salt tablets. Weakness, tiredness and minor cramps in the calves are often signs of salt deficiency often encountered before depression.
 
Frequent showers and washing with soap and water are more important than dusting powder. Dusting powder on a dirty skin will not stop prickly heat.
 
After sea bathing, due to the high salt content it will be found advisable to have a wash-down with fresh water. Cuts from coral should receive immediate attention since if neglected they can prove most difficult to cure.
 
Brown ants are the most irritating of the insect life and will be met everywhere. They will arrive in large numbers wherever food or water is left unattended and they show a particular liking for sweet things such as sugar and chocolate. Otherwise, it will be found that the ant is a most unpleasant bedfellow and leaves his mark in the shape of large bites which itch for several days.
 
In case the foregoing has caused alarm it is well at this time to recall that for a period of four months, Novmber 1955 to March 1956, a detachment of the reputedly unlucky number of thirteen service personnel lived on the island without relief during which they maintained excellent health and have suffered no subsequent ill effects. This record is considered to be due very largely to strict attention to personal hygiene and in this the individual can make the M.O.'s task a very easy one.
 
As the development of the atoll proceeds the risk of contracting disease will diminish and the physical fitness of the local population improved so that they cease to be carriers of disease.
 
Clothing
 
Clothing worn is typical for a hot climate. Khaki Drill shorts and shirts generally with slacks essential when working or playing in areas of scrub. Off duty, white shorts and shirts will be found the coolest form of apparel during the day. Ater dark, slacks and shirts with button up collars and long button up sleeves are considered essential as mosquitos and white midge flies make an unwelcome appearance.
 
There are at present no real facilities for purchasing clothing in the Atoll. Grey flannels and good quality white shirts shoukd be purchased in the U.K. before travelling out. Khaki Drill, white shorts and sports shirts can be made to measure in a  few days on arrival in Ceylon.
 
Footwear as for summer conditions at home; shoes and sandals can be made to measure in a few days in Ceylon, generally they are somewhat cheaper than in the U.K. and prove most serviceable.
 
Inclusion of U.K. weight suiting and uniforms should be kept to an absolute minimum since, due to the high humidity, mildew is a great danger. Damage from this source can be prevented, however, by regular weekly airing and brushing.
 
Currency
 
The Maldivian Government has issued its own currency, the official rate of exchange being one Maldivian rupee to one Ceylon rupee. Amongst the local inhabitants in Addu Atoll barter with cigarettes or direct purchase with Ceylon currency has flourished since the occupation during the late war (WW2). This no doubt is due to a lack of trust in the strength of the Government currency.
 
Customs and Excise
 
There are no customs and excise in the Maldives but British personnel will be subject to Ceylon customs duties on presents and other articles sent from the U.K. as long as they are routed through a postal address in Ceylon. You are therefore advised to check on the latest position on arrival in Ceylon since in some instances charges can be quite heavy.
 
Alcohol and tobacco are duty free ex U.K. and mineral waters and soft drinks of Ceylon and Australian manufacture respectively are cheaper than in the U.K.
 
Postal Arrangements
 
Mail from the Atoll is sent to Ceylon and then through normal service channels to the U.K.  Allowing for the most unfavourable connections en route replies to letters should be received within a month for the round trip to the U.K. and back again.
 
Transportation Addu Atoll - Ceylon
 
 The length of  time, naturally, is governed by the type of vessel or aircraft used. Generally, however, it will take about 48 hours by sea and 4 - 6 hours by air.
 
Accomodation
 
This at present is provided in tents or prefabricated hutting. However with a little fore thought and a certain amount of ingenuity on arrival, quarters can be made very comfortable and the sense of roughing it can be eliminated.
 
Local Entertainments
 
Hollywood ideas of grass skirts, guitar music and dancing should be eliminated in order to save an initial period of disillusionment. Entertainment from local resources is limited to a few festival plays and occasional concerts by local choirs composed of the younger members of the community. On first acquaintance this entertainment will be regarded as an experience rather than for its theatrical or musical worth. Enjoyment does increase with repetition of the experience however.
 
Leave
 
Generally periods of leave will be spent in Ceylon where Colombo provides a variety of night life, U.K. type shops and other amenities. The hill stations in Ceylon are also well worth visiting for a change of scene and climate. During the tour a short visit to Male, the seat of Government for the Maldives, is something which should not be missed. The Maldivians maintain a rest house on R.A.F. Island in the Male Lagoon which can be made ready for service personnel at short notice.
 
Conclusion
 
It is a matter of common experience that isolated stations have a far higher standard of morale than those adjacent to urban areas. The new arrival may confidently expect this to be the case in Addu Atoll and it is therefore up to him to maintain the tradition for those who follow.
 
Stations with a high morale will always have good relations with the local population and in view of the vital position which this staging post is to play in Commonwealth communications it is essential to maintain and cement this good relationship by every means possible.
 
N.A.A.F.I. in the Maldive Islands
 
It will be some time before permanent NAAFI installations are ready. Arrangements have therefore been made for contractors to erect a large aluminium building from which a temporary canteen and grocery store service will be provided. Work on this building is due to begin soon.
 
The permanent amenities on Gan will be:-
 
A Junior Ranks' Club, in a new prefabricated single storey building. For corporals there will a restaurant, bar, games room, lounge, billiard room and reading and writing room. Airmen will have a restaurant, bar, games room, lounge, visitors' room, billiard room, library,reading and writing room and barber's shop. "Called-order" equipment will be installed for cooking, and customers will thus be able to watch their meals being prepared. Cakes and pastries will be baked in the club kitchens. Beers and aerated mineral waters will be available - the latter made in N.A.A.F.I.'s own factory on the island (dubbed Ganade). 
 
 
THE RAF GAN PIONEERS 1957-1961
 
 
   
 
 

Tom Hodnett 5001 Construction Unit 1957
Eric Shepherd SASF 1957/58/59
Jim Duncan SASF 1958
Andy Mutch SASF 1959-1960
Alec Keith SASF 1959-1960
Jack (John) Lake SASF 1959
Taff Pendry SASF 1959-1960
Ricky (Brian) Smith SASF 1959-1960 (Deceased 2004)
Rod Venners SASF 1959-1960
 Brian Wilmer SASF 1959-1960 (Deceased 2002)
Will Wilson SASF 1959-1960
Peter Hill SASF 1959-1960
Tony Hill SASF 1959-1960
Vic Bath SASF/MT 1960
Tony Davies SASF/MCU 1960-1961
Mike Tuckman SASF 1960-1961 
Gary (John) Cooper SASF 1959 & 1960 
Ray Bridson i/c SASF 1960-1961
Ralph Vincent SASF 1960-1961
Nobby Welham-Clarke SASF 1960-1961
Tony Hole SASF 1960-1961
Tony Arrowsmith SASF 1961
Dennis (Ginge) Severs SASF 1961
Cliff Phillips SASF 1961
Ken Burkitt Station Flight 1961
Alex 'Tich' Carrie 1957-1958 Visiting Sunderland Groundcrew
Harry Shepherd Navigator visiting Sunderland crew 1957
Derek Riley Visiting Sunderland Aircraft 1957
Bill Whiter 1957/1958/1959 Visiting Sunderland Navigator
Ian Andrew 214 Sqn Valiant Detachment 1959
David Jarvis 57 Squadron Valiant Detachment 1960
Colin Cullis Visiting Valetta aircrew 1957-1959
Ken Denman Visiting Valetta aircrew 1957-1959
Brian (Terry) Hines Visiting Valetta aircrew 1957-1959
Ron Wayne Visiting Valetta aircrew 1957-1958
Neville Cooper FECs Valettas 1957-1958
Mike Plummer Visiting Valetta aircrew 1957
Rob Romano Visiting FEC's groundcrew 1958-1959
John (Mo) Botwood Visiting Shackleton Aircrew 1960
Don Mitchell Visiting Shackleton Aircrew 1960-1961
Derek Riley Visiting Shackleton Crew & 1957-1960
Chris Campbell Visiting Aircrew 1960-1961
Charles O'Neill Ground Wireless 1959-1960
Darrell Austin Catering Section 1959-1960
Henry (Nobby) Clarke Catering Section Officers Mess 1961-1962
Graham Jones Catering Section 1960-1961
Dave Bloomfield in transit 1960
Stewart Tucker in transit 1960
Tony Green in transit 1960
Spike (John) Castle in transit 1960
Mike Butler CCS/Receivers 1959-1960
Brian Cleverley CCS/Receivers 1960-1961
Steve (Roger) Stevens Fireman 1959-1960
Harry Heywood Air Traffic Control 1959-1960
Clifford Rogers Shackleton Detachment 1959 & 1960
Bob Payne Police 1959
Roy Fox Pay Accounts 1960
Terry Medland Pay Accounts 1960-1961
Ossie (Pete) Osborne Pay Accounts 1961
Colin Kitchen Medical Centre 1958
Dave Minns Medical Centre 1959-1960
Alan McKeating Medical Centre 1959-1960
Ray Webster Dental Section 1960
Arthur (Mitch) Mitchell Comm Centre 1957/1959/1960
Alan Giles Comm Centre D/A Watch 1958-1960
Tony Cullen Comm Centre 1959-1960
Tony Burslem Comm Centre 1960
Keith Cherry Comm Centre 1960
David Aires Comm Centre 1960-1961
Dave Green Comm Centre 1960-1961
Ray Grummett Comm Centre 1960-1961
Dave Matthews Comm Centre 1960-1961
Brian Turnbull Comm Centre 1961
Tony Feist MCU 1957
Tom Palmer MCU 1957
Mike Radclyffe MCU 1957 & Feb 1960-1961
Mick Walsh MCU 1957-58
Bob Young MCU 1957-1958
Pat Cox MCU 1958
Dennis Smith MCU 1958-1959
Geoff WillisMCU 1958-1959 
David Walker MCU 1959-1960
Bill Barker MCU 1959-1960
Keith Thomas MCU 1959-1960
Frank Imerson MCU Feb 1960-1961
Clinton Phillips MCU Nov 1960-1961 Elect 
Eddie Bellwood MCU/ARSF 1961
Jack Gretton MCU 1961
Bryan Bagley Aerial Erector 1959
Ray Blatcher Aerial Erector 1960-61
Eric Sumsion #8RFP 1959-1960
Ian Morrison #8RFP 1959-1960
Mo Glover #8RFP 1959-1960
Fred Robinson #8RFP 1959-1960
Norman Goosey #8RFP 1959-1960
Harry Stanley #8RFP 1959-1960
Jim Marsden #8RFP 1959-1960 
Tony (Vic) Hawes Station Signals 1957-1958
Donald Robson Station Signals 1957-1958
Pete Faulkner Station Signals 1957-1958
Terry Druce Station Signals 1958-1959
Bob Womersley Station Signals 1959
John Bawden Station Signals 1959-1960
Keith Greengrass Station Signals 1959-1960
Mike Clements Station Signals 1959-1960
Colin McLean Station Signals 1960
Reg Wheatley Station Signals Officer 1960
Tony Burslem Station Signals 1960
David Cooper Station Signals 1960-1961
Bruce (Jock) Thompson Station Signals 1960-1961
John Ferguson Station Signals 1960-1961
Colin Wright Station Signals 1960-1961
Jim Rae Station Signals 1961
Stan Fillingham Met Office/ATC 1959-1960
George Monk MT Section 1957-1958
Bill Brown MT Section 1959-1960
Dave Buxton MT Section 1959-1960
Jack Packard MT Section 1960
Mike Tee Air Traffic Control 1959-1960
John Nash Supply 1959
Alan Bass Stores 1959-1960
Daniel McInnes Stores 1959-1960
Philip Pyrah Station Workshops 1961
Richard Hawkins Transit 1960
Alex King RAF Regiment 1961
Terry Rose 1958-59 Clerical
Harry Waters Station Typist Dec 1959-Dec 1960
Harry Powell Orderly Room 1959-1960
Peter Reed Orderly Room 1961
Gerry Llewellyn Orderly Room 1961
John Ramsden Movements Section Jan 1960-Jan 1961 
Cecil Jackson RN HMS Modeste 1957
Steve Rayner RN HMS Lagos 1958
Pete (Pedro) Waters Army Signals 1958-1959
Doug Simpkins 19th Air Formation Royal Signals 1959-1960
Eddie Wooffitt Forces Post Office 1961
Rick Vince son of Stan Vince AMWD 1958-1960
Mick Dawson AMWD 1960-1961
Russell Pointer AMWD 1960-1961
James Pottinger Merchant Fleet 1957-1958
Jim Collins 1961 Section unknown
Peter Surman Jan 1960-Jan 1961
Dave Nevett RAF Police March-Dec 1959
Len McNab Transit Bar 1960
 
Some of the 52/110 Squadron Valetta crews that flew the Changi/Butterworth/Car Nicobar/Negombo/Gan 'Air Bridge' and reverse and often to be referred to as Gan Air or Gan Pig Run.
 
The crews on 52/110 Squadron Valettas
 
'Skid' Morris, Les Sands & Arthur Dodkin (Pilots)
Bernie Aslett, Jack Trainer & Len Pritchard (Navigators)
Ken Denman, Colin Cullis & Terry Hines (Signallers)
 
Thanks to Ken Denman for this information
 
 
 
 
Errors & Omissions Excepted (E&OE)
 
 
 

Click here to e.mail me to add, delete or amend entry

shieldgan.jpg
Photo courtesy Jim Duncan

.

Copyright John Cooper