Russian spy plane is given free rein to fly over the UK
Indeed, several British military officials will be on board the flight which has been pre-approved by the Ministry of Defence and Royal Air Force. The plane flew from RAF Brize Norton in Oxford and performed a number of observation flights.
Speaking with news agency TASS, Sergei Rhzhkov, head of Russia’s Nuclear Risk Reduction Centre said, “The observation flight will be performed in a period from May 15 to 19, 2017 from the Open Skies airdrome Brize Norton. The maximum range of the flight will be 2,400km.”
Signed in Helsinki, Finland in 1992, the Treaty on Open Skies came into force in 2002 and includes 34 signatory states. The observation flights are made over the US, Canada, Russia and Europe and are designed to enhance mutual understanding between states by helping participants gather information about foreign military forces.
This comes as relations between Putin’s Russia and western democracies are at their worst since the end of the Cold War.
The Irish Sun
A Russian spy plane was allowed to fly over the UK collecting information about the country’s military. But rather than being shot down, Vladimir Putin’s Antonov An-30B was welcomed into British airspace as part of the international Treaty on Open Skies.
An MoD spokesman told the Independent that UK military personnel will be “on board the Russian aircraft throughout the flight, ensuring compliance with treaty conditions.” He continued, “This is a completely routine visit which follows a UK over flight of Russia earlier this month.”
From: David King, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk Subject: Muharraq
Jon Guy’s memory of Execise Bersatu Padu reminsded me of an incident during this Exercise. Muharraq was first stopping point, refuelling etc., and one occasion, we had 90 pax from a C130 in our transit lounge. The Loadie came up to me grinning from ear-to-ear. On leaving the UK he had the Chalk Commander brief the pax to put their sweet papers into a pocket. On approaching Muharraq, no repeat briefing was given so sweet wrappers ended up on the floor! [For the uninitiated... hard boiled sweets are given out to passengers prior to take off and again prior to landing; the constant swallowing relieves painful ears when the aircraft changes pressurisation.]
Reading memories from past Muharraq Movers, does anyone remember the Indian Superconstellation that used to drop in to refuel? An oil filler cap was missing from an underwing oil filler point and had an old rag stuffed in to stop the oil leaking out. Unfortunately, it wasn’t successful and everyone in a 15 yard circle got sprayed with hot oil!
If Ascension's runway has potholes, then it didn't happen overnight, so why didn't the powers that be get it repaired? What is the world coming to when an important link to the Falklands goes down the pan, somebody get a grip and get it repaired! What a state we'd be in if we let that sort of thing happen to Brize, for instance, who's in charge of the menagerie these days?
I was reading about other guy's experiences in Muharraq and had a good laugh over them, but there were some lucky sods getting posted out there travelling on VC10's no less. I went home on one at the end of my time, but when I originally posted there they hadn't entered service. When they did come into service and they were being route tested, we had one come in being flown by a Group Captain no less, and the first time out he offered to take a full complement of lads home for the weekend, do a round-robin with them in the UK, and bring them all back on the Monday morning.
There were plenty of lads up for it, but the powers that be in Bahrain said that they would need to have the airfare back to Bahrain just in case something went wrong. The Groupie said that not even WW3 would prevent him from going back to Bahrain, it was all prearranged that the aircraft would fly the route, for at least three months, and that he could take lads home every weekend. Even if the aircraft he was using had a fault then he would fly a replacement, but his pleas fell on deaf ears, an opportunity missed. When he came back every Monday and Friday he didn't hesitate to take the piss out our deluded bosses, and called them everything under the sun.
He used to say to us, that he couldn't understand how we could work for such prats, I really liked that guy, we had some really good senior officers, and some real clowns, stories still to tell...
Brazil states RAF Hercules flights from or to Falklands are “humanitarian motivated”
The Brazilian government discards any “irregularities” in allowing British military aircraft, flying to or from the Falkland Islands, landing in its airports since the authorizations are humanitarian motivated, revealed a source from the Brazilian government to the Argentine news agency, Telam.
“Brazil accepts the landing of aircraft for humanitarian motives. The Hercules from the RAF are catalogued that way, since they are internationally recognized as search and rescue, SAR” added the source from the government of president Michel Temer.
According to the Brazilian government spokesperson, Brazil does not allow the British transport by air or sea of troops or military provisions to or from the Islands. The three conditions under which Brazil accepts exceptionally UK military flights which are heading to or coming from the Falklands are: humanitarian emergency situations, (which include the support and maintenance of SAR equipment which the British have in the Islands); air emergency, and medical emergency situations.
According to Argentine sources so far this year four RAF Hercules flights have landed in Brazil for fuelling: two in Porto Alegre, Salgado Filho terminal, and two in Sao Paulo, Guarulhos international airport. The spokesperson added that “since mid XIX century, when Brazil was an empire, it has recognized the Malvinas Islands are Argentine”. Furthermore “contacts between Brazil and Argentina are frequent, and the issue can be addressed at different levels”.
The Brazilian government source added that in 2015, under removed Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff the number of these flights totaled 15, while during 2016, under the new administration they were down to half.
“Under the previous government as with this government, the Brazilian position has been in accordance with the same humanitarian motives, taking into account that the Hercules aircraft are recognized internationally as search and rescue”, pointed out the spokesperson.
Additionally “Brazil has had contacts through different diplomatic channels with Argentine authorities in the last few months to address the issue. In those meetings Brazilian diplomats have explained that the position of Brazil in not accepting regular British flights to and from the Islands is voluntary and unilateral, based in the historic support of Brazil to Argentine sovereignty right over the Malvinas Islands.”
From: Norman Stamper, 03184 Torrevieja Subject: RAF Gan
Reference the documentary made by Anglia TV. As far as I can remember it was made in 1968.
Late in '68 I received my posting notice for Gan and remember before my departure Anglia TV aired the programme and advertised it in the TV Times, either late '68 or early '69.
As it was of great interest to me I kept a copy of the article (attached) and managed to get a copy of the programme several years later.
The Prisoners of Paradise
Gan lies, a coral speck in the Indian Ocean, 40 miles south of the Equator, 670 miles south west of Ceylon, the southernmost island of the Maldives. It is a staging post for the R.A.F. VC 10 jets that transport servicemen between the United Kingdom and Singapore.
To refuel and service these aircraft the island has a resident population of 583 R.A.F. men, 41 European civilians (meteorologists and Public Works officials) and 297 Pakistani and Ceylonese staff. There is only one woman - a Women's Royal Voluntary Service Worker.
Wives and families are barred because their presence would mean more facilities of all kinds. So Gan is a lonely paradise. Or, as Squadron Leader Peter Jollie, senior medical officer at the base, told me: "Gan is like Alcatraz. Most people come to terms, but everyone suffers"
A Ministry of Defence man with us suggested that the men had known they could expect unaccompanied postings when they volunteered and that Gan was a test of character - "If you want to test character," rapped Jollie. "See men when they get letters, men of any rank. They take them off to bed to read and you know they're probably going to have a quiet cry. It's a case of making the best of an unnatural life."
To the visitor Gan's beauty is undeniable. A mere 1¾ miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide, it is framed by the delicate green of the coral shelf and the peacock blue of the ocean, flecked with the white sails of the Maldivian dhonis which carry 950 natives from neighbouring islands to work on Gan.
But the visitor will know that soon he will be boarding one of the superb VC 10s that fly effortlessly over the 5,600 miles to England in 13½ hours. For the others on the island there is no escape until the year's tour of duty is ended, apart from a fortnight's leave after six months.
Apart from the 110 acres on the island of Hittadu, where Gan's radio transmitter is sited, the R.A.F. men are prisoners. Their only regular contact with the world is teh arrival of the VC 10s. If anything, they increase the sense of isolation. For every plane is crowded with up to 150 servicemen, wives and children. Down the steps at Gan stream young mini-skirted wives, nubile shift-clad daughters, exotic-trousered Oriental brides, W.R.A.F. stewardesses.
I stood by as the airmen with business in the parking lot watched the women. They were careful not to be caught staring but missed nothing of the exciting parade of femininity. In 90 minutes or less they would retrace their steps and the plane would climb steeply into the sky. The lonely men of Gan would remain.
Views on Gan vary in intensity between the younger men and the older, the married and the single (divided almost equally in numbers, according to the station commander).
The greatest enthusiast for Gan is undoubtedley Joan of the W.R.V.S. - full name Joan Parsons, a Somerset spinster in her fifties. Twenty years an unsalaried W.R.V.S. worker at service camps, before that a Wren, she lives at the officer's mess and spends her evenings at the W.R.V.S. lounge adjoining an airmen's club.
I first saw her when the island was swept by one of the frequent squalls of rain that make the N.A.A.F.I.s 14s. 3d. umbrellas standard equipment. Through the steamy curtain came a solitary figure on a bicycle, an umbrella held above her head, plastic raincoat covering her green uniform.
Tall, tanned, elegant despite the conditions, Joan poured tea as though she were in a English drawing room. "Yes," she said, "I belong to the 'coral paradise' school of thought. The island has everything. There are people who would pay a fortune to come to a place like this for a holiday."
"I don't miss feminine company," she said, "After all, I meet the planes to help women passengers, and occasionally a W.R.A.F. officer spends a night at the base." She laughed when I asked how many proposals of marriage she had received. "Everyone looks on me as a mother," she said. In fact, Joan and the Anglican chaplain between them hear all the troubles of the unit.
I met the Rev. John McNeich, who encourages all ranks to call him John, in the N.A.A.F.I. shop. The only chaplain on the island, he gets a congregation of about 40 on Sunday evenings. Married only last year, his wife was at Lyneham, Wiltshire, expecting their first child. "So I can understand the worries of the married men," he said. "There are three kinds of reaction to Gan. A small percentage of people like everything about the place and are completely happy. The majority make the best of it and manage to enjoy themselves. Another small percentage cannot adapt to the conditions at all."
Despite the loneliness, morale is as high on Gan as in any overseas service camp I have known. The secret is that the island offers almost every kind of organised activity from floodlit tennis to water skiing.
There are 15 messes and clubs, and in the W.R.V.S. lounge Joan Parsons runs tombola and whist drives. There is a library, and education centre and a cinema. Gan even has its own radio station relaying programmes from England and broadcasting its own.
Joan plays record requests and reads messages from home every Sunday morning. The chaplain contributes epilogues. There are outside broadcasts covering such events as teh Tour de Gan, a round-the-island on R.A.F. bikes.
All agree that not to keep busy would invite boredom and breakdown. But they are busy. Gan boasts the fastest turn-round of aircraft on the route, and handles 144 aircraft and 7,400 passengers every month. "It's not too difficult to be efficient," says Wing Commander Ray Farmer, who took over as station commander in October. "Where else do you have every key man so near to hand?"
This close contact could, of course, become a drawback. It would be easy for rivial disagreements to grow into quarrels and feuds. The men claim this never happens. Crime is virtually non-existent on Gan. And I saw no drunkenness. Yet, after only six days I began to find the lovely island confining. I was conscious of meeting the same faces throughout every day.
I was not altogether sorry when I boarded a VC 10 in the early hours of a tropical morning, leaving the hermits of Gan to their sunshine, their swimming. Envying them, yet pitying them.
From: Andrew Kay, Colorado Springs, CO Subject: Two-SIx
Hi Tony and greetings from Colorado where it can't decide if it's spring or winter judging by the snowfall we had last weekend.
I read Gordon Gray's piece on the habit of movers to yell Two-Six when shifting something heavy, and I was told in the old Air Movements Training School that it originated with the firing of cannons in the Royal Navy and was something the numbers two and six yelled when pulling the cannons after (or maybe before) they had been fired.
Who was I to argue with the training staff? After all I was just an AC at the time and they were Gods to us, so I have always accepted this as the "true" story. However Wikipedia now informs me that it was just some b.s.story they dreamed up in their coffee lounge and now all these years later I should treat it with as much disdain as the stories the sergeant in the recruiting office told me when I went in to take the oath.
So I am hoping someone on here can give us the actual reason two-six is yelled, although if it comes from an ex-member of the AMTS or RAFMS training staff I would pretty much treat it as one more of their Jackanory stories. :-)
From: Tony Gale, Gatineau, QC Subject: RE: Two-SIx
The weather in Quebec is miserable right now too - temperatures in the low single digits and raining. By coincidence I had a binge weekend watching Hornblower - 8 x 2 hour movies about the Royal Navy set in the period up to and including the start of the Napoleonic War.
There were countless times that the rolling up of the guns was portrayed and not once did I hear the 'two-six' shouted. However, in Episode #7 - Loyalty - when Horatio and some of his crew were escaping from the make-shift prison in Brest, they were using a block and tackle set-up to free themselves from their shackles and 'two-six' was used a couple of times.
Resupply mission to Alert falls short as stubborn fog prevents RCAF transports from landing
Operation Boxtop, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s semi-annual re-supply mission to the world’s northernmost community, hit a snag earlier this month- fog kept RCAF planes from landing and left the site with one-third of the fuel expected. On April 20, a CC-150 airbus departed from Trenton with a team ready to deliver 1.5 million litres of low-sulphuric and jet fuel to Canadian Forces Station Alert, Nunavut - the Earth’s most northern base.
"Alert is a listening post for picking up radio frequencies from Moscow and wherever else,” says David Gray, a former resident and author of Alert: beyond the Inuit Lands, as well as an important hub for climate and ecological research. But, 800 kilometres from the North Pole and 2,000 kilometres from the nearest grocery store, sustaining Alert is neither easy nor cheap.
Since 1956, the RCAF has been moving supplies to the base via military plane. This involves massive, annual shipments of fuel - usually in spring - and of dry goods including rations, construction and research materials and the like - in autumn.
Most of the year, the RCAF says, blowing snow and frequent and, in some seasons, constant darkness “reduce visibility to zero.” This makes sending planes to deliver goods a non-starter. That’s why both re-supply operations run in the narrow window when the temperature of Ellesmere Island rises to a balmy -15 degrees Celsius and the sun doesn’t go down. These spring and autumn delivery dates are supposed to make for easy landing and a smooth process overall. Not this time.
The main body of the 98-person team arrived at the Thule air base in Greenland on April 23, RCAF major Josh Leveque says. Though Greenland’s weather was cooperative, he’d been told in advance Alert was foggy.
When the first fuel planes arrived the following day, “you could see almost all of Alert, except the runway, which was covered in fog,” Leveque says. Dampness, water on the ground and a fierce wind from the Pacific created a “freezing fog on the runway” that made landing very difficult. Still, meteorologists at Alert told the RCAF the wind would change direction, opening the runway for safer landing. “I don’t want to throw Alert’s weather guys under the bus but they told us they expected a change in the wind. It didn’t change,” Leveque says. Though, in Alert’s defence, he says, “civilian weather forecasts get things wrong all the time.” Though the RCAF made its deliveries, with some difficulty, on the first day, “after that, it was very sporadic,” Leveque says. After April 24, plane after plane flew within landing distance of Alert but, without a clear path, they hung in the air until fuel became a concern and they were instructed to return.
From April 24 and May 5, the RCAF planned to deliver four C-17s and two Hercules military planes full of fuel to Alert each day. It planned a total of 30 drop-offs to reach its target. Eventually, it became clear Alert’s initial forecast was wrong and the cloud ceiling was not going to rise. “Based on how the later forecasts looked, we cancelled the next deliveries,” Leveque says.
On May 6, the team tasked with delivering fuel to sustain Alert for the year returned to Trenton. A total 561, 700 litres of fuel had been delivered to the base. That’s a little more than one third of the 1.5-million litre target. Aside from the maintenance and weather problems, the operation went smoothly.
Alert’s 62 residents will have to wait until October, during the second Boxtop re-supply, to receive the rest of the planned fuel. Leveque says the RCAF will combine the usual “dry lift,” with extra fuel in the planes’ wings to support the site. Should the October re-supply fall through, Leveque says the RCAF is “confident Alert has enough fuel in storage to last until January.”
This isn’t the first time Operation Boxtop has fallen short. Back in October 1991, Boxtop flight 22 missed Alert’s runway and crashed, killing five. The weather was so hostile that the rescue plane sent after it was unable to land, leaving the survivors, soaked in diesel fuel, freezing in Nunavut snow for hours, the RCAF says.
Comparatively, Leveque says of the most recent re-supply: “aside from the maintenance and weather problems, the operation went smoothly.”
Difficulties aside, Gray says “most would not like to see Alert closed, even if it becomes out of date and not very useful from a military intelligence point of view, because it is the most northern point on Earth.”
Memories of RAF Changi
RAF 5353 Airfield Construction Wing and Japanese POWs improving runway of RAF Changi in 1946
Japanese POWs improving the runway of RAF Changi in 1946
Improved main runway of RAF Changi after completion in 1946
RAF Changi crest with King's crown
First completed as a British artillery camp in 1940, it was used together with the nearby Changi Prison for housing many of the Allied prisoners-of-war (POWs) after the fall of Singapore in 1942.
The construction of the airfield was initiated by the occupying Imperial Japanese forces using those same Allied POWs as forced labourers, building two unpaved landing strips between 1943 and 1944, intersecting in a cross layout and in approximately north-south and east-west directions.
The airfield facility became a Royal Air Force station and was renamed RAF Changi in 1946 after the Japanese surrender.
Imprisoned Japanese troops were then made to improve the runways, reinforcing the north-south runway for military aircraft and adding perforated steel plates to the east-west runway.
Completed post war, RAF Chia Keng - a GCHQ radio receiving station, was a satellite station of RAF Changi (being the Headquarters Air component part of British Far East Command) until the British Forces withdrawal from Singapore.
Also, the nearby RAF Hospital Changi, Old Changi Hospital (now defunct as Changi Hospital) functioned as the primary British military hospital providing medical care for all British, Australian and New Zealand servicemen stationed in the Eastern and Northern part of Singapore, while Alexandra Hospital was put in charge for those stationed in the Southern and Western part of Singapore. Changi Air Base.
Upon the withdrawal of British forces from Singapore, RAF Changi was renamed as Changi Air Base (CAB) and was handed over to the SADC (predecessor of Republic of Singapore Air Force) on 9 Dec 1971.
In June 1975, the Singapore government acquired about two-thirds of the airbase (save for the main flight-line, hangar/aircraft maintenance facilities and control tower which were located in the western section of the airbase) for the construction of the new Singapore Changi Airport, with the new runways in close alignment with the original north-south runway. The east-west runway was almost erased from the map, currently surviving as a taxiway to the apron area which has remained operational as part of Changi Air Base.
From: Tony Mullen, Toowoomba, QLD 4350 Subject: Memories of Changi
In June 1963, three Pilot Officers straight off the equipment and movements courses were posted to Changi Air Movements; myself, Paul Crotty (later Air Cdre) and the lovely Virginia Latimer-Allen. Ginny immediately found a niche as Pax officer and Paul and I were tasked to run the Paya Lebar detachment on a 24 hr on and 24 hr off basis. At that time Changi runways were being upgraded and the Comets and Brittanias from Lyneham plus UK charter flights were being handled at Paya Lebar International airport. It was quite a cruisy job to begin with. If there were no movements scheduled then we could remain on call at Changi, normally at the swimming pool!
Then a new SAMO arrived, Roy Mills, now deceased. Up until then we had grabbed staff as required from the duty Changi shift to meet requirements at Paya Lebar. Roy managed to obtain more NCOs and airmen on detachment from UK and they were allocated to Paul and I on a permanent basis. Most were from supply squadrons with very limited movements experience. Most had only attended the Movements course and then returned to supply duties.
I was given my new team and to my horror the first task was a Comet casevac turnround from pax to casevac and return to UK. The Comet was notoriously nose heavy and difficult to trim. In the Casevac role it was even worse! I was expected to manage it with my new team with no training and no induction of any sort. I pleaded with Roy Mills to give me a couple of experienced staff to guide us through this first challenge. My request was refused!
Well it was a debacle. The turnround was one and a half hours longer than scheduled. I finished up doing the trim sheet because no one else knew how to and we finished up overweight and I had to offload 2 Gan pax to get it under max all up weight. Furthermore, we had a route report from the Comet captain and an official complaint from the Group Captain medic who was furious about his patients waiting in ambulances on the tarmac for over an hour. It was a nightmare but I give Roy Mills his due, he apologised to me later and said he should not have left me in that situation.
All went well after that until my 20th birthday on Dec 13th 1963. There was a lull in movements at Paya Lebar. The only scheduled arrival was a UK charter due in early am on 14th. Then joy of joys we received notification that it had become U/S on route and there was a 24 hr delay. Paul and I decided to celebrate my birthday with a trip to Singapore city. It was quite a night and after many Tiger beers and visits to various dubious locations we somehow finished up drinking scotch in the engine room of a freighter in Singapore Harbour with the Scottish Chief Engineer. We staggered back to Changi as dawn was breaking and crashed out. We were shortly awoken by an Air Movements MT Driver who advised us that the SAMO wanted to see us immediately.
The charter flight had been repaired and arrived as originally scheduled! No one to meet it until the Changi DAMO rushed across to Paya Lebar to placate the passengers! Roy Mills was furious and Paul and I were punished by being directed to be on duty every day regardless of Paya Lebar movements. If not at Paya Lebar we were to report to the Changi DAMO and assist him. We were not allowed in the bar at the mess and only allowed in the mess to eat and sleep. We were told we were lucky we were not Court Martialled! This went on for a month at least. Interesting times indeed!
I transferred to MAMS three months later and of interest one of my detachments was to Gan to relieve the SAMO for a month whilst he was on compassionate leave. That was a very enjoyable time. Swimming in the lagoon and deep sea fishing off the stern of the Air Sea recue launch at full speed. During my time there we had a Comet engine change which entailed the passengers remaining on the Island for 48 hrs. One of the females was a beautiful blonde who was the relative of some Army General. I tried desperately to seduce her including trips around the island in the Movement Landrover to secluded spots. Unfortunately my efforts failed miserably! The detachment finished with a memorable flight back to Singapore at low level in a 205 Sqn Shackleton which, for the benefit of some of the younger readers, was similar to a Lancaster.
Happy memories from a long time ago. Keep up the good work Tony. I really enjoy the monthly piece of nostalgia.
DAVID TAYLOR IMAGES ~ PART I
PARKING THE BEV ~ BEVERLEY XM104 ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1962
Like many RAF stations, in September 1962 Changi hosted a ‘Battle-of-Britain’ airshow. Here’s the ‘big slow one’ of the show; Beverley XM104 ‘P’ of 34 Sqdn arriving at 1500 after a short 15 minute hop from Seletar on the 14th, the day before the show. Flt.Lt. O. Tarran is guided in as he taxies to be parked for the static part of the display.
In addition to Flt.Lt. Tarran, the Beverley crew consisted of Fg.Off. J.Nichols (2nd pilot), Fg.Off. A. Tolhurst (Navigator), Flt.Sgt. J.French (Signaller), Sgt. J.Luxton (Engineer) and Sgt. J.Sutton (Air Quartermaster).
RAFAIR FLIGHT 2207 TAXIES OUT ~ COMET C2 XK697 ~ RAF CHANGI AUGUST 1962
Leaving on the return of ‘trooping’ Flight 2207, Flt.Lt. I. Haigh taxies 216 Sqdn Comet C2 XK697 ‘Cygnus’ out past the Control Tower’s ‘signals square’ as it heads down the taxyway to runway 20 at Changi on 5th August 1962. The Comet had passed through Changi a few days earlier on it’s way to Kai Tak. Many of the Comet 2’s return trips were carrying out ‘Casevac’ flights from Changi.
On the 1st October, the Mk2 Comets were relegated to the ‘West Med’ trooping flights to Malta and Cyprus plus some of the VIP runs, so we stopped seeing both versions on the apron at Changi. The Comet C4’s crews coming to the Far East also soon started to adopt a ‘slipping’ system, similar to the Britannia crews.
FOUR IN THE EARLY MORNING ~ SOUTH VIETNAMESE C-47’S ~ RAF CHANGI NOVEMBER 1962
South Vietnamese C-47’s were very regular visitors to Changi in the early 60’s as a destination for training crews. Here, the last of the group taxis in to park at the end of the dispersal in the early morning light in Nov ‘62.
The SVAF roundal was based on the US one and the C-47’s retained their original US serials, here 49113, 348874, 45993 and 4349216, all from the 415th Transport Squadron based at Tan Son Nhut, near Saigon.
READY FOR ANOTHER ‘BUTT P’ ~ RAF CHANGI JUNE 1962
Valetta VW863 of 52 Sqdn from Butterworth being turned around at Changi on 15th June 1962. Crewed by Pilot Flt.Lt. G. Johnston, it carried out an airtest at Changi before undertaking a Fed Ambulance flight from Changi to Ipoh. It is seen here after it’s return to Changi being prepared for it’s flight back to it’s base at Butterworth.
VW836 required another air test again at Butterworth on the 17th before doing a ‘Butt P’ passenger flight from Butterworth to Malacca on the 18th, carrying on to Changi and then straight back to Butterworth under the crew of Fg.Off. A. Price. On the 19th she did a ‘Special’; going Butterworth to Changi and Seletar then to Malacca, before returning to Butterworth with the same pilot.
PACIFIC FLEET’S VIP R6D ARRIVES ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1962
A contingent of British Staff Officers waits as the batman in best white overalls turns R6D-1Z 131609 from US Navy squadron VR-21 to park. It has a '3 Star' nose plate indicating a Vice Admiral from the US Pacific Fleet.
VR-21 was nicknamed ‘Pineapple Airlines’ and was the Pacific Fleet's transport squadron that also operated VIP aircraft and was based at Barber's Point in Hawaii.
US PACIFIC-FLEET VICE-ADMIRAL ARRIVES FROM HAWAII ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1962
131609 from US Navy Fleet Logistic Support Squadron VR-21 from Barbers Point, Hawaii parks at Changi. Derived from the DC-6 airliner, the R6D-1Z was converted from passenger configuration to a VIP transport with a galley, bunks, work space and other amenities.
The VR-21 aircraft served as the transport for the Commander-in-Chief Pacific and Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet.
REFUELLING 40 SQDN’S VIP TRANSPORT ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1962
DC-6B NZ3631 being refuelled. Looking like it’s had a good polish. Of the three DC-6B’s of 40 Sqdn RNZAF, it was the one that was kept fitted out as a VIP transport and was later to carry the Queen on a tour of New Zealand in 1966 and also American President Lyndon Johnson the same year.
The RNZAF tried a few variations on their roundel and this DC-6 has a green fern frond on the centre red circle on the fuselage roundel. It was never very easy to discern and eventually a Kiwi was used.
The crew of Freighter NZ5906 from 41 Sqdn RNZAF lock-up and leave it parked the day before the Changi Airshow in September ‘62. The Bristol Freighter’s front was great for loading, but for instance, take-off in a Freighter was at 80 knots, but you didn’t want to lose an engine as a crucial 10 knots had to be gained before the plane was a ‘single engine safety speed’ and could gain any height. The brand new NZ5906 was exihibited at the 1952 Farnborough airshow and it was one of the Changi based 41 Sqdn aircraft detached to Kuching during the Confrontation and was hit by Indonesian ground fire on 13 October 1965, when an incendiary went through the letter ‘06’ ident here on the nose, took out the radio, damaged the toilet and started a fire in a parachute. One of the last 4 RNZAF Freighters, it was taken out of service in March 1977 but... just kept on going with a number of New Zealand operators and was finally taken off the register in January 1991, becoming derelict at Ardmore by 1992. The aircraft however has refused to die and is still ‘in use’ in NZ as a ‘2 motel rooms’ at Woodlyn Park, near Waitomo Caves.
LOCK-UP AND LEAVE ~ CHANGI SEPT 1962
AFTER TRACKING ‘FRIENDSHIP 7’ ~ WV-2 145926 TAXIES IN ~ RAF CHANGI FEBRUARY 1962
Almost too large for the taxyway at Changi, US Navy WV-2 145926 taxies past on 24th February 1962. The mixture of the standard US Navy dark colour scheme of an Early Warning ‘Willie Victor’ and the day-glo, is because this WV-2 had recently been transferred to the Pacific Missile Range at Point Mugu, California and it’s task on it's flights before here had been the tracking of the space capsule ‘Friendship 7’ as Cmdr. John Glenn circled the earth a few days earlier.
Glenn’s splashdown was in the Atlantic, but the flight orbited over the Indian Ocean and Australia, so this WV-2 may well have been positioned somewhere to facilitate any unexpected deviation.
WV-2 926 TAXIES PAST ~ RAF CHANGI FEBRUARY 1962
US Navy WV-2 145926, arrives on 24th February 1962, returning home after being involved in tracking Commander John Glenn in ‘Friendship 7’.
Glenn finally splashed down in the Atlantic but aircraft and ships were spaced around the globe to cover any difficulties.
THE ARMY UNLOADS DAN-AIR YORK G-ANXN ~ RAF CHANGI JANUARY 1963
Dan-Air York’s, carried heavy freight and here an Army truck is unloading in Jan‘63 when the continuing supply of the Army units in Borneo was still underway. G-ANXN, was ex-RAF MW258 and had flown this route through Singapore to Woomera in the late ‘50’s.
BOMBING PRACTICE ~ SHACKLETON 2C WR954 ~ SINGAPORE STRAITS JULY 1963
205 Sqdn Shackleton 2c, WR954’s practice bomb makes a splash very close to it’s target, a small pontoon ‘skid’ target being towed behind the RAF High-Speed Launch, 2755 in the Straits off Singapore on 22nd July 1963. WR954 had started it’s day at 0755, with the crew of Flt.Lt. S.Holder doing ‘M5 and M6’ exercises.
It landed at 1300 and was taken over by Flt. Lt. C.Butler, who’s crew undertook these ‘skid’ bombing practices, dropping it’s tiny practice bombs from an altitude ‘not below 100ft’ and it then went on to do ‘M2 and M3’ exercises, finally returning to Changi at 1830.
MAJOR SERVICE AFTER DELIVERY ~ SHACKLETON 2C WG533 ~ RAF CHANGI AUGUST 1962
Shackleton 2C WG553 ‘D’ getting it’s first major service after arrival at the Aircraft Servicing Flight at Changi in August 1962. It was delivered by a 205 Sqdn crew under Flt.Lt. Bethell leaving St Mawgan on the 12th July and routing via El Adem, Khormaksar and Gan.
It arrived at Changi on the 15th July and stayed with 205 until declared ‘damaged Cat.3’ in July ‘67 and was patched up and flown back to the UK, arriving at 27MU Shawbury October ‘67 and scrapped.
LANCASTER WU15 TAXIES IN ~ RAF CHANGI NOVEMBER 1962
Looking superb in it’s all-white paintwork, French Lancaster WU15 (NX611), off on it’s ‘last posting’ and 18 days into their delivery flight to the airfield at Tontouta, on Nouméa, New Caledonia. It had departed Le Bourget on 3rd November and routed via Malta, Istanbul, Tehran, Karachi , New Delhi, Calcutta and Phnom Penh.
After Changi it continued on to Djakarta, Bali, Darwin, Townsville and then to it's new base on Noumea. It arrived on 26th November after 67.5 flying hours.
L'AERONAVALE LANCASTER WU15 ~ RAF CHANGI NOVEMBER 1962
French Lancaster WU15 (NX611), off on it’s ‘last posting’ and 18 days into their delivery flight to the airfield at Tontouta, on Nouméa, New Caledonia. This rear Frazer-Nash rear turret on WU15 (NX611) normally carried a pair of 0.5” guns and the front a pair of 303’s. They didn't carry an upper turret. The Lancasters with 9S in the Pacific had airline standard radios, better Nav aids including LORAN, IFF and six oxygen places. Navigating in the Pacific with few ground aids must have been taxing. A pair of passenger seats were provided in the rear and the crew consisted of 2 pilots, 3 engineers/flight mechanics, 2 radio ops, 1 radar op and 2 observers; 11 in all. The ASV radar in the ventral radome was the AP15B version.
A SMART LANCASTER WITH AN ADMIRING CROWD ~ RAF CHANGI NOVEMBER 1962
‘15’ stopped over night at Changi on the 21st November 1962. The 6 man L'Aéronavale delivery crew under the pilot Capitaine de Corvette Jean Baptiste Angelini had departed Le Bourget on 3rd November and routed via Malta, Istanbul, Tehran, Karachi, New Delhi, Calcutta and Phnom Penh, where the aircraft had been given a ‘50 hour’ check by French engineers. Too late for the war, Lancaster B7 NX611 was already 7 years old when converted to be WU15 for the French Navy and was delivered on 30th May 1952. Now just over 10 years later it was off on it’s last posting, to join Escadrille de Servitude 9S on Nouméa, one of three that carried out patrol, ASR and comms duties throughout an enormous area of the Pacific.
VULCAN XH476 TAXIES OVER THE CHANGI ROAD ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1962
V-bombers definitely looked best in ‘anti-flash white’, particularly in the Singapore sun. Vulcan B1A XH476 piloted by Flt.Lt. J.C.Williams and his crew from 44 Squadron at Waddington taxi out for what they booked as a ‘practice demonstration scramble and display’ in the cool of the late afternoon of September 13th, although they were airborne for a total of 7 minutes only. They gave a rather longer display two days later at the Airshow on the 15th.
The aircraft had left the UK on Sept 9th and arrived at Changi on the 12th via El Adem, Nairobi and Gan and apart from Pilot Flt.Lt. Williams the crew was Co-pilot Flt.Lt. G.W.Rippin, Navigator Radar Flt.Lt. G.B.Walker, Navigator Plotter Flt.Lt. J.F.Scofield and Air Electronics Op Flt.Lt. A.R.Yapp. The crew chief, Chief Technician C.E. Pratt and technician Cpl. A.J. Riley were also onboard during the flights out and back so it was quite cramped in there.
A WESSEX FAILS TO FLY ~ WESSEX HAS1 XM918 ~ RAF CHANGI JANUARY 1963
The crew of Wessex HAS1 XM918 From HMS Hermes wait with one of the engine access panels already opened, for the servicing flight crew to assist as it lies stuck on the exit taxiway on the Western Dispersal. It had attempted to lift off from the adjacent ‘heli-pad’. This first version of the Wessex had only one engine, a Napier Gazelle, and unfortunately an engine failure was also to finally ‘sink’ this Wessex, as on the 9th September 1969, it suffered an engine failure causing it to ditch in the English Channel eleven miles off Portland, Dorset. The crew were rescued by an accompanying aircraft. In early January ‘63, when this was taken, ‘Operation Ale’, supplying the forces dispatched to Brunei was still continuing and both the BUA DC-6B G-ARXZ on the left and RAF Britannia XM496 on the right were involved in this.
CUNARD EAGLE BRITANNIA G-ARKA ~ RAF CHANGI DECEMBER 1962
G-ARKA, a Cunard Eagle Britannia 324 at Changi on a wet day in late December 1962. The civil Britannia was augmenting the RAF Britannias, two of which are parked behind ‘KA’; all were involved in ‘Operation Ale’, the supply line to the British Army forces involved in the Brunei uprising, in what was a busy period at both Changi and Labuan. In December 1962 the c/o of Changi, Gp. Capt. W.J. Maynard left and was replaced by Gp. Capt. W.J. McClean. Having been at Changi since February 1960, just as the Malayan Emergency ended, Gp. Capt. Maynard must have just caught the drama of the Brunei uprising before handing over to Gp. Capt. McClean, who perhaps was wondering what had hit him so soon after his arrival.
A FAST ‘TAXI’ FROM BUTTERWORTH ~ AUSTRALIAN VAMPIRE ~ RAF CHANGI DECEMBER 1962
A quick way to get down to Changi from Butterworth was to use this Vampire A79-667, the ‘station hack’, at the Australian base in Malaya. This Australian built T35 version was a recent arrival at Butterworth, having been dismantled and shipped to 78 Wing, in October ‘62 and the bright orange ‘day-glo’ was of the painted sort, still fairly common at that time.
In May 1966 it was back in Australia with No.1 AFTS and it crashed into the sea off Garden Island, 35nm southwest of RAAF Pearce in Western Australia on 13th February ‘68, after loss of control during a compressibility flight. The pilot ejected over water at 10,000 ft and at 400 kts with only minor injuries.
A FAST ‘TAXI’ FROM THE PHILIPPINES ~ RAF CHANGI DECEMBER 1962
The first ‘corporate jet’ for the US Air Force was North American’s Sabreliner, which had obvious design links to the companies F-100 Super Sabres. Here is CT-39A 10673 in December 1962. In the early ‘60s this was surely the plane for the aspiring ‘Staff Officer’ to arrive in.
The RAF had VIP Comets but the US Air Force was already using ‘private jets’ as their VIP vehicle of choice. This Sabreliner was with the 13th Air force, based at Clarke Air Base in the Philippines. Like many of the smaller military transport aircraft it ended up a ‘civvy’ as N43123U in 1990 and in 1998 went to Mexico.
BRITANNIA XM498 AT WESTERN DISPERSAL ~ RAF CHANGI NOVEMBER 1962
Britannia XM498 named 'Hadar' seen at 7.30 on the evening of 18th November 1962, illuminated under the apron's tower lights with the tropical darkness having already fallen.
This aircraft had arrived the day before, having been picked up by Flt Lt. N.M.Fraser and his crew at Khormaksar and then routed Gan to Tengah and Changi. Britannia crews 'slipped' aircraft repeatedly on their long distance routes.
LOADING WITH THE 'BFLP' AT NIGHT ~ RAF CHANGI DECEMBER 1962
Britannia XL640 ‘Antares’ arrived at 2035 as Special Flight 6839 from Khormaksar via Gan on 14th December captained by Flt.Lt. C. Parent, an RCAF pilot on an exchange posting to 511 Sqdn. It’s being loaded using the large Britannia Freight Lift Platform (BFLP) for an ‘Operation Ale’ flight to supply the personnel involved in the Brunei uprising.
This sudden burst of activity by the Britannia Force wasn’t without some problems as a couple of days later, on the 16th December, XM519 with a 511 Sqdn crew under Flt.Lt. Norman Rose suffered an out of control over-speeding prop on their No 4 engine after passing the ‘Point of No Return’, whilst en-route from Aden to Gan with three passengers and a load of Sea Slug missiles for Tengah. The prop of No 4 engine refused to feather and was wind-milling in the 300 knots that the aircraft’s cruising speed so the Britannia had to slow to avoid the prop disintegrating.
It descended from 17,500 ft to 1,500 ft and reduced speed to only 120 knots and Rose declared a full emergency. He and his crew nursed the aircraft towards Gan with a very real fuel problem at the low altitude and amazingly it had insufficient fuel left for it to register on the flight deck gauges when it landed.
A GREAT WAY TO ARRIVE ~ COMET C4 XR395 ~ RAF CHANGI JULY 1962
Air Chief Marshall Sir Edmund Hudlestone, with his wife, being greeted as his party of Staff Officers come down the steps, with a photographer in attendance. Comet C4 XR395 was the newest VIP aircraft and having recently carried the Secretary of State for Air, Julian Amery, around the Far East. 216 Sqdn’s c/o Wg.Cmdr. N. Hoad took it away again on the 6th July ‘62, coming into Changi on the 7th before heading off on the 9th for a ‘grand tour’ of Australia and New Zealand carrying the AOC-in-C Transport Command, Air Chief Marshall Sir Edmund Hudlestone. It routed to Darwin, Richmond and to Wellington, where it gave a demonstration plus others at Auckland and Canberra. Next were Melbourne, Edinburgh Field and a visit to Woomera, then Perth before returning to Darwin and back to Changi where it is seen returning on the 23rd July.
Staff cars delivering VIPs in November ‘62, to a waiting 41 Sqdn RNZAF Bristol Freighter NZ5902, perhaps not the ideal transport for a VIP. The air and ground crew’s have donned their ‘best white’ overralls. The Freighter is wearing a ‘scorpion’ emblem on it’s tail, denoting it’s use on ‘Operation Scorpion’, the detachment of three 41 Sqdn Freighters being based at Korat in Thailand in support of the SEATO forces detachment which comprised 20 Sqdns Hunters and some Sabres from Butterworth, along with US Super Sabres and Marine Skyhawks. The aircraft was accompanied on the apron with a pair of US VIP aircraft; so obviously this was a high level meeting over the Thai detachment, which ended the following month.
From: Charles Gibson, Monifieth, Angus Subject: Memories of RAF Changi
January 1965 I was in Changi Transit waiting to go to Kuching (Borneo). There were monkeys who used to come into the showers during the night and they were quite dangerous.
The only time we came across permanent staff were WRAFs at the camp dance and once they found out we were from Borneo they lost total interest in us.
From: Charles Collier, Ewhurst, Surrey Subject: RAF Changi Singapore
Back in 1971, on completion of the Air Movements Course, I was on a holding attachment at RAF Abingdon, being the last SAMO, with P/O Peter Dingwell and F/O Earnest Arulandam as DAMOs. The essential part of this appointment was that I was to be posted to RAF Changi as a DAMO. There was a month for me to prepare myself. I thought this was adequate but unbeknown by me at the time this proved very short and required some fast thinking to keep up with the events that were to unfold.
It happened that I met the girl of my dreams, Elaine, a nurse with the Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS). I found out that her parents were at RAF Laabruch where her father was the station padre. I ventured over to see them and explain who I was and that my posting to Singapore was imminent. Elaine's father mentioned a wedding at Laarbruch and he subsequently made all of the arrangements.
I took up my posting as DAMO RAF Changi, but returned to Laarbruch a month later where Elaine and I were married. We both returned to Singapore and found some accommodations at the Crescent Flats in Katong. Life was rich in terms of where we were. Singapore was probably the best overseas posting the RAF was bestowed with. Besides all the joys of Singapore island itself, we were able to drive across the bridge at Johore Baroo into Malaysia.
It was also possible to obtain indulgence flights to Australia and New Zealand and with so much traffic at that time, return was never a problem! More is the pity that all this is no more for the modern RAF. Singapore was the best honeymoon anyone could wish for!
All the best everybody.
DAVID TAYLOR IMAGES ~ PART II
REFUELLING AFTER A JUNGLE RESCUE ~ RAF CHANGI DECEMBER 1962
66 Squadron Belvedere XG475 ‘C’ from Seletar gets refuelled on 3rd Dec ‘62 after it had brought in 60 Sqdn’s c/o, Wg. Cmdr. Smith, pilot of Javelin XH836 which crashed in the Mersing area after an engine fire at 36,000 feet causing him to eject, inverted, at 22,000 feet.
The Belvedere had no winch on at that time and the crew of Flt.Lt. D. Viner, Flt.Lt. G.Chapman, Cpl.Williams, Cpl.Tuchman and SAC DeCruz used three deploy ropes tied together to manually haul him up from 50 feet below the tree tops.
The searching continued for the navigator, Sqd. Ldr. Jolliffe, who had ejected at 32,000 feet, also inverted and on the 5th he was found by Gurkha troops and a clearing was made to get him out and he was hauled up in a similar way.
Belvederes used ‘avpin’ starting which was prone to catching fire, as happened to this aircraft XG475 on 5th December 1963 at Seletar, though the crew escaped OK.
AUSSIE HERCULES PARKS ~ C-130A A97-209 ~ RAF CHANGI NOVEMBER 1962
Taxying to a stop on just it's inner engines, Australian C-130A A97-209 of 36 Sqdn calls in for an overnight whilst transiting from it's base of Richmond, near Sydney to the RAAF base in Malaya, Butterworth.
The Hercules has been the outstanding military transport since first coming into service in the late 50's and still serves with the Australians along with many other air forces. It's the aircraft the RAF desperately wanted when they were fobbed off with the Argosy.
The previous outstanding transport would be the C-47, which of course was also extensively used in the DC-3 civilian version and a US Navy version of the C-47, R4D-6 50797 here is parked on the far side of the Changi apron and was used by the local US Naval Attache.
AWKWARD AND BEAUTIFUL ~ PIONEER FM1019 ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1962
Not the prettiest of aircraft but the beautiful colour scheme of the Royal Malayan Air Force made the most of the aircraft, which could carry four passengers, with the pilot sitting on his own, in front. With full-span leading-edge wing slats and Fowler-type trailing edge flaps the Pioneer could take-off in 225 feet and land in 200. The RAF operated Pioneers with 209 Sqdn at Seletar which frequently landed on the Carriers Bulwark and Albion during the ‘Confrontation’. Here’s a report from a 209 Sqdn Pioneer pilot, Peter Stewart, whilst undertaking a night take off from HMS Albion: “Gently up to full power, brakes off, left rudder to keep straight, airborne before the island then CRASH!! My top Perspex canopy had collapsed/blown away and my linen sun sheets with wooden securing baton were flailing round the cockpit. No time to think about that, it’s pitch black, onto instruments, maintain a positive rate of climb, get to 45 kts, increase to 60 kts. WHAT IS HAPPENING?? From the right side of my peripheral vision I can see red glims overtaking me - and below me!!! Back onto instruments - quick! Wings level, positive rate of climb, speed still 45 kts - nose down a bit to increase speed -BUT those red glims are still overtaking me!! Then it clicked! I had taken off from a deck travelling at 15 kts into a headwind of 5 kts. As I climbed the wind increased such that at 200 ft the wind was 35 kts, at 300 ft the wind was 45 kts and at 500 ft the wind was 55 kts - slightly faster than I was going - and the aircraft carrier was overtaking me!”
TWO RESTING HERONS ~ RCYAF HERON 2D’S CR802 AND 803 ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1962
Two Heron 2D’s CR802 and CR803 of the Royal Ceylon Air Force parked for the night; having beaten the rainstorm. These Herons were fairly frequent visitors to Changi, seen here in September 1962 and were based at the ex-RAF station of Negombo. Ceylon became Sri Lanka on becoming a Republic in 1972. That same year one Heron, CR803 was re-engined with an American ‘Riley’ conversion. Jack Riley visited Sri Lanka and authorised the conversion locally, which entailed the replacement of the Herons four Gypsy Queen MK30 engines, with AVCO Lycoming IO540 s - which were lighter in weight, more fuel efficient and significantly increased power to 360hp. The 17 seat cabin was converted into two luxury compartments of four seats each with a jump seat for a steward and a toilet compartment was fitted to the rear.
THE SUN SETS ON SYCAMORE’S XJ918 AND XG519 ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1962
The sun setting on pair of all-yellow Sycamore HR14’s from 110 Squadron, Butterworth; XG519, seen head-on and XJ918. Fg.Off. W.McLoughlin and Flt.Lt. P. Davis ferried XG519 down from Butterworth on the 12th September ‘62, via Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca. XJ918 followed the next day piloted by 110’s c/o Sqdn. Ldr. C.Simons. For the next few days both aircraft provided transport for the UK Commissioner for Singapore, The Earl and Countess of Selkirk. Then Flg Off McLoughlin carried out a flying display in XG519 for RAF Changi’s airshow on the 15th.
By October 1964, 110 Sqdn only had four Sycamores on strength, plus one stored on Gan and they were moved to Seletar to become the personal transport of the AOC Far East Air Force. XG508, XL821, XF266 and XJ918 shared this role and at the end of May ‘67 XL821 became the last Sycamore to fly with the Far East Air Force. XJ918 was shipped back to the UK in June 1965 and went on flying at as a VIP helicopter at Northolt until Dec ‘71. It still survives at the Imperial War Museum at Cosford.
SHACKLETON WG530 GETS IT'S GUNS ~ RAF CHANGI AUGUST 1962
All through the summer of 1962, Mk2 Shackletons were arriving for 205 Sqdn. and here’s another new one; WG530, ferried from the UK, leaving St Mawgan on 14th August by Flt.Lt. T.C.Kerr and crew, taking the usual route via El Adem, Khormaksar and Gan to Changi, arriving on the 18th. It was during August that gunnery was first introduced to the training schedule on the Mk2’s. WG530 is seen getting fitted with it’s cannon in the front turret, after being given it’s acceptance checks at the Servicing Flight and having received 205 Sdqn markings, becoming coded ‘G’. The ‘big hangar’, later called the ‘VC-10 hangar’ is on the right of this photo.
COMETS ‘LONG’ AND ‘SHORT’ ~ COMET C4 XR399 AND C2 XK697 ~ RAF CHANGI AUGUST 1962
Newly arrived Comet C2 XK697 ‘Cygnus’ parked beside one of the recently introduced larger Comet C4’s, XR399 on 1st August ‘62. Both were heading to Hong Kong the next day, with XK697 leaving Changi at 0925 and XR399 at 1335.
They crossed over at Changi again on the 4th August and returned the standard RAF route of Gan, Khormaksar and El Adem, with XK697 being the first home to Lyneham at 1235 on the 6th and XR399 arriving at 1820.
The following month, the C4 Comet’s took over the Far East run and the C2’s were relegated to the Middle and Near East so we stopped seeing both versions together at Changi. The two Canberras were from 6 Sqdn RAAF based at RAAF Amberley in Queensland and were passing through on a navigation exercise to Butterworth.
Amberley to Butterworth was disrupted during the Indonesian Confrontation in the early 1960s, so they then usually flew via Cocos Island, a route without much to navigate by. Fortunately there was a strong NDB beacon at Butterworth, so they steered ‘Northwest’ to miss the northern tip of Sumatra then turned towards Malaya to pickup a suitable bearing.
FINALS FOR RUNWAY 20 ~ BEVERLEY XB262 ~ RAF CHANGI AUGUST 1962
Beverley XB262 ‘W’ of 34 Sqdn about to touch down on runway 20 at Changi on 16th August 1962. The pilots were Flt.Lt. O. Tarran and the c/o Sqn. Ldr.M. Bennett, who were returning from a flight to Kuching and Labuan. A bit earlier in the year, 34 Sqdn records noted: “The highlight for March ‘62 was an attempt by Flg.Off. Hyland and crew to drop a D4 Bulldozer, which in the event turned out to be a D6, about 2,000lb heavier and several feet higher, at Balaga. Unfortunately the load disconnected at about 800 feet and the bulldozer was wrecked.” The 34 Sq Beverleys went all over the Far East, including to Nepal and landing on Katmandu’s mountain airstrip to collect new Gurkha recruits.
70 SQUADRON HASTINGS ARRIVES FROM CYPRUS ~ RAF CHANGI AUGUST 1962
70 Sqdn Hastings TG582 arrives at the beginning of August 1962. The Cyprus based squadron had their squadron number in Roman numerals on the tail and ‘Roman names’ on the noses. The Hastings from resident 48 Sqdn on the far side of the apron now had to operate two of their aircraft on a monthly detachment on Christmas Island and this Hastings, TG582 had been based there during 1956’s H-bomb tests.
Navigator with 24 Sqdn, Bluie Hobbs remembers: “Two crews with Flt.Lt. Hampson & King were detached to Honolulu to act as a “Mail and Grocery delivery service” to Christmas Island, during the preparatory construction for the H-Bomb Tests in 1957. I was a Navigator on one of the crews on the aircraft on Christmas Island. There was one Hastings Mk1 TG582 and each crew alternated a weekly trip to Christmas Island out on Thursday and back on Friday spending a night in tents. There were no Nav Aids on Christmas Island and I was pleased to be able to use tactical navigation methods & techniques, using the sun and square searches to find the Island”.
ROYAL MALAYAN AIR FORCE TWIN PIONEER FM1065 ~ RAF CHANGI JULY 1962
Twin Pioneer FM1065 from No. 1 Sqdn Royal Malayan Air Force at Kuala Lumpur, seen at Changi in July ‘62. It was delivered to the squadron on 18th January 1962, which was finally equipped with fourteen ‘Twin’ and five ‘Single’ Pioneers. In March ‘63, the RMAF Twin Pioneers took over the parachute supply dropping role to the Malayan Police Forts from the Valettas of 52 Squadron.
During the ‘Confrontation’ on 21st October 1964, FM1065 was shot at by an Indonesian Anti-Aircraft battery after accidentally straying across the Indonesian border during a mission from Labuan flying via Brunei to a border airfield at Bario. The RMAF pilot named Kakoong was unable to land owing to very poor weather and had circled at Bario and on return to Brunei, the ground crew pointed out the bullet holes to the flight crew.
‘PINEAPPLE AIRLINES’ BRING IN THE C-IN-C PACIFIC FLEET ~ RAF CHANGI MAY 1962
US Navy Squadron VR-21 was nicknamed ‘Pineapple Airlines’ and was based at Barbers Point, Hawaii flying R6D’s, military DC-6’s. There are lots of US Navy personnel in ‘best whites’ around this R6D-1Z 128427, which was the VIP aircraft of C-in C Pacific Fleet, Admiral John H. Sides and the ‘4 Stars’ on the plate under the cockpit window shows that the aircraft has just arrived with him aboard. The aircraft became N427D in Sep 1986, and is now stored at Cherry Point Marine Corp Air Station, North Carolina.
WAITING FOR SERVICE ~ HASTINGS TG536 ~ RAF CHANGI MAY 1962
Hastings TG536 from the resident 48 Sqdn, parked in one of the two maintenance bays on Changi’s Western Dispersal and it still carries on it’s nose, the Transport Command radio call sign MOGPJ which had already been phased out at that time. The last three letters of this code had previously been carried in large letters on the fuselage. These small nose hangars were used for line-maintenance and the more major work was carried out at a separate unit, the Aircraft Servicing Flight. 48 Squadron’s Hastings flew all over the Far East and provided a regular detachment on Christmas Island in the Pacific.
The last of the gorgeous Comet C4’s delivered to 216 Squadron, XR399 basks in the sun in June 1962. XR399 had left Lyneham on the 11th June, piloted by Flt. Lt. D. Draper, routing to El Adem and Khormaksar. On the 12th it left Khormaksar for Gan and Changi. Then going on to Darwin and Edinburgh Field and returning on the 16th, when this was taken. On the 17th it departed with Flt.Lt. Senior going to Gan, Khormaksar on the 18th, then Khormaksar to Karachi on the 19th. Karachi to Nicosia on the 20th and back to Lyneham on the 21st.
On the 27th Nov ‘62, captained by Flt.Lt. T. Clarke, XR399 hit the lead-in approach lights whilst landing at Gan. Tony Birchenough, a member of the crew sent to repair it remembered: “The flaps were knackered, with cartoon-like outlines of the approach lights embedded in the inner sets, the outer pair having badly kinked trailing edges. Apart from that and some minor damage to the fuselage skin, repaired by a party from the MU at Singapore, and damaged tyres, there was no further damage. We changed the badly damaged flaps, roughly straightened out the outer pair with the approval of the DH structures engineer and a week later, after new wheels had been fitted and a satisfactory air test had been carried out, we came home”. He adds: “It was also rumoured at the time that it was not the Captain landing at Gan, but an onboard high-ranking officer, although naturally this was never confirmed.”
SQUEEZING PAST ~ VALETTA WJ499 AND CANBERRA WJ630 ~ RAF CHANGI JUNE 1962
Coming back from a ‘calibration flight’, checking the ACR7 approach aid installation at Changi, Flt.Tt. R.Taylor squeezes the Comms Sqdn Valetta WJ499 past a deflated Canberra B2 WJ630 as it’s being towed to a suitable parking place on the Western Dispersal on 5th June 1962. An ex-75 Sqdn RNZAF aircraft which had moved over to 45 Sqdn at Tengah, WJ630 was being piloted by Fg.Off. G.Say with Fg.Off. M.Clara and M.Nav. G.Ross on a bombing detail with 8x25lbs bombs. Afterwards they must have suffered a tyre burst whilst doing practice landings at Changi and the crew had to walk back accompanying the aircraft as it was being ‘recovered’.
'SELF-LOADING FREIGHT' BOARDING ~ BRITANNIA XL638 ~ RAF CHANGI APRIL 1962
Service men and families walk out from the small Changi terminal to board Britannia XL638 ‘Sirius’ on 8th April ‘62. Crews jokingly referred to passengers as 'Self-loading Freight'! This was the second trip from Lyneham to the Far East in April and on this occasion a 99 Sqdn crew under Flt.Lt. J. Brown had left on the 26th routing to El Adem and Khormaksar. Here they 'slipped' and a 511 Sqdn crew captained by Flt.Lt. F. Baker took XL638 on to Changi via Gan. On the same day that it had arrived, the 27th April, another 511 Sqdn crew under Flt. Lt. J. Hutton flew on to Darwin and the next day to Edinburgh Field then back to Darwin, with a similar flight to Edinburgh Field on the 29th and a return back to Changi. This time it was the turn of Flt.Lt Baker's crew to once again climb aboard the still warm XL638 and still on the 29th, as seen here, it left for Gan and Khormaksar where one more final crew would complete the flight home.
A Britannia left RAF Lyneham virtually every day for the Far East with the changing crews allowing rests and enabled keeping the aircraft usuage at it's maximum - the 'Changi Slip'. It is just about possible to see that both ailerons and elevators on the Britannia hanging slightly down as amazingly the 'free-floating' power controls only became fully connected once the airflow over them reached a certain level during take-off.
The Aussie Hercules on the far-side has just been refuelled, as its bending wings show.
MASTER OF DISGUISE ~ C-130B-II ‘50041’ WITH WV-2Q 135749 ~ RAF CHANGI JANUARY 1963
The crews from the Navy WV-2 and Air Force C-130 chat on the apron at Changi. The C-130 carries a serial ‘50041’ that was assigned to a C-130A aircraft but in fact is a C-130B, fitted with large 4-bladed Hamilton Standard props and is from the 6091st Reconnaissance Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan and is displaying a totally bogus ‘C-130A model’ tail number. Not a normal transport C-130, but one of 13 C-130B-II ‘SIGINT’ signals intelligence models that were now assigned to the 6901st based at Yokota and is a ‘covert spy plane’.
The ‘giveaway’ are the extremely large ‘dummy ’ underwing tanks, which are fibreglass and full of the electronic monitoring equipment and the pretence even went to having dummy ‘fuel caps’ in these large tanks, that could be ‘drained’ so that they would act like proper fuel tanks.
The disguising serial number was apparently commonplace on these ‘covert’ aircraft. The C-130 arrived shortly after the WV-2 from US Navy squadron VQ-1 from Atsugi, Japan parked behind it. This was one of the 8 WV-2Q ‘electronic surveillance’ models, but at least the WV-2Q makes no attempt at hiding the aerials and radomes. It did a number of flights to Darwin, nicely passing Indonesia for a bit of surveillance on the way, returning to Tengah before Changi. This WV-2 135749 was sadly shot down on April 15th 1969 by North Korean Mig-17’s with the loss of all the 31 man crew, causing a major incident.
DC-6B NZ3633 PARKED AFTER A VIP FLIGHT ~ RAF CHANGI NOVEMBER 1961
Only VIP flights usually arrived ‘nose in’ on the Western Dispersal at Changi. This RNZAF DC-6B NZ3633 was one of the three that were regular visitors and on this occasion in Nov ‘61, it had brought some New Zealand government ministers, studying trade.
Originally configured as a ‘sleeper’, VH-BPH was with British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines, taking 29 hours to fly Auckland or Sydney to San Francisco. The New Zealand airline TEAL took it to become ZK-BGC, and then it went to the RNZAF’s 40 Squadron in May 1961.
It left the RNZAF in April 1964 and had a very long working life and the nose section survives after being shipped to Finland in 2006 for use as a cockpit simulator.
ENGINE CHANGE AWAY FROM BASE ~ DAKOTA A65-94 ~ RAF CHANGI MARCH 1962
With the help of a crane, Aussie Dakota A65-94 from Butterworth, gets an engine change in one of the two Western Dispersal maintenance bays in March 1962. A65-94 was one of the three Dakotas, along with A65-73 and A65-119, operated from RAAF Butterworth’s Canberra Squadron, No 2 and was used for general communications duties, often passing through Changi, although not usually requiring an engine change there. Dakotas, in their various versions, which had at sometime almost always been ex-USAF C-47’s, were still the most common visiting aircraft in the Far East in the early 1960’s.
ARRIVING ON THREE ~ BRITANNIA XM490 ~ RAF CHANGI JANUARY 1962
Arriving at 13.45 on 2nd January 1962, Britannia XM490 'Aldebaran' has the starboard inner engine feathered as she taxies in from Runway 02. Many aircraft taxied on two engines with Britannia’s usually doing it with the outers feathered.
XM490 however had arrived with this starboard inner off and as Britannia’s did suffer with their Proteus engines icing at altitude, I assume she’d ‘lost it’ on the way from Gan.
The Britannia’s base at Lyneham was closed by the very bad snow that covered the UK over Christmas 1962 and the crew would have been pleased to be away from it.
The aircraft left Changi on the 6th, captained by 99 Sqdn’s Flt. Lt. P.M. Hill. His crew didn’t ‘slip’ and routed via Gan, Khormaksar and El Adem before ‘dropping off’ at the V-Bomber base at Scampton on the 8th and then returning to Lyneham.
A SHACKLETON TAXIES PAST THE NEW ARGOSY'S OF 215 SQDN ~ RAF CHANGI JULY 1963
Two of the ground crew of 215 Sqdn get a chance to look around their new Argosys XP448 and XP450, as Shackleton 2C WL741 ‘H’ of 205 Sqdn taxies out of the Eastern Dispersal that both squadrons were now sharing at the end of July 1963. There was ‘a bit of a rush’ to design the Argosy and also in order to save money, the wing had been based on that of the Shackleton; perhaps not a great decision. The RAF version was never fitted with the front opening door of the commercial versions, but it did have weather radar in that nosecone though.
ARGOSY ABOUT TO GET WET ~ XP445 ~ RAF CHANGI JULY 1963
Rain clouds behind Argosy XP445 at Changi shortly after Wg.Cmdr. Talbot-Williams had arrived leading the first batch of seven Argosys ferried out from the UK in late July ‘63. XP445 was flown out by a crew under Flt.Lt. P.A. Stevens, with call sign RAFAIR 4458, leaving Benson on 17th July and routing via Luqa, El Adem, Khartoum, Khormaksar, Masirah, Bombay, Katunayke and Butterworth.
The flight wasn’t without difficulties as it had to return to Khormaksar and then have an air-test at Masirah and with a partial loss of power from No 3 engine, the aircraft returned to Bombay on 3 engines. Their flight therefore took 41 flying hours. The squadron soon picked up the nickname of ‘TWA’ or ‘Talbot-Williams Airline’, after the Squadron Commander’s initials.
Nicknames also abounded for the Argosy: ‘Whistling Wheelbarrow’ for it’s shape and ‘Whistling Tit’ afters it’s engine noise and nose radar, were commonly used.
INGESTING A LAND ROVER ~ HASTINGS TG569 ~ RAF CHANGI DECEMBER 1962
48 Sqdn, like all the Singapore flying units, was suddenly involved in the Brunei crisis, ‘Operation Borneo Territories’. Rushing to get men and supplies to Brunei, the Army Dispatchers squeeze a Land Rover into Hastings TG569, at Changi on December 10th 1962. The crew of Captain Sqd.Ldr. M.Jenkins, with Co-pilot Flg.Off. J.Connell, Navigator Flt.Lt. C.Lougheed, M. Sig. M.Pattison, Engineer F.Sgt. R.Wakeham and the AQM Sgt. Hansford left at 1650 and got to Labuan at 2035 and were airborne back at 2225.
The aircraft, along with many others did 2 flights the next day. Labuan airfield was located on an island off Brunei and was able to take large transports like the Britannia and even 205 Sqdn’s Shackletons were used as troop transports doing lots of runs as they could return without refuelling.
TAKE OFF FROM RUNWAY 02 ~ BRITANNIA XL637 ~ RAF CHANGI FEBRUARY 1962
Coming off Runway 02, Britannia XL637 ‘Vega’ retracts it’s undercarriage leaving Changi at 1240 local time on the 18th February ‘62, as it starts the return flight to Lyneham via Gan, Aden and El Adem. XL637 had arrived at Changi on the 16th under a crew captained by Flt.Lt. Goodwin of 511 Sqdn and was now departing with a ‘slipped crew’, also from 511 Sqdn, with 2 ‘captains’, Flt. Lt. Adams and Flt. Lt. Moorhouse. This crew, consisting of the usual Co-pilot, Navigator, Engineer, Signaller and AQM, had started out from Lyneham in XL636, leaving on the 8th and swapped to XL640 at Khormaksar.
On this return they changed planes again, leaving XL637 at El Adem, completing their trip in XM520, arriving at Lyneham on the 22nd. So Adams’ and Moorhouses’ crew, during a typical ‘Changi Slip’, had 15 days away flying in 4 different Britannias.
‘OLD SHAKY’ WITH A RED NOSE ~ C-124A 0110 ~ RAF CHANGI DECEMBER 1961
The MATS crews nicknamed the enormous Globemasters ‘Old Shaky’ and this is C-124A 00110 from the 62nd Troop Carrier Wing from McChord AFB in Washington State, taxying off Changi’s runway 02. ‘Day-glo’ was painted on in the early days and here it’s not orange but a rather deep red. The nose ‘thimble’ housed the APS-42 weather radar. Note the crew member in the top hatch, certainly of some help since steering that thing on a narrow taxyway would be testing from way up there on the flight deck. I wonder what the following Hastings pilot made of it.
GLOBEMASTERS TIMES THREE ~ RAF CHANGI AUGUST 1961
Three USAF C-124 Globemasters from McChord AFB in Washington State; the 62nd Troop Carrier Wing of ‘MATS’, passing through on 22nd August 1961. The nearest aircraft, 10136, was built as a C-124A model, but like the other two aircraft, has been converted to take the wing tip pods of the C-124C model. These wingtip-mounted combustion heaters were added to heat the cabin, and enable wing and tail surface de-icing. Note the crew member sunbathing on the top fuselage of the nearest plane. The other ‘smaller Douglas’ is Kiwi DC-6B NZ3633 of 40 Sqdn RNZAF, based at Whenuapai, near Auckland.
From: David Stevens, Bangor Subject: Memories of RAF Changi
My own memories of Changi are limited to those of a transiting passenger. It must have been a 'dream' posting.
The only thing that sticks in my mind, apart from the fact that it was a huge air base, were the humungous monsoon drains. After one particularly heavy monsoon downpour I understood why they were so big! This was about 1964 to 1966.
From: Jim Aitken, Sunshine Coast QLD Subject: Memories of RAF Changi
My introduction to service in the Far East Air Force at Changi, in the middle of 1958, was by way of the good old fashioned troopship. We must have been close to the last of the British troops to be ferried overseas by boat. The "Empire Windrush" had gone up in flames, and, apart from the "Oxfordshire" the only other name that comes to mind is the "Dunera". There may have been others, but the days of the troopship were fast disappearing. Embarkation was at Southampton and the 'troops' were a mix of all services and families. The voyage took us via Gibraltar, Suez, Aden, Colombo, through the Malacca Straights and into Singapore Harbour. In all it took about four weeks to get there.
Bussing to Changi from the docks was an experience as we travelled along the East Coast Road past all of the shop-houses and kampongs where the majority of the local people lived. As we came up to Changi, our escort pointed out the walled prison set back from the road where so many Japanese atrocities had taken place only a handful of years before.
The area between Changi airfield and Singapore City was largely undeveloped up to the outskirts of the city. The prison appeared to be set in a large field about 100 metres from the main road. The high perimeter walls were all newly painted white. As we approached the RAF Station, we were shown the two-story barrack blocks which had also served as prison accommodation for the British and Allied forces caught in Singapore when it fell to the Japanese. I had previously stayed over in these on the last visit to Singapore but had not then realized the significance of them.
Some of the blocks had a very sad background. Probably the worst being where the female nurses were thrown off the upper verandahs and killed for some minor infraction. Ronald Searle, the artist/cartoonist, was held in one building, and painted a mural on the walls using blood as a pigment. After repeated white-washing, the mural (of a religious nature), was rumoured to keep reappearing through the paint - a bit spooky!
I was allocated a billet in one of these blocks. There was an elderly Chinese lady we called 'Sew Sew' who used to call around all the single men's billets. She would offer to do any sewing or repairs for a few cents. Inside her blouse she had a medal which was reputed to be a George Medal which had been awarded to her husband who had smuggled food into Changi Prison during the Japanese occupation. Sew Sew was a wonderful old lady and I wonder if any others remember her.
It was time to report for work and be told where I was going to be placed. As usual, the first job was on the loading party. As a corporal, my job was to direct a group of local 'coolies' as they were referred to in the loading of aircraft. Because of the climate, it was not considered right for us airmen to be doing menial tasks such as loading, and this was reserved for the coolies.
Well, first day and off I go with a bunch of local Chinese and Malay workers down to the lines where the aircraft are parked awaiting loading. A truck full of freight and a fork lift appear, and I begin to give my orders as to how the aircraft should be loaded. I was very explicit, and talked very slowly to make sure they understood what I was saying. They appeared to be listenening very attentively, although by the lack of response I was wondering if they understood English at all! When I had finished they sort of looked at me, then at each other, and began to load the aircraft. They did not use any of my suggested tactics and went about their business totally ignoring me. When the aircraft was finished and the loading plan handed in to the weight and balance people in Load Control, the result was that the aircraft was in perfect flight trim. The look of amusement on the faces of my gang said it all. They had been loading these aircraft for such a long time that it became second nature to them and my inclusion on their team was merely as an RAF representative. Thankfully, very shortly after that, I was moved to passenger handling at Changi Creek which was the transit hotel for personnel arriving and departing, or merely passing through.
We saw the first Comet belonging to BOAC, but on RAF charter, land at Paya Leba, which was then the civilian airfield in Singapore. It was only a short distance from Changi, but all civil aircraft, even if on charter to the RAF, always landed at Paya Leba. I remember the passenger terminal was the size of a large shed and just as salubrious! I recall that the Comet was doing tropical proving trials before acceptance into the RAF Transport Command fleet.
I had married before being posted to Singapore, and, as our firstborn was due soon, I was in a hurry to get my wife out to join me . She travelled out by a Hermes aircraft operated by Skyways of London. We initially had a flat, but when a new estate of terraced bungalows was nearing completion, we grabbed one of them and, although they had an Asian toilet set-up (aka 'a hole in the floor'), they were approved on the proviso that proper toilets were to be fitted later when the sewage system was completed. The house was opposite a Chinese burial ground of some proportions and quite often we witnessed (and heard) the celebrations as the deceased were laid to rest.
In 1958-59 there was a lot of increased activity with through flights to Australia. During this time the Atomic Weapons and rocket testing trials were taking place at Woomera and Maralinga. My duty was a 24 on - 48 off routine, which was great because as soon as things quietened down of an evening it was possible to grab a bed at the hotel and get a good nights sleep. However, with the increased activity in Australia, it was getting near impossible to get any sleep, and things got even more hectic. I was getting pretty run down by now, and whether that was a contributing factor I'll never know, but my career in Singapore came to an end when I contracted Polio. After a period of intense quarantine at Changi Hospital, it was decided to casevac me on the next available flight to the UK. My boss at the Passenger section was a Flt Lt Myer, and he was a great help to my wife in preparing for a hasty return to the UK. There was also a Flying Officer, whose name eludes me, who contracted meningitis just after me going down with polio and it was feared at first that he had the dreaded disease also. It was a bad year for polio worldwide. And so, from being a Mover I suddenly became a Movee! I was casevac'd back to the UK via a Comet 2 and landed in (where else?) Lyneham! From there to I went to Wroughton Hospital and eventually to the Medical Rehabilitation Unit in Chessington, where I spent the best part of a year.
The troopship "Oxfordshire" took 4 weeks from Southampton to Singapore
Sew-Sew - repaired clothes for just a few cents
That's me with "my" RAF Bedford Transit van
That's me on the left, in the middle is an RAF Policeman and the guy on the right was a caterer from the hotel. Notice the different uniforms. The caterer is wearing stock-standard RAF tropical issue
Changi Creek - RAF Transit Hotel
The Britannia Club - for Other Ranks
Raffles Hotel - off limits to other ranks
Singapore Town - as it was in the 1950's
My old married quarters, taken on a visit in 1983, my first time back since 1959
Photo taken in 1983 - bad memories!
In 2002 my wife and I vacationed in Singapore and Malaysia for two weeks. I can report that Malaysia is going ahead in leaps and bounds. Everywhere there are signs of affluence and the economy is rapidly moving from the old rural style based on rubber, tin and coconuts, to one based on manufacturing and hi-tech industry. Tourism is also being marketed, and some fine hotels and resorts are all over the place.
Singapore, to us, had lost some of its oriental flavour. Highrise buildings abound. The East Coast Parkway, a multilane motorway, links the city to Changi International Airport. Kampongs have completely disappeared and the population seem to all live in highrise blocks of flats.
Raffles Hotel is timeless of course, and has been added to, but done very sympathetically to maintain the heritage of the era - Noel Coward would be pleased. In my day, Raffles was ‘out of bounds’ to other ranks, and it was great to be able to order a Singapore Sling at the Long Bar after all these years. The Britannia Club, the other rank's club in Singapore which is across the road from Raffles, is still there. It now serves as the other rank's club for the Singapore Defence Force. Visitors are welcomed and they maintain a guest book . It was amazing to see the entries from all the ex-service people who had made the trip back and taken the time to visit the club again.
As my wife and I came alongside Changi Prison in our taxi we were both "gob-smacked" to see that a Japanese school had been built directly opposite the prison on the main road. How insensitive would that be. At least they could have waited till all the old 'diggers' had passed away before pulling a stunt like that!
From: Bernie Hurdsfield, Corby, Northants Subject: Memories of RAF Changi
Although I was never stationed at Changi, I passed through a few times including two weeks mid-tour leave from RAF Labuan in early 1967.
First visit was in transit from UK, having spent 32 hours from London to Singapore via Abadan and Colombo aboard a Britannia of British Eagle Airways. I arrived at Changi transit block at stupid o' clock very sweaty, tired and dirty to be greeeted by two blokes who were sleeping under blankets. I doubted my sanity. It was only when I came back on leave after 8 months in Labuan that I realised how cool Singapore was at night compared to Borneo.
Hope you are keeping well and thank you for the newsletter.
Whirlwind HAS.7 XN379 lifts from the Western Dispersal helipad on 7th Feb 1962. These Whirlwinds had an appalling attrition rate in the early '60s and so many were lost that some were swopped from Victorious to Centaur, which took over the Far East commitment. Thus XN379, previously with Victorious had moved to Centaur at Mombasa but still carries a 825 Sqdn code of ‘316’ from Victorious and is not yet marked with Centaur’s ‘C’ tailcode. It unfortunately was one of many Whirlwinds that went ‘into the drink’, when a few months later on 5th May, this aircraft ditched and sank in the Mediterranean off Malta while flying from Centaur. It suffered loss of power due to suspected fuel pump failure. The three crew were rescued.
METEOR PREPARES TO DROP A DROGUE ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1962
The TT20’s were fitted with an ML Winch, mounted on top of the starboard wing. This was operated by the second crew member in the rear seat who was often a ground crew member co-opted for the job. Here WD606 flies low over Changi on 18th September ‘62, dragging it’s ‘coiled in’ drogue as Flt.Lt. Thomas returns from a 'Naval Co-Op' task with HMS Woodbridge Haven, a Support Ship for Inshore Squadron, Far East. The Flight serviced the fast jets at Tengah, as well as the guns of the Army and the Royal Navy ships. In October ‘62, WD606 was one of 2 TT20’s that went to Hong Kong, flying via Borneo and the Philippines to provide tugs for the Army and the Hunters of 28 Squadron. WD606 was declared ‘Cat5’ and scrapped at Kai Tak in May ‘63.
SHACKLETON WL786 TAXIES OFF RUNWAY 20 ~ RAF CHANGI JULY 1962
Down at the southerly end of Changi’s runway, one of the ‘new’ Shackleton 2C’s of 205 Sqdn, WL786 ‘B’, now fitted with cannons in the front turret, taxies off Runway 20 on the 2nd July 1962. The second Mk2C at 205 Sqdn, WL786 arrived in April ‘62 and returned to the UK between August ‘66 and August ‘67 for upgrades and then came back as ‘E’. WL786 ditched in the Indian Ocean on the 5th November 1967, 120 nm west of Lhokkruet, Sumatra, en route from Gan to Changi, following an engine failure and subsequent fire. There was a crew of 11 on board plus a passenger and the captain, Flt. Lt. K. Blake, was forced to ditch the aircraft.
A 205 Sqdn ground crew remembered: “At the time 205 kept an aircraft at Gan at all times to act as Search and Rescue for the Indian Ocean, a pretty daunting task. The aircraft and crew were changed around about every two weeks and this accident happened on WL786’s return to Changi.
There was a full crew on board and one passenger, a dental tech going on leave. A con rod came through the side of the block on the port outer engine and severed the oil line to the feathering pump which apparently had happened before on other aircraft. This meant of course that the pilot was unable to feather the engine which subsequently shook itself to pieces and set fire to the wing which then folded up at the engine position. Apparently this all took about 3 minutes and the captain ditched the aircraft. Unfortunately the nose broke off at the engineers panel causing severe injuries to the engineer’s legs but this didn’t stop him trying to rescue the pilots from the floating cockpit section which by this time was surrounded by burning fuel. Nobody is sure whether they survived the crash but his efforts were in vain.
Meanwhile the fuselage, minus it’s front end, rapidly filled with water drowning the sideways facing crew but the signaller at the rear managed to jettison the escape hatch and the rushing water took him and the passenger out through it. They got aboard a life raft and picked up the injured engineer. Because he had nothing to do for the 3 minutes the passenger was badly affected but the engineer went back to flying in Transport Command. A sad episode which badly affected the whole squadron.”
An Argosy found the wreck and released some flares and another Shackleton arrived overhead later and released a Lindholme rescue dinghy. Sixteen hours after the crash the three survivors were rescued by HMS Ajax. 205 Sqdn’s only other loss had been Mk1 VP254 in the South China Sea back in December 1958.
HASTINGS MAJOR SERVICE ~ AIRCRAFT SERVICING FLIGHT HANGAR ~ RAF CHANGI MAY 1962
Major servicing at RAF Changi was carried out at the Aircraft Servicing Flight. Here it’s the turn of a 48 Squadron Hastings in May 1962. ASF did engine and prop changes and ‘Primary 3 Star and 2 Star’ services.
'THE SHINY SHIP' RETURNS ~ HASTINGS WJ324 ~ RAF CHANGI JULY 1963
The batman marshals 'The Shiny Ship' to a stop at Changi. In mid 1963, Admiral Sir Varyl Begg, C-in-C Far East, being from ‘the senior service’ was the most senior officer in the Far East, however the Royal Air Force C-in-C was Air Marshal Sir Hector McGregor. Both made regular use of the ‘Shiny Ship’, VIP Hastings C4 WJ324 but on this occasion the VIP arriving is Lieutenant General Sir Reginald H. Hewetson, GOC-in-C, the Commander of British Forces in Hong Kong, arriving on 18th July 1963. Flt. Lt. A. Bourne was the captain on this ‘day-trip’ up to Kai Tak to pick Hewetson up, who then toured both Borneo and Malaya using another of the Far East Communications Sqdn’s aircraft, Valetta VX578.
DUTCHMEN WAITING TO FLY ~ RAF CHANGI MARCH 1962
KLM Super Constellation PH-LKE named ‘Pegasus’ was carrying out some ‘secret diplomacy’ at Changi on 11th March 1962. It had brought in some Indonesian prisoners captured in West Irian by the Dutch; part of the turmoil that the Indonesians were involved in to remove the ‘colonialists’, which erupted in January 1962. West Irian was a part of Dutch New Guinea and had been retained after handing the rest over to Indonesia in 1949. Captured by the Dutch Navy, the Indonesians were exchanged for Dutch prisoners brought in on a Garuda Indonesian Airways Electra. The Electra chose to stay out of the limelight at Changi and exchanged it’s passengers at the extreme southerly end of the runway, before immediately departing again.
VISITOR BRINGING THE PAKISTAN AIR STAFF ~ RAF CHANGI OCTOBER 1962
Seen a few times at Changi and here visiting again on 8th October ‘62, the Pakistan Air Force crew of Bristol Freighter 31M S4424 help with the refuelling. The engine cowlings now look badly scratched and the rear of the engines very blackened by oil. The aircraft had brought the Commandant of the Pakistan Air Force Staff College, Air Commodore S.A.Joseph on a visit and 2 seconded RAF and 15 Senior Pakistan Air Force Officers to attend the RAF Jungle Survival School, which was at Changi. The Pakistan Staff College made much of their visits to FEAF, on this trip going to all the Singapore bases and to Butterworth in Malaya.
COMING ASHORE ~ INDONESIAN NAVY ALBATROSS 301 ~ RAF CHANGI DECEMBER 1962
In December 1962 this HU-16A Albatross ‘301’ of the Indonesian Navy, Angkatan Laut Republik Indonesia, visited Singapore, firstly to Paya Lebar, then Changi. It was an interesting visitor since President Sukarno of Indonesia was already getting really upset at the new Malay Federation that was then being actively promoted in Singapore, Malay and Borneo. The Indonesian backed small revolt had already occurred in Brunei and in only a few more months Indonesia seriously started ‘Confrontation’...so no more visiting Indonesian aircraft after that.
OFF TO ADEN ~ DAKOTA KJ955 ~ RAF CHANGI APRIL 1962
Dakota Mk4 KJ955 'Hope' preparing for it's delivery flight to Aden in April 1962. It was one of the original three ‘voice aircraft’ that 267 Sqdn (later 209 Sqdn) had operated during the ‘Malayan Emergency’ from Kuala Lumpur. Slung under the mainplane were four loudspeakers angled 45 degrees to the port side delivering 500 watts of audio. The fuselage had a large diesel engine anchored to the floor which supplied 240v AC to the four amplifiers situated in each corner of the main cabin. These three aircraft; ’Faith’, ‘Hope’ and ‘Charity’, broadcast tape recordings to the Communists. 'Charity' crashed at Kuala Lumpur in 1959 but KP277 and KJ955 operated from Kuala Lumpur and with 52 Sqdn from Bayan Lepas, Penang. Sadly this aircraft was destroyed by a terrorist bomb at RAF Khormaksar, Aden, on 29th May 1965, as the troubles started to oust the British from Aden.
THREE SOUTH VIETNAMESE PILOTS SIT NEAR THEIR PLANES ~ RAF CHANGI AUGUST 1962
Crews waiting by Vietnamese C-47s 349519 and 348504, from the 415th Transport Squadron based at Tan Son Nhut, near Saigon. These C-47’s were soon to be heavily involved in the Vietnam War, with their base at one stage the busiest airfield for air-movements anywhere in the world. The SVAF ‘roundel’ was identical to the USAF one, but coloured red and yellow. In early 1962 the South Vietnamese Air Force was still being built up and transferred many of it’s best C-47 transport pilots to a new 2nd Fighter Squadron at Bien Hoa AB. This left the C-47 unit, the Ist Transportation Group at Tan Son Nhut, dangerously low of experienced pilots. On a recommendation from his advisors in Vietnam, US Defence Secretary Robert McNamara ordered 30 USAF pilots to be assigned to the SVNAF as C-47 co-pilots.
The Americans arrived at Ton Son Nhut during March and April ‘62 and immediately began flying with the Vietnamese, however problems arose and these had worsened to such an extent that by August the Vietnamese commander of the 1st Transportation Group appealed for a better understanding between the two groups. They did gradually improve the co-operation and the USAF co-pilots became part of the SVNAF structure and they had adopted an unofficial nickname of ‘The Dirty Thirty’. The original US pilots returned home in early 1963 and were replaced by a second batch who stayed until December 1963.
NEPTUNE'S NOSE ~ NEPTUNE P2V-5F A89-310 ~ RAF CHANGI MARCH 1963
Aussies were a dab-hand at graffiti on visiting aircraft and many of Changi’s resident aircraft carried ‘kangaroos’. Neptune A89-310 has also been subject to some paint work and is wearing a ‘sub’ and a ‘pineapple’, plus down on it’s front wheel cover a rather crudely painted ‘elephant’ marked ‘V-Force’. On 22nd March ‘63, A89-310 started the return journey from Changi to Darwin with a crew under Captain Howard Morris. The next day, the 23rd, en route from Darwin to their home base at Richmond, Captain Howard Morris and co-pilot Plt. Off. Clarey, had to divert to Mount Isa in Queensland with a fuel leak and it then blew two tyres on landing.
Captain Howard Morris recalled: “After departing Darwin for Richmond, a large fuel leak on the left hand side of the aircraft required the shutting down and feathering of the port piston engine. The jets were lighted and an emergency landing made at Mount Isa. After landing, reverse pitch was applied on the starboard piston engine and when the aircraft started to swing to the right, reverse pitch was deselected but there was no response and the prop stayed in reverse and the aeroplane continued to veer to the right side of the runway. Left brake was applied as the aircraft was about to go off the strip. This effected a left turn by the aeroplane and kept it on the strip but the left tyre blew which then caused the aeroplane to veer to the left hand side of the runway. Nose wheel steering was ineffective so just before going off the strip the pilot applied some right brake which straightened the aeroplane up again but the right hand tyre blew. At this stage, with no braking means being available, full rudder was applied to steer the aircraft off the runway to pull it up. Later investigation revealed that the aeroplane had been filled with fuel on the ground at Darwin where the aeroplane was very hot and the fuel was cool. On reaching altitude, the fuel started to heat up and the aeroplane cooled down and shrank so the petrol no longer fitted in the tanks and was coming out the relief valve through the overflow vent. It was impossible from any position on the aeroplane to see where the petrol was coming from so the only safe thing to do because of the fear of the sparks coming out of the exhaust on the port engine was to shut the engine down. At that moment that the engine was shut down, by pure chance, the fuel stopped coming out of the vent.”
FOUR NEPTUNES COME TO CALL ~ NEPTUNE A89-210 ~ RAF CHANGI MARCH 1963
One of four Neptunes from 11 Sqdn based at RAAF Richmond outside Sydney on detachment at Changi during March 1963. It is parked on the newly tarmacked section of the Eastern Dispersal opposite the Shackletons of 205 Sqdn. A89-310 was a P2V-5F Neptune; fitted with underwing J-34 jet engines.
WITHOUT A PARACHUTE ~ HASTINGS TG612 ~ RAF CHANGI OCTOBER 1963
The Hastings of 48 Sqdn were used to dropping parachute packs from 500 feet into jungle clearings, but supplying the Army in the Indonesian Confrontation also required a new technique of ‘free-fall’ dropping from very low level. Free-fall Derby Sacks weighing 100 lbs were pushed out of the side-door at a mere 50 feet, or below. Here the crew of Hastings TG612 practice the technique over the level surface of Changi airfield in October 1963.
FIRST AIR TEST ~ BEVERLEY XB283 ~ RAF SELETAR NOVEMBER 1963
Beverley XB283 takes off from Seletar’s runway at the end of November 1963, when individual ‘letters’ had been replaced with serial numbers on the Beverleys. Note the proximity of the Airmen's 'barrack block' to the runway. In Nov ‘63 the few Beverley’s of 34 Squadron were truly stretched coping with the demands of the Borneo operations and XB283 had just joined 34 Sqdn at this time, being issued newly from 390 MU.
TRANSPORT COMMAND CHANGE SINGAPORE OPS BASE ~ PAYA LEBAR FEBRUARY 1963
RAF Britannia XM518 ‘Spica’ is marshalled out past Comet XR399 on 18th February ‘63. With RAF Changi closed during daylight hours for runway resurfacing the transport Command and visiting aircraft were using the civil airport at Paya Lebar and the ‘batman’ in his white overalls marshalling the Brit out was from the RAF servicing detachment, who were getting somewhat overworked as the predicted 24 Transport Command monthly movements had got up to 41 aircraft at Paya Lebar by July ‘63.
'OLD SHACK' ON THE 205 SQDN DISPERSAL ~ RAF CHANGI FEBRUARY 1962
Parked on the 205 Squadron dispersal on the eastern side at Changi on 24th February 1962, VP291 displays the obligatory kangaroo on the nose, picked up on an Aussie trip.
Now that the Mk2c Shackletons were arriving, VP291 hadn’t much longer to languish in the Singapore sun. It was flown back by Flt.Lt. B. Wooler and crew to 23MU Aldergrove for storage, arriving on 9th April ‘62 and they returned with a Mk2c, WL786.
A CANBERRA AND A COMET ~ RAF CHANGI JUNE 1962
Taxying into the western dispersal at Changi on the 7th June 1962, a Canberra U-10 WH885 on it's delivery flight to Edinburgh Field to take part in missile trials at Woomera.
Parked on the nearside is a 216 Squadron Comet C2 XK699, apparently with a flap problem. Canberra U10 WH885 was destroyed in an accident at Woomera on 1st April 1964.
TIED DOWN ~ AUSTER WZ706 ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1961
A little Auster of 656 Sqdn Army Air Corps is well tied down for the night with ammunition boxes in September 1961. This Auster AOP9 WZ706 had already been involved in a couple of forced landings. On 24th May 1956, whilst under RAF control, it was based with 1907 Flight at Taiping and it suffered engine failure whilst searching for another missing Auster. The pilot Capt. P.K.Myers put the plane down successfully and it was soon recovered by the RAF.
The second time was a forced landing in Thailand with Capt Chris Roberts the 1907 Flight Pilot, at Banan Sata, Beton Saliant on 5th Sept 1960. The aircraft suffered a loss of oil. As the Auster had made an exceptionally good landing on a newly laid track beside paddy fields, it was decided to do a combined air and road recovery. Two Sycamore’s of 110 Sqdn were involved along with 656 Sqdn engineers. The Auster was too heavy for a Sycamore to lift, so the 656 Sqdn engineers had to disassemble the aircraft to be carted away in parts by the ‘choppers.
PARKING THE NAVY ~ ARK ROYAL SCIMITAR XD280 ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1962
Pushing 800 Squadron Scimitar XD280 ‘100’ into it's static display place the day before the 1962 Changi Airshow, alongside the Sea Vixen and Gannet also from Ark Royal. It’s equipped with a pair of AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. Ark Royal was steaming back towards Singapore Naval Base and had experienced a period of strong seas that had caused a pause in flying.
DAKOTA A65-94 IN THE LATE AFTERNOON SUN ~ RAF CHANGI AUGUST 1961
A65-94, one of the three Dakotas operated by RAAF Butterworth’s Canberra Squaron, No 2, as it arrives at Changi in August 1961, with the late afternoon sun glinting off the props.
TWO BRITANNIAS ON THE APRON ~ RAF CHANGI FEBRUARY 1962
Two Brits plus a Comet, all from Lyneham on the pan at Changi on 20th February 1962. The nearest Britannia XN398 ‘Altair’, a C2 version, has just arrived with a crew from the other Lyneham based unit that used the pool of 23 RAF Britannias, the ‘Air Training Sqdn (Britannia)’.
Britannia C1 XM520 ‘Arcturus’ behind was on the second of three trips into Changi in December. Coming on the 5th, 18th and also the 28th. It had flown from Changi to Kai Tak on the 19th and had recently returned. It left the next day with 511 Sqdn’s Flt.Lt. S.Goodwin and crew.
SYCAMORE HEAD ON ~ SYCAMORE XG519 ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1962
Sycamore XG519 showing the plexi-glass door extensions to aid the carrying of stretchers during casualty evacuation. The aircraft had just arrived at Changi on 13th September 1962, after it’s 5 hour flight from Butterworth, via Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, crewed by Fg.Off W McLoughlin and Flt. Lt. P. Davis.
The following day McLoughlin provided VIP transport for the Earl and Countess of Selkirk and did a practice for the display he gave at Changi’s air display on the 15th September.
MAKING LOADING EASY ~ C-124 GLOBEMASTER 21044 ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1961
C-124C 21044 from the 1501st ATW Travis AFB, California lowers the rear loading platform. The huge Globemaster made loading look easy as apart from the clamshell loading doors and hydraulic ramps in the nose and this lift under the aft fuselage.
The aircraft had two overhead cranes (each with a capacity of 16,000 pounds) which could traverse the entire length of the 77 foot long cargo hold. In this case the aircraft seemed to be carrying spares to cover most eventualities and the tyre being unloaded was used to replace one on another C-124.
GETTING THE LOADING RAMPS OUT ~ RAF CHANGI SEPTEMBER 1961
One of the resident Bristol Freighters, NZ5910 of 41 Sqdn Royal New Zealand Air Force having it’s loading ramps assembled and is parked on the Far East Comm Sqdn end of the Western Dispersal, which still had ‘PSP’, a perforated steel plate surface at Changi in September ‘61. Bristol Freighters had been in use with the RNZAF for years and commercial freight company SAFE Air used them between Wellington on the North Island and Blenheim, on the South Island, starting in 1951. The loading difficulties were considerably helped when SAFE Air started to use ‘Cargon’, a palletised cargo loading system, which was the first time pallets were used anywhere in the aviation world.
From: Syd Avery, Guardamar del Segura, Alicante Subject: Memories of Changi
I was fortunate to be at Changi between January 1965 and June 1967, initially as the squadron storebasher on 215 Squadron, Argosies. This only lasted about two months when O.C. S.C.A.F., one Paddy Burke, found out where his “missing” J/T was and had me hauled back to his empire. When I found out that I should have been posted to Air Movements (which was where I would have preferred to be), I began a quiet campaign for an internal posting which eventually came about. I spent the last 18 months of my Far East posting happily here.
My first memory was the heat on arrival at Paya Lebar, having travelled from Heathrow via Istanbul and Bombay. Secondly, was the scent of the frangipani trees. Since then, this has been my favourite tree scent, and in 2010 I had one delivereed to me in Spain. It is now a fine 3mtr. by 3mtr., and flowers well each year. I digress.
My sergeant from Cranwell, Sean “Hector” Young, had been posted to Changi some months previously, and he kindly offerd to book my wife Pat and I into the Cameron Hotel on the Upper Changi Road. This enabled us to travel out together, a great advantage as at the time she was expecting our first child.
Memories, not necessarily in chronological order:
The birth of our first son, Dean, in April of ’65.
Within a month of arriving, I was placed on guard duty on one of the airfield gates and ended up with my exposed knees and arms being quite a different colour to the rest of my pallid torso - strawberry and vanilla ice cream comes to mind!
Duty Storeman, having supper brought down from a maccan stall in the village, wrapped in a banana leaf, and tea in a condensed milk tin. Then in the morning watching the sun rise from behind the Argosy hangar.
First flight in a fighter jet, a Meteor T7, arranged by a friend I played rugby with.
Six months on the S.W.O’s Funeral Guard of Honour. That, sadly, was a very busy time, we provided the guard on many occasions during that particular six months.
Shark skin shirts, German silk suits, KD uniforms made to measure (privately, of course.) One looked good and felt good.
Playing rugby under floodlights for the first time, with steam rising from the scrum. The social side in the Club House after each game. Rugby sevens on the Padang opposite the Government Building in Singapore City.
Beer ration. Changi Creek Hotel
The Changi Murals, very thought provoking.
Passing Changi Prison on the way to/from work. Seeing execution protesters being arrested outside the prison on the day that 21 prisoners were executed for trying to topple the Government.
Change Alley in the City, between the waterfront and Raffles Square, bargains everywhere for everyone.
Bugis Street, nowadays very heavily “sanitised.” In days past the prettiest girls were the boys, and everything was there for a price.
The old Chinese guy with the single stringed “violin.” Everything you asked him to play came out as "Oh me Darlin’ Clementine"
The restaurant at the top of Orchard Road, was it in a hotel? Anyone remember the name of it?
Paya Lebar’s restaurant. "A Chateau-Briande-for-two-for-one” my favourite.
Singapore $, nine to the guinea.
Changi market on a Wednesday night.
Siglap market. Ocean Bowl for 10 pin.
Molly, our Amah, a tiny Chinese Lady, worth her weight in gold.
Every second Thursday, pay-day, meeting the wife in one of the restaurants in Changi village for lunch.
Eating out at the maccan stalls at Bedok Corner, just a couple of hundred yards from where we lived.
After a certain time of night, the only place to get a beer was in the houses of ill repute. We were in our third "house" of the evening when a Royal Navy Boat Party (MPs) interrupted our festivities. Charged and remanded to the CO. "Ah yes, Corporal Avery," said the CO, "XX Lorong XX, Geyland. I've been there myself," adding hastily, "In the course of my duties, you understand." After realising what he had said, to the mirth of all in his office.
A fantastic tour. But it would not have been possible without the great friends and colleagues, their sense of humour, loyalty and camaraderie.
After ’67 the next time I was at Changi was in the early ‘90’s, en-route Rome-Sydney. Gobsmacked was not the word! Standing in the freight door, I saw in the distance were some green buildings. One of the loaders asked me if I had been in Singapore before. I said yes, and that I had worked in those green buildings in 1966/67. He responded, “Oh my God, I wasn’t even born then!”
Cheers and regards to all. Go well and keep safe.
Changi is the location of one of three RAF Stations on the Island of Singapore. Section 2 of this booklet describes the Station in some detail. Another major section offers important advice and information about your health in Singapore and Malaysia.
The booklet is intended to help you, the newcomer, during those first weeks at RAF Changi when you are trying to adjust yourself to a new job as well as grappling with a new climate and finding your way around.
Should your family be with you - or when you call them forward later - they, too, will find much of interest in this booklet. Not only are official matters covered but many amenities and club activities are also described and these form an important feature of overseas service. I hope you will be able to find at least one new interest or activity whilst you are on the Island.
The below 30 page booklet was handed out to all new arrivals at RAF Changi in 1969 and contains a wealth of information about the history and what the newbe can expect. Click on the image to download your very own copy (.pdf format) and take a trip down memory lane!
Here's Royal Air Force Changi
(Courtesy of the RAF Changi Association)
It is important that the reader of this booklet understands that we at RAF Changi are guests of the people of Singapore. We employ a considerable number of local civilian staff in all grades, and you will probably meet uniformed members of the Royal Air Force (Malaya).
With these points in mind, you will find useful reading in those sections that describe the multi-racial people of Singapore and the amenities that its island Republic offers.
Getting to know the Singaporeans, their customs and their country - as well as the neighbouring country of Malaysia - is part of the pleasure of an overseas tour in the Far East Air Force. I hope you will enjoy your work and your play; if you do, you and your family will have a happy and successful tour.
E. W. MERRIMAN Group Captain Station Commander
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough Subject: Memories of RAF Changi
As some may already know, I entered the RAF through the august portals of the RAF College Cranwell in 1961, having applied to be an NCO Air Signaller on Shackletons. The possibility of this having been a clerical error was reinforced in July 1963 as the only remaining flight cadet in our entry not to have a posting after nearly 3 year’s training. Then just two days before passing out I was given the news: SCAF RAF Changi, O i/c Secondary Accounts, whatever that was, report on 14 August 1964. Excellent news as meant there was no rush to spend a significant chunk of my uniform allowance on an RAF Officer's Greatcoat. In fact, I never did buy my own greatcoat before I handed in my F1250, 29 years later.
Three weeks later in the early evening I was disgorged tired, sweaty and travel stained from 4 by 4 hour legs via Akrotiri, Khormaksar and Gan in a Comet 4C to be met by a Fg Off Sal Kasim (I learnt he was OC ESG and the other very junior officer on the Supply Wing) with the welcome of ‘Let’s drop of your kit at the Mess - come on we are off to a party!’ A party of many shades and experiences that was to last until February 1967.
The following morning I headed only slightly bright eyed and bushy tailed to meet my predecessor and begin the handover. First Changi reality check: she had left to get married 6 weeks earlier! Never mind, as 2 i/c SCAF I would have an experienced guide and mentor to teach me ropes. Second Changi reality check: the SCAF post was empty and Flt Lt Paddy Burke would not be arriving for another 5 months! With 3 weeks experience (on leave) I was now responsible for a team of some 70 RAF, WRAF, Malaysian Air Force and locally engaged clerks, male and female, mainly Chinese and Indian. Oh, and they were using some new-fangled NIC 275 ADP machines which created punch tapes to be sent to somewhere called SCC Hendon. I had been trained, extensively, on manual procedures. Never mind, recalling the final words of my equipment instructors to rely on your NCOs, I would have many years of experience to hold my hand; fall in the SNCOs! Reality check three: your SCAF Warrant Officer won’t be here for a couple of months and apart from Chief Tech Derek Pitman and 2 sgts, Sgt Boreman in Supply Control and Sgt Fraughan in Secondary Accounts, that was it. Welcome to RAF Changi and the real world of the 1960s RAF. Oh and by the way there is a ‘thing’ called confrontation with Indonesia which has just gone up a couple of notches and we are getting major reinforcements including a second squadron of Shackletons and the spares requirement and stocks for the new Argosy unit, 215 Sqn, is still bedding down!
For the rest of the time, here are just a few of my memories of an incredible first tour:
Changi Theatre Club and in particular the annual Panto, where I finished up as resident panto dame.. During those first few months this provided the ideal solution to letting off steam, screaming and shouting to compensate for a 7 long day a week working regime. I’m the one in the wig with Little Red Riding Hood.
Duty Guard Commander, one of the station duties in a room in the old ops building in charge of various out of hours sentries and patrols around the unit. One night I had the misfortune to have to ring the Guard Room and ask if they could send someone round with an axe to break into my control room as I broken the key in door lock so I could go out and check the change of the sentries at mid-night. What hurt was when I was asked who was calling, I gave my name, which elicited the response: “We might have guessed!”
Beach parties, off to unoccupied sandy beaches on one of the many islands just off RAF Changi.
NIC 275 ADP machine
Changi Theatre Club resident dame
GERTRUDE, stood for "Goes-Every-Ruddy-Time-Required-Under-Dire-Emergency", my faithful, if noisy, battered vaguely black, grey and mainly rust Vauxhall Velox. Minimalist rear floor, no back bumper (one pointed end had fallen off on Christmas while driving back to base; a check of the rear view mirror presented a plume of soil as I was ploughing up the then only partly metalled East Coast Road). One day the Supply Wing was formally visited by the Command Group Captain Equipment. At lunchtime the officers and our VIP guest all trooped up to Temple Hill, the station officers mess, for a posh lunch. The boss, Wg Cdr Davies had to leave early as did a couple of the others whose wheels we had used to get to the Mess, and it appeared that I was now the only one there with a car. As one should do when it is 90 in the shade and 100% humidity, I offered to run the Group Captain back to the Command Headquarters, about half a mile away, in Gertrude. ‘No thank you, I think I’ll walk!’ was the frosty response.
Detachments, with the arrival of the real OC SCAF, Paddy Burke, in the January, as a bachelor, I was regularly pinged/volunteered for detachments. In addition to RAF Gong Kedah which has already featured in these newsletters and RAF Kuantan, these included: a Beverly stores drop from Labuan over Borneo, an island hopping Argosy trainer (as imprest holder/mover) which covered Gan, Cocos Keeling Island, Australia, New Zealand, French Caledonia, Admiralty Islands and Philippines sweeping up VC and GC holders for their flight to London by VC10 for tea with the Queen, a 6 week detachment to RAAF Townsville with 3 205 Sqn Shacks on a Fincastle Trophy exercise, during which I subcontracted myself to the RAAF for a few days on one of their P2 Neptune detachments to Lea Airport in New Guinea, and a no-notice Changi splash by parachute from 600’ after about 2 hours ground school and one too many beers with two of the parachute school instructors the previous night.
The second SD hat, which I kept in the office in case of unplanned late awakenings. ‘Where’s David?” - “He must be round somewhere, his hat's in the office!”
The missing aircraft hangars when my corporal in Secondary Accounts, popped his head round the door to ask “Sir, the three large portable aircraft hangers you signed for - we can only have one of them?” Then followed a frantic hour trying to sound cool and in control ringing round my fellow SCAF FEAF gaffers for a chat and “you haven’t got any spare aircraft hangars have you?” Success - they had both gone on to Butterworth!
Stay safe David Powell
F Team UK MAMS Abingdon 1967-69 Gulf MAMF 1971
Don’t panic, I am not going to cover the next 900 days in the same depth but I have described the still vivid memories of my arrival in some detail to underscore why my first and lasting memory of Changi is that of an incredibly steep learning curve and my ever grateful thanks that I had three superb skilled and patient SNCOs to steer me through those first few rocky months.
From: Peter Clayton, Wroughton, Wilts Subject: Memories of RAF Changi
RAF Changi was my first overseas posting in May 1967 until November 1969, although I had previously made visits to my parents who were stationed at RAF Changi on 48 Sqn Hastings. I did two visits over Christmas holidays from boarding school as a boy and one for my 18th Birthday. My posting was a whole new world though, where I got to know the Changi Village bars such as Millie's Bar, The Europe Bar and I think it was The Airport Bar near Changi Creek Hotel. Then of course there was the famous Changi Restaurant "Recommended for The Forces" where you could buy a lovely Keema Curry and rice in a banana leaf and the curry in a carnation tin and take it to the beach. Of course it was a favourite place to eat in the evening as well or at one of several road side stalls.
The Telok Paku beach club was a favourite for spending many an hour drinking Tiger Beer as were the Malcolm Club and of course the NAAFI, Tiger I remember was 0.55c a pint and our exchange rate due to sterling devaluation was around $7.35 to the pound, so it did not take a lot to have a good session before maybe heading into Singapore from the 14.5 mile stone in a 'pick-up' taxi for around $1 I think it was.
I was working on Air Movements and used the Condec to load RNZAF Bristol Freighters, Britannia's, VC-10's and Hercules, we had several shifts and worked day and night shifts. Sometimes there were trips to Paya Lebar airport to pick up AOG spares etc when the scheduled RAF flights were not soon enough. I used some of my leave to go on solo trips with the RNZAF Bristol Freighters, one of which took me to Kuala Lumpur and onto Bangkok for a night stop, most of which I don't remember. The next day we went to Vientiane, Laos and onto Cheng Mai for another night stop; boy did those Kiwi's party! Next stop was Tan Son Nuit airport, Saigon and this was during the Vietnam war. On another trip in a Belfast we went up to Saigon and while we were offloading the aircraft, mortar bombs were landing on the airfield, some of which in the past had hit USA Jets parked in 'bomb pens' all around the airport, I really should look out my old slides and post some of the pics sometime.
Other trips included a week up to Kai Tak on my own, I stayed in the transit block but spent all day roaming around Hong Kong and Kowloon, it was a real experience. Little did I know then that my next overseas posting would be to RAF Kai Tak and indeed from there I did a trip back to Singapore! Other trips were made up to Penang, first by train for 24 hours and later by MSA Fokker Friendship F27 and then the Comet 4 of Singapore Airlines.
I was paid fortnightly in cash in those days and of course this meant a visit to downtown Singapore, for such delights as Bugis Street and some of the famous bars in town, of course a round of chicken satay was a must and a few Tiger's. I went back to Singapore a few times when I was flying as a civil loadmaster and again for my 60th Birthday, when I was refused entry for afternoon tea in Raffles Hotel because I had shorts on! I did get the tea but in a not so posh lounge. It was good to see the old Britannia Club still standing but it is now used by the Singapore Armed Forces. Changi of course is the site for the wonderful Changi Airport, the village is still there and even one or two of the bars, including the Changi Restaurant!
So RAF Changi was probably my best ever posting with so many fond memories of the RAF Yacht Club, the village shops and bars, the noisy old buses into town and I have to say some really great colleagues both RAF and local labourers, not forgetting 'Pop' our Indian cleaner come errand runner and all round good chap.
Time is against me now to write even more before the deadline, I could not let this topic go by without putting in my bit, RAF Changi must have been one of the best overseas tours for so many. I loved Singapore and still do and would drop everything to go back again to ride their superb mass transit system and to sit in Newton Circus eating chicken satay or in Chinatown enjoying a Tiger or even the Indian quarter for a lovely curry served on a banana leaf! Happy days.
New members who have joined us recently:
Jeremy Dumayne, Elder, SD
Paul Kavanagh, Ramsgate, Kent
Welcome to the OBA!
From: Christopher Briggs, Coventry, West Midlands Subject: Memories of RAF Changi
My memories of RAF Changi are from when I was at school out there between 1963 to 1966. We lived on the Toh Estate opposite a large expanse of green. It was the time when Indonesia had threatened to invade Singapore so the powers that be decided to strategically place a Bofors gun on the green to protect the area from any air attack. The British Goverment also sent out some Vulcans for an added deterrant; thankfully it never came to fruition.
I remember going to see Manfred Mann, The Kinks and the Dutch Swing College Band at Badminton Hall in Singapore City. The act that stole the show was the Dutch Swing Colllege Band believe it or not - a superb night was had by all!
Lastly, playing golf at the RAF Changi course. If I remember correctly, the third hole was where we had to send the caddy ahead with a golf club as the hole was surrounded by trees and once the ball landed anywhere near the green the monkeys would come and steal it - hence the caddy sent up in advance!
Keep up the good work, it's great to see all the memories and so many names from the past!
More Relevant Stuff
Now that Prince Philip has officially retired, he has joined the RAuxAF's 4624 Movements Squadron!
What you didn't know about officer's ration packs
From: David Moss, Sorbie, Dumfries and Galloway Subject: Willy Marr's pipes
This is about an event that I had the honor to attend along with some fellow members of the Royal British Legion Scotland here in Newton Stewart earlier this month. It was the ceremony of the laying up of the bagpipes played by Willy Marr, a local man as he led the charges "over the top" in WW1 at the battles of Loos and The Somme. It was a very poignant and solemn occasion which I am sure brought a lump to the throats of many of those who were able to attend. Of the 165 local men who joined up from around here, Willy and his brother were two of only five who returned. I know this is not an RAF item but it was so good to be able to express in a small way, the gratitude we owe to so many who went and the few who came home.
From: Richard Allen, Llanmartin, Newport, Mon Subject: Owain's Graduation
Proud Parents: Caroline and Richard Allen with Owain who recently graduated from basic training. Owain has commenced his Supply Trade Training
From: Konrad Putu, Wellington Subject: What is an Airman?
What is an Airman? (author unknown)
Between the security of second childhood and the insecurity of childhood we find the fascinating group of humanity we call Airman. They come in all sizes, weights and states of sobriety. They can be found anywhere on various bases, in planes, in bars, in love, always in debt. Girls love them and so do publicans, towns and cities celebrate them and the government supports them. An Airman is laziness with a deck of cards, bravery with a tattoo, the protector of the earth, he has the brains of an idiot, the energy of a sea turtle, the slyness of a fox, the stories of a sea captain, the sincerity of a liar, the aspirations of a Casanova, and when he wants something its usually connected with leave. Some of his interests are girls, women, females, and members of the opposite sex. No one else can cram into one pocket a little black book, a wallet, a crushed ID card, a credit card, an odd leave pass and what’s left of last week's pay. He likes to spend his pay on women, some on beer, and cards and the rest foolishly. An Airman is a magical creature you can lock him out of your home, but you can’t lock him out of your heart. You can scratch him off your mailing list, but you can’t get him off your mind. He is the one and only blurry eyed good for nothing bundle of worry, but then all your shattered dreams become insignificant when he comes home looks at you with those blurry eyes and says “I love ya honey.”
Bob Whitworth, Masirah
On the old Salalah to Thumrait Road
Charlie Marlow, Isle of Wight
Charlie and Patsy celebrate their 58th
Our new exhibit at Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre
Truck, Aircraft, Loading and Unloading, (TALU) Registration No 207-474. This type of vehicle is used by the RAAF Air Load teams to load and unload various aircraft types including the C130 Hercules and C27J Spartan at Air Movements sections and detachments in Australia and overseas. I believe this particular one had been used in the Mid East area of operations until recently.
From: Vic Smith, Brassall, QLD
Notice to Airmen (NOTAM)
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