Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes
Aero Trucial Lodge 9147
Trucial Crater Lodge 9147
RAOB
Trucial Oman State of Sharjah.
United Arab Emirates
BFPO 64

This is a contact message to anyone who was a member of the Aero Trucial Lodge 9147 or the Trucial Crater Lodge 9147 of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes. This message is intended for anyone whether you were a civilian or a member of the public or a member of the Royal Household, Trucial Oman Scouts, Army or the Royal Air Force.
The history of this worthy and esteemed Lodge is being lost in the mists of time and before we all ascend to the Great Lodge above I think we should make contact and record our memories of that time and perhaps renew old contacts.
It matters not when you were a member "from foundation to dissolution" just send me your details and interesting memories for inclusion here. If you were a member of the Sharjah (Desert Rescue) Mountain Rescue Team please also get in contact.
  Commemorative medal of the Aero Trucial Lodge 9147, presented to Adrian Hanna by Sheikh Mohammed Al Qassimi prior to returning to the United Kingdom.   It is interesting to note that I was The Worthy Primo of Aero Trucial Lodge no 9147 RAOB during the Centenary year 1866 -1966

This page has grown quite large over the short time it has been on the net. There are plenty of images to view and even more rantings from myself. Please be patient while the it downloads. Adrian.

CLICK
SHARJAH CONTACT ADDRESS
This is an email link to send Sharjah Updates..:
CLICK

This page first uploaded on 14th November 2007 and will be revised frequently. The dark background has been removed to enable more friendly printing. Hit your "Reload button" to dump the old images from your computers cache. If that does not work to clear the old images then go to Tools / internet options / Browsing history section / Temporary internet files / Delete button. If your computer is crammed with rubbish this will shift it. Now, hit the reload button as this page has grown considerably longer than intended it will take a few seconds to download everything fresh giving you the latest version. If this is your first visit to the page then don't bother deleting your temporary files. Anyone wishing to send their tales and yarns please give me your correct address and tell me if you want your name attached to it. Please also bear in mind the Official Secrets Act which they can still get you with ........, I'd love to see them try.

Hi Chaps,
It is sad to note that three of our number has shuffled off the mortal coil since the last update.
As time goes on there are fewer of us remaining to remember Sharjah as it was.
Please get your memories to Len or myself so that we can record them for posterity.
Adrian

This is an email link to send Sharjah Updates..: Sharjah

UPDATE 8th October 2013
Hi Adrian, 5 years since have passed when I said I would post a few photos of Sharjah back in 1969/70. The year of my time there. Photo 1 was the 1969 AOC M.E.A.F. Parade. The AOC was inquiring as to the name of my tailor.Fitted shorts and shirt made to measure by a local chap. I only ever done 2 parades during my 9 Years in the service. This was due to mainly doing night shifts by choice,and not being available during daylight hours. Too busy doing other things during the day. Photographs copyright of Stuart Powell.


AOC's M.E.A.F. Parade Sharjah 1969

Sharjah Gliding Club 1970

Sharjah Flying Club bar 1969
Gliding was thirsty and hot work !!

UPDATE 22nd January 2012

Photograph of the last meeting of the Aero Trucial Lodge 9147 GLD taken at RAF Sharjah in February 1970.
The following week the lodge opened as the Trucial Crater Lodge 9147 GLD The crater Lodge had moved up from Aden, and due to falling numbers they decided to close, and join the Aero Trucial Lodge.
The photograph below is the last photograph of the Crater Lodge in their yellow and black regalia taken on the same night in February 1970
Many thanks to Bro., Stuart Powell ROH PPGP 1979-2009
Maesteg and District Province (Wales)
for the photographs and explanation

FEB 16th 2010
Adrian,
A good friend and Brother put me on to your entry concerning the Aero Trucial Lodge No.: 9147. I found it to be most interesting having done two tours in Sharjah plus one in Salalah (Oman).
My first tour was 1964/65 and I spent many hours doing a C&W programme on Forces Radio Sharjah and being projectionist at the Astra cinema. Towards the end of this tour I was honoured to be initiated into the "Buffs" the ceremony being performed by Bro. Gerry Wain.On my return to the UK I spent the next 3 years moving around from camp to camp plugging gaps in my trade as Clerk Catering and also being involved in closing down various sites as self accounting units.
Returning to Sharjah in 1968 I was fortunate to be raised to Primo this ceremony being carried out once again by Bro. Gerry Wain. Over this year I spent many happy hours with Gerry visitng the Sheikhs summer palace - twice a week I drove to Ras - Al - Kaimer to collect fresh veg and salad goods from an experimental farm usually having a good lunch and a few beers with the ex-pat who ran the farm. I had the opportunity on a couple of occasions to ride the TOS horses. I had a ring made by Shaikh Rabbi, it was fascinating to watch him work in particular how all the filings and dust being collected on his leather apron which washed out in a 45 gallon drum of water to retrieve the waste gold (he always said this was his profit).
As regards the names you listed as members of the LodgeI can only remember two, Gerry Wain (sadly no longer with us) and Sheikh Mohammed Al Qassimi but I have details probably outdated on two of the others; Michael Baring - Gould affiliated to the Elizabethan Lodge No.: 8654 in June 1962 and Peter Clapham followed suit in Feb. 1971. I also affiliated to the Elizabethan in Feb.1993 (now the Royal Elizabethan 8654) where I received my 3rd. & 4th. Degrees and fulfilled all offices within the Fakenham & District Province. I read with interest of both Adrian & Brian Green both active in the Kings Lynn Province with which the Fakenham Province merged on Jan. 1st this year.
In 1971 I was once again in the Gulf this time Salalah in the Oman where I ran the Lodge bar (sorry - the Lodge name is lost in time, but many members were from Air Traffic Services), once again I was acting as projectionist at the Astra. Salalah was not as peaceful as Sharjah, we were not allowed of the camp without our personal weapons which we held permanently and went with us everywhere as there was a serious problem with insurgents from the Yemen, the SAS were based at Murkat on three month attachments on a large scale, as many as 400 at any one time carrying out mainly night patrols.
I hope you will find the above of interest to you,
Warm regards,
Bro. Stan Trattle, R.O.H.


This is the crest for Royal Air Force Sharjah. I do not remember seeing it during my time there. However that is not to say that it did not exist. Such a crest would have been quite valuable, so it probably was hanging for safeties sake in the CO's office. I can just imagine that it would have been stolen by the lads just for a prank. Anything which was not safely nailed down or placed well beyond reach would have been the target for the high spirited Airmen of the period. Now, if an Officer with high spirits, or "High on spirits" nicked it, then it would be classed as, "A jolly bad show, the bounder."   "The cad"
The Sharjah station motto reads AMIN AL-BARR ILA AL-SAMA. I do not speak Arabic but surfing round the net I have come up with a very crude translation.
AMIN AL-BARR ≈ "The plain".
ILA AL-SAMA ≈ "The golden chariot does not ascend to Heaven".

UPDATE
Sent: Monday, January 19, 2009
Subject: Hello
I was reading your webpage and in it, you have a motto that says: AMIN AL-BARR ILA AL-SAMA. I believe your translation is incorrect. In Arabic it should read AMIN AL-BARR ILA AL-SAMA.With the translation as follows:
Amin=Secure
Al-Barr=the land
Ila=to
Al-Sama=Sky
Secure the land to the Sky
One final item, the part that you state is Arabic is actually Farsi – so you will need an Iranian to translate it for you. I’m sure you can find one in the UK they are all over the place.
Gameel Sharaf

Many thanks Gameel for the translation which makes a lot more sense than my attempt. Unfortunately there are very few Iranians here in Ireland to ask about the translation. Hopefully one will surf in and do the necessary. Once again thanks for your help. Adrian

Don't forget that 84 Squadron were stationed there at sometime towards the end of August 1967 equipped with Andover aircraft. If anyone has any details I would be pleased to post them.


Hi EX-RAF Chaps, I am doing my best here in Comber to get more RAF chaps on parade to help commemorate the fallen on Remembrance Day.
Unfortunately I am swamped by ex-military types (God Bless them) who outnumber me about 200 to 1. (Not bad odds) I have some old RAF berets but no badges, If you have a surplus badge, I could pass it on to someone here to wear when laying the wreath. The odds would then come down to 66.6. Better than sending me your badge bring yourself, an extra body is always better.
My e-mail address is adrian@sixgolds.com if you drop me an e-mail I will send you my postal address by return.

I know there are many folks from the UAE reading this web page and I would ask one of them to be so kind as to translate this text into English. It would be nice to know what is being said about me or the page. I hope it's good, if not I can take the rough with the smooth ...



ABOUT THE AUTHOR.
I was initiated into the Right Approach Lodge No 8529 at Royal Air Force Valley. (4FTS) I was introduced by Bro Gerry Kipping then a Corporal in the Air Traffic Control. My Seconder was Bro Raymond Scandarett, that was over forty years ago and I still keep in touch with these two old reprobates.
I can remember Gerry going into the Airmens Mess, he was Orderly Corporal, and start to chuck plates onto the floor. We never had a chipped or cracked plate ever again. He broke the lot.
I suppose now is as good a time as it gets to tell you about Gerry shooting a Very Pistol at the Commanding Officers Car. The flare landed on the bonnet of the car and caused a little damage. All the poor old Commander (Group Captain Horrocks) had done was go through a red light at the end of the airfield. The Commander had flown as a battle of Britain Pilot all the way through the war and ended up in a smouldering heap at the end of the runway. Whenever Gerry was in the caravan the Student Pilots always made their final approach to the runway with great caution. [Hence the Right Approach Lodge]
I was enthusiastic and got my nose into the books and I was put forward for examination at the Provincial Grand Board of Examination at Bangor, North Wales. I was very fortunate to get through at my first attempt and within a few weeks of passing I did my first month as WP of the Right Approach Lodge.
I was also assistant Scout Master at Valley and when Gerry Kipping was posted I then became Scout Master. Raymond's other interest was in printing and formed the Valley Printing Club. He caused a major consternation amongst the local population when the RAF cars began to display a new car sticker. "British Expeditionary Force Anglesey" That was just one of the pranks he got up to. In later years I introduced him to Freemasonry and Raymond quickly rose up through the ranks to be come a much respected Brother. Raymond became Excellent King of Royal Arch Chapter 701 and was a constant pain in the ass of the Most Worshipful Grand Master. Gerry opened an Iron Mongers shop in Wrexham, he has since retired.
Another chap from Valley was the Catholic Padre Fr Peter McArdle S.J. G0DAG I looked after his Scout Troop mixed in with the Other Religious Denominations such was the shortage of Leaders in those days. Many years later I was to speak almost daily to Peter on the Amateur Radio Frequencies (Via the IOM GD repeater station) unfortunately Peter passed away in the Royal, Preston on 21st July 2004.
Eventually I was posted to Sharjah (Nov 1966) and affiliated to the Aero Trucial Lodge 9147 which was a thriving and happy Lodge. When I became WP I had to make a decision as the Lodge was evenly split on a vote between prawns or chicken for the Centenary Dinner we were planning a few weeks ahead. I instantly brought down the gavel and decided for prawns. Half of the Lodge rose to applaud a great decision and the other half rose and told me the opposite. I stuck to my decision and everyone had a great feed. You can't always be right in this life, so I don't even try.

Head Quarters Land Forces Persian Gulf cloth patchHere is a patch originally worn by the Scots Guards during the 1970’s unfortunately the meaning of this patch has been lost in time. If anyone can explain what the inscription is, I would be pleased to hear from you.



UPDATE 10th July 2015.
Head Quarters Land Forces Persian Gulf cloth patch
Hello Adrian, saw you talking about the Sharjah patch on your website.
I was with 222 Signal Squadron, Sharjah in 1970 and the patch, as I
remember it, stood for British Armed Forces Persian Gulf. I know the
lads up at Bahrain wore it too and it was painted on to our land rovers.
Click for bigger image

I tried to get the badge for my jacket a while ago and couldn't find
it so I have had some made. (See attached photos) They are 22mm hard
enamel and I sell them for what they cost me - £5 including postage.
So if anyone wants one they should send a cheque to me - G. Watson, 3
Merchants Gardens, Alnwick, NE66 1BZ with their address and I will
post to them.

Regards
Geoff Watson

UPDATE 18th January 2015.
Head Quarters Land Forces Persian Gulf cloth patch.
Evidently this patch was printed post formation of the Command.
There are two such patches available on E-Bay


UPDATE 23rd September 2014
Re the 'Patch' worn by Scotch Guardsmen and unidentified; it simply reads 'British Forces Sharjah' and I well remember it while there 1968-69. Whether it is written in Arabic or Farsi I do not know. I had one but regretfully lost it some years ago & would love to get a replacement. J.P.Hunter. Martinique
Many thanks PJ for the info.

MEMORIES OF SHARJAH
Sharjah has at least 100 years of association with the British
so there must be a lot of good yarns out there.
The Trucial Oman Scouts on Parade. These are some of the new recruits with their shiny brown footwear and brand new 303 rifles. Picture © Ivor Brown.
Perhaps the most important thing for a Serviceman was contact with home. I must say that receiving a letter was the highlight of the week. Those of us who served abroad have a feeling of gratitude to the Postal Service Boys and they deserve our thanks. Picture © Ivor Brown.

Once again we are all indebted to Ivor Browne for the following three pictures he came across these last week in an old box of slides. I am glad he sent them as it adds more visual information to this web site. During Ivor’s time of service both Bob Monkhouse and Tommy Cooper performed on the stage as part of the CSE (Combined Services Entertainment) shows.   (Pictures added 26th August 2012.)


The pool at RAF Sharjah, 1963


A Beverley at RAF Sharjah, 1963


The Cinema at Sharjah

Mr Abdulrahman Almadhloum very kindly sent me some very old pictures of the Civil Ground Staff at RAF Sharjah. These pictures I believe are very important as the Civil Ground Staff played a very important roll in keeping the station operational, and over the years their contribution has been largely forgotten. These pictures are the property of Mr Almadhloum and reproduction should not be undertaken without his express authority. To help identify some of the chaps in the picture I have placed numbers as a reference.

1 ?   2 ?  
3 Abdullah Almadhloumand
4 ?   5 ?   6 ?   7 ?  


Abdullah Almadhloumand

1 ?  
2 Abdullah Almadhloumand
3 ?   4 ?   5 ?  
There is a piston provost of some description in the background. I was wondering if it was an Anson or something earlier. The photograph was taken in the Oman after it had flown from Sharjah I know there are hundreds of aircraft recoginition bods out there I would appreciate if one you would please eyeball it and give me your opinion. The last Ansons were withdrawn from service 1968, so this photograph must be prior to that date.


1 ?   2 ?   3 ?   4 ?   5 ?  


1 Ali Allinaid
2 Abdullah Almadhloumand
 

 

This image of a Vincent was taken at Sharjah way back in 1942

 

 

  Dear Adrian,
        I was asked to forward this to you by my father who saw your article in the winter journal.
As he does not have access to e-mail I am sending it on his behalf.
        Bro Adrian Green
        Charles Wymer Lodge No 9970

  Dear Adrian,
        I was initiated into the order on 29th May 1967 in the Crater Lodge No 9182 in Aden. The meeting night was a Tuesday, I was then posted on Wednesday to RAF Sharjah. I was affiliated into the Aero Trucial Lodge No 9147 on the 9th June 1967.
        Although I was a new brother who did not know anything about the order or how things were supposed to be done, I was made to feel most welcome.
        Yours Fraternally
        B Green
        Bro Brian Green ROH
        P.P.G.P. Kings Lynn Province

  Dear Brian and Adrian,
Fraternal Greetings to you both.
        It was good to get your E-Mail and know that 9147 is still alive in peoples memory.
Aero Trucial was a great Lodge with a lot of fine men working hard for the honour and dignity of the Order. I think it is very important that 9147 retains its place in history and that it is not forgotten.
If you can let Brian use your computer to read about Sharjah and the good old days it will remind him of the times he had there. If he can get some memories down on paper he can always send them to me for publication on the Web Site so that others can read them. Hopefully others will find the page and send in their memories and old photographs where possible. Naturally all photographs will be returned to their owners and all text will be attributed to the author as their own personal copyright.
Kindest Regards
Adrian
=========================================
From:- Bro Stuart Powell ROH. PPGP February 27/2008
Hello Bro. Adrian.
I have just read your article in the Winter 2007 Journal. I was stationed at RAF Sharjah from August 1969 to my demob in Sharjah in 1970. I became Affiliated to the AERO TRUCIAL LODGE on the 29th August 1969, just after my arrival.

With the changeover of service personnel it was not long before I became Lodge Secretary still only being a First Degree Brother. I was raised to Primo on the 13th August 1970. It was during my time as Secretary that I carried out the arrangements of the amalgamation of the Aero Trucial Lodge 9147 and The Crater Lodge which had just moved out of Aden. The new lodge became known as the TRUCIAL CRATER LODGE 9147. The new lodge jewel was designed by myself. photo attached. The ribbon was made up of the Crater Lodge colours. Yellow and Black, with the Red being taken from the Aero Trucial Lodge with the Lodge number. The name on the top bar of the jewel, was changed from Trucial Oman to Arabian Gulf to reflect the wider region that both lodges had covered. The jewel itself was completely changed. The shape being taken off the logo of a Rothmans cigarette packet. The centre of the jewel is blue sky and sand with an Arab Fort and Kunja in the centre. The RAF Eagle was also dropped as it was now not a true RAF only lodge, as we had an influx of brown jobs. All the jewels made and presented in the lodge were silver.

On leaving a Services Rendered Jewel as Secretary, was presented to me in September 1970, for work carried out in organising the amalgamation, and other work in the lodge. One of the main charities that the Lodge was supporting during my service in Sharjah was an orphanage in Poona. ( Our Lady Mary) This I believe was Dr. Daoud's home town. Bro. Ick Daoud, Bro Al Qassimi (Sheikh) and Bro Gerry Wain, the Superintendent of the local water works. His surname slips my memory at the moment, were regular visitors to the lodge.

Sharjah was a posting that you liked, or hated. The later being a rough 12 months. In my case I had volunteered for my last posting abroad, which turned out to be Sun, Sea and Sand, Sand and more Sand. I obtained a Government of Sharjah Driving No 005019, and settled in to explore and enjoy the country. One trip I organised was a party of 8 for a trip to the oil fields in R.K. Away for the weekend. All plans made and filed with the relevant departments. Two LWB 109 Series 2 Landrovers were hired via the MT section. The two PSI vehicles were civilian, and could be hired by service personnel for a small fee. Off we set out of Sharjah Town. End of roads, just sand and tracks. Second day out one of the Landrovers decides to breakdown. We were just getting ready to tow the vehicle back to Sharjah, about 120 miles. When out of the desert appears a patrol of the Trucial Oman Scouts, in two Bedford TK lorries. One officer, 2 NCO's the rest being local troops. A most welcome site it would appear to both parties. Our party was duly towed into there base camp, which turned out to be an Arab Red Mud Brick Fort. Straight out of a story book. The O.C. a Major greeted us on arrival dressed in shorts, bondoo boots and a Hawk perched on is arm. We were the first Brits. that they had seen for weeks, and made most welcome. Sharjah was contacted by radio that we were safe, and would return in due course, after repairs were carried out. It was a slow pace of life in that part of the country, we were their a week.

Had a great time. Gliding was another pastime enjoyed at Sharjah until it came to an abrupt end on the 30th March 1970. On my 5th Solo Flight, ended in a crash landing. Board of enquiry determined that due to my lack of experience, I should not have flown that day due to the high cross winds. The instructor was relieved of his duties. The worst effect was no Glider Training for over 6 months, as the T21 Glider had to be sent back to the UK for a rebuild. 3 months spent in Salalah was quite interesting. At night you never knew when, and if, the local dissidents were going to fire 3 inch mortars at you. You were not supposed to talk about Salalah. It was the forgotten camp in those days.

When time permits I will dig out the photo slides, and transfer them to the computer. Best wishes in your endeavours.
Bro Stuart Powell ROH. PPGP 1979 Maesteg & District Province. Deputy again 2008.
Oh yes, and still an active secretary of two lodges. Maesteg and District Province. And yes, still an active Secretary.

=========================================
Many thanks Stuart for your very interesting E-Mail. It was good to hear from you and what happened to Aero Trucial 9147. They were good times, for me, but not for everyone. I'm glad you also had the best of times. Ick and Al were two very interesting and likeable characters. I wonder if Ick is still about, I have searched for him on the Net but without success. If we get in contact with more ex-members we could set up an Internet Lodge and break all Charges in the Schedule of Finable Offences, just for fun.
=========================================

Adrian Continued :-
My stay in an Arabian prison
Sometime during 1966 or early '67 the Worthy Primo of Aero Trucial Lodge 9147 asked me to go into Sharjah and measure the well in the town square so that we could fit an electric pump to bring up water for the towns women. I moved in with my measuring tape and plumb-line to take the necessary measurements as soon as the women were a good distance from the well.
I had been working only for a few minutes when a very tough looking Arab gentleman prodded me in the back with his rifle and pointed me towards a very ominous building. There was no way of reasoning with this man as he could not speak English, he was bigger than me and he had a gun. I was prodded into an empty room and the door was slammed shut. Every now and again the door was opened and different Arabs attempted to talk to me but neither of us understood a word the other said. After about two or three hours the door opened and a well dressed man walked in and spoke to me in perfectly cultured English.
"What were you doing at the well? I briefly explained what I was doing and he became more and more interested, he began to ask me in great detail about the RAOB and requested to join the Buffs. I explained the entry rules and he gave me his name, address and contact telephone number. If my memory serves me this chap was Dr Ick Daoud an Ophthalmic Surgeon (He was a surgeon of some description.) an Indian working out of a Dubai Hospital. I was then released but not before the big Arab with the rifle shook my hand and smiled at me.

I went to the Worthy Primo and explained what had happened, he called an emergency meeting to discuss the matter and we contacted Grand Lodge to explain the way ahead. We got our answer from Grand Lodge and a few weeks later Dr Daoud was initiated into the Order. Ick and I became good friends and I received many invitations to his home on the outskirts of Sharjah. I was introduced to many of his friends and I received another request that Sheikh Mohammed Al Qassimi wanted to join the Order. Again Grand Lodge was contacted and they replied simply that he could be initiated providing he pledged an oath of allegiance to the ruler H.H. Sheikh Saqr ibn Sultan al-Qasimi the Ruler of Sharjah. This oath was not a problem for Sheikh Mohammed Al Qassimi and he was duly initiated. The problem was that he kept on donating large wads of money to the various charities and he used the RAOB as a vehicle to get much needed assistance to his people without undermining his relative.

During January 1972 Sheikh Mohammed Al Qassimi became, His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi succeeded as the ruler of Sharjah. Since he ascended to the throne Sharjah has prospered in every way and is a leading light in the region.


To the average military chap the desert and mountains has very little to offer, but to people who live there it is full of life's essentials. During the dry season water holes are few and far between but they do exist and thirsty animals can soon find them. Trees and shrubs grow in the bottom of the many wadis making use of the remaining water seeping in the depths below. In ancient times there was no desert as we know it today, it was a green and verdant country. With climate change over the past ten thousand years has seen dramatic changes. Man is known to have existed in this region since the bronze age and before. Over the centuries the indigenous people have learned the secrets of survival. If I had my time over again it would be worth studying their survival techniques as they have a lot to teach us. Life in the past was simpler and their culture reflected their way of life. It is so called technological progress which has brought this lifestyle to an end. Make no mistake they are a very gracious and proud nation and if treated with respect will take you into their homes and welcome you like a long lost friend. I noticed the first vestiges of modern technology entering these villages with transistor radios in many homes. This gave them news, music and some inkling of the outside world. Naturally they wanted to aspire to the trappings of modern life and when oil was discovered it gave them the key. Today the Villagers are fully up to speed with modern living and they have every comfort and luxury modernity can supply. When I think back to the days when the RAOB gave what it could to make life easier for these people we were capable of only scratching the surface. The RAOB had little to give as we were simple men far from home and our wages were a mere pittance but what we had we shared willingly with others. The electric motor for the well in Sharjah was the start. It cost almost a years fund raising to pay for the pump and the piping. It was not until after Dr Ick Daoud and Sheikh Mohammed Al Qassimi joined the RAOB that we had sufficient funds to do some real good for the local population. (I always thought it was Sheik Khalid bin Sultan al Qasimi)

It is amazing how the members of such a small Lodge had such a big influence on both towns of Sharjah and Dubai. One very important person was Mr Gerry Wain a civilian who worked in Dubai. Gerry was a retired fireman from Manchester who settled in Dubai to sell fire extinguishers to the people in the area. The barasti huts constructed from palm fronds were tinder dry and would burst into fire with the slightest spark. These houses were very dangerous, but they did offer privacy and shelter from the blazing sun. A fire extinguisher would be a great help if it was used when the fire was small, however if the fire developed the whole village could be destroyed. A reliable water supply was needed to combat fires and to give the population a safe drinking supply. Cholera and other diseases were an everyday hazard and something had to be done. Eric Tulloch was appointed by Sheikh Rashid to supervise the building of the necessary infrastructure. Gerry Wain was taken on board to supervise the actual construction of the pipelines. One pipeline he constructed was over 35 kilometres long and was connected to several wells in order to extract the necessary water. My pathetic attempt at installing an electric pump on the well in Sharjah pails into insignificance when compared to this massive undertaking.
FROM MIKE BILLINGHAM
Adrian, I always thought it was Sheik Khalid bin Sultan al Qasimi.
Mike, you could well be correct about the mame, it's been over 40 years since I last talked in person to this chap. I know that it is probable that the title Sheikh was replaced with Sultan when he ascended the throne. However I stand to be corrected at any time. Adrian.
MIKE CONTINUED
Another incident occurred involving Gerry, he used to visit the childrens hospital at Ra's al Khaymar, he mentioned at one meeting that he was showing them how to make a rabbit from his handkerchief as they had no toys, a young lad Bob (can't remember his surname, a teleg on 22TSU) mentioned this to his dad who mentioned it in his lodge in Bournemouth, next thing we received two tea chests of kids toys.
They were duly delivered, I couldn't go because of being out on exercise, one little girl was just going down for an op and they gave her a cuddly toy of some sort. They took it away during the op but put it back before she woke, she had a fifty chance but the Doctor reckoned the toy pulled her through. At the same time we installed a water cooler there so anyone could have cold water, what the Arabs thought when they came in from the desert must have been wonderful.
I will look out for some photos and send them on, I have passed your site address to the Royal Wings site and to Beachat, the forum for ex Boy Entrants.
Cheers Mike B.

It was major efforts like this back in the 1960's that helped to give the region the nucleus of a beginning. I doubt if the residents of the UAE know of the efforts made by Sheikh Rashid through the RAOB to begin the building of the great state that it is today. Eric and Gerry worked together for over thirty years and their efforts have almost gone unnoticed. I think it is important to get these things remembered as it is a part of the history of the UAE and how it was brought into existence. The Aero Trucial Lodge of the RAOB was a small club with a very good attitude towards the local population of the region. We had two doctors Harris Mandody and Ick Daoud who provided medical care to the population. Sheikh Mohammed Al Qassimi supplied the money and we the ordinary members carried out the work as best we could. Within the Lodge everyone is equal, all rank and status being left outside, a place to relax and enjoy the company of others in friendship. Sergeants and Sheikhs, Officers and men, Doctors and Engineers bonded together with a common purpose.

NOTE
I have a letter from *****993 Corporal White, of the Fire Section Sharjah who was the Hon., Secretary of 9147 0n 23rd July 1967.

  Hi Adrian.
I can't claim any connection to lodge 9147 but I do have a lodge jewel that belonged to ' Bro. George. H. Sanderson initiated 30.3.61'. Do you or any of your contributors know anything about George? I started collecting items connected with UAE military history after spending 8 years in Abu Dhabi working at Al Mafraq Hospital. Kind regards,
Andrew.

  Thanks Andrew,
I am looking for any information in connection with Aero Trucial Lodge. Sorry, I don't know anything about George Saunderson as yet. It will take time before people discover this page and perhaps then something will turn up.
Adrian.

THIS PINCHED FROM THE RAOB http://groups.msn.com/THERAOB/theraobclassifieds.msnw
Unfortunately the MSM service has been discontinued, 
If you know Mike PHP Please ask him to get in contact.


Brethren,
Over the Easter weekend I had a visit from a Brother who resides in Berlin, 
he presented me with his jewells from the Order. He is certain the he would 
never use them again as the Berlin Province has long gone and although 
there are Buffs in Berlin, finding a venue for a lodge has unfortunately not 
been a success.

The Brothers name is Albert (Jock) McGhee and apart from buffing in Berlin 
before that he was in the Trucial Oman states where he did some more Buffing.

The real reason I am submitting this e-mail is to air the jewells, thier Lodges 
and dates and hopefully bring back memories of other Buffs who can remember 
or were members of the Lodge or the Berlin Province.

1. Aero Trucial Lodge no 9147 RAOB Centenary Jewell 1866 -1966 
accompanied by a Explanatory Leaflet on the origin and design of the 
Centenary jewell, written by Bro W. A. Mackay K.O.M.

2.Oman Khunja Branch No 133 of the Overseas Buffaloes Association.

3. Aero Trucial Lodge 9147 - Lodge Jewell.

4. Red Circle Lodge No 8820 -Lodge Jewell - Berlin Province

5. Berlin Province Jewell -1961.


A unusual assortment of jewells I agree but surely worthy of an airing and the 
bringing back of some memories.

Yours
fraternaly
Mike PHP

The medal he describes is illustrated at the top of this page
KNOWN SHARJAH BUFFS
Al QASSIMI Mohammed, Sheikh
BARING-GOULD Michael BRO Deg
BILLINGHAM Mike PRIM Deg
CLAPHAM Peter PRIM Deg
DAOUD Ick (Doctor)
HANNA Adrian PRIM Deg
MANDODY Harris (Doctor)
MacKAY W. A. KOM Deg
McGHEE Albert (Jock)
POWELL Stuart PRIM now ROH. PPGP
SWAITHE David
TRATTLE Stanley A PRIM Deg
TUBBENHAUER Tony ( Can be contacted through me at Sixgolds ) Anzac 1941
WAIN Gerry PRIM Deg Works Engineer. (deceased)
WHITE Corporal Fire Section PRIM Deg
ACTUARIES

LIST OF SHARJAH ACTUARIES INDICES, 152 sqdn Sharjah, 152 Sqdn, 152 Sqn 1963, 152 Sqn, 152 Squadron Sharjah, 152 Squadron, 208 sqdn Sharjah, 208 Sqdn, 208 Sqn 1964 208 Sqn, 208 Squadron Sharjah, 208 Squadron, 210 Sqdn Sharjah, 210 Sqn, 210 Squadron Sharjah, 210 Squadron, 213 Sqdn, 213 Sqn (Jul 1961) 213 Sqn, 213 Squadron Sharjah, 213 Squadron, 213sqdn Sharjah, 244 sqdn Sharjah, 244 Sqdn, 244 Sqn 1944, 244 Sqn Sharjah 244 Sqn, 244 Squadron Sharjah, 244 Squadron, 249 Sqn (Jul - Oct 1957) 284 sqdn Sharjah, 284 Sqn, 294 sqdn Sharjah, 294 Sqdn, 294 Sqdn, 294 Sqn (Jun 1945 - Apr 1946) 294 Sqn, 294 Squadron Sharjah, 294 Squadron Sharjah, 294 Squadron, 294 Squadron, 6 sqdn Sharjah, 6 Sqdn, 6 Sqn, 6 Squadron Sharjah, 6 Squadron, 60 sqdn Sharjah, 60 Sqdn, 60 Sqn Sharjah, 60 Sqn, 60 Squadron Sharjah, 60 Squadron, 680 sqdn Sharjah, 680 Sqdn, 680 Sqn (Feb 1945 - Jul 1946) 680 Sqn, 680 Squadron Sharjah, 680 Squadron, 683 sqdn Sharjah, 683 Sqdn, 683 Sqn (Jun - Nov 1953) 683 Sqn, 683 Squadron Sharjah, 683 Squadron, 73 sqdn Sharjah, 73 Sqdn, 73 Sqn (Jan - Mar 1954, Jul 1954 - Mar 1955) 73 Sqn, 73 Squadron Sharjah, 73 Squadron, 78 Sqn, 78 Squadron Sharjah, 78 Squadron Sharjah, 78 Squadron, 8 sqdn Sharjah, 8 Sqdn, 8 Sqn 1961, 8 Sqn, 8 Squadron Sharjah, 8 Squadron, 84 Sqdn, 84 Sqn Sharjah 84 Sqn, 84 Squadron Sharjah, 88 sqdn Sharjah, 88 Sqdn, 88 Sqn Jul 1961, 88 Sqn, 88 Squadron Sharjah, 88 Squadron, BFPO 64 Sharjah, BFPO 64, No 44 Staging Post, RAF Sharjah International, RAF Sharjah, Royal Air Force Sharjah. 'S' Sqn Sep 1939, S. Squadron, Search & Rescue Dept Sharjah Search & Rescue section Sharjah, Search & Rescue Sharjah, Sharjah 1945, Sharjah Closed 1971, Sharjah International, Sharjah Opened 1932, Sharjah Raised to RAF Station status 1945, War time Sharjah, AHQ Levant Communication Flt, END LIST OF SHARJAH ACTUARIES INDICES.

The Grand Seal of the RAOB

Note the "all seeing eye", a symbol of the all-knowing God, watching over all of us!
This is alleged to be the "Eye of Horus" by fundamentalists out to cause trouble. The Freemasons use a very similar eye as do many other organisations world-wide. The aims of the Order are 1. To promote friendship. 2. Assist Brethren in need. 3. Support widows and orphans. 4. To support desirable philanthropic and charitable objectives. There are no other agendas hidden or otherwise. It is interesting to note that a person of any faith can join the RAOB providing he abides by the rules of the State in which he resides.


RAOB GRAND SEAL dated ≈ 1866

ABSENT BRETHREN TOAST  
Spirit of Thruth, before we homeward wend,
On thee we call:
Assist each to succour and defend
Good Brethren all.
From cares and sorrows, Absent Brethren free,
Where’er they roam, in air, on land or sea.
Let thy kind spirit hover round them now,
And so enthral:
That they will keep their obligation vow,
So say we all.
And when at last the ivy leaves descend
Grant we may join Thy link, our Brother's Friend.


Absent Berthren a safe and speedy return.
From the 1962 Rule Book
There is a music file attached to this page of the tune to accompany the A.B. Toast.
To play it you must wait until the background music has stopped then click on the
words which follow... Absent Brethren   Those words.

The tune for you musical BUFFS is "Lead, Kindly Light." and can be found
in the 5th Edition of the Church Hymnal, (full music edition)
Written by C.H. Purday (1799 - 1885) Sandon, the second tune.
You can save this tune as it is now Public Domain.
IMPERIALAIRWAYS
1st March, 1940 The Hannibal, a four engine biplane type HP42, G-AAGX, Imperial Airways vanished without trace while on route from Jask to Sharjah over the Gulf of Oman. The four crew members and four passengers were lost without trace.  Requiescat
There is an unconfirmed report that an unidentified aircraft was located by a diver during 1965 close to shore near Sharjah in less than 50 feet of water. This was not followed up at the time.


Adrian,
Found your page sixgolds.com/sharjah.htm as part of my continuing search for info on G-AAGX Hannibal.

Interesting that Hannibal and RAOB appear together. My Dad was a brother, served with Cable & Wireless in Sharjah 1975-1977, was very active with RAF Muharraq Lodge, 1971, when the lodge organized a visit by orphan children from England for Christmas. I am not sure if he was active in Sharjah as there was certainly not an RAF based lodge to continue the tradition. Brian Hobby, Buff to 1995.

Also certainly interested in any recollections, hints, rumours in the resolution of the mystery of Hannibal. Particularly of those with mountain rescue experience based on Sharjah. Met a chap in Sharjah who was involved with the Sterling Caravelle incident. Who knows what there is in the collective memories.
Regards,

  Richard,
Many thanks for the information,. I know nothing regarding Sterling Caravelle incident,. I am not surprised as the rapid changeover of personnel means that the memories are short lived.
To visit the Hannibal web page:-
www.Rrhobby.ca/Hannibal/flight_cw197.htm {Copy and paste this into your address line}

ANZAC BISCUITS, Symbolising the enduring spirit of the Australian and New Zeland men and women the humble ANZAC Biscuit assumed an increasingly important role as WWI dragged on. Baked by the women at home from the only ingredients then available, played a vital rolein uplifting the morale of the soldiers.
Today, almost 100 years later, the ANZAC biscuit is helping to raise funds for both the Commonwealth and British veterans. Whenever you buy a packet of these biscuits a contribution is made to the Royal British Legion by Unibic. They are available in most good shops and taste great for such an old recipe.
Visit the RBL COMBER web-page the link is at the bottom of this page.

STAMPS of the TRUCIAL STATES

Note the face of the Sheikh has been overprinted.
6 in set

A rose from Sam McCready of my home town.
6 in set

A ladybird.
6 in set

An attachment set of three stamps Congress of 1966 Munich.
2 in set

  "When I was a boy Old Shep was my dog
we grew up together and played" ... Sung By Elvis P.
That record was played so frequently on Sharjah Forces Radio that Wing Commander Tom Sheppard the Officer Commanding RAF Sharjah cracked and gave an order banning the blooming thing from the airways. That's the only time I have ever known him to be fazed by anything.
I did a stint on Radio Sharjah, Record Roulette and Record Roundup, and I will state here and now I also hated that blooming record. The top 20 records of the day were kept locked in a box for Stuart Redgrave's Top 20 show, we the ordinary grunts had to make do with the older non top 20 disks. The most important record of that period was Ketty Lester's - "Love Letters" which meant so much to "So few". That old NAFFI piano spoke volumes which words cannot express, loved by the "old hands" still serving in the RAF.
This was followed by Trini Lopez's "The more I see You" from the Diamond Horseshoe (1945). Don't forget Smokestack Lightning" by Howlin' Wolf 1956 blues song
Radio Sharjah that brings back many fond memories with records such as ..... Ike Turner before he hooked up with Tina. Bill Haley, Joe Brown, Everly Bros, Shadows, Don Rennie, Doris Day, Dearn Martin, Judy Garland, The Mudlarks, Des O'Connor, Buddy Holly, Hank Williams, The Drifters, Cliff Richards, Jonny Cash, Jim Reeves, Billy Fury, Jonny Kidd, Lonny Donegan, Jimmy Page, Ottlie Patterson, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, Ray Charles just to mention a few.
The Americans and the British expats of Sharjah, Dubai and other towns would ring me up while I was on air and ask me to play it again. I tried to hotwire the telephone to the transmitter so I could have a 'Phone in programme, big failure, too much RF feedback. Sharjah was a family of international friends bonded by the radio and good music, or not as the case may be. David Jacobs of the BBC gave Radio Sharjah a mention and he played "Here comes the Sun", just for me, but really it was for all the lads of Radio Sharjah.


Sharjah was flooded in February 1961 and 1963 and yet again again during 1966. Harry Tue and myself were in the landrover heading back from Dubai when the rain hit us. I have been in bad downpours but this on really hit us hard. It was impossible to see and we stopped just in case we drove into a wadi. Within seconds the water on what appeared to be an almost flat desert was several inches deep and in places it was flowing at tremendous speed. This danger was compounded by severe lightening and it was simply good luck that the landrover wasn't struck. When the rain stopped we had a long crawl in low gear back to Sharjah. As you can see from the picture the landrover had no top fitted and that was the first time in six months I had a fresh water shower. The 1961 downpour stopped all flying for 3 or four days, The '66 flood had little effect except too settle the dust.

Sheikh Rabbi (or is it Rabby ?) the best Goldsmith in Sharjah ( taken 1966 ). Just opposite his workshop was the best Curry and Kebab shack in the entire Middle East all cooked on oil drums full of red hot charcoal.
Sheikh Rabby made you feel most welcome with a glass of hot tea as you watched him converting gold into jewellery. He used British Sovereigns as his base material. Many thanks to Ivor Browne for sending me the picture on the right, ( taken 1963 ).

Remember Pat Devlin (Frank) from the Fire Section and the trip he took into the sky hanging onto the fire hose while attempting to put a fire out in a traditional Bedouin shack, (baroostie, barasti or an Al Arish) in Sharjah. His assistant turned the pump on full, silly thing to do,
I think it was Frank who rode the donkey into the mess (Kunja Club) smashing the glass door on St Patrick's night.

Oh Yes there were girls out there all you needed to know was the correct place to look. This lady was Secretary to the "Political Agent" (David Roberts1966 - 1968) of the period looking after British Interests within the Trucial Oman States. A great cook whenever her bodyguard would let her into the kitchen to actually cook. For a "Dry State" you should see the vast selection of great wine she kept in her wine cellar.
Picture taken on Khor Fakkan Beach.

This is a picture taken of the Astra open air cinema screen taken from the swimming pool. Whenever Tom and Jerry cartoons started and Fred Quimby's name came up during the titles the entire audience would shout at the top of their voices "Hello Fred". I don't know why we did this but it seemed OK at the time.
The object hanging from my neck is an arrowhead which I found in a cave in the Hajar Mountains, unfortunately it was stolen from me.
There are a few pictures of the cinema which was wrecked during the great storm of 1963 further down this page. This picture was taken during 1967 when the damage was repaired.

A few of the Christian Missionaries working in Sharjah.
These missionaries opened a maternity hospital during 1966 which still continues to operate to this day. Some of them were American, Lebanese and Irish together with support from the various other agencies including the RAOB, Royal Air Force and the Trucial Oman Scouts. The land was given by His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. I am proud to have assisted in a small way in helping to get the hospital operational. I was an X-Ray Engineer by trade, slightly redundant as we did not yet have an X-Ray machine to install or service, so I kept busy servicing other bits and pieces. Now the UAE has an organisation called "The Gulf Radiological Society," how things have changed.
 
UPDATE 5th September 2008
From R T Dear Adrian,
I have been doing some work over the summer and can now identify the ladies in the photograph.
Lady in light blue shirt, American Nurse (Joan Davenport) -  RT
Lady with silver hair, American nurse (Edna Barter) -  RT
Lady in dark blue shirt with buttons, American Nurse (Marion Willits) -  RT
Chap in brown shirt Medical Doctor probably British Army (Major) seconded to TOS -   AH
Myself beside the nurse with buttons. -   AH
Roger ???Brent??? in white shirt. -   AH
???Colin??? Medical nurse from RAF Sharjah in dark glasses. -   AH
Perhaps someone else will come up with the full name of the people in this picture.

A picture of the Old Hospital now fully restored. This was kindly sent to me by R.T.
Dr Sarah Hosmon worked for the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions, USA. and she wrote an interesting article which can be found at:- http://www.ibpfm.org/
She worked in many places on the Arabian Peninsula, Saham on the Oman Coast and Muscat, She eventually came to Sharjah at the request of the Sheikh who gave her a splendid house which was quite sufficient for her needs. The Sheikh was a person who cared for his subjects and through the work of Dr Hosmon was able to provide it.
If memory serves me there were some palm shelters ( barasti ) built up against the walls in those far off days.

Dear Adrian
I am a researcher living in the UAE. I have had a look at your web page "RAF Sharjah RAOB Memories". On it there is a photograph of "a few of the Christian missionaries working in Sharjah". I am researching the history of the Sharjah Maternity Hospital which was set up by this group. The lady with the grey hair in the centre of the picture is, I believe, Sarah Hosmon, the American missionary doctor who was instrumental in establishing the hospital. The lady in the blue shirt is one of the nurses.
The mission hospital provided a much needed service which was also much appreciated at the time, but not well publicised today (in fact almost unknown). I'm hoping that my research will correct that view. If you have any other reminiscences about the hospital and about Sarah Hosmon, I would like to hear about them.
R. T.

Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Hospital. The first director was a Dr MacKolly, a sergeant in the British Royal Air Force.
The name is probably McCauley, if he were a Doctor he would have been an officer not below the rank of Flight Lieutenant. (Disambiguation / clarification required)

Dear R.T.,
It has been a long time since my Sharjah days,... Days which I recall dimly through the mists of time. Many of the names I have long forgotten and it was good to be reminded of Sarah Hosmon's. Thank you. I know only about Sarah Hosmon as her memory was much revered in connection with the hospital and by other missionaries in the Emirates.
She was a dedicated and very kindly lady working for the women of Sharjah and Dubai. Dr Sarah Hosmon, unfortunately, died a few years before this picture was taken, the lady in this picture could possibly be Marion Willits, but I just can't remember. The picture was taken during 1967 and Dr Hosmon died in 1964.
There is an interesting and almost unbelievable story about Dr Hosmons arrival at Sharjah. Her ship took her close to shore, she then had to get into a small row boat. The row boat stopped some distance from the shore and she had to get out and wade through the sea to reach dry land. She had to do this carrying everything she needed for her work. Sharjah Creek was infested with sea snakes and stone fish. The unbelievable part about this story is that she had only one leg, she was an elderly lady and it took guts and fortitude which would have defeated a younger person in good health.
Dr Hosmon received assistance from the Royal Air Force, the RAOB (Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes) the TOS and the British Army.
There were other Christians working in Sharjah and many were Indian Christians who worked in the Maternity Hospital. They also deserve a mention in your researches. There were others ... one a Missionary from the Lebanon, what a character he was, loved shooting with a catapult. This picture was taken on the upper floor of the missionary accomodation house. If anyone knows this characters name please let me know.
Regarding the photograph(s) they were taken using a Kodak Instamatic camera and developed by hand without temperature control, therefore the images are very poor quality regardless of resolution. However they do help to establish the fact that a band of Missionaries were still there working for the good of the ladies of the Emirates during 1967.
Kindest regards
Adrian

Harry Tue the Church Organist for RAF Sharjah. Note the diving platform.
Harry also played for the missionaries at their base in Sharjah.

The organ which the missionaries owned was made out of very dark wood which was elaborately carved. However it was very warped and rocked wildly whenever it was pumped. The foot pedals were very stiff to operate and the organ needed to be wedged to keep it still while being played. It was also a little out of tune but still worth having. Even with the wedges in place someone needed to hold the organ to help stop the rocking and the organ moving slowly across the floor away from the organist. I think the organ came from India, probably a relic left by someone from the British Raj which was considered too old to bring back to Britain. Nonetheless it was put to good use and much good and hearty singing could be heard accompanied by the strangled strains coming from this old but faithful organ.

Harry introduced me to the OC of the TOS which was a very good thing for the desert rescue service as he gave us unlimited use of the horses, they could go into places the landrover could not reach.
If you fell off in the desert it cost you a crate of beer to recover the horse. Needless to say the only person who had to cough up was a 2nd Lieutenant from the TOS. This is a photograph of the TOS on parade kindly sent in by Ivor Browne who holds the copyright. These are magnificent animals. The only problem using them on long distance patrols is that arrangements needed to be made well in advance to have the horses taken to the patrol area. This was done for us by the stable lads from the fort and we would rendezvous with them at the location. This proved to be unworkable in practice and we soon gave up on the idea. It is better to flog a landrover than to try and make a dead horse drink.
One evening I was riding at the fort when a stable boy crept up behind the horse and banged a steel can with a stick. The horse reared up and attempted to bolt. I quickly regained control and after a few minutes dismounted and walked the horse back to the stables.
I gave the horse to the Head Groom and he noticed the horse was still slightly spooked and asked me why. I simply explained what happened, the stable lad ended up working in the kitchen and lost all the perks which he would have received, just for being an idiot

You have probably noticed that this was during the religious period of my life when I was toying with the idea of studying for the Ministry and becoming a Missionary or Padre in the RAF. However it was not to be as a Missionary in Dubai sent out such confusing messages I gave up on the idea. It is one thing to hold prayer meetings and other acts of worship in private houses, There was a clear understanding with the local Sheikh that we could worship as we pleased but not prostelatize the locals. However, it is another thing for a Missionary to break this understanding, if the Sheikh had discovered this they would have been thrown out of the country, bringing to a halt all the good work the others had been doing for many years.
Regardless of how a Christian feels about saving the eternal souls of people of other faiths it is essential to remember why you were permitted to work in that country. The good that the medical missionaries were doing could be placed in jeopardy by Christian religious fanatic's. True faith is not measured in the number of souls saved but in the example demonstrated by a Christian's way of life and not Bible thumping. To prostelatize Moslem's (Muslim's) by breaking faith with the Sheikh is not the act of a true Christian regardless of how they feel, it is breaking your word. I say this because a Missionary from Ireland was actively attempting to convert Arabs against the express wishes of the Sheikh. He was also totally wrong regarding many other aspects of Christianity, and would not listen, and worked to his own agenda. I became so disillusioned by this character that I stopped associating with him as he had the potential to do great harm, destroy the good efforts of the others.

Ivor Brown
I would like to thank Ivor for the photographs he has sent to me, they make the story of Sharjah come back to life again.

P.J. Clarke, at Sharjah Creek. PJ was a great photographer and member of the Camera Club. Taken 11th November 1966.

The battered old Landrover which we used for both operational and recreational purposes often to the Hajar Mountains and Khor Fakkan for a bit of mountain walking. Some of the trips took us out to Jebel Akhdar Mountain where there had been fighting a few years earlier we usually packed a 303 and a Sterling, just in case.
Thankfully during my stay at Sharjah we were supplied with a nice new bright red landrover for recreational purposes only. The old Rover was then used for desert rescue operations and training exercises and trips out to the rifle range, which was better than the back of the three ton truck.
I think the Sheikh donated the red Landrover by way of thanks to the RAF for rescuing one of his subjects. I was not at the handover ceremony so I can't confirm this. This hand-over ceremony would have been an Officer only affair, not for the likes of us. It could also have been supplied by another organisation such as NAFFI of Salvation Army I just don't know. Whatever conditions it was given under it could not be used as a military vehicle and was for recreation purposes only.
This red landrover was very popular for trips to Dubai and round the local area and as far as I am aware it never crossed the peninsula, as a result it was in constant use with a long booking list. I did not mind this as I was happy enough with the smaller landrover with the fridge mounted in the back.

Sorry, I can't remember this chaps name but he had a very famous sister who used a stage name which only confuses the issue. Another clue is that he broke his finger when diving into the swimming pool. I believe he attended the Clapton Park Comprehensive School in Hackney. He is sitting next to me in the landrover. Ron ???? Helen Shapiro

This is a Policeman from Sharjah not the big chap who arrested me.
Abbas Abd al Aziz (Abby) was only about 5ft 3ins and built from wire. ( Abby acted as one of the Palace Guards. The Sheikh was in no danger from the locals as he was well liked and respected, any possible danger came from outside Sharjah.) Abby was getting on in years but he was a tough and wise character. He acted as guide and interpreter and for a man who is supposed to be teetotal could drink us under the table.



For those of you who can't remember what day of the week it was, this should remind you.
Dr Reita Faria (Powell) who was Miss World during 1966.
I know this as her face appeared everywhere and was the cover picture on my writing paper bought from Ranjam's.
 

 

Here are some photographs of an interesting chap If you know him I will put him in contact with yourself.

Another interesting chap some of you will know. Bob Lucas (RON) Joined the RAF transferred to the Parachute Regiment and ended up in the Radfan at the same time, or shortly before I was at Sharjah. He also did a spell on RAF Gan. His 65th birthday is coming up on the 6th December, He then gets his OA pension and free rides on the train.
This picture was taken by the Newtownards Chronicle during the wreath laying at Comber Cenotaph on 11-11-2008.
This is the first time he has attended the Armistice Parade and laid a wreath on behalf of the RAF. I was with him and a dear old lady Alice Lappin who actually placed the wreath. There is a photograph of Alice and myself at a previous ceremony.   ROYAL BRITISH LEGION

I hope that Alice and Bob are spared to commemorate the RAF for years to come.
It is interesting to note that Bob still runs Marathons.   He once played for Torquay United.

This is a photograph of Peter Clapham who sojourned in Sharjah during 1963. Peter was a member of the RAOB and was a close friend of Ivor Browne. They travelled together from RAF Innsworth while getting kitted out with our KD, travelled out together and returned all the way, he getting off at Limavady Junction.
Photograph copyright Ivor Browne.



CHIT CHAT
No names of contributors published unless requested

It's not a bad idea to have your name published as there may be people out there wanting to get in contact with you.
If a contact is requested I will ask the recipient if he wishes to reply first.

16th December 2008
Hi Adrian,
My name is Bob Thomson. I currently live in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was very interested to come across your site whilst surfing the net.
What attracted my eye was a passage by Mike Billingham CP. He referred to a young lad called Bob --- that is me. We bunked in the same billet on the 22TSU lines. Yes I was a member of the lodge as well. I did indeed send a notice of the appeal for soft toys to my father the late Ron Thomson ROH PPGP Bournemouth& Dist PGL. He in turn passed it on to his brother-in-law the late Leslie Marshall ROH, Pride of Saffron Lodge, Saffron Walden, Essex. Before we knew what had happened it had been referred to an AQM either at RAF Lyneham or Brize Norton, I cant remember which, however the AQM mentioned it to his Wing Commander, who enthused about the appeal and promptly got permission to airfreight the lot to sharjah via Muharraq. The appeal was a great success.

Gerry Wain, yes I remember him well, especially the trip he took Mike and I on to the Sheik's Summer Palace and racing stables in the desert. I still have photos of the place and Gerry Wain with mike and myself.
I was posted to 22TSU in October '68 and soon became a member of the Aero Trucial Lodge, having been recently initiated in the UK by my father in the Louis Wood Lodge 9032. Mike Billingham went on to give me instruction for my intermediate certificate and eventually inducted me to CP. I rose thru the ranks and my highlight was being made PGP Auckland Provincial Grand Lodge (GLNZ) in 1994.
One memorable incident I recall on 22TSU was the day we went out on "exercise" down the old road to Abu Dhabi. Our boss, a very young F/Officer decided we should do some camouflage exercises to see how well we could perform. The landrover and crew that were to go "under cover" were given a 10 minute start and the chase crew also in lwbs were to find them. After many hours of chasing around the bondu in LWB Landrovers and many many circles in salt pans, we eventually found an abandoned RAF LWB by the sea shore. Absolutely astounded at this our "boss" summonsed the crew out of the cool sea and asked them what they thought they were doing when this was supposed to be a camouflage exercise. To his astonishment and our (the plebs) enjoyment, the answer he got was " We were tired of playing your stupid F#$*ing games sir so we decided to cool off. This led to all the crews and the boss cooling of in the sea.
I remember Gerry Dowden for he was a great friend of my late father.
Rather than bore you any more I will close but should you wish them I have some Photos of the time 68-69 of the storm in the "winter" of 69, of 22tsu and of mike and also memorabilia of the lodge
Bob Thomson (SAC Rtd !) ROH, PPGP Auckland NZ.

P.S. Should you be able to get in contact with Mike Billingham could you please give him my e-mail address

FROM Ivor Browne 14 November, 2008
I was stationed at Sharjah 1962/63 whilst serving in the RAF.   I see now what I missed at Sharjah and what surprises me most from your site is that in the list of names of Sharjah Buffs is one Peter (Pete) Clapham. He and I met up at RAF Innsworth and, travelled out together.
As I said, I was there 62/63 and worked in SHQ- if I recall Signals was just round the corner. Those were the days of the wind-up telephones which really bemused me when I saw then first. Was pretty friendly with the RE guys who run the BFPO so had plenty of trips to Dubai and down Khan Creek for swimming in their very old landrover. Was actually taught to drive by the TOS (still have the certificate) which was a help when a few of us went to Mumbers and took off on safari. I haven't thought of the place for years but when I started writing my notes I realised what a good time it was and the great guys I met. Was saying to my wife the other day that ALL kids should have a spell in the service. Don't know what they are missing. Last year my wife and I went over to Edinburgh and were visiting Rosslyn Chapel when I met a chap who was there to conduct a Templar funeral for one of there own. We started chatting and it turned out that he was the Accounts Officer for two months of my time in Sharjah. As we had both changed physically, didn't recognise each other. Anyway, you might have some of these but hope they stir the blood.
Ivor Browne

Sent: Friday, 14 November, 2008 11:55:05 PM
Subject: Re: Sharjah RAOB
Many thanks for your E-Mail, it was good to receive it. I always am glad to receive a Sharjah Contact. Sharjah for me was the best time of my life, even though I was away from home and family.
Kindest Regards
Adrian.


©: Ivor Browne. Beverly over Hawker Hunters Sharjah 1962/63


©: Ivor Browne. Fire Engine outside accomodation block1962/63
Five years later the dangerous manhole cover was still there outside the Mess Hall, this probably
accounted for more casualties and wrecked vehicles than the entire Buraimi War.
Note the wag hanging off the back of the Fire Engine.

©: Ivor Browne. The old Signals HQ building of previous years.
By the time I arrived 1967 it had a change of use.
Ram-Jam was given a room for his hairdressing business.
222 Signal Squadron REME, were given a recreation room in the old telephone exchange and they had it redocorated with black, green and dark red paint. The Squadorn logo was painted on the wall with mercury standing on a barrel of beer, this was overpainted when their CO went ballistic.
The Communications Centre was moved to a custom designed building some distance away and the wind up telephones were replaced with modern ones.
Once again "IB" many thanks for the photographs I had to reduce the height of the Beverly to make it fit the Web Page

THE BIG STORM
Sharjah is prone to the occasional violent storm accompanied with severe flooding. On this occasion back in 1963 the winds were so severe that the roofs were ripped off buildings and even the walls were cracked such was the violence. Take a look at the building just beyond the big truck you can see two severe cracks in the wall, it was obviously on the verge of collapse. The buildings were thrown up quickly and as cheaply as possible, this could have cost the lives of servicemen. This picture is of the MT section and the men were fortunate that there were no serious casualties.

©: Ivor Browne. ... The Astra cinema did not escape the wind wrecked the chairs and blew the top off the wall. This was rebuilt with coping stones to help make it more secure, as can be seen in the picture further up the page. The roof appear to have been blown off the projection house. This would have been a severe blow to the spirits of the men as the Astra was the only place for entertainment on the base.
There was storm during 1967 which was accompanied with severe lightening. Many of the buildings were constructed from aluminium sheet which attracted the lightning. While those inside were comparatively safe those outside were in danger of the strike flashing from building to building.
©: Ivor Browne. ... A view of the cinema from slightly further away. The entire area was flooded and really looks a mess. I would suggest that the Astra was back in full operation a few days later if everyone mucked in together to tidy the place up. This is providing the projectors and sound amplifiers were undamaged.
  I remember that we had to carry cushions when going to the flicks, the seats being so hard. Seeing all those guys heading to a show with pillows under their arms was really freaky. That cinemas put on a few CSE shows during my year there, the most memorable being Bob Monkhouse and Tommy Cooper who had to deal with two well-oiled paras-and did too. Ivor.
  Great pictures Ivor, I'm sure memories will come flooding back when the lads see them. Many thanks for your help in bringing those memories back, your efforts to help with this page is greatly appreciated. Adrian

Dear Adrian
Came across your sixgolds site whan I was looking for more info on Eric Tulloch and Gerry Waine. I knew both from my early days in Dubai. I last saw Gerry a few days before he passed away suddenly. He was still working at 80 plus and nine parts blind. His driver took him everywhere.
These characters made a major contribution to Dubai's development.
I enjoyed reading some of the stories on your site. I used to play squash at the "barracks" near the old airport. I was there the night the last servicemen flew out. An old school friend was the Captain of the RAF VC10.
I have established a website about Dubai in the Old Days and wondered if you would permit me to post some extracts from your site on my website. I would show you the website page before publishing for your approval or otherwise plus I would include an acknowledgement and a link to your site.
I am in the process of updating my site but you can see the current site here
www.dubaiasitusedtobe.com Copy this to your address line.
Kind regards
Len Chapman

Thanks for the contact Len, I have no objection to you copying sections of this page. The more information we can patch together will go a long way to making the history of the UAE come alive again.
Adrian

  by Gerry Dowden
Dear Adrian,
Many thanks for your e-mail, I was in Sharjah 67-68, originally I was posted to Bahrain, was there just about three weeks or so before sent to Masirah to join 22 Tactical Signals Unit (22TSU) we airlifted everything out of there up to Sharjah where I spent the rest of my posting. I was not a member of the RAOB but find the webpage very interesting I will be reading this in depth and reminiscing those days in Sharjah, I used also to work on FRS (Forces Radio Sharjah) doing a couple of programs a week, I still have the program for Aug 1968! I noted your comments ref Freemasonry, well I went on in my later years to become a Mason here in Panama, something from which I get a tremendous amount of pleasure, if you ever make it to this Central American Paradise make sure you let me know.
Best regards
Gerry Dowden
P.S. still do a bit of broadcasting (www.on-the-radio.com)

  I surfed to the address above and listened to your podcast, the station sounds a lot more professional than Radio Sharjah. At Radio Sharjah I hot wired the telephone to the transmitter and tried to start a live chat in programme, a total failure. (RF feedback)
GERRY is still working on the Radio and he can be heard on ....
        http://www.pbcpanama.com/coolnights.html       
Just copy this into the address line and hit return.....
Join me at 8pm until 10pm Tuesdays and Thursdays on "Cool FM" (89.3) for "Cool Nights" the smoothest place on your radio dial... even smoother than a babies bottom! Any artist or piece of music you want to hear on the program, want to say "Hello", "Goodbye", "Happy Birthday"? Follow the contact link below and leave me a message, I will be happy to include it.

By Michael Green
Hi Adrian,
I remember Sharjah with affection, strangely, despite the separation from wife and children. My time was July 1969 - August 1970, so no overlap for us there.
Remember Sheik Robbi ( I think a Jock came into play here) very well, who repaid a favour with a gold ring by making another much larger new ring as a thank you.
Was never a member of the Buffs, unfortunately.
I did have a couple of MDRT excursions, but found too many members to be extremely thick and juvenile. You would not believe their technique for extricating a bogged down Landrover - a high speed snatch at the bogged-down vehicle, attached with a steel hawser. They could not understand how they managed to shear all 12 crown wheel pinion bolts! I did in fact say " I told you so" and enjoyed it.
I wonder if Sharjah and Dubai are still infected by bed bugs, which were reputedly imported from Aden with all their surplus bedding after closure/evacuation. The Aden population got their revenge in a subtle manner; perhaps the bugs have prospered, despite the modernisation and vast fortunes of the local population.
Thanks for the contact.
Regards,
Mike.

  Thankfully, I never got bogged down in the sand, we carried two reels of redundant fire hose which gave traction regardless of how bad the sand was. The high speed snatch sounds like a great method for pulling the back off the tow truck and the front end clean off the stuck vehicle. It takes a wonderfully complex mind to come up with something as daft as that.

By Tony Tubbenhaue
  Hi Adrian.
  I was just 18 when the war broke out.   I'd been born in a small NSW country town visited about once a year by an aircraft which landed on the golf course and on which ten shilling flights were available.    God knows why but I'd always wanted to fly so I saved my pennies and took a flight.    I built model aircraft and drew aircraft.     Thanks to Mr Hitler I got the chance.    I volunteered immediately,  but as a gunner.  How, I thought, could a quiet country kid hope to equal the exploits of Kingsford Smith and Hinkler.   

The lovely RAAF, in chaos I'm not sure it ever got out of, lost the application, said reapply, I did as pilot, found I was a natural, trained on Tiger Moths, then Ansons, on the Queen Mary reached Egypt, was flown to Kenya, converted to Blenheim light bombers, back to Egypt then via Palestine and Syria to Habbaniya west of Baghdad, a couple of months there flying with Communication Flight Habb's antiquated aircraft, the led the first three of 244 Squadrons clapped out Blenheims to Sharjah, arriving on April 8,1942.   

I'd arranged with the other pilots that we'd give the camp a good beatup.    We did, shaking the tents with our slipstreams, landed, taxied in, shut down, only to be greeted by the region's AOC who'd flown on ahead of us.    We expected a real bollocking but,probably remembering his youth, he just grinned and welcomed us. **** Sharjah was a shock.    Tents, searing heat, poor food, aircraft that had had the guts beaten out of them over Europe.    There were also a couple of ancient Vincents there, used for carting things and people around.    Big biplanes, slow but great for getting into and out of tight spots, I soon was flying those too going into and out of small emergency strips along the Arabian Sea's coast.     244's job was to keep the enemy submarines off the ships bringing Lend Lease war supplies destined for southern Russia to Basra.  

With my crew of two Aussies, Gordon and Bill, I'd climb aboard a Blenheim that had been standing in the sun in 50 degree heat.     The aircraft thermometers were always hard against the stops.   I'd have flown bare chested but the parachute buckles were too hot for that.     Guess what was the first thing on board.     Parachutes and flight gear? Wrong.    It was the Goolie Chit.What was that?  The more remote tribes were not at all friendly.    Probably still aren't.    To enliven their dull lives, we were told, a downed airman, being an infidel, was often handed over to the ladies for their entertainment.    Airman's choice or ladies choice, well I don't know but it consisted of either slitting the guy's belly and dropping in hot stones of which there was a plentiful supply or rolling his testicles between two of them until they popped.    Now you see why the Chit, which was printed on both sides and bore photos of local dignitaries and the promise of a bag of gold to anyone who returned the airman to the loving arms of the RAF, goolies intact, went on board first.  None of us had ambitions of singing soprano in a church choir if we were ever back in normal life again.    I have an idea that the correct spelling may be ‘ghuli’ but in Oz, probably imported by WW1 service guys returning from the Middle East,’goolie’ is another word for stone.
Tony.

  Lovely report Tony. Sorry, I don't yet know your antomymic name ( nickname, to confuse enemy listening stations ) your were known by ..... (probably "Tubby" ).     Brian Trubshaw (Concord) also used Tubby, If I'm correct, you're in good company. You can always correct me....
I'm sorry to disillusion you about the bag of gold to pay for your safe return.... The bag of gold would be a whip round of the various mess halls to collect from the Servicemen. That is providing we received information that the downed Pilot was still alive and being held captive. Most likely every available aircraft would head out towards where the Pilot was held captive and buzz the place. Next to arrive would be a motley collection of landrovers and motorcycles armed to the teeth just itching for a good fire-fight.
In my time we would listen on the radio for the Sarbe beacon and home in on it. If the Pilot was able to walk they were told to get as far away from habitation as possible and just wait for rescue. .......and don't shoot off the flares, .... they cost money you know.

The winged boot or flying boot. This was not an official award.
I don't remember if we had a Marine Craft Unit at Sharjah, probably not, so if you plopped into the drink you were in for a long swim. Sharjah Creek next to the airfield would have been the ideal place to operate from. This is a badge earned by men who were rescued from the desert or who walked back to base after parking their aircraft in a remote un-designated zone. Many pilots would later succumb to blood poisoning after their C/O stuck the pin into flesh rather than the uniform.

  By Tony Tubbenhaue
PART 2
A typical operational flight went like this. Taken to our aircraft which, standing in the sun, was hot enough to fry eggs on its metal surfaces, I'd do a walk-around to see there were no bits missing, we'd have our ritual good luck pee on a main tyre, clamber aboard, get settled, I'd fire up the two engines, taxi out, do my cockpit drill and line up, check that Gordon and Bill were ready and ease the the throttles forward and, hopefully, lift off.
As we were surrounded by ammunition, volatile fuel and sitting over a bomb bay stuffed with depth charges, the thought of losing a worn motor when just airborne was something I didn't want to think about. There was a good chance of exiting this life with a big bang. Way to save funeral expenses, I guess.
I'd turn onto course and begin the climb to 7000 feet that took us over the bare black basalt mountains. As we went over the top there were some tiny villages perched on the heights, as remote as anywhere on the planet. Up there it was delightfully cool but to protect the convoy we were to meet we had to drop down to 1000 feet and into the heat. For the next 3 or 4 hours we'd circle it, watching and ready to drop our load on any submarine we spotted through the clear water.
On one such trip, ahead and below the surface I sighted a long dark shape, alerted my crew, dived, opened the bomb bay doors, slowed so the depth charges wouldn't break up as they hit the sea. Only seconds before dropping a plume of spray rose high in the air as the huge whale, probably a blue, surfaced. ****
Dust as fine as talc was one of the hazards. We'd done our time around a convoy and were approaching the Strait of Hormuz, entrance to the Gulf. Why climb over the mountains, why not set a course that took us well through the Strait and then turn left for Sharjah. Gordon figured one, handed it to me, I turned onto it. The dust got thicker. After an interval he handed me the next course. I turned onto that, settled. The dust thinned slightly. Suddenly, dead ahead there reared a sheer black cliff. Wrenching on the controls and ramming both throttles wide, I stood the Blenheim on its side. If there'd been vegetation on that cliff we would have taken some of it home with us. We never did that again. If there was dust we went back over the top.
**** Maybe Bristol, the Blenheim makers, were being careful with taxpayers money when they decided to use Mercury engines. We probably were the only WW2 flyers who carried a choice of fuels, two grades, necessary when using the +9 lever mounted in the cockpit, irreverently dubbed by pilots ... "The Tit, there, pilots for the use of," it was for if emergency power was needed. Gave the engines extra herbs. Only catch was that we had to be sucking from the 100 octane-filled tanks, not the 87. Otherwise we'd blow the motors, hardly the idea. We hoped that the groundstaff guys had put the different fuels into the correct tanks.
**** 244 aircrew, like in most RAF Squadrons, was a mix of men from all over, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Rhodesia, Oz and of course the British Iles. We got on fine together. The Brits mostly were regular guys but there were a couple with Old School accents, who were silly enough to tell us that we were Colonials and therefore couldn’t be as good as they were. Knowing we were and possibly better, we waited for an opportunity to take the piss out of them. "Do they have fox hunting in Orstralia"? one asked in the mess. What an opportunity. "Yeah, mate" was the reply. "I say, do they wear the proper gear," to which the answer was "Sure, little red coats and all." "And do you have a hunting cry?" Yeah mate,
"TALLY HO, THERE GOES THE HAIRY BASTARD."

PART 3.
Life was filled with adventure, not even dreamed of as a young boy and would-be flier. No complaints up to now. Not an over-confident person, somehow I had decided I'd fly any aircraft that the kind RAAF and RAF would let me get my hands on. By the time I left The Mob, I'd added 18 to my log book.
At Sharjah we kept busy.Practice circuits and bumps, night flying, visiting and landing on remote emergency strips along the coast, practice bombing, air to ground firing, anti sub patrols,convoy escorts, taking aircraft to Habbaniya for maintenance that couldn't be done at Sharjah, searching for aircraft that had gone into the sea, air tests after the fitters or riggers had worked on them where I liked to take the guys who'd done the work, a guarantee of quality, taking passengers to Bahrain, carrying out an oil search inside the Gulf, landing so the expert could get out, look around, scratch his nether regions, clamber back in and go on to the next spot, even carting an appendix case to Bahrain.
June 6,10 minutes in Vincent K6359 peering over Flt.Folkhard's shoulder, then taking it by myself for an hour's solo circuits and bumps, later that day flying it to Bahrain. June 12, recce of emergency landing grounds Ras Tanura, Jubail, Abu Hadriya, Ras Mishab.June 15, Blenheim P6931, Sharjah, Muscat, Masirah Island, Salala.
Jimmy Chapple, an Aussie, killed after the war in West Australia as captain in Australias worst air crash, the Amana carrying I think 29 passengers and crew, had limped into Salalah on one fan I flew a fitter to him to try to get the engine going. Circling Salala strip, close to a long beach, we saw a good surf was running. Parking the aircraft we reckoned we must have some of that.
The RAF guys thought we were mad when we plunged in and began cracking waves. We'd cut our teeth in the surf. They were not used to it. Jimmy formated on us on the way home. Another trip took us across the corner of the Empty Quarter to Masirah. I flew low, stunned by the savagery of the country. Bare black rock, ravines a thousand feet deep. Nearly too low, slowly rising ground nearly got us like the snow did that New Zealand jet full of passengers at Mt.Erebus in Antarctica. Suddenly I realised and poured on the power and climbed. Another close one.
Tony.

PART 4.
Landing at Masirah late one afternoon I walked into a hut, found a bed. In the gloom a voice asked 'what the hell are you doing here?' A school friend I hadn't seen since 1931, he was flying Aden-India, at Masirah only overnight as I was. He and his crew were killed shortly after in India. Small world, but cruel. July 23 in a Vincent, taking dried dates to Jiwani to Indian soldiers at Gwardar.
Another trip there in a Blenheim. On final I spotted an aerial wire some idiot had strung across the approach. I should have gone around again but cursing, hurdled it, banged the Blenheim down spraining Gordon's ankle. Things sent to try us. August 2, with my birthday only days away, to Muscat in a Vincent, then Ras al Hadd, picked up 16,000 MT Dollars and delivered them to Masirah and another 18,000 on the 4th.
On the 6th, to Basra in a Blenheim, with my crew and a passenger, then to Tehran on leave. Had my 21st at I think Ahwaz in 132F heat. Overseas it doesn't pay to presume locals around you don't speak English. We travelled from the camp into the city by local bus. A monument we'd christened The Blue Prick because that was what it resembled, was our get-off spot. Someone up front spotted it, yelled out 'The Blue Prick.' Seated across from me there was a nice looking young woman. With a grin she leaned over and asked "could you please tell me the time." Red faces all round. Chatted up she revealed she was an English diplomat's daughter living in Tehran. Tehran was much enjoyed, cool, great fruit, good food. And a group of Polish Army girls who'd been evacuated through Southern Russia. All too soon we were back at Sharjah in the heat. I was at Masirah handing up tins of petrol filling the Blenheim's tanks. Two Arabs from the local village watched us. We had no common language. As an empty was handed down they pointed at it and then themselves. Thinking they would make something, I nodded yes. They grabbed one each, upended them, drank the dregs.
Back at Sharjah I was telling the guys in the mess. Duke, Brit. pilot and a regular guy (I think it was him who landed a Vincent under fire to rescue a downed crew when the Iraqis had surrounded Habbaniya), was listening. " I say, Old Boy" he said in his BBC accent " I'll bet he went home and raped his beastly woman in plus 9.I hope it was 100 octane." Tedder, an Aussie with the RAF and I think an Air Marshal, cap with much scrambled egg on it anyway, had told us in Tehran we'd be getting new aircraft. September 27, with my crew and four pilots on board, I took off for Wadi Shariah near Gaza to pick up the first of the Bisleys, Blenheim 5's.

PART 5.
We'd planned Bahrain / Shaibah / Habbaniya / Wadi Shariah / Gaza / Aquir, leave the Blenheim at Aquir, be flown back to Wadi Shariah where the Bisleys had been sitting in the sun for ages. Refueled at Bahrain, I did my cockpit drill, eased the throttles forward, was off the ground and just above the palms when the port engine cut cold. Training cut in, praying the other engine would give full power, I did a right- hand circuit and managed to get us back to earth in one piece. Bit like outback here when the station boss took Jacky up at an airshow, dived on the crowd, zoomed, said "I'll bet 50% down there filled their pants" and Jacky replied "yeah, and 50% up here too, boss."
When we got back to Wadi Shariah the strip was socked in with very low cloud. The Sergeant pilot flying us began stooging around in it below hilltop height. I didn't want us to die on a Palestinian hill. I had to pull rank to get him to abort. It was clear later. We test-flew the Bisleys with Gordon navigating and the other pilots following us and on October 4 landed back at Sharjah without further incident. On the 9th.we were off again to collect another batch. We'd been given some leave and mess funds to buy wine in Palestine. Of course we had to sample before buying.
On the 19th. in Bisley BA 524 I was standing just off the strip, motors idling, watching the others take off. They'd follow on us again. Stupidly we'd loaded all the wine bottles into one Bisley. As the last of them passed me on his takeoff run I saw his cooling gills were open and knew he wouldn't get off. Roaring down the strip he realised that too, throttled back, smoked the brakes, disappeared down the wadi, a cloud of dust shot up.
There was no smoke, I throttled up, raced down the strip to see the pilot climbing out unhurt. The Bisley was badly bent. Suddenly I realised it was the one carrying the wine. Jesus wept, I thought, how am I going to be able to tell those thirsty guys at Sharjah that their wine was soaking into the dust at Wadi Shariah.
Gingerly I clambered on board the wreck and found not a single bottle was broken. The others landed, we got another Bisley, we spread the bottles amongst all and made a successful return to Sharjah, climbing to 4000 feet a couple of hours out to cool the wine.
One more incident comes to memory. I didn't log it, wanted to forget. We'd overnighted at Muscat. The Vincent's engine- start needed someone to stand on a small step just behind the big propellor and wind a crank handle to energise, I guess, a flywheel so the pilot could mesh it with the big prop. Gordon mounted the step, wound, I did my bit, the engine fired, I throttled right back, the prop was going 'whish, whish, whish', Gordon stepped down ---- and walked through the turning prop. Unharmed. I still shudder. See:- I say below.

Our time at 244 was coming to a close. Montgomery was in the process of seeing Rommel out of North Africa. 244's CO sweet-talked us. They needed us. Instead of taking the several months break between Squadrons would we go straight on. On December 20 we were flown from Habbaniya to Cairo, because we were given no leave we got lost for a couple of days there, joined 203 Squadron RAF flying Martin Baltimores over the Med., Agean, Adriatic photoing enemy harbours and hunting submarines. Got a bollocking from the CO for getting lost too. It was worth it. I did 78 ops. flights straight off without the break. An article on the net says 76 but I've found two more. Not a single bit of the flak flying around us in the Aegean hit my aircraft. Lucky lad.
It was as well we got out of Sharjah when we did. I'm told they had 32 crashes after we left. Mostly Bisleys, I guess. We took the things there. Probably they'd have hung us --- if there'd been trees.
Tony.

  My older brother William was struck by a prop, tapped twice on the spine, took six months for him to die. Note elliptical wing shape.
The model shown above is made from solid machined aluminium (probably duralium) and resembles something from the Supermarine Co., which I can't identify. This model differs from the Type 224 as the wings are set with a slight dihedral and not gull wing design used on earlier experimental machines. Note also a fixed landing gear in fairings a feature of some aircraft before the spitfire. This was the last thing Willie made and was probably intended as a static model. It's not worth anything but as family heirloom it is priceless.

  Hi Adrian.
Forgive me if I don't remember you from R.A.F. Sharjah, although I remember well the year I spent there working in the Communication Centre from '64 to '65.
  No problem there were thousands of chaps always coming and going from Sharjah. I also worked in Coms in the PBX Section so we just missed each other by a cat's whisker. (diode to a Wop)
  I'm sure there are some names or incidents which you will be familiar with.
Big Sam the 'Rockape' fireman who didn't take kindly to getting his food threw on the plate to him by one of the Arab cooks and quickly sorted him out.
Roger the RAF policeman who kept a beautiful pet monkey.
The time we boycotted the mess, only to have the food served up a couple of days later when our local rebellion was quashed when the C.O. ordered 'Flying Kunja Club' not to serve meals.
The terrible washing facilities where you needed 'Val Soap' to lather up in the salt water shower. I could go on, but I'll leave it for another time.

 VAL SOAP I still remember that stuff, had to rinse my clothes with lemonade to get the salt out.
Drinking water was very scarse at Sharjah all washing, shaving, showering even your undies was done with that soap. Another name springs to mind, it may have been called "Vel"
Another pain was the salt tablets sitting at the mess entrance.
What were those yellow tablets for.? ... Probably antimalarial medicine.
Tape worms were a big problem for the locals. Ick Daoud showed me a worm he removed from an Arab gentleman it only just fitted into a 1 gallon sweet jar. Don't eat the local dates stick to cooked food only.

  It is interesting to know that we are near neighbours as I live in Newtownards (originally Dungannon), so if you would like to get together for a chat I would be delighted. I have spent the last hour looking at your web site and must say you have a very busy life. I spent much of my leisure time going to the mountains as well.

I don't know if you ever made contact with my good friend in Dungannon (Geoff Robinson), who was a keen Armature Radio enthusiast for years (I taught him the Morse Code for his tests). He is also a member of the local Rifle Club there, and I know he came regularly to Bangor, but not sure about Comber.

  Ron (Bob) Lucas was in the region a few years before me he was a Wop from Coms he also did a stint on RAF Gan Britains version of Alcatras.

 Your web page on Sharjah is helping me to recall long lost memories.
The swimming pool, where the water was only a degree or so cooler than the air temperature.
Driving to Ras-al-Khaimah mountains in a 3-tonner. Also riding around in a land-drover similar to the one you mentioned with one of the Armourers looking for scorpions and such. I played in the station Basketball team (bit short at 5' 8") but a big West Indian lad (Tiny Fields) and i worked in the CommCen and paled about together hence me being on the team. We played the oil men from Abu Dhabi in one tournament. I didn't believe The Trucial Oman States were supposed to be dry after that encounter!

  On a posting to Ballykelly after returning from Sharjah i met a local fellow who had just served 9 years in the Trucial Oman Scouts, but I think the sun had got to him!!!!

  The sun got to him, ... I understand, there were a lot of men who went 'walk about', driven half mad with the heat and loneliness. Not only that the stress of being constantly on patrol under desert conditions can leave some men devastated. I class these men as casualties and they should be given the maximum help just as if they had been injured in action with the dissident tribesmen. That is one reason I support the Royal British Legion in their struggle to force the Government into honouring the Covenant. (See link at bottom of page)

  The policeman was Roger Crisp another chap was Frank Knight (from the West Indies also). I went on leave to Mombasa with two other lads but for the life of me can't remember their names, I think they were in the fire section.

 I missed out on Mombers., Too much to do at Sharjah.

Forgot to mention that your mountain interests are similar to mine. A couple of years ago I went with a company called 'Himalayan Kingdoms' to Nepal and trekked the Edmund Hilary trail to Kala Pattar (Everest Base Camp). I previously done the 'Tour de Mont Blanc' which was a super trek as well as various climbs in Scotland.
William Av...,

  I don't do any foreign hills since a couple of lads from here went missing in the Gilgit region of Northern Pakistan about ten years ago. Anyway, I'm getting too old for that sort of big adventure,.. Ben Nevis is a nice gentle walk for an old "has been" like myself. Not a trace of Gordon Campbell and his friend Ian Rendall have been found since. They were probably murdered for their kit or simply because they were foreigners. Having said that there may be a perfectly simple reason for them to be missing. The area is very prone to landslides and flash flooding or they simply got lost.
I would appeal to anyone travelling in that region to make discreet enquiries about them and inform me.



Adrian
A pleasant surprise to open the link to Sharjah and in particular the Aero Trucial Lodge. I was stationed at RAF Sharjah from Nov 63 to Nov 64 and initiated into the RAOB at that Lodge during that time. I progressed, through other lodges, to KOM; however, during my first of many tours in Germany I became very disillusioned after an incident at the Lodge where I had become a member. That was back in 1977 and I have not attended a Lodge since.
Anyway, I digress. I enjoyed my 12 month tour at Sharjah because I made something of it and got involved in other things outside of my trade. (Which was Cpl RAF Police) I went to MT and obtained my 3 tonner licence so that I could take the guys on weekend trips to Ras-el-Khaimah and down to Dubai swimming. I was also a committee member for the Khunja Club. I remember Roger Crisp and Big Sam. One of the highlights was the Donkey Derby and the biggest and best donkey belonged to 'Lofty' from the Airmens Mess. Well mine was the biggest donation so I got to ride him and won. A great day.
Another memory is Sheikh Rabbi, I still have the gold ring he made for me whilst I sat and watched and drank tea.
I still have my Rehabilitation Letter that you send off to the family just prior to repat. I did 31 years in the RAF Police retiring as WO and did tours in Hong Kong, Cyprus and 15 years total in Germany but Sharjah was something special.
Regards
David Sw.......
RAF Police 1961 -1992


  Reita Faria reminded me of the Indian barbers of Sharjah who gave those relaxing and refreshing scalp massages. If you wanted to know what was happening in Sharjah or Dubai or any other place then ask these chaps they were a mine of good information.

MEMORY JOGGERS

RUSSELL's VIPER
The Russell's Viper a nasty piece of work. I was sitting in the Communications Section late one night (night shift) when I saw the cable trunking move close to where I was. I thought I was dreaming more likely hallucinating. I was soon shaken out of my stupor when the trunking bounced a couple of times which confirmed I was wide awake. I thought something was in the trunking and most probably a Russell's Viper and didn't want it in the room with me. I jumped on the trunking and crushed whatever was underneath. There was a scream and a lot of frantic scrabbling sounds as the animal made its escape. When I thought it was safe I opened the trunking and found a piece of a cat's tail and two new born kittens. The poor old moggy had just given birth in the cable trunking. SNAFU = Situation Normal all Fouled Up.

TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS
The road between Sharjah and Dubai in places is a mile wide yet the number of head on crashes has got to be seen to be believed. For some reason or other vehicles would collide head on into each other for no good reason. Many theories were put forward some more plausible than others. The best theory was because the sand turned to mud during bad weather and then dry very quickly and bake the ruts into virtual tram lines between the two towns. The locals discovered that if you let the vehicle trundle along on its own it would steer itself following the ruts between the two towns. Stick a weight on the accelerator, lie back for forty winks and you will wake up at your destination. Naturally as more and more locals discovered this trick the accident rate shot up. These days there is a fantastic motorway between the two towns and no accidents .....how boring.

BED BUGS
These nasty little creatures attacked during the night and would engorge themselves with the poor victims blood. The first line of defence was to take the metal frame of the bed outside and pour lighter fluid all over it then set it on fire. The flames were just sufficient to kill the little blighters but not hot enough to burn the paint off the metal frame. Next the mattress was taken out into the sun and thoroughly battered to remove the little pests. Methylated spirits was then sprayed over the mattress and blankets. The fresh air and heat soon got rid of the smell. The next thing was to find four dishes or tins to place under each leg of the bed these were filled with water with a dash of Old Spice or Four Seven Eleven 4711. The idea being to make a barrier which the bugs could not cross. Once the bed is returned to its place it was essential to keep it away from the walls as it was believed the perishers would crawl up the wall and hop across to the bed. All these precautions probably did not work but the act of going through this ritual probably gave some piece of mind, rather than a cure. Re infestation was probably caused by eggs surviving deep inside the mattress regardless of this treatment.
Old Spice and Four Seven Eleven (4711) were the only chemicals containing alcohol available in Sharjah at the time even though they stank to high heaven. Sick quarters were forbidden to give out bottles of surgical spirits just in case we drank it instead of putting it to proper use. So, NO, ... We RAF types are not a bunch of raving poofs.

SEA SNAKES
This creature was known to exist in Sharjah Creek, I never saw one, and have no desire to see one.

STONE FISH
This was a menace on Sharjah beach, step on one of these things and thats your entire day, ...., "ruined".

CAMEL SPIDERS .... I fell for this yarn as well. These mythical spiders were invented by someone to strike terror into "moonies" (A moonie is someone new to the Middle East whose skin is still white or pink) Their bite is not poisonous and death is not inevitable. However they can run very fast and can give a nasty nip with their crushing jaws.

METEOR
Otherwise known as a "MEATBOX". The Meteor, one of the worlds first practical jet aircraft.

AEROSOL BOMB
Spray cans are banned from aircraft and here is the reason. A certain chap who shall remain nameless dipped a rope into the petrol tank of the landrover and then tied it round a can of insect spray. Next he set fire to it and retired to a safe distance, for a few minutes he watched it, nothing happened, so he gave up and went into his hut. Just as he closed the door there was a massive explosion. The explosion echoed for several seconds and when he went outside there was a sizeable crater in the sand outside. There was a panic as people headed to the armoury to collect ..... I need tell no more, you know the rest.........

Some of the slang words used during that time, there were hundreds more but
this is all I can remember at the moment. If you can think of any just let me
know and I will add them into the list.
Don't worry about the spelling, (I don't) just get it on paper as best you can,
before it is lost forever.
Secondly this will be an eclectic mix of various languages
and perhaps is the best way to communicate internationally
at a non technical level. Eg Toki Pona.
BARKING A raving lunatic or an officer who is upset.
BARASTI A barasti is a hut or house made from palm fronds
BLIGHTY The UK
BIVVY A shelter
BINT An Arabian Lady of Class or high rank.
BLANCO Blue or white paste for belts and bags.
BRAT Boy entrant, junior man.
BUCKSHEE Free
BUMF Bad information Toilet paper.
CHAR Tea
CHOKEY Prison
COMS Communications Centre (ComCen)
GEN Good information.
GLASSHOUSE Prison
DEKKO Let me see.
DHOBI WALLA The laundry man.
DOOLALLY Mad
EMIRATI Citizens of the United Arab Emirates.
DUFF Broken
FAG Cigarette
FALOOS Money
FIZZER On a charge
FLAK The boss is upset with me
GASPER Cigarette
GREASE Butter
HAIRY An uncomfortable close encounter
IMSHI Go away
JANKERS "Punishment" Eg Peeling potatoes, washing dishes
KIFHALIC How are you?
KIP Sleep
KUNJA or Kunjah a town in Gujrat, Pakistan, Katti also means a curved Arabian knife
MAFEESH Nothing
MAFI FALOOS It will cost you ....
MOONIES White skinned, new arrival.
PRANG Crashed aircraft or car.
PUNKA Good, or Punka Sahib, good man.
PUNKAH WALLA The man who works the fan.
RAMJAM'S The camp shop and general emporium. Purveyor of the "egg banjo"
SALLY ANN Salvation Army
SNAFU Situation Normal, All Fouled Up.
TAMAM Good, moush tamam = no good.
WALLAH A person who performs a function. Eg Char Walla, the Tea Vendor.
WOP Wireless Operator, (Telegraphist)
W/Co Wing Commander, (Wing Co.,)
VAMPIRES & VENOMS
Early jet fighters and bombers.

CANBERRA Max 70,000ft altitude?????
This aircraft has been around a very long time, still operational in some countries. This aircraft had a lot of mystery and lies sorrounding it,. most if it true, ... probably.

HAWKER HUNTER

BEVERLY
This was one ugly machine and we had to sit in nets suspended from the roof. On the way from Aden to Sharjah I'll swear that we hit the top of every palm tree on the way.

ARGOSY
Much better loking than the Beverley
Do these creatures and things bring back any memories.?.... anyone!

Sharjah was a wonderful place if you respected the locals and providing you could drink the sweet tea without milk. You soon acquired a taste for it as it was better than that served in the mess. All you needed to meet the locals was a packet of cigarettes and plenty of "Salaam Ali Com and Ali Com Salaams" a few family photographs and a packet of chewing gum. I did not smoke cigarettes and never did eat chewing gum but it is essential kit when out walking or riding. Even though neither will understand a word said plenty of smiles and a positive body language always works. I always dressed properly for two reasons, 1... The sun will get you, and 2... out of respect for the locals. During those far off days we were given boxes of cigarettes for free, they came in handy for swaping, giving to locals or a bit of bribery. That was the days before fags gave you lung cancer or heart problems.
Bring the camera with you, a cheap one, something like a Kodak Instamatic not a Corfield 66 or Hassiblad you may need to swap it or give it as a gift. The sheep's eyeballs are a myth it is most likely a goat's you will be given if any. Abbas told me to always accept the gift graciously and ask/indicate that the giver should open his mouth, pop it in, throw your arms round him keeping his arms by his side, and pat his back in a friendly manner, until he swallows it. Sounds like a poof operating here ... so give him a good friendly hug until it's gone. This is their favourite tit bit and being generous enough to give it back is always better, especially for you. Abbas (Abby) the Policeman from Sharjah kept me well advised ( Arabs do have a sense of humour.) on my many trips out into the desert. He always told the folks we met that I was a personal friend of the Sheikh and that always got a result. While he gave me the advice about the eyeballs, thank goodness I never had to put his advice into practice. There must be a better yarn in there somewhere.
The traditionally cooked goat kebabs are wonderful and an Instamatic or a packet of cigarettes in exchange works out a lot cheaper than the kebabs in the Oasis Dubai. Arabian kebabs are not threaded on a skewer but are cooked in a pot with spices and herbs. Keep the good camera out of sight in your kit bag. The whirling Bedouin Dervish dance is a male only affair and if you are invited to join in do your best, do not barge in, wait to be invited. If the kids ask for bucksheesh do not give them any money until you are well away from the village otherwise they will beg everything they can from a softie or sucker. I have had these kids follow me for miles and when it is obvious they are tired and want to go home give them the money, and chase them. ( "Imshi mafeesh faloos" seemed to do the trick.)
Wandering in the traditional souks, streets covered with palm leaves to keep the sun off which makes life tolerable. The merchants are very persuasive fellows and there is lots of interesting stuff to buy. When I was there the spice shops were worth visiting the smell alone of the herbs and spices was wonderful. There are bazaars of all description and plenty of good eating places if you are prepared to go local. Kunjas were dirt cheap and were the real thing not intended for the tourist trade anyway it was long before tourists discovered the place. There were two types of Kunja one the locals stuck into their belts which looked decorative and the practical one they used everyday, and a good knife it was too. I loved a good haggle and they enjoyed taking the mickey out of me. Always walk away if the price is too high but come back later and let him make the first approach. Once they get to know you and they soon will, because they talk about you behind your back, when they decide you are not a sucker but a nice fellow you get it at the best price. Even if it takes a few days or weeks always go lower than his asking price, wear him down. When I was returning home I had four bomb boxes stuffed with bits and pieces. The RAF took some home for me but I had to pay for the rest as I was well over my quota.


At the end of a long day out in the desert miles away from the nearest city lights the sky would provide a spectacular display of stars. I remember those views as though they were yesterday, modern light pollution has rendered the stars almost invisible. Siting out in the cool of the evening and watch the stars was magical. Sometimes the heavens provided a display of shooting stars the like of which I have not seen in the forty years since.

The UAE consists of the following states. Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Qaiwain.
Khor Fakkan an enclave belonging to the Emirate of Sharjah. TOS = Trucial Oman Scouts


The Great St Patrick Debacle.
St Patrick is the patron saint of all Ireland and the Irish when abroad just love any excuse of a good knees-up.
To the Irish abroad and it matters not what religion you are or from what part of Ireland you come, if you're Irish and that's good enough.. As alcohol is strictly banned within the Emirates and was only available within the confines of the RAF base at Sharjah which was one good way of keeping it under control.
To cut a long story short alcoholic spirits was almost as cheap as the mixers you put in them. A tradition built up over many years was, 'That no drink to be left unconsumed on any of the tables to avoid temptation to the civilian employees.' If you left the party early you were to leave your bottle of spirits on the table as you were not permitted them in your room. The problem with this tradition was that those who left the party late had to consume all of the alcohol to comply with the tradition. I think perhaps these were two Station Standing Orders and not a tradition. It never occurred to any of the Irish to pour the alcohol down the sink to get rid of it, perhaps it did occur to them but being Irish we chose to ignore it and thought we knew a better way of getting rid of it, naturally the most efficient and less wasteful method is to drink it.
The evening started well and we sang every traditional neutral song we knew. Later on the Northerner's sang an Orange song which was replied to by a Southern, Green song. As both sides knew each others songs everyone was able to join in. As the night became morning a donkey shot through the main door of the Club and out through the back door which was always kept closed and vanished into the night with it's rider hanging on for dear life. This donkey was moving like an express train and seemed incapable of changing direction on the wet terrazzo floor. Tables, chairs and bodies went flying in all directions and a great cheer went up sending the donkey and it's rider off into the night.
We carried on singing and generally making merry when the donkey came back on its own and started to drink everything it could find on the tables. Naturally the Irish beer drinkers held their glasses out so that the donkey could have a drink. Naturally as it started to empty the last few glasses of beer they began to top it up with spirits. I have never known that a drunken, belligerent, alcoholic donkey could exist, but I was watching one in action. The more it drank the worse it behaved and when it could not find enough alcohol it kicked over the tables in bad temper. About twenty of the lads grabbed the donkey and wrestled it to the floor, about four to each leg to stop the kicking and the remainder to push it out of the door.
We did not know it then but this donkey was someone's pet about five years before and its owner had given it beer to drink and plied it with alcohol. It was used to being about friendly people and must have thought it was human. The poor beast was an alcoholic and knew how to get what it wanted. Next morning the donkey was at the air conditioner where the condensation was dripping and was in no mood to be petted. W/ Co Sheppard for some reason or other was also a little grumpy and to this day I don't know why. Pat Devlin was heard to say, "That damn donkey shot past me like a rocket."

    There is not much left to see of RAF Sharjah the runway is now King Abdul Aziz Street. The control tower still exists where the red arrow is pointing. The building immediately behind the control tower is the Al Mahatta Museum. The museum contains historic aircraft and some parts of aircraft picked up over the years.
This image is taken from Google Earth and the location is
25 20'44.72"N 55 23'42.70E
or just Type in Sharjah and look for Sharjah Creek. The oval shaped roundabout (top middle) is the most recognisable feature from the '60's to give you an orientation clue.
The old well is situated somewhere to the North of this roundabout in Rolla Square which is not far from Sharjah Fort which stil exists. Most of the town has been replaced with modern buildings sweeping centuries of tradition and history away to be forgotten. If I had still been there I would have asked for a few preservation orders to be placed on some of the old architectural gems they once had.


The Hajar Mountains of the Northern Arabian Peninsula
Click to enlarge.

MOUNTAINS
1        J. Shumm.
2        J. Khabb
3        Aqabat al Khyrus
4        J. al 'alam
5        J. ad Dahir
8        J. Ash Shayba
9        J. Siha
10      J. Masaf
11      J. Riyadir
12      J. Al Fayah
13      J. Tya
14      J. Rumh
15      J. Tawah

       First let me apologise for the poor quality of this map which is a rough approximation of the UAE United Arab Emirates which used to be known as the Trucial Oman States. During the time I was there 1965 - 1967. The borders of the various Trucial States and the Oman were still in dispute.

       Most Arabian mountains begin with the prefix "Jabal" in this list I have reduced it to "J" This is the Northern end of the Hajar Mountain range and starts about 60 miles East of Sharjah,. Do not use this map for navigation, my positions for the mountains are guess work with a lot of artistic licence. (Anyway, the names have all been changed. ) The old fuzzy blue borders are gone the whole area is UAE territory the green borders are those of Oman.

       When I say dispute the borders had simply not been settled at that time but it did not matter as the Trucial States became the United Arab Emirates. The Omani border was also unsettled but agreement was reached between the UAE and the Omani's and I think there is nothing in dispute today. (Apart from the accuracy of this map)

       During the period I was there we thought nothing of heading out into the desert across the peninsula to the Hajar mountains. In the last few months while working on this page I discovered this was not a wise thing to do we were fortunate not to run into the bandits hiding in the desert, or to be picked up by the security forces of another State. The only briefing that I ever received was in relation to a man called Qaboos of Oman and the probability that Communists were attempting to do him harm in the region. We were told to keep out of the Oman for fear that we may be mistaken for Communist Insurgents. We were to report anything of a suspicious nature that we observed and take no action without backup forces. I must admit the last thing on my mind was interfering in local politics or getting involved in shooting, all we wanted to do was get into the mountains and enjoy the countryside. We kept this advice in mind and never strayed into the Oman as the further you needed to drive the less time you had for recreation in the mountains. We were not briefed on the perils of wandering in the desert with totally inadequate maps. We were told that in some areas there had been trouble with dissident tribesmen who wandered about taking pot shots at strangers, and that was that. We were told to take weapons with us but not to use them except in case of emergency. I must confess that guns were the last thing on our minds as we slowly ground and wound our way in low gear and four wheel drive across the desert. The landrovers seemed to work in just about any conditions and we never really got stuck. The technology built into them (sorry, the lack of technology) suited the desert to perfection modern machines built to fine tolerances would just not work for long. The JEEP theory "Just Enough Essential Parts" is common sense in the desert. I think it was Tom Sheppard (it may have been Wing Commander Tom Sheppard with the same name, and probably one and the same person) who did a lot of research into vehicles suited to desert conditions. The person that I am talking about wore two watches, one set for local time and the other to Zulu time (UTC).

        We received very little training in the use of the 303, we were told which end the bullet came out of but not much on how to get the bullet into the rifle in the first place. The SMG was more popular than the rifle but the training was even less. Just fire short bursts, nobody told us that a short burst would empty the magazine. It's amazing how fast the SMG pumps out bullets and equally amazing how few actually hit the target. "OK", Said the instructor, "Whatever you hit we'll call that the target." Grenades were hated by everyone especially the armourer who wanted rid of them, "Take these bloody things and get rid of them" was the usual. These were probably redundant grenades left by the Army units which visited Sharjah from time to time since the Suez Crisis 1956, the base plates were rusted in position and the grenade could not be deactivated. Hundreds of these things were in storage and needed to be safely disposed somehow. Some were used for fishing and the lads paid for fishing trips in the dhows by handing over a few. It must be stated that these things were dangerous, you needed the strength of Samson to throw them any distance and if they went off you were liable to get hit with pieces flying away from it. Often they would just lie on the sand and do nothing. These had to be detonated by shooting at them with the 303 from a very long distance away. This improved the accuracy of our shooting and stopped us snatching at the triggers. If it failed to detonate someone had to crawl up to it and pour petrol round it. We soon twigged to the fact that if you laid a long trail of petrol leading to the grenade it gave you a better chance of getting away. The wax used to prevent moisture entering the grenade would jam the mechanism, when it melted with the heat it fired. Dropping them of a dhow was the safest method of disposal.

       A trip to the mountains which were East of us was across the open desert. We always carried plenty of water, fuel and food. We did have a superb medical kit and sometimes the Doctor would come with us to familiarise himself with the area. The trips were euphemistically called Desert Rescue Exercises. During my stay at Sharjah we did not actually need to rescue anyone but we did need to know the area. None of the mountains would be considered a difficult climb but the heat of the day and the extra work load forced us to walk slowly. This slow steady walking has remained with me even to this day and I am perhaps the slowest walker ever seen on any mountain.

       We did simulated casualties and practised first aid on the new recruits and moonies. Naturally these casualties would remain for hours tied securely to a stretcher and often dumped into the nearest water we could find. When I first joined I got the ducking but before I left I passed this initiation onto my replacement.

       I suppose it gave the Pilots some comfort that they would be picked up if something happened their aircraft. The Arabian Peninsula was not well mapped and a sheet of sandpaper would have been just as useful. If you headed East you would eventually reach the Hajar mountains then you either went North or South. To get home again simply head West until you reach the coast then guess is Sharjah North or South of this location. There were no roads as such all that was needed was to follow the tracks of vehicles, footprints and animal droppings which had been that way before. If you left these tracks it was guaranteed that you would reach a waddi which was impassable except on foot or horseback. Ruts in the desert were a sure way getting to a village, but villages were few and far between. Most of the time there was no sign of life except the occasional track left by someone perhaps weeks before.

       It took several trips out to the mountains before you became familiar with the region. It is a truly wild place of outstanding beauty. None of the mountains are very high and most can easily be walked in a day from the base. Sometimes we came across a small oasis which gave us a chance to have a swim. The deeper wadis often were lined with trees and were a welcome break from the sun. Only the largest mountains were marked on the map and few were named this is typical of a pilots map of the period. We numbered them from North to South to simplify things some we named ourselves after features we found there.

       My time in the RAF was up and I volunteered to do a little extra time in Sharjah as I was enjoying life so much. I was thinking seriously of staying on in the RAF and making it my career but my mother took seriously ill and had to return to Blighty. I was offered some good jobs by the kind folks of Sharjah but reluctantly had to turn them down. My mother lived for another 20 years, God bless her.

       At Sharjah I was given an almost totally free hand but first I had to prove that I could be trusted, the RAF Officers were not fools and they expected high standards. I always turned up on time and properly turned out for duty and in a fit state to do my job properly. I am not saying that the Soldiers were any less trustworthy, however when you earned the trust of your superiors you were permitted to think and act for yourself unsupervised. It was better to run hair brained schemes past a senior officer and let them take the flack if it went SNAFU. Anything less than near perfection was soon corrected by a certain brown substance hitting that fan thing on front of an aircraft. A certain Flight Lieutenant with about twenty years service was still enamoured by the fact, that when you pull back on the yoke stick thingamajiggy the houses get smaller and when you push it forward the houses get bigger. This profound knowledge of flying only comes with many years flying experience. I have just downloaded the latest version of Google Earth and flew over the Hajar Mountains at a height of about 1,000 feet. I could not identify a single place that I had visited as the desert is now covered with houses, gardens and plantations. The roads are fantastic and there more airfields dotted about the place than Britain had during W.W.II.

  THE DEMISE OF JASWANT SINGH
We were camped up at a location close by Bathnah which is due East of Sharjah at a distance of about 60 miles. I was with SAC Jaswant Singh and a couple of other lads who's names escape me for the moment.
  JASWANT   This was a good spot as we could get the vehicles out of sight and not attract the attention of any unwanted company. The track ran below our location and we could see and hear anyone coming and the wadi still had some water flowing down towards the track. There were a few places where the water had backed up behind rocks forming shallow pools just big enough to bathe in. Out came the washing kit, a shave and bath in fresh cool water, what luxury. We finished washing and we got the stoves going for a brew and a bite to eat. Out came the frying pan and in went the bacon to be followed by eggs, beans and other tasty treats.

It was at this precise moment we heard a vehicle on the track below which stopped for a few moments where the track crossed the wadi. A woman got out of the vehicle and filled a water bottle in the wadi and the vehicle set off again along the track. Suddenly the vehicle stopped again and the lady got out again accompanied this time by two Arab Ladies both with Russian Kalashnikov Carbines (≈ AK47). The first lady was no idiot, she stuck her wet finger up above her head worked out the wind direction where the smell of cooking was coming from and pointed in our direction.

That reminds me...
Two RAF pilots were stuck in the desert, one was on secondment from Mexico, they were close to death. "Hey Peter, do you smell what I smell. Ees bacon I is sure of eet." "Yes, Pedro it smells like bacon to me." So, with renewed strength, they struggle up the next sand dune, and there, in the distance, is a tree loaded with bacon. They saw fried bacon, back bacon, double smoked bacon... every imaginable kind of cured pig meat. "Peter, we is saved. "Eees a bacon tree." "Pedro, are you sure it's not a mirage? We are in the desert don't forget this is a Moslem Country." "Peter when deed you ever hear of a mirage that smell like bacon... ees no mirage, ees a bacon tree". And with that... Pedro Races towards the tree. He gets to within 5 metres, Peter following closely behind, when all of a sudden, a machine gun opens up, and Pedro is cut down in his tracks. It is clear he is mortally wounded but, a true friend that he is, he manages to warn Peter with his dying breath. "Peter... go back man, you was right ees not a bacon tree." "Pedro my friend... what is it? "Peter... ees not a bacon tree... Ees.......... Eees a Ham Bush.
Sorry, I just coulden't resist.

The smell of bacon cooking was the clue which give us away, and she started walking with strident intent in our direction. When she got close to us I could see that she was wearing a revolver. I pulled the 303 from the Landrover as I did not know what to expect. Naturally, I chambered a round, just in case, the other lads also readied their weapons.
I stuck my head up and shouted to her and she waved in acknowledgement. She turned out to be an American, she was the bodyguard / governess of the two young Arab Ladies and could handle herself in just about any situation, being ex US Army and a Police Officer and she wasn't married, she frightened men. The first thing she wanted to know was, "Did we have any extra bacon to share." This was the first time she had smelled bacon in almost a year and knew it could only be non Moslems (infidels) cooking it.

She had taken a serious risk in guessing we were friendlys if she had stumbled on Russian Speznats (Spetsnaz) it would have been a different matter. Naturally we gave her a plate of the crispy stuff and she also ate the stuff we offered the Arab Ladies by mistake. The girls were not in the least offended by the bacon as they had both attended Roedean, and they spoke perfect English. One of the girls borrowed a bar of soap, my good Imperial Leather which I kept for special occasions, she unashamedly went Commando in the Wadi for a bath. It was then I noticed that she was also wearing a gun, which was concealed under her clothes, a lovely nickel plated revolver and she wasn't worried about it getting wet.

Jaswant just couldn't keep his eyes off the revolver for some strange reason. He had found the love of his life in this most improbable desolate place and ended up marrying her a few months later. Jaswant and his wife went on honeymoon to India and never returned. A few months later I received a letter from him saying that he had returned to his home town in India and would be staying there with his new wife. He bought a big house and a new car and his wife was expecting her first child. As far as I am aware he is still on the run from the RAF but he's not worried after he married into a heap of money. The worst thing about this is that I never got my bar of soap back.
Please let me assure you that there was no impropriety of any sort took place.... At least not when that tough American lady was about.
Jaswant, if you ever read this ...... I want my soap back.    

  Please don't get the impression that we were in the SAS or any other such outfit. We were all regular "5/8th's", airmen with no specialist training in warfare. Yes!., we could shoot a 303,, chuck a grenade, spray the countryside with the Sterling, but not the Bren Gun,. too big heavy and ugly for us to bother with. The problem with the Bren Gun was that it was too accurate. I once was asked by an armourer, .. "Just how dead do you want to kill them", ... "One well placed round from the 303 will do the job." That was the best advice we ever got.

I suppose some of you are wondering how we got cool drinks and fresh food in the desert.
This was only 20 or so years after W.W.II and things were no longer in short supply and there was a lot of surplus equipment lying about.     One interesting bit of kit was called a NORWEGIAN FLASK this was a large container with tight fitting lid and insulated walls.     The day before a trip into the desert we would fill the flask(s) to capacity with the goodies we wanted to take with us.     The flask would then be unpacked and the contents taken into the main deep freeze in the mess hall and chilled overnight.

On the morning of the trip we would re-pack the container with the goodies which were now frozen solid.     Any extra space was filled with bath towels shoved in at the top which provided extra insulation and stopped the contents shaking about within the flask.     When properly packed this container still had ice in it after four days providing it was wrapped in old blankets to keep it cool and shield it from the sun.     I should not be telling you the next part but the RAF can't do anything about it now, ... as the food was used up during the day in went bottles of warm beer and in the evening we had cool drinks, just like home.     After a few trips we realised that the warm beer stole cold from the food and too many bottles absorbed all the cold.     There were a lot of unused buildings round RAF Sharjah and in one we found a disused domestic fridge which was dual voltage 12v and 250v. Unfortunately neither of the elements were working but one of the Armourers added an oil heater and a chimney to it and it worked a treat. (The oil heater ran on paraffin oil called kerosene in the USA)

Using the overnight freezing trick we were able to carry this fridge with twice as much of food and cold drinks.     Good-bye tinned sausages and cornedbeef, we still carried plenty of tinned potatoes.     Brackets to mount the fridge to the middle bulkhead of the landrover and a leather strap to keep the door closed were fitted.     (I searched for a similar freezer on the internet and would you believe such a machine is manufactured commercially the Servel RK400 kerosene refrigerator and costs $2999.00., we made ours from scrap.)    The fridge was covered with blankets just like the Norwegian Flask to give it a bit more insulation.    Naturally, the smoke stack was left uncovered, later the smoke stack height was increased to clear the fumes above our heads.     This worked a treat until we pulled over at the first rest stop and when the door was opened the entire contents spilled out.     A quick modification was made and the fridge was tilted back a few degrees, problem solved.     This Heath Robinson contraption worked well and as long as the heater was topped up with oil the food stayed cool indefinitely.

The first great era of the RAF was known as the "Wind and Whiskers Mob" the second era was the "Brylcreem Boys" I suppose this was the Post Brylcreem period when the chaps recruited into the Service were the best the country had to offer all bright volunteers. "The Regulars" and "The Brats".

We realised we had a problem as we got closer to Sharjah on the return journey,......     If an Officer or Snowdrop (RAF Policeman) spotted the fridge there would be questions asked.     We were passing the Communications Centre when the Signals Officer     (Whose name I have forget. .... Probably just as well.)    called on us to halt.     He spotted the fridge, but instead of asking us what we were doing with it, he wanted us to go out again next day and investigate a report he had received.     He then asked about the fridge, so we explained what it was, and how it worked.     This particular Signals Officer was quite a whiz kid when it came to the technical stuff, but on this occasion all we could get from him was a "marvellous" every now and again and a few "bloody 'ells" .... "It's still flipping freezing."     We got to keep the fridge.

 JASWANT part 2
What I did not tell you about Jaswant is that he had a sideline trading in goats. On the frequent trips out into the mountains he would trade with the locals for anything which would produce a quick profit. Being Indian this gave him some credibility with the locals he met and Abby could chatter away at "ten to the dozen." Jaswant and Abby got on very well together and one day Abby turned up at the rendezvous point in a civilian three ton truck. It was evident that Jaswant knew all about this arrangement but hadn't bothered to confided in me.

To cut a long story short this truck moved a lot slower than the Landrovers but it did make steady progress towards the mountains. We approached a village which we normally skirted round but Abby and Jaswant headed straight in, we did not follow but remained about two miles distant. About an hour later we saw the truck coming out of the village and moved in. As we got closer to the truck we heard the bleating of goats and discovered that Jaswant and Abby had bartered them from the locals, and filled the truck with goats. As the truck had nothing to do with me I turned a blind eye to the affair and started once again towards the mountains. I stopped for brew and the truck paused for a few minutes and Abby explained he was heading for Khor Fakkan, to make a delivery, and would meet up with us again at another location we had used frequently in the past. Next day the truck rolled up, empty, Abby had flogged the goats in Khor Fakkan and made a good profit on the deal. Jaswant's face was radiant as the two shared the cash together. The trip was quite uneventful except Abby and Jaswant made frequent forays into different villages to barter with the locals. The truck soon began to take on the appearance of a mobile shop as it was loaded with every conceivable useful item you could mention. There was horticultural equipment, spades, picks, saws, bags of nails, balls of string and rope and rolls of canvas, not to mention goats and chickens and planks of wood. Note:- A good selling item was sheets of corrugated aluminium, used for roofing and making water.
The people of the region knew that water condensed on metal and these thin aluminium sheets could be shaped by hand to make a water collector. I know this is true as the metal walls and roof of most buildings would drip water during the night. I don't know how much water could be obtained this way but the locals thought it was worthwhile. I think the metal being cooler than the air would attract airborne water droplets which would then run down into a collecting point.

Every village they went to items were bought and sold and the truck got more and more full of goods. I got quite worried as I needed Jaswant to navigate and Abby to act as interpreter and the delays were putting us way behind schedule. Little did I know then, that Jaswant was planning his future, he was building up a nest egg to give him the necessary spondulics to achieve it. The problem was that his entrepreneurial activities were beginning to affect the operational integrity of the unit and as we were trying to impress the boss something had to be done. I had words with Jaswant and he readily agreed that it had to stop and he spoke to Abby. Within minutes Abby headed off alone with the truck in the direction of Sharjah and we continued the patrol.

Two days later we arrived back at Sharjah and there was Abby waiting for us with a grin on his face. He handed Jaswant a large wad of notes which put a smile on his face. Abby then told us that he was leaving the Police to set up as a mobile trader with his truck. He had discovered that it was unprofitable for the locals to travel long distances into town to sell their goods and much more convenient to trade with the truck. Abby was making good money and the locals were happy at the prices he was offering without the long walk. Abby handed me a 100 Rial note as a contribution towards the charity work of the RAOB which he had heard about. Jaswant also gave me 100 Rials which I passed on to the Treasurer. This contribution was worth about £30 a big contribution for those days but with modern inflation would hardly get a meal in a good restaurant.
That was the last time Jaswant ever crossed the line until he vanished.  

  NOTE:- I discovered a reference to a Desert Survival School set up in Sharjah during 1968, I had left the Sharjah by late 1968. I had nothing to do with this school or its setting up, so you chaps who had to kill, cook and eat snakes and other such delacies don't blame me for your misery. Adrian
Try this URL:-
http://www.rafmountainrescue.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Sharjah-271269-20671.pdf

MUSIC and WALKING   Background music to this page. Click reload to play again.
Have you ever wondered why people out running wear a set of headphones listening to something.? Well! I have often wondered the same thing. On my walk between Sharjah and the neighbouring town of Dubai about 10 miles distant, the going was tough, not that there were any hills, just miles of sand and blistering heat. Temperatures probably exceeded 50°C or in old money +100°F this sort of walk is not for the faint hearted.

I was fit, very fit, playing Badminton in the hanger, weight training in Sharjah Fort, running and lots of swimming. As long as I kept my fair skin well covered to protect it from the sun and drank plenty of water I was pretty well able to do anything I pleased.

I was well used to hill walking in the Hajar Mountains and carrying equipment I set off across the desert. I carried several bottles of water and a good supply of tasty grub. The first few miles were easy but I was getting hot so I started drinking some water. The next few miles were not as easy as I started to feel cold even though the air temperature was well in excess of 100°F, I had enough sense to realise something was not right with me. I stopped for a few minutes to cool down drink more water, eat something before continuing. As I approached Dubai I felt really awful but I knew I had to keep going.

Each step became a nightmare, but I was determined to continue. I started counting my footsteps and the counting in my head almost drove me to distraction, I could not drive the counting out of my head. I thought of everything I could think of and remembered a tune "Be Still My Soul" to the tune of Finlandia. I began to hum the tune and this provided the distraction I needed from the incessant counting, this lifted my spirits to the point where I began to sing. It was as though a "Balm in Gillead" of some description had worked a miracle and my performance improved, just as well there was nobody else about otherwise they would have thought I had gone cuckoo.

I arrived safely in Dubai and immediately went to my friends house and she ran me back to Sharjah. I had a slight headache that night and it persisted the following morning. It was my turn to do guard duty on the Canberra aircraft parked down on the airstrip. This duty only lasted three hours but it turned into hell on earth. I began to feel very cold even though this was a hotter day than yesterday and I knew then that I had contracted Malaria or some other serious ailment. Those three hours lasted an eternity and when my relief arrived I slung my rifle into the Armoury and walked into Sick Quarters.

I was bundled without ceremony into the Infectious Ward and without them asking too many questions I was told to drop my trousers and bend over. I felt a small jab in my left hip and then a searing pain which almost caused me to pass out. ( I originally wrote this sentence as:-"I felt a small prick in my bottom....". Then I realised what I had written would give a bad / false impression.) I had received an injection of penicillin straight into the muscle of my leg, believe me it really hurt. I was placed on a bed and I immediately passed out, apparently I was on that bed for three days and the only time I awoke was to be given another injection and forced to drink lots of a diabolical tasting, but cool concoction. I could hardly walk my gluteus maximus was like a pin cushion with all the injections I had received. While I am thankful to the "little, fat, fair-haired, pink-faced, beady-eyed Medical Orderly, . . . Jock" for working so hard to cure me, I am still in two minds wondering if he actually enjoyed inflicting so much pain. Jock, if you ever read this, get in contact, I'll probably alter your description, . . a little. Anyway, I owe you a drink.

Ever since then, "When the Body's all aching and wracked with pain." I have always relied on "Be still my Soul" that inspiring melody and meaningful words to uplift my spirits. I have tried an MP3 player and miniature transistor radio to give the necessary distraction and it works if you can find a good meaningful tune. Give it a go, it just may work for you. However there are times to pull out the headphones and have a good old hum to yourself.

I had been in Sharjah about two months and thoroughly enjoyed the easy going atmosphere and providing things were done in accordance with the book you were left to your own devices. I was called into see the Admin Officer, and thought I was in for a bit of a roasting, as nobody gets to see him unless you have done something wrong or a relative is ill at home. "Adrian you borrow the Landrover frequently what do you do with it". I think he already knew the answer but wanted to hear it from me. I explained that we went across to Khor Fakkan side and climbed a few mountains, camped and returned within the three days of my long break. The Signals Section worked a strange shift pattern on the first day we started at 08.00 hrs and finished at 12.00 hrs we would then get the afternoon to ourselves and report back for duty at 18.00 hrs and work until midnight. Next day we started at 12.00 hrs and finished at 18.00 hrs this gave us the evening free to see a film and then back for night shift from midnight and finished at 08.00 hrs the next morning. There was never much signal traffic at night and more often than not we got a good nights uninterrupted sleep. We were then given three whole days to ourselves with nothing to do but relax. We were able to work this shift arrangement as we had more staff than actually needed.

It was during these three day breaks I signed out the landrover and the lads and I vanished literally into the hills. There were Radio Telegraphists, Firemen, Armourers, MT Mechanics and others, all eager to come along on these trips. I suppose I knew the desert better than anyone else because I had done so many trips and together with Jaswant we never got lost. The hills provided a cooler, fresher environment and got us away from the humid environment close to Sharjah.

"How do you navigate across the desert."
Very easy Sir, strike out East and when you get to the mountains figure out where you are by taking bearings from the various peaks and other known features. Coming back head West and when you get to the coast travel North or South until you find a place that you've been before and change direction accordingly. There are landmarks on the way and providing there is no sand in the air we usually get to the gate of the camp. It also helps because I taught basic navigation skills to the Boy Scouts. "If I asked you to take a trip to Al Fujayrah could you do it.?" "With SAC Sing and I both navigating and driving that would not present any difficulty." I said.
"I want you to go to Al Fujayrah and deliver a Transceiver that the Radio Bod's had just repaired for the TOS. This is their main transciever which they urgently need they are running on their backup set. There is no aircraft available and you are the only alternative. Do you think you could manage that.?
Don't worry about your shifts I'll arrange that. Take a backup landrover and some of the chaps who go with you on a regular basis. Any other lads that go with you make them take weapons and ammo just in case. In fact you will all take weapons, check with the Armourer what you may need. Be careful out there, and keep out of sight. I have made arrangements for a local man to go with you as interpreter he is a member of the Sheikh's retinue, so treat him with respect. Good Luck." This turned out to be Abby who was to go with me on most official operations but not on the private recreational trips. This turned out to be a proving trip for the lads and myself we did the job and got back well ahead of schedule but not so on some other trips. Frequently we would be asked to take a trip out and rendezvous with military units training in the area and deliver supplies to them. We were willing to do this as it got us extra time off to do what we loved doing. While I got almost unlimited use of the landrover someone thought it may be a good idea to christen us the "Desert Rescue Service" which gave us a sort of credibility, that would account for the fuel used and therefore balance on someone's books. I would have called us the "Message Boys" or the "Squint and Scoot Troop." We were good enough at getting about to locate any Pilot or Air crew on walkabout in the desert and bring them home to Sharjah. On official trips we went in several stripped down Landrovers to support each other but on recreational trips it was usually the one landrover. I would say that I made about 30 trips during the time I was there but one of them turned out to be rather different.

SPEZNATS (Spetsnaz) at SILOAM
We were hauled over in our usual rest spot "Siloam" South of Bathnah Fort
(The fort location = 25 11'12.49"N 56 14'16.05"E)
which I have spoken of in other parts of this page. We christened it Siloam after the hymn tune "By cool Siloam's shady rill" how fair the lily grows!. We try to avoid all contact with local people it is less worrying for us to go about our business unobserved. This was a good safe place to have a stop over as the entrance to it was up the bed of a wadi and from the track it was impossible to see our parked vehicles and because of the boulders rocks and pebbles we did not leave any tyre tracks. Over the years the storm waters had scoured all sand from the bottom of this wadi.

25 10' 26.44"N, 56 14' 39.74"E  
Copy and Paste these coordinates into Google Earth's Fly to line, which will bring you to what I think is Siloam. There is now a major road where the track once was. Much has changed over 40 years.

[I am sorry to shatter your idea about the vehicles in the drawing. They are definitely not "pink panthers", as far as I am aware the chaps who would eventually use the pp's were not yet equipped with them, anyway anyone who would drive such a thing would never be caught dead using Brylcreem.]
{It is interesting to note that there was a Magnitude 5 earthquake at a location just slightly North West of this spot on March 11, 2002 20:06hrs. Magnitude 5 is classed as a Moderate earthquake.}

From the position where this drawing was made anyone on guard could have been able to stop unwanted visitors getting to the vehicles. The lookout point would also enable us to observe movement at much closer range. You are looking roughly West, North is to the right.

The radio crackled into life and immediately we all paid attention to it as it was only once in a blue moon that anyone would call on our frequency much less have a message for us. The message was in Morse code which I was only just starting to learn and I still had a long way to go as 90% of the message I did not understand. Paddy (McCallister I think) jotted down the message and asked for the EBP. The EBP was a tiny thin leafed notebook which contained a list of words and numbers to decode the message. Which read something to the effect:- "Unknown Military force at "xxxx./.yyy..." do not contact or engage, observe / report." Jaswant said, "That's about 10 miles North of us." within about half an hour we heard the sound of engines heading our way on the track below. "We packed up, put the stoves out, and loaded up, and got ready to move, but did not start the motors."

Within a couple of minutes a unit of what appeared to be three small stripped down Landrovers I now believe to be Russian GAZ vehicles passed within 150 yards of our position. Heading in a Southerly direction at speed. There were two men in scruffy uniforms in each vehicle and what appeared to be a prisoner in the last vehicle. Paddy, immediately started transmitting our observations in Morse, the suspected identity of the unit, it's strength and direction of travel. The reply came back in plain speech immediately. "Well done., follow at safe distance do not engage, observe and report.." I think operational control may have been handed over to a Naval Vessel on the Khor Fakkan side as the reception quality of speech had suddenly greatly improved. We let this small unit run well into the distance before we broke cover and headed after them. We had travelled about an hour when the unknown unit stopped and dismounted.

We took up position at a safe where we could observe without being detected. Abby took his rifle and made his way towards the unidentified unit keeping out of their sight. We all followed on foot and took up position where we could safely observe. They were setting up camp for the night and Paddy went back to the vehicles to report what was happening. "Observe only, wait for support." was the command.. The messages were now being sent in plain language not Morse.

I forgot to tell you what EBP means "You can eat it, burn or wet it, P standing for the most convenient way to wet it,. ... 'p' on it. This book was probably not called EBP but knowing RAF humour anything goes.

Abby took the binoculars and had a good look at the unit, which was the normal thing to do, I noticed that Abby was adjusting the sights on his rifle. This was the correct thing to do so we all swapped ideas about the range and all agreed the range about 220 yards. Abby handed me the binoculars and I had a good look at this unit. I could see that the prisoner was being interrogated and these boys seemed to be taking a great deal of pleasure in doing it. I must confess I was raging about the treatment they were giving this man it was brutal to say the least. I was still looking through the binoculars when my ear was almost blown off. Abby had fired a shot. He chambered a second round and fired again. Ross also opened fire. Jaswant let fly with the Sterling. I sighted my rifle and took aim just in time to see these men scrambling about frantically starting their motors and racing away leaving all of their equipment and the prisoner behind. As they sped away they fired wildly in our direction and we were able to keep accurate fire going in their direction. There were no targets I could take out with a well placed shot and held my fire. I didn't have a chance to fire an aimed shot they got moving so quickly. At 220 yards I could virtually guarantee one shot one body, we were in no danger, so I held my fire. We had a full box of 303 and one of 9mm so we had no shortage of ammo. I suppose it was better to shoot someone who is pointing a weapon in your direction rather than to shoot him in the back while fleeing from you. Paddy was told get back to the vehicles and we headed on foot to where the unit had been stopped. The prisoner was still alive but had been badly bruised by his captors. There were two Russian weapons on the ground and a pile of really good supplies and cooking equipment. Most important there was blood on the sand which indicated that at least one of them had been hit. It took about 5 rounds of 303 and 10 from the Sterling to put this Speznats (Spetsnaz) unit to flight. This unit were now at a serious disadvantage as they had lost most of their equipment and they had wounded to care for. Paddy arrived with the first vehicle and told Ross that we had reported that we had engaged the enemy and that they had taken casualties.

One of the weapons they lost, which I now know to be, was a Moisin-Nagant M-44 sniping rifle. The other was an AK47 of the type I was to see again a few months later under better circumstances at the Siloam Rest point.

Then Paddy and Ross, headed off in it to give chase after this unit. I followed after in the second vehicle with the prisoner and Abby, it became apparent that Abby had met him during an earlier trip. It was becoming apparent that Abby knew more than he was telling and that there was obviously intelligence circulating at higher level than I was privileged to know. Needless to say we grabbed all the Russian equipment and headed off after Ross just minutes behind him. The Russian unit had turned towards the coast on the Khor Fakkan side of the Peninsula and were going like the clappers. I had only passed my driving test a few weeks before coming to Sharjah and this was the fastest I had ever driven. Bouncing about at high speed in a landrover over sand dunes and rock is not the most pleasant of experiences and I was driving, thank goodness. We were now following with the sun in our eyes giving the Speznats (Spetsnaz)a slight advantage. As the day wore on this would assist them more and more as the sun dipped lower.. We kept pace with the lead vehicle but had not the speed or power to catch it.

Suddenly we heard the sound of gunfire up ahead and stopped alongside of our other vehicle. Ross was looking very happy and said that the TOS had intercepted them. We drove down to where the TOS were holding the prisoners and what a sorry sight they were. Two had been wounded and were receiving medical attention and the other four were in no fit state to cause trouble. This gang of Russian Criminals (I later discovered were Speznats {Spetsnaz}) knew the game was well and truly up when we produced the prisoner they were torturing. Paddy and Ross had been updating HQ with frequent radio reports and HQ had been relaying the information to the TOS and that is how they were able to get into a suitable position to cut off their escape.

Abby's action had caught them totally off guard and at a gross disadvantage, that's why they panicked and ran. Abby was a Police Officer in his own country and we could not tell him what to do, I would have preferred to hold fire and keep HQ informed rather than to start shooting. Jaswant's accurate plot of our position gave HQ a good idea where the Russians were heading by cross checking the first location where they had been detected in the village where the prisoner had been taken. There was an exchange of information with the TOS and Ross and then we took the liberated prisoner in the direction of his village. It was a very long drive and it was beginning to get dark so we pulled over and set up camp. Early next morning we got going only to meet a convoy of cars and small trucks coming towards us. Somehow the villagers had heard that their man had been rescued and were heading out to meet him These locals must have had radio transceivers or something like CB's fitted to their vehicles or a telephone in the village to have heard this news. This was about 10 years before we had Citizens Band Radio (legal or otherwise) in the UK . The convoy turned back to the village and as we entered the remaining villagers came out to see us all waving enthusiastically.

We in the West have forgotten how to have a good time without a drop of alcohol in sight. The entire village came out to meet us and what a reception we received. All the food we could eat, showered with gifts, mostly food....... It was all mostly a confused blur. No sheep's eyeballs, thank Goodness, but plenty of goat stew and gallons of black tea and coffee. Real Arabian coffee is a luxury, the aroma is unforgettable and that started me on a lifetimes search for the perfect bean and percolator. "Mocha" medium / strong roast is the nearest I have ever got to that unforgettable brew. To have it made in the traditional way in a can on an open fire is something to be enjoyed. During this feasting and merriment they produced several types of bread which tasted fantastic. I cannot remember exactly what it was called but molowa (or mlowah which I have found references to on the internet) sounds about right. Another bread was called kubs (or kubz). These were served piping hot and the smell of fresh baked bread reminded me of home.
As we took our leave to depart we gave the old chap the Russian Rifle as he had been eyeing it all day. Someone else got the AK47 and all of the Russian's Ammunition both as a farewell present and to defend the village. We would not have been permitted to keep them back at RAF Sharjah.

We set of for Sharjah with a convoy of cars following and as we approached Sharjah the towns folks came out to greet us, also waving and shouting enthusiastically the news had obviously spread Entering the gates of RAF Sharjah one to the Snowdrops shouted "Well done lads"
We headed for the Kunja Club, only for a mob to gather round us wanting details of the trip, ... We'd had enough so we headed for our beds and a bit of peace, I hit the sack exhausted.
I had only closed my eyes when this TOS Officer Tyke burst into the room, demanding a report, about not bringing back the captured weapons, there was a loud chorus of ... "Bugger off" ... and he did. In later years and after much thought and when I came to write this article in particular I realised I was probably too hard on this TOS Officer. He had probably been looking for action and when it happened he missed everything and acted like Tackleberry in Police Academy out of sheer frustration.

We used the Siloam Rest Point on many occasions after that as it was not compromised up until Jaswant's first meeting with his future wife. I took my replacement to Siloam and he probably did the same, it was a great place to vanish in.

Hello Adrian,
Rereading your Sharjah adventures recently.
I am still researching my topic as posted on your page.
Would you be able to fix a date ± to the Speznats at Siloam events you report on?
Can this event be taken as reliable historical data?
Apologies for hints of scepticism.
Kind regards
Richard

Hi Richard,..........
SPEZNATS at SILOAM
Bathnah Fort location = 25 11'12.49"N, 56 14'16.05"E
SILOAM REST POINT = 25 10' 26.44"N, 56 14' 39.74"E
Possible Road Block = 25 08' 19.38"N, 56 17'13.04"E
What you must remember that this was back in the late 60's about 50 years ago.
Naturally after this time has lapsed I cannot remember the dates we did not keep dairies however there would be a reference in the station records and official communications.
There are other aspects of this incident which I did not write about and will not make reference to them unless I make contact with the other lads who were there.
If you happen to find any other references to this I would be very pleased if you would pass them on to me.
The direction of pursuit would have been towards Fujairah. There was no road there then just a track following the easiest path. The TOS road block would have been on the outskirts of Fujairah at approximately
25 08' 19.38"N, 56 17'13.04"E The co-ordinates given are the most likely places for the various locations, however the location(s) could be further North on the track we now call the Fujairah Road.
The information is as accurate as memory allows after ± 50 years.
Kindest Regards
Adrian

Hello Adrian,
Many thanks for the additional info.
You indicate this as being 50 years ago.
My research is timed in the years 1960 and 1970 in particular.
TOS operations in Musandam for each year? Although details would be great I think Iraqi and Saudi (read US) agitation is general knowledge in other accounts. Is it possible these guys were Iraqis, or really Russian?
There are Russian maps (quite good) for the region in the 1960's. Really interesting stuff.
Still looking into these events.

BAGPIPES IN THE DESERT
It was on one of the long patrols (recreational outing) that a Soldier (Brown Job) came with us. If I remember correctly his name was Fadouk (Jock) from Scotland. ( Possibly Gordon Meldrum ) He was a big friendly chap and tucked under his arm was a set of bagpipes, I think he was being excommunicated from the fort at Sharjah as he loved to practice the pipes at dusk..
Sheikh Zayed
1918 - 2004
After a long drive we stopped at Wadi Mansab which is just North of the Omani Border. 25 03'26.95"N 56 00'06.31"E. We cooked up a good feed and then headed up into the hills for a walk and to see the sights. Some of the chaps remained with the vehicles but Jock clutching his bagpipes went up the hill with the walkers. The climb up the hill was easy enough and we soon reached the top. When we reached the summit Jock pumped up his pipes and began to play. The sound carried for miles and we could hear the echo coming back from the hills at the other side of the valley. Jock was an excellent musician and he entertained us with a selection of Scottish tunes, Hymns and other Military Tunes. The day was wearing on and we decided to return to the vehicles as descending a hill in darkness could be difficult and dangerous. As we approached the vehicles we noticed that a fleet of other vehicles were parked alongside our Landrovers. Tents were being erected and it was obvious that a camp of some description was being assembled. As we approached Abby came out to meet us and explained that the Sheikh from Abu Dhabi had heard the bagpipes and wanted to hear more.
The Sheikh and Jock bonded almost instantly and they headed off together out into the desert. It sounded as if a bag of cats was in the process of being strangled, but the peals of laughter from Jock and the Sheikh told us all was well. Next morning we went our separate ways the Sheikh's entourage heading one way and we in the other direction to Sharjah. Jock was sent on detachment to Abu Dhabi at the request of Sheikh Zayed and I never saw him again. That was back in 1966, could it be that Sheikh Zayed formed the first Pipe Band in the Emirates, that would be roughly 10 years earlier than previously thought. The following information from:-
http://uaeinteract.com/docs/Al_Maktoum_tartan_re-discovered/20187.htm
A tartan first designed almost 30 years ago for a Pipe band in the United Arab Emirates has been rediscovered and unveiled at a ceremony in Dundee's Al-Maktoum Institute. The discovery was made when Institute Principal, Professor Abd al-Fattah El-Awaisi was thinking of ideas for new corporate colours.

This photograph dates back to 1963, © Ivor Brown, which puts my theory on the formation of the first Pipe Band in the region on the scrap heap. Probably I have been confused between the first tartan and the first band. When I think about this there must have been pipe bands in the region dating back many more years. These bands were part of the British Forces serving in the region.



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