MEMORIES FROM TEARS EARLY DAYS
by TERRY GROVE, TEARS ANNOUNCER, 1958-60
I have written to you before. This time it is because I
have located one of two 33 rpm records I was given when
my tour finished and these were both signed. The one I
have has the signatures of Jim Gourlay, Don Kirkwood,
John Cronin, and three other whose signatures I cannot
decipher. Also the massive gap until now with no contact
with any of the people I so enjoyed working and living
with in our own TEARS Nissan hut leaves me regretting
that I fail to remember the names, but can recall their
presence. One part time helper at the time was
the daughter of the Camp Commander, an Aussie, who made
us all welcome at his quarters on memorable evening when
we were treated to some home cooking!
As a further reminder of those I was with there, are
some incidents I can mention all connected with the work
at TEARS. The first is when Ruby Murray (who was then
pregnant having married, as I recall, the drummer in her
support band) gave a concert in the camp theatre hall
and we persuaded her to come to the studio where she sat
for a while and we played some records, etc on air.
The next is the number of times we escorted the then
CO's daughter (or at least one of us did), who presented
some programmes and helped out, back to the CO's house
at night. Then there was an appeal for camp talent to
come along and we discovered one serviceman who gave
readings from ' My Uncle Silas' so well that visitors
from Cyprus checking up on us thought it was a
re-broadcast from the BBC.
And not finally but another was the time the door of the
Nissan hut was blown in and so we had to wash and hang
all the records on a line outside to clean them, and of
course the studio needed a thorough clean through.
Finally the incident of RAF Regiment Nissan hut when,
after they did not hear Revel's Bolero during a
programme of light classics (it was played by meat least
once before), shot the loudspeaker in their hut and then
claimed it was faulty. That at least gave us our
mainstay for that programme !
I am glad to see that the record giving was continued.
It certainly was a surprise most welcome at the time.
It’s good to keep in touch.
OLD RECORDS – HAPPY MEMORIES FROM A HOARDER !
Gomme, RAF Tobruk, 1968-69
Following the Reunion 10 weekend, and feeling full of
nostalgia, I decided to look through my old collection
of singles to see if I still had the ones I’d been given
by Stephen Withers from BFBS.
In 1968 the station, at Tobruk, was having a bit of a
clear out and I was given several records that were no
longer on the play list. Most of them were Advance
Promotion Copies of singles that never did well in the
charts. Needless to say, some weren’t that good but
amongst the pile I found a few that I liked and kept
them. Being a bit of a hoarder, I have kept my record
collection because, like photos, they are full of
memories. Anyway I found I still had 3 of the ones that
Stephen Withers had given me. These are:-
An Advance Promotion Copy on the Pye label of Cloudy, a
cover version of a Paul Simon song by the Factotums. I’m
not really sure why I kept it, although it was a
pleasant little song which I liked singing along to and
over 40 years later I can still remember the words.
Recently, using the internet, I discovered that the
group were from Manchester and in the 60’s performed in
the Droylesden area, which coincidently is where my
father was born.
cover version of Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues by
Blue Cheer (on the Philips label) which I have always
loved. Thanks to Wikipedia, I have discovered that this
version was quoted in ‘Rolling Stone’ as being the first
true heavy metal record. Wow, to think it’s taken me 42
years to discover that I must have been one of the first
lovers of heavy metal !
I’ve Been Loving You by Elton John (also on the Philips
label). I’ve no idea why I kept this because, unlike the
other records, I don’t remember the song at all so
couldn’t have played it much. However, according to
Wikpedia this was Elton’s debut single in 1968 and is
considered quite rare! Perhaps if I hang on to it long
enough I may find my ‘hoarding’ was justified.
I’m just wondering now if any of the records I didn’t
keep could have been by groups/artists that eventually
made it big !
TEARS Early Broadcasts from a Nissan Hut
By Terry Grove
Operations Clerk, 1958-60, TEARS Announcer/Programmer
Purely by chance I came across the web site of TEARS.
I was involved from 1958 until May 1960. My day and
night job job was an operations clerk, National Service.
Initially I was taken on as an announcer having barged
in to complain to the management and later I took on the
role of programmer as well.
I have many memories - the first studio, how we did
outside broadcasts on the telephone system from hospital
and the theatre, why the RAF regiment blew holes in
their hut's speaker, and involvement of the then
Australian CO and his charming in all senses, daughter,
fooling the visitors from Cyprus, scrounging records
from record reviewers in London, how we took working
together to a new level with TEARS quarters in our own
Nissan hut to ease working pressures, getting Ruby
Murray and the band into record choice in the studio.
TEARS broadcasts (perhaps the wrong word at the time??)
were initially wire based to most places on camp, not
full time except once over the Christmas and New Year.
Test transmissions to Tobruk as I recall started in late
I only hope those who did listen did enjoy what we tried
to do. When I say we I must note my real admiration for
my colleagues (8 of us in all as I remember).
Amongst the photos I see you have some of baseball
kitted players. Could this be what the US Wheelus based
personnel on the regular queen's flight were persuaded
to donate I wonder? Also I remember the food strike only
too well. Food appeared at lunch and discussion was
fierce about whether it was best to refuse to eat what
we had never seen since arriving. Hunger took over.
Memories Shared …. And
up-dated at TEARS Reunion 10
By John Hancock, Electrical Mechanic
The memorabilia on display at TEARS Reunion 10 was
fascinating, and we also enjoyed interesting
conversations with folk we had not previously met. One
in particular ‘squared the circle’ regarding a certain
event that happened back in 1958.
It happened when I was found on duty during an
exceedingly slack air movement period that was so much
so in fact that I was still waiting to perform my first
electrical AFS servicing on my first incoming aircraft
since arriving at El Adem two weeks previously as an
Elec. Mech. Air. Thus it happened it was just our shift
corporal ‘Jock’ and me who were on duty at the nissen
huts to be found at the top of the pan. We were the sole
agents covering the likelihood of any incoming aircraft
when out of the blue we received an ETA for an incoming
– possibly diverted - Beverley.
When the said Beverley had landed and was taxiing around
the perry-track, Jock the Corporal decided it would be a
good idea to send me out for my first experience of
aircraft marshalling. Wand waving initiation time !
Hmmm… I hoped I had the right notion of just how to
signal with the wands …and then as the Beverley came
toward the pan entrance I noticed what had seemed to me
to be sand-dust over the wheels was in fact smoke
issuing from the aircraft starboard wheel set. Even as I
momentarily considered what to do for the best, the
smoke suddenly transformed into leaping flames.
The wheel-set had soon caught well alight with the
flames licking up towards the Beverley wings that are of
course found high above the Beverley stilt like landing
gear. I reacted by signaling to stop the Beverley
immediately in its tracks, and whilst shouting for Jock
(who was still back on the phone in the hut) I engaged
in putting the fire out with the nearest (and indeed
only) type of fire extinguisher to hand as found by the
side of the pan. This was the foam type of extinguisher.
As the fire succumbed under my attentions the station
fire brigade screeched to a rather belated halt beside
me. My relief was short lived as I found myself berated
and shouted at by the apparent guv’nor of the fire-crew
who was telling me in no uncertain terms I would be put
on a charge for using foam on the site/seat of the fire.
Foam it seemed, created a chemical reaction with the
alloy of the aircraft, and I was apparently now
responsible for creating a large repair bill!
However whilst I was absorbing this rucking all the
other firemen had baled out of their engine and were
busily plastering the wheels of the plane (and half the
pan too) with their hoses from which was issuing …foam!
Bless ‘em! They were fine mates and saviors as far as I
was concerned! So….end of story as I walked away
relieved and probably chuckling. But not quite the end
of the story as it happens.
Fifty two years on at this 2010 TEARS reunion, an ex El
Adem fireman (I believe it to be Fred Bickham) I was
chatting with, was I discovered, serving there at the
same time as I was. Fred decently allowed me to recount
this ‘fire in the wheels’ event to him in full, and then
immediately said to me ‘I remember that!’
Fred went on to say that when the Beverley landed all of
the firemen bar one, were whiling shift-time away by
playing cards (as most of us usually did during slack
on-duty periods of that time) and in this case it was
the ‘bar one’ chappie who had been posted at the window
to watch incoming aircraft for such an event, who became
mesmerized it seems. He allowed the Beverley to pass him
by, complete with the smoking wheel set, yet without
making any comment to his card playing fire-crew
colleagues. Perhaps he was cheesed off at having to give
up a good hand of cards, or had a touch of the sun, but
whatever the reason he apparently later admitted to his
mates he had indeed noticed the smoke… but he had not
shouted any alarm to them.
It was fascinating to bump into Fred and find out about
the other side of this small event, that might have
become all the bigger for me at least.
I picked up on another fascinating comment during the
weekend as made to me across the reunion dinner table,
and it would be interesting to (discretely) verify one
way or the other - if it is possible to do so – the
truth of it.
This was that it was the departing British who wrecked
the swimming complex and poured concrete down the loos
etc. and not the incoming Libyans.
Certainly I have always been puzzled why we were allowed
to see the devastation at El Adem and perhaps this goes
some way to explaining it, although I admit I find it
hard to believe it to be the case. But it seems right to
air the fact it was said, and albeit it is hardly
important today, it is interesting, and would put
matters in a different light.