EDITORIAL SECTION, ARCHIVE (5) UPDATE
You have this photograph on your website
Editorial Section, Archive (5), under the comments of Ted
Marston , which states that the person in the right of the photo
is Wing Commander Craven. In fact it is Wing Commander Peter
Richard Robinson (known as Rick), the C.O. until 1957... my
Grandfather ! My father seems to remember that Wing.Cmdr. Craven
succeeded my Grandfather.
Unfortunately, Rick died during a simple
hernia operation in 1983, in Cyprus. My father is still very
much alive and remembers El Adem well from his childhood visits
during school holidays. I have quite an archive of material from
my Grandfather if you are interested in seeing it at some point,
including a letter from my Grandmother describing lunch with the
Queen of Libya.
BLACKBURN BEVERLEY AIRCRAFT
News Up-Date from John Moir
I have just received more news from Dave
Austin, Fire Service C Crew, RAF El Adem, 1962-63, who was
amazed to read the following text of an e-mail sent to The
Editor of the Overton Oracle, the local newsletter of the
village of Overton near Wrexham. I am very grateful to Jill
Burton, the newspaper’s Editor, for giving me permission to
include the text on the Friends of TEARS web site. I guess that
she was as surprised as anyone that the Oracle’s readership
stretches as far as Botswana !
Again, I am sincerely grateful to Dave (Taff)
Austin for getting in touch with me and informing me of this
interesting chapter in the sad story of the Beverley crash back
in 1963. He will be meeting up with some of his RAF El Adem pals
later this year.
Further references to the Beverley story can be found in
the NEWS Section (16/05/2013 ), the EDITORIAL Section in Archive
(3), and also in the Online Album ( Dave Austin, 10 April 2013
Doing family research, I came across your
publication (The Overton Oracle) and read in the May 2013 issue
(Vol 15, no 5) about the commemoration, by Dave Austin and six
other former RAF Firemen, of the 50th anniversary of the deaths
of F/Sgt Frank Denby and SAC David Marshall killed when a
Beverly aircraft crashed on landing at RAF El Adem in Libya.
Frank Denby was my uncle and played quite a
big part in my upbringing after my mother died. I want to say a
big "Thank-you" to Dave Austin and his colleagues for their
great kindness in remembering my Uncle Frank and the other
airman killed all those years ago. I live in Botswana, southern
Africa, but hope to be in UK soon and will surely go to the
National Memorial Arboretum and also pay my respects.
Again, thank you so much for the kindness
- the actions of Dave Austin and his colleagues show clearly the
comradeship of the RAF.
Best wishes ~ Brian Goulden, Gaborone,
By Peter Lovell
I was in El Adem for about 18 months in the late 1950’s as a
major part of my two years as a National Serviceman. I arrived
as an AC2 and ended up as an SAC, I think. My home was in
Nettleton Block. The guy who was in charge of our hut (probably
a corporal) spent a lot of his time wiring up parts of the
station so that it could be used as a network for announcements
and music. For the first several months he had only one record,
so that was played endlessly. It was Cliff Richard’s first
single. We got the disc because Cliff Richard’s cousin (Gordon?
Clarkson) was in our room in the Block (Nettleton 4, I think),
and his cousin had sent him a copy. For months, that was the
only track that was played over the tannoy system.
Theoretically, I was an Air Wireless Mechanic but I successfully
got out of that after about 3 shifts (being totally incompetent)
and managed to get the job of ‘clerk’ in the Section. This was
largely a wangle for the incumbent to get away early. I did the
same thing when my time was almost up. On the side, I played
quite a lot of tennis, usually on camp but also on a flat roof
in Tobruk and also a couple of trips to Cyprus (tennis and
hockey). Cyprus was rather dangerous at that time. My tennis
partner and I were playing in a tournament there but had no
accommodation so we slept outside. This proved to be very
fortunate (for us) because the NAAFI and an associated building
was blown up and we were showered with bits of building and body
parts. Not a pleasant way to wake up, but much better than being
in the NAAFI. When we went into Nicosia for an evening, groups
were limited to four I think and each group of four had to be
chaperoned by two others armed with rifles. The transit camp was
very primitive. The toilet was a cess pit with a plank over the
top. On my second night one of our group had drunk rather
excessively, was unsteady, and slipped backwards. He was not too
popular for the next couple of days.
Anyway, all that I have is a photo-album with a few photographs
of such things as the toilet facilities, my ‘block’, the ‘bondu’
and the occupants. Everything else was packed into a big wooden
case with the lid nailed down. My name and address in huge
letters all over it. Presents for friends and relatives. I saw
it on to a plane and that was the last time that I did see it.
Nicked in transit. I was very pissed off about that, to put it
It was with great
sadness that I heard the news of Cilla’s passing on 02 August
2015. It was back in 1992 that I received a telephone call from
a researcher at London Weekend Television. She said that the
producer of Surprise ! Surprise ! was very interested in
my search for former friends and colleagues who had worked with
me on The El Adem Radio Service (TEARS). Janet and I were
invited to the London Studios on the South Bank where they would
record my piece. Janet sat in the audience alongside John
& Jan Langley for the recording.
Sitting on that
stage with Cilla Black in front of 100’s in the audience was
indeed a nerve jangling experience but I managed it and waited
some weeks before the programmer was eventually transmitted in
May 1992. In the days and weeks that followed 36 people
responded to the telecast including many who had not been
involved at TEARS but had served at RAF El Adem or the garrison
at Tobruk. All were made welcome to the association that was
born from this TV appearance.
I have said many
times that it was Surprise ! Surprise ! that kick-started the
association as, without the show, we would have taken much much
longer to find so many. A little more than a year later 140
people turned up for the association’s first Reunion at
Northampton in June 1993. Up till now, eleven Reunions
followed along with many other smaller events. And, thanks to
Cilla, we are still in touch with around 15 of the 1967-69 TEARS
staff included in the Surprise ! Surprise ! appeal. Many of us
have met up annually, and will continue to do so, to recall
those magical years along with the fab sounds that made our time
on TEARS so special.
Thanks Cilla for
providing us all with so many musical memories and for providing
me with the opportunity of meeting up with so many former
friends and colleagues.
Memories of the Hastings crash, 1961, found at
Dave ‘Taff’ Austin, Fire Service, RAF El Adem, 1962-64
attached some pictures which may be of some interest to the
group on the site. They were taken in Pembroke Cemetery on the
Island of Malta during my recent visit, I placed the candle as a
mark of respect mainly from some of our Fire Service Guys who I
meet up with twice yearly and who were on Crash duty at the time
of the accident and, when one thinks that some of these Firemen
were only 20 years old at the time, it certainly could not have
been a very pleasant experience.
During my visit to the Cemetery I spoke to
the Caretaker and he went into a cupboard and took out a
newspaper, now very yellow in colour, containing a two page
report of the crash all those years ago, 10th October 1961.
Sadly as far as I was concerned it was printed in Maltese, but
the Caretaker read some parts to me explaining that the victims
were up to that time the only Maltese during peacetime to be
buried in a Commonwealth Cemetery, the reason being that, at the
time of the Hastings Crash, their Government were in conflict
and did not want to bring the victims home from El-Adem. At
which stage the Army stepped in and took them back to Malta,
hence being buried in a Commonwealth Graveyard.
He also asked if I
knew what had caused the crash as no conclusive reason was ever
disclosed. His theory was the same as that of mine in as much as
the pilot seat had come adrift from its anchorage causing the
unfortunate pilot to lose control.
A very interesting and poignant visit and if ever you are in
Malta you should take time out to go to the Pembroke Cemetery.
Dave (Taff) Austin