Your Memories
A page for your memories and shorter stories from Gan and Hittadu.

NEW.....  Helo Taff,  I've dug out a couple of pictures which were taken during my tour of Gan 1971 to 1972. I was a 'Civvy' in the Met Office. One of the outcasts over the other side of the island, chucking balloons into the air; we weren't allowed to mix with the smart blokes in the tower !

First Picture is of the 'Civvy' team which came 2nd in the dhoni race in 1971. If I remember correctly I hadn't been out long so this must have been in the August of that year. I can only remember the names of the Met guys so I apologise to the DOE folk in the photo.

Back Row (L-R).. Ron Bentley, DOE, Pat Slattery (with his inflatable comforter), Jack Taylor (just visible), Zobbit awarding the prize (crate of Charlie), Me, Roger Collins,

Front Row.. DOE, Dave Lord, Ralph Cooper

The second picture was taken sometime in 1972 at the skittle alley. Again non of the DOE names come to mind.

Standing.. Clive Thundercliffe (great name for the Met Office), DOE, Jack Taylor, DOE, Roger Collins, Angus McCloud (another good Met name), Crouching.. Me and Dave Lord

I've got quite a few slides up in the loft which my wife keeps threatening to throw out ! Some of them were taken from a C130 which I took at the end of my tour. One day I'll scan them all in and send you a couple if I find anything unusual.

Bruce van Biene (aka. Mr Womby)
** This was the closest the room boys got to pronouncing my name. Strangely, it was very close to how I said it after an evening in the Marine Bar **

NEW.....  A few Photographs from the Marine Bar taken in 1967..

    I read an article recently about "Shangri La's latest Resort and Spa on Villingili", talks about being able to visit the "mainland" by boat - Gan is the mainland. Right !


Martin Bean (SASF 1967/68)

Hi, I served on Gan in 1962 / 1963 and have a number of slides which you may be interested in, I am currently scanning these so if you would like copies I could send what I have. (How would you like these sent, ?) 

I cant remember now if I sent anything to you before but I do have a copy of the Programmme for the 1962 Gan Christmas Show in which I took part. I also have pictures of the whole cast if you would like these. 

I was an SAC Air Wireless Mechanic during my tour and worked shifts turning round the Britannia's and Comets that came in. We used to periodically have to practice a routine for Dragging off any aircraft that may have crashed on the runway using the wreck of an  old Shackleton . (Forgotten now on which part of the island it was located, old age dimming the memory !!)

Anyway I found a picture of yours truly posing with the Shack. and have attached a copy.


David Lonergan


Hi, I’ve been looking out for any pictures of my father Michael Kenny on your website for years.

Sadly he passed away in July 2010 after a long battle with COPD. He always spoke so fondly of his time stationed on Gan as if that’s where he wanted to return. He had so many stories that I want to visit myself one day buy I know it will not be the same as it was when he was there in the early 70’s. 

I’ve attached a newspaper clipping from when he met the Queen as deputy engineer of Radio Gan. I understand he was also a DJ.

Please add this to your site just in case others wonder where he is today. 

Best regards

Tony Kenny

Greetings,  I am ex RAF ( Armaments Technician ) having spent most of my service with the ' V ' Force and many visits to Gan to and from UK / Singapore..

My posting to Tengah in 1965 began with a Flight on a chartered Britannia of British Eagle Airways .. This flight had a serious mishap which resulted in the aircraft crash landing at RAF Gan .. My wife and two children were on board with me .. Whist the accident was traumatic for many , the people at Gan made everyone very welcome on a base not equipped to accommodate service families.. My knowledge of the Island and base members I knew made the stay for my wife and children a pleasant experience ..

One of the first persons to greet us after coming down the escape chute was the RC Padre ( name forgotten ) who was very well known to me at RAF Cottesmore before he was posted to Gan .. It was a Sunday and his first words to me and Family were '' God looked after us all today ''

I am developing a history of my World careers ( including The RAF ) .. There is one picture in '' Gan Remembered '' of the Britannia we landed in which I would wish a good copy of and any other pictures of that event on your file ..

Your assistance is appreciated and thank you for your interesting WebPages ..

 Patrick Ronan.....    RAF Service # 1929963

Hello. I used to fly  Comet 4Cs with 216 Squadron out of Lyneham in the early seventies and actually spent a few weeks on detachment to Gan , where we completed the handling phase of the Comet conversion course. 

I was later on 24 Squadron, again at Lyneham, in the 80's and we shared a building with 30 Squadron. I  fondly remember that in the 30 Squadron storeroom there was the old hand painted plan/map of Addu Atoll that used to hang on the wall in  (if my memory is correct) the transit mess bar . A  big painting probably 6 feet square, obviously liberated when Gan closed.

All the best
Andy Clarke

See attached photo from 1972-73 of the '5 UNIT' section latterly known as 'Nailbenders'-  although I'm damned if I know why we ended up with that handle.  I seem to remember that we needed to come up with something for the ASTRA pre film 'slide show' when we used to bawl ourselves hoarse when the Hammer was projected.

That's also the reason the photo shows everyone holding mallets from our tool kits.

Also had some great times playing at the G.I.C.C. and in the Addu Atoll Darts League.


Hi There, This is one of my old Photos at RAF Gan in March 1973.We went to Gan, Masirah, Salalah etc. with a CSE Show. 

Left:   Our Agent Jimmy, from Cyprus.  My First Wife Janette,  The Base Commander.   I don't know his name.

I have several other photos and postcards, if anyone is interested..

Best Wishes,

Jon & Janette Anton.



Hi,  I'm not sure if the two photo's will help you with the very interesting website that you are running.

But I think everybody who was at Gan would have had such a photo taken as Gan.jpg.        (I was there.!!)

The second one was at Radio Gan           (where I practically slept). Over the air waves I was known as (Senior) Controller Del,. And the well known or often played record was "Remember when you went away" (Ha Haaa),. the B side was the exact same but,. in reverse. The number of times we were asked to play the B side, where we had to play the record from end to start (all finger work). It was always said that,. the worst posting we could get was Gan, but its also very funny that we or should I say I, also remember the happy and fulfilling time that I spent at Radio Gan,. When I wasn't on shift work with the receivers the other side of the runway, or Commcen, Radio Gan was the first places I went to. After arriving on the Comet C ( never got a ride in the Shackleton and I would have loved to have gone up in her) But I did manage to get a trip on the Landing Craft across the lagoon on a liaison visit to the Transmitter. (OMG over 46 years ago), and of course the not forgotten Tour de Island, both clockwise and anticlockwise by foot. Did you check how the water went down the plughole.! Clock or otherwise.!!!

Can't remember the exact time I was there, in 1968 or 1969, as I came out in 1970 after nine years

So,. as an old Ganner I hope my little bit helps

David Lamb  [DEL]

Hello,  My father, Dr Stanley Goodman was the air force doctor in Gan in 1957/8. Gan and the Maldives made an enormous impression on him and all his life he talked very fondly of his time spent there. Gan particularly preoccupied his thoughts before he died in 1997. We have a very interesting account he wrote of his time there and, more importantly an enormous collection of wonderful slides. Are you interested in them? How best should we, his family, use your fantastic site to make connections and hopefully find a good home / use for all this memorabilia ?

I look forward to hearing from you. Alison, [please e-Mail me re: info.. Phil]

With best wishes and kind regards

Alison Goodman

I sailed as 2nd Radio Officer on Brocklebanks Maskeliya arriving Gan May 57. Attached photos maybe of interest

RAF Vessels

Loading the LCM Mombassa LCM going alongside Maskeliya

Patrick Brown

I've previously put up a longer piece on this site ("stories and articles" section):


and noted there (item #2) my concern about the post-RAF fate of Mohammed and Moosa, who were bartenders at the officers' mess. Courtesy of Peter Geary:


who met up with Mohammed at the RAF reunion last spring and kindly thought to send me the info, I've now learned that both Mohammed and Moosa are "alive and kicking."  Mohammed lives on Feydhoo with several members of his extended family.  I have now made direct contact and have plans to revisit Gan and see Mohammed Feb. 10-14, 2011.  If any ex-Gannites plan to be at the Equator Village during this time I'd be delighted to meet them.  You could email me (
rknox@ucsd.edu) if you have such plans.

Bob Knox
A Visiting Yank Oceanographer
I arrived on Gan early '58 having been posted from Seletar. I was met at the aircraft  by Wg Cdr Stone (Stoney) with a jeep, driven direct to the jetty and by MT out to a landing craft. The fitter on board I was to replace had to get ashore to the plane before it left. It was a bit rough and ready in those days but looking back, it was fun. Living in tents then eventually kadjan huts. The film shows on two bed sheets strung up between two palm trees. The LCM crews had it quite good as we got to eat on the ships and there was always a race to be the first alongside a newly arrived ship and get the pick of the books they usually brought with them. Whenever we met 'Stoney' ashore, he always patted his shirt pockets and then cadged a cigarette. I am 73 now but it was one experience in my life I wouldn't have missed. I spent 13 months on the island and departed in the same haste as I had arrived.

Tony Carpenter  [Cpl Tech Fitter Marine]

Hi, I am trying to trace a 'Q' called Celia, she is on the 'Q' board. She used to be a honorary member of the  Gan Sub Aqua Club, and I used to dive with her fairly regularly in 1970. The Sub Aqua Club boat was u/s that year and as I was Coxwain for the Hithadoo boat I managed to get permission to take a diving trip out from Hithadoo. Celia came over on that trip, and even signed the visitors book in the Hermitage. Four of us went out and dived off the reef. The other two lads went off first and left me alone with Celia in the boat, rubbing sun tan lotion into her back!  I have never forgotten that experience, I am sure I did not dream it!!! I have often wondered what happened to Celia. If anyone else can remember her or knows what happened to her after Gan I would love to know.

Regards Dick Houlston

Hi There, Just looked through IMAGES for RAF Gan & Found some websites... We entertained at Masirah, Hittadu, & GAN in 1973.  With the CSE Show tour.

With my Wife Janette, we did our Juggling Act, Plus 3 Dancers & Derek Dene the Comedian.They REALLY Looked after us well...  We had a Fantastic Time!!! I wonder what happened to the Place..  I presume it all closed down?? 

We also went to Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Falklands, etc.   Wherever there was any trouble around the World.  (That would be a job for Life!!!) 

I can't remember any individual Names...  But have photos if anyone is interested... 

Best Wishes to you all, 

Jon & Janette Anton.   (Janette is 65 TODAY! )  (23 January 2010) Oh! Dear time flies..........

Jon Anton       www.antons-show.co.uk

Just been looking at your article and photos on the web. I am writing my memoirs (not too far off finishing depending on what year I go up to...) I spent 10 years in the Royal Navy with several trips to and from the Far East via Gan. On my last trip, which I think was in early '73 myself and a mate (Tom Sawyer), both being leading radio operators talked ourselves into swapping with two RAF Gan guys as a sort of job exchange. We flew to Gan from Singapore to set up a fixed service link but were not allowed to do much so we spent the week snorkelling/drinking etc. They flew to Singapore to do our jobs on the ship (HMS Charybdis) The pair of us and 6 Pongo's were invited to Hittadu one evening as guests. We had to play a large game of chess on some chequered flagstones where the object of the exercise was to lose! You were not allowed to leave your chair, not even to urinate. That had to be done standing on your chair and peeing over the back. Vomiting had to be over a wall with two hand marks painted on it and afterwards you had to wear a large heavy brass cross (the Honkers cross I believe it was called)!!! It was a super night and we won (i.e. lost) for which the penalty was to get chucked in a pool full of all sorts of nasty fish/creatures... 

Do you remember any of that?

I am approaching 63 and am trying to make my memoirs look a bit more interesting with photos. I have a postcard somewhere with the famous signpost pointing out mileage to most major cities from Gan. 

It would be good to hear from you with any other memories. 

p.s. Whilst doing a milk round in 1974 I knocked on one door and it was an SASF man that I had met on Gan

Regards,   Dave Holderness  Maryport,Cumbria

I was a Hermit 1972/73 Junior Tech in the HF transmitter hall. On reflecting about those times, I started to remember a few names and thought they might twang a few memory strings among other ex-Hermits: 

Fg Off Williams, not popular as I recall. A fish out of water really in that OC position.
SAC Jim Boyd, I remember seeing him racing down the long jetty on his RAF bike to meet the RSL to collect stickies, except this one time he did not stop at the end (well it was a hot day).

In the Cookhouse:
Cpl Dave Smith.
SAC Rod Pidd, caused a stir when trying to rub bacon rind into the groin of one of the Maldivian workers because they had to scrub bacon-contact areas three times  with sand and water.
LAC Ron ??? 

On the techie side there was:
C/T Bernie Banks (HFP), who snorkelled in his RAF pyjamas to stop getting burned. He chased a barracuda on the reef once, but came hurriedly back when met by a significant number of other barracuda.
Sgt Cornie Brown, who did back-to-back tours (18 months) to give him time to complete his steam locomotive scale model.
Dougie the rigger - drank like a rigger too as I recall.
Cpl Dick Colpus, shift leader HF txers.
J/T Dave Hewitt, Skynet (my roommate), he and I arrived together on the same day and departed on the same day too.
Cpl Paddy (O'Reilly ?), famous for frequently turning up in the transmitter hall about 04:00 so drunk he had no idea where he was.
Sgt Roy Gardner, Skynet (he has written to the site before).
J/T Eddie Nelson, Skynet (I think).
Sgt Jackson, HF day staff.

Lots of other faces swim past my mind, but names escape me.

I seem to remember a silly game called Duck. Which involved shouting DUCK and throwing a beer can into one of the fast moving ceiling fans.

Best wishes to all you guys.

John Hooley    Photo Gallery

Some images of Hittadu scanned from film negatives I developed in the Hittadu darkroom.

Of particular interest is the baggage label from my suitcase on repat at tourex (found with my films in an old suitcase in my parents' loft last year).

Hi - I'm not sure this is worthy of a mention but I 'served' in the RN from 1966-69 and it must have been during the first week of June 1969 when I flew from Changi and we landed at Gan and had breakfast at 2.00-3.00am in The Blue Lagoon Hotel/Restaurant (I think it was?). 

I say served because I was one of those who made a mistake enlisting and actually spent most of my time 'working my ticket,' having signed on for 9 years - which was then the minimum time that started at 18 - but I had signed on at 17.  I was on my way home to Blighty (Brize Norton) - having been sentenced to 90 days in RNDQ's, Portsmouth, for jumping ship in Oz.  I always remember that when everyone was heading off for some scran they wanted to lock me up in the cells? 

I said to them 'Where do you think I'm going to go?' - as if I could run off somewhere - but anyway, thankfully, they let me free to eat etc.

After Pompey DQ's I went off again on 'Long Absence' and eventually got discharged in late October of that year.

I am a few years off retirement now and have spent the last 27 years working to help other teenagers - but I have always thought that when I retire (if I make it) I might take time out for a holiday in The  Maldives.  And I only just discovered , today, after all this time that Gan is one of the atolls associated with them.  Your stories/memories moved me - hence this.  If I make it I might well take the boat trip to Gan from Male.  TC, JC

John Cooke

Good Memories:  Liz WRVS in the NAAFI never played housy housy since; Cpl Tech Phredd Chipps, AC2 Joe (?) National Service got £1.18 bob a fortnight and never used a room boy; Cpl/Tech Mo Bean, Taff, Stewart and Bob my room mates for 12 months, all top guys.
Freebies: Hammond Innes came to research for a book and bought us all a ‘Slopps; (Alsop’s) in the NAAFI. Sgt Entwistle claimed double 'cos he was also in the Sgts' Mess. Cartons of dubious cigarettes normally American (Confiscated by Customs)
Bad News:  No Mail for 7 weeks thru Jan/Feb 63 believed to be snow? In UK
Good News  Mail arrived
Best Memory:  Arriving Changi (As a virgin airman) for 2 weeks leave getting in to a Trishaw and being handed a Hong Kong Bible Note: - Never picked up a Hank Jansen book again
Painful Memory  Stood on a ‘sea urchin’ and scraped foot on coral in blind panic spent 3 days in dock. Submitted an article to the Gan News (as joke) using the pseudonym ‘‘The Purple Bootlace’
More Pain  Sat beside the ‘Surgeon on repat flight OUCH

Arrived Home!    Boxes of colour slides of ‘hermit crabs, picturing myself as ‘looking like a ‘bronze god? No Glory though some ‘one hit wonder band’ called The Beatles’ were grabbing the head lines along with a President Kennedy

William Bidwell

A couple of pictures of yours truly.  That's me enjoying sunny Gan in the monsoon, 1973.  Just for  interest, I've included the original photo which, like all my pictures taken on Gan were damaged by humidity.  Well at least the film was, resulting in all the photos developing with that reddish overtone.  Any sane person would have thrown them away, after all, back then, who could have dreamed of the advent of personal computers with programs able to fix bad photos?


So this is the first time since the picture was taken 37 years ago that I have seen it in true colour! The other is a scan of a slide of me broadcasting in Radio Gan - again, 1973.  Really bad quality, I'm afraid.

I'm still trying to retrieve my other Gan pictures from my ex-wife, I'm quite excited to get them now I know I can fix them!


J Alex Pilling  General Office, Movements Clerk Gan 1973

Hello, I was 4th Eng. Off. on the SS Maihar at the time.
They show the deck cargo of reinforced concrete beams for Gan, taken in the Bay of Biscay, in fact they broke loose in a gale and we had to heave to in order to secure.

SS Maihar Voyage 95 leave London 21/1/1958
Heave to 23/1/1958 in Bay of Biscay deck cargo shifted.
Arr. Gan Is. 17/2/1958
Stand By 06.30
At anchor FWE 07.58
                                             Click on Photograph for Larger Version
Depart Gan Is.23/2/1958
Stand By 10.41
Full away 11.12
Jun. 3rd Eng. Off.
SS Manipur leave London 19/12/1959
Arr. Gan Is 8/1/1959
at anchor FWE 04.30
Leave Gan Is 8/1/1959
Full away noon 8/1/1959


Jim Pottinger

Hi.. I found your website by accident while looking for some gen on Gan, I can't find anywhere to add a photograph so here goes.


I visited Gan in 1963 when I went on detachment to RAF Seletar from RAF Wattisham, this is a picture of Mick Gregory (left) and myself Ron (Taff) Bevan on the right, I was only there for a couple of hours but I will always remember it because apart from anything else, it was my first flight in the RAF.

Ron Bevan

I have recently come across a photograph of my dad Serving in Gan circa 1968..  His name is Graham Warner               
He is on the front row 4th from the right..  'C' Shift..

Tracey Gardiner

Just typed in my name by chance and found that Mo Bean accused me of volunteering to go to Dunidu in place of him way back in 1962 - I don't remember being given the option. My main memories of Dunidu are the fact that when I went there all the encoded signals to Humphrey Arthington-Davy (The U.K. High Commissioner to the Maldives) had to be decoded using one time pads until someone eventually sent us a Type X machine!! Other highlights during my three months there June1962 to September 1962 included the wireless operator (SAC Phil Gribben) getting malaria; the paraffin operated fridge catching fire, and the night the supply Valetta had a mag drop and had to stay overnight - about 12 of us sat down to dinner that night all wearing sarongs - compulsory dress!!! (Unfortunately I didn't have a camera with me).  I seem to remember that at the end of my 3 months I was relieved by Sgt. Fitzgerald.

Memories of Gan (where I was based in CCS) include the fact that we were under penalty of death if we failed to tune in one of our receivers in order to get the U.K. football results from Reuters on a Saturday night. Also I seem to remember that on Saturday nights in the Sergeants Mess we would play Bridge until midnight and then change to Poker.

Cliff Bugden

Hi, Just a few memories from 1958-1959.   Hope they are of interest. I have been going through some old albums and was reminded of my days on Gan.
My posting notice in 1957 read “Posted to Gan ERTBA”.   Nobody at Innsworth could tell me where Gan was and ‘ERTBA’ was translated as ‘eventual route to be annotated’!  But HMT Nevasa took me from Southampton to Ceylon (sorry Sri Lanka) where I spent two weeks at RAF Negombo and learned that Gan was due south, just over the equator!  I flew down to Gan in a Valetta.  On arrival I was allocated a tent.  There were about 50 RAF personnel on the island then and half of them were policemen – there was also a number of civilian AMWD staff, a large number of Pakistani labourers and a Maldivian village. I remember lying on the beach, drinking from a coconut and thinking ‘People would pay good money for this’.  

I have a large collection of photographs which I am in the process of rescuing onto my computer but attach a couple for those with long memories. One is a Sunderland flying boat taking off and the other is the Sergeants Mess. If there is interest I can send more.


George Egleton,  Ex RAF Police, RAF Gan 1958 - 1959

In 1944  I was commanding officer of the advance flying boat base at Hittadu for 413 RCAF and205    squadrons - this base was primarily used for anti sub operations -refuelling and rearming the Catalina flying boats a secret base in the Indian ocean that could anchor a huge naval fleet in the lagoon of ADDU ATOLL. Gan at that period had a runway  and the Navy controlled Gan-  Number of aircraft ONE  a Walrus flying boat ( flown by an old carrier pilot known as Wings). He used to fly over from Gan for our happy hour. I guess today all the small islands are linked by road Gan To Hittadu. I am 90 now but clearly remember the sinking of a M/V in the lagoon  (a lucky torpedo fired by a Jap sub)....Check out WWII memories John Rankin on the web site for further info on Hittadu

F/Lt JP Rankin  RCAF

Hello There,  My name is Martyn Henry, my father, Bryan Henry, was an RAF Chaplain
posted to Gan in, I think, 1963-64.
He had plenty of memories of the place and swore that on one occasion he 'won' a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship from the captain in a game of liar dice. Apparently the rather drunken captain's radio message telling the MoD (or whatever it was called at the time) that he had lost the vessel gambling was behind the mess bar for some time afterwards.
He also tells the tale of a naval vessel detecting a large amount of metal in the sea off the island. The idea was it might have been a Russian sub. It turned out to be a load of beer cans tossed into the sea by RAF personnel.
These tales may be apocryphal, but he loved telling them for years afterwards.
He described Gan as an island paradise, or that it would have been if it hadn't been an unaccompanied tour.

Hello There,

My name is Stephen Dempsey and I was a RAF Brat in 1968. I came across your wonderful website looking for old photos of Gan and any that have VC10s on! I would like to share my glorious memories of Gan in 1968 and in 1969, albeit very short, with you. My Dad who was Flight Sergeant Thomas Patrick Dempsey, 'Pat' to his mates and colleagues worked for 15th Field Squadron RAF regiment or 'Rockapes'. I had a wonderful childhood disappearing to the farthest reaches of the globe every three years or so. Anyway, after a few rainy years of my Dad stationed in the UK (Middleton-St-George) he came home and said he'd been offered two posts, one of them in RAF Seletar Singapore. Needless to say I can't remember the other posting (in the UK). We left on a miserable day in November 1968 and several hours later flew into a beautiful sunny morning in Gan via Bahrain. Wow! For an 11 year old lad this was 'out of this world'!! I just remember gazing out of the window (I always got the window seat) at vast stretches of blue ocean getting bored as you do, when all of a sudden here was this blue to light green turquoise belt surrounding bright yellow golden sands, where the heck is this?!? I remember the glaring sun, the blistering hot hand rails of the steps to the plane, the glorious heat. We walked to the low roofed building of the mess where we were offered lemonade, which in truth was like a yellowy green sherbet mixture added to water with a ton of sugar in it. There were a few seats under umbrellas outside the mess with a small child's playground. We sat there next to the grassy area which seemed to be a breeding ground for toads or frogs, they were everywhere, and the noise! A few hours later we traipsed back to the aircraft. What!! Can't we stay Dad? The pilots left the cabin door open, so I could see the sun hung low on the horizon to the side of the airstrip, what a sight to behold. I remember vividly as if it was yesterday taking off and circling the atoll before heading out for Singapore. What a lucky lad I was! I'd flown quite a bit with my Dad and family, Cyprus, Germany blah BUT I'll always remember those few hours on Gan flying out to Singapore and back home. That's my little bit of nostalgia. Hope it goes in to your site. 


Steve Dempsey (now 51)

Dear Sir,   Last year [2007]  I took my wife of 25yrs to Gan for our anniversary.   We had a great time and despite the general air of decay in many areas she would like to go back again sometime. I was able to take a number of photo's out the ordinary which may prompt memories. I was there during 1971 as the first 9 month Medic. I have some cine film on a VHS tape that might prove useful, it includes pictures taken at the command sports day at Abingdon !!

During our stay last year I was driven round the south side, Pakistani camp as was which is now Military and also around the Airfield (Camcorder film). I am not too clued up on downloading and would be happy to send you what I have to be sent back when you have copied what is of use.
There have been some comments on the site as to what exactly was destroyed after we left, the only building to have totally disappeared seems to be the Medical centre which is a shame as that is where I worked.

Regards for now.

Jon Gettens, Ex SAC


I served with the RAF on the island of Gan from June 1961 to June 1962.

I am forwarding a scan of the Christmas Menu for 1961 which was signed by the then Commanding Officer Wing Commander Ellis who paid a visit to our Christmas bar, a room which we used in our block.


Regards Roy Daniel

Dad, Ivor Evans was stationed there around 58/59 and just loved it.  Sadly he died in 2002, and although we found GAN sites in the last months of his life we never managed to get all his tales down on paper before he died.  He was involved in constructing the first jetty, had his 21st birthday on the island in a rather drunken beach party affair and hit a commanding officer for being derogatory to the native people.......


Marie Ross

Hi, I was the Station photographer from Nov 1960 -Nov 1961and during my time on Gan I was able to photograph the visit of Lord Mountbatten, and had access to the other islands in Addu Atoll not permitted to rest of the RAF personal. This made it possible to photograph the natives and the Headman A.Afif Didi, his wife and family on the island of Hitaddu. I gave set of prints to Afifi which he valued greatly as they were not able to have photographs taken. After my tour of duty on Gan I opted to do 18 months in Singapore with my family. Afif Didi did a UDI and was sent into exile in the Seychelles with his family. In 1985 my Wife and I took a holiday in the Seychelles and while in conversation with Hotel manager I mentioned my time at Gan and that I met the Headman Afif Didi and that he been sent to the Seychelles in exile. He informed me that he knew Afif's son who at that time was the head of the Local radio station. A phone call was made to his son and I was invited to go and met Afifi. We had a long talk about our time at Addu Atoll, Afif then told me the Mali government had taken away all the photographs I had given him, I was able to tell him I still had all the negatives and would do a new set of prints on my return to the UK. I subsequently received a letter from Afifi thanking me very much for the photo's that were part of his family's history


Ex 4158241 Cpl N.F.Cox Photo II.

I've attached an old photo from late 74 or possibly early 75 of the Catering Sqn, or as many as were able to get to the photo-call. Very happy days ! The second attachment is a log of those who's names I can still remember    perhaps over time others will recognise themselves/others & fill in the blanks. Click on Picture for full details.

Finally, thanks, the web-site bring back many memories, all good!

Steve Pymn

My father (George Woodhart) was the person who first 'found' Addu Atoll for the RAF in WW2.
I'm not sure how I could prove that, maybe it would say in his log book? Maybe I could find a photo.
I just saw on the internet that a book of the history of RAF Gan has been published (From Port T to RAF Gan by Peter Doling) but it costs £20 & I really don't want to buy it to see whether or not this guy was aware of how it was discovered.
I'm also aware that most probably some guy with bells on most probably claimed recognition for finding it, as always seems to happen in the forces, the ordinary 'foot soldier' gets no mention. Does anyone out there have this book & could tell me if such is in it? If so I would buy it, otherwise I wouldn't.

My father was aircrew (WOP/Navigator) in the area at the time (air-sea rescue in a Catalina flying boat and photographic recognisance in a Liberator) fighting the Japanese. Whilst doing one of these duties (I'll have to check with him which) they were asked to look out for a suitable place for a new airstrip and my father spotted Addu Atoll. I would have to ask him the date (all I know is that he was in the Far East from about 1941 and came home in time for D Day 1944)
I have one maybe two cousins who went there later (1960s) I'll tell them about your website.

Heather Farrier
Just found your web-page and just had to add my little memory. I passed through Gan in 1969 on my way to join my Naval husband in Singapore. Only spent a couple of hours on this beautiful island. Even after all these years I can still vividly remember the views from the VC10 as it came in to land. As a young, un-travelled person it was the most glorious sight. Spending time in the Mess/bar until the plane was refuelled was quite entertaining too, as there were no  females resident on the island. Thank you for bringing these memories to the fore through your web site. Keep the flag flying

Shona Noble

I was there. 70/71, or maybe 71/72, I forget exactly which.
I had been writing some ( what I thought at the time were some hilarious bits, on a guy calling himself Maxwell House, and another, Aldo something or the other. Today, of course, these articles were not really funny, but, what the hell, they helped to pass the time. I recall that we had a change of Group Captain. From a very nice one whose name I do not remember, but used to cycle about the island,  to this new fellow, a Group Captain Salmon.

So, the edition in the week of his arrival had a leaping fish on its cover. Bad mistake, it turned out to be, as soon afterwards, the GIP was outlawed.Whether the GIP recovered afterwards, I do not know, as I left in the following February, following a family crisis.

There was a corporal, Dave Goatley, who worked in the Signal Section, who had been a good friend for some years, and with whom, should anybody know of his whereabouts, it would be nice to renew friendships.

This is to hope that, if possible, in the twilight, things may be renewed, or something 

Lenny Louise.

I attach a photograph of three of my pals on board HMT Nevasa in November 1959 En-Route to Gan, via Ceylon, Colombo. The guy on the right was known as Ginge, he came from Plymouth and was in the Marine Craft section.      In the middle is a rather older Cpl. who might have been in the Safety section and the one on the left I think was in MT section.  The chap in the middle liked to sing and dance and he once won a talent contest on Gan Tap-dancing and singing to Jeepers 'Creepers'.  I can't remember any of their names but I would love to know if they are still around.

Frank Hugo

I remember during 1960 an American yacht put into Gan and stayed over a few days.  I cannot remember whether the guy was a loner or had some sort of crew, but I do recall one visiting the Cpl's club and took me on at darts. Now I have always been a pretty good player and he claimed never to have seen the game before, yet within two or three games of 301 up he was beating me with my own darts. Got my own back a couple of years later at North Luffenham when I beat a couple of US airmen at tenpin bowling, one of the few alleys in the country in those days. Anyone remember the Yachtsman's visit? e-mail me  Frank Hugo.

I have just put up a website for Captain Donald Macintosh - Royal Air Force bomber pilot of a Lancaster Bomber in 1944.

I interviewed him for 36 minutes on his experiences. You can read or / and listen to what he went through. It's quite a unique interview as you can imagine.

Please feel free to link to the interview from your website as I think your readers will enjoy it.



Hi my name is Ken Standring, I was posted to Gan in April 1964 and I think I was the only person posted to the island on that flight. Whilst I waited for my baggage I looked around and thought what the hell I had done wrong to deserve a posting to this place. As it happened I hadn't done anything wrong it was just that first impression.
You soon settled in as you where made welcome by your work mates.

                I started working on refuelling flight 24hrs on and 24hrs
off which was ok if there wasn't any aircraft due in on your shift. It was in December that President Sukarno said he would crush the Malaysian Federation and it seemed like the whole of the RAF moved to Gan, I never knew we could get so many aircraft on the pan. With Valiant's, Victors, Vulcan's Javelins and not forgetting our own Shackleton, dammed good job Sukarno didn't carry out his threat.

               I wonder if anyone remembers that strange creature known as
The Ganus Posbius Bottleus that could be found at the Astra Cinema. In those days when you bought a bottle of lemonade you had to pay a deposit on the bottle and a lot where left behind and that was when the bottleus struck. It was a perk that the cinema staff where being denied of and they did not like it, to solve the problem they stopped drinks being brought into the cinema.

               The CO at that time was W/Cmdr Geoffrey Moss and without a doubt he was the best CO I ever had in my 15 years service. He would stop and talk to you and ask if everything was OK and if it wasn't you could go and talk with him. The moral on the island was so high you would not believe it and I think it was all down to the CO.

               Was it a good posting!!! you bet it was and I don't think many people left the island saying they would not like to go back. Having said that one person I know tied a rope around a palm tree at the back of SSQ shouting that he was going to take "this f-ing island out there and sink it". Needless to say he didn't do a full tour???.

               Happy thoughts and happy memories and very happy to say I served on Gan. Have got some photo's to send in next time.
               Ken Standring
               Refuelling Flight 1964/65

Just read the post from Peter Geary as I was on Gan the same time it took me back. I remember Yorkie the cook what a great guy .Peter, I was the purveyor (catering office) what a great time we had.

Peter very well done would like to chat about that period in my life. I think my e mail address is listed.

Graham Jones


My Name is Dave Taylor and I was a JT Gen Tech E in GEF in 1975.    I have now spent some time looking through the web site and have seen many familiar faces and views many of which have brought back happy memories! I was disappointed that I was not able to access Forbes Christies photographs as Forbes and I worked together and I remember he was never without his camera.     [Now sorted and available to view.... HERE]

 Attached is a photograph of the RAF Gan Rugby team who played Tengah in May 1975.

     [Click on thumbnail for larger picture and team member names]

 Seems strange that it is almost 31 years to the day that I took my last look at Gan. Regards David

Found your site by accident. On the news last night they mentioned the Maldives being lost to global warming. so I thought I would have a look see how Gan was getting on. Low and behold your site. I was at Gan with the RN HMS St Brides Bay in November 59 and we had some good nights in the Sergeants mess, but sorry about the message or officers left on the end of the runway on November the 5th. Loved the place a real tropical paradise

Carl Lemkes

My name is Bob Frost I worked on Gan 1960/61 for the Air Ministry Works Directorate My job was to oversee the construction of the electrical installation throughout the island, I did put my details on this site but I have been unable to find it now, has it been removed ?
I have about 500 photo's which I took whilst on Gan and was ready to update my contribution to this site.
I have attached a couple of pictures.

Bob with AMWD                                         Gan's First Post Office                            Transformer Beside the Power House

Best regards

Bob Frost             [Click on Thumbnails for Larger Picture]

I have been working in Gan from 1970 to 1974+ years. I worked at Photographic Section SAS Flight. I am a Maldivian (Adduan).
I came to Gan every day from Hittadu, in a dhoni leaving home at 4am or earlier, in rain or storms windy or no wind.
I worked from 6:30 in the morning till 3:pm and reach home by night. Some long working hours, isn't it?
Anyway it was enjoyable time. It is like a  dream, but now only a fading  memory. 

I can see a small group photo in the "Can you put Names". I remember setting up the camera for this one and ran fast only to  get seated on the left. You won't miss me 'cos the only one black and with no uniforms. I am attaching a photocopied copy of that photograph, since i have misplaced the original. Will send a better one when I find it.

If it interests you to know, this photo is where the Hittadu Radio Station once was......
...and this photo  is a new road paved between the islands a few years back.

Best Regards,
[Click on Thumbnails for Larger Picture]

Thought you might like to have the three attached pictures, haven't seen them on the site.  Can't remember how I came by them, the three or so weeks I spent on Gan in October/November 1975 are a little hazy. I was there with a party from Akrotiri to take out the RHAG's.

A tour of Gan had never really appealed to me, but once there I found it was amazing, both the place and the people - very character building (some real characters!?).

After removing the tapes from the RHAG's we hauled them back to the workshops where the Maldies took one look and went 'gizzit'.  We 'sold' the nylon tapes for a few shells, which I still have.
I remember walking in puddles after a rainstorm and was surprised at getting my feet nearly parboiled. The fruit bats staring out from the bushes were eerie.

Not a very good swimmer but loving snorkelling I frightened myself one day out by the Marine bar.  The fish and coral were such beautiful colours, then I suddenly found myself out over the edge of the reef with nothing but water below me, got used to it after a while, but for a moment it was like going over the edge of a cliff.

Being pretty fit I decided to go for a run round the island one night a week or so after arriving.  Didn't allow for the humidity though and was just about glowing in the dark by three quarters of the way. At that time there was a Regiment guy who did the run every day, first in shorts then in uniform with a backpack, apparently he wanted to get into the elite regiment.

Some poor sod probably has a scar on his arm thanks to me.  Sitting in the Marine bar feeling pretty fed up about something I suddenly found myself being lifted and hauled out for a dunking, problem was someone had their arm forcing my jaw painfully apart, so I bit down to let them know - sorry mate, wasn't done nastily, I was in pain myself.  After the dunking I wasn't quite so fed up!!


Ray Beckham.
[Click on Thumbnails for Larger Picture]

Lorraine Lee [WRAF Loadmaster]
RAF Gan Staging Post 1974-1976

[Click on Thumbnails for Larger Picture]

Phil – your excellent website is a nostalgic treasure trove. I’ve particularly enjoyed the gallery archives, especially those of Richard Harcourt, who with inimitable photographic style has managed to capture the atmosphere of life on Gan so well. I spent many days there, as a WRAF loadmaster, between flights 'down route'.

Not all arrivals of VC10s were bathed in sunshine; storms were quite frequent.  I recall disembarking in one downpour, gingerly walking the wooden ramp (no steps having) in regulation high heels, slipping down the bottom section to the tarmac, on my knees.  I thought I’d go with the flow, bowed to the ground in a sort of papal gesture, saluted in genuflection mode and handed the paperwork to the movements officer.  He hardly flinched and said ‘Welcome to Gan’– no doubt his impressions of aircrew visits were already entrenched.  My own are now flash back recollections, in disjointed jumble:

Courier services
Received an emergency request from Bunny Bowring (pharmacy dispenser) for make-up.  Collected stash from Brize WRAF blocks and sourced fairy costume netting from Carterton market. All destined for Gan pantomime production.
Delivered gizzit boxes of fruit, obtained from ‘Hitler Brothers’ (I kid you not), market gardeners of Limassol, to the Fire Section and Medical Centre at frequent intervals.
Strangest request was a male wig for one of the NAAFI workers (not a thespian).
Biggest mass ‘monk on’ was during the postal strike.  We were warned, under extreme threat, not to accept letters by hand, for delivery to UK.  Huge relief when that was resolved.

‘Blue Lagoon Hotel’ (prefab) - hub of activity for gozomies or quiet respite for aircrew stragglers in the early hours.
Post flight ‘wind-down drinks’ (demi-johns of Kokinelli, bottles of Tiger beer and such) followed by caffeine chasers were frequently imbibed. Body clocks and healthy living awry.
Graveyard shift workers (cheery all hours), Radio Gan DJs (Bob Foster et al) who played requests around the clock, duty cooks with emergency carb snacks. All were inspirational.

Accommodation - whirling ceiling fans for unacclimatised, transit softies.
Big sinks for dobbying of highly inappropriate tropical uniform (crimplene dresses and 15 denier tights).
Note Richard’s pantomime photos - the pretty Gannite cross dresser, in WRAF loadie cabin dress & blonde wig, looks infinitely more appealing than the real thing.

Worthy Mentions

 Once received a call from Medical staff to ask if, as part of educational advancement, I would like to assist at a birth (perplexed, as I’d been a dental hygienist in previous career). Young Maldivian lady looked relieved to see a woman in gown and face mask. Thankfully, I only had to stand on the sidelines, feeling faint and holding towels, while the men got on with it, in true professional style.

Astra cinema nights and traditional rolling of antiquated Pearl & Dean slot, before the main feature. Communal mantra of dialogue for Brylcream Boys advert was de rigeur.

Guest presenting on Radio Gan, not allowed to touch dials or turntables but could sift through massive stock of vinyl in LP store.  Had to take care to read names and endearments from home correctly.  ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place’, ‘Island in the Sun’ and ‘I am Sailing’ amongst the most popular requests.

Remember the Gan lemonade and tuna curries eaten al fresco - which never tasted the same when recipe followed in Oxfordshire flat.  Neither does alcohol sipped from a coconut shell.
Impressive sun sets and dawn breaks were lovingly observed.
Colour everywhere - dhoni race days and fancy dress, tropical fish, flamboyant batik shirts and frangipani blossom.

Most Memorable trip
Being part of the crew on the last VC10 flight out of Gan.  There was a true carnival spirit, though it was tinged with sadness at the passing of an era.  Vividly recall farewell parties and final bus tour of island landmarks.  Our aircraft taxied past the rear party lineout, hands held aloft in traditional ‘Gan salute’.  It was an emotional and poignant farewell.

The coral and shell gizzits are still intact after 30 years and 10 house moves – though I’m told ownership makes me ‘non environmental friendly’.  Sadly, the miniature scaled dhoni boat broke years ago, but I still have some C60 cassettes from the studios of Radio Gan, my fire crew gorilla t shirt and movements section Pink Panther top.
Halcyon days!

I was on Gan from 62-63 as an SAC in the medical centre. I was just checking the internet to find if Gan was below the equator when I found the site. What a surprise.
Great memories and oodles of stories... even a few photo's.
Oh yes Gan.

Rod Summers

16 May 1971, Sqn Ldr Frank Stillwell`s leaving procession.
On Left: Flt Lt Bernard Vaughan. Seated: Stillwell. Back to camera: Wg Cdr Brian Gee, Station Commander

Click on Thumbnail for larger picture
Hello there  everyone from Ken Borrett ex siggies  RAF Gan, RAF Seletar and RAF West Drayton. A long time ago !968-1973 Have settled down here in Fleetwood Lancashire and working at the local Civil Service Lucky to be 60 and working only 4 days  a week now but making the most of it as i play  a guitar and have been in  a few bands in the past My  mate Bob who is  a singer play songs naturally from the 60's era and are looking for some good backing tracks or midi files I have searched on the internet but most of them are rubbish we would like to play at some charity venues taking it easy.

Ken Borrett                                                                                          Click on Thumbnail for larger picture

Found this tatty old photo of when I served on Gan. It was taken Christmas 1967/68 in the Fire Section billet bar. I was the 'Postie' there (BFPO Det 302 Postal & Courier Royal Engineers) and had a great time, although pissed a lot!
I can name some of those on the photograph but as for the rest then some of your readers may identify?

Click on Thumbnail for larger picture

3rd from the right is yours truly (Dennis Lacey), then on my left is Mick Blyth and on my right Paddy Kennan (both Fire Section). On Paddy's right are 2 lads from 51 Airfields Construction Royal Engineers and then the remainder are all Fire Section. One a Cpl Alex Galthaiet, but which one I'm not sure of now.
Good luck with the site and it is one I will visit regularly.

Dennis Lacey

I was in  Gan from 1971-1972 during the days when Gp. Capt. Shepherd was Station Commander.   He instigated UK leave, although I forget the proper term for it, and I was one of the fortunate ones who made it back home, ostensibly for a week or so.  A telegram or phone call should have been directed to my home at RAF Benson telling me when my flight back would be.  The message never came, so I eventually called Air movements at Lyneham only to discover they did not know I was in England, along with one or two others !   Needless to say there was an inquiry as to how this happened, and as a Cpl. working in Traffic Analysis, I was tasked to find why no notification had been given to the appropriate people.   The message was "lost" somewhere in the communications chain, some thought quite conveniently !   But I am sure that all who served with "The Good Shepherd" and witnessed his departure from this beautiful isle would never forget the emotion of the moment as he boarded his aircraft to wing his way home.   In my capacity as chief projectionist at the Astra a certain "Q" protested at the so-called vulgarity of the section slides we used to show prior to each film.   The Adjutant ordered the slides to be removed, and when this was broadcast on Radio Gan there was an instant boycott.   I received a telephone call asking me to meet the Station Commander at the cinema forthwith... I did, and he asked to see the offending slides (remember "supply" and "demand").   Being the man he was, with the morale of his men at heart, he ordered the slide show re-instated.   Radio Gan ensured the cinema was packed to capacity that night !   I also remember Joe Brown and his Bruvvers being part of a CSE show, staged in the Astra, and after the show he asked me if he could see our accommodation.   A night never to be forgotten, with Vicki Brown sitting on my bed, along with her husband of course, and members of his entourage.   Much "forbidden" drinking went on that night and a great time was had by all.  I never knew so many people could fit into my room....   So many fond memories, and my best wishes to everyone.   Please feel free to email should you wish to do so.   I could go on for hours, the Gan Island Post would fill the whole page and many more.  That will be another story  !

Michael Gay - 1971-72

I was in Gan from 71-72, primarily as chief projectionist in the Astra, but otherwise employed in Traffic Analysis, Commcen Gan.  Played cricket for Gan, and went on a "cricket tour" to Colombo.  Any members of that team, or anyone who has memories of the Gan Island Post articles written about the "shows" put on in the Astra?  Like when Joe Brown and his Bruvvers came, and camped out in my room for most of the night after the show drinking Sangria!  Many happy memories.   Please email if you like.  Now living in the U.S.A. for my sins

Michael Gay

I was sent to RAF Gan in August 1960. At the time I was the SNCO (Sergeant or Flight Sergeant) IC Dental Centre RAF Changi (Singapore). I cannot really recall, but think I helped to 'set up' the Dental Centre after the staff left Ceylon. I also visited from HQ NEAF (Cyprus) in the mid 70s, as a Warrant Officer,( on 2 or 3 occasions) on staff duties!!!!!!!!!!!! After 1960 then 1972/5 the place looked really wonderful.
Leonard R Danby

I was a "Hittadu Hermit" 1969 - 1970. I have fond, if vague, memories of great scuba diving, the Dhoni races we had with everybody from Gan.  The football team of which I was the goalie had a marvellous record of hardly ever winning, especially against the signal guys from Gan. Must have been the serious training we did with Tuborg and Benson and Hedges. Also playing rugby and having the Padre, Gareth, on the opposing team. Nothing like having the boot stuck in followed by a "Bless you my son!"

I do remember the Skynet satellite guys coming out from England to set up on Hittadu. They all had major attitude problems which went away overnight when they lost their satellite!

Fishing off the back reef was always a challenge as you never new what was going to be on the end of the grappling hook and 200 yards of rigging rope.

The leave to Singapore was, as anyone who has been there and to Bugis Street, an adventure in alcohol and women, for a price!

I have many slides which I could get scanned in if anyone is interested of Hittadu etc/.

I was the guy who designed the Hittadu Hermit Tie of the Hermit Crab and the "Not Having X11" logo

Anyone who wants to chat, just drop me an email. I've been living in the USA for the past 26 years just outside of New York City.

Regards to all ex Hermits and Ganites, Tony Hampton

I served with Brocklebank Line in the mid 1960's and had a couple of visits to Gan Island on Maidan and Magdapur. The ship would anchor off the island and cargo would be discharged into RAF Marine Craft (like small landing craft). An NCO would be based on the ship during this time as a cargo checker/supervisor, unfortunately one or two of them enjoyed the ship's hospitality a little too much resulting in RAF disciplinary action. It has to be said that some of the ship's officers equally enjoyed the hospitality of the RAF on the island.

Invariably a football match would be arranged between the ship and the island - No doubt the RAF had easier team selection than the ship - with less than 20 engineers, mates and cadets to choose from (the Asian crew would not participate) It was a case of trying to get together 11 off duty who could walk never mind run or have even the slightest football talent

These matches always ended in substantial defeat for the ship - I think our best score was a 6 - 0 defeat. This despite we had great support from the spectating RAF personnel who cheered us on as the "NAAFI NAVY". As one of the younger and junior in rank I was forced to play as a forward - the more senior, older. less mobile among us always selected themselves as defenders.

As a forward I could easily have been cannon fodder for the much fitter and talented RAF players. To their credit (thanks lads) the RAF boys treated us gently unlike matches involving visiting Royal Navy ships where inter-service rivalry could result in some blood being spilt.

James Souter

Thought you might be interested in the attached photo. It was taken by myself from a MK1 Nimrod in early 1973. I was on detachment to Tengha from Kinloss. We stayed a few days on Gan whilst covering Search & Rescue.


Danny Bow
Chief Technician

In am a Ex Army Sergeant who was attached to the Indian Army and would very much like to exchange emails about Gan, I was on the Island from 1943 to late 1945 with Indian Gunners and at that time the only building there, was the Commanders house. We lived in tents with the utilities very primitive'
From my dates of service there you will gather I am knocking on a bit in fact I am 84 and was called up with the TA in August 1939 and went home from India in 1946.
I would be only too pleased to swap stories about life on Gan if anyone is interested.

Albert Morris
I have just been told about your website by an old College friend who was in the RAF on National Service. I was in the Real Forces in the Royal Engineers!

I worked for Richard Costain Ltd on the construction of the air base from August 1958 to December 1959
There were 100 Expats on the Island and 2000 Pakistani Labourers and Craftsmen.
We too drank a lot of beer but between times worked a 54 hour week. Not a lot of fun at 31 degrees. The money was good though
I went back there for one day about two years ago and the place has of course changed out of all recognition. The runway is still in good shape but the whole atoll is very overcrowded now. 
I worked on the construction of the transmitter station at Hittadu, where the old site is completely overgrown now. Just me and one other expat there plus our cook. We used local Maldivians for the labouring.
Back to Gan after two months on Hittadu where I was in charge of construction of the external services, so when the water came out of the tap or you went to the loo, I had a hand in it!
It would be good to hear from some of my old mates who wee there but I expect most of them are pushing up daisies now
Good to see your website.
Don't know why you get so many moans about the place. We had a harder time than the RAF chaps but for me it was the experience of a lifetime
Best Wishes

Barry Hatch
My father spent about a couple of years in Gan as a civilian.  He was anex-RAF pilot by the name of Henry Musgrave Williams.  He was born on23/10/1916 in Liverpool and died in Gloucester on 23/3/1980.

Unfortunately, my mother and father were divorced when I was very young, so I do not have too much information.

Upon leaving the RAF he became a civil servant with the Ministry of Aviation and served in Gan as well Egypt.

I wrote to you regarding possible records for my father Henry Musgrave Williams.

By sheer coincidence, I read this article on a local website.


The unfortunate victim looks to be my retired teacher from the Colchester Institute (was Colchester Technical College), as he would have been about that age.  He taught electronics at the college and related to me about the time he spent at Gan when I mentioned my father's posting to him.  He did not speak too favourably of Gan.

I had the good fortune to meet John McGann once after his retirement at
his residence during my time as a British Telecom engineer.

John Henry Williams.

Hi There,

What a surprise for me to read the letter from John Barter. John you remembered not only my first name but spot on with the surname. Its great to see you're family have had so much use from the guitar.
Like John I'm disappointed there is no photos from Hittadu. I suppose we're to blame. I took plenty of snaps including the Xmas party we put on for the kids of Hittadu village in 1972 also a one off visit to the same village and plenty of shots of our club. Unfortunately these have been mislaid in the last few years.
What I remember most of Hittadu was the "Honkers Cross". I was never a big drinker so you can imagine I spent a lot of time polishing the brass and it was heavy around the neck. Does any body know what happened to this cross.

PS. John I still can't play the guitar and drink.

Clive Vaughan

I was stationed on Gan from January 1967 to January 1968 as the medical laboratory technician at the sick quarters. I instigated the bicycle labelled "The Station Vampire" as I took a sample of blood of every service man who arrived on Gan, which was blood grouped so that we had a record of all the blood groups and would be able to use them in case of need..
It was while I was on Gan they had an outbreak of typhoid in the local population, who were the main food handlers on the island. These had to be checked to ensure they were free of the infection as quickly as possible or the messes and catering depts would have had a great deal of difficulty keeping going. As I was the only laboratory technician on the island a lot of the work fell on my shoulders as I worked for three weeks from 6 in the morning to 2 at night non  stop.
The result of the work done by the sick quarters meant Gan was awarded The Wilkinson Sword and I was awarded an AOC's Commendation in the 1969 Honours List.

Allan McLachlan (2523142 Cpl)
15 The Smithy
Glos    GL7 1HU
01285 652408                     

Allan please contact me Phil Small re Photos

Hi there,
I was sent to Malaysia in 1957 based at Kuala Lumpur in the Royal Air Force Police. We formed a group called the Vagabonds and played on Radio Malaysia, Radio Singapore until we were sent on tour to Singapore where we played at the Malcolm Club then to the Nickarbar Islands [Indian Air Force] where we were attacked by wild pigs to re-fuel before moving on to Ceylon [Sri Lanka] where we entertained at 3 bases before moving on to the Island of Gan [1958].

We lived in a tent, played in a bamboo and palm frond basha for all on the
island. Then to make things really hum we played for some 2-300 people from Pakistan who were working on the airstrip. It was a great night to share music, song and instruments and they cheered us back home to the tents.

I have some photographs in black and white including one of the Valetta
Aircraft that took us there and back

Contact 21a St Cuthbert Street, Kirkcudbright, DG6 4DJ

I would like to contact the rest of the group but will have to look up some
names. Jeff Cook, Cy Shaw etc. National Service was good to us

John Tooth

Just found the web-site and note that there is a great injustice here. There is no reference to, or picture of Hittadu, the transmitter site across the Attoll.  We were the ones known as "Hermits" as the hermit crabs were rumoured to outnumber us by about ten thousand to one.  When I was there in the early seventies, we had a collection of small sharks and a few puffer fish in the static tank and one of the responsibilities of the off duty transmitter-hall staff; was to go fishing in order to feed our captives.
I gave my Gan corporals club tie to an American collector last year.
Whilst on Hittadu, I met a chap called Clive, ( I think his Surname was Vaughan ) he had bought a rather nice Suzuki acoustic guitar to go out to Gan with.  His intention was to learn how to play it.
He left about nine weeks after I got there and as he was about to leave, he handed me the guitar, complete with case and a Beatles song book as a '
Gizzit'  He said that as I had had more use out of it than he had, I might as well look after it until I left.
I was then instructed to give it to my wife.  This I did and she played it for twenty odd years until one day our daughter asked if she could borrow it.  That was over ten years ago.  It never came back, but she still plays it and has recorded some quite nice songs of her own composition using it.  So Clive: if you visit this site: Thanks.
Any Gannites who got over to Singapore may have heard the song: "Freezing Flat-broke Britain"  Sometimes known as "When I go back to Blighty"  Well I'm the one who wrote it. I now work as a driver and have a small Ten-Pin Bowling Pro-Shop in Blackpool.

All the best:-  John Barter.

I would like to contribute to your web site by informing you of a small part of Gan History.
My father and I lived on Gan Island for 2 years around 1983- 84 . The air base was vacant and run down. My father made an agreement with the Maldivian government STO to open a garment factory on Gan and one generator was restored by the natives for this purpose. About 450 natives were employed and trained on equipment shipped from Hong Kong by Mr Rodney Wade, a British business man. Later another Chinese Company opened a sweater factory. At that time the only way to get to Gan was one flight which run every two weeks or one boat from Mali each month. We lived on coconuts, tuna fish, lobster and fried bananas which
reminded me of French fried potatoes, being from Tennessee, USA. Many days I snorkelled on the inner reefs viewing an enormous array of ocean life
The business eventually went bankrupt and we left just as the British earlier.
PS I understand that now there is a tourist attraction on Gan.

Mike Greenfield

I was a civilian Gannite (Met Office) November 1973 to November 1974 (us roughy toughy Met Men did 12 months!) and May 75 to closure. I was on the last but one VC10 out.
The person I recognise is one that no doubt you have been told of before, but he's on the first photograph, back row, second from the left. He is, of course, that most famous weather forecaster Bert Foord. Sadly no longer with us. I also recognise the two next to him, but I can't remember their names.
Knowing Bert that photo must've been a golfing presentation in what looks like the Officers Mess.
During my time there I lived in No2 Civilian Mess and I was the Bar Officer for most of the time. People there at the time may remember the bloke behind the bar with a huge bushy ginger(ish) beard and typical mid seventies hair style, i.e. almost shoulder length. I still have the beard, somewhat tidier and greyer now. I just wish I still had the hair!!
As a matter of interest, I have recently retired from the Met Office (early at 55, I did nearly 39 years) and my last 5 months with them was on the Falklands. I must have some kind of penchant for small islands in big oceans!

Ray Taylor

I was posted to Gan in Dec 1964 from Odiham and arrived on the island on Jan 1st '65 after leaving UK on 30th Dec so, guess what, that made me a December repat!   I was probably one of the jammiest devils on the island; a full 12 month tour but Christmas in the UK at both ends.   I got away from Gan on the 19th Dec 65 and was back home in time for Father Christmas
Obviously I was very lucky but genuinely did miss not being with the Lads for the Best Bar Competition - I with the rest of the guys put a lot into it.   I forget the hut number but it was full of Shineys - Clerks, Accounts  etc (I worked in SHQ).
I had a weeks leave in Singapore with Rod Martin - I've been back there on several occasions but only passed through the Maldives (Male) when I was Business Class on Emirates (courtesy of my daughter!), who was flying with them, on a free ticket she got me.   Better than Transport Command Comet 4B!

Graham Thompson - e-mail

I was the SNCO at Dunidu for three months from February to May 1963. The position was probably the only one in the RAF where one man was Officer i/c GRSF, Signal Cabin, Island maintenance, power maintenance, drinking and toilet water maintenance, Catering Officer, Meteorology, motor boatcrew,  cryptology, air traffic control,  airfield maintenance and fire fighting. As well I was ADC to the UK Rep., Courier and Liaison with the Male Government and RAF liaison with the RN Ship on station in the Male Atoll.
In 63 we were supplied, on occasion, by the Valetta from Gan. At the end of my three months the Valetta came up to bring my replacement and take me home, to Gan. Its brakes failed on landing on the 800 yard runway at Hulele and it went off the end of the runway, doing a ground loop just short of going into the ocean. I spent a considerable amount of time and energy digging away coral from in front of the undercarriage, in order to place some PSP planks for the pilot to pull himself out using his own engine power. The engines were going the whole time I was doing this with the props just missing my ears. We managed to get it out (only tool was a shovel) and back onto the runway. The crew and its passengers had to stay the night on Dunidu.
Next morning we had to take off with the brakes slipping almost as soon as the throttle was pushed forward. Scary! I decided to hold my camera close to the window and to take a shot as soon as I saw the water. If it was all round me then it didn't matter. If it was below me I would treasure the shot.  I still have that shot.
That was the Valetta's last flight. It was towed to the other side of
the Island back at Gan where it was used for fire fighting practice

Alf Commons.

Male and CCS 1963


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