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BKS in disguise as RAF

Signing on in the RAF for 3 years starting in August 1952, I square bashed at West Kirby, (midway through, travelling home on a welcome 48 hour pass, the train slowing down when going past the wreckage of the Harrow rail disaster),

I passed out and went to be trained as an Air Wireless Mechanic at Yatesbury, long since ploughed up and returned to farmland. The nearby Harris’s sausage (bags of mystery) factory at Calne has long since been closed down,

Then a comparatively idyllic few months at Pembroke Dock servicing equipment on the dozen or so magnificent Sunderlands which floated majestically on Milford Haven, all slowly changing direction at each rise and fall of the tide.

Although home in London was 8 hours away by train it was accessible, but to be posted to the Canal Zone was a shock.

Maybe it was the September of 1953 that we flew from Southend airport in a Dakota operated by BKS. The crew and attendant were dressed in RAF officers uniforms in case of a forced landing in Egypt, we were told and we headed for RAF Luqa where we stayed the night. It was when strolling in Valletta that evening I first encountered that sweet, sickly smell of olive oil used for cooking mingling with the dust, dryness and heat.

Next day, equipped with lunchboxes provided by the Hotel Phoenicia we took off to fly over the Med to land at RAF El Adem for refuelling. It was there I saw my first gecko.

Amid much turbulence, we flew eastwards across North Africa until suddenly that wide green swathe bounding the Nile came into view and we were soon nearing RAF Fayid where we landed.

Alan Merryweather


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