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El Adem

The Albert Webb Page
El Adem - Tobruq 1962-64 and 1969-70

Are you in any of these photographs, or is your name mentioned on these pages?
If so, Albert Webb is waiting to hear from you.
Use the email button or don-simmonds@writeme.com and I will put you in touch.

Miss Olive Brittan, Beekeeper to King Idris
Miss Olive Brittan MBE, Beekeeper to King Idris
Courtesy Albert Webb

Residence of Miss Brittan Residence of Miss Brittan
The residence of Miss Brittan

Hello Don,
Here for a start is the residence of Miss Brittan attached. You can see the hill behind the truck where they held the closing ceremony and from which I took the second photo of the striking drive edged by the palms.

I must have given the photo of miss Brittan to one of the group, but don't worry I have found the negatives and it will be top priority to find a place who will print B&W photos tomorrow. I will send them all on to you soonest.
All the best.
Kindest regards,

Firemen More Firemen

Here are some amusing stories that some readers may already know about, one involves the late Mick Lally, a fireman at Tobruk Garrison. He was a bit of an impulsive nutter but very popular. One day Mick enticed this beautiful big piehard desert dog half as big as himself and which looked a little like a Husky, back to the section intending to make a pet of it. Well on the Monday morning Mick reports for duty leaving the dog locked in his room.

Half way through the morning there was a mighty crash from behind the building and coming from the direction of Mick's accommodation. When we ran around to see what had happened, we discovered Mick's billet was missing a window.
That dog had jumped clean through a closed window, taking the lot out including the fly screen.

Another story involves the section pet dog at the same section. It was too clever for its own good. It hated Arabs and kept them away from the section. Well, one morning one fellow was so persistent and the dog latched on to his leg which had to be treated in sick quarters. When the fellow came out, he came over to the section to complain. Where upon, the dog latched on to his other leg sending him back to SSQ. We never saw him again.

But this same dog loved travelling on the bus. It very often jumped on the bus up to Church square then caught it back and got off at the Garrison guard room on the way back to El Adem. Well the last time he did this, the bus did not go to the Garrison, it went straight to El Adem. That was the last we saw of the poor little chap. It was the time when all dogs on camp were shot on sight by the police.

Easter Cruise

As stated in an earlier posting, I had a sixteen and a half foot day sailer with me on my second posting to El Adem as a safety equipment fitter in 1969.
It was coming up to the Easter break of that year and I wanted to get a few mates together and go for a camping cruise west along the coast to Waddi Belgamel and further. I roped in three fellows who wanted to go. So I arranged for K rations for the four of us for four days. It turned out that it was to be five x five man packs, which was a lot of food.

Well, when we were to leave for Tobruk on the Thursday afternoon, only one fellow turned up. the others had chickened out. So it was to be Sammy Marks and myself. Sammy was an adventurer, he worked in ground equipment / workshops and was under the same officer I/C as myself.
As an adventurer, he belonged to the Desert rescue group and often went into the desert for weeks at a time. He was with them when they were the first to discover the crash site of the US flying Fortress "The Lady Be good". I have photos of the equipment they bought back with them which I will try to find and post them on this site.

Now back to the story. We stayed at a friends place on Thursday night and set off sailing up the coast late on Good Friday morning. We reached Waddi Belgamel late in the afternoon and had a meal and were preparing the boom tent on the boat to sleep under. While doing this an old Arab came walking along the beach and stopped to talk to us, he warned us that there was a big wind coming and it was going to blow from the direction of Tobruk.
We thanked him and quickly stowed the boom tent and all our food and set sail back the way we came intending to then camp at Buffalo Creek.
Of course it got dark long before we were half way there and I mean dark, no navigation lights or anything to show us the way just instinct and a slight darkening where the sky met the land. It was just a nice breeze to push us along in the direction we wished to go. I knew Buffalo Creek was due south from airman's beach so sailed on that course.
It got quite creepy closing the coast when we could see nothing, but as it turned out we sailed through the entrance to the creek and dropped anchor close to the beach.
During the Saturday the wind began to blow gale force from about north east and almost into the creek. It still became very uncomfortable there and we kept moving the boat around looking for the most comfortable position. That night while sleeping in the boat with the boom tent up, there was a particularly big wave which put the boat almost on her beam ends, poor Sammy who was sleeping with his head up under the fore deck tried to sit up in a panic and cracked his head under the deck. I almost wet myself laughing at his panic, as we could have stood up in the water we were anchored in.
Anyway, it was still blowing a gale on the Sunday and Monday so there was no way we could get out of there, so there was only one thing I could do. I walked across the desert to the El Adem Tobruk road to wave down the bus to Tobruk and get to a phone to inform the orderly officer at El Adem of what was happening and to let our section commander know that we would be back as soon as possible.

I don't know the distance I walked but on the way back I was getting pretty exhausted and was dragging my feet badly. Luckily I was carrying a tin of fruit salad and one of those little tin openers we get with the rations, so I sat and got stuck into that. When I was finished I could actually feel the strength returning and I was bounding down that Waddi over the rocks.

In the evenings we spent our time collecting all the lumps of oil that had washed up and kept a massive camp fire going. No doubt that solidified oil will be there to this day. It was Tuesday morning before the sea was calm enough for us to get away from there

By the time we reported for duty it was the middle of the morning and the section commander was ready to put us both on a fizzer. He knew nothing of our stranding because the orderly officer was sloppy and did not make out a report. A phone call was made and the OO confirmed I had phoned him.
But what a fool. If we had not turned up and it became known we were out in a boat, a full scale search and rescue would have been implemented.
Are you still around Sammy?
Would make my day to hear from you or hear from someone who knows you.
Regards to you all.
Bert Webb

The last story that comes to mind involves Jock Gibson, another fireman. Jock was friendly with the contractors who were working on the water recycling plant at Tobruk. One night on duty, he told me he had some gelignite given to him by his friends and he wanted to bomb some fish in the harbor but he couldn't swim and asked me if I would borrow the marine craft dinghy and row him around till we came across a shoal of fish. I agreed and we went out next morning.
Well after a short time we came upon this large shoal of Garfish, where upon Jock lights the fuse of a 4 oz bomb. The water was about twelve feet deep. There was a great thud and all these fish as one turned on there backs, there were hundreds. some floated and some went to the bottom.
I jumped in and retrieved all the surface fish, then attempted to swim down to get the rest. Well it was April and the water was freezing and it was my first swim that year. Normally I could do it with ease, but my ears were giving so much pain I could not get down that far.
I think Jock was pretty mad with me even though we could hardly move in the boat with the fish we had caught. Anyway I took my share and went home to sleep after my night shift.

Lunch time I went back down to the yacht club and was told Jock had almost got himself jocked up. It seems he had an 8oz bomb, twice the size of the one we used that morning. When a shoal of very large Mullet swam by close in to the yacht club wall and Jock lit the fuse and threw the bomb into about six feet of water.
Of course there was a great explosion and at the same time there was a scream from the harbormasters office behind the club. Jock threw the bomb in where the office toilet pipe came through the wall under water and the blast had gone up the pipe and destroyed the toilet bowl.
The Harbor master came around in a rage intending to have Jock locked up. He soon calmed down when he was offered the biggest fish.

Those were the days and what a life, I wouldn't have missed it for anything. Where else in the world in the Royal Air Force could you have the fun and activity that we enjoyed at Tobuk and El Adem.
Will write again soon with another. It is 0030 hrs and time for the pit.
Hope this stirs other interesting stories. Come on fellows, dig deep.
Bert Webb