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El Adem
Handley Page Hastings C-2 (WD498)
First flew 1951
Crashed 10th October 1961

This page is a memorial to those that lost their lives and those that attempted to save lives.

Do you know anybody mentioned on this page or of the events depicted?

The [co-]pilot's seat slid back on its runners as the aircraft was about to lift off from El Adem, Libya. He called to the captain to take control but let go of the controls before the captain had done this. The aircraft became airborne, stalled, crashed and burnt out. One of the six crew and sixteen of the thirty four passengers were killed.
The [?]pilot was not cleared to handle the Hastings during take off

I thank Ernie Bullock and Dennis Turner for bringing to our notice that A/Sgt Hughes was a hero of this crash.

I also thank Geoffrey Cutajar (rather belatedly) for bringing a second hero to our attention...
that of his Grandfather Cpl Nazzareno Sammut whose story is at the bottom of this page.

WD498 Courtesy Suzanne Russo

Sgt. Hughes Headstone

The following email (plus a newspaper report) has prompted me to add a name to the list of unfortunate victims of this crash. If anybody can throw any light on this please get in touch. [Don]

I am the daughter of
A/Sergeant John Michael Hughes (592522)
I believe he died in this accident. I have not found any mention of his name but the events described by my mother all fit this incident.
He was in 70 Squadron and we (my mother brother and sister) were living in Cyprus when the accident occurred. I was five years old and have little or no memory of the incident save that which my mother told us many years later.
I know that he has a military grave in Cyprus Dhekalia cemetry.
I would appreciate if anyone can shed some light on this.
Suzanne Russo nee Hughes

Re: Suzanne Russo's request for information about her father A/Sergeant John Michael Hughes (592522) and her belief that he died in the above mentioned accident;
I was a patient in the RAF El Adem sick quarters at the time of the accident, and all patients who were not seriously ill were immediately discharged to make room for the survivors.
I cannot confirm whether A/Sgt Hughes was killed in the crash but I did hear that the Quartermaster, who would have been a Sergeant, initially escaped from the burning aircraft but went back in to try and save some of the soldiers still inside the aircraft. This resulted in the Quartermaster losing his own life.

This was a very brave deed by the Quartermaster and if Suzanne Russo's father was the Quartermaster then she can be very proud of having a hero for a father.
Ernie Bullock
Suzanne has confirmed that her father was indeed the Air Quartermaster. [Don]

Photographs from Cyprus, courtesy Suzanne Russo

Sgt. Hughes' Grave Sgt. Hughes' Grave

The letters below are by very kind permission of Mrs Hughes via her daughter Suzanne.
Air Ministry letter Letter from The Air Ministry
Letter from squadron Letter from Sgt. Hughes' Squadron

[ Don's Comment ]

I was working in the C.R.D.F. (Cathode Ray Direction Finder) hut at the end of the runway that night and saw the explosion and subsequent fire. Later and throughout that night I (with two others) was required to do guard duty on the aircraft to ensure that nothing was interfered with.
I also served in Malta (Siggiewi) for three years 1966-69.

This aircraft was carrying members of the Maltese Fortress Squadron within the Royal Engineers.
Of the 37 people on board, 17 died of which 15 were Maltese. They had been working with 5001 Squadron.

The son (Dr. Noel Cutajar) of a survivor has provided us with interesting comment on what happened to the victims that were flown back to Malta after the crash.

He has also kindly provided some photographs of the Pembroke Military Cemetary, where on Friday 10th October 2008 a memorial service was held, officiated by the Armed Forces of Malta Chaplain Fr. Lawrence Zammit.

Those whose names I have been able to obtain are...

Captain Francis Joseph Boatwright;
A/Sergeant John Michael Hughes (592522)
Sgt Emmanuel Falzon of Naxxar;
Lance-Corporal Nazzareno Portelli of Hamrun;
Lance-Corporal Emanuel Fsadni;
Sapper Francis Galia of Sliema;
Sapper Raphael Avallone of Sliema;
Sapper Salvatore Lia of Qormi;
Sapper Paul Cilia of Hamrun;
Sapper Carmelo Tabone of Birkirkara.
Sapper Michael Stivala
Sapper Gerald Caruana
Sapper Edward Barber

Two men died of their injuries on 11th October...

Warrant Officer II Edwin H.Harrison of Sliema;
Sapper Joseph Psaila of Hamrun.

Three severely injured men were flown to the U.K. Hospital at R.A.F. Halton...

Sapper Nazzareno Busuttil of Hamrun died on 15th October;
Corporal Nazzareno Sammut of Qrendi died on 31st October;
Sapper Duca of Ghaxaq.

Four men have been laid to rest in cemeteries elsewhere in Malta.

I am hoping that Noel will be able to obtain some comment from his Father (Sapper John Cutajar).

Just saw this website. My Grandfather was one of those who got killed by the crash [Michael Stivala]. Attached please find a picture of all those that died in the crash.
Take care.
Graziella Stivala.

Thank you Graziella, you will see that your Grandfather's name has now been added to the above list along with two others that were missing. Two photo's seem to be missing, (Sapper Duca, John Hughes). [Don]

Pictures of those that died
All photographs below, Courtesy Dr. Noel Cutajar

Hi Don

Just to add some information which I got recently:
In the 60's Malta was largely controlled by the Catholic Church and this means the way you think, political affiliation etc. Your social life is controlled by the Church. It is like being in Iran.
Unfortunately, the Church was in dispute with the Malta Labour Party and members of the party were considered to be living in sin.

This means that if you are a Labourite you cannot marry inside the Church, you cannot be buried in a Catholic cemetery.
We have an expression in Maltese which is "il-Mizbla". This literally means - the rubbish dump. A part of the cemetery was reserved for such persons who were not Catholic. It does not mean that they were buried in a rubbish dump but it was a place were it was not blessed by the rites of the Church.

Now those who were buried in the Pembroke Military Cemetry were all Labour supporters and thus denied a place to be buried in a Catholic cemetery. There was a Parish Priest in Naxxar who denied the family of Sgt. Falzon to have his body inside the Church. It was thanks to the intervention of the British Military services that gave them the space to be buried in such place.

This is what I call a Christian thought...they were denied their loved ones as a result of them being killed in the air-crash and to be further insulted by the Church.
No other monuments can be found on the island to commemorate them except the one found in the cemetery.

Here is a recent article on this issue
Times of Malta

May they rest in peace.


Memorial Plaque
Memorial Plaque

Hastings Crash El Adem 1961

My memory of the crash was that I was with a party of RAF Germany personnel who in possibly September or October of 1961 arrived at night at RAF El Adem in an RAF Transport Command Hastings aircraft from Abingdon on an "Expedition training scheme" in Marsa Susa on Libya's Mediterranean coast.

On arrival we passed a party of Maltese Royal Engineers who boarded coaches to take them to their Hastings aircraft for the flight back to Malta after a training exercise in Libya.

As our arrival was being processed we heard the crash alarm and looking out of the building saw the flames of the Maltese soldiers' Hastings aircraft on the airfield which had crashed and caught fire on take off.
I believe there were 13 fatalities and seem to remember a story circulating shortly afterwards that the fatalities were allegedly the first passengers ever lost by Transport Command.

It was also said that the aircraft broke into two on crashing and that the passengers in the severed tail section were trapped by flames being fed by fuel from the ruptured wing tanks.

Another story circulating was that the aircraft's Air Quartermaster, who was initially thrown clear of the aircraft, lost his life in attempting to rescue passengers from the burning tail section.

Dennis Turner
Hastings WD498, 10th October, 17 fatalities of 37 people. The cause was the pilot's seat sliding back during take off. [Don]

Hello Dennis
I thank you for this vital information.
I was in the CRDF (Cathode Ray Direction Finder) hut at the time and saw the same view that you did but from the opposite direction.

I had to stand guard duty on the wreck overnight, which was horrific. There was no centre section of the aircraft left as I recall. The aircraft had veered off the side of the runway.

Not wishing to be offensive...
the smell I remember was the mixture of fuel and burnt flesh. On the ground, the next morning we thought that we were looking at leather gloves at first.
I can't imagine what it must be like to be trying to escape fire.

Don Simmonds (Webmaster)

Hello Don
I also remember the smell as we had to have a medical check in Station Sick Quarters the following day and also when we returned from Marsa Susa and the smell of burnt flesh was still hanging over the place ten days later.

Dennis Turner

Hello Don,
I was in Malta as a boy 1957-61 during which time my late father, Major John S. R. Shave MC RE, was O/C Malta Fortress Squadron.
I didn't hear about the El Adem air crash until recent times so presumably we left Malta just before it happened. I shall be returning to Malta on 16 June and will visit Pembroke cemetery.
Father used to take Maltese troops to Tripoli to train them in the desert. While doing so he visited Leptis Magna. I have a camel stool he bought on one of these trips. It was probably made in Egypt. Dad sailed dinghies from the garrison yacht club, Swordfish and Sharpies and refereed army football.
I remember once visiting him when he was duty officer at the Castille. He had a camp bed in the office and the passageways were decorated with Martini carbines. I have fond memories of our time at Spinola and our next door neighbour, the actor and tenor Josie Coppini.

What better memorial can a man have than he is remembered with so much affection by his friends more than fifty years later.
Paul Shave

Hi Don
I was also in Tobruk when the plane crashed, it was the end of one the many large 'exercises' that were held in the area and the maltese were going home, they had all been buying presents for their children and families, there was to have been a party that night but of course that was then out of the question.

I knew many of the men who had the horrific job of rescuing those who were alive and then remove the poor unfortunates that died.
Both camps, Tobruk and El Adem were very subdued for a long time afterwards, as they say 'there but for the Grace of God...'

Trish Dawson

I remember the crash very well I was with Cyprus Park Squadron R.E. in Tobruk at the time and was about to return to Cyprus after the exercise by l.s.t when we were told about the crash and told not to say any thing to the other half of the maltese detachment who were still waiting to go up to el adem as many of them were closely related.
I had served with many of these lads before on a road building project in Cyprus in may of 1961 which was also my twenty first birthday, I also remember sgt Falzon clearly because he wanted to drive my bulldozer (not allowed)
This is the first time I have seen any mention of this horrific crash what is now 47 years ago and all I can say to any survivors, friends and relatives, I still remember them.

Dave Cass ex sapper R.E.

I laid awake last night and thought about it and have written an after thought which may also be included if needed.
I am now retired in Cyprus (not that far) and would welcome any one from that time to come over and of course stay with us for a holiday.
In addition to my email yesterday on the hastings crash, I remember their O.C.s driver Spr Dabouno, I don't know if this is the correct spelling, who was not on the first flight, and identifided the bodies at El Adem.
Also when the unit was in Cyprus the road project was the road down to Episkopi beach for the commander Cyprus and at the top of the road a stone was carved with the unit name and date, I don't know if it is still there because its not possible to go there any more.

Dave Cass

I feel that I should let you know my experience at El-Adem on the night of 10/10/61.
Johnny Rogers & myself had just left the Photographic Club & started to walk back to Campbell block.
All at once we noticed a big fire on the south side of the main runway, very soon emergency vehicles were racing towards the fire which was approx 2/3 of the way up the runway.
As we approached we realised it was a Hastings on fire & the fire tenders were working flat out but having little effect on the blazing inferno.
John & I could move no closer than about 70 yards because of the intense heat, all we could do was to watch in horror to the utter destruction & loss of life in front of us.
Having just left the Photographic Club I had my Camera with me, with a few shots left on the film, instinctively I took about four shots of the scene, only to have my Camera confiscated by one of the RAF Police present.

Johnny & myself returned to the block sadly in disbelief of the horrific events we had witnessed. The Hastings went out of control as it was lifting off, with many passengers on board and a full fuel load, one wing hit the runway the aircraft spun around throwing fuel everywhere ending up on the side of the runway A day or so later I was told to report to the Station Commanders Office in HQ, where I received a reprimand for taking photographs of a service aircraft without permission and a commendation for using my initiative in photographing the fire, which may give details to assist an enquiry into the crash.
My tour at El-Adem was only eighteen months but was highly eventful & often tragic.

R Max Morris

Thank you for the quick reply, yes certainly you can publish it & hope it may encourage more people to share their experiences at El-Adem. I do have many stories from my time there but they are a little frayed around the edges as time goes by.

Best Regards
R Max Morris, Have a good Christmas.

I was stationed at RAF El Adem from 1961 to 1963 and well remember the accident.
I was sat in the NAAFI with fellow members of the MT Section when the message came about the crash, and all off duty personnel report to Air Movements and await Instructions, we were just piling out the door when an off duty member of the Fire section told us it was only a practice using waste oil and we all sat down again!.Then an Officer told everybody to immediately report to the airfield.
My memories are of burning Maltese soldiers attempting to turn on the taps of the water tankers feeding the fire trucks pumping foam.later on we formed human chains walking down the runway to clear debris so Aircraft from Cyprus bringing a medical team could land.

I finished the night driving an Austin crash Ambulance taking bodies to the makeshift morgue set up in the gym. I was then detailed to drive a coach to Tobruk to pick up living out personnel. The first passenger to board the bus was a Flt.Sgt. Airframe fitter who had the previous evening been i/c of the TASF shift (Transit Aircraft Servicing Flt) He started to rollock me for being scruffy and failing to wear my beret,he had no knowledge of the accident and was visibly shaken when told him what had happened.

Fred McKeon

I was one of the first RAF Fireman to attend this accident. I would like to say that the Fire Service was at the Hasting's fire within five mins and not in the Station cinema at this time .The Airfield Crash Crew was manned 24 hours a day on the airfield next to Air Traffic Control. I was only 20 years old but will never forget that night or the people that lost their lives


Hi Don
I should have been on that plane (1961) which was going to Malta but changed my mind that morning and went to Cyprus instead.
I was mates with some airmovements guys so it was easy to do. I had 2 weeks in Cyprus which was great.

26 years later on honeymoon my wife and I took a shortcut from the beach in Malta and pass a large cemetery where we saw the mass grave of those soldiers. like us all, it was a close shave we all have with fate, I only change planes on a whim, I love my time at El Adem but I was very young 19 who looked 15.

best regards
Michael Mayers 1961-1962.

Hello again Don,
yes you can put my email on your website if you wish. I was about 22 then and now 70, time flies.I have many memories of El Adem, I was one of the 3 year National Service men.
After demob in Feb 1962 joining International Aeradio was promptly sent back to Benghazi airport Benina, I did another 3 years there. As one of the other airmen mentioned I remember the "strike" an interesting time, very unhappy for many young men.
I think it was you who mentioned CRDF, that was my baby I liked to watch aircraft simulating radar failure and coming in "Blind" right to the edge and perfectly in line with the runway.That was job satisfaction.

The day of the Hastings crash I had just landed in Malta for some leave and heard the terrible news. Apparently the pin adjusting the pilots seat snapped and the plane came to earth from about 50 feet up. All was well except that the fuel tanks burst and there were naked flame goosenecks emergency runway lighting either side of the runway and you know the rest.
My brother in law was in the Astra cinema queue and saw the pall of smoke as it happened. I married my RAF buddies' sister after demob, we are still married. I started work at Benina airport in 1963 and just a week before a Hawker Hunter had ploughed into the ground on the airport, he was doing about 400 knots about 100 feet up (beating up the airport) when he must have pushed the stick the wrong way.
All that was left was a lump of metal the size of a dustbin in a sizeable crater. Back at El Adem I spent some time with the Desert Rescue Team, radio call sign "Echo Bravo 8 Sierra", that was quite good fun. went to Giarabub and stayed in the fort there overnight before coming back.I could go on but a lot you will already know. I did visit the Mural at Bardia which I thought very sad.

My best wishes to all. Many thanks for doing such a good job. Whilst we were there at the same time I am sorry but you will have to remind me if we knew each other.
Take care
Rex (Cpl Williams). Any emails welcome.

Dear Don,
Further to the e-mail from Suzanne Russo about her father Sgt Hughes. The following might be useful unless she already is aware of it.
His service no 592522 tells me he was one of 40+ boys between 15 and 17 who were the 12th Entry of Administrative Apprentices who joined the RAF in 1951 at RAF St Athan.
The apprentices have a very active old boys association. Their website is www.rafadappassn.org
On the site go to Entry Scrapbook, 12th Entry and there is a picture of her father sitting on a Spitfire whilst at St Athan.
He is probably on several other photos but no names are listed.

I hope this info might be useful to Suzanne.
Peter Follett

Hello Suzanne
I may have good news for you.
I have a member of the operating crew of the WD498 who remembers your father. He would like to communicate privately with you, but I have a policy of not releasing any contact information unless both parties are agreeable.
I hope this may prove to be something really interesting for you.
Please let me know.
Don Simmonds

Note: This went ahead.

Many years have past since the event and my memory has faded a little.
At the time I was a Cpl rigger with 70 Sqn at Nicosia. I stand to be corrected on the following course of events.
WD498 was on the strength of 70 sqn at the time having recently arrived after a Major overhaul in the UK. This particular aircraft, at Nicosia, was the only one fitted with external wing fuel tanks.

We had prepared the aircraft for a paratrooping role prior to its leaving for El Adem. Obviously, when we heard that the aircraft had crashed everybody starts to worry.
However, the following day we had an urgent signal to the effect that all the holes in the seat adjustment rails were to be checked to ensure that the seat locking pins were engaging correctly.
As far as I can recollect it had been discovered that the seat rails had been replaced on major overhaul and that some of the seat locking pins would not engage freely. The pilot on the flight was rather short and I guess would have had the seat in a forward position. (Perhaps not used very often).

From what we learned later, on take-off, the seat had slid fully aft just as he became airborne causing the pilot to pull back on the control column, which stalled the aircraft. This caused the overload wing tanks to rupture as the aircraft hit the runway, the fuel then being ignited by the runway goose neck flares.
Mike Dawdry

51 years ago today
Hello Don,
Congratulations on your excellent website
A fitting memorial to that terrible evening 51 years ago today and also to the the mural at Bardea.

El Adem not long after my arrival.

In those days I was SAC Jim Myall and I worked in the P.O.L. section I arrived in El Adem on a two year tour on the 10th October the previous year and considered the Hastings crash a bad omen for my return trip home scheduled for the same date the following year.
I was walking with a couple of mates on route to the NAAFI possibly having been to the cinema As others have recorded I recall the shock of hearing the explosion, seeing the huge eruption of flames and black smoke on the runway and the realisation that it was the result of a serious plane crash.
With the remains of those who died being kept in the gymnasium I also recall the terrible smell and sombre atmosphere which hung around the camp for some days.
Not the best of postings but i also recall some great times at RAF El Adem and would not have swapped the experirnce for anything.
Thanks for the memories.
Jim Myall

I was a Troop Commander in the Malta Fortress Sqn at the time of the Hastings crash at El Adem. We were waiting in a tented camp outside Tobruk for subsequent flights home.
I was the one with the awful job of telling the rest of the Squadron about the crash and the names of those killed and injured. Some of them had relatives on the plane and it was a very close unit because the Maltese soldiers spent their whole army career in the same Squadron.

The families of all who died in El Adem, or in UK of their injuries, were offered military funerals within the British Military Cemetery in Malta.
Most were buried there but some families chose to bury their loved ones in their own parishes.
The burial was a very moving ceremony, which I clearly remember more than 50 years on. We lost many good friends.

By chance, the Troop and I were back in El Adem, in 1963, when a Beverley crashed on landing in a heavy ground mist. There were some fatalities amongst the crew. It was a sad time for everyone on the Station and a chilling reminder for us.

Regards Brian Daly

Thank you very much for your contact Brian,
Without checking, I seem to recall that there is a 'possibly' alternative view posted, regarding the issue surrounding burial.
Two things; would you care to elaborate any further regarding this issue?
Will you permit me to post your e-mail along with the others.
If there are any items in my own contribution (i.e. the main content) that are not fully correct I would be grateful for any comments you may have.

I feel sure that even this long after the awful event that I was witness to, many people still scour the internet for information and opinion.

Dear Donald,
You raised some specific points;

1. I don't see any errors but both you and The Times of Malta mention 5001 Sqn. I've no idea what sort of unit it was, but not Royal Engineers. I don't think we were working with them on the exercise but its possible.

2. On the question of burial. They died on duty and were entitled to military funerals. It was certainly offered to all the families. Most took up the offer, some made other arrangements.
I cannot comment on the reasons for their choices, which is what one of your contributors mentions.

Brian Daly

Hello Brian,
5001 Sqn was an RAF unit that builds and repairs airfields.
The last thing I remember of Malta was when, at the end of 1969 we were told to pack everything up and leave RAF Siggiewi because the Maltese Government had decided to permit Libya to use Malta after al-Gaddhafi's coup. (Of course this may be some kind of rumour, because I left before completion, I don't know.)
If you have any other information, comments please be in touch.

Dear Donald,
The reference to 5001 Sqn now makes complete sense and stirred some long buried memories. I do have a vague recollection of such a unit being there.
It had slipped my mind because my troop weren't actually involved with them.

I left Malta in 1963 with very happy memories of the place and its people. As you say, after independence, Dom Mintoff decided to kick out the Brits and to chum up to Libya, which had money to invest.
My wife and I returned on a holiday in 1990. Then, Libya had a very smart embassy, and the US and European oil companies used Malta, among other things, as an R&R base for their expat. staff in Libya. I gather political relationships with Libya cooled off quickly once Mintoff lost power.

We are going back to Valletta for a holiday this summer, which is what prompted me to Google "Malta Fortress Sqn" to see if there were any recent postings. I wonder what we will recognise?
Brian Daly

Hello Don
I was with Malta Fortress Sqn on that exercise in 1961, Capt. Boatwright was my Bomb Disposal Officer. During that exercise I developed an ear infection and was flown back from El Adem to Malta early so consider myself very lucky. Of the men who where sent to the UK and died of their injuries, I was detailed early one morning to go to the airport and take the coffins to the morgue.
Regards Ernie Campbell

Hi don, I was talking to my dad earlier tonight, he had been watching a film and in it was a plane crash.
He told me about a plane that crashed in Tobruk in 1961, he was stationed there in 61-66 I think as RAF police dog handler and witnessed the crash.
He recalls 28 Maltese soldiers died but said 2 or 3 made it out alive.
My dads name is Ralph Rix, he asked if anyone recalls his name.
Also I have many photos to of him at the base with friends and his dog.
Cheers Jason Rix

I am Paul Sciberras writing this letter about my grandfather because is in the plane but still alive...
Can you tell me more information about my grandfather pls? My grandfather now is died on 09/11/1995.
The name is Joseph Sciberras.. I send you a when my grandfather arrived in Malta on 14 oct 1961.
Thankyou for your help.
Paul Sciberras

Can anybody help here please? [Don]

Hello Paul
It is nice to hear about survivors instead of victims.
As you will see I do not (unfortunately) have a list of survivors on the website.
I will be happy to post your request for information on the website to see whether anybody can help.
If you wish that please reply with your permission.
Another possibility is to write to the Times of Malta newspaper who did extensive coverage.
As well as being in El Adem to witness the crash, I also spent 3 years in Malta, 1966-1969 and know it quite well.
Donald Simmonds

Hello don
Graham here. I was the duty medic in the crash 3 ambulance on the night of the crash and we were the second to arrive at the crash site.
There were lots of people running around with clothes burnt off. The team I was in grabbed 4 and put them on stretches and took them back to the sick quarters. We had to empty the sick quarters to make room for them and others.
I remember the smell of fuel and burnt clothes more than anything. I returned the night after and one of the casualties I had been looking after was still alive but he was never going to survive due to his horrific burns and died the day after.

Graham wickham (medic)

Hi Don,
Only found your web page by chance via a facebook group R.A.F. Tobruk & El Adem run by a Montague Heffing Flange, you may find mentioning this group on your page would be helpful to people seeking friends from the past, it is mainly children of the then personel of those bases.
It also has members who are locals of Tobruk and who have many common interests to people on your pages.

I served at both bases from June '61 to Feb '63 my Squadron was 5001 Airfield Construction Branch RAF.
On the Hastings crash you mention, I remember it well as we had just been on exercise with those Maltese Engineers and in fact had some drinks with them at El Adem before they boarded that plane. We had become friends with many of them during that Exercise in the desert, I believe the name of it was Exercise Saturn have some photo's of it somewhere.

We had only left those Maltese lads and gone to the NAAFI to celebrate the end of the exercise and were sitting outside on the patio when we heard a big bang followed by an enormous fireball and huge plumes of black smoke; we immediately thought of the Hastings and all those lads.

To a man we ran towards the runway to a sight I will never forget, flames everywhere and people on fire, screams I will always remember. The fire service were already deploying. We were then ordered to immediately go to the medics centre where many of us gave blood.The smell of burning flesh was terrible, I could hardly believe that not long before we had been laughing and joking together.

It took us a long time to get over that terrible night and all our thoughts were with their families and friends back in Malta. Many of us had planned to take some leave in Malta and all meet up.
A sad time indeed.
Bill 'Paddy' Adams, former SAC 5001sqdn RAF.

Hi Don,
Yes, feel free to use the info I recently sent you in any way you wish, I feel that such information should be recorded somewhere as a matter of Air Force history, especially as we are all getting on now. I will dig out some photos of the exercise, some show a mixture of Army and RAF in the desert, one shows our group on the NAAFI patio at El Adem that evening the Maltese lads had left to load up then the accident happened, we ran to the scene as we are dressed in the picture. A shocking night unfolded.
Cheers for now,
Bill 'Paddy' Adams, former SAC 5001sqdn RAF.

My name is Geoffrey Cutajar and I'm a police Sergeant in Malta.
I was browsing some news about El Adam Libya plane crash and saw your site. My grandfather was on that plane. Corporal Nazzareno Sammut. He is buried in the military graveyard in Pembroke Malta with the other members who died in the crash.

My grandfather was the last person who died with the crash. He died on the 31st October in a British hospital in England. He was transferred to England as he was very critical.
I remember my Grandmother saying that British officers made a passport for her the day after the crash and took her immediately to England next to her husband. She was pregnant with her 4th baby but returned back to Malta as thin as a needle which my mum (older daughter of just 12 years) barely recognised her.
From stories I heard, Nazzareno Sammut also went back to help others. He was sitting next to an emergency or exit door, but heard screaming inside the plane and went back to help.
My grandmother say that he had his hands burnt to the bone as he pushed his friends in flames out of the plane and died with the smoke he inhaled by going back in.
I also had heard some Maltese songs in classical (Ghana) style about him and about the others on the plane.
Many old people in Malta remember this story as it was a shock for this tiny island.

I also had heard the flight had delays that day as there was a malfunction on the plane and they loaded the plane and unloaded for 3 times before they took off. The plane took off and immediately went back down just after take off and crashed down on the same runway.
I've seen some photos of the plane in flames and some more, which probably my mum have them now as my grandma is also buried with him in the same grave with the permission of the British.

The event is remembered at the graveyard every year on the 10th October of each year.
God bless you all.

Hi there Don,
my name is Kylee Psaila and I am the granddaughter of Sappa Joseph Psaila who died on the 11th October 1961 of injuries from the El-adem crash. He was one of the 4 not buried in the Pembroke Cemetery (a few years later he was moved there though after my nunna, Joseph’s wife had a change of heart).

I write to you on the off chance that you knew him? My nunna is now 82 and although in good health she doesn’t speak too much of her late husband as she is still heartbroken and as I get older I wonder more and more about this man, my grandfather that I wish I knew.

My father was 6 when his father [Joseph] died and it’s obviously had a great effect in his life and I would just like to offer any information I can to him. I understand this is a long shot but it’s the only ‘shot’ I’ve come across.

I appreciate your site and the information and support you provide, it’s cathartic to read anything about that the terrible accident and gives me a good insight to the event so thank you.
Kylee Psaila
Melbourne, Australia

Hello Kylee
I am very sorry to inform you that I did not know your Grandfather, in fact I did not know anybody on the aeroplane, I was allotted, after witnessing the event from a radar installation, to stand guard overnight to prevent any looting.
My only suggestion is of course the survivors and or families of those listed on my web page.

The Times of Malta ran some articles at the time and it may be possible that they wrote brief copy regarding some of the victims. If you are unable to find any of those I will happily post your email on the web site asking for information. It would be nice to post it anyway for the benefit of others who may have a similar need and of course I would need your permission before doing so and a revised version if you wanted to change or add anything. It is up to you.
Naturally time is getting shorter for first hand memories or information. For example I was 19 at the time an am now 73.
Sorry I cannot be of more help.
Best regards

Hi Donald,
thank you so much for your reply.
Of course it would have been great to find some body who knew my grandfather and for that reason you have my full permission to post my email and my email address for anyone to contact me if they wish so.
I am very grateful to have come across your site, God bless, Warmest wishes
Kylee psaila

Can anybody help please? e-mail at top of page