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El Adem Bombing Range
Reminisce 4 (Webmaster's Perks)

The Bombing Range 2016 (further down the page)

I decided that perhaps I could be permitted to have one or two recollections of my own.
Things had changed at The Bombing Range by 1961, (compared to 1959 bottom of page), no tents,
only Nissan huts. cinema/mess; kitchen; diesel generator; 4 for sleeping; one for the BAR
and one for the Sgt plus the basic Toilet over a large deep pit.

A searchlight on a raised platform stood in one corner, for guard duty...
and of course the Piard dogs (like wild Alsations) that scared me to death when on guard duty.
I think the Sgt, with his 'mop' of hair, had always been there.

Webmaster: Don SimmondsMe [Don] aged 19 (a bit younger than now) outside my Twynham at El Adem.
Low flyingI thought I would attach a photo I took from the Bombing Range mini-control tower of a Hawker Hunter, lack of wheels down is no indication that it is not landing: but it isn't!

The main gate to the Bombing Range (Hell's Half Acre) had a red 1000lb bomb mounted either side. The strafing targets were 15ft square sacking on wooden frames, with a target painted on.

I recall that after strafing had finished, Libyans would suddenly appear from nowhere (out of holes in the ground) and run around collecting the shell cases for scrap.

I must have stayed at the NAAFI at El Adem too long one evening, because I had to walk back to the Range (20 miles?) in the pitch black with no road and no torch, what frightened me most was that on my arrival I would be attacked by the Piard dogs.

FACT: One box of beer (a ration for round the camp fire) held 24 cans of Alsops OR Tenents lager.

Unburnt cordite from rockets (sort of waxy sticks), pushed into empty beer cans, produced unguided rockets - recycling?

The Americans used a technique called 'over the shoulder' bombing, where the plane was upside down at release point.
R.A.E. Farnborough, sent a team to photograph bomb dropping and they told me that 100ft of film disintegrates when they stop the camera. It was interesting to watch.

I remember one of our number (an artist) played with a mine detonator once too often (in his nissen hut).
Thanks to Robbie (Foxy) Foxwell for recalling his name for me, Brian Howlett. I seem to remember that he had a moustache.
I radioed main camp (EB8S, Echo Bravo Eight Sierra from CX3J, Charlie Xray Three Juliet) from the tower to get a helicopter. The remarkable Brian remained conscious during the long wait, right up until the chopper landed and he walked out to it. He had blown off most fingers from both hands and simply had a towel wrapping.
I have often wondered about how he made out. 'Foxy' has told me that he ended up in a hospital in Surrey.
If anybody knows please contact me.

Entrance to the Bombing RangeEntrance to the Bombing Range

I just thought you might like to see this photo, I found this as a negitive on the camp road at El-Adem, I had it developed into print years ago, and have always kept it, you might even know who it is, I haven't a clue.

Hello again Dave
Nice picture but unfortunately I haven't a clue who he is.
I do however recognise the bomb outside the Bombing Range compound (there was one either side of the entrance gate), the Sgt's nissen hut was in line longwise across the path from the one shown, all the rest (6 or 8 total for living inc. the bar) were diagonally top left off the picture in two rows either side of the path.

I would suggest that it is pre-1961 because it looks as if all the huts are not present in the top right corner, unless my memory fails me regarding how far away the end nissen was.
The small control tower would be about a 100yds behind the photographer. El Adem main camp to the left about 18 miles, the strafing point just outside the fence to the right and the bomb drop to the right 5 miles. With your permission I would like to post the picture and see what comes of it.
Regards Don

Hi Web master
I was posted to Tobruk in February 1960 as a SAC MTD. The MT section was quite small and Sgt Hazel was in charge, our main duty’s were the transporting of labour to El Adem, delivering water and collecting rubbish from the married hiring’s.
Start work at 6 finish 1 and then down the beach.
My then wife Dixsie Joined me in the October and we ended up running the family’s club. F/Lt Valentine was the family’s officer, Sgt Doran I/C RAFP with Cpl Gavegan.
My son Nicky was born in the October of '61 and was caservaced to Cypress at two weeks old, we were on the first Hastings flight out of El Adem after the air crash in which Maltese service men died.
Thankfully Nicky recovered well and we all returned to Tobruk to continue the good life.
George Reed

HI Don,
I can't believe you have forgotten El Kabir Bondu Foxo! AKA Foxy. I slept in the bed opposite you in that grotty nissan hut we lived in. I think you gave me the name El Kabir.

When I arrived there was you, me and Les Simkins who were the Radio Mechanics, where we worked a shift pattern of day on, day on stand by and day off. The stand by day was almost a day off except we had to go out to George quadrant to set up the Pye Radio and the battery for the stand by lighting.

I loved every minute of the range. Although with Jack Jones (RSO) drinking habits I am surprised that we ever got ready for an exercise. After Les left, Keith Duncan got posted in, and we all seemed to gel and get on together.

After El Adem I went to Lyneham where Les was stationed, and we more or less took up from when we left El Adem.
I have so many memories of the Range. By all means pass my email address to Les's son, I have loads of memories of the good times we all had. I have been away for a couple of days, so apologies for not replying sooner. I will leave you with this phrase, it should ring a bell. Echo Bravo 8 Sierra this is Charlie Xray 3 Juliet!!

Robbie Foxwell

Hi Don,
Thanks for the email. I also received an email from Steve. Les was a drinking partner at the Range and also at Lyneham. We had many a drunken escapade at the various hosteleries locally.
I do remember the dining room which doubled up as a cinema in the evening. Some one operated the old 16mm projector and we all stocked up with beer in the fridge at the back, so during reel change there was a mad dash to renew drinks.

Let me try and jog your memory about Sgt Corr. He was a short Irishman, bald on top with glasses. who walked a bit like Charlie Chaplin, hence the name Charlie. I remember he came into our room one morning really early to wake us up. You were the Radio Mechanic and I was on Stand by, and neither of us was getting up as it was ridiculously early. On his third attempt to get us out of bed he said "If you dont get up I will make such a noise it will wake the dead" You said how are you going to do that sarge. Charlie Corr said I will switch the lights on. We both roared with laughter and you said lights dont make a noise Sarge. He said yes they do, and he then proceeded to make a noise going doodaloodaloo waving his finger like radio waves, We laughed so much I think we nearly fell out of bed.
We had about three or four RSO's while I was there. A Flight Leftenant called Goacher was supposed to be in overall charge, and under him was Master Pilot Munt, Master Pilot Roland (a Polish guy who was really nice) Jack Jones (Jonah) who lived in, Sgt Brown.
Ian Stewart was the Chef amongst others, but I remember Ian as I was at Sopley with him. He got a thing going with a nurse at El Adem and I remember he asked me to do the cooking one evening. and also breakfast the next morning, so he could go and try his luck. He came back with a smile so it must have worked for him.

Brian Howlett started writing to an junior MP who had written an article saying that (women in a position of authority seem to frighten men away). Credit to Howlett for jumping on the bandwagon and he started a correspondence. His problem was that he was incredibly dislexic, so the letter he wrote were rubbish. Les took over the letters, and in the end the young lady wrote saying she did not think it would work out. She sussed that their was more than one author. I even wrote one of the letters for him. He ended up at a Rehabilitation Hospital in Surrey, and then was Medfically discharged. The Irony of this incident was that a Chap called Geoff( Cant remember his second name) took the detonator from him and flung it as far as possible, and Howlett went and found it later.

I just remembered another name. Jock Hitchcock, he was the RSO that night and when he saw Howlett, he thought he had a red glove on!
How long did you stay in the RAF? I did twelve plus boys service and then came out in 1972, Doing postings to Lyneham after El Adem, then RAF Hiswah, transmitting station in Aden, back to Lynerham, and then squeezed a final tour in at RAF sharjah, with detachments to Bahrain and Masirah, finally ending up at Brize Norton.
I will finish for now,
Robbie. AKA Foxy.

The Bombing Range 2016
The Bombing Range 2016
The Bombing Range 2016See this arrow (with Hawker Hunter) at top of page.
George Tower 2016
Nasser Base 2016 Nasser Air Base

Hello Don,
Here are some pictures for you.
Joe Challoner

Left column...
Our friend Guard
Doby Day
Low flypast
The crashed Canberra.

Right column...
Tea time in Tobruk
Two shop owners, Tobruk
The black hut where we sleep, tent mess room and cook house
Yorky Hall and Me, Tobruk 1959.

Photos 1

Left column...
Me on bombing range tower.
Going to El Adem for fresh water
Maintanance on boming target
Low run on target.

Right column...
Me and Derick Lewis keeping up with the news at home
In tobruk
Sgt McGowan shouting me to come back to the bombing camp so I took his picture.
it gives you a good sight of the bombing range camp

Photos 2

Pictures courtesy Joe Challoner