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El Adem + Tobruk
Reminisce 5

Some memories of people, events and places.
Do you know anybody mentioned on these pages?

Having just found your website, I was thrilled to see the item about the bombing range.
I was at El Adem from 1956 to 1959 with the RAF Regiment. In 1957 just after the Suez crisis it was decided that a bombing range be built south of El Adem.
We set up camp and proceeded to mould a huge circle of whitewashed stones with an X in the middle. There were no buildings etc.

I remember a water bowser breaking down on the way to El Adem and the next morning all the wheels had gone, taken by Bedouins that roamed that part of the desert. At that time there were lots of WW2 landmines in the area and we stood in the back of 3 Tonners and shot at them using up old WW2 303 ammo.
We eventually set up a tented camp nearby as the Bedouins had a habit of collecting the scrap metal from the dropped bombs. I remember thinking as the bombers came over to bomb they would be back in the UK that same night where I longed to be.

Attached are photographs of some of the 'Rocks' who served there at the makeshift camp. Some of the names are... F/O Stone, Cpl 'Yorky' Hall, Alan Roy, Bob Shaw Dave Exton, Taff Verello and Tony Shaw.

Ted Marston (Sheffield) ex 1 Squadron RAF Regiment.

Early Bombing Range
Early Bombing Range

I met Miss Britain, King Idris' personal beekeeper, between '61-'63 we used to go camping in Ras el Hilal, I was about 18, my Father Flt/lt Bernard Penfold and Sqd/Ldr Ron. Beale and family in a big old army type green tent and when we kids went to the loo nearby we put a piece of paper on a stick!
Another time we were camping at 5 kilo camp that is 5k out of Tobruk on an exercise with Americans, a cordon and search. Myself plus school teachers from Tobruk school and maybe SAAFA staff. Never forgotten the song the guys sang, Herb Ziegler (if you read this and still alive), From a Jack to a King. Of course we did not take the exercise seriously but at sunrise it was not a joke.

Well I went on to join BOAC end of '63 had fabulous career and sometime in 2000 was flying with private jet charter and flew Gaddafi's Foreign Minister and entourage to Islamabad right over Tobruk.
Happy days
Hilary Robinson (nee Penfold)

I used to work on the airfield alongside visiting Hunter squadrons, my job was air publications amendments. A very important job i was told! Thats when I knew I wanted to fly as a pilot, sadly not easy in those days.

Later on in my job as corporate or private stewardess, freelance work for rich and famous, they were called Jeppersons (jeppies), then a stint in the PSI shop, then Forces Requests for Tobruk El Adem Radio Services, TEARS, the most popular request was ‘it might as well rain until sept’!

I married a BA pilot and my two daughters are pilots, Caroline flying 787 for BA and Lucy after 17yrs RAF (Sword of Honour), VC10! inflight re-fueller at Brize, had two happy years with Virgin, now 777 BA too.
I could chat for ages, thanks so much for reply please write again.

I spent 4 years and worked in El Adem and Tobruk. I was a wireless operator and also spent time working in the telephone exchange RAF Tobruk Garison. I Played tennis and worked as Sports Announcer with BFPS. My years were 1962 to 1964 and 1967 to 1969, I left on the day of Gaddafi's ovethrow of King Idris. I Like to keep in touch.
Bye, Richard Payne (SAC) now living in Galicia NW Spain

I was sigs. and did 2 tours of 2 years. I Had mates from all grades. Some names... Flash Roach, Jimmy Cascarino (rip), Roy Rosario, Joe Mackay , Malachy Murphy, Dave Butcher.
I knew many of the Spanish doctors and Italian engineers, also guys in BFPS, I out out a Sports Roundup on El Adem and Tobruk once a week.
Maybe you knew the Ausie guy Who joined the RAF in un name was Harry Eastoe. I caught Up with him in Aus. when we both worked in civil aviation at Melbourne airport. Well Hope to hear from you "down the log",
Richard in RAF always known as Rick.

I met my current wife,Elizabeth, in El Adem when we both worked with Naafi between 1968 and 1969. She ran the Peladium Club before moving to Madame Piastres, and I ran the Naafi Family Shop opposite the guardhouse.

We are still together after 50 years and have lived and worked in 15 other countries,together with our family, since then. We remember Josie Bailey as well as several other people from that time, notably; Bob Lintott replaced by John Whitehead (No relation to me). John Cass, who came from Limerick.

Mr Whitwell and his wife Olive, the Naafi Supervisor under Bob Lintott. John Minns, who took over from Mr Whitwell. ( I still have his LP of Lawrence of Arabia soundtrack which I damaged by dropping a knife on it during a drunken presentation of his trip to the Wadi Hadramout in Yemen).

Jim Mc Manus who was my assistant in the Naafi Family Shop El Adem. John Wellings who also worked with me in the Naafi shop. Last seen working at Heathrow airport.

Doreen (Dodo) Bird who was the manager of Madame Piastres in El Adem. Helen (Nellie) Mill who also worked in Madame Piastres. Lou Grant and Mary Schofield who jointly ran the Naafi Club at El Adem. Peter Dunbar who ran the Naafi Store in Tobruk, last seen running a restaurant in Bahrain. Ken Ayres and his wife Miriam. He ran the transport department of Naafi in Tobruk and she ran the hairdressers. Vera Bryan, who ran the Naafi gift shop in Tobruk. Moved later to Germany.

A group of 4 of us were visiting and photographing the murals in Bardia on the very day that Colonel Ghaddafi took over power of Libya, and we heard the news on a radio which was being used by one of the uniformed guards at the nearby prison, who was trying to find an English radio station with which to impress us. He certainly did, and it was a good job he didn't understand the English on the BBC World Service news!

We left Bardia very quickly and drove back to El Adem on empty roads to be greeted on the escarpment by a line of tank turrets pointing at us as we approached the guardhouse in a beaten up Ford Taunus pickup with Libyan number plates that I had borrowed for the long weekend.

Elizabeth and I left El Adem on one of the last evacuation flights in an Argosy; together with many crates of empty drinks bottles being sent back to Charles Grech's in Malta so that the Officer's Mess could get their deposits back! Meanwhile millions of pounds worth of equipment was being abandoned there.
Best Wishes,
Tony Whitehead.

Thank you very much Tony,
What a lot of names, it would be great if some of them noticed this entry and got in touch.
It would also be good if other people who remember these names could also get in touch.
We will have to wait and see.
Don Simmonds

I lived there in 1957/59. We greatly appreciated our trips to El Adem. Had my appendix removed at El Adem before being airlifted to Benghazi.

Happy days
Fran Richardson

Old King Idris lived in the palace and his representative brought rations -for us, butter in large amounts.
There was no transport to go anywhere in those days. We hired bikes to go to our designated beach where we were spied on by Arabs up on the rocks.

The propaganda from Ghadafi was broadcast all day on external speakers, after a while it was just another sound.

We were allowed some free leave to Malta which we enjoyed, except for the fresh meat in the sandwiches (ants) very much alive; but after life in Tobruk...
Please feel free to use anything you want I dont mind.


I can't believe I forgot to mention Fleas Bedbugs Camel ticks And huge Cockroaches which we called Bombay Tigers.

Sometimes I feel grateful I have wakened up. I have severe osteoporosis in my spine but I soldier on.
I feel, in memory of my lovely husband and as a service wife, I have to keep going.

Best wishes

Thank you Frances for those thoughts and memories. It is a tribute to you and the memory of your late husband that you keep going and with the right attitude to life under extremely difficult circumstances. Well done. [Don]

I flew out to Benghazi in 1958 having been stopped in '57 with the suez crisis. I was a new bride and my husband was a corporal in the IWT squadron re-running Z craft and Tugs. It was basic in a hiring for 6 months or so I Cooked Christmas lunch on a Valor oil stove.

6 weeks after my arrival I was unlucky to suffer a burst appendix. That was removed at El Adem. The RAF nurses were wonderful. That was followed by Peritonitis and I was Flown in The Wing Commander's plane to Benghazi. We had ENSA concert parties and I remember The RAF MO falling in love with Ruby Murray.

In Tobruk life was pretty basic. Fresh Water was brought in on A boat and transferred to our house by RAF bowser. The sterilising tablets put in the tank by an RAF corporal from a bucket in large handfuls. We drank Gazoosas which were bottled lemonade.

At 22 and a new army wife I loved the experience My husband retired from the RCT as a Captain in 1976. Over the years I learned to cope with everything. I have given a couple of talks to groups I have belonged to. I am now 83 and a widow of 7 years but my memories of Tobruk and El Adem I cherish.

Sincerely Frances