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El Adem + Tobruk
Reminisce 5

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

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