Working together with people of other trades on these aircraft, I soon made some very good friends and all of us being single, we used to party a little each evening with copious amounts of beer, chatting, listening to music, playing cards, darts and telling jokes and stories. As a single young person of just 18 years of age, I found the whole RAF lifestyle very pleasant and suitable to my personality.
After about nine months at RAF Lyneham, one of my good friends there (William) was posted overseas to RAF Muharraq in Bahrain, so we had a good send-off party for him. Then just a few weeks later I was informed by the admin. office that I had been placed on PWR (Preliminary Waiting Roster) this meant that I was now awaiting an overseas posting too. I was asked if I had any preference of overseas base that I would like to go to and the only one that I could think of at that time was the base that my friend had just gone to, so I said "RAF Muharraq" and they wrote this down.
Because I was working on transport aircraft, before being posted overseas I had to become TASS (Transport Aircraft Servicing Specialist) and to qualify for this you had to have had aircraft type-training courses on two types of aircraft out of the four transport aircraft types that were operational at the time. The aircraft types were paired off into two groups:
1. Hercules and VC10
2. Britannia and Belfast
So having already completed a Hercules course, I mistakenly thought that to qualify as TASS, I only had to complete a VC10 course. But I was later informed that I had been chosen to qualify on Britannia and Belfast aircraft types for TASS qualification and so I spent the next three months as a student on these aircraft types.On the last day of my TASS qualification training, I was informed that my overseas posting had already come through and that I should prepare to leave for RAF Muharraq in just two weeks time.
I still carried out my duties at RAF Lyneham for the following two weeks and then on the day before my departure, my friends at RAF Lyneham arranged for a send-off party for me, just as we had done for William three months before. The following day I boarded a VC10 flight to Bahrain at RAF Brize Norton and after an uneventful eight hour flight, we arrived at RAF Muharraq at 21:00 local time.
As I descended down the steps from the aircraft, the first thing that hit me was the heat, the second thing was a definite unusual smell in the atmosphere and the third thing to hit me was William thumping me on my back, welcoming me to Bahrain and informing me that he had already purchased a large box of Amstel beer for us to drink that evening. So here I am in Central Asia (middle East) and apart from the heat even at that late hour, everything just seemed like normal to me as William and I headed off for a few beers.
The following morning, I had to go through the usual routine of arriving at a new RAF base, I had to do all the paperwork in the general office and then walk around the base registering at applicable sections that I may be contacting and generally getting myself known. This walk around helped to get me use to the layout of the base. RAF Muharraq was adjacent to Bahrain International Airport and shared the same runway and taxiway facilities with them. After lunch that day I went to my new place of work named VASF (Visiting Aircraft Servicing Flight) and I was escorted around and told which shift I would be working with. On the shift that I was allocated to, I was the only Flight Systems Engineer, so I was virtually my own boss, our main work was just to take care of the RAF transport aircraft passing through, so when there was no flight due in, then we had no work to do and many of us passed the time by playing volleyball in front of the work section. Because of the heat in Bahrain, everyone only wore a pair of shorts and no top at work, my skin tans very easily and I have no problems with sunburn, so within a fairly short period of time playing volleyball outside everyday, I had a really dark suntan. Like all of the other RAF personnel in Muharraq, I spent most of the year tour of duty on the base itself. My friends and I did venture across the causeway into downtown Manama at the weekends to do some shopping and have a meal out, but mostly we just spent all of our time on the base itself or just wandered across to the International airport for a meal and a drink.
I spent one year working in Bahrain and it was quite an experience for me, it was the first time that I had ever been outside of Europe. I have planned a few short stories about my time in Bahrain to add to my Ex Post Facto true short stories website later, but they would be too long to write about on here, so this first page about my time in Asia, I shall bring to a close after the next paragraph.
My tour of duty in Bahrain came to an end in December 1971, I was then posted back to an RAF base in England, RAF Brize Norton near Oxford, this base operated the VC10 and Belfast aircraft and was the centre for all RAF personnel transport operations, it was the airbase that I first departed from to go to Bahrain and it was the airbase that I arrived at on my return.
Copyright 2008 - 2012: If you are reading these diaries now, then I am quite happy for you to copy them and keep them for your own personal use, but not to distribute them or display them for other people or commercially use them without my prior approval, because the copyright of these diaries belongs to the person who lived through them and wrote them:
Me - Ian Reed / John McMiken (The Legless Fool)
** A very recent event **
'Attempting to correct a bad mistake that I made in the past in my life in Asia.'
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I shall be adding to this site over time, so if anyone is interested then please have a little patience and call back here from time to time. One of my very few pleasures in life these days is beer so I shall be occasionally referring to beer, I just wish that beer was the only reason that I am legless all the time
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