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RAF Sharjah

Old 21st Mar 2012, 09:28
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Sharjah was definitely unaccompanied.
With the exception of the Stn Cdr I think - certainly when I was there (70-71) the staish - Cedric Symons - was accompanied by wife and family. But no-one else was.

And wasn't it MMG not MMS? - Mission to Mediterranean Garrisons.

Last edited by teeteringhead; 21st Mar 2012 at 10:07.
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Old 21st Mar 2012, 12:44
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I am thoroughly enjoying your regale of fond memories gentlemen! Ideal place to cherish the moments of bygone days If we continue to remember down the memory lane perhaps we might uncover some interesting rather thrilling moments here in the Trucial states

By they way I was wondering what happened during the last final years of RAF-Sharjah airport... was the area restricted near the runway or did the local teens sneaked in on the runway to play making it difficult for the authorities to clear up the runway to make way for landing planes?

as our member (quebec) said "keep digging guys"
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Old 21st Mar 2012, 13:49
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PS 411 I seem to remember helping to off-load the K8 from a Belfast that brought it from the UK.
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Old 21st Mar 2012, 17:11
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croqueteer:

First of all, I never belonged to an RAFG gliding club but I did carry many a glider back from Laarbruch, Bruggen and Wildenrath in the back of the Argosy or the Belfast for the RAFGSA (Andy Gough deals).

I distinctly remember bringing a Doppelraab back for Nick Nicholls and Frank Wilson in a Belfast. On the way back to Brize, I went downstairs and kicked all the wing panels in (the fabric was rotten) and by the time we landed at Brize it looked like a train crash.

"What the hell is that" said the Customs Officer.

"Well, it's an old glider that two of my Corporals have bought and they don't have any money. As you can see, it is beyond repair."

"Give me 7.50 and we will call it a day" said he.

We took it over to Abingdon and Tony Blyth took over the rebuild. I did the test flight at WOTG on 01.08.75 and the old girl was immaculate. I actually turned down a trip in Bernard Fitchett's brand new ASW-17 to do the air test.

Anyway, I don't remember taking the Ka-8 to Sharjah but I do remember it going there so maybe I got involved in the paperwork.

In my time in Aden, we had 5 gliders. Swallow (400), Oly 401x (401), T-31 (402), T-21b (403) and T-21b (404).

Now I know that the Oly 401 went to Cyprus and I think the Swallow went to Sembawang in Singapore. I know for sure that T-21b 404 went to Sharjah (for it is recorded in my logbook). Did the T-31 also go to Sharjah?
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Old 21st Mar 2012, 17:41
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No, we only had the T21 until we got the K8. Idid fly the T31 in Aden.
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Old 21st Mar 2012, 17:54
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In the 1960s and 1970s flying was still FUN. (It really has got too serious nowadays). Especially in places like the Middle East in those days it was an ongoing game to have practical jokes (such as the door in the Officers Mess at Masirah which said "TV ROOM". The nearest TV was at least 500 miles away but some unsuspecting visitor always went through the door just to fall three feet into the desert outside!

So here is a spoof that I played on Sharjah ATC one day. First of all, we need some background. In those days it was not possible to go from Sharjah to Bahrain just using VHF or UHF communication.

Bahrain centre was, of course, on HF but Single Side Band (SSB) had yet to be introduced so all contact with Bahrian Centre on HF was on a common frequency (on AM) shared by everyone from Cairo, Addis Ababa, Aden and all the way to Karachi and Bombay. It was not good.

I had a very good friend in Bahrain who was the Deputy SATCO (he worked for IAL). He told me one day in the bar that they had just spent a lot of money installing a Lower Side Band (LSB) network linking the ATC Centres in Bahrain, Kuwait, Doha and Dubai (which had just got started). This was very much a Ground to Ground (Point to Point) network and definitely not for the likes of us to use.

Now we had a major problem when we went into the bundu to places like Heima where we had no contact with anyone and I persuaded Alan that it would be in everyone's interest if we could break the rules and call them on LSB and file a flight plan. They agreed.

So, if any of you are still awake, I was at Sharjah ready to go back to Bahrain and called the Tower for "Start Clearance".

What they then had to do was call Dubai on the telephone and ask them to get a clearance from Bahrain Centre.

So we tuned one of our HF sets on to 6745 kcs (khz) LSB and duly heard the following:

"Bahrain, Bahrain, Dubai".

"Go ahead Dubai".

"Request airways clearance RAFAIR 8199 Sharjah to Bahrain".

"Standby".

Five minutes later;

"Dubai, Dubai, Bahrain".

"Go ahead Bahrain".

"RAFAIR 8199 is cleared Sharjah to Bahrain via Flight Planned Route after take-off turn right on to heading 360 degrees, climb to and maintain 3,000 ft and contact Dubai on 125.1 and expect F120 by abeam Das Island".

So now the chap in Dubai ATC calls his friend in Sharjah ATC on the telephone and gives him our clearance (which we have already heard).

So, the Tower in Sharjah calls me on UHF;

"RAFAIR 8199 I have your clearance, are you ready to copy?"

This was where the fun started!

I said "Just for a change, how's about I tell YOU what the clearance is?"

A bit of a silence.

"All right then, what do you think the clearance is?" (Spoken with a great deal of confidence).

So we read back the clearance EXACTLY as it had been given by Bahrain.

There was an even longer silence.

Then we were given "Start Clearance".

It took them a long time to work it out.
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Old 21st Mar 2012, 18:08
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Awww man ....nice one
Ur awesome JW411..still remembering so much detailed stories...wow
Wish I was sitting next to u and hear you live...and I Hope I'll be that good with stories in 25yrs !
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Old 21st Mar 2012, 18:12
  #188 (permalink)  

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Off thread slightly, but does anyone remember the trick pulled on the new co-pilots when stopping at Gan? Now Gan, for those who may not be familiar with it, is just an atoll with a long runway meeting the sea at both ends, and sufficient accomodation for the RAF personnel. The plot was to persuade the young co- to ring the taxi company (MT corporal, who was in on the joke), to request a taxi to take the crew to the railway station, so they could catch a train downtown! The nearest railway was Columbo, in Sri Lanka. I've seen this work, and was amazed that the chap who had landed there only an hour previously hadn't grasped the layout of the place.
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Old 21st Mar 2012, 18:25
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Not a joke but a bit of fun;

When we were all getting out of Aden in 1967, some idiot (or maybe there was more than one) sent out a standard repatriation form for all of us to fill in.

One of the questions was:

"Where is your nearest railway station?"

"Djibouti" said my navigator.

As in all matters "navigation" this was totally accurate but totally impractical,

That would indeed have been an interesting journey.
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Old 22nd Mar 2012, 07:52
  #190 (permalink)  

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Don't know if it was a genuine mistake, a spoof or an urban myth but:

When I was in Sharjah there was a story going around of a bemused young squaddie found wandering around Bahrein - looking for the Railway Station.

His orderly room (allegedly) seeing that the VC10 only took him to Muharraq when he wanted to go to Sharjah, simply gave him a rail warrant from Bahrein to Sharjah ....
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Old 22nd Mar 2012, 10:37
  #191 (permalink)  
 
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Vaguely remember intending to post this here last Christmas, but may have forgotten. So:

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Old 22nd Mar 2012, 12:25
  #192 (permalink)  

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One of my most amusing (and genuine!) recollections of my time in Sharjah strangely concerned the hi-jacked BA VC-10 that was blown up in Jordan (Dawson's Field?).

I had a polite letter from the PMC of the mess, along the lines of:

"Your last Mess Bill cheque was one of many which were blown up on the VC-10, please cancel it and write us another one!"

I've still got it somewhere - if I can find it I'll scan and post it!

edited to add:

Just Googled the Hi-jacking. Was Dawson's Field in September 1970. And it was BOAC and not BA........
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Old 22nd Mar 2012, 12:30
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A few memories from my time on 152 Sqn in 1959-61.

All RAF, TOS and IAL positions were unaccompanied. RAF tour was one year.

The TOS Officers Mess was an old building on the Sharjah seafront. The expat TOS Sergeants Mess was situated on the southeast edge of RAF Sharjah, together with the TOS and Army lines.

I remember a few British TOS officers had their wives to stay on one or two special occasions. As we were not allowed to carry them on our scheduled Pembroke flights they flew BOAC to Bahrain and then Gulf Aviation to Sharjah.

The RAF Station Commander was a Squadron Leader post. S/L Kingsley Brown, a navigator by trade, was the most unpopular incumbent in my time on 152. He didn't like women, but grudgingly allowed a visiting party of Combined Services Entertainers to stay in the officers mess. Three very attractive dancers were allocated rooms in a hut adjacent to the CO's quarters.The following morning his personal clothes line was filled by a row of knickers and bra's, which the girls must have washed before they went to bed.

CSE entertainers were accommodated in the sergeants mess during the remainder of his tour and we renamed him S/L Queensly Pink!

During 1960/1 a WVS lady lived in the RAF officers mess. She was great fun and is pictured in post no: 83
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Old 22nd Mar 2012, 12:36
  #194 (permalink)  
 
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You just said the south-east edge of the base ?
Do you mean towards the end off the runway ?
If so, this sounds like the location of my house/compound I'm searching for...
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Old 22nd Mar 2012, 12:46
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Juliet Whistky Four One One, you are fantastic sir! You made my day with your ATC clearances, being a Virtual Pilot I get the idea how simple and beautiful the ATC-Pilot communication used to be and Radio-telephony was beginning to take its shape! Being today's virtual pilot it makes me attracted to the old classic aeroplanes with traditional analogue dials with manual cockpits! Today's fly-by-wire and glass cockpits are no fun seriously! Because the plane fly for itself pilot is just merely in command, back then the pilots really had their birds in total command!

Even in flight simulator when I fly the old beauties like DC-3, DC-6, Flying Fortress, Viscount, Goose, Twin Pioneer, B52, L188, 610 Viking, Vickers Vanguard....to name but a few!! What aeroplanes by God! I can imagine how you all must have felt flying these in real life!

I am curious to know what happened in the final years after the UAE federation was formed in the 70s, did the RAF just abandoned Sharjah station or was is still used for small exercises after the federation? What was this area's environment just before RAF exited ?

What I remember from my childhood years is that during the early 90s this area was a complete ruin and abandoned! On weekends the Asian community residing in the neighbouring areas used to play Cricket on the taxiways and parking fields which was fully intact back then! It was only after 2000 when real estate sector started to develop buildings they had to break the fields and parts of taxiway.

I can recall that the control tower glass windows were all shattered and some of them was broken too! gates of old fort were chain-locked! Light poles were still there but no lights in them! Stolen perhaps? Anemometers and Wind socks were still there till the early 90s! Anemometer was removed during the renovation of the control tower. During the early 2000 the new hanger was built to host the fine birds! I wonder how they got the Heron and DC-3 of Gulf Aviation there?

Can anyone shed some light on the final years of RAF Sharjah ?
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Old 22nd Mar 2012, 17:07
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You just said the south-east edge of the base ?
Do you mean towards the end off the runway ?
If so, this sounds like the location of my house/compound I'm searching for...
There were no buildings anywhere near the threshold of runway 30, just scruffy sand and a couple of tracks that led to Dubai. The TOS and RAF sergeants mess were near the bottom right hand corner of the first photo in post 70. East of the RWY threshold. There were no tarmac roads, so it all looked the same then and I only ever visited the sergeants messes in the dark!
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Old 22nd Mar 2012, 21:09
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hmm interesting point sir (Brakedwell) this would only mean one thing that the area "quebec" has mentioned must have emerged after the UAE was formed (During the or from early 70s to mid 70s I presume) As she says the housing is quite old and dates backs to those days. I guess as per the facts and assumptions that the housing would have been made for the British officers who were engineers, or municipal persons responsible of infrastructure development in the area.

One fact is certain, those housing scheme wasn't for Arabs nor does those houses look Arabic from any angle! It must have been for the British officers either relating to UAE's newly formed Army or Government entities for the development I reckon.
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Old 22nd Mar 2012, 23:10
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RAF Sharjah has never had any married quarters. The officers mess was about 100m from the main gate leading to the aircraft parking area and accomodated no more than a dozen permanent officers. IAL expat staff lived in the fort. My guess is that the older houses were built for civil engineers, contractors and their families involved in the breakneck development of Sharjah post UAE.
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Old 24th Mar 2012, 20:55
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Just to add some nostalgic flavour to the thread... I am adding two shots of my recent heritage flight in Flight Simulator X from Muscat to Sharjah, this is our very own Bristol Britannia in RAF colours... shot taken somewhere around north east of Fort Jahili





I wish I could replicate old air routes between Khor Maskar, Muscat, Sharjah, Bahrain and Baghdad....
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Old 25th Mar 2012, 05:49
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A bit off thread, but I was thinking about Sharjah in the last couple of weeks. I flew with Emirates to Johannesburg. Leaving DXB we could see Sharjah (through the sandy murk), then Jebel Hafit, then (very clearly) Jebel Akhdar where poor Owen Watkinson's Venom still sits where it went down in 1958. Then down to Salalah. Nice ride! On the way back it was Baghdad, Aden, DXB.
So I missed the last page or so of posts to this thread and only caught up yesterday. It was good to see some new photos of the Sharjah fort (yes, it certainly was Sharjah: the massive gates give it away).
What an amzing thread this is turning out to be.

Laurence
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