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RAF Sharjah

Old 25th Mar 2012, 13:31
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I worked in the commcen at RAF Sharjah 1963-64. We had morse links with Muharraq, Masirah, Salalah, Riyan and Khormaksar. Also a voice link to the political agent at Dubai (PAD) and an ICAO (RAFAN) morse link with Muharraq.
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Old 25th Mar 2012, 16:03
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What an amzing thread this is turning out to be.
Little did I know at the time!

And I didn't get to visit on my Dubai stopover!
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Old 25th Mar 2012, 16:37
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Nor did I! Just 4 hours at DXB in each direction.

Laurence
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Old 25th Mar 2012, 18:44
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Gentlemen if any of you ever visit here for a day or two than let me know, I will be delighted to provide you a tour of this Mahatta area!
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 21:05
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RAF Sharjah

If I remember correctly the officers quarters were call "The Cloisters" in the old officers mess.

Also new arrivals were promised a visit to the "Golden Flip Flop!!" the only night club in the Emirates!! We were very young and innocent at the time and believed it existed for at least the first six months of our tour!

The station commander at the time (1966) was Sqn Ldr Tom Sheppard who loved the desert. He was a good a man and did an excellent job as CO.
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 21:30
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Aah Sharjah; where you spent the first six months lying on your bed watching the fan go round, and the second six months lying on the floor watching the room go round.
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Old 29th Mar 2012, 22:45
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Anybody remember those Australian eggs that were sealed in cellulose and tasted like ?
Come to think of it most of the Officers Mess food was rubbish in 1959/61!
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Old 30th Mar 2012, 00:10
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Did "The Cloisters" had televisions with satellites on roof the old fashioned way to see the BBC world service, the closet clear reception channels of those days would have been Channel 1 (from Iran).... PTV (from Pakistan) ......... Durdarshan {DD} (from India) these were the famous channels of the time does anyone remember ?

And how were the roads between the emirates... I am sure the best in entire Gulf in those days... as it is today! Or perhaps very bumpy... what were the best cars of those days in the Trucial States?? LR Defender and Nissan Patrol...what about Land Cruiser or Willy's Jeep etc ...

And did Sharjah had telephone lines in the 60s ? Because Etisalat Telecommunication was established in mid 70s ... don't know if this area had phone prior to that?
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Old 30th Mar 2012, 03:37
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In 1967 the whole of the area had but one bitumenised road and that was between Sharjah and Dubai. Everything else was either sand track or oiled sand.

What we used to call the 'Coast Road' between Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah was literally the coast road - it was the beach and was impassable in certain tidal conditions.

The road through Shawkah towards Fujeirah and Khor Fakkan was worse than a goat track and, at one point, you had to negotiate something approaching a dried up waterfall and 'jump' the L androver from one rock to another.

Tom Shepherd had just left by the time I got to Sharjah but he was instrumental in getting the Mountain/Desert Rescue Team relocated there from Aden. We caused more than a few headaches for military discipline
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Old 30th Mar 2012, 08:09
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Trucial States 1959/61

Metalled Roads - Zero
Cars - Landrover and Toyota Land Cruisers with a few Japanese saloons in Dubai.
Terrestial TV Zilch
Satellite TV - No satellites!
Telephones - None existent outside SHJ Camp.
Non food shops - A few in Dubai (Ashrafs)
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Old 30th Mar 2012, 18:39
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Good heavens! UAE has transformed way beyond imagination.... I reckon when ever you visit UAE you'll be amazed to see the changes in every aspect! Did any of you ever enjoyed and mixed with the locals and enjoyed Arabian folklore... I mean the magical tales of 1001 Arabian Nights or something like that......did anyone remember crossing the Shindaga Tunnel in the late 60s ? that and Al Maktoum bridge was only way to cross the Dubai Creek those days......
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Old 30th Mar 2012, 19:32
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We didn't mix with the locals at Sharjah because there was nowhere to mix. Over a period of two years I must have visited Dubai a couple of times. The only locals I got to know slightly were the TOS officers who travelled regularly in our Twin Pioneers. I enjoyed more contact with villagers on the Jebel Akhdar and the Bedouin who lived around Ibri, where we used to be invited to drink tea and eat vermouchelli (with lots of flies) during our nightstops there.
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Old 30th Mar 2012, 19:52
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@ brakedwell

Love the bedouin hospitality as well...
I can't wait to be fluent in arabic so I can enjoy even more the visits.
About Ibri....I been through that village a few times...what was going on there at that time?
I think I might just go for a drive again soon in thhat area.
At that tine, we u aware of the stories of spirits in the wadisof nizwa and surroubds ?
It is still a strong belief today.....
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Old 30th Mar 2012, 21:49
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brakedwell -
Sharjah food was ... interesting!!! On my first night stop('55) I assumed that the bread rolls at dinner were made with some exotic local seeds incorporated. The 'seeds' were weevils, as I noted when we delivered several bags of flour on my next visit - the outside of the bags was constsntly on the move as the little inhabitants wandered around. Possibly, given the awful standard of the Mess food (multi varieties of corned beef), the extra protein in the bread was an advantage.
An Army sergeant who had done continuous tours there for IIRC ELEVEN years, had a stash of tinned stew in his room which he heated up on a paraffin stove - Someone or Other's Ready Meal. Tried it one night and very tasty it was too
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Old 30th Mar 2012, 22:10
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Brakedwell,

that would mean the style and culture would have been different from Egypt I suppose.... because I have known that during the 20s till late 60s there was quite an interesting ways of entertaining people in the desert or near the Giza pyramids ... I am talking about "hooka" or shishaa (hubble bubble) and a feast of Arabian style in the tents along with female belly dancing .... quite a hospitality! Entertainment rather.... it would not be wrong to say in this case that the Gulf Arabian lands were not entertaining at all compared to Egypt which was closest most entertaining land in the Middle East ? Sharjah had very little to offer in terms of Arabian entertainment to the visitors back then ?
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Old 31st Mar 2012, 15:32
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that would mean the style and culture would have been different from Egypt I suppose....
You can say that again, Egypt has had a developed, sophisticated culture with a large educated class which has welcomed tourists from the early 1900's. The Gulf States, apart from Bahrain, had hardl with no facilities and effectively closed to Europeans until the mid sixties when the oil taps were opened. Progress has been amazing, but I think I still prefer Sharjah as it was

Sharjah had very little to offer in terms of Arabian entertainment to the visitors back then ?
There was none, apart from public floggings outside the Sheik's palace at the end of Ramadan !

quebec
Ibri was strategically placed to intercept camel trains smuggling weaponry and land mines from Yemen and Saudi Arabia to supporters of the deposed Imam. A squadron of the Northern Frontier Regiment, Sultans Armed Forces, had a permanent base in Ibri, which we supported. The SAS also had an annual six week camp from which they carried out long range patrols deep into the desert searching for rogue camel trains. We kept them in water fuel and food with our Twin Pioneers. (Photos att.)

I never heard any spirit stories in Nizwa because, (a) It was still an unfriendly place and the roads were often mined and (b) I alway night stopped at Saiq, 6000 feet up on the Jebel Akdhar and much cooler than Nizwa/Izki. The villagers there were very friendly and always welcomed us.



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Old 31st Mar 2012, 17:45
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JJ;

Were the last two photographs taken at Ibri? If so, it must have been raining at some point in the recent past.

I threw the Argosy at Ibri on quite a few occasions and it was as hard as a brick.

I never got down town in Ibri but I remember being told that it was known as "the town of thieves"!
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Old 31st Mar 2012, 18:03
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Re: comments relating to Sharjah/Dubai road. Early '66 it was three to four hundred yards wide, being a flattened area of the desert. Late '66, oil was sprayed on a narrower width to provide a bitumen like "road". To stop people driving on it whilst the oil soaked in and dried, 44 gallon drums were set up across it at intervals with armed locals sitting on top.

This was taken early '66 during the floods:



Sisemen wrote
Tom Shepherd had just left by the time I got to Sharjah
Was a regular member of Tom Sheppards bundo-bashing group whilst there. Haven't had so much fun since.
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Old 31st Mar 2012, 18:33
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Re: comments relating to Sharjah/Dubai road. Early '66 it was three to four hundred yards wide, being a flattened area of the desert. Late '66, oil was sprayed on a narrower width to provide a bitumen like "road". To stop people driving on it whilst the oil soaked in and dried, 44 gallon drums were set up across it at intervals with armed locals sitting on them
Same setup in 1963-64. On the Sunday after payday a 3 tonner drove us from Sharjah to Dubai to visit the only shop that sold electrical goods (and was air-conditioned). One memorable view was of a young lad sat in the street with a Calor gas-fired oven (dome of baked clay about 3 ft in diameter) baking chapatis - one crate of condensed milk, one big bag of flour; mix flour with milk to form a flattened circle of dough, remove previous now cooked dough with a stick, deftly flick the new dough onto the inner roof of the oven. Next to him was a pile of cooked chapatis, it was black with flies!
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Old 31st Mar 2012, 18:42
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For Croqueteer

Poking around in my loft this morning, I came across some long-forgotten memorabilia from my time at RAF Sharjah during 1969 to 1970. Among the items were 7 (not consecutive) issues of a newspaper, the Gulf Mail. The following is an article from one of them in March 1970.

"GLIDING AT SHARJAH

The Gulf Services Gliding Club is once again in operation after an inactive period, mainly due to the lack of a QFI. The club is now back in business thanks to the arrival of Terry Stator (QFI) and a lot of hard work by members. Terry took eighth place in the British Sports Class Nationalsof 1968 and is qualified on no fewer than 36 types. He will soon be joined by Norman Wilkinson, another QFI, whom Terry describes as "More experienced than myself".

The club has three gliders, a Sedbergh, an Olympia 2B and a KA8B. Terry dismisses these as "mere medium performance machines", but these are fit for soaring and are sure to keep average club members happy.

Club target for the year is 5,000 launches and 400 hours, more than enough for twenty ab initio students to solo, and plenty to spare. An indication of progress was the achievement of 85 launches and three new soloists on the first weekend of the new regime.

Places are available for new members, both flying and social. Flying membership costs 5 QDR per month, however, there is an additional fee of 2 QDR per launch. A club room with 'refreshments' offers a change of surroundings for those who feel that flying is for the birds. Social membership costs 2 QDR per month.

The Chairman, Flt Lt Carter or secretary, Cpl Armstrong will be pleased to answer your enquiries."
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