- In Transit -

- All Hot Air? -

The transit billet at Innsworth housed a motley collection: ones and twos from a whole variety of trades brought together from all quarters of the UK and this caused much conjecture. Typically, nobody knew why he was there or why he had been rushed away from his camp with such urgency. It began to dawn on us that we could be the nucleus of a complete self supporting unit and that as we were at Innsworth we knew we could expect to receive tropical kit. Our suppositions were borne out when we paraded the following morning after breakfast, when a Squadron Leader Craig introduced himself as our new CO, then introduced a few other officers and a cluster of assorted NCOs. In all we numbered about a hundred.

We were told that our destination was to be a desert area, the location of which would be revealed in due course, and there we would operate the mobile versions of our Radar gear and that our Unit would have the capability of being self contained. We presently did not need to know why we were going , or the reason for the indecent haste, and we should talk to nobody about it. We would be issued with tropical kit that day and could expect to leave in the very near future. And we would undoubtedly be pleased to hear that we would be receiving a half-crown a day overseas allowance. Phew! What excitement! The prospect of us being a sort of Lawrence of Arabia unit but with Leyland Hippo lorries instead of camels! Imagine it! Setting up the gear for a few days, plotting the enemy for a while and then dashing across the dunes to the nearest shady oasis before repeating the exercise. This really was going to be fun compared with the boring wet concrete of Leeming.

The glass of the issued sunglasses was extremely dark and the new caps had a very deep peak. The sand-coloured shirts were of the Aertex type and the thin light blue pyjamas had short sleeves. We deduced from these clues that we could indeed expect our future life to be quite hot. On a much fingered wall map in the NAAFI we looked for Aden and found that it was reached via El Adem, a staging post in Libya about twenty miles inland from Tobruk, not very far from Egypt. Nasser, having survived the 'Suez Crisis' was rarely out of the news, although things had gone quiet there compared to the continuous skirmishing at Aden.

A few days passed at Innsworth, the panic apparently having subsided. Most of our party had to have jabs but nothing more exciting happened and we became bored out of our minds. Then one day we were issued with travel warrants and told to go home for fourteen days belated embarkation leave. Was all this going to turn out to be a non-event similar to my Christmas Island scare?


- Not a Flight of Fancy -

However, on the tenth day at home this telegram arrived:


Accordingly the following Tuesday saw our hundred strong party en-route for transit accommodation at Hendon. During the afternoon of the next day, fifty of us were conveyed by coach to the newly opened Gatwick Airport where we were paraded briefly for the CO to announce our destination. It was to be:

Transair Ticket

Thus by 17.00 we found ourselves airborne, cosseted by Air Hostesses in the silent comfort of a civilian Transair turbo-prop Vickers Viscount

We refuelled at Nice where a touching incident took place. We had to leave the aircraft while the refuelling was done and on descending the steps we quite spontaneously and naturally formed up into threes to march to the terminal building. It seemed that it was a local congenial pastime for the Nice populace to congregate on the roof of this building, where they imbibed an evening aperitif whilst watching the planes. There was a ripple of applause as we marched below them in our blue uniforms and I have often wondered why we deserved this. Eventually after another refuelling halt and crew change at Malta, we found ourselves touching down at El Adem.

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