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The El Adem Radio Service, RAF El Adem and Tobruk.

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1.TEARS at 50. Jim Jefferies 1958-60

2.50yrs. ago.......TEARS BEGAN BROADCASTING

3. Beverley XB268 Crash 1963. Dave Austin.

4. Copy of Obituary, Wing Commander Malcolm Scholes

 

If you have any Stories, Views or Comments that you would like to see published here.

 e-mail:- jsmoir@btinternet.com

 

      

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TEARS at 50 ….. It doesn’t seem possible 

By Jim Jeffries, 5001Sqn. (ACB), 1958-60

Fifty years ago, it doesn’t seem possible that it was so long ago – that is until I kneel down and then try to stand up again.  That’s when I concede it is probably true !  I well remember TEARS starting though, to be honest, I don’t think it was known as such then was it ?  What I do recall was the ‘con’ perpetrated by the TEARS crew in either 1958 or 59.  I suppose someone had initially mistakenly played a 45rpm record by Doris Day at 33rpm.  I’m not sure of the title but it could possibly have been Secret Love.  The resulting performance was surprisingly good and a fictitious name for the artist was contrived.  Again, I cannot recall this name.  The ‘con’ went on for some weeks and fooled a lot of people, myself included (well, I was young and naïve then).  Eventually the spoof was revealed – whether because of a guilty conscience or what, I don’t know.  Whatever it was, as Al Murray would say, “ Shame on You ! “ .


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50 YEARS AGO …… TEARS BEGAN BROADCASTING

 

by Brian (Garry) Wolfe, RAF El Adem, 1958-59

 

I was known as GARRY most of the time I was in the mob. This name was chosen by me because, square bashing at Bridgenorth, we had 12 ‘Brians’ in our billet. The Garry came from my first employment when one of the Engineers would, if you asked a question, tell you to Go Away and run round a country. This particular day I left a note for him which said Go Away Run Round Yugoslavia. A couple of hours later he called out for Garry and everyone looked up and said we don't have one of those. We do now he said and pinned my note on the board. From that time on until I joined up I was known by that name.

In Habbaniyah, in Iraq, I spent some time working on the radio station as a controller and announcer. In May 1958, upon arrival in El Adem, I was part of the signals unit - just behind the control tower. Pilot Officer Croy was Oi/c and I recall him asking me how often we did six monthly services, WOW !!!  I only worked there for about six weeks before I was told to report to the Station adjutant.

I well recall that meeting. It was with a great deal of trepidation that I marched into his office and saluted. " Who are you ?" he asked, which struck me as a stupid question as I had been summoned by him in the first place. I told him and then he surprised me even more when he said "Please sit down, we have some important matters to discuss." "When you were in Iraq you worked on the HAB radio station I'm told."  When I confirmed this he said - "We need something like that here because we're a bit cut off and the chaps and families get bored. Would you be willing to take on the task of making this idea come to fruition?" To this I replied that it was not going to be easy trying to do this whilst at the same time doing my normal RAF signals job. To this I was told they would post someone in to do  my RAF job as of the end of the week I was full time on this task. Go away and come back next week and tell me what we need. We have a rack of equipment and 200 loudspeakers for use in the accommodation areas. I'll see if I can get Air Formation Signals to do all the cabling and installation work. Everything is in a Nissan hut which we will make the new radio HQ. As of next week you still retain your rank but will no longer work for RAF. I will make Flt Lt Tolley your officer commanding so deal with him, OK?"

"Yes sir" I replied.

Having assessed the acoustic properties of a Nissan hut as abysmal, I then set about deciding what equipment we needed. Garrard 301 transcription turntables, Burne-Jones 12" Pickup arms, Ferrograph tape recorder and all the electronic bits to build the operating system. Acoustic tiles to line the walls and a Westinghouse 'Studio Whisper' air conditioner for the control room. Attempts to acquire the Habbaniyah record library unfortunately came to nothing. A shame really as they had in excess of 2000 discs.

A trip to Blighty, in a Beverley, enabled me to go round the London shops to purchase the goodies. The most expensive item being the 'Acoustic Cellotex' tiles purchased from one Horace Cullham Ltd. He was a real character and took me out for a Lobster lunch which comprised steak & Kidney pie and a pint of beer and a word of wisdom. If anyone asks you where you or anyone else comes from tell them 'Their Mother'.

All of this stuff was purchased with a bill of credit issued by the Air Ministry, and they arranged to get the equipment sent back to El Adem. I think 5001 Squadron did the lining of the hut and produced the soundproof partition between the control room and the studio.

The electronics console was designed and built by Brian Hughes, myself and AN other. At this point we were about ready to run some tests and I asked Allan Carruthers if he would like to be an announcer for us. And so it came to pass.

Flt Lt Tolley said we should call ourselves 'Rediffusion' and that was the name used when we did the radio broadcasts using a 1Kw transmitter. It took about 3 weeks before I was hauled up before the station adjutant and given a severe knuckle wrap because Radio Switzerland had complained we were interfering with their programmes. So ended the radio trials. To make matters worse 'Rediffusion' pointed out that the name was  their trademark and we were infringing it. A lot of head scratching took place to come up with a new name and  thus 'Tobruk El Adam Radio Service'  (TEARS) was born. At times it almost drove us to them !

A few months later we had a complaint from a station in Winnipeg saying we had caused them some trouble with our transmissions. We devised some good programs like 'Oasis Club' which came from Waddi Halfa on Sunday evenings. I think Terry Peters did that. We used to hide him in the station all the weekend so people thought he had actually gone there.

Brian Hughes said that if you played a piece of music enough times you could produce a hit. So we tried it with  Igor Stravinsky 'Rite of Spring' the maidens sacrifice. This got played every time there was a gap in normal programming and after about two weeks you could walk around the station and people were either humming or whistling this. There was of course the classic scam with this new pop star. We found that some Doris Day records played at 33 rpm had very little vibrato on them and so could be taken as a male voice, Bearing in mind the Stravinsky test we thought we would try this. Now we needed a name for this new singer. Well DORis became ROD and the orchestra was conducted by Frank de Vol so we used frank and ended up with ROD FRANK.

We managed to keep this going for about six weeks when I was asked to go to supper with Group Capain Bell. Me - Supper. Oh dear there must be real trouble. What a pleasant gentleman. I had a wonderful evening with him his wife and daughter Helen. She was somewhat annoyed that she couldn't buy this Rod Frank song. The NAAFI said that none of there distributors had ever heard of this chap. She complained to her dad who said " I'll get the chap over and we'll discuss this socially." Now I had to explain what we had done. He then told me that the NAAFI had had all these orders for this disc and it was not available which  was making life difficult.

I could only apologise profusely and said we would let the secret out. As I was about to leave he said that his daughter Helen wanted to do a show and what did I think. Well you can't tell the c/o what to do so I suggested she come over for an audition. It then transpired that she very much enjoyed my Night Train program so I said, "Come over and we'll give you a try."  When I eventually left E-A in the fall of 59 she took over my programme and I still have that script.

Back in the uk I got posted to Wittering and after a week was asked to build a station for their people.  Lucky for me I got early release and came back to civvy street.

 


THE FATE OF XB268.

Just like any other night the ‘squawk’ box sounded and with the flick of a switch the familiar voice of the Controller said “Good morning Crash Crew, line the runway aircraft on approach”, within minutes the crash tenders roared into action proceeding to their respective standby positions adjacent to the runway, Crash 1 at the northern end, Mk 6 midway and DP 2 at the southern end, which was on this particular night, end of approach or point of touch down. Immediately on leaving the crew room it became obvious that this was not like any other night, thick fog hid the airfield. At each crash vehicle position was a ‘squawk’ box and on arrival each driver confirmed with the tower has being in position. After several minutes Ginger Lindsay, driver of the DP 2 thought he heard a bang and felt a bump, he reported this to the tower and requested permission to go to the end of the runway to investigate, Tom Maxwell controller that night denied that request and told  Lindsay to hold his position, minutes passed and Ginger knowing that he could not be seen from the tower, left his position and drove to the end of the runway, the overdue Beverley XB268 had indeed arrived on time only to land short of the runway, hit a concrete bunker and burst into flames just 100yds outside the perimeter fence. With no RT equipment and to the horror of the pilot screaming at the crash gate, Lindsay had no alternative other than turn his crash vehicle around and go back to the ‘squawk’ box to raise the alarm.

     Very soon every fireman on the station was heading to the crash scene to lend a hand. I remember a great buddy of mine Maurice Webb and myself up to our necks in foam searching for bodies with the wreckage burning around us, and as Maurice recently said “We were 20 year old bits of kids doing a mans job and we thought nothing of it ,because it was our job” (Yes we still keep in touch). Sadly the accident had claimed the lives of  two people, I think one was a civilian and the other was an airman reporting back to base following leave in UK.

     A few days later, the controller Tom Maxwell was repatriated back home, before leaving he visited the Crash Crew that had been on duty the night of the accident, and gave each member of the crew (7 in total) a packet of cigarettes as a thank you.

     Some weeks later, and as a direct result of events that took place on the night of the crash, every emergency vehicle was fitted with radio transmitting equipment, a major contribution to future safety, at an enormous cost,--  The Victims of XB268.

Dave (Taff) Austin.

C Crew, RAF El-Adem.  1962-63.

 

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Copy of Obituary of

WING COMMANDER MALCOLM SCHOLES

Flight Engineer who led a charmed life during two operational tours as a teenager with the Pathfinders force.

Wing Commander Malcolm Scholes, who has died aged 84, completed two tours of operations with Bomber Command's Pathfinder force whilst still a teenager. Scholes had just 66 hours of flying experience as a flight engineer when he joined an established crew on N0.35 Squadron. His first operation, on November 11 1943, was to Cannes, to bomb the marshalling yards on the main coastal line to Italy. His Halifax was badly damaged by flak and only managed to return to England, when it was forced to crash-land. This sortie set the tone for much of Scholes's tour with Pathfinders. Over the next 11months he completed another 54 missions, and his aircraft was hit by flak 11 times. On one occasion the bomb aimer was killed. On three successive long range sorties deep into Germany his bomber was badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire: once he returned with no hydraulics and another time his aircraft lost an engine. On February 24 1944 a German fighter attacked

      

 

 

 his Halifax but Scholes and the rear gunner managed to shoot it down. In March No.35 re-equipped with the Lancaster. On March 30 Scholes attacked Nuremburg on the night when Bomber Command suffered it's worst casualties of the war: 95 bombers, each manned by a crew of seven, were lost. During the Spring and early summer of 1944 Scholes also acted as the bomb in hid crew when they attacked many targets in northern France in preparation for the Allied invasion. On the night of June 5 he bombed a big gun battery south of Dieppe when the order was "this target has to be destroyed at all costs". Scholes and his crew were sometimes appointed as the deputy master bomber, controlling and directing the main bomber force. By the Autumn of 1944, Bomber Command had returned to operations over Germany and on October 5 Scholes attacked Saarbruken - it was his final operation, and 12 days before his 20th birthday. Malcolm2.jpg

He was awarded the DFM, having "set an example of tenacity and enthusiasm to the rest of the squadron" Malcolm Scholes was born at Wakefield on October 17 1924 and educated at Manygates Secondary School, Sandal, and at Wakefield Technical College. He became a member of the Air Defence

 

Corps (later the Air Training Corps.) in October 1939 and joined the RAF on his 18th birthday to train as a Flight Engineer. After completing his tour of operations with No. 35, he was commissioned and served until the end of the war as an instructor at the Pathfinder Force Training Unit. Scholes elected to remain in the administration branch of the service, and in July 1947 was posted as the adjutant to the RAF airfield at Ein Shemer in Palestine. He was much involved in the arrangements for the difficult evacuation of the Unit ahead of the creation of Israel in May 1948. On April 25 he led the final convoy of some 110 vehicles which retreated into the Haila enclave prior to evacuation to Egypt and Cyprus. He was appointed MBE for "distinguished services in Palestine his devotion to duty has been far above the normal requirements of the service". Scholes served on bomber stations before he was appointed the last Commander of the RAF Garrison in Tobruk. He made numerous forays into the desert with Army patrols also based there, and by the time he left in June 1967 they had given him the nickname" the blue major". He later served at Biggin Hill and RAF Regiment Depot at Catterick before taking up a post with the RAF recruiting organisation in the Ministry of Defence. On leaving the regular RAF in March 1978 Scholes took up a retired officer's post with the East Yorkshire Wing of the Air Training Corps. Spending 12 enjoyable and rewarding years as the Wing's administration officer. In October 1989 he retired at the age of 65, when he was taken on a two hour flight over the North Sea in a Tornado fighter while the pilot investigated a Russian trawler that was close to British Territorial waters. In 1984 he was made an honorary life member of his old ATC. Squadron, 127(City of Wakefield). He also served as president of 58 (Harrogate) Squadron.

Malcolm Scholes died on November 11. His wife Christina and two daughters survive him.

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