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

Stories, Views and Comments

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1. Alex Campbell MT Sect.1957-59

2. Alan Ogle Radio Fitting Party 1960-61

3. Grant Edwards Signals 1955-56 

4. Ted Marston 1956-59

5. John Hancock 1958-59

6. Terry Grove 1958-60

7. Clare Gomme 1968-69

8.Terry Grove-Early Tears 1958-60

9. Bob Heath Daily Telegraph 16/04/1941

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








I have written to you before. This time it is because I have located one of two 33 rpm records I was given when my tour finished and these were both signed. The one I have has the signatures of Jim Gourlay, Don Kirkwood, John Cronin, and three other whose signatures I cannot decipher. Also the massive gap until now with no contact with any of the people I so enjoyed working and living with in our own TEARS Nissan hut leaves me regretting that I fail to remember the names, but can recall their presence. One part time helper at the time was the daughter of the Camp Commander, an Aussie, who made us all welcome at his quarters on memorable evening when we were treated to some home cooking!

As a further reminder of those I was with there, are some incidents I can mention all connected with the work at TEARS. The first is when Ruby Murray (who was then pregnant having married, as I recall, the drummer in her support band) gave a concert in the camp theatre hall and we persuaded her to come to the studio where she sat for a while and we played some records, etc on air.

The next is the number of times we escorted the then CO's daughter (or at least one of us did), who presented some programmes and helped out, back to the CO's house at night. Then there was an appeal for camp talent to come along and we discovered one serviceman who gave readings from ' My Uncle Silas' so well that visitors from Cyprus checking up on us thought it was a re-broadcast from the BBC.

And not finally but another was the time the door of the Nissan hut was blown in and so we had to wash and hang all the records on a line outside to clean them, and of course the studio needed a thorough clean through.

Finally the incident of RAF Regiment Nissan hut when, after they did not hear Revel's Bolero during a programme of light classics (it was played by meat least once before), shot the loudspeaker in their hut and then claimed it was faulty. That at least gave us our mainstay for that programme !

I am glad to see that the record giving was continued. It certainly was a surprise most welcome at the time.

It’s good to keep in touch.




By Clare Gomme, RAF Tobruk, 1968-69

Following the Reunion 10 weekend, and feeling full of nostalgia, I decided to look through my old collection of singles to see if I still had the ones I’d been given by Stephen Withers from BFBS.

In 1968 the station, at Tobruk,  was having a bit of a clear out and I was given several records that were no longer on the play list. Most of them were Advance Promotion Copies of singles that never did well in the charts. Needless to say, some weren’t that good but amongst the pile I found a few that I liked and kept them.  Being a bit of a hoarder, I have kept my record collection because, like photos, they are full of memories. Anyway I found I still had 3 of the ones that Stephen Withers had given me. These are:-

An Advance Promotion Copy on the Pye label of Cloudy, a cover version of a Paul Simon song by the Factotums. I’m not really sure why I kept it, although it was a pleasant little song which I liked singing along to and over 40 years later I can still remember the words. Recently, using the internet, I discovered that the group were from Manchester and in the 60’s performed in the Droylesden area, which coincidently is where my father was born.

A cover version of Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues by Blue Cheer (on the Philips label) which I have always loved. Thanks to Wikipedia, I have discovered that this version was quoted in ‘Rolling Stone’ as being the first true heavy metal record. Wow, to think it’s taken me 42 years to discover that I must have been one of the first lovers of heavy metal !

I’ve Been Loving You by Elton John (also on the Philips label). I’ve no idea why I kept this because, unlike the other records, I don’t remember the song at all so couldn’t have played it much.   However, according to Wikpedia this was Elton’s debut single in 1968 and is considered quite rare! Perhaps if I hang on to it long enough I may find my ‘hoarding’ was justified.

I’m just wondering now if any of  the records I didn’t keep could have been by groups/artists that eventually made it big !

TEARS Early Broadcasts from a Nissan Hut

 By Terry Grove

Operations Clerk, 1958-60, TEARS Announcer/Programmer


Purely by chance I came across the web site of TEARS.

I was involved from 1958 until May 1960. My day and night job job was an operations clerk, National Service. Initially I was taken on as an announcer having barged in to complain to the management and later I took on the role of programmer as well.

I have many memories - the first studio, how we did outside broadcasts on the telephone system from hospital and the theatre, why the RAF regiment blew holes in their hut's speaker, and involvement of the then Australian CO and his charming in all senses, daughter, fooling the visitors from Cyprus, scrounging records from record reviewers in London, how we took working together to a new level with TEARS quarters in our own Nissan hut to ease working pressures, getting Ruby Murray and the band into record choice in the studio.


TEARS broadcasts (perhaps the wrong word at the time??) were initially wire based to most places on camp, not full time except once over the Christmas and New Year. Test transmissions to Tobruk as I recall started in late 1959.

I only hope those who did listen did enjoy what we tried to do. When I say we I must note my real admiration for my colleagues (8 of us in all as I remember).

Amongst the photos I see you have some of baseball kitted players. Could this be what the US Wheelus based personnel on the regular queen's flight were persuaded to donate I wonder? Also I remember the food strike only too well. Food appeared at lunch and discussion was fierce about whether it was best to refuse to eat what we had never seen since arriving. Hunger took over.

Memories Shared …. And up-dated at TEARS Reunion 10

By John Hancock, Electrical Mechanic (Air), 1958-59

The memorabilia on display at TEARS Reunion 10 was fascinating, and we also enjoyed interesting conversations with folk we had not previously met. One in particular ‘squared the circle’ regarding a certain event that happened back in 1958.

It happened when I was found on duty during an exceedingly slack air movement period that was so much so in fact that I was still waiting to perform my first electrical AFS servicing on my first incoming aircraft since arriving at El Adem two weeks previously as an Elec. Mech. Air. Thus it happened it was just our shift corporal ‘Jock’ and me who were on duty at the nissen huts to be found at the top of the pan. We were the sole agents covering the likelihood of any incoming aircraft when out of the blue we received an ETA for an incoming – possibly diverted - Beverley.

When the said Beverley had landed and was taxiing around the perry-track, Jock the Corporal decided it would be a good idea to send me out for my first experience of aircraft marshalling. Wand waving initiation time !

Hmmm… I hoped I had the right notion of just how to signal with the wands …and then as the Beverley came toward the pan entrance I noticed what had seemed to me to be sand-dust over the wheels was in fact smoke issuing from the aircraft starboard wheel set. Even as I momentarily considered what to do for the best, the smoke suddenly transformed into leaping flames.

The wheel-set had soon caught well alight with the flames licking up towards the Beverley wings that are of course found high above the Beverley stilt like landing gear. I reacted by signaling to stop the Beverley immediately in its tracks, and whilst shouting for Jock (who was still back on the phone in the hut) I engaged in putting the fire out with the nearest (and indeed only) type of fire extinguisher to hand as found by the side of the pan. This was the foam type of extinguisher.

As the fire succumbed under my attentions the station fire brigade screeched to a rather belated halt beside me. My relief was short lived as I found myself berated and shouted at by the apparent guv’nor of the fire-crew who was telling me in no uncertain terms I would be put on a charge for using foam on the site/seat of the fire. Foam it seemed, created a chemical reaction with the alloy of the aircraft, and I was apparently now responsible for creating a large repair bill!

However whilst I was absorbing this rucking all the other firemen had baled out of their engine and were busily plastering the wheels of the plane (and half the pan too) with their hoses from which was issuing …foam! Bless ‘em! They were fine mates and saviors as far as I was concerned!  So….end of story as I walked away relieved and probably chuckling. But not quite the end of the story as it happens.

Fifty two years on at this 2010 TEARS reunion, an ex El Adem fireman (I believe it to be Fred Bickham) I was chatting with, was I discovered, serving there at the same time as I was. Fred decently allowed me to recount this ‘fire in the wheels’ event to him in full, and then immediately said to me ‘I remember that!’

Fred went on to say that when the Beverley landed all of the firemen bar one, were whiling shift-time away by playing cards (as most of us usually did during slack on-duty periods of that time) and in this case it was the ‘bar one’ chappie who had been posted at the window to watch incoming aircraft for such an event, who became mesmerized it seems. He allowed the Beverley to pass him by, complete with the smoking wheel set, yet without making any comment to his card playing fire-crew colleagues. Perhaps he was cheesed off at having to give up a good hand of cards, or had a touch of the sun, but whatever the reason he apparently later admitted to his mates he had indeed noticed the smoke… but he had not shouted any alarm to them.

It was fascinating to bump into Fred and find out about the other side of this small event, that might have become all the bigger for me at least.

I picked up on another fascinating comment during the weekend as made to me across the reunion dinner table, and it would be interesting to (discretely) verify one way or the other - if it is possible to do so – the truth of it.

This was that it was the departing British who wrecked the swimming complex and poured concrete down the loos etc. and not the incoming Libyans.

Certainly I have always been puzzled why we were allowed to see the devastation at El Adem and perhaps this goes some way to explaining it, although I admit I find it hard to believe it to be the case. But it seems right to air the fact it was said, and albeit it is hardly important today, it is interesting, and would put matters in a different light.


Regarding Wing Commander Craven

From Ted Marston, Nos.62 & 1 Field Squadrons RAF Regimant, 1956-59

I was browsing the TEARS site and saw the article from Grant Edwards regarding the then C.O. Wing Commander Craven.   I remember him very well as a very laid back person and attached is a photo of him which was taken 1956 when he judged the various Xmas Bars. This was the Regiment bar in the Gymnasium.   I have no idea what happened to him after El Adem.  He is on the right. The other officer is Sqdn Ldr Hildreth who was O i/c 62 Field Squadron.

Correction  from David Robinson this is Wing Commander Peter Richard Robinson, my Grandfather. (centre of photograph).

See main editorial. 05/11/2015



An appeal for information from Grant Edwards ( RAF El Adem, Signals, 1955-56)


I'm just wondering whether you have any idea what happened to our C/O at El Adem, Wing Commander Donald M H Craven. I do realize you wouldn't have known him personally, as he was there before you were, John,  but you're bound to have heard his name mentioned at some time, and it occurred to me you might have heard something about him.

It seems rather a mystery that there's virtually no reference to him at all on Google, apart from a picture of him in a copy of "Flight" magazine from 1956, showing him inspecting a guard of honour at El Adem, together with King Idris, in the April of that year. He was already in post when I arrived in mid-1955 and was still there when I left in Autumn 1956.

I believe he had flown bombers with 12 Squadron during WW2, but can't be certain about that. Otherwise, ordinary airmen at El Adem knew little about him. I do recall he had two very young twin children, and my general impression was that he was pretty "laid back" - not a great stickler for parades and inspections, thank goodness. He doesn't seem to have the high profile of some of the other C/Os there.

I wonder if any of the Friends of TEARS contacts can help with information. I'd be interested to hear from you if you can find anything out.




By Alan Ogle, Radio Fitting Party, 1960-61

I was fascinated by the TEARS web site which I’ve just found. I was at El Adem when TEARS was formed, as Sgt i/c Radio Fitting Party mainly installing the new Transmitter Hall.I was there nearly 2 years and among my photos from the time is one of two TEARS members perched precariously on the roof of the Sgts Quarters to install speakers in my room. Not sure why but felt a bit guilty at the time as none of the other Sgts had TEARS.

I was interested too in John Scurrell’s photos on in the Online Album of the inside of the new Transmitting Hall about a year after I left which shows that the expensive new fangled nitrogen pressurised coaxial feeder system we installed had been ripped out and they had gone back to open wire feeders....what went wrong with that !

But most of all it is marvelous to see the people (and the places) exactly as you remember them from all those years ago including likes of Flt Lt Croy, Sgt Parry Jones and others. Croy tried, and failed, to get the Fitting Party to go on parade.

Still browsing the site to see what else is to be found. It’s hard to believe it’s all that time ago.  Strange to see some of the people again as I remember them (and places) whereas in reality I probably wouldn’t recognize any of them now. But what a marvelous thing a web site like this is, to allow us to do it …… Thanks !




Wiring Sgts. Mess for TEARS



By Alex Campbell, MT Section, 1957-59

 I just been on the Tears web-site and saw three names, two of which I am in contact. Glen Mc Birnie I met last month in Oakham and he passed on my name to Les Atkinson. They were in Air Movements. Another name was Alan Hext. He and I were drivers at the same time. I spent a long time on movements. I was SAC Alex Campbell 1957-59, MT Driver. I found out from Les that Dave Howe is down Devon way he was at MT with me.  Brian Perry was another. I believe he was living in the Devon area. He had two gents’ outfitter shops. When I was at West Drayton I went to a reunion down the south coast. I can’t remember the place but the pub landlord had two alsatians that drank from soda siphons !  I went back into the RAF in 1966 for 27 years.

 I’ve been through the news postings. One chap mentioned, Gp Capt R Law. I remember him well. Firstly, he presented me with my safety certificate for no MT accidents in my time there and secondly, he had me charged for driving up the back of the cinema to deliver the weekly films. It was the wet season and this was forbidden. I had Asian flu and was unable to carry the boxes from the road and he caught me !   Nice to see the TEARS web site.




© 2007