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

Stories, Views and Comments

ARCHIVE (1).  ARCHIVE (2) ARCHIVE(3) ARCHIVE(4) ARCHIVE(5) ARCHIVE (7) Back to main Editorial

1.Derek Airey Tears Tech. 1967-69

2.Roy Fones Info request.

3. Barry Bunting RAOC 1968

4.Bob Heath RAF Armourer 1961-63

5.Jeremy Havard son off Richard Havard 1953-54

6.Remembering Davy Jones, by John Moir

7.Group Captain Roy Langstaff OBE, AFC

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Group Captain Roy Langstaff, OBE, AFC

I’m sorry to have to report the death of another member of the Friends of TEARS, Roy Langstaff, who many would have met during our very first Reunions back in 1993 and 1994.  A small number would also have known him during his time at RAF El Adem as OC Flying / Operations, 1963-65. He was always so very interested in how The Friends of TEARS association was progressing even in the latter stages of his life when his health was failing.  We were indeed honoured to include him amongst our list of members.

A message of sympathy has been sent to his family and a member of the Background Team represented the association at his funeral.  The following Obituary has been provided by his family.

John Moir


Family Obituary.

Group Captain Roy Langstaff, who has died aged 84, served in the Army and in the Royal Air Force as a night fighter pilot and flying instructor.

Born at Spennithorne and educated at Richmond School Yorkshire (RSY), he joined the Army in August 1945 with the intention of serving in a Gurkha Regiment, and was posted to India where he completed officer training.  However, with Indian independence looming, he was instead commissioned in his county regiment, The Green Howards.  He served with the 16th Parachute Battalion of the 2nd Indian Airborne Division until partition in 1947 and was then posted to the 2nd Battalion of the 6th Airborne Division in Palestine during the difficult period leading to the end of the Mandate in 1948.  He then returned to the UK and he left the Army in 1948.

Roy joined the Royal Air Force in 1949 and was sent to Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) for pilot training, returning to the UK in 1951.  Having completed pilot training (on the Mosquito) he was posted to No.23 Night Fighter Squadron flying one of the first jet aircraft to enter RAF service.  After three years he was transferred to No.253 (Hyderabad) Night Fighter Squadron, during which time he did a short exchange with the Royal Swedish Air Force.  On completion of his tour with No.253, he volunteered for flying instructional duties and was posted to the RAF Central Flying School (CFS) for instructor training.

After a foreshortened tour teaching Royal Navy students, he re3turned to CFS on the staff during which time he led the first jet trainer formation aerobatic team carrying out many displays including the 1960 SBAC Farnborough Air Show.  After a very long flight, with many refuelling stops, the team flew to Lagos where they flew three displays for the Nigerian independence celebrations.  The team then went on to Ghana to mark President Nkruma’s return to Accra from his maiden speech to the UN.  On return to the UK the team’s final display was for HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s inaugural visit to the CFS as Commandant in Chief.  Roy was awarded the Air Force Cross (AFC), promoted to Squadron Leader and posted to a flying training station for ground instructional duties.

After two and a half years, Roy was posted to Libya as the Officer Commanding Flying / Operations at RAF Station El Adem which was then the No.1 staging post for transport aircraft flying to the Middle and Far East. He and his young family thoroughly enjoyed living in what could only be described as primitive conditions in Tobruk.

On return to the UK after two years, Roy was promoted to Wing Commander to command the CFS Examining Wing, checking standards of flying and instructing at Flying Training and other units in the UK, and units of foreign Air Forces by invitation.

Roy went on to complete the Air Warfare course after which he did a short conversion to helicopters prior to an intended posting to Singapore.  Unfortunately the helicopter base there had already been closed (!) so he converted to Canberra (bomber) aircraft and was posted, with his family, to RAF Germany at the height of the Cold War.

A tour at the Ministry of Defence Directorate of Flight Safety was followed by a posting to RAF Signals Command Headquarters with staff responsibility for flight checking and all navigational and RAF airfield approach aids.  Roy’s final posting was to Headquarters Training Command, during which time he was appointed an OBE and subsequently promoted to Group Captain.  Throughout a long career he took every opportunity of flying a large variety of aircraft.

On retirement from the RAF after 37 years total service, Roy worked for British Aerospace for 5 years in Saudi Arabia becoming Manager of Support Services.

In 1953 he married Myra Saunders who predeceased him.  Together they leave daughter Jan and son Robin, and four grandchildren.  Roy died on Friday 2nd March 2012 at his home in Stamford.




I’M A BELIEVER !     Remembering Davy Jones, 1945 - 2012


by John Moir, TEARS Presenter, 1967-69


Like many of you who lived through the 1960’s as young lads and lasses, I was shocked and saddened by the news of the death of The Monkees lead vocalist Davy Jones at the age of 66.

It was back in 1966-1968 that they were at the top of their tree with a succession of huge hits on both sides of the Atlantic.  In 1967 I’m A Believer was the top chart single of the year in the States with Daydream Believer ranked 3rd.  And they were one of the first recording artists to achieve the No.1 spot in the UK and USA charts simultaneously.  Not bad for a group who didn’t always receive the acclaim they deserved.

Davy Jones was the sole Englishman in the group and had already archived fame in his own right on stage and screen before auditioning for The Monkees.  He was, fairly recently, voted as the top pop music pin-up of all time by Yahoo.  He had a recording studio just north of Portsmouth where I used to live.  My son, now an experienced Light & Sound Technician working at the Royal Festival Hall, visited Davy’s studio and no doubt gained some valuable knowledge.

They say if you lived through the sixties you’ll never forget the music and that’s certainly true in my case – and I even got to play those tunes on the radio (TEARS).  I am a great fan of The Beatles and pretty much all their recordings.  So, could I like The Monkees too ?  You bet I could !  They epitomised ‘The Sounds of the Sixties’ in every way including that whacky style forever captured in their TV series.

In all they sold 65 million records world-wide and whilst I’m A Believer would probably be at the top of most fans’ favourite tracks, equal top for me would have to be A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You.


God Bless you Davy – thanks for the musical memories that will live on.



 Incident at El Adem, 1962

By Bob Heath, RAF Armourer, 1961-63


I wonder if anyone remembers an incident at El Adem in, I think, 1962. There was a visiting Hunter squadron firing guns and rockets at the nearby bombing range and I was on parade for the Princess Royal's visit to, among other duties, open the new swimming pool, or ‘ Lido ‘ as it was liked to be called. We were marching on when there was a loud "Brrrrrrrrrrp", or similar noise, from where the Hunters were parked; there were mutterings amongst us marchers that one of the Hunter aircraft had fired its Aden cannon on the ground !

Later we found out what had happened. Two armourers were testing the guns circuits using a boxed lamp to test the continuity. The chap on the ground had disconnected the guns, plugged in the box to a gun's connector and instructed the chap in the cockpit to press the firing button, which he did. If the circuit was good, the lamp would light, which it did. The checks done, the chap on the ground shouted up, "O.K.", meaning that the checks were complete, (and the guns were connected up again!) but the lad in the cockpit thought that he said, "O.K.", to press the firing button again for another test with the most unfortunate result that the guns fired a short burst into the desert. It was very lucky that no one was standing in front of the aircraft or that an aircraft wasn't on the runway. I think a very important lesson in communication was learnt from that incident !

1962 or '63 was a long time ago and I am not 100% sure about the reason for the parade. It could have been an AOC's or similar parade but  I am fairly sure that it was a practice for the Princess Royal' visit.

Finally, could I add, does anybody know the whereabouts of Bob Edwards, Mick Price and Jock Robinson, who were J/T armourers and also  Doug Hamilton and Cpl. Dave Clarke plus anyone else who knew me at RAF El Adem between 1962 and 1963.

RAF El Adem, 1953-54

By Jeremy Havard


With regard to my Dad, Richard Havard, I have pulled out some of his photographs. My dates are slightly wrong, he was at El Adem from 1953 to at least August 1954.

They include a shot of The Queen’s parade review during her visit to El Adem on the 1st of May 1954. Cryptically my father has captioned it, “I am third from the right in the far background”, so I take it he is one of the tiny figures you can see on the far horizon !


Second shot is the El Adem officers Mess on the day of the visit and the last is a group of people with my Dad at El Adem who is left bottom with sunglasses. All names are on the back if anyone wants to know who they are.
havard2.jpg   havard3.jpg

My father recalled that every day they could hear explosions around the base at sundown as German and Italian mines went off after years of expansion and contraction in the sand 8 years after the war ended. And, how they dug up a mummified German soldier, complete with uniform, helmet and rifle close to the air base which incidentally, as you may know, was both an RAF and SAAF base when taken by the Allies from the Italians during WW11.



I was in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and did a tour of duty at RAF El Adem between March 1968 and October 68. I worked in the Stores, changing all the RAF part numbers to NATO 13 digit part numbers. Boring I know. I lived in a Twyeham hut that you could never keep the sand out.  Main memories being converted to Amstel beer! I remember discovering a large model railway layout in a hut, but only in the last couple of weeks of my stay or else I would have been in there all the time.

Is there a  Ex El Adem group, because I would love to replace the old photo's I took of my stay. Mine were lost in a fire the following year.

Amongst my memories of El Adem, was 1) A trick was played on a local worker that backfired. Someone had a tailors dummy's head which was painted to look as though the head had been cut off. The head was put into a carton and sealed to make it look as though it was sent from the UK. The carton was given to the local man to open and of course went ballistic when he saw the head. Caused all sorts of bother - I remember the officers didn't see the funny side and someone got into deep doo-doo over it.

I remember the Argosy that crashed out at the desert airfield. The ‘wheels up’ signal in the cab didn't work so the pilot flew around the mobile control tower so that the tower could see if there was a problem. The pilot banked too sharply, touched the ground with the wing tips, flipping the plane over onto it's back and into the ground. Back at El Adem, one of the blue buses had its seats quickly stripped out of it and it had to go into the desert and recover the bodies. A lot of dead that day.

 I've looked on a couple of web sites about El Adem but with not much success as regards photos – I even looked tonight on Google Earth at the old site. I didn't realise how far inland we were.


Derek Airey, Transmitters & TEARS Technician, 1967 - 69

Since finding the El-Adem / TEARS web site I have been burning the midnight oil quite a lot ! I have been getting a great deal of enjoyment reading stories and looking at all the pictures. I remember fondly the outside broadcast and the disco. I seem to remember modifying the control desk with a large green and red lamp to indicate when the mic. was to be turned on and running a very long cable from the studio to the NAAFI ( how did it ever work ! ) and building some sort of outside broadcast consol. I do remember building the disco and the fun we had taking it out and about.

Regarding the TEARS Disco, I seem to remember that we used Aldis lamps from ATC. as disco lights !  If we had ever been found out we would probably still be in prison now !

I am looking forward greatly to the Reunion next October ( pity it is not sooner) and meeting up again, pity we live so far apart otherwise we could have met up sooner. Once I have got over the pantomime that I am doing the sound for ( dress rehearsal tomorrow ! ). I will give you a call.

 Have just read a story on the TEARS site from a Helen Hart saying that she was at El Adem with her family 1967- 69. I worked with a Cpl. John Hart ( from the north east of England) at the transmitter site, he was a Aerial Erector and had a young daughter of school age. Wonder if her father is the John Hart that I knew ?

As I told John Moir on the phone we are clearing out cupboards prior to putting the house up for sale and have unearthed some standard 8 cine films. After repairing an old cine projector to enable me to look at said films, I found a five minute clip at the end of one film showing El-Adem in 1968. The clip is very poor quality and out of focus in part but it shows clips around the accommodation blocks and at the back of the transmitter site and yours truly. Would you be interested in having this film? If you are interested I would be happy to send it to you.


I am trying to find any information on my father who was stationed at RAF El Adem sometime between the years 1947-48. His name was Reginald Fones and left the service as a Flight Sgt.

Many thanks

Roy Fones.





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