Stories, Views and Comments


Main Editorial

1. Beverley XB268

2.Peter Lovell 1958-59

3.Cilla Black by John Moir

4. Memories of the Hastings crash, 1961, found at Malta.

5.David Robinson. Grandson of Wing Comm. Peter Robinson.

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






You have this photograph on your website Editorial Section, Archive (5), under the comments of Ted Marston , which states that the person in the right of the photo is Wing Commander Craven. In fact it is Wing Commander Peter Richard Robinson (known as Rick), the C.O. until 1957... my Grandfather ! My father seems to remember that Wing.Cmdr. Craven succeeded my Grandfather.


Unfortunately, Rick died during a simple hernia operation in 1983, in Cyprus. My father is still very much alive and remembers El Adem well from his childhood visits during school holidays. I have quite an archive of material from my Grandfather if you are interested in seeing it at some point, including a letter from my Grandmother describing lunch with the Queen of Libya.

David Robinson


News Up-Date from John Moir

I have just received more news from Dave Austin, Fire Service C Crew, RAF El Adem, 1962-63, who was amazed to read the following text of an e-mail sent to The Editor of the Overton Oracle, the local newsletter of the village of Overton near Wrexham. I am very grateful to Jill Burton, the newspaper’s Editor, for giving me permission to include the text on the Friends of TEARS web site. I guess that she was as surprised as anyone that the Oracle’s readership stretches as far as Botswana !

Again, I am sincerely grateful to Dave (Taff) Austin for getting in touch with me and informing me of this interesting chapter in the sad story of the Beverley crash back in 1963. He will be meeting up with some of his RAF El Adem pals later this year.

Further references to the Beverley story can be found in the NEWS Section (16/05/2013 ), the EDITORIAL Section in Archive (3), and also in the Online Album ( Dave Austin, 10 April 2013 ).

Doing family research, I came across your publication (The Overton Oracle) and read in the May 2013 issue (Vol 15, no 5) about the commemoration, by Dave Austin and six other former RAF Firemen, of the 50th anniversary of the deaths of F/Sgt Frank Denby and SAC David Marshall killed when a Beverly aircraft crashed on landing at RAF El Adem in Libya.

Frank Denby was my uncle and played quite a big part in my upbringing after my mother died. I want to say a big "Thank-you" to Dave Austin and his colleagues for their great kindness in remembering my Uncle Frank and the other airman killed all those years ago. I live in Botswana, southern Africa, but hope to be in UK soon and will surely go to the National Memorial Arboretum and also pay my respects.

Again, thank you so much for the kindness - the actions of Dave Austin and his colleagues show clearly the comradeship of the RAF.

Best wishes ~ Brian Goulden, Gaborone, Botswana.


MY TIME AT RAF EL ADEM : 1958 - 59   

By Peter Lovell


I was in El Adem for about 18 months in the late 1950’s as a major part of my two years as a National Serviceman. I arrived as an AC2 and ended up as an SAC, I think. My home was in Nettleton Block. The guy who was in charge of our hut (probably a corporal) spent a lot of his time wiring up parts of the station so that it could be used as a network for announcements and music. For the first several months he had only one record, so that was played endlessly. It was Cliff Richard’s first single. We got the disc because Cliff Richard’s cousin (Gordon? Clarkson) was in our room in the Block (Nettleton 4, I think), and his cousin had sent him a copy. For months, that was the only track that was played over the tannoy system.

Theoretically, I was an Air Wireless Mechanic but I successfully got out of that after about 3 shifts (being totally incompetent) and managed to get the job of ‘clerk’ in the Section. This was largely a wangle for the incumbent to get away early. I did the same thing when my time was almost up. On the side, I played quite a lot of tennis, usually on camp but also on a flat roof in Tobruk and also a couple of trips to Cyprus (tennis and hockey). Cyprus was rather dangerous at that time. My tennis partner and I were playing in a tournament there but had no accommodation so we slept outside. This proved to be very fortunate (for us) because the NAAFI and an associated building was blown up and we were showered with bits of building and body parts. Not a pleasant way to wake up, but much better than being in the NAAFI. When we went into Nicosia for an evening, groups were limited to four I think and each group of four had to be chaperoned by two others armed with rifles. The transit camp was very primitive. The toilet was a cess pit with a plank over the top. On my second night one of our group had drunk rather excessively, was unsteady, and slipped backwards. He was not too popular for the next couple of days.

Anyway, all that I have is a photo-album with a few photographs of such things as the toilet facilities, my ‘block’, the ‘bondu’ and the occupants. Everything else was packed into a big wooden case with the lid nailed down. My name and address in huge letters all over it. Presents for friends and relatives. I saw it on to a plane and that was the last time that I did see it. Nicked in transit. I was very pissed off about that, to put it mildly.



It was with great sadness that I heard the news of Cilla’s passing on 02 August 2015. It was back in 1992 that I received a telephone call from a researcher at London Weekend Television. She said that the producer of Surprise ! Surprise ! was very interested in my search for former friends and colleagues who had worked with me on The El Adem Radio Service (TEARS). Janet and I were invited to the London Studios on the South Bank where they would record my piece.  Janet sat in the audience alongside John & Jan Langley for the recording.


Sitting on that stage with Cilla Black in front of 100’s in the audience was indeed a nerve jangling experience but I managed it and waited some weeks before the programmer was eventually transmitted in May 1992.  In the days and weeks that followed 36 people responded to the telecast including many who had not been involved at TEARS but had served at RAF El Adem or the garrison at Tobruk. All were made welcome to the association that was born from this TV appearance.


I have said many times that it was Surprise ! Surprise ! that kick-started the association as, without the show, we would have taken much much longer to find so many. A little more than a year later 140 people turned up for the association’s first Reunion at Northampton in June 1993.  Up till now, eleven Reunions followed along with many other smaller events. And, thanks to Cilla, we are still in touch with around 15 of the 1967-69 TEARS staff included in the Surprise ! Surprise ! appeal. Many of us have met up annually, and will continue to do so, to recall those magical years along with the fab sounds that made our time on TEARS so special.


Thanks Cilla for providing us all with so many musical memories and for providing me with the opportunity of meeting up with so many former friends and colleagues.


John Moir


Memories of the Hastings crash, 1961, found at Malta


  Dave ‘Taff’ Austin, Fire Service, RAF El Adem, 1962-64


 I've attached some pictures which may be of some interest to the group on the site. They were taken in Pembroke Cemetery on the Island of Malta during my recent visit, I placed the candle as a mark of respect mainly from some of our Fire Service Guys who I meet up with twice yearly and who were on Crash duty at the time of the accident and, when one thinks that some of these Firemen were only 20 years old at the time, it certainly could not have been a very pleasant experience.






During my visit to the Cemetery I spoke to the Caretaker and he went into a cupboard and took out a newspaper, now very yellow in colour, containing a two page report of the crash all those years ago, 10th October 1961. Sadly as far as I was concerned it was printed in Maltese, but the Caretaker read some parts to me explaining that the victims were up to that time the only Maltese during peacetime to be buried in a Commonwealth Cemetery, the reason being that, at the time of the Hastings Crash, their Government were in conflict and did not want to bring the victims home from El-Adem. At which stage the Army stepped in and took them back to Malta, hence being buried in a Commonwealth Graveyard.

He also asked if I knew what had caused the crash as no conclusive reason was ever disclosed. His theory was the same as that of mine in as much as the pilot seat had come adrift from its anchorage causing the unfortunate pilot to lose control.

A very interesting and poignant visit and if ever you are in Malta you should take time out to go to the Pembroke Cemetery.


Dave (Taff) Austin













© 2007