This article has been kindly reproduced with the author's permission.  The book can be purchased direct from the author, Frank Authers  (details below).  Frank has published the book himself as a private venture, not for profit but as one of those personal 'goals' that we all strive to reach at some stage in our lives.  I have read the book and found it to be very interesting, entertaining, witty and poignant.  The chapter reproduced here is about Gan, just a taste of the many chapters that take you on a journey through one man's RAF career from 1938 to 1968.

For more details and order form, CLICK HERE

I was very happy at Seletar, but in December of 1966 I was offered the opportunity of transferring to Gan Island. It was a small Island, part of the Maldive group of Islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean, some 2130 miles from Singapore. The vacancy arose as the Police Flt/Sgt. on Gan, (there was only the one) had to be repatriated home through ill health, and it would have taken far too long to get a replacement from the UK. The job was offered to me as I was unaccompanied, and Gan was a strictly unaccompanied Island. It would also cut down my time abroad, as Singapore was a two and a half year tour, and Gan was only one year.

Gan turned out to a lovely place. There was a Flt/Lt in charge of the RAF Police, and I was his deputy. We had about 12 men and 6 police dogs. We also had a number of Pakistanis on the staff who were mostly used as guards. There was a large labour force of about 100 hundred Pakistanis, who were on a 12 month contract to the RAF and a number of Sri Lankans, mainly employed by the NAAFI  and about 150 RAF personnel.

The length of the Island was a concrete runway, and the role of the base was simply a staging post for aircraft en route to the far east, for refuelling.  No aircraft were based on Gan with the exception of a Shackleton, which was on attachment from Singapore, on a monthly changeover rota. This was there as a safety/rescue aircraft in case of a ditching. The Island was very small, just a mile and a half long, and a mile across, and although we had a Landrover on the section, mostly we cycled around the Island on RAF issue cycles.

There was a special Gan tie, available to personnel who served on the Island. It had a very subtle emblem woven into it, which consisted of a circle, with a small + at the bottom, which is the medical symbol for woman, and across the circle, diagonally, was a red band, which, without the + would indicate a "no entry" traffic sign. Gan was a male only Island, (with the exception of one WRVS lady, who was there as a Welfare Officer)hence the symbol, get it?.

We had a small 9 hole golf course on the far side of the runway and as the normal working hours were 7am till 1 pm in the afternoon, it was on the golf course every afternoon. The temperature on Gan was a constant 80F all the year round, it rained occasionally, but it was warm rain, and if we got wet playing golf, we dried out before we had finished the round.

The RAF Police had their own Golf Championship Competition in Singapore, for the whole of the Far East, and I was invited back there to play in it, not that I expected to come anywhere in the competition, but it was nice to renew old friendship, and visit some of the old haunts. It was nothing in the RAF to fly 2000 odd miles each way for a game of golf. There were plenty of aircraft passing through, so transport was no problem.

We had two Education Officers on Gan, young fellows, and quite characters. We often played golf together, and the whole unit was a very close knit community, and a very easy going lot. The Education Officers used to publish a weekly Gan News Sheet, with just general information and lighthearted matter in it. On the front page they had a column, which they called "Have You Heard" under which heading they would publish any scandalous or amusing titbits they could get hold of, about any of the personnel on the unit. They would not mention the actual names, but it wouldn't take much working out who they were referring to, for instance when I got back from my visit to Singapore, and they had chatted to me about life over there, in the next weeks news sheet, it read " Have you heard that a certain RAF Police Flt/Sgt has had to hand his tie in'?"

I was quite friendly with the WRVS lady who was called Joy. She always came over to the police office in the mornings for a chat and a cup of cocoa, which was something we drank a lot of there. She was accommodated in the Officers Mess and I used to get my leg pulled about her, but I enjoyed her company, and it was all quite innocent. I went on a visit to Cyprus, during my spell on Gan, as 150 Squadron, who I was with in France, were being presented with their Colours, and ex members were invited to attend. On returning to Gan, I bought a box of chocolates for Joy. We had no chocolate on Gan, because of the heat. This gesture got to the ears of the Education Officers, so in the next issue of the Gan News Sheet, under the heading, "Have you heard," it read, "That a certain RAF Police Flt/Sgt. had brought a box of chocolates back for a certain WRVS lady." with the added punch line "You'll get no Joy there Frankie!"

The Pakistani workers did a 12 month contract, then went back to Karachi, in Pakistan, for a months leave, in which time they could renew their contract if they wished, or newly recruited stag would take their place. This change over was staggered so that a 12th of the work force was always away. An Argosy Aircraft used to come into Gan monthly from Singapore to take one lot to Karachi, and bring the other lot back. I often did this trip, as I was responsible for Customs oil (Jan, and I could do the paperwork and search their baggage, whilst on the way back. We were not treated too well at Karachi Airport, always a lot of unnecessary hanging about. I found out that the head Customs Officer there was a Pakistani, by the unlikely name of McGregor, (some Scotsman in the distant past must have got lucky with a female in his family).

Being a Muslim country, liquor was not readily available there, but I knew from experience that a lot of them were partial to a drop of the hard stuff, so on my next trip, I bought a bottle of whisky from the NAAFI. It was about 10/- (50p) a bottle then, we wrapped it up well, and on arrival in Karachi, asked to see Mr. McGregor, the Chief Customs Officer. I was shown into his office, and he wasn't particularly friendly so diplomatically  I told him, that the crew who were there last month were so pleased with their treatment at the airport that they had asked me to take him over a little present. I let him think that I was unaware of the contents of the parcel, as I didn't know what his reaction would be. He opened the parcel and his eyes lit up, and his attitude changed completely. He was delighted! I told him we could bring, one over every month, and asked if he could get the crew through the airport a bit quicker, as they liked to have a look around the city before it got dark. No problem! He came out of his office, all the crew were still waiting in the lonely queue, he waved his arm and called out "All RAF. this way," and that was us through, with no problems in the future either. We used to night stop there in a Hotel, it was quite good, and quite interesting, wandering around the shops etc. but generally a dirty, smelly place_

Gan was the largest of a group of Coral Islands, surrounding a large, deep Lagoon, and the whole was known as the Addu Atoll. Some of the other Islands were inhabited, and we used quite a few of the males for general labour on the camp, but they had to be off the Island by 4pm every day, they travelled by sail boats called "Dhonies." If the winds weren't right it could take them 6 to 8 hours to get hours, then leave about 4 in the morning to get back, poor devils, and they worked for a pittance.

There was a wonderful camaraderie amongst all the personnel on the unit, from the CO down. We had a jetty on the lagoon side, and an Air Sea Rescue Launch was permanently stationed there. On the far side of the lagoon, about a distance of 6 or 7 miles could be seen a small island. with a lot of trees on it, it was known to us as "Bushy Island." It was uninhabited. When a new bunch of fellows came out from the UK to start their 12 months stint on Gan, and still quite green. a large notice would go up in the airmen's mess, stating that there would be a dance at the nurses home on Bushy Island that evening. and anyone wishing to attend should be on the jetty by 6:30 that evening, smartly dressed. It was surprising how many turned up and it was a good laugh for the lads, many of whom had fallen for this themselves on arrival.

Another leg pull on a much grander scale in which the whole station took part. An RAF aircraft was going to be visiting for refuelling etc. It was doing a navigational exercise around the world, and on board was the Chief Navigator of the RAF, an Air Vice Marshal. The scam was to change every thing we could to disguise the place as one of the Cocos Islands, which was about 1 800 miles away from us. Buildings were disguised, RAF vehicles and equipment were put out of sight, the airmen blacked up and wore home made grass skirts over their shorts, and a large sign was put across the Control Tower saying, "WELCOME TO THE COCOS ISLANDS" It went down well with them, as a joke, but we don't really know if they were fooled or not, but this was typical RAF type humour.

The waters around Gan were shark infested, and many were caught, at night, by the airmen on rod and line. In October of 1967 my time was up and I had a posting come through to go to the No3 Police District, based at RAF Spitalgate, just outside Grantham in Lincolnshire. 1 didn't mind this at all, it, at least it wasn't back on that dreaded "V'' Bomber base.


About This Site
Useful Information

Maps & Addu Atoll Links

Desktop Wallpapers


Guest Book
Guest Book Archives
Message Board
Stories and Articles
This & That !!
Your Enquiries

REUNION 2003 [Odiham]
REUNION 2010 [Gan]
REUNION 2016 [Gan]

Royal Air Force Stations
Hospitals/Medical Units

  RAF Gan Website

Dedicated To All Those Who Served or Passed Through RAF Gan, Addu Atoll, Maldives, Indian Ocean