|Gan is just one of the two thousand Maldivian Islands;
these are set on 12 Atolls, but for administration
purposes they group into 18. Out of the 2,000, only
220 of them are inhabited, the Capital being Male.
Male holds one tenth of the total population with
10,000 Maldies living on it - quite amazing considering
the Capital is only 1 mile long by ½ mile wide.
Britain first made contact with the Islands in 1887
by means of a letter from the Governor of Ceylon,
the Crown. Since then many expeditions have visited
Gan and in 1941 plans were laid to make use of Gan
the purpose of the shore based 'Fleet Air Arm Squadron,
this being under Naval-control. By early 1942, work
was started on the first airfield by the Royal Engineer
Company Army Units and the help of the Maldivians.
late 1942 the first runway was complete, this running
NW/SE and being 1,600 yards long. Not long after the
second runway was completed, this one being slightly
shorter, 1,200 yards and running NE/SW. A third strip
was held up due to 1ack of rollers.
The construction of the airfield took some hard work
and it was mostly hand laid. First came the job of
the top layer of loose soil and a minimum of 12 inches
of lump coral was put down; then came 6 inches of
coral, this being covered with sand and coral dust
and after this was well rolled and watered, a final
layer of pea
coral was spread over. All this was done by hand -
it must have been tough for the Gannites of that period,
was not in vain as the result was a hard, even surface
end could take the landing of a fully loaded Liberator,
better. One problem did occur, though, and that was
the tail skids of the A.S.R. Walrus and to overcome
work was started in March on a strip 500 yards long
by 30 feet wide of packed earth. By July it was completed
end the problem ceased from then on.
Gan proved to be of great value during the War, as
the Japanese had now over-run Burma and Malaya and
time were also threatening India and Ceylon. Yet things
were not quiet on Gan either, the Maldivians were
re-housed on Fedu and Maradu and Gan was stripped
of its mass of palm trees and scrub to be replaced
Within time, though, the Japanese were slowly pushed
back in Malaya and Gan came to be of less importance
and slowly the Atoll was once again left in peace.
The year 1957 brought the British back to this Paradise
Island, this time with a slightly longer lease, a
30 year one.
It took several years before a firm agreement was
reached by the Government and during this time the
witnessed an uprising by some of the Adduans, which
started on the 1st of June, 1959. The reason for the
was general dissatisfaction over Government policies,
particularly over taxation, the channelling of all
Male and fears that the Government wished to restrict
the Adduans working for the R.A.F. This problem was
solved though, and life settled~ down to a happy pace.
We have in the past 15 years helped to give the Maldivians
a more balanced diet and through our advanced Medical
science, the population of this Atoll is now 12,000.
In 1957 it was a mere 6000 which meant a 100% increase
in the populace.
HIS. TOR. IAN