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Article entitled "A HISTORY OF GAN"
Gan Island Post 13th May 1972

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 that
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, representing
the Crown. Since then many expeditions have visited Gan and in 1941 plans were laid to make use of Gan for
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. By
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 removing
the top layer of loose soil and a minimum of 12 inches of lump coral was put down; then came 6 inches of 2 inch
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, but it
was not in vain as the result was a hard, even surface end could take the landing of a fully loaded Liberator, no
better. One problem did occur, though, and that was the tail skids of the A.S.R. Walrus and to overcome this,
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 at this
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 by guns.
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 Islands
witnessed an uprising by some of the Adduans, which started on the 1st of June, 1959. The reason for the uprising
was general dissatisfaction over Government policies, particularly over taxation, the channelling of all trade through
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
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Dedicated To All Those Who Served or Passed Through RAF Gan, Addu Atoll, Maldives, Indian Ocean