After Getting settled in Waterbeach we started going away on overseas Projects as well as work on various airfields around the Uk.
The first overseas project was El Adam in Libya in 1969. We went there to extend
the runway and to build various small items around the base. As with the best laid
plans of mice and men things happened that were beyond our control Gaddafi had
a revolution and things went a bit crazy for a while.
Some of us were up in the desert camp at a place aptly named for Engineers it was
called Chatham. We were building shower blocks and deep trench Latrines amongst
When Gaddafi had his revolution we had to dismantle everything after
everyone else had left. We destroyed anything that may have been useful to an enemy as at that time we didn't know how much of a threat we were under.
We knew that just over the ridge from us there were a load of Senusi tribesmen and we didn't know if they were remaining loyal to King Idris.
Our little troop then joined the rest at El Adam.
I have been informed by Norman Taylor (No not Fingers) who served with 34 Sqn That he was one of the men who built the camp in Libya and he said it was called Camp Chatham. I stand corrected Norman.
At first Gaddaffi said we would have to leave anything we couldn't dismantle because he didn't want to pay the
British Government for any of it.
He had counted on us not being able to move anything in the short time we had left. But with true Sapper enthusiasm we had stripped half of the camp within 2 weeks and Kadafi was forced to pay for the rest of the camp that was left standing.
I think we would have blown up everything if we had been given half a chance.
The upshot of the whole thing was that we remained in Libya for nine months instead of the three to four months planned for.
One of the highlights of the Christmas we spent there was a Choir organised by George Dempster. We went round the Messes and what was left of the married quarters and sang carols making a little money for charities on the way.
We did other smaller tours of duty in NI and Canada but the next exotic place was Malawi where we
built 22 miles of road. We only went out to build about four miles but we got so good at it that we
just kept going. We were camped on Nieka plateau which was at high altitude and just walking to
the NAFFI tent felt like going for a run round a football field. It took about 3 weeks for our bodies to adjust.
We also made our own entertainment in Malawi as we did in Libya and again it was George Dempster who did most of the organising.
We built a small stage and put on a show. My contribution was a
small comedy sketch that I did with Allan (Sooty Sutton). It wasn't very good but it did get a few laughs.
I remember 3 of the lads with guitars did a blues number called the Ho Chi Kennedy trail which was about the road we were building.
There were many detachments to other places that I didn't go to like Anguilla,
Beef Island, and Gan. So if any one has pictures or stories from these places
feel free to share them.