Many moons ago in a world far removed from the present one was located a tiny island called Gan. The Royal Air Force in its infinite wisdom decided to confer on this speck in the Indian Ocean the grand title of “staging post”. In other words a place where aircrew who had had enough of flying for the day could plonk the aircraft down and go for a swim and leave someone else to look after whatever was on board.
Because of its location in Paradise, the RAF did not want those it sent there to get used to the good life so they would only leave them there for a year and them send them back to civilisation in the UK. I was one of the “lucky” ones to be given this sentence.
My journey to this Maldivian idyll was by troopship to Colombo and eventually after about five weeks waiting, by Hastings to the island – but all that is another story to be told in later episodes.
My assignment on the island was to take charge of the orderly room and being the keen lad that I was I asked the first person I saw of its location. “I dunno!” was the muttered reply. “Just a minute” says I,” you must have reported there when you arrived?” “Yeah I did, but they keep moving it” he said. I was now a little non-plussed to put it mildly, and also sweating like a pig as we were still on the hardstanding and the temperature four miles south of the equator is decidedly hot.
I decided to ask somebody who had the look of superior rank about them (difficult because most people on Gan only wore shorts and flip-flops at work – especially on the airfield itself).
I found a likely looking chap in Air Movements (a tent next to the hardstanding) who informed me that the Orderly Room was now located behind the Air Traffic Control tower in what was later to be the Fire Crew quarters.
Friendly airmen then ran me to the Orderly Room along a road made of crushed coral. I reported my arrival to the Station Commander [Wing Commander Euan Thomas] who greeted me warmly and introduced me to my staff of three airmen and a locally employed dogsbody, who made a great cup of tea. The place was a mess, through no fault of the staff as the various moves had made keeping things in order very difficult. Anyway suffice it to say, as all Clerks Secretarial will tell you, it didn’t take too long to put things right and by the time I left An, the Orderly Room was in its permanent home and things were going smoothly. However, in between
these two time frames…………