Hunter 1958 - 1965 (11)

There was no beach to speak of in Bahrain, which was a great sadness, but in the hot season we did not swim even in the pool on the base. The water was almost at blood temperature and it was a real effort to swim a length even for strong swimmers. What we missed out in Bahrain we made up in Sharjah where we went down to the coast as often as we were able which were most afternoons. After a good swim we would often go down to Dubai a little fishing port, where gold smuggling was rife and wander round the

Souks there.

As you have heard there were many advantages to being away from Command on the flying side but it also had other advantages! In the early 60s officers were expected to marry after their 25th birthdays and no allowances were paid to any officer under that age. Furthermore, in Aden, where accommodation was very scarce, no under age officer could be accompanied. So those of us married under 25 in Aden were enforced bachelors! However, in Bahrain the OC Admin Wing an ex South African Air Force wartime pilot thought that this was a stupid rule especially for aircrew and went out on a limb by stating that Under 25s could bring their wives out – another advantage of being far away from Command!

Our preferred form of transport was the scooter while most of the pilots favoured the Honda 50cc, Tim Webb had decided on a 150cc Vespa and Jock Watson decided that no scooter was the way to go and so had to rely on the Vespa to get about! Now, whenever the pilots were invited to a party the “Wee Jock” would always take his bagpipes and whenever he had them he had to play them but playing bagpipes on the back of a Vespa Scooter was impossible unless facing backwards. Once we had mastered  the dynamics of fore and aft facing seating, rather like the Defiant in WWII, it became much easier. From the front all that was seen was a rider with some funny looking pipes sticking out over his right shoulder but the noise generated kept the pedestrians out of the way and the traffic directors allowed us to maintain steady progress!  

In early 1964 the squadron once again came under the command of one of its wartime commanders; as an integral part of 285 Wing in Italy they had served under Group Captain Millington and now 20 years later the new Commander RAF Persian Gulf was Air Commodore Geoffrey Millington. He soon became a very popular commander who had not lost his sense of fun. On one particular evening he came to the Mess for a Dining-in Night and in the banter prior to the meal he was invited to become an Honorary One Striper [we had been having a lot of trouble with the Two and More Stripers] he accepted the invitation with alacrity.


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