The way we used to
This was before Air Trooping and God
certainly didn't bless all who sailed in her !!
With thanks to Eric Davey for this contribution
Now a series from Peter Frampton
TROOPING IN THE 50’S – THE OTHER WAY
In April 1952 a group
of Sappers of the various Survey trades were transported to an
airfield “somewhere in the South of England” en-route to 42 Survey
Engineer Regiment then in SOBRAON Camp, Fayid, in the Canal Zone,
Egypt. The journey out was by an AVRO YORK, as in the photo above,
which we shared with a high-ranking officer and some other troops – a
total of 24 or 26 plus 4 crew. The seats in the box-like fuselage
were rear facing, with many under the wing routes which contained a
large fuel tank. A stop to re-fuel was made at RAF LUQA on the island
There, a reception
group of staff officers were surprised when soldiers disembarked
first, with only later, our red tabbed travel companion who had told
the troops (through an intermediary of course), to leave the plane
first for their “tea and wads” as time on the ground was so short.
And so our journey continued uneventfully onto Fiyad.
The homeward flight
for us National Servicemen, looking forward to de-mob in June/July
1953 was again by an AVRO YORK. Again, we were routed via RAF LUQA.
After a brief stop for fuel (and tea) we boarded the plane.
preliminaries of rolling out to the runway, revving the 4 Rolls Royce
engines, and releasing the brakes went well. Our visions of an
uneventful flight home were rudely shattered when “beyond the point of
no return” – as they say – one of the engines stopped … somehow the
pilot bounced the plane, willing it to take off, it did thank
We had to circle Malta
for what seemed like hours to use sufficient fuel to enable a safe 3
engine landing to be made.
Later – it seemed like
a lifetime – we had the inevitable cuppa. The pilot in a sweat soaked
B.D. tunic, came round to each little group saying to us that his
ambition was always to be the oldest pilot in the RAF, but for a
minute or so he thought he was not going to make it.
Three days later with
a new engine fitted we left for home.
Thoughts …. safer than
a ship? Maybe. Faster certainly, but thinking of the “EMPIRE
WINDRUSH” it seems to be just the luck of the draw whether you and
your transport arrive or not.
James A Clark
Avro York was a
passenger and freight
transport of the 1940s, in
both military and civilian
designated the Avro type
685, it first flew on July
What would be known as the
York combined the wings and
undercarriage of the
bomber with a much larger,
rectangular fuselage. The
increased forward area
necessitated fitting a third
fin to retain control.
If anyone has photos of any form of transport by which we travelled
around the world I would love to include them. I am not thinking of travel on location.
I personally travelled by Britannia, VC10, Argosy, Beverley and a Ramp Powered Lighter
from Southampton to Sark CI with the return by British Rail Ferry.
Not forgetting one short haul, scary flight on a Malaysia Airlines DC3
from Sibu to Kuching in Sarawak.
Just past the point of no return the port engine started leaking oil
and the Pilot stopped it. An announcement told the passengers that the
loss of one engine was not a problem. Just as we started the approach
to Kuching airport the suddenly was complete silence, the other engine
had stopped! My thoughts at the time were "this is it!", however after
touchdown that engine started again and the aircraft taxied to the
apron. It transpired that this was done to prevent drag to one side on
landing. We might have been warned!