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Unit History: RAF Gan

The former Royal Air Force Station Gan commonly known as RAF Gan, was a Royal Air Force military airbase on Gan Island, a southern-most island of Addu Atoll which is part of the larger groups of islands which form the Maldives, in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The area was originally established as a military base for the Royal Navy in 1941. Royal Navy engineers began constructing airstrips on Gan island in August 1941 for the Fleet Air Arm. In 1957 the Royal Navy transferred the base into the control of the Royal Air Force, and Royal Air Force Station Gan became established in the late 1950s as a stopover on the reinforcement to the RAF Far East Air Force based in Singapore. The previous reinforcement route had passed through countries that had formerly been British territory but were now independent, and sometimes hostile nations.

It was extensively used by bombers, fighters and transports on their way to Singapore and other destinations in east Asia during the late 1950s and the 1960s. Other foreign military forces, like the US, occasionally used the facilities. However as the 1970s dawned, the United Kingdom was withdrawing from its commitments east of the Suez. By the end of 1971 the RAF Far East Air Force was disbanded and the major rationale for Gan was gone. Traffic was now much less frequent but the base still remained open for a few more years. By 1975 British military aircraft using the base were an extreme rarity. Gan was thus closed and turned over to the Maldivian civil authorities of the area. At the same time as RAF use of the airfield ceased, the RAF gained access to the then newly built US airfield two hundred miles to the south of Gan on the British island of Diego Garcia.

During World War II, in 1942 the RAF had its bases in the Islands of Addu Atoll, Maldives. The RAF first had a presence on Hithadoo in 1942 when a detachment of RAF personnel were sent from RAF China Bay in Ceylon to service and turn around the RAF Sunderland and Catalina flying boats that were flying regularly into the Addu Atoll lagoon. It was on the 29 March 1976 that the RAF staging post on Gan closed down and the island was handed back to the Maldivian Government.

Forces Reunited Gallery Images Matching RAF Gan

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Memories of RAF Gan

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

RAF GAN in 1972

Written by BILL MITCHELL

I WAS STATIONED ON GAN FROM JAN TO OCT 1972. MY TRADE WAS SUPP/GEN I WORKED IN SCAF ON A DEMANDS DESK AND DID A STINT IN THE MACHINE ROOM PROCESSING DATA TO BE SENT TO THE SCC AT RAF HENDON. I WAS A MEMBER OF THE SUPPLY SQDN FOOTBALL TEAM WHICH WON THE 11a side LEAGUE AND ALSO PLAYED IN THE STATION TEAM. THE MAIN HOBBY APART FROM HAVING A GOOD TIME IN THE MANY BARS AROUND THE ISLAND WAS GOING TO THE TRANSIT LOUNGE AND EYEING UP ALL THE FEMALES WHO WERE ENROUTE TO SINGAPORE AND HONG KONG OR UK.
WE HAD VISITS FROM VARIOUS ROYAL NAVY SHIPS , THERE WAS USUALLY A GAME OF FOOTBALL AGAINST THEM WHICH THE GAN TEAM NORMALLY WON THEN THE NAVY LADS WOULD GO ON BENDERS AROUND THE VARIOUS BARS ,ENDING UP WELL AND TRULY BLOTTO AND HAD TO BE ROUNDED UP AND TAKEN BACK ON BOARD BY THE RN REGULATORS . I WAS ON THE CAR DOOR OPENING DETAIL WHEN HM QUEEN VISITED THE ISLAND IN MARCH (I THINK) I WAS,NT ON THE ROYAL CAR BUT CAR No3 WITH SOME MINOR DIGNITARY. I REMEMBER THE ROYAL YACHT ANCHORED IN THE LAGOON AND BEING LIT UP LIKE A CHRISTMAS TREE AT NIGHT ALONG WITH ITS RN ESCORT SHIP.
ONE THE HIGHLIGHTS WAS WHEN THERE WAS A MAIL CALL AND WE,D GET LETTERS FROM WIVES AND GIRLFRIENDS AND OF COURSE DEAR OLD MAM BACK IN UK (STICKYS HAVING) I WAS ONLY 21 BACK THEN AND KEPT FIT OGGIN TROGGIN (WALKING AROUND THE ISLAND),SWIMMING SCUBA DIVING AND OF COURSE FOOTBALL,CRICKET ETC. ON MY 22nd BIRTHDAY MAM SENT OUT A MASSIVE FRUIT CAKE SHE,D BAKED I REMEMBER SHARING IT OUT AMONGST MY MATES BEFORE BEING TAKEN OUT TO CELEBRATE WITH A BEER OR TEN. THE WORKING DAY WAS FROM 7am to 1pm MON-FRI AND 7am to 12noon ON SATURDAY WITH SUNDAY OFF, SO THER WAS PLENTY OF TIME TO PURSUE HOBBIES OR JUST CRASH OUT ON YOUR PIT IF YOU,D HAD ROUGH NIGHT AT SOMEONES LEAVING DO (GOZ-O-ME)THE NIGHT BEFORE.
YES I CERTAINLY ENJOYED MY TIME ON THE TROPICAL PARADISE CALLED GAN OLD BFPO 180 AND WOULD LOVE TO GO BACK TO THE MALDIVES FOR A HOLIDAY , LUCKILY THEY SEEM TO HAVE ESCAPED THE TERRIBLE TSUNAMI WHICH STRUCK THE INDIAN OCEAN ON BOXING DAY 2004 APPARENTLY THERE WAS ONLY MINOR DAMAGE ON GAN AND NO LIVES LOST IN ADDU ATOLL WHERE GAN IS SITUATED.

RAF Gan, in 1969

Loved the 180 club and listening to the BBC world service for the footy results on a Saturday night. The background noise was the Indian Ocean lapping the beach and a bottle of chilled "charlie" on the go. Another vivd memory is the shooting stars as there was hardly any air or light pollution. Only thing lacking was a bit of crumpet!!:-)

Forces Reunited Forum Posts Involving RAF Gan

"I’m looking for (SAC) David Willis (ex RAF). He used to live in Newquay Cornwall, but moved and I do not know where to. We were both at RAF Brize Norton and RAF Gan together. If anybody else remembers me or Dave please let me know. Many Thanks "
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"Does anyone know whereaboutsof the following people all Sac,s in Supply sqdn,s Scampton Ron Peat(Derby) Tom Purdy(London) Dennis Dalzell (Sunderland)Graeme Bayne(Boston Lincs) Ron Stewart(Nairn).Raf Gan Paul Nicholson(South York,s ?) Robin(Ted)Dexter(Brighton)Dave Patterson/Pattison(Chester-le-Street). "
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"In my first posting I did say at RAF GAN, that was in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I seem to remember going alongside Kingfisher at Carlingford Loch in the 80’s, on HMAFV Seal which incidentally was the prototype hull for the Bird Class. The navy classed these as poor seaboats but the RAF managed to get one to The Bahamas and back. "
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"If people would read what was written, and not what they thought was written, it would not have got to this stage. If I try with words of one syllable, at RAF Gan when the crews (RN) came ashore, on their infrequent (that is not very often) visits the Marine Craft Unit personnel managed to beat the RN at uckers, when I was there, what transpired before and after I was there i do not know. This did not affect the rest of the RAF as none of them would have had the faintest idea what we were..."
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"Hi Ally, I was at Marham the first time and Len Slade was there. I think I saw him make an entry in one of the RAF Gan sites in the guest books. It might give his whereabouts in that. Regards Roy. "
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Active From: 1957 - 1976

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