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.
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