Unit History: RAF Luqa

RAF Luqa
RAF Luqa was an airbase of the Royal Air Force on the island of Malta during World War II. Particularly from 1941 to 1943, RAF Luqa was a very important base for British Commonwealth forces fighting against Italy and Germany for naval control of the Mediterranean and for ground control of North Africa. Air combat over and near Malta was some of the most ferocious of the war, and a series of airfields were built on the small, rocky island: at Luqa, TaQali, and HalFar, plus satellite fields at Safi, Qrendi and on Malta’s second island of Gozo.
After the war, Luqa remained an important RAF base, serving during the Suez Crisis of 1956, but also served as Malta’s main civilian airport. Nowadays, the location has been developed into the main entry point of the modern, independent country of Malta, under the name Malta International Airport. It is sometimes still referred to as "Luqa Airport" or "Valletta Airport".
The RAF left in 1979 following a British government decision not to renew the lease on the station from the Maltese. The payments demanded were several times the previous payments under the previous lease. It is also possible that the Avro Vulcan crash over the village of Żabbar led to the Maltese decision to effectively get the RAF to leave by raising the proposed lease payments to what was known to be a level unacceptable to the British

Memories of RAF Luqa

(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)

RAF Luqa, Malta GC in 1956

Written by Brian Turner

I arrived on the troop ship MV Empire Clyde in the grand harbour in Valetta in the middle of July 1956. I was posted to the Malta Communications squadron and served there until the end of 1957 as an air wireless mechanic. Played in the station band and played last post and reveille at a couple of funerals. We used to have jam sessions in the naafi. Couple of lads I can remember,Alan Reagan and Ray "Bunny" Austin. Have looked in vain for anyone from the squadron.
We did a six weeks detachment to RAF Akritiri in Cyprus when LAC Brown received a Queen's commendation after hanging out of the hatch of a target towing beaufighter to cut the wire after it had become snagged. Akrotiri was just being built and we were billeted in the bungalows which became the married quarters. A lot of us went down with tonsilitis. Just before we left we acquired a large Coca-Cola sign from one of the huts on the beach. Returning to Malta we had an engine fire in the Beau at El-Adam.

RAF Luqa Malta G.C. in 1954

Written by Geoffrey Godfrey

As a recently qualified Junior Tech. Engine fitter (S) I arrived in Malta in April. Part of the draft I was on wet on to El Adem, the rumour was that we would spend 15 months of our Tour in Malta and 15 months at El Adem. I was fortunate and spent all my tour on 37 Squadron. The squadron was equipped with 'Lancaster MR lll's' and flew Anti-submarine patrols in conjunction with the Royal Navy and also Search and Rescue using the 'Fairey' Airborne Lifeboat.
Although we were one of two ASR sqdns on Malta, (the other one was '38') we spent a lot of our time somewhere else. My first detachment was to Castel Idris in Libya, not far from Tripoli. Then in the early part of 1953 we went to Ballykelly in Northern Ireland, this was for Joint Anti Submarine School training, again with the Royal Navy. Later in 1953, April 1st. to be precise we were airborne at around 07:30 and bound for Habbaniya in Iraq. After that we returned to Luqa just in time for the Celebrations for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth ll.
There were also detachments to El Adem, Gibralta, and at this time the Shackleton was entering service and we eagerly awaited our first arrival. After the 'working up' period there were more detachments to 'Gib' and El Adem and of course to Ballykelly. It was just after our first trip to Castel Idris that I was told to report to the C.O. to be told that I had been promoted to the dizzy heights of 'Corporal' It was also around this time I met a 'Wren' who later became my wife. I returned to UK in October 1954.
If there is anyone out there who was there during that period, I would be happy to 'swap yarns' and experiences. We also formed a 'Country Music' quartet on the squadron and used to sing a lot of 'Hank Williams' stuff whenever we got the chance.

RAF Luqa, in 1954

Written by Brian Townsend

The pic. of the USAAF Neptune, a few of which occasionally operated from Luqa, reminds me of my close call with one. It was about 02.00 and pitch black when I was cycling, my speed being helped by a following wind, along the peri. track from the BABS hut to the domestic site. I had a headlamp switched on and this undoubtedly saved me from hitting a propellor of a Neptune that was taxying with no lights and coming straight for me. Within feet of impact, the wingpod light was switched on and I swerved away.

RAF Luqa, in 1970

Written by SNOWY ROWE

Anyone remember "RED LION" and SENOR SIX in Poula Malta. get in touch.

RAF Luqa, RED LION in 1970

Written by SNOWY ROWE

Any old faces from nights in RED LION or anyone knowledgeof DAVE SCOTT. cpl supply. give me a bell.

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