David Rose’s Memories of Arriving at Seletar in ’69
RAF Seletar Arrival
My first tour abroad was RAF Masirah, Oman. I’m sure many members will be familiar with Masirah so I won’t elaborate here.
Towards the end of my 13 month tour, in 1969, there was much talk about the closure of the Far East bases and I bemoaned the fact that I would never get the chance to serve in one of the exotic, far flung lands. One of my friends on Masirah was the Admin bloke and he told me about the option of extending my tour if I wanted. Form duly filled in and approved I was told my posting was Terminal Commcen RAF Seletar. I obviously did not realise then just how lucky I was.
After a couple of days in Muharraq I was in a shiny VC10 winging my way Eastward. We staged through Gan and I was struck at how beautiful it was, little did I know that it was going to be the destination for my last overseas tour in 1975-76. Landed at Changi and was transported to RAF Seletar, by RAF coach.
First thing that hit me was the smell of the place, it was just amazing with the smell of different blossoms carried on the thick, humid, air after the arid dry heat of the Gulf. I was allocated a bed space in one of the blocks, don’t remember the letter of it, maybe it was ‘H’ as that is what came into my mind. Showered, changed into my uniform and set off for the Station HQ and Admin to pick up my arrival card.
When I met the SWO he seemed very pleasant, would it have been ‘Chalkie’ White in October 1969? I was stood in front of him with my blonde hair curling onto my collar and over my ears, considering my collar was just about hanging on by a few threads this was even worse than it sounds. My uniform was the old rubber buttoned, J-cloth type KD and had not been treated kindly by the Dhobi Waller in Masirah! KD socks were rolled down to the ankles in the Masirah/Salalah style and on my feet were a pair of desert stained bondou boots!
He was obviously concerned about me and my appearance as he asked if there had been a barber on Masirah and how did my KD get into this condition. When I told him that the Indian barber on Masirah was not very good he advised me that the barber, next to Tanzy-Ann’s, was superb and I should pay him a visit and come back after I’d been to stores to exchange my KD for the smart stuff they wore in Singapore, and to wear my black leather uniform shoes and bin the bondou boots. Well, it went something like that; I think there were a couple of expletives in there somewhere which my delicate ears were not used to after a year in Masirah!
It took until the next day for me to complete these tasks, stores and barber weren’t much of a problem but the shoes were. When I dug them out of my kit bag they were mildewed, and quite green with mould lying untouched in the bottom of a wardrobe for over a year. I got a shoe cleaning kit and scrubbed them up but they were beyond redemption and I took them along to the stores and got new shoes as well. At least it gave the stores man a good laugh.
The other thing that happened was in the billet, bearing in mind they were expecting a ‘Moonie’. The first view that my room-mates had of me was a very dark skinned, blonde haired, bloke with a strange accent which they pinned down to Northern foreign parts on the banks of the Tyne. I had a screwdriver in hand and I was taking the back off my locker. They (Dave ‘Muzzy’ Muston, John ‘Wink’ Allington and Paul Leadley with Mick Page in attendance) thought I was a bit unhinged along with my locker. I had to explain that in Masirah no-one locked anything but as I was in a strange place I thought I’d better lock my things away while doing my arrival thing. I had snapped the padlock shut and later realised my keys were in the locker.
All’s well that ends well and Muzzy and crew took care of me during the next year and a half which was mostly spent in the sailing club with John Allington, but that’s another story.