Sqn Ldr Fred Trowern

My first experience of Aden

“I was posted to 8 Squadron, commanded by Sqn Ldr Rex Knight in June 1959. I joined Flt Lts Tai Retief, Porky Munro and Manx Kelly on C Flight; the Fighter Reconnaissance element equipped with Meteor Mark 9s, A and B Flights being equipped with Venom FB.4s. After a short period we became independent, and titled ‘The Arabian Peninsula Reconnaissance Flight’ (APRF) under the command of Tai Retief and later we received another pilot, Tim Seabrook. However, we still continued to fly each others aircraft. During August/September both 8 Squadron and the APRF began the conversion to the Hunter Mark 9. 8 Sqn continued in the two-Flight mode and we were amalgamated into B Flt, Tai Retief becoming B Flight Commander. Sqn Ldr Laurie Jones assumed command of 8 Sqn in March 1961. My last trip of my first tour on 8 Squadron was on 6 June 1961; I left the for the UK shortly afterwards.

Welcome back!

I returned to Aden in May 1966 as Deputy OC Strike Wing to Wg Cdr Martin Chandler, replacing Sqn Ldr Roy Bowie. Sadly, Strike Wing had by now suffered ‘Centralised Servicing’, both 8 and 43 Squadrons sharing the same Hunter Mark 9s with - to my horror - 43 Squadron markings forward of the fuselage roundel and 8 Squadron markings aft of the roundel. Sqn Ldr Des Melaniphy was OC 8 Sqn and Sqn Ldr Harry Davidson OC 43 Sqn. The recce element, equipped with the Hunter Mark 10 had again broken away and become 1417 Flight commanded by Sqn Ldr Dickie Barraclough. In May 1967 I assumed command of 8 Squadron. Shortly there after 43 Squadron was disbanded and 1417 Flt rejoined 8 Sqn as B Flt. In August 1967 the Squadron deployed to Masirah - to cover the withdrawal of military forces from Aden. A couple of our aircraft and pilots remained in Aden to the very end. Our aircraft were repainted in their correct livery and after one or two sorties to Aden to check the situation of our chaps, we deployed to Bahrein, via a short period at Sharjah. We joined 208 Squadron, the resident Bahrein fighter squadron, also equipped with the Hunter Mark 9 and commanded by Sqn Ldr Tony Chapman. My Flt Cdrs were initially George Aylett (A Flt) and Derek Whitman (B Flt).

When I handed over command of 8 Squadron to Jock McVie at the end of October 1968,  A Flight had 8 x Mark 9s and B Flight 4 x Mark 10s. Oh! and we also had a couple of Mark T 7s.”