SAC Ted Lambe

Having arrived in Aden as an Air Radar Mechanic on 3 January 1963, Ted was assigned to 208 Squadron to work on Hunters. However, due to the escalating troubles in Aden and the increasing numbers of transport aircraft passing through Muharraq with reinforcements, he was posted to the Muharraq Handling Flight a year later. No doubt someone thought his specialisation in Navigation and Bombing systems somehow matched the requirement.

My memories of Aden are stepping off the aeroplane into the heat . . . . . and it was the cool season, the smells and flies, and the speed of sunrise and sunset. Being on a Hunter unit, we regularly moved between Khormaksar, Sharjah and Muharraq and made the most of the cards wed been dealt. Like the time when a 43 Squadron Hunter was in the hangar for servicing and one of our riggers repainted the Fighting Cocks emblem to show it lying flat on its back and KOd with stars around its head. Their CO was not very happy!

On one detachment to Muharraq, we modified a large packing case to use as the Line Office to improve conditions over the tent that served as our crew room. While down at Sharjah, we requisitioned a 3-tonner for a trip inland where we encountered an old Portuguese fort, abandoned but truly Beau Geste, an isolated lookout post manned by a guard with an antique rifle which we had no doubt was still lethal, and a picturesque village by a small oasis between the ever-present dunes.

I was a member of a team planning to climb Kilimanjaro but had to withdraw because of a little local difficultyup-country. My long-time friend, Neil Richards, who was also based at Khormaksar took my place. And, as if to rub salt into my wound, he had the gall to duplicate the climb with his son a week after his 70th birthday in August 2010 - 47 years later!

In December 1963, I was flown down to Embakasi, Nairobi, in a Shackleton as part of a detachment to support the celebrations marking both Kenya’s and Zanzibar’s Independence Days. Two flypasts were flown by the squadron during our stay, on the 10th in Zanzibar and 12th in Nairobi. We were ‘billeted’ in the Spread Eagle hotel on the road to Thika for the duration of the detachment and, while there, four of us clubbed together and hired a car which I drove to Naivasha to see the lake filled with flamingos and to watch an amateur car race. We then moved on to the Menangai Crater for the view of its enormous crater and sign-post on the Equator. We also stopped at the small chapel on the Kikuyu Escarpment, skirting the Rift Valley, built by Italian POWs engaged in building the original road. On the way out we were passed by a convoy of lorries packed with former Mau Mau fighters, still armed, as they were leaving the Aberdare forests and heading for Nairobi as free men at Uhuru (freedom day). Our natural anxiety passed when some of them waved!

On another trip, we all popped down to Dar es Salaam for the day as this was our base for the Zanzibar do. At the end of the festivities, the Mayor of Nairobi presented the squadron with a commemorative scroll.

At Muharraq as I was about to leave for the UK, and no longer actually on 208 Squadron, Flt. Lt. Trevor Copleston AFC gave me a squadron tie as a memento - which I have to this day.