By Margaret Sheard ……
We were recently contacted by Bill Brown to see if we would be interested in seeing some of his late father’s old photographs taken circa 1963 in Cyprus. Naturally we were, so we asked Bill to send what he had and we would try to establish where the photographs were taken by producing an article on cyprusscene.com.
We have established that Bill’s father, James Neilson Fortune Brown (Jimmy) was born 14th February 1935 in Edinburgh and served with the RAF as a Corporal in Ground Equipment Flight (GEF) in Cyprus and Singapore. He was a Junior Technician on 7 Sept 1960 and a Substantive Corporal on 1 April 62. When he left the RAF in 1977 Jimmy was a Sergeant. Bill was a young child at the time of his father’s service in Cyprus, so he is not able to contribute much to the background of his father’s military service, but thinks his father served in the RAF for about 26 years.
It seems that part of Jimmy’s RAF service was with the 5001 Airfield Construction Squadron and following is what Wikipedia quotes:-
“In May 1954, 5001 was renamed 5001 Airfield Construction (Light) Squadron. In August 1955 it moved to RAF El Adem and in September to RAF Idris at Tripoli. In April 1959 it moved to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.
In 1961, 5001 Squadron, based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, had a large, long term detachment at RAF El Adem south of Tobruk in Libya. In addition to carrying out a variety of construction tasks in Cyprus and at El Adem, the Squadron undertook work at Tabriz and Babol-Sar in Iran. In 1962, in Exercise Egg Flip, a detachment of the Squadron constructed a large earth landing strip at Bomba on the Libyan coast near Derna. Later that year, a small detachment marked out a landing strip in the far south of Libya at Kufra as an emergency diversion for planes unable to land at El Adem. In 1963, a large detachment of the Squadron moved at short notice to the Far East to undertake work at Kuching in Sarawak and at Labuan and Tawau in North Borneo in support of RAF operations following the Indonesian confrontation in Borneo. In September 1963, the Squadron moved to RAF Seletar in Singapore where it remained until the Branch was disbanded.”
Bill decided to contact the RAF records office to get some further information about his father’s service and was delighted to receive a quick response with the details he was looking for, so we have now established that :-
On 14 June 1962 Jimmy went to Akrotiri, Cyprus with the Near East Air Force 5001 Squadron as an AC. This was the 5001 Airfield Construction (Light) Squadron.
On 6 Aug 1963 Jimmy was transferred to the Far East Air Force 5001 Airfield Construction (Light) Squadron still as an AC and was posted to Seletar, Singapore in September 1963.
The final information is that Jimmy was posted on 30 Dec 1964 to MC Airfield construction depot (EMP) which it is assumed is back in the UK.
While serving overseas Jimmy was accompanied by his wife Jane and son Bill, who was then about 2 years old, and daughter Ellen who was around 4 years old. After Singapore, when the family moved back to the UK Jimmy’s postings were at St Athan (South Wales), Bicester (England), Silloth (England), then Kinloss (Scotland) where he left the RAF as a Sergeant in 1977 and moved to Kirkliston near Edinburgh.
During Jimmy’s time in Cyprus he donated blood on at least 2 occasions and Bill has supplied copies of the certificates, showing his father’s number 4120324, giving blood donations on 30th January 1963 and 20th June 1963 at RAF Hospital Akrotiri. So we can pinpoint Jimmy in Cyprus in 1963.
We were fairly sure we would be able to put titles to some of the photographs and then we would produce an article and leave it to our readers to try and identify those photos we could not help with.
The following photos we are fairly confident were taken at Kyrenia Castle. One showing Bill as a child with his mother, Jane, and the second is Bill’s sister Ellen but he has no idea about the identity of the lady with her. These photos would be circa 1962/1963.
There is no mistaking the following 2 photographs of Kyrenia Harbour and the causeway with part of the Castle showing on the left of the photo. These photographs would again be circa 1962/1963.
The photographs below are a mystery to us. One shows Ellen with a go-kart and the other is of Bil, as a child, sitting on a sloping road. Where would there have been a go-kart circuit in 1962/1963? The picture of Bill could be in the area of the castle perhaps?
Bill said his father sadly died on 6th September 2009, aged 74, and as his mother now suffers with dementia she is not able to help with any details, but Bill felt it was a shame to leave the photos in a box in the attic when they could be shared for others to enjoy, which is why he contacted us.
Bill was born in Rugby, England in 1961 and he followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the RAF in 1977 as an airframe mechanic and did long service of 23½ years. He told us he was at basic training when his father and mother moved to Kirkliston so he never actually lived with them again. His first posting was Lossiemouth in Scotland so during this time there was a lot of contact with his family.
We have been told by Bill that this has been quite a fun journey for him and also his father would have been delighted at the attention he is receiving. We have also enjoyed putting this story together and maybe, although of advancing years, there may be some of Jimmy’s ex-RAF comrades still around who will remember him. If so, please do get in touch with us so we can pass this on to Bill.