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Thread: CAMEROON - Mamfe

  1. #1
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    Default CAMEROON - Mamfe

    RAF Mamfe, Cameroon

    Does anybody know the exact location of RAF Mamfe in Cameroon? Also, and why (according to rafweb) did the RAF have 3 Twin Pioneers of 230 Sqn based there for about a year in the mid-60's?
    TIA
    Resmoroh

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    Senior Member TommyUSA's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAF Mamfe, Cameroon

    Is it not the airfield marked as Mamfe near the town of Bessongabang, Cameroon? I found it on maps.google.com...

    Tommy

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    Default Re: RAF Mamfe, Cameroon

    Tommy,
    That airfield marked on the Google map is exactly the problem. Transferring that location from the map to the satellite imagery (which is very poor for that area) I cannot see any sort of strip. There are two other possibilities. One is about 1500m ESE of Mamfe itself where there might be what had been a 1500m strip cut in the jungle and exposing the red (laterite?) soil. Two is immediately S of Besongabang – again roughly 1500m long. RAF Mamfe was, apparently re-supplied on a monthly basis by a Beverley from UK (via Orange, Tripoli(Idris), and Kano!). I’ll bet the boys loved that trip!

    The details are at:-
    http://www.britains-smallwars.com/RRGP/Cameroons.html
    with the relevant passage:-
    One hundred and fifty mile from Kumba was a place called Mamfe, a very flat jungle area where the RAF had made an airstrip and camp. The climate was the same as Kumba, very hot and clammy. I must add the RAF were not very sociable but I won't go into that.

    One presumes that the Twin Pioneers were used mainly for spotting and recce work? I had never heard of this Small War but there was, at one stage, an RAF Mobile Met Unit Daily Register of Observations simply headed “Mamfe”. When we moved offices (many years ago) I packed it off to the Met Office Archives without actually having a clue as to where Mamfe was!!!
    I am merely trying to find the strip!
    TIA
    Resmoroh

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    Senior Member TommyUSA's Avatar
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    Default Re: RAF Mamfe, Cameroon

    Ah yes, I see what you mean. Another possible candidate is 1400 meters NE of the island in the Cross River (bearing 41.5deg).

    The red scar in the ground SSE of Mamfe looks a little too jagged to me.

    The one south of Bessongabang looks like a possibility...

    Tommy

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    Default Re: RAF Mamfe, Cameroon

    Tommy,
    I'm desperately trying to break the code to give me entry into the RAF 230 Sqn website "Contact Us". Not a lot of success at the moment! I'm trying to get to the Sqn Historian! But even that may be no good, because the Sqn may just have pitched up (as we all have done at some stages in our careers) at the appointed place. Just where, exactly, that "Place" may have been is the problem we are trying to solve.
    It is beginning to smell to me that we do not need the Flying Sqn's Historian, but the appropriate RAF Airfield Construction Sqdn's Historian! A Flying Sqn would not, by-and-large, be asked to 'make' their own airfield!!!
    All I'm saying is that you should sit tight for a bit, whilst various irons are placed in various fires. Then we will see what falls out of various bits of woodwork (if you will forgive me for mixing various metaphors)!!
    Rgds
    Resmoroh

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    Default Re: RAF Mamfe, Cameroon

    Tommy,
    Further to my last.
    Some "world-wide airfield idents" site has given a lat/lon for "Mamfe" as 5.717N 9.283E. This, according to Google Earth, is in even deeper jungle than the Google Maps marked location. When I retired I did an Archaeology degree at my local Uni. This involved study of various satpix. I cannot see - at either of the Besongabang locations - anything that would vaguely resemble a 1500m strip supposedly cut in the early 1960's and, today, re-overgrown by the jungle. There would, almost certainly, be some sort of difference in vegetation along that "strip" which would mark it out as different from the undisturbed vegetation (even after 40-odd years). I can not see any such difference!
    I was, for most of the latter part of my career in the UK Met Office, 2 i/c and Adjutant of the RAF Mobile Met Unit. I saw a Metform 2050 (Register of Daily Observations) marked "MAMFE". I am trying to locate that Register. Not only should it have the precise location of the observation site, but it should also have a list of names of the Observers. In addition, it will have a list of Visibility Points. By back-tracking on these it is possible to identify the location of the Obs Point (if, for example, the church/mosque/temple is 2.5 statute miles from the Obs site then, conversely, the Obs site must be 2.5 statute miles from said religious building!). Do that often enough, with enough Vis Points, and you can establish the location of the Obs Point to within a few tens of meters/yards.
    Those of us who do these arcane researches will (if there is an afterlife) be able to compare notes. Otherwise we may just have to work from our own padded cells!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    HTH
    Resmoroh

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    Default Re: RAF Mamfe, Cameroon

    The book "The Squadrons of the Royal Air Force and Commonwealth 1918-1988" by J.Halley provides this one sentence regarding RAF Mamfe:

    In September 1960 A Flight was detached to the Cameroons to supervise a change in status of the territory returning in September 1961.

    Sorry, that's all I can provide...

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    Default Re: RAF Mamfe, Cameroon

    jdvoss, Hi,
    Tks yr input. I think we may have discovered the Task these 230 Sqn Twin Pioneers were, basically, about. What is not actually apparent, in any detail, is where they actually did it!!
    However, all is not lost! Summaries of evidence are being accumulated. These may, subsequently, be put forward as a theory. The problem is that if we turn out to be right then the World Meteorological Office, ICAO, and a number of other databases (who have just copied an inaccuracy - as often happens on the internet!) may have to revise their data!!
    Good fun! Would be nice to get databases corrected as a result of logic and reasoned argument! Watch this space!
    HTH
    Resmoroh

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    Default Re: RAF Mamfe, Cameroon

    I have a theory!
    This is arcane nit-picking at its very best.
    Mamfe Airstrip, Cameroon, is not at Mamfe. It is at Besongabang, Cameroon, some 3 miles SSW of Mamfe. A number of international authorities (including Google Maps) place Mamfe Airfield north and west of the N6 “road” that connects Besongabang with Mamfe. That area appears (on albeit very poor satellite imagery) to be primary jungle and shows very little evidence of having had an airstrip there either now, or in the fairly recent past. Mamfe Airstrip was the home to a detachment of UK RAF 230 Sqn during Op HOPSCOTCH. Efforts to precisely locate the airstrip (from participants in the place at the time) have proved nugatory.
    So, where was the Mamfe Airstrip? I believe it to be the red (laterite?) strip to the southeast of both Besongabang and the N6 “road” on Google Earth.
    I believe the western end of that strip (i.e. the 08 touchdown point) is at 05.703400N 09.298834W at about 425 ft AMSL (according to Google). The eastern end (i.e. the 26 touchdown point) is at 05.705957N 09.311638W at about 400 ft AMSL. Thus, the midpoint of the strip is at 05.704679N 09.305236W at about 400 ft AMSL. This should, I postulate, be the correct location for the strip. Ignore all others!! There is clearly a difference of opinion as to the height AMSL of this bit of Darkest Africa. 400 (-ish) feet seems to have been taken as metres and then converted to 1300(-ish) feet – not an unusual mistake!.
    FSX has a very inviting strip for Mamfe (FKKF) which accords, closely, with my theory above. FKKF also has (according to FSX) a VOR (on 115.10 c/s MF) and an NDB (279.0 c/s MF) but I cannot find a Lat/Lon locator for these facilities. Mamfe is also an intersection on a number of airways. Precisely where is it?!!
    I now throw this problem open to the wide world for a solution – or solutions!!

    I know, I should get out more. But if I did I would only be buying bedding plants and shrubs for the garden – a fate worse than death!!!!. Much safer hiding behind a computer screen!
    Can we nail this location? See you in the padded cell!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    HTH
    Resmoroh

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    Default Re: RAF Mamfe, Cameroon (Update)

    Google Maps (and other international authorities) have Mamfe Airstrip at (about) 5.716700N 9.300000E – i.e. NORTH and WEST of Besongabang and the N6 road. This does not seem to be borne out by examination of (admittedly very poor) satellite imagery. That area appears to be undisturbed primary jungle!
    The probable airstrip runs from (about) 5.703400N 9.298834E at the 08 touchdown to (about) 5.705957N 9.311638E at the 26 touchdown. The mid-point is thus (roughly) 5.704679N 9.305236E. The strip is thus SOUTH and EAST of the N6 road connecting Besongabang to Mamfe. This is confirmed by a personal communication from the OC of the UK RAF 230 Sqn Detachment of Twin Pioneers at that place in 1961 (the original reason for this arcane niff-naff and trivia!!!).
    Moreover, the VOR (and UA609/UA604 Intersection) is at (roughly) 5.705709N 9.303999E. The NDB is at (roughly) 5.707362N 9.300453E. Both are to the SOUTH and EAST of the N6 road.
    I am awaiting confirmation of the above figures from the UK High Commission in Cameroon – but I suspect that I may have to wait a long time!! Travellers in those parts (should there be any) are advised that if that actually is the airstrip then it is now (almost certainly) being used as a Barracks by the Cameroon Army/Gendarmerie/Security Forces. The use of cameras, compass, tape-measure, etc, etc, close to the strip may result in one being invited to answer some questions in custody. These people are (so I am given to understand) quite basic in their approaches. The Geneva Convention - even if spoken in passable French - will cut no ice, as it were!!!
    If the above information is confirmed as correct then how does one go about correcting the errors?
    HTH
    Resmoroh

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