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Thread: CAMEROON - Mamfe

  1. #31
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    Default Re: RAF Mamfe, Cameroon

    I was at RAF Mamfe from April to Sept 1961, my attachment to 230 Sqn was as a Cpl. Air Movements , but with only one Twinpin out every day and a Beverley once a month I had very little to do. This then changed to three jobs, Stores and i/c Laundry were the extras.

    I remember Leo (Dellco) who ran the Generators, we were in the same shack, but I don't remember anyone being told to make their own way back to UK. The Cameroon Republic Army had moved into the camp and we waiting to be picked up by a Beverley which arrived late afternoon, after loading we took off in the dark, no runway lights and mountains all around.

    The airstrip was just south of the A1 road (now N6) at Besongabang.

  2. #32
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    Default Re: CAMEROON - Mamfe

    Sorry to bounce an old thread but I stumbled on this post whilst researching the same subject for an article in the next 230 Squadron association's newsletter, which I presently edit.
    I have no idea if the Gent that posted the pics showing 230's Twin Pins is still around but I know someone who would love to get decent copies of the pics he posted.
    I'll see if I can post the article later in the year but thought I'd post this aerial shot of the field in the meantime... I have access to several others but I need to check permissions...
    Kenny
    Attached Images Attached Images

  3. #33
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    Default Re: CAMEROON - Mamfe

    Hi Kenny
    Happy to send you copies of the pics have sent you a PM

    Jon

  4. #34
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    Default Re: CAMEROON - Mamfe

    Thanks Jon and glad you still check in... pm'd a reply...

  5. #35
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    Default Re: CAMEROON - Mamfe

    I've just (finally) put the Sqn's Summer newsletter to bed and the contributor of the images is happy for me to post them here... a gent by the name of Mel "Sandy" Sanders who was an engineer with the 230 during this period...
    Mel can be seen in one of the Lt Buckley pictures holding on to the back of the Leonides engine being unloaded from the Beverley...
    I've "stretched" a grab of him from a Sqn pic I'll post later and one of him with one of his mates (Dean Newton) by the Sqn sign; there's also a couple more aerial shots, the airfield fire-truck with a fuel tender and a front-on shot of a Beverley...
    All the images required a bit of TLC and if there is anyone that wants a better copy of any of the images I can supply them via a dropbox link once I've finished posting them all up.
    Jon... I've tried to contact you but have had no luck - some of the images from Lt Buckley were used in the newsletter which I hope you will have had no objection to...
    I will be posting the section of Mel's story that relates to Mamfe here too...

    1961-01 Mamfe aerial (1) web.jpg 1961-01 Mamfe aerial (2) web.jpg 1960-10 Mamfe fire-fuel web.jpg 1960-11 Mamfe Beverley web.jpg 1961 Sanders Mel.jpg 1961-03 Mamfe MS Dean Newton (2) web.jpg

    More to follow as soon as I get the chance...

  6. #36
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    Default Re: CAMEROON - Mamfe

    This is the section of Mel's story from the present 230 Newsletter that relates to Mamfe...

    The next adventure for the squadron was for A flight, under the command of Squadron Leader H West, to be posted to RAF Mamfe in the British Cameroons in West Africa. The British Cameroons were in the south of the country and in the north it was the French Cameroons, both formed after the 1st World War when it was previously a German colony.
    In 1961 a UN referendum was to be held for the two countries to either join Nigeria or the Cameroon Republic. 230 squadron was sent there to provide air support to the Kings Own Royal Border Regiment, followed by the Grenadier Guards, on internal security duties during the period of the referendum, as known terrorist groups were active in the country.
    RAF Mamfe was an old WW2 airstrip carved out in the middle of dense jungle about 130 miles from the coast. It was brought back to life by the RAF runway construction unit; it still had the metal linked landing strip.
    We arrived at Mamfe on the 1st October 1960 after a 10 hour flight in a Britannia from RAF Lyneham to Kano airport in Nigeria, then by Beverley of 47 Squadron to Mamfe; about a 3 hour flight. The first thing that hit us when we landed was the humidity and the heat, temperatures in the 90s and the same for humidity. We were billeted in tin huts with low walls and netting for windows each hut slept about 10 airmen. We had a couple of lockers, a bed and the compulsory mosquito net. We operated three Twin Pioneers on troop movements, mail and supply runs to three Army bases, most of the flights were at low level following river beds and mud tracks or so called roads.
    Whenever we did a major service check or engine change the riggers and fitters would fly on the air test so plenty of flying experience over the jungle was gained. All our maintenance was carried out in the open as we didn’t have a hanger.
    On our first Leonides engine change we hit a snag: the "A" frame gantry to hoist the engine was the wrong size and would not fit over the engine, after long discussions we decided to dig two parallel slopping trenches and roll the aircraft down them so the gantry would fit; it worked!. We were resupplied by a monthly visit of a Beverley of 47 Squadron, but we were forever robbing Pete to pay Paul for spares and one aircraft would become a Christmas tree for short periods.


    1960-11 Mamfe Leonidas (1) web.jpg 1960-11 Mamfe Leonidas (2) web.jpg 1960-12 Mamfe rain ditch web.jpg 1961-01 Mamfe Twins (1) web.jpg 1961-01 Mamfe Twins (3) web.jpg

    During the monsoon season it usually rained at night with unbelievable thunder and continuous lightning, the 6 foot monsoon ditches criss-crossing the base would fill up and the airfield would be under several inches of water, by noon the next day everywhere was dry and the ground would be cracked due to the heat. The Cameroons are known as one of the wettest countries in the world with over 400 inches of rain fall a year. The drainage ditch in the picture above can be seen in the aerial pictures at the rear of the row of tents.
    Due to the climate our health was a big concern, I was bitten by an unknown insect and my leg swelled to twice its size, after a week of many hot poultices and antibiotics the swelling subsided and I could walk again, the MO was concerned that I might lose my leg; to this day I still bear the scars from the two puncture marks. The only station Medical Officer had an even nastier scare when he developed acute appendicitis and needed immediate treatment, but due to the monsoon weather he was unable to be airlifted out to a hospital, so after being given instructions by the MO his medical orderly who had operating theatre experience operated on him and removed his appendix. Glad to say he survived!
    For recreation we played football and cricket, swam in a nearby lake, taking a chance with water snakes and other unknown creatures; we also had several canoes which we used on the river crossing which was a short distance from the base, dodging the hippos who didn’t take likely to us using their river. We also flew down to Tiko on the coast on the supply run to play tennis and have a few beers with the English community. We had a make shift cinema set up in one of the messes. We often visited the local villages to buy native carvings and other souvenirs and in Bangasong village we would be invited to watch their tribal dancing and the witch doctors doing their rituals.
    My tour of Mamfe came to an end in June 1961 and I return to Odiham after a unique experience, where only about 70 RAF personal could say we were stationed at RAF Mamfe. I left the squadron mid-June for a posting to RAF Cranwell with fond memories of 230 squadron…


    Mel would enjoy hearing from anyone that served with him and can be contacted via my details where I will forward it on to him...

    I'll post the last of the pictures in a moment
    Last edited by 230 Ed; 19-07-2014 at 23:15.

  7. #37
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    Default Re: CAMEROON - Mamfe

    Just pictures with some notes for this one...
    In the Sqn engineering crew picture Mel is 3rd row up 5th from right - the picture is on another site but this is a cleaner copy...
    The "A" frame can be seen above the port engine in on the nearest Twin...
    The 4 locals in front of the Dakota (probably a Hunting Clan one like that shown in one of Lt Buckley's pictures) were employed as cleaners for the aircraft...
    The Twin shown being refueled is at another local field called Tiko...
    The local witch doctor is a picture Mel took at Tinto which is a village local to Mamfe...

    1961-01 Mamfe Engineering web.jpg 1961-01 Mamfe Twins (5) alt web.jpg 1961-01 Tiko refueling web.jpg 1961-05 Mamfe laborers web.jpg 1961-05 Tinto Witch Doctor web.jpg

    That wraps it up for this one; hopefully this is of some use for you...
    Regards
    Kenny, on behalf of Mel "Sandy" Sanders

  8. #38
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    Default Re: CAMEROON - Mamfe

    Thanks for the detailed posts and photos. I must admit to knowing nothing of the airfield but have heard of Cameroon. The end of the colonies around that time must have kept the forces busy.

  9. #39
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    Default Re: CAMEROON - Mamfe

    You're welcome Peter... it's like my main postings over at a WWII (talk) site about the Squadron's history involving the Chindits and unusual use of Sunderlands... it's for all to know and to provide a background for those that wish to know more...
    Mel has some more images that relate to some other fields so I'll add his notes/pics in the relevant places here too...
    I was speaking to him earlier this evening and he'd love to find his old friend Dean Newton (in the Mamfe pics) who hailed from Lewes in Sussex...

    Kenny
    Last edited by 230 Ed; 28-07-2014 at 23:59.

  10. #40
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    Default Re: CAMEROON - Mamfe

    I was one of the 70 odd personnel posted to RAF Mamfe in 1960. We occupied the only other concrete building situated at the entrance to the airfield. Which served as the Guardroom and Armoury. We also had our own accommodation within this building. We were basically gatekeepers to the site as it served as a staging post for the Army travelling from the coast to Bamenda in the hills further north. The climate at Bamenda was a welcome break from the humidity of Besongabang. The RAF police (I was one of three) had little to do there other than security, being such a small unit. Immediately opposite the guardroom was the medical unit which I recall was something of a menagerie due to the MO's collection of reptiles (snakes) housed withing the surgery. Most of my photos unfortunately were slides and have not survived the years.

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