Liaison to Gibraltar 27th January to 2nd February 1976
John cannot remember for which exercise this was for, but the dates for his trip given in his ‘Red Book’ coincide (more or less) with Ex. PASHA 6 – OM
It was after a particularly bad traffic accident in Nicosia, Cyprus during May 1975 when I wondered whether I would ever be involved in anymore overseas sojourns! To my delight when in Jan 1976 was asked if I was Ok to go on Liaison to Gibraltar working alongside the Navy (What do you think my answer was?). The thought of visiting some old haunts as it were, was uppermost in my mind.
I was to accompany Sgt Jim Beasant RTG. On arrival in Gibraltar, we were transferred to HMS Rook where Jim was taken to the PO’s mess and myself to what looked like a transit billet. After a short period of familiarisation we were then taken to the office of the Commander in charge of Naval Communications, located in one of the tunnels under the Rock. After introduction to the Commander, he asked us both what our trades were. Jim replied “RTG Sir” with the response being “Good”. My response to the same question was “RR Tech Sir” to which the Commander responded “With all respect Cpl, you can take a holiday! I have told 14 Sigs that I don’t want Power-men, Drivers or Technicians on liaison; I want someone who can work like Operators!” Trying hard not to smile, I responded with a simple “Thank you very much Sir”.
So there was I in Gibraltar with no fixed work-schedule or itinerary. So whilst Jim was busy carrying out his liaison duties, it became time for me to re-acquaint myself with a few places from my previous visit, especially the Horseshoe Bar! When leaving that establishment on the first night, I found myself grabbed by both arms by what turned out to be a pair of WRNS requesting me to take them to the 21 Club. “Certainly” I replied, “where is it?” “We were hoping you would know”, they said. After asking a few people for directions we arrived at the door to the club where it became clear to me why I had been chosen, as it were. Unaccompanied females were not allowed entry, so I had become their escort. Entering the club was the last I saw of them until the breakfast queue the next morning.
Both Jim and I were invited to two Ship tours, HMS Hampshire and HMS Amazon. It was on Amazon where I was made an ‘honorary PO’ thus allowing me to enter the PO’s Mess for refreshment. On our last day we were taken for a tour up the Rock to see some of the old Gun emplacements. While looking out of one overlooking the runway, we witnessed the landing of an RAF Belfast. It became obvious to me that this would be our transport home! Not relishing the prospect of this, we went to the office and asked if an alternative arrangement could be made. Much to our surprise a message was sent back to 14 Sigs, saying that the flight was delayed and that we would be returning on the Monday. We were both booked onto a Dan Air flight to Luton – happy days!
Whilst waiting in the Check-in queue, I found myself pulled out to be told that I had been selected as 2IC Prisoner Escort for two Navy lads. Last to board the plane, we were seated escort – prisoners -escort. Upon landing at Luton we were first off the flight. The Navy police were waiting for us but we were denied entry due to the lack of ID papers for the ‘bad’ lads! It transpired that their papers were in an envelope held by the OC Prisoner Escort who had travelled back with his family and was still on the plane. All in all – what a cock up! Still, it was an experience but what an end to my ‘holiday’.
John Bainbridge – August 2018