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15 October 2014
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Penguin in Palestine

by CamRozzer913

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Roy Newbury
Location of story: 
Palestine 1947/48
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
04 March 2004

Trained at Cosford big freeze of 46. Request posting to Biggin, Kenley etc: and ended up at MU109 in Canal Zone Carburettor Test Shop Strombergs as fitted to Packard built Merlins.
German POWs manned the workshops until repatriated in 1947. Incident when Hawker Tempest's stored in locked hangers were found with all the ignition plugs removed for their platinum points.
Posted by rail upto RAF Aqir Palestine. Cairo to Haifa Express (Charcoal Burner). Squaddies manning gun emplacements on the railway line, once into Palestine. They used Ferret Scout car fitted with train Wheels to patrol the line.
Rebuild Avro Ansons for return by demobbed Flight Crews to UK. Ansons littered the perimeter and understand these were provided to Arab Sheiks during WWII. Major engine rebuild /replacement. A/C had fabric wings and was to be refitted with metal wings when in the UK?
RAF Aqir also provided for 10 day Paratrooper's Refresh courses. Part time dispatcher for the three drop days of Mon, Tue & Wed, using Douglas Dakota’s with doors removed.
Sent on secondment with a/f fitter to Levant Mobile Recovery Unit (LMRU-MEAF) based at RAF Nicosia 1947. fly out by Dakota.
Major service on three Harvards left behind by squadron?
Major recovery was for Hawker Typhoon’s from Squad? based at RAF Nicosia, which had forced landed around the island coasts prior to the squadron relocation to RAF Aden in 1947.
Hawker Typhoon’s, 2 off recovered by LMRU (15 off Personnel) and rebuilt using new main planes shipped out from Hawkers UK (under protest from Hawkers as this major rebuild had not previously been attempted outside of manufacturing facilities in the UK).
A/C Returned to Squad service but with 400mph? Max dive limit. This appeared to be ignored when Squad pilot’s flight tested these aircraft over Nicosia before accepting charge for them and returning to Aden.
Return by air to RAF Aqir and found station was being evacuated. Visited Tel Aviv one Sunday during Amber warning for Rest and Recreation (R.R.) Dined at seafront restaurant guarded by two Palestine Police armoured cars stationed at each end of the promenade.
Prior to evacuation of Aqir was given the job to damage brand new Auster’s (Using Sledghammer on Engine] which could not be evacuated back to Egypt. Jews came and collected next day and were flying within 48hrs. Was these the origin’s of the IAF. Especially when Israeli pilots mounted these a/c with a bren gunner.
Sent on secondment with a/f fitter to RAF Ein Shemer by rail and road transport during latter end of 1947
Based at Ein Shemmer were:- 37 Squad, Lancaster’s reformed Sept 14 1947, RAF 38 Squad, Lancaster’s reformed Sept 14 1947, RAF 32 Squad, Spitfire XIV reformed ? 1947, RAF 208 Squad, Spitfire XIV reformed 1947, based at Ein Shemer, Palestine (Army Co-op?)
1947/48 Station Commander W/Comdr ? - had personal Miles Magister. Became my duty as Mech. E to prepare MM for each day’s possible flight while on a temporary posting to RAF Ein Shemer.
Interesting incident when requested to assist in maintenance to Spitfire in Hanger. While removing the nose cone (A/C jacked up) an instrument bod? fired the Coffman starter causing a few rotation’s of the five bladed prop in front of me. I was immediately relieved of my Hanger Duties and told to concentrate on the Station C.O.'s aircraft. Other part time duties acted as escort when Flying Staff visited Air HQ Jerusalem. A means of seeing the countryside, although Palestine Police look a very lonely job at the numerous road blocks for £50 a month.
Visited Jerusalem & Bethlehem over Xmas 47 and met both Israeli and Arabs staff I had worked with at RAF Aqir. Both pleading to purchase the L.Enfield rifle we were all forced to carry at that time when off base.
37 & 38 Lancaster Squadron involved with policing refugee shipping into Palestine. Lanc’s relocated to RAF Luqa Malta in April 1948 with the impending creation of the State of Israel in May 1948.
32 Squadron Spits relocated to RAF Nicosia Cyprus. 208 Squad temporary base at Ramat David
I returned RAF Nicosia with the a/f fitter via Haifa and Famagusta by rail road and boat in the summer of 1948. Travelling through Haifa town on the way to the docks past the local police station a car bomb exploded.
Once back at RAF Nicosia main duties were supervising civilian aircraft and boarding them to spray the occupants with DDT. Lebanon Airways using Lockheed Electra’s? and on one occasion a Quantas Lockheed Consatllation came in at 01.30 am. Neccessating goose flares eing liad along the runway for lighting, my first and only time and passenger descended a rope ladder to exercise. While we helped the stewedesses to clean up the cabin area.
Other visitor to Cyprus during 1948 were 5 Fortessess and 10 C47’ from USAF Weisbaden, ready to evacuate nationals subsequent to the creation of the State of Israel. With just one AEC Petrol Tanker in service, us so called HQ flight(LMRU) were volunteered as Tanker drivers. This meant servicing Bedford 1000g QLs tankers and filling from 33Gal Drums. It took five days to refuel these visitor's and two of us succeeded by the Saturday morning to ignite some vapour due to overrunning the donkey engines and the entire stock estimated 40,00 drums located in a blast park were lost. This was the first time I became aware of the Leica, camera indeed every Yank had one to record the event. Daily Mirror reported it as a terrorist action. Nicosia was very peaceful at that time and during the spring a Skiing leave camp was open on Troodos for senior ranks and German POW’s were the instructors..
Prior to May due to incursion and damage to RAF a/c Ramat David in Palestine, by units from the Egyptian Air force flying Spitfire Mk LFIX. The 32 & 208 Squadron Spitfires Mk XIV were activated and flew dawn patrols over Palestine. An engagement was made when EAF hostiles flew into Palestine air space (under UK protectorate).
Only witnessed one engagement or the result of one, when Squadron Spitfires returned to RAF Nicosia. Two overshot the runway and bellied-in, and one cart-wheeled on touchdown.
As a member of LMRU parked adjacent to Flying Control, I was the first personnel at the crash site to extricate the dazed pilot from his inverted position and with help of other ground staff convey the pilot to safety. At this point a Squadron senior NCO ordered me away due to my kaki clothing being saturated in 100 Octane from the leaking fuel tank immediately above the pilot’s location.
I observed Machine Gun/Cannon damage etc to the crashed RAF Spitfires from this aerial engagement and was given to understand that most if not all the EAF aircraft were downed.
Squadron NCOs when questioned re the damaged aircraft that overshoot suggested that at this was the first action many of the Squadron pilots had seen it was possibly due to delayed shock.

"Supermarine Spitfire" by Chaz Bowyer recalls that No 32 & 208 Spits based at Ein Shemer suffered from bomb and explosive charges. On 15th May two Spitfires LFIXs of the Eygptian Air Force strafed Tel Aviv, losing one to machine-gun ground fire. Seven days later RAF Ramat David the temporary base for Nos 32 & 208 was attacked by a single unidentified Spitfire which bombed two of 32 Squadron's aircraft. Two hours later three more Spitfires attacked but were intercepted by 208 Squadron's Spitfires which shot down two, while a third fell to RAF Regiment gunners.

Squadron 208 RAF History recalls subsequent to the unprovoked attack at Ramat David, four of the Squadron’s Spitfires were shot down by Israeli aircraft. The Squadron was re-equipped with Meteor Jets in 1951.

Other visiting a/c at Nicosia during 1948 were Hawker Fury’s in a gaggle of five with a Mosquito for navigating, crewed by F.A.A. on the way to form the Bagdad Fighter Squadron. When one of these had a starboard wheel collapsed on takeoff the pilot stepped out onto the wing and rolled off onto the ground. He suffered a torn overall and B.F.S. was one a/c short on delivery
Demobbed and returned to UK about the time of the Berlin Airlift. Some concern that we would be redrafted to Germany but it did not happen. Clobbered by customs when they found a leather sheepskin jacket that I had purchased in Cyprus. They did there best to convince one another that it was RAF kit and I insisted that I bought it. Eventually recovered after I was demobbed for 30 shilling customs duty, plus red shoes and handbag for my fiancée.
One night in Blackpool with 10/6p special pay plus railway warrant
Returned to civvy street in Sept 1948. No jobs in the A/C industry so joined a punch card Manufacture in Croydon
Flight Simulator 2002, Israel is listed under Asia
Eyn Shemer — (LLES) consist of two runways. is shown approx halfway between Tel Avi (Ben Gurion — LLBG) and the port of Haifa.

Ramat David (LLRD) is approx 28 miles NE of Eyn Shemer and via simulator took approx 8 mins flying time @ 130kts
Ramat David (LLRD) has two conventional runways and one adjacent but not crossing. Located in the lee of the hillside.
Ramat Davd is approx 4 mins flying time from Haifa @ approx 130 knots. Would appear to be used as a last staging post prior to withdrawal through the port of Haifa.
Could not detect RAF Aqir but remember it was less than two hours road travel from Tel Aviv. Could this have been the site or Ben Gurion International Airport?. end
LAC LMRU 1947/8

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