The story of the safe transfer of aviation fuel.

Spent many happy hours aboard the tankers that used to come in to Gan. I Went on board a Shell tanker one night with Harry, Paddy and a few others. When we got to the tanker in the lighter. The tanker was laid really low in the water, and we only had to walk up one section of gangway. We were on board for 7-8 hours, getting steadily pissed and mixing with the crew in their mess. When it came time to get the lighter back to shore, we went out on deck and it was pitch black. One of the guys in our party (can't for the life of me remember his name) says " I'm gonna swim back to shore" and promptly jumps overboard. We waited for the splash and it seemed to take ages before he hit the water. Whilst we had been on board, the fuel had been steadily pumping ashore and the boat had been rising out of the water, neccessitating the crew to add more sections of gangway. The poor soul that had jumped had fallen about 60 feet or so. We had to fish him out of the drink with all his face split open from the impact. Apart from that, it was a hell of a night!!

                                                Here is a bit of Gan history from Ted Hyde, an ex-Fleet Air Arm lad

Thought you might be interested in a bit of ancient history re Gan.   In 1959 whilst serving on board HM Aircraft Carrier HMS Centaur enroute to the Far East station for a years commission . Attatched to 801 Sqdn. (Sea Hawks ) we had a call from Gan that they had just about run out of Aviation Gasoline for refuelling enroute aircraft. We were  about 700 miles away  and the Skipper decided to cancel our plans there and make a full power dash to Gan.  We were making between 28 and 30 knots all the way the whole ship was vibrating

from bow to stern and we managed it in 24 hours. We came as close as we could as it got quite shallow close to the island so we floated large hoses from ship to shore and proceeded to off load 100 tons of avation gasoline.  We were very disappointed that we could not go ashore to the beautiful beaches for the day, but the Captain would not allow as we had to get to the area for our next exercise with, if I remember the Indian Navy.  So although we visited your lovely island we could only watch in envy from the flight deck!

I don’t know if it was true ( it was well before your time) that the only woman on the island was the 60 year old NAFFI manageress!   Can’t win them all I suppose!


Ted Hyde.

( Ex Fleet Air Arm)   

  As stated above, get to know the crew before offloading fuel!!

     Pump fuel along pipeline to storage tanks. Scenic route!

Above Pete Wheals ex supply waller posing with his "Gan Tan" on said tanks! Below, Pete with his supply crew.

I would be grateful for any names of the guys below.

Spot the "Moonie"! New boy being shown around fuel tanks.

Final destination for the Avtur/Fuel. It just to goes to show how much cooperation is required for the safe delivery and offload of fuel. we all played our part, no matter how dangerous!!

                                                Airmens Living Quarters also known as "The Block"

The living quarters in Gan were quite spartan but they fitted the bill. They were clean and tidy without all the bullshit that prevailed in the UK units around this time. There were four, four man rooms each side of a central shower/toilet block and a little cupboard just as you went in. This housed the two Maldivian "Room Boys" who looked after your every need. They were responsible for keeping your room clean and tidy, making and changing your bed every day, making your morning "Cuppa" when you woke up in the morning before you went to work. You could get drinks all day long, you just had to give them a shout. They also took care of all your washing and ironing needs. Polishing shoes etc. You had this service all day up until around 1730 hrs. The extortionate cost for this measly service was (and we were still getting to grips with decimalisation which came in the year before) was £1.50 or 30/- a fortnight. The reason the service finished at 1730 hrs was that all Maldivians had to be off the Island by 1800 hrs. There were a few special exceptions. Bar staff (well that's an exception!) in all the messes etc. and some other sections, but it did not amount to many as it was quite strictly controlled at the time. The Maldivian workforce used to arrive each morning at around 0500 hrs and get stuck in. And, they were bloody good workers!

We had it bloody tough out there I'll have you know!!


If you look behind the three "posers", washing and wet towels used to be hung out on the lines to dry by the room boys. What always puzzled me was how the room boys knew whose washing was whose. There were 32 blokes in each block and it was a massive amount of washing and ironing and we all used to get it back correctly.

            Ralph Hodgson, another "poser" outside the block!

 Steve Sayer holding the roof up. Don't let go of that post mate! 

                   Abe Plummer and Bob Newell horsing around!



                             Keri Morgan looking pensive!

 Lads "Chilling out" outside the block. Photo courtesy of Ken Britton


The girls in the pictures on the walls must be drawing their pensions by now!


The "Pit". Home for the length of the tour, so we made the most of it!


The two photos below are of our old blocks, now converted into homes. This block is one home, belonging to the chap in the picture. He saw me taking photos and invited me in to look around. It was absolutely beautiful inside. With large lounges and big bedrooms. Imagine living in a block which used to house 32 blokes. I bet the cleaning is a bit of a chore though!
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