Home Articles Tales of Zambia Life at ZAF Livingstone - Page 4
Life at ZAF Livingstone - Page 4
Monday, 23 November 2015 10:32
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Life at ZAF Livingstone
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One weekend, the usual Fairmount Hotel bar RAF contingent were (together with a number of „Sunshine“ nurses from UK) invited to a party on a tobacco farm some miles out of town. Big place, swimming pool, etc. I had gone to the party unattached and, during the course of the evening, struck up conversation with a girl from Lancashire. There was a lot of booze flowing, and she was worried about driving herself home. Another air force guy said it would be no trouble for him to drive her home (in her car), so I stepped in and pointed out that it had already been agreed that I would do so, but it would be no trouble to drop him off on the way if he needed a lift. He was a bit p----d off, but that's the way it goes; faint heart never won fair lady. I had never driven a car in my life! However, it did provide a talking point during the journey. I had just had my first driving lesson – free of charge. I dropped the young lady and her car off, and walked back to the Chandamali, but not without arranging my next driving lesson.

A friend of mine G--- had fixed himself up with this girl's best mate, and we used to walk to their shared bungalow together in the afternoons. Sometimes, it was a case of having to wait for them on the door step until their shift at the hospital finished, and we were often joined by their dog „Socks“. He was a full blooded basset hound, and feared neither man nor beast. It became his habit to get in a fight with another animal, then return to the house well torn up from his antics. On two occasions I recall, him limping home really in a mess, to the extent that we couldn't leave him without vetinary attention. The first time this happened, we got him stitched together but the vet wanted cash. OK, we paid – but deliberated whether it would be wise to ask the girls for the money since they were regularly feeding us (at no cost). The next time it happened he was in a real state, and we discussed the potential vet's bill to be faced. „Let's just whack him on the head,“ said G---. „When the girls come home, we can say we found him dead on the doorstep“. I persuaded my colleague that I thought this unwise. Socks got his treatment, and the bill was paid. He didn't last much longer though, being runover whilst chasing another dog soon after.

My girlfriend's car, an Austin A35 painted Post Office red, had begun to emit serious noises from the engine – suggesting a need to replace the big-end bearings. One advantage at the Chandamali (our accomodation) was that we had a virtual monopoly on the accomodation, including the several open garages at the rear – one of which had a servicing pit. I got the parts ordered, not an easy thing in the middle of Africa, and started to remove the engine once they had arrived. Assisted by a good friend, Roger, I dismantled the engine down to the crankshaft, and sent this off for a re-grind. Unfortunately, things had rather dragged on a bit, and I felt an obligation to get Julie's car back to her. Earlier that year, along with a few others I was detailed for a detachment to Eastleigh RAF base in Kenya, and that time had now arrived. I left the car in Roger's care, with instructions to deliver the cylinder block, internal parts and those on order (once they arrived) to a contract MT Fitter for re-assembly, and joined the crew bound for Nairobi.

Our task at RAF Eastleigh was to assemble and prepare for ferry flight six Beaver aircraft which had been shipped from Canada to Mombassa, then freighted in crates to Eastliegh. Once assembled the idea was to fly them down to Livingstone to form a local squadron. In common with 99% of RAF blokes finding themselves near Nairobi, we spent several weekends in the city backstreet Indian restuarants and around the various clubs (Sombrero, Halliens, Equator, etc). Quite an education. Once each aircraft was assembled, it needed an air-test to check out all systems and these were usually carried out by flying up to snow topped Mt Kenya and return – with one of us ground crew „navigating“. On the completetion of all six air tests, the aircraft were flown back to Livingstone, with again a groundcrew „navigating“ on each. First overflying the Meru park, then Ngorongoro, stopping for lunch at Tabora in Tanzania, and one night stop at Kasama in the very north-east of Zambia. One more refuel at Lusaka, and we were almost home with the new squadron. Another fantastic jolly.