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UNEF - Introduction
El Arish / Marina
Sharm El Sheik
GAZA STRIP - UNEF
Air field used by 115 ATU.
Following El Arish photographs courtesy of National Defence Image Library, Canadian Forces Joint Imagery Centre (click on photos below to see larger image):
Photographs of Caribou C/N 1 (303) at El Arish in 1965. Photographs courtesy of Gord Jenkins.
El Arish photos, circa 1967, courtesy of Garry Harding:
Photos of El Arish and area by Sgt. Lloyd Lobb (courtesy of his daughter Wendy):
Photographs of the Marina - the Canadian living quarters. It was located about 10 miles north of the airfield on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea.
First row of photos include living quarters, movie theatre, PX, Officers Mess (Gord Jenkins and the Chef) and lowering the Canadian Red Ensign prior raising of the new Canadian Flag in 1965. Photographs courtesy of Gord Jenkins.
Additional photographs at Marina courtesy of Gord Jenkins.
Photograph of El Arish's mascot "Dollie" courtesy of Bob Bridges (Sapper, RCE):
EL ARISH / MARINA: REMINISCING
Please enjoy the following collection of photos and memories. Click on images for full size pictures. Please use your browser "Back" button to return to this page. If you have anything to add this page please email Gord Jenkins (click to email).
Arthur Cox - I'll pass on an El Arish story here - as related to me. An incident that occurred circa early '61. When we arrived we were met by the staff officer who would take us over to Ops to file our return flight plan to Athens - he had this to pass on. Evidently, a few days before, one of the Otters was returning (I forget where from) when, suddenly, it was set upon by an Egyptian MIG also coming home. Apparently the MIG Pilot wanted to play around a little and started making passes at the Otter. The upshot of the whole thing is, the MIG made one pass too many and, after buzzing the Otter for the last time, misjudged his altitude and flew into one of the hills south of the field and blew up. As told to me, Jock Hutchinson, the Otter pilot, a WWII vet with ribbons, came into the Officers Mess claiming he "got one confirmed!"
The El Arish Otter/MIG incident came back to mind quite forcefully one day when I was with Royal Jordanian airlines - on a Cairo turn-around from Amman. Leaving Cairo in the a.m., heading back home, we'd just leveled off at cruise when we noticed two Egyptian fighters ahead, streaking straight up through our level, on the airway! At this point they winged over and came right toward us. I had about two seconds to make up my mind whether to bunt the a/c over (an L1011) or haul back in a climb. It seemed futile to attempt either so I did neither, gritted my teeth, as did the F/O and F/E, and held course, hoping they saw us and we wouldn't meet up at 29000'. They passed within 100' or so, one on either side, so close that the F/O said he could hear the engine noise from the starboard one. We tried to identify the make of a/c for a future report (late model MIGs), notified ATC of the incident, and filed a report as soon as we landed. I never expected to hear another word but I'll say this for the Egyptian military; evidently it reached the higher echelon and the two pilots were severely reprimanded - according to the reply we received some three weeks later, anyway. I related the El Arish incident to my F/O, a very capable pilot (Jordanians aren't like the Egyptians), and he wasn't a bit surprised.
Robert Coulter - was Stationed in Trenton (Training Command) from December 1955 to Oct 1958, as an Air Frame Technician. Volunteered for Egypt in 1958 where he spent a memorable year. Robert flew into El Arish on October 1958 in a North Star. First photo is taken in the Chapel of Moses at the St Catherines Monastery Apr '59. Second photo includes Robert on Mount Siani at 21 years old. The crest was made in Egypt for their group. At the bottom it says "UNEF EGYPT, MIDDLE EAST." Click on following photos to see larger images:
John Logus Identification Card, Driver's Permit, and "Airmen's Secondary Duties" memo - provided by Wayne Logus from files of CWO John Logus (retired from the RCAF in 1974). Click on image to see larger version:
1962 to 1964
Nominal Roll - Officers and Airmen - 115 ATU RCAF - 1 Feb 1962 - provided by Wayne Logus from files of CWO John Logus (retired from the RCAF in 1974). Includes Rank, Initials, Name, Branch, Trade and Group. Click on image to see larger version:
March 9, 1962 version of "The Sand Dune" (requires Adobe Reader to view) - provided by Wayne Logus from files of CWO John Logus. Click on image to see full edition:
Mike Williams - In 1961/62... I was stationed in UNEF 1 (El Arish) as a young (19 year old) Cpl. Obviously a green type as I hung out with the airmen who were young as opposed to the much older Cpls of the Airforce. I thank them today for the association of those types and the pilots I talked to passing landing info to in Sharm el Sheik. I gained an interest in Aviation there that lead to an Airforce and Airline pilot career lasting 35 years and on into retirement. Funny the things you remember like playing softball where if you missed a grounder on our El Arish ball field you watched it run on over hard-packed sand like cement so far we sent a jeep after it! My job in El Arish was to maintain the Beacon. The ground was so hard we had to lay a metal screen under the antenna to give it a ground reflection so as to get any range. Good times, good memories.
Arthur Cox - (the North Star painting at the top of the web site) is more or less a generic creation, based on one of my own flights. The aircraft is no. 17504, which I flew many times, so decided to base the illustration on it. The crew, besides me (capt.), included F/L George Harrow (f/o), F/L Frank Lisgo (nav), F/O Sam Belanger (r/o), Sgt. Wood (flt. eng.), and LAC Hjorth (load technician). We made two rotations from Pisa to El Arish that month, July 1962, arriving on the 11th the first time, and the 14th the second. We also shuttled down to Kano, Nigeria twice; the flights carrying on to Leopoldville. All this after originally being scheduled for a single seven day trip from Trenton - Pisa, Athens, El Arish and back. We were away from home for a total of 22 days, but situations like that weren't uncommon!
On another occasion, when on an El Arish rotation, our aircraft experienced a flat nose tire. W/C Carr dispatched a Caribou to fly up to Beirut to get a replacement, reassuring us that we'd be on our way in a few hours. Well, the "few hours" turned into an overnight sojourn when the crew returned with the wrong sized tire and had to go back for another. We really didn't mind as this translated into a very entertaining evening spent in the Mess, telling stories to one another amid the downing of copious quantities of ale.
January 1962 excerpt from Art Cox's log book (click on image to see larger version):
Lynn Garrison - I was looking through my log book and found a couple of 115 signals between the pages. This one covers what could have created a serious international incident. Those who served with 115 ATU will remember the accommodation, between the Egyptian Air Force, and our unit, with occasional civilian airline flights tossed it. The El Arish field had the Migs sitting on the other side of a wire fence, paralleling our hangar/ramp area. We all shared a common runway, which sometimes gave rise to interesting situations. In fact, just sharing the same acreage with the EAF could be interesting.
This incident occurred on August 2, 1962 when an Indian radio operator called “Local 13” the number for Egyptian Ops, to report a Middle East Airlines flight inbound. He said that there was an MEA aircraft inbound and the accents and misunderstanding saw this received as “An enemy aircraft inbound.” Panic stations!! Keystone Kops, across the wire from our hangars as the Egyptians rushed to pull burlap covers from their Migs and get airborne. More Egyptian soldiers were scrambling around to uncover their antiaircraft guns. It was an antagonized anthill of confusion. Three Migs scrambled. One ran off the runway and into the sand, where it would be recovered a few days later. The other two roared off ready for combat.
In the middle of this, Wing Commander Hal Knight was airborne test flying Caribou 5320. The Egyptians ordered him down. Knight refused. They repeated their order, in more frantic terms. Knight again refused. The Egyptian Colonel then ordered “Guns Free” and told them to shoot our aircraft down. By this time the Migs were airborne and, hearing the order, tried to enter the game. Anti-aircraft guns were swiveling back and forth, trying to draw a bead, while Hal Knight spiraled over the center of our shared airfield. Because of the Migs proximity, the anti-aircraft couldn’t fire, and, because of Knight’s tight turns, the Migs courted disaster trying to turn with him. Hal Knight, an old fighter pilot who had flown Spitfires in Egypt, during WW2, kept turning as he prepared for a landing, dropping wheels and flaps as he went….managing a neat touch down off a tight turn as two Migs took a run at him.
The signals was drafted and signed by me. Knight was furious. He had received an invitation to an Egyptian Air Force evening in their officers’ mess. He didn’t want to go and sent me in his place. The Egyptian colonel, I believe his name was something like Castro, and Major Medhat (I would later have a run in with this guy myself) were apologetic and wanted to do something to make up for the incident. I had heard they had a Mig aerobatic team – of sorts – and it would be neat if they could give Knight a send-ff when he departed the following day. So it was that Wing Commander Hal Knight had an unusual send off- at the end of his tour as W/C Mel Bryan took over. True to their word, the Migs performed as Hal boarded the North Star – not the Golden Hawks, but better than nothing.
Lynn Garrison - June 25, 1962: This signal was sent to us by UNEF Beirut and there was a minor panic, a panic perhaps magnified by the fact that Doctor Ralphe Bunche, who won a Nobel Prize for his work here, and would later become Under-Secretary General of the UN, was on a visit to the UNEF. Everyone was trying to make impressions. W/C Commander Knight handed me the signal with the suggestion I make a pass over it on the scheduled flight to Sharm el Sheikh. Then it was decided that Dr. Bunche would visit Sharm, accompanied by UNEF Commander General P.S. Gyani and his staff. The Wing Commander decided that he would go along so we loaded the VIPs into Caribou 5321 for a double-header. Knight said it would never be shot at while carrying Dr. Bunche and General Gyani. Knight planned to drop the passengers of at Sharm and then go and identify the vessel.
We dropped our passengers at Sharm and were soon off at low level up the Gulf of Aqaba toward Eilat, the small piece of coastline shared by Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia at the head of the gulf. You could see hammer head sharks feeding in the clear waters. We passed a few fishing dhows and a wrecked freighter, on the Egyptian side of the canal, relentless waves having already breached the both sides of the hull, leaving a hole through which the waves passed. On the right coast, some minutes later, we passed a white Catalina flying boat that had been abandoned there, two years earlier, when its load of holidaying Americans had been shot up by Bedouin troops. It was a pristine white, unlike photos taken a lifetime later. .
Those who flew this route will remember these landmarks. And then we came upon a grey naval vessel P2/42 with one stack/chimney and zoomed past. No one shot at us, but the Israeli crew waved, their national flag snapping in the breeze. Once again 115 ATU had saved the world from yet another catastrophe. We picked the VIPS up and made the return to El Arish.
Doug Poole - When I first arrived at El Arish we worked at the airport 7:30 AM until noon. A couple of techs would go in the afternoon to service any late arrivals. Back then, only mad dogs and Englishmen went out in the midday sun. Our hours were always pretty flexible. We didn't mind going to work, it took your mind off other things. I had yet to master the ancient principles of Wu-Wei (the art of doing nothing). If we did have to work in the afternoon we always went back to Marina for lunch. On the odd occasion when a Caribou was coming back after dark we would fill the flare pots with kerosene and set them out before heading back to camp. When we went back to light them half the pots were always empty.
We didn't run out of spare parts very often, it was a bigger problem in Ottawa than it was in Egypt. I only changed a couple of tires on the Caribou and none on the Otter the whole time I was there. We employed the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" approach to maintaining the A/C. We used the grease guns very sparingly; the grease attracted sand and wore out bearings and moving parts. Once, one of the Caribous had to fly around for about a month with the nose gear extended before we figured out how to fix it, the pilots didn't seem to mind. I'm not sure, I think there were some North Star parts stored in the back of the hangar, but they were never used to my knowledge.
Dennis (Denny) A. Grimster - 115 ATU photographs courtesy of Barbara Grimster, wife of late Dennis (Denny) A. Grimster. Includes a photograph of Dennis Grimster taken at El Arish in 1964 (Photo 1), while Photo 2 is captioned "AOC's inspection, Nov 1963 El Arish (Airport) Egypt CO-A/WC Harper".
Group shot taken in 1964 of 115 ATU. W/C Hartman in the middle (article on Hartman and flight of Silver Dart 2 in 1959). Officers Mess bar man "Mr Nick" has his hat on and is honourary member for services rendered. Gord Jenkins is second from righ in the back back row. Photograph courtesy of Gord Jenkins.
Canadian Caribou 303 in a whadi near St Catherine's Monastery (click to see aerial image), Sinai, 1965. Mount Sinai is in the background. Photographs courtesy of Gord Jenkins. Gord's 115 ATU diary is available by clicking here.
Following slideshow shows additional photos from the 1965 visit to Mt. Sinai. Photographs courtesy of Gord Jenkins (requires Adobe Reader to view):
Caribou 322 being loaded in Gaza, 1965. Photograph courtesy of Gord Jenkins.
Bob Bridges (Sapper RCE) - I was with RCE Detachment there from Nov 65 to Sept 66 and I recognize some of the people on your pictures. The Engineer working on the roof trusses is none other than Sapper Wally Hagen who was posted back to Field Squadron RCE. I met up with Wally again at 1CEU in Winnipeg. I remember when the trip to the monastery was organized but I didn't make it. I wished I had. I remember there were issues about the area the Caribou landed. You must have been at Marina when we had the donkey. Dollie was her name and made the rounds of the camp. The CO ordered her gone. Your pictures bring back memories of my youth.
The RCE Detachment consisted of a SGT I/C, L/Cpl 2 IC, and 5 Sappers - electrician, mason, plumber, field engineer and a driver/mechanic. We were mostly involved with construction projects at the main Yugo Camp down the road. We did also go out to the IF to repair stuff at there outposts at El Amar, El Quasima, and El Kentilla. Do you remember the pilot shooting at the trains going by with there whistles full on early in the morning? There was the drunk LAC blowing a trumpet from the row of empty flat cars parked along the siding in front of our quarters. I have slides somewhere of the place we called home.
I was sent back to Ismailia Egypt in Oct 1976 with 1CEU on a project. We also had a crew in the Golan who were behind on there project. I remember quite vividly on the 22nd of Dec. going to QM stores and drawing a steel helmet, respirator, SMG and 65 rounds of 9MM ammunition and loaded onto the back of a deuce &1/2 and pointed to the Golan. The trip was quite interesting to me as we went right through the area I served. There was Marina and most of the older buildings still standing. The compound was full of captured Egyptian equipment. The water tower was gone as was the kitchen, mens club, power house and the guard quarters. We drove by the main Yugo camp and it was still intact for the most part. Lots of blown up armour and vehicles along the way. The antiaircraft battery that was located on the Port Said side of Marina had all there gun barrels split open. We went by Rafa village and through the checkpoint to the strip. We turned of towards Israel at the Gaza turn off and the rest was all new.
I remember Air Marshall Reno talking to us in El Arish about unification. I knew I was going get out at some point. Just a bunch of unnecessary bullshit.
CO of 115 ATU W/C "Andie" Anderson (in the middle with his hands folded and towel around his neck) with several 115 ATU pilots. The person at the extreme right is F/O Paul Picard who died along with F/O Richard Edwards when their Otter crashed near El Kuntilla after encountering a sand devil - a mini tornado caused by heat on sand. F/O Picard and F/O Edwards are buried in Gaza Commonwealth Cemetery (see above). Photograph courtesy of Gord Jenkins.
Gord Jenkins - Paul Picard was a real character. Once he was ordered to land by Egyptian Air Force after we saw troops on the DMZ. Paul refused and we were met at the airstrip by some Egyptian Army machine guns and our CO, Andy Anderson. We stayed aboard until peace was restored. Paul later crashed and died with F/O Richard Edwards at Ras El Nab or El Kuntilla in '66. These were two stops along Egypt/Israel DMZ on the way to Sharm El Sheik . The former two were manned by Yugos poor SOBS and Sharm at the time by Swedes.
Edwards was new and Paul was showing him "the route". The Otter hit a sand devil - a mini tiny tornado caused by heat on sand that scurried across the desert and were quite common. He must have hit a bad devil as plane crashed and burned. The pilots wore no regulation flying suit but shorts and shirt - so he got very badly burned. The 115 ATU doctor did his best - I went around to hospitals and medical supply stores in Beirut to get more burn bandages till I got a message from Andy Anderson - to forget it as Paul had died from burns. His funeral is in a Commonwealth War Grave beautifully kept - I have a picture - but in a lonely corner - beside WW1 and WW2 British and Oz casualties. I had to meet and escort Paul's father in Beirut to El Arish and return as the Canadian Forces did not repatriate their dead then to Canada.
Bob Bridges (Sapper RCE) - I remember when the Otter pancaked and the only survivor was the crewman. A sad day at Marina. I remember when we lost one of our own sappers there as well.
Photo of F/O Robert Burke (RCAF Capt RET) on the left, shaking hands with MGen Rikhye. F/O Burke was the finance/pay officer at El Arish for a one year assignment ending with the evacuation in 1967 (click on image to see larger version of photograph):
For the exciting story of the final withdrawal of 115 ATU, read EXODUS EL ARISH (click here) by Michael G. Belcher (F/L-Ret). Story courtesy of Michael Belcher.
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