At the time Tracy hit Darwin,
I was serving in the Royal Air Force as a Corporal Engine Fitter at
RAF Support Unit, Tengah, Singapore.
On 27 December 1974, our O.C. Engineering called round to my married
quarter with instructions to prepare to accompany Hercules C.1 XV199
to Darwin as Ascot 4467 under the command of Flight Lieutenant Walton.
The aircraft was based at Tengah for the Christmas/New Year period.
In the absence of a Crew Chief, I was delegated to that position. A
load of 45 gallon drums full of diesel were on board and lashed down
when I boarded the aircraft. The sectors flown were Tengah - Darwin
- Tengah. En route to Darwin we were in radio contact with an RAF Nimrod*
that was evacuating British subjects to Singapore. A Hercules was not
utilised for this task.
On 29 December 1974, XV199 was again prepared to fly to Darwin. A Crew
Chief had meanwhile arrived from RAF Lyneham and I was designated as
Ground Engineer. After re-fuel at Darwin we evacuated refugees to Sydney,
before positioning to Richmond. There, a signal from OC Darwin awaited
our Captain requesting that I return to Darwin forthwith to assist RAAF
Engineers with ground handling of visiting transport aircraft.
On 30 December I boarded an RAAF C-130E A97-190 which proceeded
to Albury to pick up a mechanical road sweeper and plant equipment.
Next stop was Canberra to pick up an RAAF Medical Team for Darwin.
I spent 3 busy days on the line with some very good RAAF Engineers.
XV199 meanwhile, had remained at Richmond until returning to Darwin
on 2 January 1975. I accompanied the aircraft that day back to Richmond
from where I was taken to a local Motel for a good sleep.
On 3 January 1975, XV199 returned to Tengah via a re-fuel stop at Darwin.
It was noticeable that all personnel at Darwin worked long hours with
no whinging. An interesting experience all round.
Arthur James Osborne
6 April 2012
* Click here
for details of the Nimrod