by Arthur Osborne


This is XV199 in its later stretched Hercules C.3 configuration with added refuelling probe. Date and location unknown. [Photo: Ron Cuskelly Collection]


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


Mentioned in Despatches





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Substituted an image of the actual aeroplane XV199.