It was in the early hours of Tuesday morning after Easter
Monday 1959 that someone burst into our room and told us to get up and report
to the guardroom. If he had told us why, we might not have got up! Half
an hour later the SWO burst in with the same order. This time he added
that we were about to be invaded and for us to go and draw a rifle and ammunition
from the guardroom. He also said we should wear uniform, not shorts and
bloody flip-flops! The initial excitement wore off a bit when we had to
join a queue of fifty blokes waiting to sign out a rifle and bandolier of
Once issued, we were told to go to the jetty. There was quite
a bit of activity but no instructions. After a while, it was decided that
not a lot was going to happen so we were sent back to the billet, to wait.
We-walked back through the few remaining trees, and it's amazing how brave
you become when nothing is happening! We had only just reached the billet
when a jeep screamed up and the driver shouted, "Get back to the jetty
!They have arrived!" Who were 'they'?
Once at the jetty, about twenty men were put in an LCM that
were normally used to offload cargo boats. It was just like a war film!
We set out for Hittadu and our radio station there
It took over an hour to get there and all our bravado had
gone. No one spoke, and every one was on autopilot. As the LCM hit the beach,
we were told to charge, but it was more of an RAF trot!
There was nothing happening. A Royal Signals Officer eventually
appeared, and picked 7 'volunteers' to patrol the island I was one of those
picked and after walking around our installation, we were told to secrete
ourselves in amongst all the palm trees that had been cut down and strewn
around the site. Our brief was to watch the jungle for the 'rebels' and
watch the sea behind us for their gunboats.
After 36 hours, we got the 'all clear` and returned to Gan,
this time in a boat little bigger than a dinghy with only a few inches of
the boat above the water. After 36 hours without food, we were given a fried
egg sandwich and then queued to sign weapons back in.
The threat must have been serious because very soon after we had a squadron
of the RAF Regiment, a company of the Staffordshire Regiment, a frigate
and destroyer in to protect us.
No shots were fired in anger.
As far as l am aware the cause of the problems was with the
government of the Maldives in the north of the country. Our governmeat was
paying to lease Gan with money and food but the islands in the south were
not getting any benefits, and decided to break away from the north. The
Maldives government was bringing them in line by going through the islands
and shooting them up from the 'gun boats' and they were heading towards
us on Gan.
Hence the threat.