Return to Gan

Woodfield Publishing Ltd
ISBN 1-873203-52-7
RAF memoir
  • Description
  • More Details
  • softback
  • 140 x 205 mm
  • 200 pages
  • many photos, some in colour

by Michael Butler


An account of activities at RAF Gan in 1960-61 and of a recent return visit to see what remains of the former base

Located on Addu Atoll in the equatorial Maldive Islands, RAF Gan was one of the RAF’s hotteset and most remote outposts.

The Maldives have since become a popular holiday destination, but for the personnel of RAF Coral Command, with no female company, the palm-fringed beaches could seem like a prison rather than an island paradise.

Many who served there could not wait to leave and kept calendars, counting down the days until they could return to civilisation.

Nevertheless, life on this coral island airstrip, just a few inches above sea level, was so out of the ordinary that many servicemen who survived a tour of duty there now look back on it with affection.

Michael Butler is just such a case. He spent a year of his National Service there in 1960 and in spite of the discomforts, now looks back nostalgically on year he spent at the island air base.

In the course of his stay, amongst other things, he became the first ever broadcaster on ‘Radio Gan’, a service he and others set up to inform and entertain air base personnel (at the time it was not possible to receive any radio or TV signals from the outside world on the island). It proved very popular and continued until the base closed in 1976.

Mike's light-hearted memories of life on RAF Gan in 1960 and of the antics he and his RAF pals indulged in to alleviate the boredom and entertain one another will no doubt bring smiles of recognition to the faces of any former servicemen who once served on this sunbaked coral outpost.

But this book also has an interesting second element....

In 1998 Mike returned to Gan to see what changes had taken place since the closure of the RAF air base and his findings and photos of what remains of the former RAF facilities are revealed in the second half of the book.

Illustrated with many colour photos it is sure to be of great interest to any former 'Gannite'.