ADEN WT


ADEN W/T STATION

"RESTRICTED PARAPHRASE
ADMIRALTY {meaning TO - action addressee}
[R] {meaning Repeated To - information addressee}
C IN C MED {Commander in Chief Mediterranean}
C IN C F.E.S. {Commander in Chief Far East Station}
S.B.N.O.M.E {Senior British Naval Officer Middle East}
R.N.O. ADEN {Resident Naval Officer Aden}
F.O.M.A. {Flag Officer Malayan Area}
S.S.R.E. HASLEMERE {Signal Scientific Research Establishment Haslemere}
HIGHFLYER {HMS Highflyer = Ceylon W/T Station}
C IN C E.I. {FROM meaning originator - Commander in Chief East Indies}

PARAPHRASE WARNING  - {signal text should be altered so that the plain language cannot be married to the original code which was used to transmit the message} This message must be paraphrased and the D.T.G. removed before it is published or otherwise released from Naval Control.
A.M. {Admiralty Message} 24 1552.A and A.L. {Admiralty Letter} 277/49 dated 14th March 1949 neither to all or needed {later transmitted as NOTAL}.  Propose that Mr PARKIN C.E.O.[R] with one R.E., one C.E.R.A. and one L.S.A., proceed to ADEN on completion of reduction of  Ceylon North Transmitting Station to care and maintenance, with following instructions.
[a] To provide answers to questionnaire in A.L. quoted.
[b] To overhaul equipment installed at Transmitting Station including diesel generator.
[c] To complete installation of transmitters with available resources where possible.
[d] To muster and report details of technical equipment in store.

[2]. Consider about two months work by experienced personnel will be most valuable in view of conditions of station reported by Lieutenant Commander. P. WALSHE in February 1949.  A.M. 11 1700 January 1949, not to all, refers.  In addition future maintenance by R.A.F. may be facilitated and visit by Mr. Pye could be curtailed or cancelled.

[3]. Party will be available to leave Ceylon mid September.

[4]. If approved R.N.O. ADEN is requested to arrange accommodation from date to be signalled later.

D.T.G. {date time group} 30 1311 EF {CEYLON local time} August.

{Then at bottom, operators sign language for future reference.}
 

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RESTRICTED ONE TIME {one time refers to coding system used}

C IN C E.I. {TO -action addressee}
[R] {as above}
C IN C MED {as above}
C IN C F.E.S. {as above}
SBNO ME {as above}
HIGHFLYER {as above}
RNO ADEN {as above}
ASE HASLEMERE {Admiralty Signals Establishment Haslemere}
FOMA {as above}
ADMIRALTY {FROM -originator}

Your 301311 August approved. Manning port of ratings concerned to be notified of official numbers, movement and given adequate notice on completion of special duty to enable re-drafting to be effected.

051240A {the 'A' on the end signifies British Summer Time, 1 hour ahead of GMT = 'Z' time}

{Then at bottom, operators sign language for future reference}.
 

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RESTRICTED

TO RNO ADEN
FROM C IN C E.I.

My 301311 EF AUGUST.....MR. PARKIN and three ratings taking passage in EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA leaving COLOMBO 25th SEPT approx.
Request you will provide MR. PARKIN with a copy of A.L. RE 277/49 dated 14th March 1949 and forward copies of this letter and any other correspondence about ADEN W/T STATIONS to me. Previous correspondence destroyed in fire.

D.T.G. 22 1221 EF SEPT

 

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UNCLASSIFIED

TO C IN C E.I. {as above}
INFO HIGHFLYER {as above}
WILD GOOSE
{HMS Wild Goose - see below to next message}
C.S. CEYLON
{Commodore Superintendent Ceylon - the officer in charge of Naval Facilities [dockyards etc]}
FLYING FISH
{HMS Flying Fish - she was an ex USN Algerina Class Minesweeper (we called them Algerene's) transferred to the RN from the RCN (was HMCS Tillsonburg) 16.2.1944, then transferred to Ceylon 7.10.1949.  She was eventually renamed VIJAYA and was broken-up in 1975  }
R.N.H. [T]
{Royal Naval Hospital Trincomalee}
FROM S.N.S.O. CEYLON {Senior Naval Supply Officer Ceylon}

C IN C E.I.'s 131628. Empress of Australia heavy baggage will be collected A.M. Friday 23rd customs examination 1400 same day at Love Lane.

2...Utilicon will leave Inner Yard at 1330 via PALU Terrace Somerville Mess, Highflyer, N.H.Q, Penlee, to Love Lane for customs.  Details of passengers to Colombo will be signalled later.

D.T.G. 21 0912 EF SEPTEMBER
TOR {time of receipt } 21 0930 EF SEPTEMBER

{It is quite possible that some of those loaned to Aden were members of the crew of WILD GOOSE and FLYING FISH}

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UNCLASSIFIED

TO HIGHFLYER {as above}
RNH TRINCOMALEE {as above}
C.S. CEYLON {as above}
UVA......WILD GOOSE {as above. Wild Goose, pennant number U45 which is probably what was intended instead of UVA, was built in Yarrow in 1942 and scrapped in Bo'ness in February 1956.  She was a modified Black Swan Class Sloop and had a notable WW2 career taking part in the slaying of several German U-Boats before being transferred to Ceylon}
INFO
RNO COLOMBO {Resident Naval Officer Colombo}
STOIC CEYLON {Sea Transit Officer In Charge Ceylon - part of the then troop ship organisation}
FROM C IN C E.I. {as above}

All earmarked will take passage in EMPRESS OF AUSTRALIA ETA COLOMBO 0900 Embarkation heavy baggage 0900 Personnel 1400 from LOWER PASSENGER JETTY ETD 1600 all times 25th [R] 25th SEPTEMBER.
TRINCOMALEE area main Naval Draft will travel by night train 24th SEPTEMBER.
Cabin personnel by road ETD 0400 on Sunday.
Detailed picking up programme will be signalled by S.N.S.O.

D.T.G. 22 1309 EF SEPT

 

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On his arrival in Aden, CEO[R] Wm Parkin R.N., received this note from the Superintending Sea Transport Office. It says " Naval Boat will be alongside @ 0615 - 1st Oct to take you and party ashore. RAF truck will take you to Singapore Lines from Post Officer Pier. Naval truck will call on you @ 0900 @ Singapore Lines for you to report to RNO @ Naval Office. " Click to enlarge

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Mr Parkin's brief is shown in this explicit directive from the Fleet Communications Officer to C IN C E.I. written on the 24th September 1949. The last section of the directive, viz, paragraph 9[b] and specifically the last two lines, tells all, and puts Mr Parkins' 'mission' into focus. FCO LETTER.pdf

Now that CEO[R] William Parkin R.N., and his party have arrived in Aden to start their most important task, let us take a look at what Aden was [or used to be] before this level of uncertainty [in Admiralty] became a 'begging question'.

This picture shows ADEN as it is today [2006]. You will find it helpful to get your bearings when consulting the NAVAL equivalent of 56 years ago which is published below.

The areas shown in blue are sea-lanes for pilotage into Aden proper and into Little Aden some distance away to the West, your left. Many Army camps were established in Little Aden. ADEN is surrounded by sea situated at the bottom of the Isthmus [narrow piece of land connecting two larger areas - in this case ADEN and mainland ARABIA to the north] on which you will see the now ADEN International Airport, and below it, the word KHORMAKSAR which was RAF territory [an airfield]. The titles above are of no consequence to our story about ADEN save except that AREA 14 directly equates with AREA A on the NAVAL MAP below, and both remain prominent features at the NW corner of ADEN.

On the naval map below, there are some signposts of interest worth mentioning.

1.  Wherever you see the letter 'N' - these were armament depots.
2.  Aden's land mass is shown within the wiggly line and all is surrounded by the sea.
3.  It has a navigable inner and outer harbour, both dredged for visiting warships with adequate numbers of jetties and berthing allocations.
4.  The navy built their infrastructure around the inner harbour.
5.  The office of the RNO [Resident Naval Officer] is sited in a small township called Maala which is shown hatched in under the Letter J&K.
6.  Sheikh Hofman [top of map] is a township.  Ten miles down the road from it, which you can see on the map on the upper left, is the FAA RNAS Hiswa.
7.  Aden had a gunnery school at Point Q.
8.  At one time, there were three W/T offices - the old, the new and the current!
9.  The Map is annotated by letters of the alphabet. Have a look at some of them to help form a picture in your mind:-

      B=HMS SHEBA/Base Sick Bay
     C=Victualling Office/Naval Stores
     D=Canteen/Mermaid Club and Lido
     E and F=Breakwaters
     G=Boom Defence Depot and Jetties
     H=Cold Stores
     J and K=Naval offices and workshops
     L=Oil storage depot
     M=Victualling offices/Naval Stores offices

Steamer Point - the NW tip of the Aden landmass

 

The following file shows the PLAN ROMEO for the new ADEN W/T Transmitting Station shown as the letter 'O' above. ADEN PLAN R NEW TRANSMITTING STN ISTHMUS.pdf. and this was the plan for the new W/T Receiving Station to be installed in the RNO Office Complex at Maala. ADEN NEW RX STATION.pdf

In 1949, the RECEIVING ROOM [combined with the Naval Headquarters] was situated in the town of MAALA approximately 1 mile to the east of Steamer Point.  The TRANSMITTING STATION [known as ISTHMUS - what else, because it was built on one ?} complete with all accommodation in a permanent building,  was out on the coast road which leads to Crater.  The old WW2 [yes, just a few years before] TRANSMITTING station was at KHORMAKSAR but had been completely dismantled and the site laid bare, largely taken over by the RAF.

Before Mr Parkin and his team arrived, other visitors and those stationed in Aden had made the following observations, criticisms and recommendations.

 They considered that the RECEIVING STATION was unsuitable because of the lack of aerial space, high noise level and municipal objections to the W/T towers.  The war  plans catered for the installation of a plan assembling a RECEIVING STATION at Sheik Othman.  This is on the road to HISWA [where a Royal Naval Air Station is established], on the water pipe line, outside the safety sector of KHORMAKSAR airfield and reasonably close to the township of ADEN.   The RECEIVING OFFICE at Steamer Point was in good condition, keys, plugs, a wavemeter, wiring, battery charger, air conditioner, store room with stationery all existed. Six 90 ft wooden masts were in store and their foundations are on the seaward side of  Naval Headquarters.  The nearest accommodation was at HMS SHEBA about 1 mile away. There were plenty of receivers in store.

The TRANSMITTING STATION consisted of a main building, a separate transmitter room plus an underground station.  The main station contained a transmitter hall and a control room and several small rooms available for workshops and stores.  The equipment consisted of  3 SWB8's, 2 R20A's, 5 T1190's, 2 SWB11's and 2 Type 60 transmitters.  Two of these sets were considered to be at 24 hours notice, the remainder were in various stages of completion.  Air conditioning plant was fitted and working.  It was not known if all the gear necessary to complete the sets was available, but it probably was. A Type 22 transmitter was fitted in a separate building with air conditioning.  There was room for about 7 large sets in two rooms in a tunnel in the rock.  A 150 kVA diesel was fitted in the third room.  This was in full running order  and was wired for use as a secondary supply for the main station.  There were 20 180 ft and 3 620 ft masts and all the associated transmission line posts.  No feeders or aerials were rigged but plenty of wire insulators and spreaders were available.

REMOTE CONTROL.  There was a 38-pair cable running between the M.S.O., at Steamer Point and Isthmus.  It was routed roughly alongside the main road and was about 18 inches below the surface all the way.  It was being used by the Army on the 'old boy' basis, and for this purpose it has been cut at both ends and diverted.  The Army were prepared to give up some pairs for our use at short notice.

ACCOMMODATION. Some of the naval accommodation had been lent to the RAF.  The RAF are prepared to accept a fitting out party "at once" so there should be enough space in an emergency.

MAINTENANCE.  This was done by the RAF, free of charge.  They sent 2 technicians each Saturday forenoon when possible.  O.C.W. ADEN maintained the buildings and provided the watchers..

REPORTS. Lieutenant Commander WALSHE visited the Station in February [1949] and this report is based primarily on his report.

FUTURE. It was important that the stores should be mustered and if possible the transmitters completed. Mr Pye, now in Singapore, has been nominated by the Admiralty to do this.  It is now doubtful when he will leave Singapore.  He has been asked to visit CEYLON on the way to be given questions to answer.  FYO  {Fleet something-or-other Officer ?} had questions about D/F; the FCO {Fleet Communications Officer} about  war communication plans, and the CSO [Chief of Staff] on the general war position. The necessity of his calling at CEYLON may, however, have to be reconsidered.  Consider otherwise N.F.A. required now as Admiralty know as much as we do.  Although RAF maintenance may not be good there is probably nothing else that can be arranged.

ASSOCIATED RESPONSIBILITY FOR ADDU ATOLL.  This station consisted of:-

[a]     Naval Offices combined with C.R.R. and C.C.O on the Island of GAN
[b]     Transmitting Station on the Island of MARIDU.

No permanent W/T equipment was installed at either, but the HQ building was structurally complete.

Power supplies for Naval HQ's were pooled with the Army and were accommodated  in two widely dispersed power houses.  Three 80 ft wooden towers were erected at Naval HQ'S.  It is not certain whether they are still standing or whether they were destroyed in August 1946, by the Minesweeping Flotilla which went to disarm the controlled mines.  The transmitting station was structurally complete, but no electric fittings were installed.  No towers were erected, and the  two  power supply units were moved to CEYLON.  Work was discontinued early in 1944, and all stores have been withdrawn.  The buildings still remain and have presumably been abandoned as it is not likely that any takers for their disposal were found.  No action is required by the C IN C .E.I.

All in all, things were not good in Aden as far as W/T communications were concerned for tactical or strategic wireless communications. Just after the visit to Aden by Lieutenant Commander WALSHE, the Chief Signals Officer at British Forces Headquarters ADEN sent this note to the RNO. Chief Signals Officer.pdf.  It, and the items listed above, left no one in doubt as to the ill preparedness of ADEN, and much work would be required if THERE ACTUALLY WAS A REAL NEED to bring the Base up to date to be ready at short notice to supply wireless communications in an emergency. This was the response to the Chief Signals Officer's letter. MAINTENANCE OF RADIO EQUIPMENT.pdf

The Mr Pye, who is mentioned in the paragraph above beginning with the word FUTURE, also got his copy of the Admiralty's Secret Questionnaire as this note shows, but as far as the report is concerned, he plays no obvious part in completing it. MR PYE.pdf

What Mr Parkin did or didn't do is the subject of his report which will appear, with omissions, at the end of this page. In the meantime, a couple of anecdotes. 

In 1949, CEYLON opened up a new Ships W/T BROADCAST called Victor Mike [VM's] and commenced trials on the 12th November.  This little file records the embryonic days of a major area broadcast, which devotees will recognise as being an historic event. In the first signal you will read, C IN C E.I. refers, in his last sentence, to FOMA [Flag Officer Malayan Areas], RIN [Royal Indian Navy] and RPN [Royal Pakistani Navy] VA TRIALS.pdf

No doubt that the following bit of trivia came from the RNO at a time when correspondence between ADEN and LONDON [Admiralty] was about to boil over albeit for a temporary period only ! RNO VISIT.pdf.  The incident is recorded in this file.  Note that this is the ONLY PLACE in the correspondence pack where a TIME FRAME to be ready for AN EMERGENCY [6 MONTHS] is actually mentioned.  Notice also the time it would take to procure a new generator and to have it shipped and installed in ADEN ! - [18 MONTHS].  This is obviously to do with war shortages as relevant during the fighting as it was for some years after hostilities ceased.  GENERATOR PROBLEMS.pdf {NOTE: The last original message is difficult to read, so below it in the PDF file, is a re-type.

Then, armed with the answers required to complete the Admiralty's Secret Questionnaire, it was time for Mr Parkin and his team to leave ADEN.

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Click on the thumbnail above. This little piece of history shows the old-style PORT DRAFTING before the days of HASLEMERE [in Surrey] and then HMS CENTURION [at Gosport] both CENTRAL DRAFTING authorities. The signal is repeated [for information only] to, amongst others, HMS COLLINGWOOD where Mr Parkin would report [officers didn't have official numbers in those days, but he would have had a coloured cloth [Green] below his one stripe indicating that he was an ELECTRICAL BRANCH OFFICER - a "GREENIE" : COMBRAX PORTSMOUTH - the Commodore of Barracks at Portsmouth viz, HMS VICTORY from where all Portsmouth Division Ratings were drafted to and from, in this case Radio Electrician J. ROBB with his P/MX prefix : COMBRAX DEVONPORT - the Commodore of Barracks at Devonport [Plymouth] viz HMS DRAKE, which was LSA F.J. Timms' drafting authority manifest with a D/SMX prefix.

I joined the Royal Navy not too long after the 1950 report was submitted to the Admiralty. I do not recall ADEN being thought of or considered to be a naval wireless station, and for the life of me, I can't remember her radio callsign, if she had one that is. The report doesn't say what Mr Parkin's recommendations were [except that the equipment should be better maintained - by the RAF] nor can I find any substantive evidence that work was undertaken to build the recommended NEW TRANSMITTING STATION and the NEW RECEIVING OFFICE.  I do know that the French had a substantial W/T fit at their base at Djibouti just across the way from ADEN [Ally ?? in times of trouble - well six years on at Suez - yes !] and that MAURITIUS was soon to become a major communication station covering that important gap between ZSJ [Simons Town] and GZP [Ceylon West W/T].  Thus, until contradicted, I believe that once the shortcomings of the ADEN 'FIT' in late 1949 had been made known, and the Admiralty's SECRET Questionnaire completed, it was all too much trouble and expensive to put it right,  given that money had been earmarked for a more favourable spot [and with friendlier people] namely lovely Mauritius, dear old GXO.

The report - note 15 pages of Stores and Documents held at Isthmus W/T Station Aden have been purposely omitted - is attached.  It is a large document but a broadband access with soon reveal its pages. THE REPORT.pdf