Friday 19 October
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We have a monthly meeting, on the 4th Monday of the month. These meetings are held at the Arreton Community Hall, Main Road, Arreton, 7.30 for 8.00 p.m. The usual format of the evening is that we listen to a speaker on some relevant topic, view videos, or have some form of quiz, as well as having a general 'noggin and natter'. Visitors to the Island are welcome to come along.laughter.
There was a good turnout of 21 members and two guests to hear a fascinating talk by John Gulliver, about ‘Operation Corporate’. This was the codename given to the British military operations in the Falklands War. John was one of the lead Navigators on one of the Victor Refueling aircraft. He started off by showing examples of various aircraft being re-fueled.
John covered the build up to the War, when in 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands and South Georgia (Overseas Territories of the United Kingdom, but have long been claimed by Argentina. This led to a response, from Margaret Thatcher, to recapture the Islands. Very rapidly a naval task force was formed and dispatched. In addition there was a need to establish an ‘air bridge’ between the UK and the Islands, some 8000 miles, to provide a supply line for the task force.
Fortunately Ascension Island was a vital forward operating base for the task force and the RAF. In effect, it was the British forces centre of gravity, being more than halfway to the Falkland Islands (3,750 miles), It had a good anchorage and excellent aviation facilities.
Without Ascension, and specifically, Wideawake Airfield, the operation would not have been a success.
John referred to the many types of aircraft that used the airfield and then went on to talk about Operation Black B. A series of British air-raids carried out by Royal Air Force (RAF) Vulcan bombers, backed by Victor tankers and Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft.
Each of the raids commenced from Wideawake Airfield on Ascension Island, and involved a round-trip over thousands of miles of ocean, the longest range air-attacks in history. Because of the extreme range, not only did the Vulcan have to be refuelled by Victor tankers, but the Victor tankers had to be refuelled too, in a complicated "pyramid" arrangement. I suggest that you search the internet for a detailed account of how this all worked out! Two members present were involved in the conflict, Rick Leader who was in the RAF at the time was based on Ascension Island and Bob Roullier used the air bridge on several occasions.
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