The RAF Tourist

Alan Conrad is my father and this webpage is a photographic record of his travels and experiences during World War II as 1478237 LAC CLK/GD Conrad, A. . He was born in September 1921 and is currently  living in a care home in Aylsbury, England. His wife, Connie, died in January 2014.

His wartime experiences were gained during a four year tour overseas in the Middle and Far East in the Orderly Rooms of various RAF squadrons and units. A summary of his travels may be found in  the itinery below.

An Update 58 Years On:

In November 2002 Alan went on a Royal British Legion Pilgrimage back to Sri Lanka and visited familar sights at the Koggala base where he was stationed 58 years earlier. Read about the visit in his words HERE.

My name is John Conrad, and I live in Crossville, Tennessee where I created this record from a photo album of my father’s and from brief discussions with him when we met from time to time.

I welcome questions or commets. Please send me an e-mail at

john@time2meet.com

Alan's Wartime Itinery

Arrival Date Duration Location Remarks
15 August 1941 England Left England on His Majesty’s Troopship, HMT Strathnaver with about 5,000 other troops.
September 1941 3 days Capetown, South Africa Stopped here for three days.
1 October 1941 Port Tewfik, Egypt Sent an EFM (Expeditionary Force Message) to his mother on her birthday.
October 1941 3 weeks Kasfareet Waited for a posting in the Middle East Pool. He spent three weeks here and had a bout of dysentery. He was assigned to 211 Squadron.
31 October Port Sudan Arrived here on the SS Ascanius.
November 1941 3 months Wadi Gazouza Spent three months here in the 211 and was then reassigned to the 72 Operational Training Unit, (OTU) and went on leave to Asmara in Eritrea.
February 1942 4 weeks Asmara, Eritrea Arrived by train from Wadi Gazouza and went into hospital with Jaundice followed by Scarlet Fever.While in hospital the 72 OTU was posted to Nanyuki, Kenya.
March 1942 Khartoum, Sudan Travelled by train and lorry from Asmara to Khartoum.
April 1942 Nairobi, Kenya Flew from  Khartoum to Nairobi by Junkers 52 freight plane of South African Air Force.
April 1942 13 months Nanyuki, Kenya Arrived by train from Nairobi and stayed until the 72 OTU was disbanded in June 1943.Posted to the 230 Squadron.
June 1943 8 months Dar es Salaam, Tanganyka Travelled here by train from Nanyuki.
February 1944 14 months Lake Koggala, Ceylon Left Dar es Salaam on February 14th and flew here by Sunderland, arriving on February 22nd.. The eight day trip stoped in many places on the way. The stops included Kisumu, Khartoum, Aden, Masira, Bombay and Cochin. Six rolls of film were shot but unfortunately these were later lost by the camp photographer at Lake Koggala. My father is still upset about the photographer’s  carelessness.
April 1945 Akyab, Burma The 230 Squadron was posted here. Flew there in a Sunderland. Living in harbour on SS Manela.
May 1945 2 weeks Madras, India A two week detachment here. Flew there in a  Sunderland and was station in Madras for two weeks.
Rangoon, Burma The squadron moved to Rangoon. The SS Manela sailed to Rangoon so that they continued to live on board.
30 July 1945 Calcutta, India Posted home to England!!  Arrived in Calcutta by troopship from Rangoon.
Bombay, India Travelled here from Calcutta by train.
27 August 1945 Liverpool, England Travelled on the HMT Scythia when he heard that the atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The War ended on August 15, 1945 as we sailed through the Suez Canal.
September 1945 4 weeks Leigh, Lancashire Four weeks leave for fours years overseas travel.
October 1945 4 weeks Ringway, Lancashire Posted to the 1 PTS, Parachute Training School
November 1945  7 months Gloucester Posted to Records Gloucester
31st. July 1946 DEMOBBED

58 Years On

In Alan’s own words:

“In November 2002 my wife and I joined a Royal British Legion Pilgrimage to Sri Lanka. There were 11 pilgrims, a widow and her son and another widow to see the graves of each husband, Two Irish couples visiting the grave of the father of two of them, a  Canadian couple, he had been a fighter pilot who had shot down a Zero in a raid on Colombo in April 1942 and then he had been shot down himself, force landing his Hurricane on Galle Face Green. They wished to visit the memorial to five fellow pilots who were lost on that day. Finally there was my wife and myself who wished to visit the Air Force Station at Koggala where I had been stationed from February 1944 to April 1945. We were looked after by a leader, a doctor, a standard bearer and two representatives from the Royal British Legion.

After staying a few days at Kandy and Bandarawela we moved on to Koggala, the camp is now a Sri Lankan Air Force rest and recreation camp which it certainly was not in 1944. There was very little I recognized apart from the landing strip and the lake, no slipway, no hard standing, many more trees and foliage but the palm trees with there dangerous falling coconuts were not so much in evidence and I never saw a cobragoya which were the very large lizards.

The first item was a brief service at the 413 Canadian Squadron Memorial to the men lost while serving in Koggala. A very smart parade of Sri Lankan Air Force personnel turned out to support the service

We were invited to the Commanding Officer’s house to be welcomed by him (this never happened to me in 1944). My wife was presented with a bunch of flowers probably in recognition of the fact that I had been there before any of them had been born. Refreshments on the lawn followed and we were joined by the Staff and the CO’s wife and young daughter. We were accompanied by monkeys and chipmunks in the trees, massive butterflies on the flowers and kingfishers over the lake. Afterwards we were taken in a launch for a trip on the lake which was a bit eerie as instead of being littered with Sunderlands, Catalinas and support launches it had three men fishing on a rock and that was it. One thing which I thought was a trifle bizarre was a CND logo carved on a rise in a military camp and when I mentioned it I was told it was their “Peace Sign”.

After the Lake trip I was taken to see the Orderly Room to compare working conditions with way back. Now there is a permanent building, computers, electric typewriters, electric lights and attractive girls – then there was a fragile “basha” made out of palm leaves with Hurricane Lamps. I nearly joined up again.

We were then escorted off the camp with a burn-up down the landing strip. The Sri Lankan Air Force led by their Commanding Officer had laid themselves out to make it a memorable visit and we were most grateful for their efforts. For a few hours I was 22 again – but it did not last.

Before leaving Koggala we had a to visit the bathing pool between a reef and the beach, this was enlarged on one occasion by exploding a depth charge in it. The pool is still being used and now has a few more palm trees close by. From the Koggala Beach Hotel we went to the Mount Lavina Hotel and while there we visited Liveramentu Cemetery and I found the grave of Squadron Leader W. H. Munson of 230 Squadron who died at Koggala on 22nd July 1945. I laid a posy of poppies at the grave and took some photographs and if anyone knows of any relatives I would be only too pleased to let them have copies.

Altogether it was a wonderful trip with good companions, some sadness, entertainment and a lot of nostalgia, all helped by the very friendly Sri Lankan people.

The Royal British Legion Pilgrimages may be of interest about 40 are arranged each year to Europe, Middle East, South East Asia, and the Far East. Good Quality hotels are used and transport is organized to make things as easy as possible for pilgrims. On the Eastern trips a doctor and several staff look after you and if any are visiting graves or memorials every care is taken that they are found and support is given if it is found to be distressing.

Although the main object of the pilgrimages is to enable people to visit memorials other activities are organized to lighten the proceedings. In Sri Lanka we visited an Elephant Orphanage, Botanical Gardens, a Fire Walking Display, the Temple of the Tooth among others. On an earlier pilgrimage to Egypt there were visits to the Pyramids and Sphinx, the Cairo Museum and dinner on a Nile River Boat.

Altogether my wife and I found the two trips we made most enjoyable even with the sadness of seeing a cousin’s memorial.”