Veteran Stories:
Frank Bernard Horgan

Air Force

  • Frank Horgan, Royal Air Force (RAF) comrades, and Jordanian civilians at the RAF rest camp in Aqaba, Jordan, 1946. Mr. Horgan is first on the left in the middle row.

    Frank Horgan
  • Frank Horgan, Cairo, Egypt, 1946.

    Frank Horgan
  • The top photo was taken outside Amman, Jordan in 1946.
    The bottom photo was taken in Jerusalem, Palestine in 1946.

    Frank Horgan
  • Frank Horgan, Wasaga Beach, Ontario, November 9, 2009.

    Historica Canada
  • The photo on the left shows King Abdallah of Jordan (on the far left) at RAF Amman, 1946.
    The photo on the right shows Frank Horgan at RAF Amman, 1946.

    Frank Horgan
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"I couldn’t believe how the other side lives."

Transcript

I joined the Air Force at 18 in the north of Ireland and I done my square bashing [drills in barracks] in Padgate in England. And then I was moved around a little bit there. Oh, by the way, that was in 1945 that I joined the Forces. And at the end of November/December, we went overseas. It was more or less for adventure that I went and joined the forces. We went to Amman in the Jordan. And between Amman and Jerusalem, we were going back and forward, back and forward because we had that big trouble out there with the Jews and the Arabs. I was there until 1948. I was there three years. And then I got demobbed [demobilized] from the forces. I was GD, which is general duties. So you’re picked for anything. You could be picked for, oh, anything at all really. You were in the hospital part of it or the orderly part and you’re in the cookhouse, you could be out on the square, delivering messages from, at that time it was all bicycles that was in the camp. So you’d have a bicycle for the day and you’d be going to different places. You’d be going to the Administration Office or the Orderly Office or wherever you’re going, that’s your duties for the day. You could be going to Jerusalem to pick up the mail, then you go back to Amman again, which was about an hour and a half’s run. And well, you were always in danger in Jerusalem. There was always something going on there. So there was always about four of you went in the truck to pick up the mail. You were armed and as soon as you got back to Amman, it was always quiet in Amman, there was never any problems there. You had spare time too. We had the rest camp in Aqaba [Jordan]. Now, Aqaba’s on the Red Sea [actually the Gulf of Aqaba], as you know, and we had a little outlet there for the RAF [Royal Air Force]. At that time, there wasn’t anything in Aqaba, there was just desert. And we flew down, there was about ten of us one time, we went to the rest camp, we flew down. So they must have heard about it while we were on the way down. Believe it or not, when we got off the plane, there was ten camels waiting for us (laughs). And they brought us into town, which was just absolutely nothing there. There was no buildings there, there was a lot of tents and there might have been a few mud buildings. But we had a wooden structure building there and we just stayed there for about ten or twelve days, I forget the amount. I think it was ten days we stayed there. And go swimming and go fishing. I was invited one time, one of the workers that we had on the camp, his name was Attallah. And there was a few of them, there was Attallah, there was Abdul and there was Mohammed, there was three of them there. But Attallah, I got along pretty good with Attallah. So he invited me over to his home one time. It was more or less in the desert, so we drove over there. And it was a mud home and it was completely different to what you’d normally see. His wife wouldn’t speak at all, she just had a veil over her face. And she just brought coffee to us and we sat down and he’s the master of the house. I couldn’t believe how the other side lives. Oh, something happened when we were coming back. Yeah. There was about 17 or 18 of us being demobbed, we were getting demobbed. This was about April or May [1948]. It must have been April because they were still under British rule. And we were going through Jerusalem. Now, there was different sections in Jerusalem. There was our section, the British section, that more or less had the lot of it really, and there was the Arab section and there was the Jewish section. Well, what happened was we happened to go into the Jewish section. Now, there was about 18 of us in the truck, we were going to Haifa [Palestine/Israel], to get a boat. Well, we happened to go into the Jewish section and bang, we were surrounded. Well, we were brought to this house, our sidearms and rifles were all taken from us. And we were kept there, oh, I don’t know how long, it must have been three or four or five hours. And we were just put down in the basement there and we were left there. I think there was a corporal in charge and he was doing the talking for us. They must have got in touch with headquarters and headquarters told him that we were on our way out, that we were on the boat, going on the boat in Haifa. Well, they left us go and they left us for the truck, left us go. But they took everything else from us. And we did make the boat in time (laughs). That was the last experience I had in Jerusalem. We returned to United Kingdom and I can’t remember where we were demobbed, I really can’t. Because we were so excited I guess. I came to Canada in 1957, June 1957.
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