30 November 2002

Cyprus # 5. My Work

OldEric says :-) Do you really want to know? Probably not. But, for the sake of posterity I'm going to tell you anyway. I worked in the Circuit Control Section known as CCS. Our unit of which CCS was part, handled all the RAF traffic to and from the Middle / Near East and the UK. There was a large Teleprinter Hall, a smaller Wireless Telegraphy section, a Cipher section and us CCS.
Every signal and every wire which came into the Unit and exited the Unit came through CCS. It was the hub of the Unit and everything was controlled from CCS. The CCS was manned 24 hours a day, every day by a shift team of technician grade personnel and they controlled the complex from a large oval console.
I was the maintenance technician for CCS and I was one of the few personnel who worked days only. My little empire was a test desk at the CCS rear and I worked alone. If any of the many bays of equipment through which all signals passed broke down it was my duty to repair them. The only things which needed repair with any regularity were pairs of large relays which were plug in. Each morning when I arrived there would be a number of relays changed during the night by the shift technicians to repair/maintain. On Monday mornings there would be a lot. All the spare relays were kept on shelves ready for use. The large bays of equipment only occasionally broke down and spare plug in sections were always on hand and very occasionally one of these would be waiting for me in the morning. Really I had little else to do except keep a general eye on things and, with a team make periodic maintenance inspections of out lying unmanned, low power aerial farm equipment at remote locations. The main transmitting aerial farm was 5 miles away on the road to Nicosia on high ground. They had their own maintenance personnel.
Otherwise life and work was a little boring, a good book was handy and a stroll along to the maintenance workshops for a cup of tea and a chat to the sergeant cooped up in his office with nothing to do but to be there. He liked a chat and break to his monotony. At least I could wander around, he couldn't. Sometimes I used to stroll the half mile down to the signal receiving section at the far side of the camp away from electrical interference and I would "chew the rag" with the techs about AR88s and about the best ways of repairing and realigning these complex receivers. And other things. To while away the hours the guys had built a pond and a rock garden and stocked the pond with goldfish. The fish were mandatory, the law stated all static water had to be populated with fish to cut down mosquitoes ( I think they may be of the malarial type, I'm not sure).
All in all our situation was pretty laid back but as I said previously--- boring,--- if you were in your early/mid twenties. Weekends were good but week days well----. Some of the guys marked their days to demob off on a calendar and came the day they would leave. Occasionally a disappeared face would resurface. The reason was civilian life was not the same and friends and mates were not all around. It was lonely out there one returnee told me. If you signed up within six weeks after your demob date you retained your rank, job and if possible a return to your old location.
When my turn came to leave and I returned to civilian life, for awhile I must confess I missed the life and comradeship of the RAF and for a year or two afterwards wondered if I should have made the choice to sign up again.
Next storey, a trip to relieve the boredom.

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