Beef Island 1968

Hello I was one of the lucky ones to be sent over to the Beef Island in the British Virgin Islands in 1968.
We left Waterbeach in March & sailed from Southampton on the "Sir Galahad" and spent 9 months there extending the runway.

I would love to hear from anyone who was there when I was.
I am still in touch with Derrick (Tess)Tester, but that is all



I happened to see this reference to Beef Island when I was looking up BVI on Google. I was commissioned as a Sapper but transferred to RAPC. I was the Paymaster on Exercise Treasure Island from start to finish.

I have run across one or two 'veterans' over the years. I see that there is to be a second major redevelopment on top of the original Tarras runways that we laid.

My late Father Peter (Harold) Gruncell was stationed there with the REME detachment servicing the Sappers vehicles & plant. I've still got some local stamp first day covers that commemorate the RE building the runway.

I was also on beef island in 1969 As an electrician RE but spent most of my time walking with a Bomag roller on the airstrip Great time !, especially times in roadtown.

Dave coates

hello tess rember chaff

Dave, I too walked with a Bomag until I made it to the workshop.
Nice to hear that beef island is still remembered.
Bob Solly

I too was one of the lucky ones, posted to paradise to build an airstrip, remember you Tony and Tess, along with most of the others in MT Troop. Remember when the Brathwaite tank collapsed??

Hi guys, can anyone remember Stan Flude? I'm his son and would love to hear from anyone that knew him before that day in July. Cheers folks.

I was a surveyor/engineer attached to the airfield squadron on Beef Island December 1968 until June 1969 when an AVRO 748 delivered me (and the ice machine) to Anguilla to join the my home squadron 33 Field and 1st Para. for the "liberation" of the island. Only thing we liberated was Johnny's rum shop in the Valley. Anyway, yes I remember the Brathwaite tank collapse, hell of a noise, Dave, (draftsman & part time barber at the Treasure Island) my tent mate was in bed with a migriane headache, he hit the deck wrapped in his mosquito net. He had recently returned from Cyprus and in his daze probably surmised that the EOKA terrorists were up to their old tricks. I did a stint as DJ at ZBVI Road Town on Sundays at noon, that was fun. You may remember old Carty, he had a bar in a shack they called a control tower, he used to tell about poking holes in the puddles to drain them on the old dirt runway, the flag pole outside his bar was home to our level control bench mark. The Pelican club on the bluff overlooking Trellis Bay was our local watering hole, there was a french restaurant on Bellami Cay in the bay that was real expensive, but the owned did not mind if you spent an hour with a bowl of french onion soup as long as there were no yachtsmen waiting for a table. The Bomag roller guys were an inspiration, keeping the machines off the rails and working tirelessly all day, the Tarrus (rapidly cooled igneous rock) was tough to control because the moisture content would go wild from one batch to the next. One funny story that I learned from Harry Went, the Tortola Public Works manager told me the night before I left for Anguilla was about the Sir Galahad having to offload everything on MEXIFLOTEs, (looks like cobbled together HAFB pontoons). Someone, a refugee from the Pelican Club, "borrowed" a huge vechicle from the MT compound and went on a bender in Road Town across the Queen Elizabeth ll bridge. Harold told me that the width of the bridge had disqualified it as a transport route by the guys doing the initial recce (From the Treasure Island) for the landing but the weight class was good. Anyway for you folks dealing with the MEXIFLOTE transfer, it took a very happy squaddie to proof the route to Road Bay. Hurrah for the CRE!

I was with the Squadron on Beef Island looking after the generators. I visited Tortola in 2000 and landed on the airstrip as it was then. It is now very much bigger and due for further expansion. I have been in touch with the Airports Authority and they will be highlighting the 50th anniversary on 12th April. Any photos you may have would be good.I hope to visit again in June.
Jim Hetherington

Hi, I was the SQMS on Beef Island, Stan was a member of my staff looking after and stores etc. each day we would allocate equipment send it out to where the runway was being built, a member of my staff would take turns to go with the stores, At the end of the days work they would check all the equipment back in and return it to my store ready for next days needs.
Stan went out to the airstrip as usual and was involved in the accident which took his young life. I don't remember how and what actually happened as I was back at base.
It was a really big shock and I know how upset we all were at the taken of such a young life.
Sorry I am unable to give more details but would like to say what a cheerful willing worker Stan was, always cheerful and often spoke of going home to his wife.
I hope this will be of help to you, if I can be of help please contact me.
David Coles

Greetings. I have just found your site and it brings back memories of years ago. I am the young white man who ran the construction company on Great Camanoe Island. It was my Austin Camp with the big trailer, full of my work crew from East End, that came through your site twice-a-day.....and also tangled with one of your trucks!! I also remember the morning of the water tank collapse. What you call the Pelican Club, on the headland, was once my house where I lived with my wife and two children. I also ran the Shipyard next door. But you guys were part of the progress that changed that area for ever. I left the islands before the new-new airport was extended- filling in the bay right out to the headland. Still married, we live in New Zealand now. All the best Mike