Mid March 1985

On 14th March the England came a day late with another batch of workers - minus one. He had jumped overboard. People saw him waving his arms but on the first pass back to get him they didn't see him, on the second they saw his body but couldn't recover it.

Dave S's girlfriend returned from leave. Penny confirmed rumours that she had had three proposals while away, one from a black guy who promised her a weekend in Paris, a flat, a diamond ring and money. We imagined she was still single because she liked variety. When Dave S went on leave she moved out of his room, ending that relationship. There were others, mainly between my first and second tours, it seems.

I got myself booked on the airbridge for 16th May 1985. It seemed the opening ceremony would be on 14th or 15th May. I had extended my one year (to October 1984) as I wished to be at the opening, and it would still give just over a year after that for my replacement to full completion of the secondary runway and buildings, so it would work conveniently.

It might have been the first jet airbridge, or one of the last Hercules airbridges from Stanley, I didn't really mind. We weren't sure if the first jet flights to the airport would take workers back, it was too early to get definite answers. Presumably the first proving flight and the opening ceremony flight would take back the people who came down on them for the celebrations, but there might be room for me.

PSA bar in converted villa

PSA bar in converted villa; Ian W and Gerry M

16th March 1985. Maurice C officially opened the new club and unveiled a plaque titled "The Duck and Dagger". The bar was named The Duck and Dagger, thought up by the land surveyors because the plan of the runways looks like a dagger and the duck related to the upland geese which were everywhere.

HMS Brazen arrived in East Cove on 20th March 1985. Prince Andrew was serving on her, but details of this weren't publicised. The crew came ashore at the weekend for sport, drinks and disco.

The main power station generators were given a thirty hour reliability test. The temperature in the power station reached 81 degrees C and the roof cladding buckled due to the "load bank" test rig set up inside to dissipate the power of three generators producing 3 megawatts each. A painter working above them was taken to hospital with heat exhaustion. The vapour barrier and insulation were ruined for ever, but the heat generated inside on a daily basis should mean that the future effect of the damage would be slight.

On 26th March 1985 Stuart M sent me a memo asking for statistics for Prince Andrew's speech for the opening ceremony. I faxed G & T UK "As a result of a conversation with Prince Andrew at the weekend we have been asked... etc. etc.". I never said the conversation was with me, but I expect they thought that.

30th March 1985. A Hercules did low passes over the runway to test the approach markers and automatic landing equipment.

The last culvert on the new Stanley Road on 31st March 1985

The last culvert on the new Stanley Road on 31st March 1985
Dave D and John G

Graham C, my replacement, was due in Stanley on 30th March, but although there were only 300 metres separating the two ends of the new Stanley Road, heavy rain and sleet had made it virtually impassable and the last culvert at Little Wether Stream was a quagmire. Fitzroy Bridge on the old track was closed.

Graham C arrived by Islander on 1st April 1985. He had been playing football with his son the day before leaving, stubbed his toe in the ground and was in pain. He was in pain for months and when home on his six-monthly leave found that a vertebra was pressing on his spinal cord, so he had an operation and I returned from November 1985 to January 1986 to stand in for him.

I had wound him up by telling him to bring six months supply of soap and a dinner jacket for dinners with the Governor. We laughed when we heard he had brought soap and a velvet jacket.

13th April 1985. I spent some time getting my packing crate ready, making new boards for the top. We all had to go round the site looking for suitable crates, painting our names and addresses and the green shipping stripe when we left. It seemed no one else was going to do it and we all had more than we came with. I think the green stripe denoted customs-free. It seemed all PSA people did this.

Military vehicles and ships everywhere in April 1985. MV Frelson Gunvor, the airfield supply ship, unloaded. Two large green fire-fighting vehicles arrived. The first proving flight was scheduled for 1st or 2nd May.

Sunday 14th April 1985. Wayne M went to Stanley to fetch Jim G from leave. It took him one and a half hours from his bedroom to the airport on the far side of Stanley. What a difference compared with up to nine hours a year before and three hours a week before. The road didn't have its top dressing, so was still a bit rough.

15th April 1985. John G and I went to look at the road east of Elephant Canyon where some sections were still being filled over rock runs - extremely jumbled up rocks over one metre in size. We also looked at the minefield areas. The army had cleared a fifteen metre wide strip for the road but one mine was found by a digger on the line of the road. They had to be very careful in some places.

I went to Stanley on 19th April 1985 with John G and Dave D to deliver my crate and Ewen S's trunk to the Megabid store. We had a look round Stanley and Moody Brook barrracks which were out past the primitive golf course, a burning refuse tip, the water works and a scrapyard of old Argie trucks. We also walked next to the minefield fence near Mount Challenger on the way back.

21st April 1985. I was asked to go with PSA to a lunch on board HMS Brazen but I declined as I preferred to go hiking. We suspected that Prince Andrew wasn't on board any more, staying in Stanley for the Queen's birthday parade and possibly until the opening ceremony. Bill J did go, but Matt G (Gibb) and John S (BDP) preferred hiking too.

The Army Works staff moved to their own offices on 21st April 1985, so the next day we bagged the three end rooms and moved there as we would need more room when Gerry M arrived. John G and Dave D set about demolishing a partition to make a big room. I wasn't too sure if this wasn't going too far and our firm would be charged for the damage, but no one seemed to object so I let them get on with it. In fact, people came to admire the large room.

The fencing around the site was completed and shepherds came on horses to round up sheep still left inside the site. In the process they drove sheep over wet concrete on the Apron. As it was a hand-laid bay the contractors were able to get back to finish it again while it was still wet. If it had been on the automatic PQC (pavement quality concrete) train area, this would have been more difficult.

A week or so earlier I had seen Norman, the farmer from Island Harbour House, driving sheep waving a squash racquet! God knows where he got it from. An incongruous sight of old Norman with his scruffy clothes and missing teeth on a horse with a squash racquet.

Filling over a rock run on Stanley Road on 3rd April 1985

Filling over a rock run on Stanley Road on 3rd April 1985

The main hangar in mid April 1985

The main hangar in mid April 1985