It was forty odd years since we all first met, Forty years since we last all shook hands
As we said our goodbyes to the flies and the muck, And farewell to the hot burning sands.
I remember the day when I first sailed away, From Liverpool bay with my pals,
Set on a voyage that took twelve long days, To the Suez and Sweet Water canals.

The land was old Egypt, a place called Kabrit, A hell of a place in the dust
Where the world had stood still since beginning of time, And men couldn’t work up a lust.
It was out in the climb were we spend out time, Where Roy would play on his trumpet
Where Alan would like to play ping pong all day, But most of us thought about crumpet.

Air Traffic we worked, getting planes up and down, With Breski, Bashford and Binns
We saw bed bugs and spiders, cockroaches and such, We spent two years out there for our sins.
It was down to Fayid we’d go for a break, Away from the flies and the hell
Passed Kabrit village and along by the banks, Where we’d maybe pass old Peg Leg Nell.
You could smell the Sweet Water for more than a mile, Almost stagnant and boy what a pong
In it was camels, dead donkeys and such, And funny things floating along.

We call our food ‘Mungus’ and tea we called ‘Shi’
For yes we said ‘lowa’, ‘Salaam’ it was goodbye
We saw searchlight duties and guards on the sand
Roy didn’t do any – for he played in the band
‘Bacshees’ was for free, and ‘imshi’ was go
We’d sing King Farouk and other songs too, As down to the Y M we often would go

Mail came from home and took a long week, From our parents, brothers and betters
I spent my time buying paper and stamps, And writing to Lillian long letters.
So here we spent a long month after month, Doing a heartbreaking job
Shift work, parades, inspections and such, And longing for far off Demob.

‘Bint’ was a girl and ‘Wallah’ a man
Such a lot to learn for so young a man
Toilets were oil drums with boards on the top
‘Dohby’ was washing and food mainly slop.
Remember the fire in the cook house so neat
And the pier at French Point that burned ones bare feet
Remember Steve Collins & young Ted from Brum
His Joan Collins exploits – I’d better keep stum
These memories of mine will always be near
As we all grow older and older each year
These memories I cherish of days in my youth
As I get stiff in my joints and long in my tooth.

This weekend I’m sure you’ll agree is just great
To all meet again and shake hands with a mate
Thank you for coming and making my day
Thanks to for your friendship of years far away
And in forty years time when we shall all fly
To that great big airfield up there in the sky
Where the sun always shines and skies always blue
We’ll all meet again there – on Runway Three Two

Frank Punchaby ex: Air Traffic, Kabrit


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