RAF and RCAF provide Globemaster assistance to French military

Both the RAF and the RCAF came to the forefront providing logistical military assistance in support of French operations in Mali.  Three Globemaster C-17s  (two RAF and one RCAF) took part in the airlift of armoured vehicles and other military equipment from Évreux Airbase near Paris to the Malian capital Bamako. The accompanying slide presentation consists of a mixture of both RAF and RCAF activities.

LATE BREAKING NEWS: Jan. 24, 2013 – Today, the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird extended Canada’s assistance to France through the extension of one CC-177 Globemaster aircraft until February 15.

Ottawa Citizen

From: Chas Collier, Albury 
Sent: Sunday, December 23, 2012 06:59
Subject: RAF Mystery Photo 122112

Hi Everyone,

I've been off the internet for a few days whilst we transferred our internet provider from BT to Talk24.

Now to the mystery photo - it's undoubtedly Gerry Keyworth holding a vehicle chock with an "H" plastered on it. The RAF truck is being loaded facing forward so not for a rapid offload in an exercise or op. It must be therefore a Belfast aircraft being loaded by Hotel team with ex/op freight to be returned to base at RAF Brize Norton. Now to the location - I'll take a guess - Cyprus, in the 1970's.

So with the new year rapidly approaching I wish everyone a happy and profitable new year.

Charles Collier
From: Ian Place, Leeds
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2012 18:47
Subject: RAF Mystery Photo 122112


RAF Mystery Photo #122112 is UK MAMS Hotel Team Gerry Keyworth with "H" Chock in his hand.

The other guy on the Belfast Ramp is me, Ian Place, with my marshalling hands up and I've forgotten where we were.


From: Phil Smith, Exmouth
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2013 06:06
Subject: RAF Mystery Photo 122112


Gerry Keyworth Team Leader of Hotel Team with the chock in his right hand. Looks like Ian " Shagger" Place marshalling the vehicle up/down the ramp of a Belfast. Must be early 70s. The fact that the vehicle should have been reversed into position on the aircraft seems to have been ignored.

Cheers, Phil

Scott Base support role covers plenty

She has also had the opportunity to do some exploring ''The environment is pretty amazing and I've managed to get in some crosscountry skiing and have enjoyed doing the walks around the base.''

She attended Queen's High School in Dunedin and joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 2005.  She is due to return to New Zealand next month.

Otago Daily Times
Royal New Zealand Air Force cargo handler Corporal Nicola Lang (25) said she was in the Antarctic as part of the NZ Defence Force Scott Base support team, to provide communications, plant operations, cargo handling and operations scheduling support.

The job included processing the cargo of scientists at the base, she said.  ''Some of the scientific samples can be a bit strange.  'I've sent back live clams, penguin bones and dissected fish as well as scientific samples like rocks and ice cores.''
The work of a Dunedin woman in the Antarctic includes sending scientific samples, including fish parts and penguin bones, back home to New Zealand.

Wallaby Airlines returns to RAAF with Spartans

Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown, welcomed the squadron’s re-formation, saying: “No. 35 Squadron has provided combat airlift for Australia in several conflicts, and the C-27J is ideally suited to continue this legacy of support for personnel deployed on combat, peacekeeping, or disaster relief operations.”

“Once in service our C-27Js will greatly increase the number of airfields Defence can operate in to, increase the level of fixed wing support available on the battlefield, and synchronise with the existing C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster fleet,” WGCDR Clarke added.

Dubbed Wallaby Airlines after its callsign ‘Wallaby’ during the Vietnam war, 35 Squadron's Caribou aircraft carried around 677,000 passengers and 36 million kilograms of freight without fatality during that conflict.

The newly re-established 35 Squadron will initially comprise 25 personnel, which will grow to around 250 once the C-27Js arrive.

Australian Aviation Magazine

35 Squadron, last based in Townsville operating the Caribou before disbanding in 2000, will be under the command of Wing Commander Brad Clarke, who said the squadron’s first tasks will be to work with the Battlefield Airlift Transition Office to map the required workforce structure, operating procedures and introduction plan for the C-27J. The first aircrew and maintenance personnel will be sent to train on the C-27J in the US during 2014.

No. 35 Squadron has been re-established at RAAF Richmond in readiness for the delivery of the RAAF’s 10 C-27J Spartans in 2015.

From: Denis Culver, Trenton, ON
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2012 22:46
Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #122112

As to the RCAF mystery photo... offloading a pallet from a CC177 (that's Canadian for C-17). On the left is WO Mike Cordick, currently the Acting LM Leader of 429 Sqn, centre is CWO Mike Damaren, currently the SCWO at 2 Air Mov Sqn.  Now I don't know who the young chap on the right is, however I can guess why is in such a jovial mood... he can't believe the other two are working!  Awaiting payback.


From: Steve Richardson, Trenton, ON
Sent: Sunday, December 23, 2012 10:24
Subject: RCAF Mystery Photo 122112


In this photo, the mover in the middle is CWO Mike Damaren. He is the new SCWO for 2 Air Movements Squadron, Trenton. I used to work for him when he was a Sergeant in Training and Standards around 2003. They are pushing a pallet  off a C-17 Globemaster. 

Also, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year for 2013!

Take care,

Steve Richardson


Another great newsletter... love the gentleman's comment about the SKI club! [Chas Cormack - OBB #122112]

What if...?

What if the RAF had the C-27J Spartan in the desert camouflage of the 1970's on inventory?  This is still my favourite livery for RAF transport aircraft - much more character than the nondescript grey currently in use. 

Leaked Image Shows First RAF Rivet Joint

An image leaked on the internet shows what appears to be the first RC-135 Rivet Joint destined for the U.K. Royal Air Force.

The RAF has three RC-135s on order, making the U.K. the first export customer for the RC-135V/W Sigint jets. The aircraft have been converted from a trio of 1964 vintage Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers.

The three aircraft were ordered by the MoD in March 2010 and the first aircraft is expected to roll out early this year.

Once in service, the aircraft will be operated by No. 51 Sqn which famously operated the Nimrod R1, an aircraft which for many years the RAF refused to disclose as being in operation because of the type’s intelligence gathering capabilities.

From: Brian Hunt
Sent: Wednesday, January 02, 2013 12:41
Subject: RE: UKMAMS OBA OBB #122112

Dear Tony,

I was interested to read Syd Avery's comments about RAF Mystery Photo #113012.

I did not take the photograph and am not sure if it is in Kathmandu. The background is not familiar and I don't remember "Schedar" when I was out there.

Is that really Mac Bernhardt? He did a stint in Kathmandu but could it be No 1 our locally employed foreman?

Kind regards

Brian Hunt
Mac Bernhardt?
Local Labour
In preparation for the Rivet Joint’s arrival, 51 Sqn crews have been flying missions with the 55th Wing to gain experience on the type. It is understood that the aircraft will be christened Airseeker in RAF service.

Sharp-eyed readers will notice the aircraft distinctly lacks an air-to-air refuelling probe and given the RAF has not ordered a boom for its Voyager tankers, the new Airseekers will end up being dependent on USAF or tankers from other nations for refuelling.

Aviation Week
From: Roger Blow, Crown Point, IN
Sent: Saturday, January 05, 2013 13:55
Subject: Pensions…

Hi Tony,

Remember we talked about the RAF pension?  Well I'm out of luck!

According to the letter I received, to qualify I had to have been demobbed after March 31, 1975. I left the service on January 1, 1974. The letter further stated that people demobbed after April 6, 1988 could qualify for a pension with only 2 years of service! It seems rather unfair after I did 12 years. I guess I should have stayed in another 16 months.

I hope you have a happy and prosperous new year and many thanks for your work on the squadron newsletter. I look forward to it every month.

All the best from Roger 

From: Len Wood, Pembroke, ON 
Sent: Friday, December 21, 2012 16:35
Subject: RE: UKMAMS OBA OBB #122112

Only Geez, Trapper;

I have been so busy this past week, I totally forgot about the "Old Bods" Newsletter Deadline on 19 Dec for Christmas Wishes to all the Movers and their families.

Di and I wish you and all the Movers out there from ALL countries:

Belated (but still most welcome!) Season's Greetings

From:  Michael O'Brien, St. George's Basin, NSW
Date:  12/20/2012, 8:24 pm, EST
Subject:  Happy Festering Season's Greetings from me!

G'Day all,

I was slack and forgot to send an entry to the Newsletter!

I'm still coordinating and Move-ing TCCs for Pk Missions various, and currently backwards and forwarding between GodZone and Djibouti, with the odd forecast for Somalia, altho' currently spending the Big Day with our little family in south-eastern Oz on the shores of St George's Basin.

I trust all will enjoy a special time with loved ones,

All the best ...


From: Andrew State, Somewhere Sandy 
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2012 23:16
Subject: Hi

Hi Tony,

Thanks for the regular UKMAMS updates. They really were the best days.

Currently on ops in the MEAO. Meeting up with wife and kids in Thailand in early January, after a very long four months.

Take care and happy Xmas.

Andy State



From: David Howley, Melton Mowbray
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2012 06:33
Subject: Season's Greetings!

From: Sam Mold, Brighton and Hove
Sent: Saturday, December 22, 2012 09:29
Subject: Greetings!

To Tony,

From the fair city of Brighton & Hove on Sussex-by-the-Sea, this message is whizzing through cyberspace to Gatineau in Canada - in the hope it lands safely on your computer in good time to convey a seasonal greeting that wishes you all A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May the new year bring you good health, happiness and prosperity.

Regards, Sam

From: Tom Iredale, Heidelberg
Sent: Friday, December 21, 2012 11:11
Subject: AW: UKMAMS OBA OBB #122112

Hello Tony,

Just to wish you a Happy Christmas and say thank you for all your efforts with the Newsletter.

Here are the names for Chas Clark’s Movements Course, supplied to me a couple of months ago by Dick Lloyd (who was on the same course).

Hope to be a bit more active (writing-wise) next year-

Take care - Tom

No 14 Senior Air Movs Course Oct/Nov 1966

Back Row: Allan Knox, Charlie Clark, Sgt McLaren, Robbie James, Sgt Steven, Sgt Crowl, Sgt Phipps,

Middle Row: Chris Heyland, Pete Kingwill, Sgt Clark, Sgt Thomas, Sgt Renwick, Sgt Curtis, Me, Sgt Camsell, Con Finegan, John Beadman

Front Row: Val Pooley, Sgt Hollins, Dave Kitchener, Vic King, FS Miles, Tom Rowe, Ron MacDonald, Sandy Sanderson, Joy Lenny

UK confirms September retirement for aged VC10s

Operations with the UK Royal Air Force's remaining six Vickers VC10 tankers will conclude in September 2013, minister for defence equipment and support Philip Dunne has confirmed.

"A decision was taken in late December 2012 to resource an extension of the VC10 fleet until September 2013," Dunne said in response to a parliamentary question on 22 January.

The UK National Audit Office (NAO) revealed in its 10 January Major Projects Report that the Ministry of Defence was exploring a possible extension to its out of service plans for the VC10, in order "to provide additional refuelling capability".

The type will be replaced by Airbus A330 Voyagers operated by air force personnel, sponsored reservists and crews hired by the AirTanker consortium, which says it expects to receive "imminent" approval to commence air-to-air refuelling activities.

The RAF's air transport inventory is facing several near-term retirements, with its remaining eight Lockheed Martin C-130Ks due to leave service in October 2013, and its seven Lockheed TriStar transports and tankers to be retired in March 2014.

In addition to seeing the current three operational Voyagers be expanded to a core fleet of nine, the air force's first of 22 Airbus Military A400M transports should enter service in March 2015, the NAO says. These will join the RAF's current eight Boeing C-17 strategic transports, with the use of its 24 C-130Js scheduled to end during 2022.

Meanwhile, two modified BAe 146 transports acquired for £47 million ($74.5 million) to support the UK's intra-theatre airlift requirements in Afghanistan are expected to begin operations in "Spring 2013", the RAF says.


No value has been provided for the additional cost of the action, which represents a six-month run-on for the aged type. Flightglobal's MiliCAS database lists the Rolls-Royce Conway-engined aircraft as having been delivered between 1966 and 1970.

From: Mark Brierley, Riyadh
Sent: Monday, January 14, 2013 00:47
Subject: RE: UKMAMS OBA OBB #122112


Firstly, a belated Happy New Year to you.  I’m now back at work after managing to take leave for Christmas and New Year at home in the UK with my family, which was great.  The main reason for my e-mail though, is to thank you for the newsletter (and all of the others) that you have compiled.  They are always a fascinating read whether focusing on current or past events in our profession. 

Many thanks.



From: David Stevens, Bangor
Sent: Sunday, January 13, 2013 14:19
Subject: Books up for grabs!

Hi Tony,

I've attached scanned copies of book covers of three quite different but interesting books that I found in a local charity shop. It occurred to me that there might be some interest for these books among our readers.  My e-mail address is linked from the flags next to my name above; just left click once or failing that right click and copy the e-mail link. Anyone interested can contact me and I will post them on. I only ask something to cover the cost of postage.

I keep looking at my UKMAMS log book (1963-1966), flicking through the pages and thinking that there must be some stories of interest here, but sadly nothing 'grabs' me. The post script in the log book is that I clocked up 771 Hrs and 5 mins, during two and a half years, seated in the back of a whole variety of transport aircraft - very interesting...

Hope you are keeping well?

Kind Regards,   David

From: John Philps, Bexhill-on-Sea
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 09:14
Subject: 50th Reunion

Hi Tony,

I would be grateful if you would pass on the following message, to all the lads of the 50th Entry, 3 Squadron, C Flt. Hereford, 1963, whose 50th anniversary it is this year, many of whom were movers. 

I had hoped to be able to organize a reunion for September this year, unfortunately due to my commitments as captain of my indoor bowls and outdoor clubs I shall not be able to give the commitment to organising a reunion that it requires.

I sincerely hope that someone else is able to take this on and get us all together again; I am sure we would have much to chew over after the 10 years since the last reunion. I do still have a list of contacts from the last reunion which I would be happy to pass on to anybody taking this role on.

Best regards to all movers everywhere, to those that knew me once and especially to all ex-50th C Flt members.

Yours,   John M Philps
From: Tony Last, Huntingdon
Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2013 16:27
Subject: RE: The next OBA newsletter

Hey Tony

Happy New Year to you and everyone across the miles.

I was looking through some UKMAMS stuff I’d obviously stowed away in the computer's brain and came across the attached, so have forwarded it for the OBA newsletter if you can use it. All of them will be recognised by the UKMAMS old school and are people I worked with/for during my 6 years at Lyneham.

Hopefully the ‘what were then’ younger guys are now the ones running the show today.

Keep up the excellent work

Best regards to you and all.

Tony Last - O.B.R (Old Bugger now Retired)

Allen Jed SAC
Allen Roy (ALM10)
Armour Brian (ALM)
Armstrong Roy FS
Arnold Pete SqnLdr
Bailey SAC
Banks John (ALM)
Baron Derek Sgt
Barrett Bill Cpl
Barrett Ginge SAC
Baxter Simon Fg Off
Belcher LAC
Bell Dinger Cpl
Bell Dinger SAC
Bennett SAC
Bernaurd Berni (ALM)
Betts Nip Cpl
Beverley Ian FltLt
Bissel Jim Cpl
Blackburn Mark Fg Off
Blake Pat FS (ALM)
Bock Gordon SAC
Bond Sqn Ldr
Borlase Kev SAC
Bottomley Mick (ALM)
Brand Keith (ALM)
Britton Phil FltLt
Brookes Frank SAC
Broome Ian (ALM)
Brown Martin SAC
Buchanan Fg Off
Buchanan Jim Sgt
Burke Gonzo SAC
Butler Lee SAC
Chisholm Chissy SAC
Clark Chris (Pig) SAC
Clements Roger (ALM)
Cocker Mick  SAC
Coles Mick (ALM)
Connell Al SAC/Cpl
Connell Owen Sgt
Cooper John FS
Corry Brian Cpl
Cross Ken (ALM)
Cross Steve Cpl
Culmer Vince SAC

Cunningham Jim FS
Curran Hughie Sgt
Cutler Neil SAC
Day Mick FS
Deering Graham (ALM)
Desmond Bert (ALM)
Dickman Bob Cpl
Dixon Bob Wg Cdr
Eastwood Chris SAC
Edwards Ted Cpl
Eynon  Keri (Taff) Sgt
Farnsworth Alan Fg Off
Farrelly John SAC
Faulkner John SqnLdr
Feast Tony Sgt
Felts Dave Cpl
Firth Howie FS
Forrest Nichols (ALM)
Gage Norman Sgt
Gallagher Paddy FltLt
Gibson Richard Fg Off
Goss Chris Fg Off/FltLt
Gough Roger SAC
Gray Gordon FS
Green Richard Fg Off
Hall Clive FS
Harpum Steve Fg Off
Harris Paul (ALM)
Harris Treeve SAC
Harrison Neil SAC
Heaton  Steve Fg Off
Hinds Gerry (ALM)
Hodgeson Andy SAC/Cpl
Howard Graham Fg Off
Hutchinson Rick SAC
Huxtable Russ Fg Off
Ingham Phil  SAC
Johnson SAC
Johnson Tiny (ALM)
Jones Cassie Sgt (ALM)
Jones Martin SAC
Jones Pete SAC
Jupp Simon LAC
Kettel Pete Fg Off
Kilpatrick Killer SAC
Kirby Rip SAC

Kyme Andy Fg Off
Lennie Dave (ALM)
Lewis Roy (ALM)
Lishman Mark LAC
Loveridge Rick SAC
Mahon Pete FS
Mansfield Paul FltLt
Marshall Andy SAC
Maunders Steve SAC
McClaren Darlene ALM
Mc Illwee Cpl
McBoyle Rod  SAC
McClymont John Sgt
McMahon Mick FS
Melton Doug Cpl
Mighall Richard Wg Cdr
Moate Clive (ALM)
Morris Ken FS
Morris Liz (ALM)
Munday Steve Cpl
Myers Karl SAC
Neill Paul (ALM)
Newton John SAC
Oswell Ossy Cpl
Overgaard Brum SAC
Owen Taff Sgt
Pardoe Bret SAC
Patton Mal SAC
Pearson Glen (ALM)
Perry Steve Cpl
Phelan Gerry Sgt
Phillips Bruce Fg Off
Plunkett Tony (ALM)
Porter Dave Sgt (ALM)
Press Micky SAC
Prince Ray FltLt (ALM)
Read Martin SAC
Relph LAC
Roberts Bobble SAC
Roberts Dave Sgt
Robinson Rob SAC+
Rowan Jock Cpl
Salmon Dave Cpl
Sanderson Sandy SAC
Schofield John LAC +
Scott Pete (ALM)
Shewan Shuggy SAC
Sibley Chris (ALM)
Siggery Sig SAC
Sked Dave Cpl
Skelton Keith SAC
Skelton Martin Sgt
Smith Maz SAC
Soames Speedy FS
Spence Simon SAC
Spencer Dave SAC
Sundarajoo Eddie LAC
Swainsbury Jim Sgt
Symonds Mike FltLt
Tesch Andy Cpl
Thomas Jeff (ALM)
Thomson Hammy Cpl
Thornton Bert SAC
Trask Hugh Cpl
Trevellyn Chris SAC
Turkentine John (ALM)
Turner Martin Cpl
Turner Pete (ALM)
Turney Gus SAC
Unwin Stan (ALM)
Van Loon Dirk (ALM)
Verity Jim (ALM10)
Vicary Andy Cpl
Vicary Phil Cpl
Vincenti Mark Fg Off
Wainwright Bud (ALM)
Waite Colin Fg Off
Walker Mick (ALM)
Walkinshaw Al Cpl
Wall Hoss SAC
Wallace Ray SAC
Walters Ben Sgt
Whittaker Roger Cpl
Widdicombe Paul ALM
Wilford Bert WO+
Williams Steve Cpl/Sgt
Willis Clive (ALM)
Wolsley Paul SAC
Woodcock Sean Cpl
Wragg Bill (ALM)
Wright SAC
+ RAuxAF

From: David Powell, Princes Risborough 
Sent: Monday, January 21, 2013 15:33
Subject: RE: The next OBA newsletter

Hi Tony and Co

I just had to let everyone know of one the most enjoyable books that have come my way for a very long time, and a biography to boot.  The book is Drop Zone Borneo by Roger Annett. 

The sub title, Life and Times of an RAF Co-Pilot Far East 1962-65, fuses three fascinating strands. 

First, it is a story of 215 Sqn, its Argosy aircraft, and in particular air drop operations, which as an RAF mover I had always tended to dismiss, how wrong have I been! 

Second, it is an excellent detailed account of a forgotten ‘war’, the confrontation with Indonesia in the 1960s.  As such I believe this should be mandatory reading for Prime Ministers, Foreign Secretaries and military staff colleges, especially American ones, as it gently compares and contrasts the British, Australian, New Zealand hearts and minds approach with the alternative guns blazing, gung-ho strategy adopted up the road in Vietnam then and in too many other parts of the world since then and now. 

Here are some tasters of what is in store for your £12.99 post free (UK) from Amazon.  The first from Roger’s time at the RAF Thorney Island OCU: 

The aircrews are called to Sick Quarters to have their jabs: yellow fever, typhoid, tetanus the lot.  Since this cocktail usually immobilises the limb, the left arm generally gets the needle.

In the evening three of us set off for Portsmouth in the Morris 8.  Pilot Officer Tom Sneddon, one of the first tour navigators, is in the back and Flight Lieutenant Mick Bathe, a burley second-tour pilot, more than fills the passenger seat.  I steer with my working right arm.

‘On my command, Mick, you change gear.’

‘Right-ho Rog. Chocks away.’

All goes well, as past the Guardroom we sail and onto the half-mile causeway leading to the mainland.

‘Eyes left guys!’

We’re passing a gang of girls out for the evening, and the lads whistle loudly in appreciation and wave their good right arms.  With broad smiles the dolly birds wave back and when I call, ‘Top gear Mick!’ his mind’s not on the job.  His beefy left arm slams us into reverse – and at 25 miles-an-hour this is not helpful’.  Gearwheels shatter and the car grinds to a halt.  Dreams of a night in Pompey fade.  Slowly - and backwards, stuck in reverse we drive past the hooting girls, past the bemused guards – to spend an evening in the Officers Mess drinking a valedictory glass or six to the Morris’s mangled gearbox.”

Lastly, a couple of stories from operations in Borneo, and I should preface the two tales by relaying that 215 Sqn normally achieved 90% success, often dropping into DZs a little larger than volley ball courts, bounded by jungle and rivers where the chance of recovery of a missed drop was usually nil.

On a mission to Long Jawi, the DZ controller comes on the air: ‘Four-four-six, that one was a bit off line.  You know that longhouse down by the hill?  It’s now two short-houses.’

In Labuan one evening, in walked a tall gaunt figure in tattered jungle green looking as though he has spent a week trekking through the ulu – and visibly upset.  In impeccable Sandhurst tomes he enquired: ‘Is the captain of the Argosy here?’

He was.  Steve was built like a lock-forward and not easily intimidated, 'Yea, what d’you want?’

‘Were you dropping at Pa Main last Wednesday?’

Steve nodded.  ‘Yeh, what about it?’

‘You knocked my shithouse down!’

‘Taken aback, but not for long, Steve asks, ‘Were you in it?’

‘Well, no.’

‘Come and have a beer, then.’  And he did.

Best wishes to you all out there for 2013. 

David Powell

Finally, it is a wonderful reminder of my own very happy first tour at RAF Changi back then.  If you were there – the memories, smells, sights, sounds and stories come flooding back.  In particular the fun we had when pay-as-you dine just meant that you bought the next pitcher of Tiger.  And, if you weren’t there, then you will get some idea of what you missed.  The style is more Clancy than Churchill and the stories are many.

For anyone who knew Bob Thacker they will remember him as a salt-of-the-earth chap. His death earlier this month came as a shock as by all accounts the treatment he was receiving for leukaemia was working and he appeared to be well on the road to recovery.

There was a message of condolence that was sent to me for onforwarding to the family that I thought was particularly poignant; I asked Phil Smith if he would mind if it was published in the newsletter and he graciously agreed.

From: Phil Smith, Exmouth
Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 06:14
To: Sarah Thacker
Subject: Your Dad.

Sarah and James.

Please accept my sincere condolences.

I first came across your Dad in 1965 at RAF Hereford when we both joined up.  If I recall correctly he and I were accommodated in the same 18 man barrack room for the year we were there. Indeed, his bed space was very close to mine in the room as the RAF did things alphabetically so, Smith and Thacker were close.

Every Friday night during training was "bull night". This entailed the whole barrack block being cleaned to a very high standard, in particular the centre piece of lino in the 18-man room. Layers and layers of polish were applied and buffed up till it was gleaming. Nobody was allowed to walk on this hallowed piece of flooring before an officer inspected on the Saturday morning. Blokes used to jump from one bed to another to keep off the floor. Crazy. All our kit had to be laid out on our beds with bedding folded into a"bed pack" at the top of the bed. On more than one occasion the bed was tipped up by the officer or Sergeant Hurst, our drill instructor, if they thought the layout was not good enough. Even if they did consider it acceptable they tipped up the bed just to make us "better airmen". Brutal really. How we survived God only knows.

I believe your Dad was in attendance when a number of trainees went into Hereford and got drunk, for the first time in their lives, on 3 half pints of scrumpy cider. It was difficult getting back onto the camp as we had toget past the Guard Room which housed the Orderly Corporal and even worse the Orderly Sergeant. Happy days.

The next time I came across your Dad was when we both attended the JAMC at RAF Abingdon in 1967. I'm sure you have seen the course photo on the UKMAMS Old Bods site. I am standing on the left of your Dad. He was stationed at Abingdon so he did not have to live in transit accommodation for the 8 week course unlike all the rest of the assembled trainees.

I wrote to your Dad a few weeks ago when he started his treatment and reminisced about how cold the transit accommodation was compared to his barrack block and also reminded him of his part time job which he had at that time. I could not believe Bob Thacker was selling saucepans of all things to old dears in council houses. I recall accompanying him on one occasion to witness his sales technique. He was good and, consequently clinched the deal.

We seemed to go our separate ways after that. We both were on UKMAMS but at different times.

Your Dad was a good gentle bloke who was quick to smile and never had a bad word to say about anyone. I'm sorry I will not be attending his funeral next week as my wife and I have a long standing appointment to keep and Exmouth in Devon is a few miles away from Grantham. My thoughts however will be with you.

Kind regards.

Phil Smith.

From: David Howley, Melton Mowbury
Sent: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 07:27
Subject: Bob…

As  you know Bob was an instructor at Buckminster Gliding Club.  He was very popular and highly regarded both as a person, a contributor to the running of the club and as an Instructor – I thoroughly enjoyed flying with him and he will be greatly missed by many people.

I had commissioned Kevin Becken to produce the cartoon (above) and had sent it to Bob before Christmas.

I am really pleased that I managed to get a few flights with him.  The last being memorable, winch launch to 1400 ft, Bob took it up another couple of hundred and I took it to 3200 – very good from a winch.

I attended the funeral on Monday - unfortunately I appeared to be the only Mover there, but that was very understandable as the winter weather over here has been particularly bad and lots of roads can't be navigated.

The poem "Sky Fever" was read by Beryan Griffiths, the gliding club Treasurer.

I must go up to the skies again, to the white clouds and the grey,
And all I ask is a high launch, and  the chance to 'get away';
And the wing's surge, and the wind's song, and the quiet clouds drifting,
And a heat haze on the land's face, and the warm air's lifting

I must go up to the skies again, for the call to soar and glide,
Is a free call, and a clear call, that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a sunlit day, and the bright height's gaining,
'Neath the 'nu-cu' that towers above, and it's lift maintaining

I must go up to the skies again, to the peace of silent flight,
To the gull's way, and the hawk's way, and the free wings' delight,
And all I ask is a friendly joke with a laughing fellow rover,
And a large beer, and a deep sleep, when the long flight's over.

Robbie, RAE Gliding Club
Sky Fever

This issue is dedicated

to the memory of

Bob Thacker