Navigator Navigator
RAF Members Page
RCAF/CAF Members Page
RAAF Members Page
RNZAF Members Page
From: Budgie Baigent, Takaka
Sent: Sunday, January 11, 2012 00:24
Subject: RNZAF Mystery Photo 122311
The cane is a symbolic representation of the Supply Trades ‘font of knowledge and wisdom’ and is held by the most senior serving RNZAF Supply Warrant Officer. It was first presented in 1987 by the late W/O Brian Madden. 
Back then, among his other duties, W/O Madden was responsible for allocating and recording the movement of RNZAF aircraft in a purposely designed register, the first entry dated 1934! This historical living document was fiercely guarded by W/O Madden and it rarely left his office. The origin and fate of every aircraft ever flown by the RNZAF, from Vilderbeeste to B757, is recorded in this register including the original purchase date, the movement between Squadron(s) and major repair depots, war time service, serious crashes, subsequent repair or write-off action and the aircrafts’ ultimate disposal or sale. The original document is now held in climate controlled storage at the RNZAF Museum whilst the working copy resides in DAE Wellington.
At W/O Madden’s retirement dinner at RNZAF Shelly Bay in April 1987, the Cane of Knowledge was produced and offered as a ‘gift’ to the Senior W/O serving in the RNZAF Supply trade. He then presented the cane to W/O Eddie McConnell and stated it was now his [Eddie’s] responsibility to retain the tradition by passing the cane to the next senior W/O upon his retirement, and so on.

I actually worked with W/O Madden in the Defence Building (ACDS SUP) which was located in Bunny St Wellington on the site that is now the Wilson’s car park, adjacent to the Waterloo Backpackers (then known as the Waterloo Hotel, a favourite watering hole at the time).

"Font of knowledge and wisdom"


So far, it appears the two headed handle or ‘manaia’ could signify a bird (representing Air Force) looking into the past and toward the future. The shaft, probably constructed from the trunk or root of a tree, represents genealogy. The carving on the upper shaft could represent ripples on the water or the beginning of life. The carving on the lower shaft shows the strength, stability and ‘mana’ of the Warrant Officer.

I was working at Wellington Air Movements when I inherited the cane from W/O Monty Campbell  in 2005. Soon afterwards I was posted to HQ 1JMOVGP (Sydney) so didn’t get the cane out and about much. Since recently arriving back at RNZAF Base Auckland I’ve managed to ‘walk’ the cane to one or two RNZAF formal dinners, to significant Supply events, to 08/2 Senior Supply Specialist Course graduation and more recently to the 9/01 Air Movements Course graduation where I’ve been delighted to speak about the cane’s origins and significance.
That's me handing over the RNZAF Logistics 'Cane of Knowledge' to W/O Brian Lay just before my retirement. Brian now holds the mantle as the senior Logistics Warrant Officer in the RNZAF. The handover ceremony was held in the Whenuapai W/O & SNCO's Mess during the Air Movements Annual Conference in October last year.
In the 70s and 80s W/O Madden was known as ‘The Godfather’ and he was held in very high esteem not only by his peers but also by RNZAF Senior management.
We are not sure where the cane was carved but it may have been in Wellington because that’s where W/O Madden spent his last years in the RNZAF. W/O Madden passed away before I had a chance to determine the origin of the cane so I’ve been working with ex RNZAF Supply ‘elders’ and Kaumatua in an attempt to identify the significance of the distinctive carvings on the cane.

From: Ian Envis, Crowborough
Sent: Friday, December 23, 2011 12:26
Subject: Dave Allan's Funeral - 22 Dec 2011

The sun shone and the wind held off so it was not an unpleasant December afternoon.
What was obviously a ''stunning moment'' for many including Worshipful The Mayor Highfield of Stafford Borough plus Mayoress Mrs Francis Knight had to be the ''fly past'' by Fat Albert.
Yes, 47SF managed a C130 low, wing waggle and steep climb in full chat over the Crematorium Chapel as the cortege was arriving for the final ceremonies. This proved noisy and shook the building, a point the Mayor made to me at the Wake, albeit, he was delighted with the sight & sound... a wonderful way to see off Dave and much appreciated by all.
I failed to get the name of the RAFA Association flag bearer who was present and looked the part, but together with OCTSW in uniform, 395Sqn ATC and RAFA colours, plus the ATC cadets and their OC in uniform there was never any doubt about Dave's allegiance to the RAF - we certainly gave the afternoon a ''full on Movers'' style presence and I know from talking to just about everybody that the family and guests were delighted to see us in numbers.

It has to be said that we, the ''visitors'' had fun trying to park for the Church service and post-the Church ceremonies we had the challenge of getting to the Crematorium involving the negotiation of the Stafford one-way-system. However, some locals, including Duncan Grant and Frank Breithaupt managed to round up the visitors and we were chauffeured to be at the final send off and return for the Wake.

The tone for the afternoon was the character that we all knew as Dave ''Chunky'' Allan, reverent as appropriate, much humour and the knowledge that he, Dave,was a family man and committed to everything he was set in life.

For the past 8 years he had been a Borough Councillor and as a consequence the funeral had a strong presence of his co-councillors and The Mayors' Mace was at the altar dressed in a black ribbon.
For this ''fly past'' we owe Dave Lestor-Powell a hugh thanks since his brother is a Training Captain on 47SF and Dave had swung the mission during the latter hours of Weds 21st by calling his brother and getting the OK from OC Ops etc etc...I'm sure MOD Stafford (only a short distance away) thought it was a reward for something they had lost - sorry to our grocer colleagues!

We left the crematorium to the sounds of pipe music and that immortal refrain ''Black Bear'' which made Duncan and myself rather nostalgic, and Dave Moss in his kilt homesick, as we had both been RAF Apprentices and marching off the square to ''Black Bear'' was a ritual.

Yes, the day was at end but not before Vi and the family hosted us all to a large spread of food - he wasn't known as Chunky for nothing, drinks and small talk. The entire Clan Allan were magnificent throughout the afternoon, sad but delighted to recall the exploits of a true character in the company of so many friends.

It is such a shame that many of us only get together at the funeral of a friend and colleague - the most important fact, is, however, we do turn up and help the families and friends of our ''mates'' settle the final departure, on time, fully laden and no errors on the trim sheet.

I thought it might be useful for our global associates to know we saw Dave off in style - with a special thanks to Dave Lestor-Powell and 47SF.


In addition to those ex-Movers (Regular & Oggies) we were fortunate to have Gp Capt Dave Lestor-Powell and Wg Cdr Polly Perkins (she is the current OC TSW) in attendance so Dave's link with the RAF was inclusive of serving personnel.

Likewise the OC 395 (Stafford Squadron) ATC, Flt Lt Matt Hemmings VRT plus a sizeable number of his cadets and their colours were in attendance both at the church and the crematorium chapel so the ''light blue'' theme was noticeable. On behalf of us all I thanked Matt for his Squadron turn-out and it transpired that Dave had been on the governance board of the Squadron so they were delighted ot honour his contribution by ''flying the flag''.

Gander wants military search and rescue aircraft

Central Newfoundland officials are calling for new Canadian military fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft to be based in Gander.  The Harper government may be ready to deliver on its long-standing promise to buy new search and rescue planes for the air force.  The procurement plan, stuck in bureaucratic limbo for almost a decade, was approved by the federal cabinet just before Christmas and with a slightly bigger budget of $3.7 billion, according to defence sources.
Canadian Forces search and rescue planes currently operate out of Greenwood, N.S.  Three military search and rescue Cormorant helicopters are now based in Gander.

Armed with a 2010 National Research Council report that concluded rescue response times would improve if a plane were stationed in Gander, Deputy Mayor Zane Tucker said the town may be closer to getting something local officials have been fighting to obtain for years.

“It's the only splintered base where the helicopters are here and the planes are in Nova Scotia,” he said.

Defence sources said Ottawa has signed off on a promise to buy new search and rescue planes.

"Fixed wing does belong in Gander and now we know the money is put behind the project and it's signed off by cabinet and hopefully they do follow the logical decision and put the fixed wing component here in Gander,” said Tucker.

The 2010 NRC report says "the existing bases of Greenwood, Trenton, Winnipeg and Comox do not represent the best option for SAR response. In particular, basing aircraft in Gander rather than Greenwood would have had a significant positive impact."

Initially given the green light by Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberal government in late 2003, the program is meant to replace the aging twin-engine C-115 Buffalos and older-model four-engine C-130 Hercules transports.

When the plan was reannounced by the Conservatives almost six years ago, the budget was estimated at $3.1 billion.

The Defence Department is expected to hold a so-called industry day in the next few weeks to brief potential bidders on what kind of plane is needed by the air force.

That is expected to be followed by an open competition later this year with the aim of delivering the new planes by 2015.
CBC News Newfoundland and Labrador
From: Tony Gale, Gatineau, QC
To: Steve Richardson, Trenton, ON
Sent: Friday, December 23, 2011 5:23 AM
Subject: A Uniform Question

Hi Steve,

I just received a question about the current RCAF uniforms, in particular the ones as worn in the RCAF Mystery Photo #112511.  Why are they wearing two different colour uniforms?

Have a good one!


From: Steve Richardson, Trenton, ON
Sent: Friday, December 23, 2011 23:07
Subject: Re: An Uniform Question

The dark green dress uniform is the Canadian Army, the light blue is the RCAF dress uniform. When these uniforms came out in 1989, you had a choice of uniform that you wanted to wear. A lot  of people came from an Army background and decided to keep that green uniform. I was given a choice but I accepted the blue Air Force one.

Only problem is at a flying squadron, a Master Warrant Officer or a Warrant Officer could be from an Army background. It looks a little bit different and has more stuff like gold buttons, command badge, shoulder badges, black name tag to be put  on for a parade or formal attire.


Australia to spend $1.5 billion on Italian aircraft deal

Almost 20 years after the air force began searching for a replacement for the Caribou airlifter, the Federal Government is set to buy an Italian aircraft from the US Government.

A $1.5 billion contract to buy 10 so-called "battlefield airlifters" will be signed in the first half of this year, and, according to insiders, it will be a sole-source deal under US foreign military sales laws to obtain the Alenia C-27J Spartan.
Meanwhile, Airbus Defence continues to lobby for its C295 aircraft to be included in a competition for the contract, but it is understood Canberra is in no mood to risk further delays to a project that started back in 1996.

The Canadian-built De Havilland Caribou fleet retired in 2010 after almost 50 years of service.

A tender process for the replacement would drive down the price and it is understood that the Italian company Alenia has offered a lower price than the US deal. However, the RAAF wants the aircraft equipped with American electronics and communications systems so they can operate alongside US aircraft. In an earlier competition the C295 was the winner, but defence insiders say interoperability with US forces puts the Spartan ahead, although it costs more to buy and operate.

Senior Airbus Military executives have been in Canberra pushing to run a competitive tender. They say the C295 would save up to $300 million in fuel during the life of the fleet.

Herald Sun
The US has quoted about $950 million under a foreign military sales deal for 10 planes that are due in RAAF service by 2014.
From: Charles Collier, Devizes
Sent: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 11:40
Subject: Ministerial Happening

Hi Tony,

In your bulletin 112511 Thomas Geoghegan makes mention of a brush-up with PM Harold Wilson at RAF Northolt. Well I had a similar meeting with one of his ministers of state  -  Rt Hon Fred Mulley - who, at the time was Minister of  State for Transport.

I had just completed the Air Movements course at RAF Abingdon and as the then SAMO, Allan Walker, was posted at the time of my graduation from the course I moved into his slot as a first movements posting.

It was 1970 and some vandals had set fire to the Menai Straits Tubular Bridge; a Robert Stephenson designed and constructed historical gem.
So, on a Saturday in the Spring of 1970 we were briefed to get a No 32 Sqn Andover ready for an immediate departure as a cabinet minister was on his way to board the aircraft so that he might see the damage first-hand. 

With the Station Commander and the Wing Commander Ops I awaited the arrival of the ministerial car.
It was a bright cold morning and I took my Bosch & Lomb Ray Ban sunglasses off and put them on the table in the VIP Lounge whilst I took the trim sheet to the aircraft before departure.

The Minister embarked and as the aircraft taxied away - I looked for my sunglasses - they were not on the table where I had placed them. It was then I saw them, Lady Mulley was wearing them!

I went to ask her where she got the sunglasses she was wearing - she responded that she wore them from home. I said that she must have made an error because I recognized them as mine. "Oh no they are not" she responded.

I was not going to be treated like this so I asked her what make were the sunglasses that she was wearing? She could not answer. So I said in front of the station commander that my glasses were Bosch & Lomb Ray Bans. Would she like to take them off and show the Group Captain? She angrily took them off and put them on the table and marched off to her chauffer-driven car and left the station.

The station commander remarked that I was very brave demanding my property back as I might have been hung drawn and quartered!

Regards to all our readers

It duly arrived and out got the Minister with his lady wife to see him off. She had an overcoat wrapped around her and was wearing carpet slippers!

RAF to fly second-hand BAe 146s in Afghanistan

The UK Ministry of Defence plans to buy two used BAe 146s to supplement its air transport activities in Afghanistan, with the pair to be acquired and modified under an urgent operational requirement deal.

First details of the planned purchase emerged in late December, when the MoD issued a contract notification seeking expressions of interest from potential suppliers of two "BAe 146-200 series quick change aircraft". Sources said the deal could be valued at around £6 million ($9.3 million).

The introduction of the assets could partially fill a looming capability gap caused by the gradual retirement of the Royal Air Force's remaining Lockheed Martin C-130K tactical transports and the delayed introduction of a new fleet of 22 Airbus Military A400Ms.

"The purchase of two second-hand BAe 146 aircraft, upgraded to theatre entry standard, helps to address an urgent Operation Herrick requirement for additional aircraft to enable the safe transport of troops and freight in theatre," the UK's Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation said in response to questions from Flightglobal. "The aircraft will supplement the hard-working C-130 Hercules fleet in providing safe (protected) movement between bases for troops in theatre."

A formal tender for the acquisition should be issued in late January, according to DE&S, which said it "will look to purchase the most appropriate aircraft to minimise the performance, time and cost risk to make them operationally ready".
Only five aircraft are listed in the configuration identified by the MoD, according to sources, with freight operator TNT having previously sought a buyer for its two examples.

Once acquired, the used transports will receive modifications including the addition of defensive aids system equipment to protect them from any attack by insurgents armed with surface-to-air missiles.
Selection of the four-engined regional type follows a previous six-month deal between the MoD and Titan Airways, which saw the UK charter airline support troop transport requirements in the Middle East region using one BAe 146 from late 2009. It also comes a little over two years after the then-BAE Regional Aircraft organisation unveiled a proposal to adapt the 146 for military transport applications for potential customers, including the UK.
It is unclear which RAF unit will be responsible for operating the modified aircraft once they have been adapted for use in Afghanistan. Two 146-100-series aircraft (one pictured above) are currently assigned for VIP transport duties with the service's 32 (The Royal) Sqn at RAF Northolt near London.

From: Thomas P. Iredale, Heidelberg
Sent: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 12:31
Subject: Interesting find

Hi Tony,

Researching another aspect of RAF history, I came across this site, which I'm sure you will find interesting and worth considering to incorporate or link

Cheers - Tom
An absolute gold mine of information in here. I was not aware that the very first Air Movements School was established at RAF St Mawgan in 1944!

Resolute Bay proposed as major airbase

Resolute Bay in Nunavut would be able to provide a logistics site for search-and-rescue operations as well as a base for strategic refuelling aircraft, according to the briefing from the Arctic Management Office at 1 Canadian Air Division, the air force's Winnipeg-based command and control division.
Resolute Bay currently has a 1,981-metre gravel runway, according to information provided for pilots by the federal government.

Resolute Bay should be considered for expansion to become a main operating base because it is "the geostrategic centre to the Arctic and (Northwest) Passage" and is an "existing regional supply hub with a permanent population/sea access," according to the briefing.

It would be seen as a "key Arctic regional development and sovereignty centrepiece," the records add.

The presentation followed a February 2010 Arctic planning directive issued by the Chief of the Air Staff Lt.-Gen. Andre Deschamps, who called on the air force to become "a more relevant, responsive, and effective Arctic capable aerospace power."

In an email to the media, the RCAF stated "it does not have infrastructure or short term infrastructure projects at Resolute Bay." The email did not touch on the RCAF's long-term plans for Resolute Bay or discuss the briefing from the Arctic Management Office.
The Conservative government has received kudos from some for paying more attention to the Arctic but critics have raised concerns that much of that is based on a military presence while the government continues to cut back on science and research in the North.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has emphasized that Canada will increase its military presence in the region, announcing a series of initiatives, ranging from the construction of Arctic and off-shore patrol ships for the navy, an Arctic training centre for troops, and the expansion of the Canadian Rangers.
It's not the end of the world
but you can see it from here!
The Vancouver Sun
The Conservatives have also highlighted their decision to spend more than $14 billion on the F-35 stealth fighter as an initiative to protect the country's Arctic airspace.  Many of the initiatives, however, are still years away from becoming reality.
The long paved runway would allow fighter aircraft to operate from the site, with the suggestion in the presentation that could include Norad (North American Aerospace Defence Command) jets.
The briefing was presented in June 2010 and recently released by the Defence Department under the Access to Information law.
New members joining us recently are:
Pauline Andrews, Swindon, Wilts, UK

Stephen George, Shepshed, Leics, UK

William (Taff) Jones, Barry, Glam, UK

Gerry Muffett, Cirencester, Glos, UK

Stephen Smith, Reading, Berks, UK

Allan Mitchley, Rhyl, Denbighshire, UK
Lindsay Campbell, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Welcome to the OBA!
From: Lindsay Campbell, Adelaide, SA
Sent: Sunday, December 25, 2011 21:58
Subject: OBA Membership Application Comments

Comments: Completed AMO training at 1TTS at Hobby (1977) before becoming a Loady with 1SQN. Eventually crossed trained as an AEOP on 5SQN. Came from being a 'gravel cruncher' to aircrew - I think a few thought I shouldn't have been able to do that. Now Executive Officer (XO) of the RAAF Woomera Test Range - the world's largest Defence Test and Evaluation Range - "go the GSI's"

Lindsay (LC)

From: Malcolm Porter, Upton-upon-Severn
Sent: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 13:11
Subject: Rhodesia - From the Oil Lift to a Scary Flight Story!

When I was a part of NEAF MAMS and I found myself in Nairobi loading what seemed to be an endless 'ramp' of Britannia's both RAF and civil, I became intrigued with Rhodesia; a small newly-formed independent African country that had declared UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) under its new Prime Minister, Ian Smith.

At the end of my RAF service I had been taken on as a Loadmaster by Trans Meridian Air Cargo in Stansted, but Rhodesia was always at the forefront of my mind and gave rise to more and more interest. It was difficult to gain any information other than from daily newspaper reports, so gradually the idea of obtaining more knowledge was shelved.

We had just completed a particularly nasty cattle charter which meant that we odorous crew members were not allowed into Ops and I wasn't feeling too happy about my situation.  It was at that time that I happened across a cunningly disguised job advertisement in an edition of Flight Magazine asking for all aircrew types to apply to South Africa House in London.

My letter of enquiry to South Africa House produced a response and confirmed that the advert had been placed on behalf of a neighbouring country. Visits to London eventually revealed that it was the Rhodesian Air Force that would be the employer and it took very little time for me to say Yes!
I was informed that the transport fleet consisted of six or seven DC3's (3 Sqdn) but that an Air Movements Unit was to be set up. Currently, passenger handling and cargo loading was being undertaken by personnel from Air Rhodesia and a few members of a newly-formed Volunteer Reserve Squadron.

Travel to Salisbury was by a South African Airways scheduled flight with the destination clearly shown on my ticket as Johannesburg. Arrival at Salisbury provided an introduction to the Rhodesian Air Force's Recruitment Section - one Sgt John Le Page, an Australian who ran the entire recruitment effort on his own!
A build-up in cross-border raids had resulted in additional flights being mounted to the various Forward Air Fields (FAF’s) that the DC-3’s were required to fly into.

It should be noted that many of the air crews were themselves part-time volunteers simply doing their bit. 

Passenger flights were increased and flew almost daily schedules. Over-the-border work did not involve us, this being done by the Paras of Selous Scouts.
Across the runway at Salisbury was the legendary Air Trans Africa and its charismatic Managing Director, Cap'n Jack Malloch. Jack had flown Spitfires for the RAF in WWII and had also been heavily involved in the Biafran Affair - indeed he and his crew had been imprisoned by the Nigerians when his DC7 had been found to contain Arms and Ammunition bound for the Biafrans.
Eventually, OC 3 Squadron approached me and summilarily invited me and my wife to dinner, to be held that evening at Jack's house. Over dinner I was told that I had been 'bought out' of the Rhodesian Air Force and was to join the ranks of the airline known collectively as Air Trans Africa, Affretair, CargOman and Air Gabon Cargo whose entire fleet consisted of 1 CL44-D4 and 2 DC8-55's.

Then began probably the biggest adventure anyone would want to be a part of. 
The move across the runway at New Sarum was completed at the 'speed of heat' and within days I was at the offices of ATA being introduced to the ways and wherefores of operating (mainly illegally), the CL44 and DC8's. 
The following week or two involved similar flights in both the CL44 and DC8 to exotic destinations such as Port Gentil, Doala and Kinshasa where the priority was always to ensure that the cargo was offloaded onto the official transport (there had been an occasion when 'pirates' had turned up and taken 22 tonnes of meat from the CL44 in Nairobi!).
A security meeting at Salisbury came prior to a flight on board a DC8 from Douala to Muscat where the aircraft was loaded with Hunter aircraft parts for the Rhodesian Air Force - Then it was the direct flight back to Salisbury.
Thereafter, the whole of 1977 and '78 continued much in the same maner with further destinations including Larnaca, Las Palmas and Basel.

There were only two other Loadmasters at Salisbury besides myself and we were kept very busy. Londoner Christopher Stanley-Knaggs (known as Snags) and a South American, 'Catcho' Cabral who was the chief wheeler/dealer for anything down route.  Holidays could be taken to the UK with free seats on board the DC8's to Amsterdam and many a flight held 18 SNC in the 'back'.
Then on May 24th 1978, the routine was interrupted.  The normal sequence of events for most flights was for Operations to call the 4 members of the crew two hours before scheduled departure with the Loadmaster getting a little time extra to arrive in time to look at the load in the hangar, work out a load sheet before receiving any fuel figures, then to commence loading as the other three arrived. One important duty of the Loadie was to make sure that the home-made food was on board; Jack had the most wonderful inflight kitchen producing some great meals.
Our destination on this morning was Port Gentil in Gabon and the load was the normal fresh Rhodesian fruit and veg. The crew was well known to me; Tom Phillips was an unflappable captain, been around a long time and we had flown together many time. First Officer was John Murphy, a young Irish guy - a rogue of a character but extremely professional.  Lastly there was the Flight Engineer, Les Martin - another 'old timer' and a lover of the CL44. Take offs were at 04:00 so that the outside air temperature was relatively low and there were few prying eyes about.
The CL44 was Gabonese registered and a regular traveller around Africa. It was well known that most knew exactly who did operate the aircraft but flight plans were legal - all members of the crew, could if they wished, view the flight plan, though seldom ever did.

Bills of Lading were meticulously presented and once all the normal pre-flight activity had been completed and the crew door closed, start-up would commence. My 'day' would consist of the flight to 'Pog', the safe offload, then the short flight to Libreville where the CL44 would take on fuel for the return empty leg to Salisbury. I would leave the aircraft at Libreville and transfer to the DC8 for the regular flight to Amsterdam where a charter load would take us to Seeb in Oman. These loads would normally be general cargo whilst loads outbound from Seeb would sometimes be military equipment for Salisbury. It was normal for a Loadmaster to spend 4 or 5 nights away from home. 

The route this particular morning did involve something of a 'short cut' although this had been flown on many a previous occasion. We were aware that the Angolan Air Force, having been equipped with Russian MiG fighters, could at any time, pay us a visit en route, but to date, had not done so.
About an hour out of Salisbury, John Murphy beckoned me to look out of the flight deck window and I was alarmed to see three MiG 21's criss-crossing. Tom Phillips also mentioned that it was probable that a fourth MiG was on our tail, from where his missiles would lock onto our engine exhausts.
Of course, activity within the cockpit was intense by this time. Tom Phillips had rocked the wings of the CL44 to show his intention to comply and turned west towards Nova Lisboa, losing height as he did so. John Murphy meanwhile had established radio communications with Salisbury who in turn had already spoken with the Gabonese Government. This was to notify the Angolans that they were intercepting a Gabonese aircraft.

Radio communications with Pretoria produced some ill-judged information: It was stated quite clearly by the South Africans that they had intelligence that the MiG's would be unarmed. The moment this was announced, the firing of one of the MiG's missiles confirmed the South Africans were wrong!

Tom Phillips now began to show his ability to remain calm in what was becoming an extremely tense time. Continued use of the forty-four's power lever saw the four Rolls Royce Tynes progressively decreasing the speed of the aircraft whilst continuing a slow descent towards Nova Lisboa; Tom had noticed a build-up of cloud there.

Meanwhile, the three of us were busily employed - I being consigned to the flight crew toilet there to set fire (despite the NO SMOKING signs) to all of the paperwork that could have elicited some awkward questions.

Then the command decision by Tom Phillips, "We are going to make a run for it lads!"  We were almost immediately immersed in the thick cloud cover and could hear the level of r/t chatter from the MiG's intensify as they lost us.

We flew for the coast and once we had reached the sea turned south-west. About 300 nautical miles later we turned south east and made for Windhoek.  When we landed we were almost totally out of fuel.

To complete the day, we were asked by South African Intelligence Officers why we had not seen any registration marks on the MiG's. My reply was that I was far too busy putting my bicycle clips on.

I have to mention here that the following day the same aircraft flew the same route without hindrance, no doubt following some diplomatic dialogue!

My experiences in Rhodesia and subsequent career were made possible due to the training I had received while in the RAF and I must thank my original instructors at Kidbrooke, Flt Sgt's Waltham and Stone - I am eternally grateful!
Happy New Year!

A medical followed together with an introduction to the Air Movements Section; one VR and 4 local loaders working strictly nine to five. Occasionally a female 'hostess' was commandeered from another section at New Sarum (it was either ATC or Supply as I recall).
My first trip was to be a routine event in the CL44 into Gabon where a fast turn-round had been requested and accomplished.
Further trips involved collecting military parts in Sharjah for Tehran then back on the CL44 hauling meat or fruit and veg to Venice plus cattle charters to Windhoek.

Hundreds of officers to go in RAF cuts

Nearly a third of the RAF personnel facing redundancy in the current wave of job cuts are officers, it has been reported.

The cuts will see 15 Air Commodores and 30 Group Captains made redundant, as well as 40 Wing Commanders and 115 Squadron Leaders, according to various newspaper reports. Up to six Air Vice Marshals are also said to be facing redundancy.
The Ministry of Defence has said that the current round of cuts, which will see 300 Royal Navy and 1,000 Royal Air Force personnel lose their jobs, will be the last compulsory job losses for both services. The army, however, faces further rounds of cuts in future

The Royal Navy's 300 redundancies are said to include 17 Captains and five Commodores, as well as 80 personnel from the Fleet Air Arm.

The Army, which faces 2,900 redundancies, will lose around 400 Gurkhas, as well as 500 infantry privates with over six years' service. Around 800 personnel are to be cut from the Royal Logistic Corps as well as 125 Junior Non-Commissioned Officers from the Royal Signals.

Up to 60 Lieutenant Colonels and 8 Brigadiers are also to be axed.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Major General James Everard said that Gurkha cuts, which will see one in eight Gurkhas made redundant, would bring the brigade back to its desired size following years of expansion

"Every area of the army is funded to a certain size," Major General Everard said. "The Gurkhas are funded to just beneath 3,000 and actually we have about 3,700, really as a result of the change to their conditions of service which happened in about 2008.

"What we are doing is bringing them back to the level in terms of manning, they should be."

Asked if the cuts would affect capability, Major General Everard said: "The government has set out very clearly what it is they want the army to do. We have drilled into the manpower element of capability really carefully to ensure that we can do it. So yes we can do what we're required to do. So people are worried about Afghanistan and the Olympics at the same time. We can do that."
The Daily Telegraph
No pilots are set to be axed, with the majority of the cuts instead said to fall on engineering and logistics personnel, as well as air traffic controllers.
From: Carolyn Gasser, Ottawa, ON
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 15:56
Subject: Benevolent Assistance from the RAF

Hi Tony,

I would be delighted if you could pass on the information regarding the services and how to get in touch with me. 

Here is a bit of information about the Legion, the Benevolent Funds available and some of Veterans Affairs Canada programs for your website.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know.


Carolyn E. Gasser
Service Officer
Dominion Command
The Royal Canadian Legion
Financial assistance may be available for ex-RAF service personnel and their dependants from the RAFBF.  The RAFBF can be very generous in meeting the needs of veterans and their dependants.  Typically grants are provided for food, clothing, medical or dental treatment, mobility devices, and minor home repair.  Needs must be supported by written estimates.  Paid accounts are not usually considered nor are ongoing costs. The funds are generally reserved for Veterans and their spouses in need, who suffer misfortune, encounter an emergency or are seriously disadvantaged. If the Veteran or dependant is having difficulty making ends meet on an ongoing basis they may also be considered for a maintenance award. 

If you wish to apply for assistance, we will require a completed application form, listing assets, savings, investments, debts, total monthly income from all sources, and total monthly expenses.  When all the necessary forms have been completed and received, I forward them to the RAF Benevolent Fund in the UK for my counterpart to present to their Committee and a decision is usually reached within a few weeks.

Should you wish to apply for assistance, I can be contacted at 1-613-591-3335. toll-free at 1-877-534-4666 or via email at  Our website is  and I am part of the Service Bureau listed on the left of the screen.  There is also information regarding Benevolent Funds from the Poppy Fund which is also available for our Allied Veterans. 
The Royal Canadian Legion coordinates all applications originating in Canada to the RAFBF on the behalf of ex-Royal Air Force members who now reside here.  
More information from Veterans Affairs Canada.

Those who reside in Canada should also be aware of two other programs which may be available to them from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC):
Allied Veteran Long Term Care Benefit

The Long Term Car Benefit, introduced as a result of Legion advocacy, subsidizes the cost of long term care in a community facility and provides full medical treatment benefits after admission. British World War II veterans who saw service in a theatre of war, and who have at least 10 years post-war residence in Canada are eligible to apply. Eligible war service Veterans and certain civilians may qualify for intermediate care or chronic care at the Department's contract facilities, or at more than 1,900 community facilities across the country, some of which have contractual arrangements with VAC. Allied Veterans who have lived in Canada for 10 or more years after their period of service may be eligible for long-term care in community facilities.

Allied Veterans Independence Program.

The Veterans Independence Program is a national home care program provided by VAC. The program was established in 1981 to help clients remain healthy and independent in their own homes or communities. It does not replace other federal, provincial or municipal programs. Instead it complements these programs when necessary, to best meet the needs of the veterans.  VIP is only available in Canada. It cannot be offered to clients who live outside of Canada.

Application for both is made by calling VAC toll free at 1-866-522-2122, offering the veterans basic identification information, and requesting an application form. When the form is completed and returned to VAC, the department will verify service with the British records office and advise by letter whether an applicant qualifies. 

Crews help serve up Christmas to the North

Thanks to the aircrews from 424 Transport and Rescue Tiger Squadron, Santa Claus delivered more than $80,000 worth of toys and goods to underprivileged children in northern territories.

On the weekend before Christmas, members of 424 Squadron, pilots Maj. Daniel Bouchard, Capts. Gillian Parker and Greg Dujean, as well as loadmaster Master Cpl. Colm Canavan, flight engineer Warrant Officer Mark Kovacic, and air combat systems operators Maj. Bill Snyder and Capt. Jim Wilson â ” were Santa's "reindeer."
For Capt Parker being a "reindeer" for Santa this holiday season was a unique experience.

"It was heartwarming to know that we helped make this Christmas a memorable one for children up here," said Parker.

"Not everyone gets a chance to be closely working with Santa," said Master Cpl. Canavan. "Loading Santa's supply is a fantastic story that I was excited to share with my family and friends this Christmas."
The gifts were to be distributed by "Santa" from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

These gifts to underprivileged children living in the Canadian North were made possible through the contributions of volunteers and supporters from Toronto through the Toys for the North Project, an initiative of the Toronto Santa Claus Parade committee.

"It was a great honour for the RCMP to represent Toronto's generosity by distributing the toys to the far reaching communities which we proudly serve and protect," stated Sgt. Greg Sutherland, a Mountie serving in Nunavut.

Maj. Bouchard, who flew the Christmas presents in a C-130 Hercules to both Yellowknife and Iqaluit during routine flight to the north, said the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) received the request from the RCMP.
The Toronto Santa Claus Parade committee has been organizing the Toys for the North initiative for the last two years.

With the support of the RCAF, this initiative was a collaborative effort between community members, elders, volunteers, charitable organizations, the RCMP, other police services, and government representatives, with the intent of bringing smiles to underprivileged children.

"We have a special connection with Santa because our Canadian Forces Station Alert in the Arctic is located about 800 kilometres from Santa's home," added Canavan.

The Intelligencer
"The crew was happy to assist during our routine flights," said Bouchard. "We felt we were privileged to support this initiative that aimed to bring smiles to children living north of 60."
The air crew transported several pallets of brand new toys and goods aboard a C-130 Hercules to Iqaluit, Nunavut and Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.

From: Thomas Iredale, Heidelberg
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2012 13:26
Subject: The Jam Stealers
Keen young eyes look up from trim sheet practice, unobtrusively glancing at the clock. Four o'clock and the lesson draws to a close. Dave Kitchener says, "That's it for today - see you all tomorrow bright and breezy."  Stampede out of the classroom, don hats and gloves and off to the Mess where we proceed to the anteroom; afternoon tea has just begun to be served. Fourteen hungry would-be movers set the toasters in rapid-fire mode, spread butter and jam, devour same.

Five o'clock approaches, others start to pour in for tea; plenty of toast, plenty of butter, but the jam was, well, kind of all gone. Annoyed eyes focus on the cat-like grins on the sated faces of the u/t Movers. Even before No. 24 Course arrived during the autumn of 1968 to "carry on the tradition", we were known by 84 Squadron and others stationed permanently at RAF Abingdon, as the "Jam Stealers".
Back:  Sgt O’Shea, Sgt Stephens, Sgt Hennessy, Plt Off Turner, Sgt Walsh, Plt Off James, Plt Off Insaido

Centre: Plt Off Hucklebridge, FS Finley, Fg Off Iredale (that’s me), Fg Off Collins, Fg Off Daniels, Fg Off Taylor, FS Hughes, Plt Off Dungate

Front: Capt West USAF, Flt Lt Ranasinghe, FS Hollway (DS), Flt Lt Kitchener (DS), Sgt Byrne (DS), Flt Lt Jeffries, Flt Lt Kelly, Fg Off Cockle.

The OC of the Movements School was Sqn Ldr RT Mills and I note from my course report, that I came fourth out of the eighteen students on the course, with an A2 pass mark.
In January 1969, less than a year after I was married, I was posted on a one-year unaccompanied tour to RAF Sharjah as Load Control Offficer, taking over from Dave Blomley. Also on the Movements Squadron were Ron Macleod, Duncan Grant and Brian Shorter. We were joined later by Glenn Moreton, Frank Hughes and Brett Morrell. The CO at that time was Sqn Ldr Les Nelson and the Station Commander was Gp Capt Max Scannell.
One very memorable event during my tour was the unscheduled arrival of a USAF Starlifter carrying the USO's Bob Hope Show (including the Austrian girl, Eva Reuber-Staier, who was Miss World 1969) on their way to entertain the American troops stationed in Vietnam. The aircraft arrived around midnight and we were busy looking after the passengers, whilst it was being refuelled and serviced. All went well.
In the illustration Bob Hope takes centre stage while shown clockwise from top left is Eva Reuber-Staier, Miss World 1969; dancer Suzanne Charny, singer-actress Connie Stevens and "Laugh-In's" Teresa Graves.
A nasty incident occurred when Ron Macleod was DAMO. There was a daily shuttle departing after lunch to Bahrain and some of the Army types tended to finish their lunch leisurely and then make their way to Air Movements. As we all know there has to be a cut-off point so that the flight can be closed and the paperwork finished before the passengers embark. This particular Army major, who had had a drink or two, arrived late at the passenger desk after Ron had closed the flight. He created a bit of a scene, but Ron held firm and politely told him that the flight was closed. The Army major then punched poor Ron in the face! Not good – Army major punching Flying Officer, sort of career-ending court-martial stuff.

Colonel Timbrell, the Army Garrison CO, left it up to Ron as to how he wanted to proceed and if he would like to press charges.
To his great credit Ron said he would simply like to have an apology. The affair thus ended. There was a great improvement with Army check-in times.
After Sharjah I was posted to RAF Benson and when the Squadron was downsized I became the SAMO. With me were Ron Macleod, Pete Simpson and George Hutt. Things were winding down as the Argosy was being phased out. It wasn’t as exciting as Sharjah.

In November 1971 Northern Ireland was declared an active service area and as my tour at Benson had come to an end I found myself detached to Aldergrove for six weeks along with a team of Benson movers. We got a security briefing before we left and were advised to let our hair grow, so that we would not be taken immediately for servicemen. Reasonable suggestion, as we also had to leave the confines of the camp to do Mover’s stuff at the civil airport. So all of us had “long hair” and the Chief Mover from HQ Air Support Command thought it was necessary to comment on that – with an exclamation mark – on my annual report. Efficiency and doing the job under difficult and makeshift circumstances have little or nothing to do with military haircuts.

That was the end of my stint as a Mover, being posted next as OC SCAF at RAF Wildenrath. I applied for PVR, which was granted and after the Open Day there on 7th July 1975, I became a civilian and stayed on in Germany.
I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to all those NCO and airmen Movers, with whom I had the great fortune and honour to be with during my time in Air Movements. I was always impressed by the professionalism, sometimes under very adverse conditions (some climatic, some man-made… from above, of course). Each aircraft loaded, whether with pax or freight was a challenge. Getting stuck in and doing the job was part of the makeup of the Mover. The good sense of humour (“It’s all been changed… again”) helped overcome several difficult moments.

Many names I have unfortunately forgotten, but Sgt Terry Hoy in Sharjah and Sgt Tony Lamb at Benson incorporated the spirit, which bonded us all together. Tony Lamb’s soulful rendition of “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam” when he had had a few, will ever stay in my mind.

That was forty odd years ago - doesn’t time fly!
Some of the “Jam Stealers”:

Thales sponsors passenger information system

The system is being sponsored by Thales UK and supported by the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund (RAFBF), the Army Benevolent Fund (ABF) and the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC).

Twelve new 42” and 47” screens have been installed in various locations across the base to provide service personnel departing from RAF Brize Norton with important and timely information as they prepare to board flights out to operations.
Air Marshal Sir Robert Wright (RAFBF), Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter (ABF) and Robert Robson (RN&RM) attended the ceremony on behalf of the respective service charities, along with RAF Brize Norton Station Commander, Group Captain Dom Stamp.

Group Captain Stamp, said: “There have been many changes to the passenger terminal in recent years, but the provision of the new information system really does bring us right up to date in terms of technology and will enhance the communication between the key areas for passenger movement within the station. We are extremely grateful to Thales UK, whose very generous donation made this possible."

Air Marshal Sir Robert Wright said: “On behalf of the RAF Benevolent Fund, ABF The Soldiers Charity and the Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity I would like to thank Thales UK for this generous donation, which represents a leap forward in the information facilities available to the many serving personnel who through RAF Brize Norton’s terminal every year – over 190,000 passed through the terminal last year alone.

“This information system will make a real difference to Armed Forces’ families at what is often a particularly stressful time - easing the passage of serving personnel about to be deployed overseas and helping to relieve the anxiety of those waiting for loved ones to return. We three main single service charities applaud this initiative. The task of easing pressure on hard-pressed armed forces families is a vital element of our welfare work. Our thanks goes out to Thales UK, and we look forward to working with them on similar projects in the future.”

John Howe Chairman of the Thales UK Charitable Trust, says: “Thales UK is immensely proud to be a key partner of the UK Armed Forces and through our Charitable Trust we have supported the single service charities for more than 15 years. The charities provide wonderful support to service personnel and their families, which is particularly important during current operations in Afghanistan.

“Thales UK is also proud of its long association with RAF Brize Norton, which goes back more than 40 years and started with the provision of simulation and training for the VC-10 aircraft.  More recently Thales UK is a key part of the AirTanker consortium providing Voyager, the next generation of air transport and air refuelling aircraft for the RAF.”

Thales currently has 21 employees based at RAF Brize Norton, a number of whom attended the ceremony in support of the new sponsorship relationship.
Thales UK and the single service charities have held a ceremony at RAF Brize Norton to launch a new passenger information system.

From: David Stevens, Bangor
Sent: Friday, January 20, 2012 13:45
Subject:  A Need for BRCS Loggies

The British Red Cross Society (BRCS) is looking for experienced personnel to recruit for their Logistics Emergency Response Unit (ERU) team - male/female:

Two roles: 1. Air Ops   ~and~ 2. Warehouse/Transportation

As you know, this is the type of emergency work that I'm still doing after 10 years or so and I am on standby as we correspond.

If anyone would like more information I am more than happy for you to include my email and home telephone number +44 01248 370359

Best regards  

Applicants do not necessarily have to be based in the UK although it would be an advantage but rapid access to London is accpetable. At this time, I believe applicants have to be UK citizens/ passport holders.  Anyway, full deatils on the web page.

A Merlin helicopter's journey to Afghanistan

*NO SOUND* Ministry of Defence time-lapse footage shows how a
Merlin helicopter is transported to Afghanistan from RAF Benson
It is two years since the UK sent the first Merlin helicopters nearly 4,000 miles (6,400km) to Afghanistan. It is too far to fly the RAF helicopter. So, how do they get there?

At twice the weight of a double-decker bus and standing at roughly the height of a bungalow, Merlin helicopters are not easy to shift half way around the world.

They cannot simply be flown over, says pilot Flt Lt Patrick Hearne. They need too many fuel stops and there are issues with flying over certain countries.

"Physically it's possible, but diplomatically and logistically it's very difficult," he adds.

Merlins play a vital support role in Afghanistan, moving troops, equipment and food or medical supplies. Flt Lt Hearne, who has flown in Afghanistan, says the aircraft is "pushed to its limits".

But before a helicopter even reaches the front line, engineers and air crew face a major battle to get it there - a task that can take more than a week.
The Merlin begins its journey from Oxfordshire's RAF Benson to Camp Bastion, the main UK base in Afghanistan, under its own steam. It's a quick 10-minute flight to nearby Brize Norton, the RAF's largest base - but there the simplicity ends.

Firstly, says Senior Aircraftsman Tristian Stay - one of the many engineers tasked with preparing the Merlin for the journey - the helicopter needs to be broken down so it can fit on board a C-17 Globemaster aircraft carrier.

Heavier parts, such as the rotor head and blades and the tail section, are removed and the wheels folded up.
The helicopter is fitted with stabilisers - effectively a cradle with small wheels - so it can be inched on to the carrier using a large winch. This delicate process takes up to three hours and half a dozen movement staff and engineers to complete.

"It's a very fine process because the Merlin is a very big helicopter. It pretty much fills the C-17," says Flt Lt Hearne, 33, from Leeds.

"When you bump these things it tends to cost a lot."
Once inside, the helicopter is secured to the floor of the carrier with giant chains.

Wing Cdr David Manning is in charge of the UK's fleet of seven C-17s, the RAF's biggest aircraft, which transport both equipment and personnel around the world to support operations.  "The last thing we want is it moving around in the air. There's no room for error at all," he says.

Merlins are the most challenging package to deliver, he says, when compared to transporting troops, freight or other aircraft, such as a Chinook helicopter.
Though larger than a Merlin, a Chinook can be broken down into smaller pieces.

And Wing Cdr Manning says looking after Merlins is an even more daunting prospect than carrying VIPs, which the C-17 did when Prime Minister David Cameron visited UK troops in Afghanistan last week.

But for his 340 air crew it is all part of the "bread and butter" of the "best job in the world", which can involve rescuing injured personnel and providing operational support to troops, says the 42-year-old pilot, from Chipping Norton.

The flight from Brize Norton to Camp Bastion - including a fuel stop in the Mediterranean or Middle East - takes roughly 12 hours.
But the hard work is far from over on arrival at the camp, where another team of specialist engineers is waiting.

"Taking the helicopter apart in this country is quite an enjoyable job - it's putting it together at the other end that's more stressful," says SAC Stay.

Flt Lt Hearne adds: "If you took a Ferrari to pieces on your kitchen table and transported it half-way round the world and then tried to rebuild it again, it might take a little longer to get it working again.

"Every Merlin helicopter has got hundreds of thousands of moving parts. They all have to work in perfect harmony for it to run smoothly. That takes time."

Once the Merlin has been rebuilt, the testing process begins. Only when crews are sure the helicopter is functioning correctly will it be allowed to fly on missions.

"We enjoy a sense of satisfaction when we know we're getting a helicopter out there to do some good," says SAC Stay, 20, from Cheltenham.
Flt Lt Hearne says while the Merlin's role in Afghanistan involves seemingly mundane tasks, such as carrying people, its presence can save lives.

The helicopters face formidable conditions in the hot, dusty, mountainous environment of Afghanistan. "Any helicopter that goes to Afghanistan is pushed to the absolute limit," he adds.
BBC News
The Merlin's introduction to Afghanistan followed criticism of the previous government for failing to properly support troops. Critics had suggested helicopter shortages contributed to an increased casualty toll by forcing more personnel to travel by land littered with roadside bombs.
From: Sam Mold, Hove
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 19:57
Subject: Idle Gossip


Charles Collier responded to the RAF Mystery Photo #092311 with,

"Tony, I believe this photo is from 1968 at RAF Abingdon and was the Queen's Review of the RAF.  I was there on the Air Movements Course at the time or was the SAMO RAF Abingdon after the course I can't remember which."
Charles' memory serves him well, even if he doesn't remember the date of the occasion, that was the Royal Review commemorating the 50th anniversary of the RAF. Charles will no doubt be pleased to see the pictures accompanying this as confirmation of the event. He may even remember Alan Gutteridge, an ex-brat friend of mine (now deceased) who in 1968 was a F/Sgt instructor at Abingdon's Air Movements School.
RAF Abingdon, 14 June 1968
Ten years earlier, I was already serving at Abingdon in the Equipment Section, when I was upset by a posting to a new unit on the Station that had just been formed, and that was towards the end of 1958 -around Oct/Nov time. The newly formed unit was named, AMDU / MAMS (Air Movements Development Unit / Mobile Air Movements Section) - and as they say, the rest is RAF history, for the development turned into a great success story which runs up to this very day. Had it not, you would not be doing the excellent service you are now magnificently performing. Think about it.
I have added a pic of the 1952 Butterworth AMS team. Compared to the 1953 AMS team photo (rollover 1952 picture with your mouse) that was in the Christmas edition, you can see the quick turn-over of staff that was the norm on overseas stations which relied on National Servicemen filling the posts.

Because I was a young Sgt and single, it shouldn't come as a surprize for you to learn I "suffered" 27 postings in 27 years. Phew! Our two locally employed humpers-cum-cleaners are the only faces appearing in both the '52 and '53 pix. Another pic I've added shows me when I returned to the Royal Malaysian AF Base 42 years later.

Best wishes,


2 AMS celebrates 60 years

Honorary Colonel of 2 Air Movements Squadron at 8 Wing CFB Trenton Eben James, left, the unit's commanding officer Maj. Ken Mills, second from left, and its Chief Warrant Officer (OBA member) Gilda Dolph, attend a commemorative historical formation at Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport in Lachine, Quebec in honour of the 60th anniversary of the squadron. 
The Trentonian

U.K. Government May Sell London Northolt Air Base to Cut Costs

The U.K. government is considering “all options” for Northolt Royal Air Force base in northwest London, including its sale, the Ministry of Defense said.

The future of Northolt is being considered as part of continuing scrutiny of defense expenditure, the ministry said in an e-mailed statement today, after the Guardian newspaper reported that the airfield may be sold and used as a satellite airport for BAA Ltd.’s Heathrow.
“We continue to scrutinize all defense expenditure to secure the best value for money. RAF Northolt is no exception,” the ministry said. “It already generates revenue through landing fees from private flights and sources of income generation are of course kept under review.”

Parts of the site may be sold for commercial development, including possibly using it to increase capacity at Heathrow after the government blocked the airport’s plans to build a third runway, the Guardian said, citing unidentified officials.
That's it for this issue - there's only one OBA, please show your support