Japan trying to sell Kawasaki P1 and C2 to New Zealand
Japan’s defense industry has thrown its hat into New Zealand’s transport and maritime patrol aircraft competition by offering the Kawasaki P-1 and C-2 to Wellington.
Japan's Nikkei financial newspaper reported on 3 January that officials from KHI and the Japan Ministry of Defence (MoD) are negotiating a potential sale with representatives from New Zealand's MoD.
According to reports, the talks are aimed at meeting a requirement to replace the Royal New Zealand Air Force's (RNZAF's) Lockheed Martin P-3K2 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, which have been in service since the mid-1960s.
The Nikkei said that the Japan MoD has already responded to New Zealand's request for information (RFI) about the P-1 aircraft and that following talks it is expected to offer a concrete proposal in the first half of 2017.
Janes 360 / Alert 5
Belated Christmas and New Year's Greetings (Received after December's newsletter had been published)
Just like to wish all Movers, past and present, the very best for the forthcoming festivities period wherever they be celebrating it.
Neale Harrison Dakota Block RAF Lyneham 1980!
From: Mark Bird, North Rustico, PE Subject: Season’s Greetings
Just a fine picture of Rip Kirby, Graham Parker and myself, Christmas 1987. I believe it was taken at Lyneham.
All the best to everyone, stay safe and have an awesome 2017!
From: Chick Hatch, Stafford Subject: Christmas / New Year Greetings
I have not written before but always read the briefs. My claim to fame was the introduction of MMARS to the trade.
I had 39 memorable years in the trade, terminating my career at 2MT Flight at RAF Stafford as OC 2MT. This was the result of Bob Dixon who was then Station Commander, who convinced HQ Strike Command that a Movements WO was equal to a junior commissioned officer and could hold down the post. I will always be grateful to him for his faith and support to the Movements trade.
I send season's greetings to my fellow movers and may 2017 see better times for us all.
p.s. Andy Finlayson - where are you? No replies to my e-mails.
From: Dave Brixey, Wellington, Somerset Subject: Lost contact - Where are they now?
I've been trying to locate Paul ‘Fritz’ Friend. I lost contact after I left Gutersloh in 1993. If anyone knows how to contact him please e-mail me
[click on the flags next to Dave's name to send an e-mail]
Mach Loop Airbus A400 debut - January 5th 2017
This was the first time the Airbus A400 made a low level trip around the Mach Loop in Wales.
Quite a sight at low level through the Welsh valleys, and we were pretty lucky to catch this one time event!
The Gang of Four
Happy Days - Abingdon 1992
Former RAF Air Movements Warrant Officers gathered to share a few bevvies and some tall tales.
Pictured are: John Evans, Dave Eggleton, Don Wickham and Dave Barton.
Photo courtesy of John Evans
Memories of RAF Sharjah
The airfield was used from 1932 by Imperial Airways, a landing strip and key refueling point for intercontinental stop-overs and the postal service.
RAF Sharjah opened in 1940 and the airfield was extended. In 1950 it came under the administration of RAF Bahrain. In 1974, construction began on a new international hub at a site 9 km or so away.
Sharjah International Airport opened on 1 Jan 1977 and the RAF station closed, with the base handed over to the Emirate of Sharjah. As the town of Sharjah (Ash Shariqah) expanded, it incorporated the main runway into its road system. Only the old control tower remains to this date.
From: David Stevens, Bangor Subject: Memories of RAF Sharjah
Sharjah was my first permanent posting after my Supply Officer training. When I was told where I was going, my immediate reaction was, "Where?"
It was a 13-month tour in those days with a four-week R and R in Kenya. I flew out in a Britannia of RAF Transport Command via Muharraq in Bahrain. The scything/searing heat when I reached the door to leave the aircraft in Bahrain was to remain with me for the rest of my life. I did not know such heat existed; I can still feel it in my mind now.
A couple of days later I boarded a Twin Pioneer for my trip to Sharjah. This was September 1962. Talk about a slow boat to China! The captain was an ex-Battle of Britain Polish fighter pilot, very colourful, but clearly frustrated with a top speed of 90 mph. The station commander at Sharjah was Sqn Ldr Shaw.
In a nutshell my action-packed tour in Sharjah comprised:
1. A hurricane in October, just after my arrival, that decimated the place; shards of fractured roofing asbestos piercing the doors of our accommodation. Our tame 'Met' man, Mr Humphries, not only failed to forecast the hurricane but managed to sleep through the entire event with most of the MT yard wrapped round his accommodation! Flg Off Freddie Luffman (he of the huge handlebar moustache), was the Supply Officer and he had a hell of a time sorting out the mess.
2. Regular wild dog culls/shoots because of the high risk of rabies.
3. Was taken on several 'bondu bashes' with the Trucial Oman Scouts.
4. Managed to reverse a 3-ton Bedford truck with canvas tilt and metal frame into the boom of a spanking new (at that time) Argosy. The conversation that followed with the captain cannot be recorded here!
5. I was the 'Effects Officer' for a young airman who managed to electrocute himself while testing the airfield security fencing.
6. Sharjah Fort was situated just outside the main gate and it was the venue for a few wild parties. We had a detachment of 9th/12th Lancers; terribly posh, and a RE's topographical detachment. The latter did not see eye to eye with a Canberra detachment from Cyprus who, one dark and dreary night, painted anything that did not move with yellow elephants. The REs responded by painting rampant red lions on the nose of all the Canberras. This seriously delayed their departure back to Cyprus!
7. Then there was the weekly visit from 'Robin Bastard' one of the best loved goldsmiths from the souk in downtown Sharjah. To this day I still have both the gold and silver khanjar brooches he made.
8. 14 days detention was the order of the day for sun stroke as our tame young doctor found to his cost. Salt tablets at meal times were mandatory. I was so violently ill after my very first one that I never took any more.
9. Public executions by hanging on Friday mornings were a matter of routine. All personnel were confined to base until 1300 hrs on Fridays.
10. Our transport aircraft movements comprised Beverleys, Argosys, Hastings, Twin Pioneers and Pembrokes; maybe three flights a day tops! Mr Edwards was my warrant officer and I learned so much from him. Thankfully, he was a patient man.
11. Sea movements comprised shipping through Dubai, about a 30-40 minute drive away on sand packed roads more than a mile wide in places; no tarmac back then. I mention the width of the road because sadly one night two RAF Landrovers met 'head-on' and 5 of the six occupants died instantly.
12. There were no bridges in Dubai so it was Arab dhow 'taxis' to cross the river to our shipping agents, Grey MacKenzies. On one infamous occasion we had to send a fatigue party onto a large cargo vessel to paint out the ICI logos on a huge shipment of paint destined for the base.
13. For my R and R I went from Sharjah to Khomaksar in Aden by Beverley and from Aden to Nairobi by Shackelton; they have great galleys on the Shackelton and I ate well. My accommodation was a room in the officers' mess at RAF Eastleigh. I hired a self-drive standard Vanguard car and managed to break down slap bang in the middle of Nairobi National Park. Picture if you will, me standing on the roof of the car yelling at the top of my voice with several lions and other wild animals prowling the area. I am here to tell the story so yes, I was rescued.
14. Finally, not to forget the camel racing over Christmas and New Year.
A young DBL Stevens with not his Cadillac. The Landrover behind was his transport
An Arab dhow on Dubai Creek
RAF Sharjah Air Movements Section with Security Man Ahmed
RAF Sharjah Air Movements Passenger Lounge
RAF Sharjah Main Gate Signage
The control tower at RAF Sharjah
I remember a colleague in Bahrain, when I first arrived, explaining to me that Bahrain was the arsehole of the world and Sharjah was a thousand miles up it! A very succinct description I think.
From: Frank Holmes, Stratford-upon-Avon Subject: Memories of RAF Sharjah
I have two memories of Sharjah; firstly, I had arranged for the making of a matched pair of wedding rings in the market out there, however, my wife subsequently lost hers in the waters off Hawaii She wears mine now, albeit somewhat modified.
The second memory is picking up a wooden boat dock and transporting it from Sharjah to Masirah back in the early 70's. We loaded it onto a Belfast but at the time we suspected that the declared weights were incorrect. The captain agreed to take it anyway and, after having been pushed back onto the edge of the bondu at the start of the runway, we set off.
Shall we just say the take-off was a very harrowing experience and we narrowly missed the low hill just beyond the end of the runway. When we got back to Masirah we had the load check-weighed and confirmed that it was dramatically overweight; but that was how it was in the back in the day.
Do any of my old team remember that flight? We certainly earned our pay that day!
From: Basil Hughes, Pattaya Subject: Memories of RAF Sharjah
I was called-up for National Service and reported to RAF Cardington on the 31st October 1957 (the last day of my civilian Shipwright apprenticeship). It was then off to RAF Bridgenorth for basic training following which I was sent for trade training as a Clerk Air Movements at Kidbrooke (despite being a skilled tradesman but colour blind and dyslexic). From Kidbrooke I was posted for two and a half years to RAF Wildenrath Air Movements in Germany; that would have been April, 1958.
Shortly after arriving at Wildenrath I had found my way to the NAAFI and then headed back to the hut where I found all the Air Movs personnel were being assembled. We were addressed by the Sqn Ldr. Six volunteers were wanted for detached duty in the Middle East. The ‘volunteers’ were to be unmarried, unattatched, with both parents living and below the rank of Cpl. We had all been drilled at basic training never to volunteer for anything - the Sqn Ldr read names off a list and told us we had half an hour to pack our kit and to report to Sick Quarters. We were given no information as to where we were going or what we would be doing. At Sick Quarters we were given a very brief medical and a series of injections, two in each arm and more in the rear.
Next morning we were roused very early and, after breakfast, assembled and each given a large pack of sandwiches, marched back to our billet to collect our kitbags, boarded a 3-tonner and driven to a railway station. We were all very sore from the injections and did not pay any attention to where we were taken.
Seats on the train had been reserved for us and the RTO appointed the LAC as being responsible to seeing we all got to our destination which was 5 PDU Innsworth - I had never heard of it before. Rail to the Hook of Holland, rough sea crossing to the UK, train to London, train to Gloucester. Finally we were put on a 3- tonner to Innsworth where, although hungry (the sandwiches were awful and we had fed them to the fish on the channel crossing), we were just glad to fall into our pits.
Morning arrived all too soon; there was a lot of shouting and being tipped off our mattresses. We assembled outside the billet and were marched in the pouring rain to the mess. We had been joined by more OR’s who were as much in the dark as we were.
More medicals then handing in surplus kit and receiving KD. The usual films on VD, lecture on how to behave on civil aircraft, photo’s taken, issue of a passport valid for 6 months but renewable if necessary. The only real information we had was that we were going to reinforce RAF personnel at bases in the Middle East and we would be told which base we were going to when we arrived at Aden.
Early the next morning we were on a coach bound for Dunsford on the south coast. It was previously a wartime RAF station but now was being used by tour operators.
We boarded a Skyways Hermes aircraft and the route seemed to take us halfway round Africa visiting places like Malta, Kano, Entebbe and Bengue and then finally Aden.
Sharjah - SAND, even the runway was sand. There were six Air Movs personnel but I was allocated to Surface Movements.
The billet - a long hut where some of the fans did not work - mattresses were very hard - pillows smelled- some of the insect grills had rusted away and sand was everywhere.
Drinking water - two bottles a day per person, film of oil on the top and ½ inch of sand in the bottom of the bottle
Beer - not allowed (rumour was that it was allowed in the Officer's Mess).
Medical facilities - I broke my glasses - no possibility of replacement - we were operational on active service. Tooth ache - no facilities - I had to go to the local dentist downtown to have an extraction - Imagine my feelings when I went into the dental “surgery” and saw a stool in the middle of the room and an Arab man being held down on it while the dentist used what looked like a pair of pipe grips to pull out a tooth.
The swimming pool - well how did the sting ray get in there?
Cinema - outdoors - take your blanket to wrap in as it got cold at night - same film would play for several nights but we went anyway if we were off-duty. We did have an entertainment group come once - The guard had to be called out to enable the female artists get out of the swimming pool safely.
The food and cook house - we all had amoebic dysentery.
At the base we had half a squadron of Shackletons and a half squadron of Venoms who were operational. Every morning the runway would be swept by Landrovers towing railway sleepers - we were told and it was accepted by us all that the were checking for mines before the the aircraft took off. The shacks carried 1,000 lb bombs and the Venoms had rockets.
One day we had a rain storm! Fortunately most of the Shackletons had taken off but the one that was left and the Beverley supply aircraft both sank up to their wheel axles into the sand. The Beverley unloading crew unloaded the rations out of the aircraft onto the sand. The rain washed away the cardboard of the boxes and the labels off of the tins. I never thought that the hard yellow carbolic soap would lather, but it did that day and we had foam around all the rations. I was supposed to be off-duty from working all of the previous night but was called out and got soaked - and I really enjoyed the rain as the showers we used every day were all salt water.
My main duties were not at Sharjah, athough I lived there, but I was working nights at Dubai which in those days was a lazy small sea port catering to Arab dhows. They used to bring 1,000 lb bombs in from cargo ships offshore which we (me and about 30 Arabs) offloaded with a hand crane onto lorries (7 to a lorry) for the 20 mile drive across the desert to the bomb dump (the suggestion was that as I was a Shipwright I knew about ships, cranes and slinging loads!).
I was supposed to be supplied with sandwiches but the bread had to come down from Bahrain twice a week so the first night was OK but by the second night it was green. Finally I persuaded the cooks to give me a big can of bully beef and the cargo boys supplied vegetables which had come from burst boxes and bags that had rolled around the aircraft and thus were bruised. The veggies and bully beef were welcomed by my Arab offloading gang who put it into the large curry they made for us all. It was cooked in a pot reminding me of the old wash boiler in the wash-house in the back yard at home. I never found out what else went into the curry - I really did not want to know but it was much better than the food from the cook house. They also cooked a type of pancake to eat with the curry.
Eventually they decided to send us home and we were sent up to Bahrain, but the MO said we were unfit to travel and kept us there for two weeks on special diet and excused all duties - very boring especially as we had no money.
Finally we flew by Comet 4 to the UK and returned to 5 PDU Innsworth where we were required to sign the Official Secrets Act and then the MO gave us a medical and sent us on Medical leave and told us to report back to our units on 1st January 1959.
Back at Wildenrath I was told I had been promoted to LAC while I was away and then SAC so I was improperly dressed and to draw a new uniform straight away. I never found out what had happened to my old kit.
Next the Sqn Ldr ordered us to get into his car and took us down to the Sick Quarters. A medical and blood tests and sent back to the UK for more leave, but at least this time we had money. I spent my leave in London as my father and I had fallen out. While I was away he had broken open all my Shipwright tool boxes and all the tools, which were my personal property bought out of my wages, had gone.
On return to Wildrenrath I found myself working in the Load Control Office and 6 weeks later was promoted to Cpl Local Acting Paid detached to Hamburg doing RTO duties and Load Control on RAF exercises at Jever and Sylt.
As all my trade tools and the relationship with my father had gone, I signed on to the regulars.
At Aden we were divided into our destination groups and one other chap from Wildenrath and I were the only two bound for Sharjah leaving early the next morning by Beverley aircraft. I don't remember much about the trip, we were up in the boom and as there was plenty of room we slept most of the time although the Beverley was stopping on-route to offload freight and some of our travel companions.
From: Alan Potts, 11100 Narbonne Subject: Memories of RAF Sharjah
Good topic! I was fortunate enough not to be posted to Sharjah. However, I did stage through and had the occasional night stop and enjoyed the splendid hospitality of all the movers there at the time.
From: Graham Lockwood, Leyland, Lancs Subject: Memories of Sharjah
When I was at Muharraq in 1967 as a 20 year old I was detached to Sharjah for a few days. Whilst there I had a day off on my own and went out to look around Sharjah town. I was a bit bored and so on impulse I took a taxi to Dubai.
In Dubai I took a rowing boat across the creek and ventured into the souq. Whilst I was walking through the souq it suddenly it occurred to me that as a skinny white face I could potentially be dragged down an alley at any moment. What made me feel even more vulnerable was that no one in the world knew that I was in the souq, or even in the country!
Fast forward many decades and on recent visits to both Emirates I recognised very little in Sharjah and only the fort, creek and souk in Dubai.
It was interesting that when riding along a six lane highway in Sharjah city the taxi driver advised that it had been built on top of the old RAF runway. There is a superb Islamic Museum in Sharjah and another museum has an old Gulf Aviation DC3 on display. It's all worth a few days stopover if you are staging through the Emirates Dubai hub.
I can't believe that my escapade was 50 years ago when most youngsters didn't even manage a package tour to Spain!
From: Christopher Briggs, Coventry, West Midlands Subject: Memories of RAF Sharjah
We had to go from Masirah to Sharjah to offload a Hercules that was due there. We duly arrived only to be told we would be there for a couple of nights. OK that was not a problem because as Movers we always came prepared with overnight bags.
We were shown our accommodations, was all good but not a hotel downtown though. So, what do we do with time on our hands? We ask if we can borrow a Landrover to go downtown. Of course, was the answer, take one of those pink Landrovers from the far side of the MT yard. Needless to say these were left by our good friends from BATT as they were known then. It was weird and we certainly got some funny looks whilst driving about the local area!
From: David King, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk Subject: Memories of Sharjah
On a three-month detachment to Sharjah over Christmas 1968 was put on the Orderly Sergeant roster. I carried out duties as given, but was surprised to receive a request to see the Station Warrant Officer the next morning who wanted to know, in no uncertain manner, why I had left a flag up all night!
I had not been previously advised that there was a separate unit at the back of the main camp who had their own flagstaff!
From: John Guy, Northampton Subject: Memories of RAF Sharjah
During my time on NEAF MAMS, RAF Akrotiri, 1973-75, there were regular trips to Sharjah on a Belfast aircraft doing chopper exchanges. The load would be 2 stripped down choppers, plus anything else there was room for.
Two jobs come to mind. On one the on load took so long that we eventually kipped on the Air Terminal floor. On the other occasion it was close to Christmas, and the Postie got hold of his mail and went off with a satisfied look on his face. We continued with the offload and were lowering the 2nd helicopter fuselage down the ramp when the Postie returned, declaring that there was a lot of post missing. We did a quick search of the Belfast, which was almost empty anyway, but to no avail. Then we looked in the helicopter, not really expecting anything but were surprised to find that it was packed with mail bags!
Can anyone help with the following, which has nothing to do with Movements. I have never heard, or met anyone with memories of RAF Fanara MEAF 15 (Egypt). In November 1951, I was posted there straight from square bashing, a 30-months overseas tour, as u/t storeman non-tech. In those days you actually learned this trade on the job. We were only a small unit without an airfield, but the only one in the Canal Zone with a grass football & rugby pitch. No airfield, but our 6-man Air Sea Rescue Section handled the odd Sunderland Flying Boat Aircraft on their way to and from the Far East.
Regards, John Guy
From: Thomas Iredale, Heidelberg Subject: Memories of RAF Sharjah
Arrival - Sometime in January 1969, I flew on a Britannia to Bahrain and after an overnight there, caught the Argosy shuttle to Sharjah. Next to me was Sqn Ldr Long, who was to take over as OC Supply there. This was all less than a year after I was married and sod’s law decreed a one-year unaccompanied tour to RAF Sharjah as Load Control Officer. I took over from Dave Blomley, who I only met the next day, as he was on a long sortie with a Shackleton.
People - Apart from Dave B., already on the Movements Squadron were Ron Macleod, Duncan Grant and Brian Shorter. We were joined later by Glenn Morton, Frank Hughes and Brett Morrell. Not long after I arrived, Sqn Ldr Les Nelson took over as SAMO. My wife, who was an Ops Controller at Benson, used to work with Les, so I already knew him through her. Duncan and I were on the same OCTU and Equipment Officers’ Course. The Station Commander was Gp Capt Max Scannell, who was greatly respected and a pleasure to work for - he even asked me if I would extend my tour by six months - so I must have done a few things right. Of course, I politely refused.
Units - 78 Sqn was there with their Wessex helicopters, 84 Sqn with Andovers and a Shackleton detachment. Till March 1969, the Army Battalion was the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and they were replaced by a Scottish Regiment - and a lot of the names were of Polish origin. This made filling out a manifest quite challenging.
Movements routine - There was a 3-shift system in place, although most of the movements were during daylight hours. The daily Argosy shuttle from Bahrain was our bread and butter, so to speak. When the Army Battalion rotated, we turned the Britannias round. Otherwise, Army support tasks kept us busy.
Cut your leg off! - When the Grenadier Guards were tour-ex, there was a practice baggage weigh-in for them in their lines. We took our scales and set them up on the parade ground. Fortunately, it was the cool season. I think the baggage allowance was 70 lbs, but I’m not sure. So each of these fine soldiers trotted up with his baggage, had it weighed and marched off again. Generally, they were all below the 70 lbs, except one guardsman had 75. He was told to go and re-pack and of course, he protested, saying that it was indeed all of his kit. Whereupon the CSM drew up to his full six foot three and bellowed, “Then you’ll have to cut your bloody leg off to get your weight down, if you want to go home!”
DAMO gets punched by an Army major - A nasty incident occurred when Ron Macleod was DAMO. The daily Argosy shuttle departed 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! This was unbelievable and we all felt boded dire consequences. 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 that!
Bob Hope arrives - 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. Although the aircraft arrived around midnight, the word got around quickly after they landed as there were lots of lovely women on board. It was a most welcome change to be able to look after this category of passenger; I was even able to talk to Bob Hope and Miss World. After refuelling, the Starlifter went on its way at 3 am and we went to bed, as it had been a very long day. 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.
VC10 crews - The first VC10 we handled presented a challenge for the accommodation of the air stewards (SACs), who were part of the crew. Fortunately, it was an Ops problem and not a Mover’s one. These unfortunate lads had to draw bedding and take it to the transit accommodation. Not a very nice situation when you had been in the air from the UK. To solve the problem for the future, stewards were granted the acting rank of corporal, so they didn’t have to go through the rigmarole of drawing bedding.
Where’s my Moke? - The SAMO, Les Nelson, was the enviable “owner” of a Mini-Moke, which was an ideal vehicle for nipping around the station. He used to park it in the Mess car park, which was near the quadrangle of accommodation buildings, known as the “Cloisters”. There was a “garden” in the middle. Access was through two archways, just wide enough for some enterprising (or inebriated) individuals (who had nothing better to do) to bump Les’s Moke through and park it in the middle of the garden. Being the sport he was, Les took it with good humour.
Theatre Club - My secondary duty was to run the Theatre Club, which I really enjoyed. We put on a couple of plays which went down OK, but the variety shows we produced were much more popular. One show we took down to Masirah, courtesy of an 84 Sqn Andover. We had a clubroom and a bar. I had a liquor licence (you had to be an officer to get one of these) for the Theatre Club bar, which permitted me to buy beer and spirits from Gray Mackenzie in Dubai. We had female members, which was also an added attraction.
Desert Exercises - Part of our job was to support the Army in the field. There was a five day exercise somewhere in the desert with the Scottish Regiment and I took a detachment to handle the movements stuff. It was very hot during the day and freezing at night. We were accommodated in tents and showers were a bucket of water over you. We also marshalled the aircraft in for unloading. One day, an Argosy arrived with a power generator, but we had no fork lift to take it off. It went onto the back of a 3-tonner and somehow we managed to get it on the ground. Ten clicks away through the desert scrub, we found a swimming pool entirely by accident and after work, that’s where you could find us.
Hovercraft - There was a Hovercraft demo at Ras al Khaima, just up the way from Sharjah. This was part of an industry promotional tour and anyone who wanted to go and watch. We were most impressed by the way it could easily manoeuvre over both sand and water.
Departure - I was very happy doing Movements in Sharjah and a little sad to be leaving this close-knit RAF community. It would have been nice to have had a direct flight back to UK from Sharjah, but this wasn’t to be, so with Sqn Ldr Long, I boarded the Argosy shuttle and went back to UK the same way I came out.
84 Sqn Andover kicking up the dust at a desert strip
84 Sqn Andovers on the line at Sharjah
Air Movements, RAF Sharjah, 1969
Army Beaver at a desert strip
Unloading a Belfast freighter, Sharjah, 1969
Loading a bulldozer, Sharjah, 1969
Daily Bahrain shuttle at Sharjah, 1969
Daily Bahrain shuttle at Sharjah, 1969
Downtown Sharjah, 1969
Downtown Sharjah, 1969
Glenn Morton & Frank Shorter
Grenadier Guards farewell parade, Sharjah, 1969
My room in a Twyneham hut, Sharjah, 1969
Rugby match, Sharjah, 1969
Aerial view of RAF Sharjah, 1969
Tom Iredale, Sharjah, 1969
Sharjah Air Movements on desert exercise. Names anyone?
Season's greeting to you and yours. Wishing you very good health for the next year. I don’t contribute much to the newsletters but I do look forward to them dropping in my Inbox where I can eagerly catch up with them in some leisurely time. Keep up the great work. It's people like you that hold us together.
I don’t recall too much about Christmas times (or much else to be honest) while serving, suffice to say between the then alcohol consumption and now age related memory challenges are to blame.
Two ‘incidents’ I was involved in, allegedly, however both occurred while serving at Northolt and oddly enough both resulted in some extra-curricular activities around peeling spuds and painting kerb stones between shifts around Christmas times. Some may say Northolt wouldn’t have been on their top list of places to be stationed as a mover, but like many places it is what you and your team mates make it and I thoroughly enjoyed the posting.
The second incident resulted in what I can only describe as a classic case of bah-humbug and lack of appreciation of movers creative skills and ability to bring joy to the world. After an unusual dump of snow one December day a handful of us built a good sized snowman CO outside the front of the Station HQ, all in good humour of course and in the hours of darkness. I think there were only two of us actually caught for that one. It was only the wrath of the SWO breathing down my neck while getting a good bollocking by the station CO that stopped the giggles. Not sure what the clues were to be traced back to the crime scene for this one but I could have sworn it was Prancer & Dancers prints in the snow…
It’s been 27 years now since I left the mob. Some days it feels like yesterday and others so distant. I may have forgotten some names and I certainly haven’t been the best for keeping in touch over the years but for those I knew then, still know now and for those that I never knew, young or old, souls that are with us and souls that are resting, I wish every single one of you good festive cheer, a very merry Christmas and a very happy New Year. And for Hogmanay, lang may yer lum reek!
The first one was a few days after Christmas in the early 80’s. A few of us were sat around the NAAFI bar after it closed, doing the traditional mine-sweeping and it suddenly struck me that the Christmas tree inside the bar was now redundant and needed a good home.
It was actually a fair old weight once lifted over the shoulder and hoofing it through one barrack block to get to my block. Once I realised it wouldn’t fit in the door of my nice little one man room on the ground floor I figured out it would be a lovely addition to the wonderful window view if I planted it outside of the room instead.
As I awoke to the thumping at the door & yelling the next morning and opened the door to the SWO & Police. It didn’t quite dawn on me (at the time) that actually they didn’t need to be the smartest detectives in the world to follow the trail of pine needles all the way from the NAAFI bar to my door to find out who the likely candidate may have been.
From: Duncan Grant, Trentham, Staffs Subject: Memories of Sharjah
RAF SHARJAH 1968-69 - MY INTRODUCTION TO MOVEMENTS.
What a blast! A 13 month unaccompanied tour with Three dynamic DAMOs , (McLeod, Shorter and Grant) an understanding Station Commander (the late Max Scannel - a Kiwi by birth) and plenty of activity!
Travel - including
And then there was Movements ...
There were plenty of, “I learned about Movements from that...” moments. But where to start? How to manage awkward Majors, how to manage on 4 hours sleep before a shift, how to blag airlift, how to ensure paperwork is correct, how not to trust policemen? Perhaps most of all, how to recognise the professionalism and humour of your shift!
Many examples from the dim and distant past emerge. One of the “fond” ones gave me a unique insight into Army transportation. In a moment of madness I filled my down-time travelling with an Army convoy prepositioning Avtur fuel, in 45-gallon drums, for use in the lawless regions of Oman by the Wessex helicopters of 78 Sqn.
Duncan Grant, Brian Shorter, Ron MacLeod
Meanwhile, on the Air Movements front - One aircrew (a Loadmaster), from our resident 84 Squadron (Andovers) was authorised to travel on return duty to Akrotiri, on a through flight to Brize Norton, tries to have the through-pax manifest altered to show Brize Norton as his destination (there were no computers back then), saying that he had leave authorised (which he no doubt had). DAMO says “No!” Well you can guess the rest - he changes to Supernumery Crew at Akrotiri but cannot return on time from his long weekend in the UK. The outcome was that he was classified as being AWOL and charged, losing his seniority. There was a lesson here: Keep the paperwork accurate!
Finally, amongst the many memories of the tour (there were quite a few not suitable for publication) was my first experience of VVIP flying - in the Comet 4C of 216 Sqn. Those were the halcyon days when the Chief of the Air Staff (in this case ACM Sir John Grandy), conducted a round-the-world tour during his time in post. Rather than a somewhat early flight by Argosy from Muharraq in Bahrain, a kindly senior Captain invited me on a more civilised schedule. The in-flight breakfast was fresh. However, it was quite a surprise to see the drinks trolley in use so early in the day; indeed, the contents were also not readily available on scheduled flights!
It was a work-hard, play-hard tour. You can read the true story between the lines!
I only visited Sharjah on three occasions; the first on 14th December, 1967, a routine Hercules flight from Lyneham, in and out in a couple of hours. The second time was on 7th September, 1970, for a seven-day detachment - low level cross-country flights and supply dropping at the Juweiza drop zone. Finally, the third time was 4th June, 1971, an eight-day detachment which was a thrilling repeat performance of my second visit the previous year.
I do remember the “Gibli”, the pile of fine sand/dirt under the door, the grit that got everywhere. Apart from the good company of crew and bods stationed there, Sharjah does not stay high on places that I would care to revisit.
From: Steve Sparkes, Lyminge, Kent Subject: Memories of RAF Sharjah
In April 1969, at the tender age of 20, I was posted to Air Movements, Sharjah. I've attached some photographs from that time that tell some of the story.
I'd love to hear from anyone who recognises me from those days [click on the flags next to his name above].
Air Movements Sharjah, May 1969
Air Movements Passenger Desk, Sharjah, May 1969
Air Movements Sharjah. Budgies, Finches & Java Sparrows cage which I looked after; the only “byrds” on camp! May 1969
Airman’s Mess RAF Sharjah, May 1969
Flying Khanjar Club, May 1969
Forces Radio, RAF Sharjah, May 1969
The swimming pool, looking towards the Astra cinema
Transit Billet, May 1969
Sunset over the Astra Cinema. Screen to the left, projection room right.
MMG Club, May 1969
Waterlogged sand after the November 1969 Storm L/R, Unknown, John Hilton, Frank Breithaupt, Cpl Dixie Dean
View across to the Sergeants' billets, May 1969
W Lines looking towards washrooms & toilets
Donkey Derby, December 1969
"Tea's up! (Photo by Pat Venning)
That'll be me, Steve Sparkes, outside Air Movements
The team on the pan, 1969
Jim Gallagher, Steve Sparkes and Joe Brett
Going home - I should know them, but... ?
Escort for the one in the white shirt going home - who is it?
Okay - bye-bye then
That'll be me driving the Condec 25K
I just can't stop posing outside Air Movements!
Colin Foster, Paddy Conroy, Joe Brett and John Hilton (Her who must be obeyed suggested I include this one!)
48 years later and still as good looking as ever!
From: Bill Franklin, Luton, Beds Subject: Memories of RAF Sharjah
I served at RAF Sharjah from October 1968 to November 1969. My original posting was to HQBFG British Forces Gulf at HMS Jufair in Bahrain. When I arrived at Muharraq, I was told that I would have to do a full arrival before going to Jufair. Did the arrival and got back to the General Office to be told that Jufair did not have a job for me so they were sending me down to Sharjah the next day.
As an SAC Supplier Material and having done No. 36 Junior Air Movements Course at Abingdon in mid 1967, I had visions of perhaps working in the passenger booking office. When I was told that I was going to Sharjah I thought great, I'll be working on aircraft!
I flew down to Sharjah on the Argosy and was met in the arrivals hall by an army lance corporal who asked my name and said 'come with me you will be working in the Sea Movements Section'. So, no aircraft for me but ships. The section was run by the RCT with a major in charge and consisted of a staff sergeant, corporal and lance corporal. On the RAF side there was a sergeant and me.
The work was intresting, imports and exports of mostly army equipment being returned to the UK on commercial ships, everything from normal technical equipment to vehicles and occasionally weapons and ammunition. Much of our time was spent down on Dubai docks or talking to the shipping agents. One of the advantages of the section was the Land Rover that we had was available for trips into Dubai in the afternoons the only stipulation was that we had to swing through the docks.
Among the things that I remember are the arrival of a 10 Squadron VC10 with an army unit on a changeover, a trip to Bahrain on an army LST for a weekend and the return to Dubai on the LSL Sir Bedivere which was sailing to Singapore. Other events were the roof of the NAAFI being blown off in a storm and the flooding of some of the officers accommodation.
From: Harold Jones, Neston, Cheshire Subject: RAF Sharjah
RAF Sharjah in the Persian Gulf was my first movements posting. There was also a small army garrison at the far end of the base. I well remember the occasion of a troop rotation. A nice shiny VC10 had brought the new troops in and we had the out going troops in our departures lounge awaiting departure. The new troops had taken over the old troops accommodation.
This area is not known for its rainfall, it is after all, a desert. However, we experienced a storm, very high winds, sufficient to rip bits off hangars and blow aircraft off jacks and move helicopters. It also rained, lots of it so we were flooded. Almost as an after thought, it hurled lumps of ice from the skies.
The poor VC10 was battered by the lumps of ice, in fact the outer skin of the aircraft was punctured in many places. Too many to allow it to carry passengers. The same passengers who were now camped in our departure lounge. You all remember these departure lounges - no refreshments, hard seats and only one bog, with hard shiny paper! They were getting restive.
The decision was made that we would have to ferry all these pongoes up the Gulf to Bahrain in small batches as and when flights were available.
I did enjoy my time in the Gulf. I have a question, some time ago there was a photograph showing a parade to mark the closure of RAF Sharjah - was it Syd Avery behind the chap playing the bass drum?
The SAMO informed the DAMO of the decision. The DAMO consulted with the shift sergeant, who liased with the shift corporal. SAC Harold S. Jones was instructed to inform the passengers of this slight change of plan. I entered the lounge, staying close the the door, and called for attention. “ I am sorry chaps” I shouted, “but your aircraft has been damaged by the storm and we regret that your flight has been cancelled.”
I survived because I fled.
From: Keith Parker, Bowerhill, Wilts Subject: Memories of RAF Sharjah
My early memories of RAF Sharjah were when I was on NEAF MAMS. Frequently we would be called on to support several units as they passed through that part of the Middle East. It was quite unique because at the end of it's life Sharjah runway was shared with Dubai, which was the up and coming place in the early seventies. I should say that at this time RAF Sharjah had become the property of The British Army Training Team (BATT).
On one such exercise, "Green Dragon" if I remember right, I was awoken from my bed to be told a Britannia had been diverted in from Nairobi and I was the only one with an HGV License (for which I had qualified earlier that week), so I'd have to drive the passenger transport. I got up and got dressed in my cardboard KD and after about ten minutes I found some keys for an armoured 3-Tonner with no top on it, this would have to do.
I drove off still half asleep, got to the aircraft and I got a right ear bending over everything from the state of my dress down to the lateness and the state of the truck. I tried desperately to explain but they were having none of it, after all, they were the British army's finest!
They were in fact Junior Leaders and as we all know DI Staff can be a right royal pain in the backside, especially in front of their students (not like that at the Movements School). It took me 3 runs to pick up all of them so I thought I'd better check on what time they would like to be returned.
Well, the first thing I got was the RSM balling me out and shouting about how they expected a meal, to which I pointed them in the direction of a weak insipid looking army chef who was getting a right royal bollicking for having a fag in his mouth. Apparently one of the officers was an MO and proceeded to do a "Health Inspection". Eventually Cookie russelled up a jug of cocoa and some hard-tack biscuits. It was at this point I left and went back to the aircraft to plead with the captain to take them away. Luckily the aircraft was serviceable and after another three trips back and forth I tumbled back into bed with a wry smile on my face.
The Officer in charge, a Major, had given the aircraft Captain, a Wing Commander, a right earful and was demanding the unit address of this station. I just had time to hear the Winco rip the Major's ears off, finally saying, "By all means you Plank, but you do realise that the BATT men are 22 SAS? I'm sure that you know the address, it's somewhere in Herefordshire.
RAF 1 : Army 0
New members who have joined us recently are:
Roly Barth, Devizes, Wilts
Ingrid Trautrim, Pembroke, ON
Steve Munday, Woodhall Spa
Don Hazlewood, Kabul
David "Jarvo" Jarvis, Palmoli
Jacques Dube, Rockland, ON
Geoff Nolan, Norwich, Norfolk
Peggy Milne, Victoria, BC
Bill Broderick, London, ON
Stephen Bird, Warrington
"Kit" Ayers, Stow-on-the-Wold
Rob Williams, Stourport-on-Severn
Tim Mariner, Newport, IoW
Andy Tesch, 90018 Caccamo
Martyn Southall, 66010 Civitella
Jim Gillespie, Swindon, Wilts
David Snyder, Chilliwack, BC
Don Cannon, Andover, Hants
Colin Eyre, Bridgend, Glam
Tony Feast, Chippenham, Wilts
Al Irving, Royal Wootton Bassett
Rachel Gilding, Tidworth, Glos
Andy Rees Williams, Gloucester
Chick Hatch, Stafford, Staffs
John Evans, Wantage, Oxon
Mick Craner, Yeovil, Somerset
Welcome to the OBA!
From: Dudley Olsen, Caloundra, QLD Subject: Tales from the Outback…
Although I often ensured photographic records were made of unusual loads etc, being basically lazy as stated above, I am guilty of not keeping personal copies of many of these events.
However, your E-mail did goad me into thinking about what we moved and why we moved it. It was this that reminded me that I had a newspaper cutting of me posing in a dental chair from remote outback Quilpie being donated to Papua New Guinea which the RAAF had been asked to move.
Chair has stopover
A New Guinea Lions Club will soon have the best-travelled dentist chairs and operating tables around. The table and chair made a stopover in Ipswich yesterday on its way from Quilpie Lions Club in outback Queensland to the New Guinea highlands.
Ipswich Lions' incoming vice-president, Cpl Rob Napier, said the club acted as a go-between for the equipment during its long journey. The table and chair were railed from Quilpie to Ipswich and trucked to Amberley Air Base. From there they will be flown to Richmond near Sydney and onto New Guinea.
Cpl Napier said New Guinea Lions wrote to the Australian Lions Club asking for equipment for a village hospital. Quilpie Lions answered the call with equipment from the local hospital which is being replaced with the help of the club. Cpl Napier said the call from New Guinea was not unusual because Lions was an international club. However, it was the first time Ipswich had acted as a go-between in transport of equipment.
Furthermore, I also appreciate the sentiments expressed as friends continue to fall off the perch. In this vane, I would like to use your Newsletter to thank those who have died this past year and to offer my condolences to their long suffering families. Recently, I joined a group of the old and bold who said our farewells to ex-loadie and long time member of the movements mafia, John Rowe, who was one of the few real gentlemen that I had the pleasure of working with during my time in the RAAF.
Firstly, congratulations to you on the fine job you do in producing a Newsletter that I read from top to bottom. Being basically lazy, I appreciate the efforts of of past and present movers as they set down their memories of situations they have found themselves in, often through no fault of their own, and their enduring friendships built, often in times of stress, in environments that often smell of burning kero, dust or mud, sea water and either sweat or the nostrils are so cold they can’t smell anything.
Whilst we were enjoying ourselves during the Festive Season, there were hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged children around the world suffering from neglect, abuse, malnutrition, sickness and separation from their parents. If you would like to improve the lot of just one child in 2017, you might like to consider making a donation to the charity "Save the Children" which I have been a passionate supporter of and fund raising volunteer since I was involved in Operation Bushel in Ethiopia in 1984.
Save the Children currently works in over 50 countries worldwide but it is the Middle East refugee crisis that is concentrating the minds at the moment. Funds are desperately needed and if you would like to support this very worthwhile cause please send a cheque, made payable to Save the Children, to me at the following address:
87 Radley Road Abingdon, Oxon OX14 3PR
Save the Children Appeal
Bryan Morgan has asked that his Save the Children appeal be repeated as he now realises that Christmas was probably not the best time to ask for donations:
If you do make a donation and pay income tax in the UK I will gift aid your donation unless you ask me not to. This will increase your donation by 25%, at no cost to yourself, but you will need to let me know your full name and address. Please be assured this not a scam but a genuine plea from the heart. Thanking you in anticipation.
Bryan Morgan OC UKMAMS 1971-74
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough Subject: Memories of RAF Sharjah
RAF Sharjah - The Final Days
First a bit of background to my dusty memories of Sharjah (being written in a hurry, so apologies for gaps in names and details such as aircraft serial numbers for the anoraks). When I inherited Gulf MAMF at RAF Muharraq on 15 March 1971, we were based in the old air traffic tower.
The organisation comprised two teams of a F/O plus 5 and a ‘headquarters’ of myself and a WO. The way that the detailed movement planning of the closure of the Gulf units by the year-end evolved was that Flt Lt Jim Stewart concentrated on RAF Muharraq and I concentrated on RAF Sharjah. As an aside, Jim was having trouble tearing away the accompanied staff officers (and wives) at the Gulf Headquarters from their LOA and afternoons at the pool. So to encourage their early exodus, one weekend with the connivance of barrack stores, he raided the offices at the Headquarters and removed all the easy chairs just leaving one hard chair and a desk for each office occupant. The result was that many of the staff who had passed their days with leisurely chats with chums now had nowhere to sit and had to return to their now bleak and unfriendly offices to discover they really didn’t have much to do. So, perhaps they could shut up shop and go back to the UK!
Back to Gulf MAMF, for the closure, most of our work was going to be at Sharjah. Meanwhile, with the result of non-replacements of tour-ex personnel, by early autumn the Flight had reduced to a strong team of one officer and ten. On 1st of October we moved camp en-mass to RAF Sharjah. Quite a few other Muharraq personnel also redeployed to complete their tours as their own sections had shrunk and to avoid the need for replacements from UK.
One of these replacements was the dentist, Max Pierce, which leads me to vivid Sharjah memory number one. I was unpacking my kit in my allocated room in one of the officers mess huts, or bashas, when the door burst open and in came Max, wearing a steel helmet - and riding on a donkey - welcoming me to my new home! I should also add that I had taken over from Max as Squire of the Muharraq Young Farmers Association on his departure south in the August.
The next but more fuzzy memory was one afternoon in late November when I found myself attempting to oversee the loading/turnaround of, I think it was five or six assorted aircraft simultaneously. These ranged from a double Wessex in a Belfast task (by the end of the 78 Sqn withdrawal we were getting quite slick at these!), a brace of Muharraq Argosies, an Andover C1 and, the icing on the cake, a VIP Andover (which meant dashing into the office and pulling back on the bush-jacket for that one).
I am also sure that there was a withdrawal PCF Britannia in the mix somewhere, although I have since read that RAF Brits were banned because of the risk of then clobbering the landing lights. As the only movements officer, it was a bit like being a ringmaster at a circus surrounded by tigers all demanding attention!
The RAF ensign had been formally lowered for the last time at 0800, and at 0829 I was the penultimate RAF Sharjah serviceman to step up into the Belfast. The honour of the last man to leave going quite rightly to the last station commander, the popular and charismatic Gp Capt Cedric Simon, and RAF Sharjah was history.
Finally, the last morning, 14 December 1971; this was a PCF Belfast and being the last one out, I had insisted on it including a stretcher fit (at the cost of three valuable triples) ‘just in case’ as well as the weapons from the last guard patrols etc. Thankfully, the last night in the NAAFI provided a last minute broken leg, so that bit of planning was justified.
I attended Bob's funeral on 29th December last year, it was a good send off for Bob. He arrived in a horse drawn hearse and as we entered the chapel, a mail voice choir was singing Sweet Chariot. This brought a smile to many faces. The service was simple, dignified and moving.
At the wake, there were three of us ex-RAF who identified each other and made for the bar and raised a glass to Bob. If there could ever be such a thing, Bob's was a good funeral.
From: Harold Jones, Neston, Cheshire Subject: Bob Wetherill's Funeral
The Passing of Fred Moffitt
The Gander International Airport Authority is mourning the passing of former chair and aviator Fred Moffitt, January 19, 2017.
Born in the United Kingdom, Fred's career with the Royal Air Force spanned 28 years and many continents. He began his working life training to be an Inspector of Taxes, but instead commenced training as a flight navigator and received his flying wings in 1964. “Frankly, the decision between pouring over financial tables and receipts versus seeing the world in service to the Queen was no choice at all,” he said.
His military career included a deployment in South Yemen, flying on the Britannia (the RAF’s main passenger and cargo aircraft), and an appointment as Adjutant to the Base Commander at RAF Leuchars in Scotland. Returning to flying duties in 1976, Mr. Moffitt was involved in the evacuation of Tehran in 1979, the Falklands war in 1982 and the Ethiopian Famine Relief in 1984. All told, he logged over 10,000 flying hours.
In 1986, he was appointed Royal Air Force Detachment Commander at Gander International Airport. After retiring in 1990, he returned to Gander and married Anne Manning. “I met a lovely lady here, and that made my decision to come back to Gander very easy,” he recalled.
In 1995, he opened the successful Jungle Jim’s franchise in Gander, retiring in 2006.
Fred served on GIAA’s board Gander International Airport’s Board for nine years, including a six-year stint as Chairperson. Fred was a great ambassador for Gander Airport throughout his career, remembered for his strong and decisive brand of leadership.
Fred was sharp - sharply dressed, sharp witted, sharp tongued. Without bowing to stereotype, he oozed British charm. His sense of humour and convivial spirit earned easy friends. The good-natured banter between Fred and his board colleague George Innes, an expatriate Scotsman, was well worth the price of admission.
Fred lived a passionate life and found great pleasure in the simple things. An afternoon golfing with Al’s Army, the company of his peers at the Masonic Lodge, agonizing over the performance of his beloved Newcastle United. There was no greater passion then that for his beloved Anne, with whom he spent 28 happy years.
In recent years, Fred took great pride in his role of Honorary Colonel of 103 Search and Rescue and 9 Wing Gander.
We remember Fred Moffitt - aviator, entrepreneur, leader, advocate, husband, father, grandfather, friend to many. Fred shone brightly, and so many were drawn to his light. We find the community that bit darker with his passing. His zest for life was irresistible. Fred did not so much walk to the beat of his own drum as he had a complete percussion session backing him. He will forever be remembered as his own man, and a great one at that.
This newsletter is dedicated to the memory of Fred Moffitt