31 January 2003


From: Paul English, Chippenham, UK
Date: 24 Jan 2003 04:07
Subject: Flying Times

Hi Tony,

I'm back home in the UK after my sojourn to the South Atlantic...

16hrs on the Tristar...give or take, mind you there is a 90min stop over in Ascension..

My longest flight in one leg was Ascension-Port Stanley on "Fat Albert" ... Including air to air refuelling from the Victor tanker... total flying time 13 1/2 hrs., however if the weather was bad at Port Stanley it was 13 1/2hrs back to Ascension...diversion to South America was not a real option as most flights had a lot of interesting kit onboard...

For those who haven't heard or seen it...C130 lands on Aircraft carrier....

Quite impressive !!

Rgds for now



From: Charles Collier, Marlborough, UK
Date: 24 Jan 2003 13:52
Subject: Cold War Confrontation - Aden 1967

Hello again Tony, 

This is another story of my time as a volunteer platoon commander in Aden 1967.

There was a lot of political unrest amongst the Arab nationalists all vying for power as our departure from the colony was on the horizon, so to speak. We, on the other hand, had set up a government and capital city at Al Ittihad on the other side of the Aden Bay. The new government was to be composed of local rulers and their henchmen. Of course, all Arab politcals hated each other, more the outgoing colonial power, Britain!

So, disturbances leading to rioting began to happen. I was commanding the entry point to RAF Steamer Point by the jetty and harbour. We could hear firing and saw smoke from burning vehicles and buildings. It wasn't long before bodies of locals involved in the riot started to arrive at my entry point. These bodies were strewn across the straw covered floor of Arab lorries. They were destined for the catering cold store as the morgue was too small for the expected number of casualties. It was here that they could be identified. So, it was my responsibility to climb aboard each lorry and roll bodies over to ensure that no weapons were being bought in to the RAF camp.

During this rather onerous task that I glanced up, and to my surprise, I saw a motorised longboat full of sailors with a large red hammer and sickle flag flying from the aft end of the boat. I ran to the jetty bringing the local Aden police inspector with me. When the boat was within shouting distance I told them in no uncertain words to turn around and go back to their oil tanker moored in the outer reaches. They continued towards the jetty even though the town behind was obviously in turmoil. So they would have known what was going on, but the Soviet forces were eager to pick up any intelligence they could, wherever in the world they were. It was then that I told the Arab police inspector to tell them. 

To my surprise he pulled out his Smith and Wesson revolver pointed it above their heads and fired one shot. It did the trick - they turned round and were never seen again!

Although that may not be true for after our departure the Soviets moved in. And stayed uncomfortably for a decade or more - but that's another story!

Many regards to all OB's



From: Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
Date: 29 Jan 2003 10:54
Subject: Some Stocking Fillers


Hope all is well across the ocean, we're just starting to receive a sample of Canadian Arctic weather at the moment. As you know I've had a few enquiries from people who can't find the new OBA Website, for some reason it doesn't appear on any search engine - any ideas?

I've attached some 'ditties' to this message. You can use them all at once or dole them out. I've a few more tales once I get round to typing them out.

As a result of the OBA correspondence I've withheld the names of some to save their embarrassment.

Sounds like I'm going to meet the Honorary Chairman, Jack Riley in September as I'm meeting up with Dave Cromb in Brisbane.

Cheers for now,


[Ed:  Thanks for the gold mine of stories Ian, I decided to put them all in at once - what the heck!!  As for the search engine problems, and not being able to find the new OBA website.... [no longer valid] The reason that "Google" did not find the new web site address right away is best described by explaining the mechanics of exactly how a search engine works. Google will send out electronic "spiders" or "crawlers" on regular intervals that research the entire Internet and then store information about each web site it finds into its database. At the time of your search it had not yet "discovered" the new address. A search for UKMAMS on Google just a moment ago revealed the following listing as being third in the search: [no longer valid]

This particular page was uploaded in November of last year. So it does take a  couple of months. If our site was a commercial web site that generated sales for a company, then I would pay to have the site listed with all of the major search engines right away. Since it's not commercial, then I will just let the spiders do their thing.


In 1973 Alpha Team were led by a young Flying Officer who looked similar to Billy Bunter and an appetite to match! They had just completed a task at Villa Franca Airbase in Italy. Whilst they were there the two airmen, SACs Jim Marchant and Alan 'Boot' Pratt decided to play a prank on the officer. From a passing bomb trolley the acquired a 3kg 'BOMBA PRACTISE' painted light blue in colour and placed it inside the officers holdall and awaited the outcome.

Nothing happened and at the end of the task everyone climbed on board an aircraft and flew back to UK. Unknown to the two airmen Tony had suspected they had placed some tensioners inside his bag (as they'd done before) and decided not to let on.

He only called their bluff on the coach back to Abingdon - imagine his surprise when he pulled out a bomb! The 'trophy' ended up in the crew room and eventually moved to Lyneham with the squadron in 1974.

n.b. In 1976 after attending a full explosives course at Hereford I began to suspect that the practice bomb was in fact still 'live' and were it not for the 'splayed split pin' which no one had ever removed the thing may have gone off. The armourers were called out and this in fact proved to be the case. I was told I was going to be awarded a 'Good Show' but all evidence was later removed to protect the then still serving officer's career!


In 1972 whilst on UKMAMS at Abingdon the Team Leader of Delta Team was a young Flying Officer of Irish descent, very well spoken, very well educated but sadly without a jot of common sense! Rules were meant to be followed by others, not Paddy.

The squadron buildings at Abingdon were located either side of the runway. Engineering, Training and Stores on one side, Ops and HQ on the other. Paddy had just been to HQ and was returning on his motorbike which had Northern Ireland number plates and was not registered on Camp. Just entering the Camp area after crossing the runway his motorbike ran out of fuel. Paddy then wheeled it off the road and leant it against the nearest building and then wandered off to find a fuel can and then headed for the nearest garage in town. 

Unbeknown to Paddy the building he left his motorbike against was the Station Armoury and once the abandoned bike was checked and discovered not to be registered on Camp and with Irish number plates the panic button was immediately pressed!

You can imagine the scene an hour later when Paddy re-appeared with his can of fuel to discover an armed cordon, EOD team and a wheelbarrow remote vehicle present preparing to blow up his bike. This was the first of several little chats he had with the Station Commander!


In 1996 Flt Lt 'Gazza' was part of a 3 man MAMS Team Detachment in Dhahran as part of Operation Jural. The twice weekly Hercules schedule was handled on the military pans but when the Atlas Transfer Loader was u/s a civilian FMC Transfer Loader was utilized instead. This vehicle had very high corner masts and could just 'scrape under' the tail of a Herc if the elevators are in the 'nose up' position. To guarantee this the trick was to attach a 'P' strop around the flying control column and the pilots chair thus ensuring a 'nose up' attitude. This task was normally carried out by the ground engineer.

On this specific occasion when the FMC had to be used Flt Lt 'Gazza' was asked to ensure that the elevators were in the 'up' position. He stated that he knew about the trick with the 'P' strop and promptly vanished on to the flight deck. After more than 20 minutes had elapsed and the elevators had still not moved nor had 'Gazza' re-appeared the men went in search of him.

The hatch in the flight deck roof was open and he was discovered halfway along the roof of the aircraft linking 'P' strops together with the intention of connecting the control column to the elevators!!


In 1996 whilst staying at the Sheraton Hotel in Bari during a standards check the following happened. The MAMS Det Cdr at the time was a Flt Lt who was affectionately known as 'inch high' being height deficient and looking like Ronnie Corbett. (He was only 5ft high).

This specific morning whilst at breakfast one of the airmen told me that he had just witnessed the funniest thing he'd seen in years when someone stepped out of the lift by reception and produced what looked like a mobile phone, dialed it and placed it to his ear. A minute later he stared at the instrument and hurriedly went back into the lift - he had in fact tried to make a call using the television remote control from his room!

When the Flt Lt appeared at breakfast I repeated this story to him only to witness him turn very red and admit that the caller had been himself!

Also sharing the same hotel were members of the Royal Navy Detachment from the Ark Royal who were an excellent bunch of guys. That same week whilst having a beer with the troops I noticed that both of 'Inch high's' hands were bandaged. On asking him why, he told me that he had fallen off his mountain bike and landed in a monsoon drain. Quick as a flash the matelots said "It's his own fault - we told him not to remove the stabilizers!"


The Team Leader Echo in 1971 was Fg Off Paul Steiner who was sometimes a bit headstrong. On this specific task to Bodo in May he instructed all of the team to take Arctic protective clothing. On the approach to the airfield whilst over the Norwegian mountains there was plenty of snow around and so he ordered the team to don their protective clothing. Not taking heed whatsoever of their protests they all had to don parkas, balaclavas and even knee high mukluks.

On arrival at Bodo extremely bright sunshine and the ground handlers wearing shorts greeted them!

On the same task (rumour has it) the team were accommodated with a Norwegian family in a pension. Although friendly enough the team were getting pretty fed up with being fed a cold breakfast every morning, normally of fish. FS Ken Browne ('The Hustler') advised the team that he had fixed it with 'the mother' and had shown her how to make bacon and eggs. Sure enough the next morning they were given bacon and eggs for breakfast - straight from the fridge where she'd placed them the night before after cooking them!!


The Team Leader of Juliet Team at Abingdon in 1971 was a real gentleman by the name of Flt Lt 'Uncle Bill' Wellman. Bill had a twin brother and for several years running his brother and band used to provide the music at our squadron dances.

Facially they looked very much alike which probably was just as well. One of the squadron's 'bread runs' was the twice weekly (Tues & Thurs) Missex run from West Raynham to one of the clutch stations in Germany. (Bruggen, Laarbruch or Wildenrath). This entailed picking up three Bloodhound Missiles plus ancillaries and escorts at West Raynham, taking them to Germany and exchanging them for three others which we brought back.

Bill's brother had always wanted to go on a MAMS task and the 'lowerarchy' conspired to make his wish come true. Bill's uniform and flying suit fitted a treat and his F1250 photograph did his brother more justice than himself. Yes! It's true….. Bill's brother did the task without anyone being any the wiser!


During the Gulf War in 1992 a mobile team were based at a remote desert airstrip in Kuwait known as LZ03. Sgt Al Randle was the SNCO accompanied amongst others by Jim Stone and a Flt Lt team leader. Being a typical team leader he was somewhat 'work shy' and even expected his men to make all the 'brews'. However on this specific occasion he decided to surprise the men and make them all a cup of tea.

It was in fact a big surprise as the tea tasted foul and when asked, "from where did you fill the kettle?" morale immediately sank. The plastic container he pointed to had in fact been flown in the previous day for the boys 'private consumption' as it contained Blue Label Vodka!!


From: Ronald P Turley, Doha, Qatar
Date: 27 Jan 2003 03:02
Subject: Flying Times

I am still enjoying this topic Tony. I only kept my UKMAMS log book up occasionally but there are some good ones in it:

Shortest: An aborted take off out of Gander in a C130.

I also show a Flight from Sacramento to Brize in a VC10 of 11 hrs and 5 mins. Is this a transcription error? Not sure but there was only half a MAMS team and the operating crew on board.

The longest flight I ever saw in a log book though was by a guy called John Buchan who was a Rock Ape at Leuchars in the early 70s. During WW2 he was an Air Gunner on PBY17s (Catalina). His log book showed a flight of 54 or 56 hours on a patrol around Iceland. When I questioned the possibility of this he explained that they landed in various fiords and refuelled from 45 gallon drums that had been prestocked but they recorded the patrol as one flight. I am not sure if this was common Coastal Command policy or not but I did see the log book!




From: Mark (Taff) James, High Wycombe, UK
Date: 29 Jan 2003 13:50
Subject: Virus

To all,

Received a virus from "Bruce Oram" under the guise of "Readers Digest"

Identified by McAfee.

I suggest no one opens the attachment.


Taff James

[Ed:  Thanks for the heads up Taff.  I believe that all of us are aware of the potential virus attacks and hopefully we all have protection in the form of an anti-virus programme operating on our computers.  John Belcher e-mailed both myself and Dave Cromb a couple of days ago telling us that he had received some viruses from us.  I did a check on my computer and - whoops - there was a nasty little one lurking in my music files.  I guess the lesson learned here is that these things can sneak under your defences, so it's not a bad idea to run a complete check on your system about once a week and also download the latest updated files for your programme about once every fortnight.]


From: Dave Cromb, Brisbane Qld., Australia
Date: 29 Jan 2003 21:01
Subject: Memory Lane

Just thinking of the good old days and my 1st movs posting, Akrotiri 69-71. Good times, it has been said I should never have survived that tour on account of the punishment I gave to my youthful body.

Was fortunate to be put on A shift, on cargo under the loving care of the late DK (where's my horse) Henderson. He taught me heaps during those formative years. He also enjoyed a game of soccer. A very close friend of DK's, also on A shift, pax as I recall, was Dinger Bell, Norm I think, who also played soccer when his knees let him, sorry Dinger. I believe both these great guys were on UKMAMS prior to Akrotiri. I do remember Dinger's pet hate was the dreaded BFLP. He never had a good word to say about it.

Also on A shift pax was Brian (cheers then) Corbett. I still have & use on a daily basis the 21st key of the door bottle opener he gave to me, still got the box too, and the message inside the lid is still legible. Thanks Brian & Liz. 

To ramble on... Colin Brown was DAMO & Chris Paisley the Pax officer, Roy Reeks was SNCO i/c. Also still have the encyclopedia he & his wife Carol gave to me for my 21st.

The trim clerk was Frank Regis, also a soccer player. Other guys on shift included Kevin Timms ( thanks for "putting me up" on numerous occasions), Ian Goldie, Jock Honeywell (another soccer player) and big Ken Welch. It was a matter of survival, never get yourself into a "two-six" situation with Ken, stand back & let him do it on his own. Strong, that's an understatement!!

Dave Greaves was the squawk box king. Who can ever forget the 3.15 am "5 on the 10" call from ops. Daily schedule Singapore to Brize. Later on Chris Gilbert joined the shift, replacing Kevin I think.

Can anybody put me in touch with any of the named? No smart answers either about "DK" I loved the man.

Cheers for now, more memories next week. My wife Phyl & I hope the "dust up" which is looming becomes a fizzer. If that's not to be, then our thoughts will be with all still serving.



From: Jack Riley, Urangan Qld., Australia
Date: 28 Jan 2003 18:59
Subject: Cor!

Dear Tony,

Greetings! This email serves no useful purpose other than to demonstrate how little I know about computers.

I was astonished last night to discover that I had half the website lurking in my machine. I concluded that when I used the link (as per your "problems" letter to me of 10 January) I was quietly downloading everything I looked at. Magic!

Now comes the question. Will it upgrade by itself or do I have to delete what I have now and start again?

I am preparing my dunce's cap pending your reply .



[Ed:  You bring up a good point Jack.  What you have discovered is your computer's cache (pronounced "cash") memory, and no, you can't spend it. There are pages you have already visited stored in your computer's memory, so that when you visit that web page via the Internet again instead of downloading the page from the Internet your computer will load it directly from your computer's memory (cache).

In most cases this will speed up the time it takes to display the page on your screen. Of course the only disadvantage is that you are not receiving the latest updates to that page. 

I guess the best way I can describe it is this - Imagine that you walk down to the local store and buy a newspaper. It takes you 20 minutes for the round trip. You bring the newspaper home and read it. The very next day you want to read a newspaper again, but instead of walking down to the store and getting the latest edition you just read the same newspaper that you had read the previous day. You can read it much more quickly than on the previous day as you didn't have to walk down to the store. The only downside is that you are not getting the latest news - you are just re-reading yesterday's news.

Put the newspaper away for now - let's carry on talking about the computer.

In order for you to read the latest updated page of one you have recently visited and subsequently drawn from your cache memory, you press your "Refresh" button on the top of your browser's screen. This action will revisit the website on the Internet and retrieve the latest page. This latest page will now be stored in your cache memory, having replaced the earlier page.

It's a good idea to clean out your cache once in a while - the way you can do it is as follows:

Click Start, point to Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Disk Cleanup. Depending on how much cache is being used it might take a few minutes to completely clean out.


Thank you for calling the British Army, I'm sorry but all of our units are out at the moment or are otherwise engaged. Please leave a message with your country, name of organisation, the region, the specific crisis and a number at which we can call you. As soon as we have sorted out the Balkans, Iraq, Northern Ireland, marching up and down bits of tarmac in London and compulsory Equal Opportunities training, we will return your call.

Please speak after the tone, or if you require more options, please listen to the following numbers:

If your crisis is small and close to the sea, press 1 for the Royal Marines.

If your concern is distant, with tropical climate and good hotels and can be solved by one or two low risk bombing runs, please press # for the Royal Air Force. Please note this service is not available after 1630 hours or at weekends.

If your enquiry concerns a situation which can be resolved by a grey funnel, some bunting, flags, a d**n good cocktail party and a first class marching band, please write, well in advance, to the First Sea Lord, The Ministry of Defence, Whitehall, London SW1.

If your enquiry is not urgent, please press 2 for the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps.

If you are in real, hot trouble please press 3 and your call will be routed to Sandline International.

If you are interested in joining the Army and wish to be shouted at, paid little, have premature arthritis in both knees, put your wife and family in a condemned hut miles from civilisation and are prepared to work your butt off daily, risking life and limb in all weathers and terrain, both day and night while watching the Treasury erode your original terms and conditions of service, then please stay on the line. Your call will shortly be connected to a bitter,  passed over Recruiting Sergeant in a grotty shop behind the railway station.

Have a pleasant day and thank you again for trying to contact the British Army.


Do you want to change your home page on your computer - but you're not quite sure how to do it?  Here's a quick tip - Have the page you would like to have as your home page on your screen.  Locate the small blue icon on the left side of the "http" in the address bar.  Place your cursor over the icon, press and hold down the left button on your mouse, and then, while still holding the button down, drag the blue icon over the top of the icon representing a little house at the top of your screen and release it - Voila!


Rumour Corner, you didn't hear it from me but...

A multi-billion pound defence contract, which will help decide the future of UK manufacturing, is expected to be won by a British firm, with some of the work going to its French rival. 

The Government will end weeks of speculation by announcing a decision on where two new aircraft carriers will be built. BAE Systems is tipped to be given the lead role in the £2.9 billion contract, but there will be an alliance with French defence giant Thales. 

Details of the exact shape of the contract, which will be worth up to £10 billion because of maintenance and support work, were still being worked on Wednesday. 

It is understood that BAE, the former British Aerospace, will be named as prime contractor, with control over the platforms of the new carriers, which will be the biggest ever built for the Royal Navy.

The 60,000 tonne ships will enter service in 2012 and 2015 and will each carry up to 48 new joint strike fighter aircraft. Civil servants at the Ministry of Defence had reportedly recommended the Thales bid and the speculation intensified earlier this month when Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, said BAE was no longer a British firm. 

But industry observers believe there has been a U-turn in the past 10 days, in favour of BAE. Jack Dromey, national organiser of the Transport and General Workers' Union, said last night: "An alliance which draws on the strength of both companies might not be a bad thing, provided BAE leads, and the firm guarantees given by BAE to British yards are honoured.

"A messy compromise leading to costly delays would be a disaster because thousands of workers might then pay the price for a short term political fix with their jobs." 

More Rumours...

A quiet beach in southern Cyprus, frequented only by mosquitoes, served as a hostile Iraqi coastline yesterday for one hundred British commandos on their way to the Gulf.

The peace was shattered as soldiers from 40 Commando, Royal Marines, their faces daubed with camouflage paint, stormed ashore, seizing the dunes between a turtle sanctuary and Button Bay, part of the British Sovereign base of Akrotiri.

Ten silent landing craft, designed to travel short distances at high speed, appeared around the headland in the bright winter sunshine. They stopped short of the beach and the commandos leapt into the shallow waters for a re-run of what is usually a night-time exercise.

"We don't often get to deploy on a lovely beach like this," said Major Jeff Moulton, swatting mosquitoes.

Coincidentally, as the men stormed ashore, the RAF's Red Arrows aerobatics formation team wove intricate patterns in the sky, part of their practicing maneuvers during their annual stay at Akrotiri.

A British fleet, led by the aircraft carrier Ark Royal, is anchored off Cyprus, picking up supplies, before continuing its journey in a few days' time.

Since the marines arrived in Cyprus on Monday they have been carrying out intense training routines, including nuclear, biological and chemical warfare drills. Major Moulton said: "Chemical warfare training is a very perishable skill, one that is quickly forgotten and has to be repeated frequently in the weeks before a possible deployment."

Despite spending the previous night on patrol, the men of Taunton-based 40 Commando were fully alert as they completed the mock battle. They seemed well aware that this could be practice for the real thing.

"War is quite worrying," said Cpl Chris Downey, 29, from the Wirral. "But the training we've had will stand us in good stead." His words were drowned out by the scream of the Red Arrows painting a giant arc in the sky.

Cpl Downey, like most other marines on the beach seemed in no doubt that war with Iraq was morally justifiable. "Saddam should be brought to trial for the crimes he has committed," he said.

None of the marines has been told where they will be sent. "We are a light mobile force," said Maj Moulton. "Our specialty is amphibiosity, but we can deploy by other means if needed."

About 200 Americans are training with the British forces in Cyprus to prepare for a possible war against Iraq. "We both follow what we call Standard Operational Procedure," said Maj Simon Turner. "It's vital that they are completely embedded in the unit and that we work and train together."

The naval task force, the largest since the Falklands War in 1982, is expected to be heading for the Gulf by the end of the week where it will join US forces. The marines are likely to find skies that are just as blue as Cyprus, but any vapour trails in the air will not be Red Arrows training for summer shows. They will be jets on combat missions.


I gather that no one guessed the answer to my question of last week regarding the new sound files on the web site.  On the Home Page, [no longer valid]you will be able to hear an aircraft engine struggling to start, and then when you enter the site, onto the Welcome page (that's the one with Jack's picture) the engine finally bursts into life.  The engine is the Bristol Centaurus 173 which was fitted to the Beverley.  If you find the noise annoying simply click on the "Stop" icon at the top of the page and all will be quiet again - until you visit the page again.  The sounds can only be heard if you are using Internet Explorer.



AT&T fired President John Walter after nine months, saying he lacked Intellectual leadership. He received a $26 million severance package. Perhaps it's not Walter who's lacking intelligence.


Police in Los Angeles had good luck with a robbery suspect who just couldn't control himself during a line-up. When detectives asked each man in the line-up to repeat the words "Give me all your money or I'll shoot", the man shouted, "That's not what I said!"


In Modesto, California, Steven Richard King was arrested for trying to hold up a Bank of America branch without a weapon. King used a thumb and a finger to simulate a gun, but unfortunately, he failed to keep his hand in his pocket. (hellllllooooooo!)


Last summer, down on Lake Isabella, located in the high desert, an hour east of Bakersfield, California, some folks, new to boating, were having problems. No matter how hard they tried, they couldn't get their brand new 22 ft going properly. It was very sluggish in almost every maneuver, no matter how much power was applied. After about an hour of trying to make it go, they putted to a nearby marina, thinking someone there could tell them what was wrong. A thorough topside check revealed everything in perfect working condition. The engine ran fine, the outdrive went up and down, the prop was the correct size and pitch. So, one of the marina guys jumped into the water to check underneath, he came up choking on water, because he was laughing so hard.  Under the boat, still strapped securely in place, was the trailer ...  


Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend!

Best regards