RAF opens new £70m hangar for Atlas aircraft
The Royal Air Force (RAF) has officially opened its new £70m hangar to accommodate the new Atlas transport aircraft at RAF Brize Norton. Designed to accommodate three of the RAF’s new Atlas aircraft, the hangar is built over a total area of 24,000m2 and has a height of 28m.
The Atlas maintenance, repair and upgrade facility, which has been constructed under Defence Infrastructure Organisation contracts, is fully operational to support the transport operations of the UK airforce across the globe.
The RAF has built the new hangar with an aim to make the maintenance of the transport aircraft easier, safer, and more efficient. The RAF’s Atlas fleet is supported by an agreement signed between the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) as well as the Airbus Defence and Space. The deal is part of the country’s on-going support to the Atlas programme, which has been capable of retaining 8,000 job opportunities across the national supply chain.
UK DE&S director air support Adrian Baguley said: “The Atlas programme is delivering a world-class fleet for the RAF, offering the UK next-generation transport and airlift abilities for operations all over the world. This new facility will ensure that work continues for decades to come. Expert support on the ground in the UK is an essential part of that capability and this new facility will ensure that work continues for decades to come.”
Capable of carrying up to 37t over a range of 2,000nm, the aircraft can deploy troops and equipment between and within theatres of operation either by parachute or by landing on short and potentially unprepared airstrips. In addition, Atlas can accommodate armoured vehicles which can help significantly reduce the time required for a deploying force to be ready to fight. The aircraft is also capable of performing humanitarian roles which include deployment of mobile cranes, excavators, and large dump trucks for disaster relief operations.
The UK MoD has ordered a total of 22 Atlas aircraft for the RAF, 18 of which have already been delivered. The remaining aircraft are scheduled to be delivered by 2022.
Air Force Technology
From: Thomas Geoghegan, Folkestone, Kent
Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #012618
Another great and informative issue in January. I suppose you, like myself, will be saddened seeing the condition of Lyneham of late, but it's the way of lots of the old former stations we may have served on. Not too long ago I saw some photos of RAF Church Fenton. I wish I hadn't, it was disgusting seeing one of my favourite postings allowed to crumble to ruins.
As regards the Bristol Freighter (Memories of RAF Changi), I remember being flown by the RNZAF in the early 1960's along with despatchers from the Royal Corps of Transport (RCT) based with us at Seletar. Many years later one of my friends in British Airways Maintenance Control actually purchased a Bristol Freighter. The aircraft lived alongside our old wing hangar for some time but then was written off when control was lost on take off at another airfield. I remember he took some time to get over his loss.
From: Duane Bach, Carrying Place, ON
Subject: Memories of Norway
This was our 6-week MAMS Team in Bardufoss, Norway in 1974. I could be wrong on the deployment date but it was a hazy time back then thanks to good ol' Canadian Club!
From left to right, as I remember, in the rear is MCpl Paul Turcotte, Capt Bouchard (who became a Tracker pilot later on), Pte Doug Dearing, Cpl Andy Robicheau.
In the front is yours truly and Pte Terry Hare.
From: Chris Goss, Marlow, Bucks
Subject: Memories of Norway
Crikey - so many memories of Norway. On detachment at Bardufoss, we fitted toilet brushes to the roofs of our Mercedes FWD vehicle and convinced all that it was new radar antenna.
In Andoya, Roger Gough took it on himself to nick the stuffed Arctic Fox in the lobby. When all was quiet he grabbed it and ran only to find out it was a popular target for being nicked and was chained to the wall.
In Tromso, acquiring a sign which said "Beware of Thieves".
Again in Bardufoss, going toboggoning on plastic bags - Ritchie Holland went hurtling down the hill and came a cropper, badly damaging a nipple; he could not stop laughing despite the pain
So many and happy times. I remember also another Bardufoss detachment where I was the only officer in charge of 3 teams. There was an obnoxious LAC from Shift who got on everyone's nerves and in a wind-down drink, he said something to me after which the room went very quiet. Cpl Andy Hartley then said, "Do you mind stepping out for a bit Boss"; I did and after hearing a lot of thuds, was asked back in to receive an apology from said LAC who was now sporting a bleeding nose!
From: Tony Gale, London, ON
Subject: Crash of Hercules XV194
Back in September 1972, I was on Foxtrot team loading some Army chaps and their equipment out of Wittering bound for Tromso in Norway. The load was designated as a Bedford Truck, a 3/4 ton trailer and some PSP to be loaded on the ramp. When we were underneath the truck we noticed that the elliptical springs, which should have been, well - elliptical, were actually straight. When we checked the "empty" truck (as per the manifest), it was full to the gunwales of all kinds of stuff (including booze if I remember correctly). With a half hour to chocks there was no time to check-weigh the vehicle, and so we offloaded the trailer and the PSP, and put the truck on the C of G using every available chain to secure it.
When the C-130 landed in Tromso it aquaplaned on about 2" of water on the runway and overshot, eventually coming to rest in a gully. The floor separated from the airframe of the aircraft, but the truck was still attached to the floor! The only casualty, as far as I can recall, was the Flight Engineer who had his hand on top of the co-driver's seat when pranging and subsequently got one of his fingers firmly trapped in the seat. I understand that the ALM used his knife to separate finger from Engineer when a very quick exit was called for. The aircraft was a write-off.
From: Ian Berry, Swindon, Wilts
Subject: The Demise of Herc XV194 - Tromso, Norway, Sep 1972
Having read your e-mail concerning the 'overloaded Herc' I thought I should fill in the gaps. The incident occurred during Exercise Strong Express in September 1972. Hercules XV194 was one of many chalks departing from RAF Wittering with a 1 Sqn (Harrier) load on board. Yes, it was a 4 ton truck containing all their duty frees with one passenger and your team, F Troop, did load it (yourself, George Lynes, possibly Chris Twyman, Dave Barton, Don Wickham and Tony Moore). My team, Echo, were working opposite on nights (Gus Hatter, Ken Browne, Ross McKerron, Gordon Gourdie and myself, as Bob Tring was doing the IALCE in Bardufoss). I can confirm that you used extra lashings on the truck and received no thanks for it.
The aircraft was operated by a crew from 24 Sqn (Hit the floor - it's 24!!). The Captain was a Flt Lt 'Crasher' Gibbs and the MALM was a bloke called 'Pincher' Martin. The aircraft was airborne okay and reached Tromso in Northern Norway okay, it all went to 'rats' on the landing.
The co-pilot was tasked to do the landing and the approach was normal. The runway was covered in slush as a result of new snow and the edges of the runway had concrete monsoon drains which assisted with the disposal of melted snow. The Loadmaster was sitting upstairs on the bunk seat and the passenger was standing behind the Air Engineer with his hand gripping the 'towel rail' on the back of his seat.
On touch-down the aircraft started to veer to the left. The Aircraft Captain, without saying 'he had control' feathered the two starboard engines. The co-pilot, believing he was still in control, applied right rudder and brakes.
Instead of a gentle correction to the centreline, the aircraft swung hard right and left the runway. As it crossed over the 'monnie' drain the cockpit area of the fuselage broke off by the crew door, coming to rest at an angle to the main fuselage, the tail also broke off. At this stage the crew 'legged it' through the flight deck windows leaving everything still switched on and live! The passenger had trapped his hand on the 'towel rail' when it folded under the impact, the navigator gave him a 'whack' which loosened his hand but broke his fingers.
The following accounts regarding Hercules XV194 were originally published in 2001
On hitting the ground outside the aircraft, the ALM had a heart attack (non-fatal). The main fuselage was covered in dirt which had entered through the break and if the ALM and pax had been sitting there they would have been killed. The Load remained 'nailed to the floor' and not one bottle was broken!
A Chief Tech and a Sgt eventually climbed back into the aircraft to make everything safe, there was no fire. The aircraft was a write-off.
At the Board of Enquiry everyone, apart from the Navigator, was found guilty of negligence, both pilots for lack of co-ordination, the engineer for leaving the frame live and the ALM for not being at his correct position for landing - even though he would have been killed!
Once again the MAMS team were never thanked for their application of extra lashings. (Today I might add we would have been hung if we had not first offloaded the vehicle and check-weighed it).
Where are they now? Believe it or not the Captain, Gibbs, is now a check-pilot for the CAA!! Everyone else is now retired, the co-pilot and engineer shortly after the crash. The ALM, Pincher Martin, was permanently grounded and left two years later. He's still in the Lyneham area selling insurance!
Hope this fills in the gaps. (ps: No one can sue me as the accident report was printed in Air Clues some 25 years ago... )
From: Charles Collier (d), Marlborough
Subject: Tromso Accident
... I was leading two teams of UKMAMS personnel for the annual Harrier force exercise in Norway. We were on the deployment phase when the support transport aircraft were to arrive in quick succession for us to offload and disperse to their forward areas. It was then that Hercules XV194 was on approach to Tromso, carrying amongst other things, the Wittering accountant officer and the imprest account for the station detachment!
As the aircraft touched down on the runway it veered to the starboard side without correction and fell plumb into the storm drain at that side of the runway. With the fuselage in the drain the mainplanes were level with the runway and surrounding area. It came to a stop near the detachment HQ without catching fire. The crew with the one extra officer escaped through the overhead hatch and ran along the port mainplane onto the runway to escape.
As the accountant officer had left his imprest on board I volunteered to recover it. Knowing that the fire extinguishers would have fired I put a breathing mask on and entered the crashed airframe. I made my way along to the point where the money bag was and recovered it. It was rather eerie as everything seemed in place and ready for takeoff. But as Ian had said, it was a write off. So I delivered to a very grateful accountant officer his imprest for the forthcoming detachment.
From: Tony Last, Huntingdon
Subject: Submarines in the Middle of Norway?
While looking through my MAMS tasks log for something to include this month, I happened upon a Norway task back in Oct '86 that gave us a bit of a laugh. The team was Sgt Tony Feast, Sgt Taff Owen, Cpl Jim Bissel, Cpl Andy Vicary and of course myself then FS Tony Last. Our load was a submarine mast in a massively long aluminium box which was then crated. It had to go to Norway for a stricken sub somewhere off their coast and required the use of a Mk3 Hercules (AC 202).
The mast was loaded by the base shift overnight, using a Condec and various NATO pallets and pieces of roller, and fitted quite snugly just behind the winch housing at the front all the way to a quarter of the way up the ramp. Clearly the front was secured to prevent forward movement on the aircraft floor and then the ramp door was closed allowing the crate to rise up the ramp on rollers before it was secured to the ramp floor. We had never seen so many chains on a single box. The first thing we did once airborne was to take half of them off and stow them back into their box. Between us (and the Loadie) we reckoned there were enough lashings to give at least 120g forward and aft restraint and much similar upward.
The journey to the arrival at destination went without incident and in the meantime we had a hot breakfast, a couple of ciggies and a read of the paper. Before we knew it we were landing at Kristiansand, Norway, some 1hr 54mins after take-off. Having taxied to the pans we were met by a startled looking Norwegian military person, in a small vehicle with lots of flashing yellow lights. The Loadie jumped off to do the meet and greet stuff and find out where they wanted us to park but came back shortly with a puzzled look on his face. Apparently, the man wanted to know what we were doing on his airfield as they weren't expecting us. After some chatting with HQ38 Group the captain decided he would have a chat with the Norwegian. He explained we had a submarine mast for a sub off their coast and a flight plan to bring it here where the Norwegians were meeting us and on-moving it.
The Norwegian was even more puzzled because the sea was 'many, many miles from here' but then nodded his head and asked the captain to come with him. Off they went with the Captain returning some short while later looking somewhat embarrassed. Seems we have landed at the wrong airfield he said. What's this 'we' business we thought. Meanwhile of course we had the ramp chains off so the ramp could be lowered in anticipation of an offload. Seemingly we should be at Kristiansund NOT Kristiansand said the Captain. That's at least another hour's flying time north from here. Ooops! Whata mistaka to make, we thought. I think HQ took the rap for it although it was never confirmed to us.
Chains back on and off we went to the find the correct airfield. Sure enough there was a reception committee waiting for us on the tarmac. There was also an enormous forklift with a boom about 30 ft high with tines wide enough to pick up your average 3-tonner. It was apparently used in oil pipe laying. Having consulted with the Norwegian powers that be, this was their total asset available to effect the offload. Needless to say we wouldn't let the forklift come within 20 metres of the aircraft as it was absolutely useless. The Captain, now quite exasperated, was back onto HQ38 Group to report the problem and told them it looked likely that he would be bringing the mast back to the UK as there was nothing suitable to offload it, i.e. no transfer loader or Condec equivalent. He said he would have a chat to the UKMAMS team on board for any suggestions.
Meanwhile we had completely unlashed the crate reckoning we could probably run it off the aircraft ramp using the NATO pallets and the pieces of roller we had on board if it came to it.
The decision was made and all went well until the front of the box (the seriously heavy end) dug into tarmac on the pan and despite all the huff and puff we couldn't move it forwards or backwards. The captain came down to see how long we would be and I explained our problem but also suggested that there was a way we could get round it. Anchor the front of the crate (now embedded in the pan) to a heavy duty D-ring (also set in the pan) close by, which was normally used for securing parked helicopters and light aircraft in windy conditions. Then, if he started up the aircraft, he could drive it away from the crate and let the aircraft unload the box onto the tarmac while we moved NATO pallets and rollers to assist it on its way. Brilliant he said and off he went to start up. Well it worked a treat and as soon as it was clear of the ramp we shut up and scarpered leaving the few bits of roller and the NATO pallets behind. We've no idea how they moved it from there. Maybe it's been made into an airfield roundabout with suitable flashing yellows. We had a laugh though before disappearing off to the not so funny Lossiemouth for a few days TACEVAL. Oh what joy!
A Dish Served Cold
1971 Norway: The Echo Team Leader was Fg Off Paul Steiner, a headstrong individual. On a specific task to Bodo, 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.
The aircraft landed and the team leader leapt out enthusiastically, followed sheepishly by his team only to be greeted by bright sunshine and the ground handlers wearing shorts and laughing uncontrollably!
On the same task (rumour has it) the team were accommodated with a Norwegian family. 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!
From: Wayne Harker, Edmonton, AB
Subject: Memories of Norway
By far my most memorable occasion working with members of other nation's "Movers" was Exercise Strong Express in Bardufoss, Norway, in September 1972.
We all (British, Canadian and American) movers worked together on mixed IALCE (International Airlift Control Element) teams to unload and load the aircraft from all nations for this NATO northern flank exercise. When an aircraft came in, the senior mover of the nation flying the aircraft led the team for that task. This worked well for aircraft for our home nations, but I am not sure how we handled aircraft of other NATO nations.
I recall trying to offload a jeep and two trailers off an Italian "Boxcar" C119. The Italian troops had loaded the jeep and trailers daisy chained when the aircraft was loaded. The troops felt they could just hook up the two trailers and back them off the C119. Their English was not great and none of us spoke Italian. FUN!
We all learned a lot about each other's aircraft and loading methods. Until that time I am sure no British or American loaders believed that we Canadians could show up with 3/4 ton vehicles loaded into a Boeing 707.
Our off-duty time was spent in each others drinking tents. The British introduced us to a ridiculous drinking game where we passed an empty beer can around the table and smashed it against our foreheads in succession two see who was finally NOT able to put a new dent in it.
Each country did host one big evening party with food and drinks for all. Many Zappers, Flashes, hats etc., were traded while we were there, and in my opinion we all went home with a better understanding of our foreign allies, their equipment and their methods.
From: David Taylor, York
Subject: Memories of Norway
The only time I got to Norway with the RAF was a Britannia day trip in August 1963. It was trooping exercise (Barfrost ll) to Andoya, but we had to divert to Bardufoss as an aircraft had crashed on the runway at Andoya, blocking it for a time. We returned ten days later to recover the troops. Never got to see much but recall it was quite cold, even in August, though nowhere near as cold as Thule, Greenland.
20 years later, long after leaving the RAF, now working in the oil industry, I was to spend a lot of time on the Norwegian West coast, all the way from Kristiansand to Bodo, in the Arctic Circle. Beautiful country, does not shut down when it snows (and it really does snow!), 24hr daylight in the summer months. Biggest drawback: beer at the equivalent of £8 a pint!
(Transport Command Mobile Servicing Flight)
From: Andrew Spinks, Dubai
Subject: Memories of Norway
My ‘logbook’ is packed somewhere (while renovations on our house are in progress) but I recall 2 trips with F Troop to Norway, one to Rygge which was notable for, well, nothing particular, and one a round-robin on a C130 exchanging Canberra ground equipment and compressed gas cylinders at several Norwegian air bases.
This took us to airfields which included Oerland in mid-Norway, Andoya in the north and Stavanger in the south. The load was a bit of a pain because it involved bits and pieces being offloaded and U/S or lifex equipment reloaded at each airfield but what I really remember about the trip was the Atlantic Hotel in Stavanger.
At this stage I was young, single and impressionable. I remember the hotel receptionist - probably the most beautiful woman I had ever seen (well, at that stage in my life, Mrs S). So what happened next? The hotel restaurant was made to look like a pier on the waterfront and I had one of the more memorable dinners of my lifetime there. Following this was a great evening of beers, stories and laughs with the team.
Many years later I landed a dream posting to the NATO HQ just outside Oslo and spent 3½ years in that lovely country. It is said these days that it is the best place in the world to live... and I would not disagree!
From: Ronald Meredith, Spalding, Lincs
Subject: Memories of Norway
I have two Norway stories:
Story One - Many moons ago, when in my only ever stores job, OC Supply & Movements at RAF Cottesmore, I jumped a 115 Sqn Argosy that was taking an engine out to one of our 360 Sqn Canberras at RNoF Bodo. We night stopped so that we could recover the defunct engine the next day. I was carrying 3 bottles of best Malt whisky for 360 Sqn to give to selected RNoF staff, who were always cooperative and great hosts.
About 1000, just before departure, the captain asked the co-pilot if he had organised in-flight rations for the return. No, said he, the RNoF do not provide flight rations for visiting non RNoF aircraft, but suggested that I bought some from the civil side of the airport; they took me over but everything was so expensive, I decided not to blow the imprest. Well, said an irate aircraft captain, you carry the imprest for essentials, I regard in-flight rations as essential; there are 6 of us on board, make a nice selection and we will get away, I will delay our take off time by 45 minutes, so get to it, that 360 Sqn Landrover by the ramp will take you there and back.
The co-pilot returned with a wonderful selection of sandwiches, pastries and fruit drinks and placed the bill in the captain's hand. I cannot remember the exact Kroner sum, but it converted out to about £140.
Uneventful flight back to base and the food was absolutely brilliant and appreciated by all. Obviously the co- pilot turned in the bill with what was left of the imprest to our chief acker basher. The latter was aware that I had been on the trip and telephoned me to confirm that this was a genuine and necessary expenditure. Of course said I, at least we made our own coffee, if he had bought 6 coffees, that would have been nearly another £30. The acker basher nearly exploded, but said that he must try and get on the next Bodo trip!
Story Two (I will get to Norway in a moment). I was lucky to have my first skiing lessons at a fabulous ski centre north of Tehran, built on the orders of the Shah who was still on the throne and I had been seconded for a short time, to the Iranian Defence Academy. On a posting to 2ATAF, I used the ski facilities available to the RAF at Oberammergau and elsewhere, but instead of going downhill all the time, opted to attend a Nordic Ski cross-country course in Norway.
The course was run by the army and accommodation was fairly basic. Most on the course were Army or Royal Marines, destined for a unit which required ski and winter survival skills. An RN officer and myself were the only volunteers on the course.
We did everything required of the troops and rapidly acquired the ability to "walk" on the ski's to get both uphill and downhill, avoid trees or other obstacles, make small jumps and dig snow holes. On treks through the local forest, we frequently met local Norwegians and they were always very friendly. When the "operational" troops went off on a 3 day and 2 night cross-country exercise, we remained to receive additional basic training and both of us secured the appropriate Nordic ski certificate. We were also able to take up the hospitality offered by some of the locals who regaled us with their wartime stories. For each household where we were looked after, a bottle of scotch was always our thank you.
From: Tony Street, Buffalo, NY
Subject: A funny tale abut an encounter with "Norwegian Seafood."
In the fall of 1969, we of 437(T) Sqn, RCAF, took part in some sort of NATO exercise flying to and from Bardufoss Air Base, Norway. Our mission (God, I love that word…so American) was to bring in fresh Canadian troops, stay the night and leave at the crack of dawn, with the stale ones.
On our arrival at 1500hrs, we were met by the MAMS team who gave us a “What’s what and where,” briefing that included the vital G2 that the barracks were a good walk from the club and the club was between us and the barracks. This played a big part in our decision-making process.
We got transport to the club and had a few beers and arrived at a plan. It was decided that we would finish this round, walk to the barracks, shower, change and return for dinner. Striking while the iron is hot, so to speak, we donned our parkas, grabbed our bags and stepped out into a medium sized blizzard that obscured even the moon from view. Not wanting to perish an icy death in Norway if we happened wander off the beaten path, we beat a retreat into the club.
Around about 2300hrs, we somehow got a ride to barracks, only to find nobody in charge to assign us bedding/lodging. Despite this being a 24hr come & go operation, the bedding store was closed. A brief recce showed us that all the beds had been slept in and that the linens could be, in our beer-hazed minds, still warm. After a few more pints from the beer machine, we racked out, with the smell of used, stale linens caressing our senses.
Upon return to Trenton, two days after the trip, a few of us showed up at sick-call with our Norwegian Seafood, CRABS! We dubbed them Norwegian as that’s where we got them, in fact they could have come from any NATO country participating in the operation. I’d hate to think mine came from Greece!
NBs: Because of the delicata situ here, the MO, at the request of our Squadron Commander, presented us with letters outlining a virulent outbreak of Pediculosis pubis originating in NATO countries, etc., etc., that we were able to re-present to our wives and SOs. Some went downtown and had them photocopied for future use. Remember, this was in ’69.
One of the guys, more experienced in these matters than I, was reported to have announced to the MO, “I gotta case of crabs.” His knowledgeable reply? “Give it to the MAMS guys, they’ll drink anything!”
From: Syd Avery, 03140 Guardamar del Segura
Subject: Memories of Norway
I was on a part of Arctic Express in February 1969, but on an “outstation”, on the island of Andoya, located just before you turn right, round the corner at the top. A fishing port. Sit in a downtown restaurant and watch the boats come in and unload their catch. Our esteemed Deputy Leader, whilst munching his way through a big lump of cod, enquired as to whether the fish was local and fresh!
Accomodation for us was... in tents! (Strange how all the support personnel were in tents and the Phantom fixers were in permanent accommodation on the main camp. These particular bell tents had fires in the middle which gave out a lot of heat. I cannot remember whether they were coal or wood burners. At night, once snuggled up in sleeping bags with the fire on it was quite warm. To keep the fire going during the night, the duty Snowdrop (RAF Police - guard), on his rounds, would replenish the fires in the tents. All worked fine until one particular night, said duty Snowdrop for some reason failed in his stoker duties. No fuel, no fire, no heat. Brass monkeys had nothing on the cold when we woke up. Representations were made, in dulcet terms, of course, by i/c's, and after a lot of discussion and give and take, all were accommodated on the main camp.
We were given a hire car for the journey between the camp and airfield, and driving to the camp one evening, it was requested that I drive with greater alacrity. Gentle touch on the speed pedal. Next thing, we have snow all over the windscreen, and we are up to the hubcaps in snow! We six couldn’t get it out, up the creek sans snowshoes. Fortunately, two Norwegian army trucks came along and the guy in charge wanted to pull it out with chains. It was pointed out to him that the bodywork of our car would, in all probability, detach if he did this. He went to the back of one of the trucks and grunted a few times which I suppose was Norwegian and about 20 guys, all conscripts, jumped out, got around our car and at a further grunt lifted and carried it back on the road. Cost us a few hundred cigarettes and a few old Norwegian Krone. Nobody complained about speed after that.
We handled a RHAG (retractable hydraulic arrester gear) and were able to have a runway side-seat to watch it being used. Very impressive rate of deceleration.
The night before we were due to leave by Argosy to Benson, it snowed. Whilst some loaded, others dug in a race against another snow storm to get the aeroplane out. Valiant efforts saved us a three day snow-in.
Some years later, much further south, returning to the hotel from a calorie top up, one of the team saw a set of antlers he took a fancy to. So there we were, he on my shoulders and me with my faced stuffed in some type of holly whilst he wrestled with the antler fixings. When I PVR’d, some 35 years ago, the antlers still hung in the crew room.
From: Clive Price, Brecon
Subject: Memories of Norway
Why did we often go to places well out of season; Greece in the hottest month of the year and Norway, the land of the midnight sun, in mid winter? Dressed as Inuit (original Canadians), we were thrown into work as soon as we landed. It was a multi-nation NATO northern flank exercise. I was grabbed by an American full colonel who was in overall command of the ramp and ordered to direct all Hercules to reverse up to a snow bank topped by a road.
I was in marshalling heaven! The British aircrews with their shiny new(ish) Hercules were as nervous as kittens being backed up. When I batted them to stop, oftentimes they hit the brakes so hard the nose wheel went at least a yard in the air! One young angry aircrew officer came over to me to have a go (cut me a new one). Before he could speak I said, "Sir, this is what war is like, get used to it!" Problem solved.
I encountered the American colonel on several other occasions, I quickly saluted and retreated fast! I could say a lot more but my one typing finger wants to go to bed. You know the rest Tony as you were there also.
Cheers to you all out there!
Taff Price (F-team, UKMAMS Abingdon, 1966-1970)
From: Mark Attrill, Tallinn
Subject: Memories of Norway
As someone who only two years ago completed a six-year tour of Norway (the longest I have lived anywhere during my 58 years on the planet), the country is dear to my heart and I cannot forget the trips I took there with UK MAMS.
In fact, I took my very first trip to Norway when I was not officially a member of UK MAMS - In the summer of 1980, I was posted to RAF Lyneham as a holding Officer on the Supply Wing but a very kindly OC Wing agreed to further loan me to OC UKMAMS so I could get a taste of the movements world since I had expressed an early interest in doing the Officers Movements Course. I worked with Merv Corke on shift and was then asked to go on a short task with Fg Off Ian Russell and his team to Gardemoen to deploy some F-4s. During the trip I was led astray by the FS and 'persuaded' to assist with the liberation of a Norwegian Flag from the crew room on the Flightline. In the process I was caught by the RAF Phantom DETCO who, uncharacteristically, turned a blind eye and allowed us to continue. I managed to get my first trophy for the Crew Room and I hadn't even arrived on the Squadron at that stage!
Fast forward three years and I was back at the Squadron looking after India Team. We deployed a 'scratch' team to Bardufoss for one of the regular winter deployments in 1983. I do remember my JNCO, Paddy Power, was with us and I think Gonzo Burke and Turk Bird, both on my team, were there too. We arrived and were looked after by the RM detachment on exercise Clockwork, who loaned us a 1 Tonne Landrover to get to our accommodation.
There was no on-base accommodation due to the exercise and we had been allocated a ski lodge hotel half way up a nearby mountain. The problem was the 1 Group Loggies had conducted the Site Survey/Recce in September and we arrived in the depths of winter and six feet of snow. In spite of snow chains, we failed to get half way up the hill and had to trek for several klicks to get to the lodge.
The evening menu was pretty limited - whale meat stew and beer. The next morning at sparrow we headed down the hill, managed to get the wagon started in -15C and headed back to the air base. Someone - I cannot recall who - lost control after a couple of miles and we ended up in a ditch - Paddy got badly bruised ribs and one or two others had bumps to the head but fortunately nothing too serious - it was around 5 in the morning.
I noticed a house with lights on a bit further up the road so two of us headed over to seek assistance. Fortunately, the house owner was a taxi driver just about to go on early shift in the town - he agreed to take us up to the base where we managed to get hold of the RM MT Det and acquired a 4-tonner recovery vehicle to tow us out and get us moving again - Our wagon was largely undamaged and perfectly serviceable but we trundled off to Bardufoss rather sheepishly under the watchful eye of the Royal Marines and even managed breakfast before the first Albert arrived but it was a salutary lesson to the planners to take account of the winter months within the Arctic Circle when planning off-base accommodation. We got Paddy back to Lyneham and a 7 day sick pass - thankfully nothing more serious - I have some photos of the incident somewhere but they are, regrettably in storage. Maybe one day I can publish them here.
F540 Operations Record Book Entries
The above is just a small sampling of the Operations Record Book listings.
To see a more comprehensive listing visit http://ukmamsoba.org/orb.html
| Jun 1964
|| Exercise Northern Express
|| Colerne to Vaernes and Bardufoss, Norway and return
|| Plt Off Stevens plus team. Hastings TG476 and Britannia XM517
| Feb 1965
|| Exercise Winter Trail
|| Benson to Vaernes, Andoya, Bodo and Bardufos, Norway and return to Lyneham
|| Plt Off Stevens plus team. 1st Inniskillings and 43 Marine Commando Group. Argosy XP441 and Britannia XM636. This was the first use of our newly issued Arctic clothing, which I recall was most effective!
| Mar 1965
|| Exercise Cold Winter
Benson to West Raynham, then on to Bodo, Norway. Return to Benson via Lyneham
| Plt Off Stevens plus team. Positioning of 1 Squadron (Hunters).
Britannia XM658 and Argosy XP139
| Mar 1965
|| Exercise Cold Winter
|| Benson to Vaernes, Bodo and Gardemoen, Norway and return to West Raynham and Benson
|| Plt Off Stevens plus team. Recovery of 1 Squadron (Hunters). Argosys XP141 and XP441
| Sep 1965
|| Lyneham to Ballykelly, Northern Ireland, then to Bodo Norway. Return to Lyneham via Ballykelly
|| Plt Off Stevens plus team. Shackleton engine change. Britannia XM657
| Mar 1966
|| Exercise Winter Express
|| Benson to Andoya and Vaernes, Norway then Lossiemouth, Scotland and West Raynham. Return to Benson
|| Pilot Officer Stevens and team. Recovery of 54 Squadron (Lightnings). Argosys XP857, XP141 and XP139
| Feb 1967
|| Exercise Cold Winter
|| UK to Andoya, Norway
|| Plt Off CF Clark plus 8. Air Movements support to Hunter deployment in Norway
|| Gutersloh, Germany to Rygge, Norway
|| Flt Lt J Binns plus 4. Deployment of personnel and equipment of 4 Squadron (Hunters) from Gutersloh to Norway
||Oerland, Norway to Kinloss, Scotland
||Fg Off Jim Stewart plus 2. Recovery of a Griffon Power plant (Shackleton) from Norway to Kinloss, Scotland on Argosy Task 4010
||Exercise Viking Ship
||Scotland to Stavangar, Norway and return
||Fg Off P A Wiblin plus 5. Deployment of personnel and equipment of 51 (Highland) Div from Scotland to Norway and recovery of elements of the Norwegian Defence Force from Norway to Scotland. Britannia Task 6520
||Rygge, Norway to Laarbruch, Germany and return
||Cpl Syd Avery plus 5. Repositioning RNoAF Squadron and 31 Squadron RAF (Canberra PR Mk 7) after exchange between Norway and Germany
||Rygge, Norway to Leuchars, Scotland
||Fg Off RG Clarke plus 7. Recovery of personnel and equipment of 11 Squadron (Lightnings) from Norway to Leuchars on Herc Task 3700
||Exercise Arctic Express
||Waterbeach, UK to Andoya, Norway
||Fg Off Frank Holmes plus 4. Airlift of Rotary Hydraulic Arrestor Gear (RHAG) to Andoya, Norway to support Phantom Fighters
||Exercise Arctic Express
||Andoya, Norway to Waterbeach, UK
||FSgt Roy Millington plus 4. Recovery of a Rotary Hydraulic Arrester Gear (RHAG) and personnel of 39 Regt RE from Norway to Waterbeach
||Exercise Evil Edge
||Oerland, Norway to Honington, UK
||Fg Off Pete Simpson, FSgt Dave Eggleton, Sgt John Bell, Cpl Syd Avery plus 1. Recovery of 12 Squadron (Buccaneers) from Norway to Honington
||Exercise Evil Edge
||UK to Oerland, Norway and return
||FSgt Reg Carey, Cpl Dave Wilkin, SACs Terry Fryer & Polly Parkin plus 1. Squadron exchange of 12 Squadron (Bucanneers) and a RNoAF Squadron
||Odiham, UK to Norway
||Fg Off Paul Steiner, FS Ken Browne, Sgt Rocky Knowles, Cpl Colin Eyres, JT Gordon Gourdie & SAC Bob Tring. Deployment of 72 Squadron (Wessex) to Norway
||Exercise Strong Express
||Wittering, UK to Tromso, Norway
Flt Lt Charles Collier, Fg Off Brian Clucas, FS Taff Thomas & Tony ‘Chomper’ Lamb, Sgts Ivan Gervais & Merv Corke, Cpls Keith Simmonds & Tom Blues, SACs Bob Ford, Bob Thacker, Keri Eynon and Fred Kitts. Deployment of 1 Squadron (Harriers) from Wittering to Norway. (n.b. It was during this deployment that Hercules XV194 was written off when it left the runway on landing and ‘broke its back’ - everyone escaped.)
The following have joined the OBA recently:
John Harney, Perth, WA
Gary Davies, Derry Hill, Wilts
Welcome to the OBA!
From: Ian Envis, Crowborough, East Sussex
Subject: History of RAF Lyneham
With the RAF Centenary now upon us with effect from 1st April, 2018, there is much happening around the country. The detail below is about RAF Lyneham - now an Army Base, which has planned some temporary activities to remember the old place (especially for the likes of RAF Movers like myself and Don Hunter etc.).
I'm investigating a day/evening for a visit to remember my mis-spent youth with RAF UKMAMS (1974-76) and the lifestyle of a brave (my interpretation) and very stupid bachelor officer!
RAF100: A History Of RAF Lyneham, 16th January - 16th June 2018
As part of "RAF 100" which sees the Royal Air Force celebrating 100 years since its formation, the REME Museum is hosting a temporary exhibition which looks at the history of the site when it was an air base, a new exhibition, ‘RAF100: A History of RAF Lyneham’ opened on January 16th.
Using historical images as well as interviews with serving and former RAF personnel and families who lived and worked on the base, the exhibition will provide visitors with an overview of the important work undertaken at RAF Lyneham. As part of the exhibition, there will be three evening talks, open to the public. Please note booking is required via our website: www.rememuseum.org.uk.
18th April: Lyneham and Repatriations, Andrew Lloyd, Director of Army Museums Ogilby Trust.
13th June: End of an Era, Mike Neville CBE.
Tickets will cost £10 per person and will allow entry to the talk as well as access to the main Museum after the talk has finished. Talks start at 7 pm, doors will be open from 6.30 pm.
We are keen to encourage visitors and the local community to share their own memories of living and working at RAF Lyneham. Visitors are invited to bring in photographs which they can have included on the exhibition walls allowing other visitors to see. There will also be the opportunity to write about their favourite memories.
For those who want to participate online, we have created a social media hash tag #RAF100Lyneham for people to come together and share their memories and stories about RAF Lyneham and what this period of history has meant for them.
From: Dave Brixey, Wellington, Somerset
Subject: Why are Movers Dying?
Why are Movers Dying?
With the most recent death (Andy Olsen) at the relatively young age of 48 from cancer and the previous slew of cancer related deaths over the past 3-5 years within a group of relatively young, fit and otherwise healthy men. All linked by one thread, they were all either serving or ex-RAF Movements tradesmen (TG18b as some of us knew it) or Movements Officers. Nothing else links these deaths, place of origin/birth, family or social backgrounds and upbringing, post RAF employment and places of residence are, by and large, random and cover the Country, in fact the whole globe. Further, some came into the trade from dis-established trades - Boat Crews etc, and that further makes TG18b a random sample.
If all the cancer deaths came from a small village in Middle England, went to the same schools and then into a small trade within the military, served their contracts and then moved into agricultural (or any industry) then the large cluster of deaths would stick out. The fact is these deaths only stick out because we are all now on social media and speak to each other from various places across the globe and rarely meet up in large groups, and few work closely together post RAF service.
Yes, most of us imbibed freely and oft-times heavily during our service and some smoked (again often heavily) but the cancers that seems to be getting us aren’t the typical ones for our age group.
Lies, lies and statistics time.
At the peak manning of the trade there were never more than 900 active movers. There would have been some additional manning at RAFMS so potentially another 60 ‘baby’ movers so a top figure of 960. I haven’t ignored the R.Aux AF Sqn. (no slight intended or to be inferred) but some of us cross decked to them or from them so they are included along with us regulars for statistical requirements.
Of the notified deaths (UKMAMS OBA Newsletter / RAFMAMS Association source) between Dec 2012 and the end of Feb 2018 there have been 45 deaths of RAF Movers. Of those 45 deaths, 19 were directly attributable to cancer and most were under 60 years of age (as declared via various sources like the Facebook forums (RAF Movers, VVSVA & RAF Movements). The figures on the number of deaths may need to be refined as I have had some updates.
There may be more from the 45 deaths that were cancer, just no evidence available from open sources to confirm or deny the cause of these deaths.
I’ve made no mention of those who I have knowledge of having had cancer and getting successful treatment; were I to do so I believe that the numbers would be further out of kilter with a similar group from any comparable group of males.
Could we try and get some information from former and current colleagues?
Could you copy and paste the below into an e-mail, complete the requested information and send it to me at email@example.com
Cancer diagnosed at age:
Cancer type (if known):
Did you ever smoke? Y/N:
Contact E-mail Address:
Dates of RAF Service:
More Relevant Stuff
This issue is dedicated
to the memories of
Andy Olsen (RAF)
Myke Wood (RAF)
Francois "Frank" Bessette (RCAF)
Freda Brown, wife of David Brown (RAF)