28 February 2003


New members joining us this week are:

Mark Roberts from Llanelli, UK

Paul Buxton from Sarajevo, Bosnia 

Welcome to the OBA!


From: Martin Liggett, Swindon, UK
Date: 21 Feb 2003 05:14
Subject: Flat Floor Fish and a Job Opportunity

Hi Tony,

For all you guys that hated flat floor Herc loads, spare a thought for the ground handlers at Maastricht airport. Ducorp operate an ex-British Caledonian TriStar down to Bujumbora twice a week with 40,000 kg of general freight, and 40,000 kg of fish on the return leg. The aircraft in question is a passenger aircraft with all seating removed and the boxes are manhandled through the pax door from a loaded hi-loader. Restraint is from a few ratchet strops to the seat rails! I will try and get a couple of photos next time I am through there.

On a different subject, another TriStar operator, Caribjet, may be looking for a Loadmaster, so if you're interested e-mail your CV to the following:  The company's offices are in Ostend and the aircraft is currently based in Maastricht. They are due to get a second TriStar freighter in the near future, hence the possible vacancy. No ideas on pay etc.

On the subject of long Herc flights, I seem to remember doing a resupply flight for the "hooligans" to Bogota with an SF crew back in 1990. This lasted in the region of 21 hours with 2 midair refuelling connections. It certainly was a flight to remember as after refuelling in Bogota we landed on a jungle "strip" surrounded by mountains in total darkness with the crew operating on NV. I was lucky enough to be standing in the coupola for landing and take off.
I also did an air bridge from ASI to Port Stanley which was unable to land and had to return to ASI with air to air refuelling. I cannot remember the duration as I was stretched out fast asleep on a stretcher for a sizeable amount of the flight.

That's all for now. Good luck to all the guys detached for the duration, both Regulars and Oggies.




From: Jim Aitken, Brisbane Qld., Australia
To: Dennis Martin, Woking, UK 
To: John Holloway, Shrewsbury, UK
Date: 21 Feb 2003 23:25
Subject: The "Monstrosity"

G'day John and Dennis,

I am really looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with the infernal calculator which was the only source of 'mechanical' help in raising trim sheets in Lyneham Load Control.

Was that the one with the crank handle on the end that you wound backwards and forwards to arrive at a calculation? If so........I could never master the intricacies of what was in effect similar to a Chinese Abacus!

Even doing the trims longhand had me scratching my head and this must have resulted in me being promptly seconded to the Customs Landing Officer's staff in Unaccompanied Baggage. I am not even sure if the Air Movements School was in existence back in the early 50's. It seemed that everyone was a U/T then.

At least the responsibility level was a bit less drastic. We might lose someone's kit in transit but at least we were not responsible for aircraft flying 'nose up'! Isn't that so John? Plus we got to go to the railhead at Calne a couple of times a week with an opportunity to 'oggle' the local lasses and partake of a Calne pork pie. Yum. Can't match those in OZ I'm sorry to say.

The recent spate of snowy weather in Southern England, which has been unusual over the past few years, had me wondering if the lads at Lyneham still pull "Snow Clearance" duty. Do you guys recall that particular event? I seem to remember we got a 24 hour standby and if snow fell we were turfed out regardless of the time of day or night. Trudging down 07 (I think) behind a Bedford truck laden with salt impregnated sand and spreading it all over the runway at 3 o'clock on a bitterly cold winter morning was a real bonus on our 28 shillings a week occupation! But the one bright spot was the tot of rum we got to combat the cold.

On one occasion I remember well a Hastings coming in to land as we were on the runway threshold and he just cleared us before touching down. Still don't know whether he even saw us. That could have been a nice mess if he'd clipped the Bedford!

Thanks for the photos Dennis - yes I do remember you!

John - you still haven't convinced me as to the "charms" of Mauripur. I still to this day break open a bread roll and inspect it for flies.


Jim Aitken


From: Jim Aitken, Brisbane Qld., Australia
To: Giuseppe from Bootle
Date: 21 Feb 2003 23:40
Subject: Re: Formula One Newsflash

>Giuseppe wrote:
> Sorry, disagree.

G'day Giuseppe,

That's your prerogative.

You are obviously " touchy" about your hometown and while I empathise with your feelings, I have to say that Tony's "joke" was not intended to denigrate any particular group or individual.

I subscribe to a couple of "humour" newsgroups - one in the UK and one in Australia and if everyone reacted to "jokes" about their nationality, ethnicity or whatever in the way that you have done, then there would be no humour in this 'humourless' world today.

As I said to Tony, that joke could have cited any city in the world and would still have had a humorous connotation. The fact that Liverpool was chosen surely does not necessarily reflect the opinion that Liverpool has any more of a 'youth' problem than anywhere else in the world.

I am a Scot, so I know that there are plenty of jokes about the 'canny' attributes of Scottish folk - there are also plenty of Irish across the world (and Liverpool has it's share) who laugh long and loud about the "Irish" jokes. And who would want to be a 'blonde' with the number of  'blonde' jokes that go around. None of it means a thing...

Lighten up Giuseppe, you're a long time dead mate.


Jim Aitken

[Ed: Seems like we've really started something here...]


[The following was received as a submission, the writer of which requested to remain anonymous:]

On an aside - Giuseppe (Mr Angry from Bootle), always had this funny side to his nature. What immediately comes to mind is the phrase "people who live in glass houses" as several of the guys at work remember him as their instructor on the Movements School who, when they got a question wrong, would make them put a battery teat on the end of their nose and run around the hangar! 

If they were wimps they could state that he has assaulted their human rights and left them traumatised for life!  As it is,  it's provided material for a story and given them something to affectionately remember him by...


A man walks into a bar. After buying a beer he looks around and sees three men and a dog playing cards. Amazed, he wanders over and starts watching the game. 

After watching for ten minutes, the man leans over to one of the players and says, "Wow, that's a really smart dog!"

The player replies, "He isn't that smart, every time he gets a good hand, he wags his tail!" 


From: John Middleton, Huntingdon, UK
Date: 22 Feb 2003 15:07
Subject: A Piece for the Website

Hopefully, the attached is self explanatory and is of interest to members.

Keep up the good work!

John (Hank) Middleton


Following a communications “cock up” prior to the Malta evacuation in the early 70’s, our intrepid “Blue” NEAF MAMS team and the C130 aircrew found ourselves grounded and impounded on the tarmac at Sigonella. Surrounded by the Italian Mafia, and confined to the aircraft and the immediate surrounds for over 24 hours, communication on the single band radio from the aircraft to our Episkopi controllers had been almost continuous. 

With no ground power and the batteries running low, conversation was becoming very restricted. What was needed was one immortal word to describe our plight. With one leap onto the flight deck our intrepid leader, Frank Holmes, spelt it out, “Sierra, Hotel, Romeo, Echo, Delta, Delta, India, Echo Sierra.” Episkopi got the message, enuff said. Problem solved, diplomacy was rapidly restored.

For my second diversion I am assuming that all MAMS teams, either resident or in transit through Akrotiri prior to 1974, visited Izmett's “Brittannia Kebab Restaurant” on the plantation road just outside Limassol. Who can forget the long tables groaning under the weight of a full kebab, washed down with copious amounts of free Kokinelli wine. The whole place, heaving with off duty servicemen, wives, girlfriends and visitors, all living it up. This all created a really great atmosphere! 

Regarding the Kokinelli, I was informed that the reason Izmett and other restaurant owners could afford to keep us all supplied with the free wine, was due to the Keo brewery, being left with a large amount of grape “sludge” after refining of all their excellent wines. To get rid of it, the sludge was delivered free to all local restaurants and this was transferred to the Britannia tanks. This residue was then fermented a second time and after six months was drinkable raw up to one-year-old Kokinelli. If this is true, it leaves me with one question. Kokinelli was a red wine, what happened to the entire residue from the white grapes? Saint Panteleimon perhaps?

Sadly, following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in late ’74, Izmett found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Caught up in a Turkish enclave on the outside of Limassol and surrounded by a hostile Greek population, he and his family did a runner back to southern Turkey. Subsequently, after the dust had settled, he crossed back over to Kyrenia.

Now for all those nostalgic travellers, may I suggest a holiday in the north of Cyprus, and step back in time. The Turks have now built a new airport on the plains outside of Nicosia, (Ercan), and Turkish airlines often approach Ercan by over flying Kyrenia harbour. If you have a window seat, look down at the harbour and you will see the union jack flag painted to cover the whole roof of a hotel. The hotel is the “British” hotel and the owners are the second generation of the Izmett family.

Incidentally, the great restaurant “rivals” to the Britannia was Niaziz. This restaurant still exists although now covered in road dust, hardly recognisable, he still serves a real mean mezze.

Since retirement in 1978, we have maintained strong links with Cyprus. Both my sons have completed double tours on the island, and my youngest, Darrel, has just extended his current tour to July 2004.

Now, come on ex FEAF MAMS, a story on Bugis Street wouldn’t go amiss...


From: Jack Riley, Urangan Qld., Australia
Date: 21 Feb 2003 20:24
Subject: Re: Old Boys Briefs 022103

What a paradise Mauripur turned out to be! 

In 1944, the tented camp on the edge of the desert was known as the Belsen of the East. I have "happy" memories of hours spent in the maggot-ridden and fetid (look it up!) long drop suffering the slings and arrows of overripe mangoes consumed in the fly-ridden mess. Things got better after that... "they" sent me to Burma!



From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury, UK
Date: 23 Feb 2003 05:41
Subject: Helicopters

Hi Tony,

Just a bit of info - the last four Wessex helicopters in service arrived at Shawbury a few days ago. They were flown in from Cyprus in an Antonov to Brize and then under their own power to Shawbury where they did a bit of a fly past.

I’m told that they will be refurbished and put into store and not sold or scrapped as we are getting a bit short of helicopters now.

I’m just going to have a few bread rolls with what looks like currants in them for breakfast - very tasty. I’d share them with Jim Aitken if he was around!




From: Charles Collier, Marlborough, UK
Date: 23 Feb 2003 16:37
Subject: The Libya Incident, 1963

Hello Tony. 

As I said I would carry on with the story about my trip in 1963 in a Handley Page Hastings aircraft from Lyneham to Nicosia, to repair the Canberra aircraft u/s at RAF Nicosia. We took off from RAF Luqa, Malta for RAF El Adem, Libya. 

On arrival at El Adem the captain announced that there was a fault with one of the propellers, and that we would be staying at El Adem until a replacement could come from Lyneham. This was not considered too much of a problem until a rather flustered pilot officer who was responsible for some half dozen diplomatic bags under a cargo net approached me and ordered me to guard these bags until relieved. He was going with the rest of the passengers to the Air Movements lounge where he had to send out some signals.

I accepted my responsibility as a good corporal - and waited! The hours went by. When I saw an Air Traffic Land Rover passing by I hailed it and asked them to call Ops and ask if the pilot officer responsible for these bags could organise a replacement guard.

After that, it wasn't too long before a Landrover arrived with the said PO on board. It had been decided that we would stop the night at El Adem as the replacement prop was not due until the next day. He had arrived to take the responsibility away from me. I asked him what was in the bags he was looking after - he replied that it was the totally revised 1964 Trade Structure for the Royal Air Force.

Up until then technical trades had the choice of a command career from corporal to warrant officer with promotion constrained by dead men's shoes, or a career as a technician with promotion after stated periods and examinations from J/T to Cpl/Tech to Snr/Tech to Chief/Tech and finally to Master Technician or Warrant Officer. This was a very popular scheme, for technicians would get, for example, Chief/Tech's pay doing an SAC's job with no further responsibility for command! It didn't work because human beings are conscious of their place in life in relation to each other, and senior technicians regarded themselves as sergeants, flight sergeants or whatever.

So, on graduating from RAF Halton as a corporal airframe fitter, after one year I turned my stripes upside down and became a cpl/tech. Then the 1964 trade structure came into being and I had to turn my stripes back to where they had been originally.

But that's what life is all about! 

Many regards to everybody,



From: Dennis Martin, Woking, UK
Date: 24 Feb 2003 01:49
Subject: Profile

I completed my square bashing in the winter of 1952, at West Kirby – a wild and desolate place in the winter. I left there just before Xmas and was posted to Lyneham. I was a railway booking goods clerk prior to being called up so thought that the trade of movements clerk would keep me in that line of work. 

I arrived at Lyneham on 3rd January 1953 along with 3 other sprogs; John Shaw, Vince Hickey and Malcolm Robertson and we were introduced to the loading party under Corporal Ginger Sullivan (shift workers, 24 hours on and 48 off classed as 'operational'). Squadron Leader Luck was the Officer in Charge of Movements the whole time I was at Lyneham. I remember that at the beginning of February the floods along the east coast (now in the news again 50th anniversary) saw two Hastings complete with loading gangs -the ones who were off duty - fly out to Milan, Italy to bring back thousands of empty sand bags that we had left there after the war.

These were dropped the Essex and Suffolk coast to help with flood barriers; apparently we had used all the available UK supply. I was on duty when the emergency arose and recall the movers were mustered outside J4 hanger wearing undergarments; two pairs of pyjamas, denims and hat and were then issued with Wellington boots! In Milan they worked four on and six off and in between chatted with the locals and drank their wine (so they said) and after 24 hours they flew back via the dropping zone.

Later in February we did the same thing for some Scottish crofters who had been snowed in for four weeks, only this time is was coal and hay. I think that we were just over that when the next emergency came up - severe earthquakes in Turkey; tents, blankets, rations, and first aid plus relief workers. It was a busy couple of months. We were still sending out supplies to the Far East (Korean War) as well as the regular Valetta flight to Wildenrath and other destinations.

After passing some aptitude tests I was promoted to LAC in early 1954 - still on the loading party. I can't remember when, but one evening I had to take some manifests to the Load Control office, and had to wait while SAC Yeardley (or was it Yearworth?) finished some calculations on a complicated machine. He was totally committed to this thing, his right hand whizzing round one way then the other, pressing a key then doing it all again. When he had finished he had beads of sweat on his forehead. I gave him the sheets and asked him what he was doing. Far from shrugging me off he invited me in and began to show me the ins and out of weight and balance. Shortly after, Squadron Leader Luck paid an unscheduled visit and enquired as to what I was doing in the office (I was in denims - which was a no-no!). Yeardley explained that I had shown an interest in weight and balance. Squadron Leader Luck asked for my name and said, "Right lad, you can start in here on Monday, we need a new clerk."

For the ex early 50's movers who remember the calculator in Load Control, I remembered it was a Facit.

I didn't like it and only used it occasionally.

Corporal Cabledu and SAC Yeardley used to manually check calculations rather than believe it!

I moved up to SAC later that year and really enjoyed the challenge, especially the off-station squadron moves. During my time in Load Control, the officers on shift were Flight Lieutenant Acres, Flying Officer ‘Charlie’ Chase (was his expression ‘Oh golly gosh?’) and Flight Lieutenant Tuppin. Flying Officer Snudden was occasionally on shift. I can only recall Sgt. Abrahams but there must have been others. (When he left the RAF, F/O Snudden went to Dan-Air, eventually, I think, becoming the top man.)

One Squadron move that I recall was very demanding. In 1955 Bomber command, (I think it was no 27 squadron – Canberra bombers) were going on a goodwill tour of the Caribbean. Flight Lieutenant Tuppin, myself and one loader, Vince Hickey (my choice), were drafted to RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire on the first of five Hastings aircraft. We arrived about mid day, found our accommodation, and then met the Bomber Command officers to see what was what. In a huge hanger the freight was all laid out in groups. The plan was that each aircraft would have spares and ground staff on board just in case the aircraft ahead of it had problems. The cargo had already been weighed but the passenger’s baggage, lined up across the hanger, was still to be weighed, and there were no scales on the Station. Flight Lieutenant Tuppin nipped into Lincoln and purchased a set of bathroom scales from Boots. We then had to sort the baggage into the correct passenger/aircraft order. That done we spent the evening in a pub in Lincoln. 

The following day the other four aircraft, one with a spare Hercules engine on board, arrived from Lyneham. We sorted the load into the aircraft payloads and Vince organised the local labour force. Cargo that we couldn’t accommodate – the smaller items- were loaded into the Canberra Bomb bays (fortunately they didn’t worry about load/trim sheets!). I recall that we had the aircraft loaded by about 2200 hrs and I had started the weight and balance sheets at about 1900 hrs. At school I was not all that clever at simple arithmetic, and apart from the monster Facit and slide rules, calculators were non-existent. I scrounged sheets of blank paper and completed the weight and balance and other papers for the five aircraft at about 0130 hrs the next morning. The first aircraft – a Hastings departed at about 0900 hrs and then the Canberras and the remaining Hastings left at one hour intervals. I breathed a big sigh of relief when the last aircraft took off at about 1300 hrs! 

We then had to hitch a lift back to Lyneham. Sitting in the NAAFI, we heard our names called over the Tannoy to report to the tower immediately with our belongings. Our first thought was that we would be off to the Caribbean – but no such luck, a Hasting on a training flight had been diverted to pick us up. We clambered on board with the aid of a ladder and joined a dozen Air Cadets, clutching buff sick bags! I had my first, second and third view of Lyneham from the air! We circled three times and on the second circuit I sensed we kept dipping to port sharply. When we landed a fire truck followed us down the runway. You guessed it; the port undercarriage was stuck, but eventually locked down.

When I left the RAF in September 1955, I joined Hunting Clan Air Transport at Heathrow; a small independent airline, with some lovely ground receptionists. I was involved with passenger handling, load and trim and ground operations. I returned to Lyneham a couple of times as a civvy in the late fifties when the Ministry chartered our Avro York for cargo flights. My job being to supervise the loading and departure.

In 1961 Hunting Clan merged with Airwork and formed British United Airways (later British Caledonian) and moved to Gatwick. I was fortunate in getting a job with BEA but I only stayed there just over a year. Eagle Airways moved their base from Blackbushe to Heathrow and in 1962 I was asked if I would like to organise their Load Control office as it was always causing flight delays. I took up the challenge and eventually the guys accepted me and we become a really organised and efficient group. I also enjoyed the liaison between the load control office and the Technical staff. Our thinking did a lot to simplify the method of showing the weight and trim of aircraft. Eagle became Cunard-Eagle then British Eagle. It was the UK’s leading independent airline when it went into liquidation in 1968 (I still blame the Labour Government I had reached the heady heights of Officer I/C Passenger and Apron Services. I had about 450 staff to look after (including 180 receptionists!) and during my time met various celebrities including The Beatles, Harry Seccombe and dear old Spike Milligan.

With politics getting involved with Civil Aviation, it was with regret that I decided to leave that area of employment. With a wife and three children I didn’t want to move out of Twickenham so I started up a property maintenance business. My contacts in the airline industry helped as they gave me decorating and various other jobs that kept me busy. My final move was to DIY retailing. In 1976, with a fellow airline mate, Jim Russell (ex Eagle), I opened the gardening, plumbing and electrical side of his existing DIY shop, well known in aviation circles ‘The Handyman” in Staines. In 1979 I moved out to West End near Chobham Surrey and when I retired in 1999 I was still in DIY retailing - at a shop in Lightwater. 

I must commend Tony and all the other ex movers for giving me the opportunity to reminisce old times. I must admit that I learnt more during my three years in the RAF than I did in the previous six years. It was there to be learnt! I expect a few of you flew with Huntings or Eagle as we had lots of Ministry contracts.

The last of the Summer wine, 2002

[Ed: There are more photographs of the early days in Air Movements in Dennis's profile on the web site.] 


80-year-old Bessie bursts into the recreation room at the retirement home. She holds her clenched fist in the air and announces, "Anyone who can guess what's in my hand can have sex with me tonight!" 

An elderly gentleman in the rear shouts out, "An elephant?" 

Bessie thinks for a minute and then replies, "Close enough!" 


From: Phil Clarke, Vienna, Austria
Date: 24 Feb 2003 05:23
Subject: New E-mail Address

Hi Mate,

New e-mail, and work fax number.

Philip M Clarke
Austrian Airlines Technik
Material Planning & Purchasing
Tel:- +43 1 7000 75124
Fax:- +43 1 7007 62359
Mob:- +43 676 5455015


From: Ron Turley, Doha, Qatar
Date: 25 Feb 2003 00:19
Subject: A Letter Home From a Marine with the Multinational Force in Bosnia 

Hi Tony, 

This is topical and may be of interest. Camp Bondsteel is, of course, in Kosovo NOT Bosnia!

Dear Dad, 

A funny thing happened to me yesterday at Camp Bondsteel (Bosnia): A French army officer walked up to me in the PX, and told me he thought we (Americans) were a bunch of cowboys and were going to provoke a war in Iraq. He said if such a thing happens, we wouldn't be able to count on the support of France. 

I told him that it didn't surprise me. Since we had come to France's rescue in World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and the Cold War, their ingratitude and jealousy was due to surface, again, at some point in the near future anyway. 

I also told him that is why France is a third-rate military power with a socialist economy and a bunch of faggots for soldiers. I additionally told him that America, being a nation of deeds and action, not words, would do whatever it had to do, and France's support, if it ever came, was only for show anyway. 

Just like in all NATO exercises, the US would shoulder 85% of the burden, and provide 85% of the support, as evidenced by the fact that this French officer was shopping in the American PX, and not the other way around. 

He began to get belligerent at that point, and I told him if he would like to, I would meet him outside in front of the Burger King and whip his ass in front of the entire Multi-National Brigade East, thus demonstrating that even the smallest Americans had more fight in them than the average Frenchman. 

He called me a barbarian cowboy and walked away in a huff. 

With friends like these, who needs enemies? 

Dad, tell Mom I love her, 

Your loving daughter 

Lt. Col. Mary Beth Johnson USMC 


From: David Cromb, Brisbane Qld., Australia
Date: 24 Feb 2003 20:19
Subject: New E-mail Address

Have had huge problems since that virus attack. Please note new address.  Please acknowledge as I couldn't connect with Webmaster.




From: Gordon Gourdie, Euxton, UK
Date: 26 Feb 2003 06:23
Subject: Ferrari Fire Pit Crews

Hi Tony,

Jim Aitken is quite right, London or Birmingham could have been used, BUT Scousers do it so much better don't you think?

Don't know why "Giuseppe" should take the hump. We Jocks get our fair share of stick as do Taffs and Paddies.




Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend!

Best regards