06 March 2008

Canada in the winter - we had a storm yesterday that dumped 6" of fresh white stuff on us, and on the weekend we have two storms coming at us over a 48 hour period where we are expecting in excess of an additional 50cm (20").  At least Pig Clarke down there in Burlington will be able to give his new snow blower a good workout - if he hasn't broken it already.

New members recently joined are:

Charles Gibson from Dundee, Scotland

John Newton from Richmond, N. Yorks, England

Welcome to the OBA!

From: Gordon Gourdie, Chorley
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 03:38
To: Tony Gale, Roger Blow, Chas Cormack
Subject: RE: Hammond and Hudson

Hi Guys,

I seem to recall reporting on Dave Hammond some years ago on here but just to recap. I met Dave whilst we were both working for the then British Aircraft Corporation at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia where he was fondly known by all and sundry as the " Hollywood Storeman ". This was in the late 70's early 80's. I always found Dave to be a most pleasant and generous chap and he often invited me round for a meal which was invariably a ring stinging chilli or curry.

It was a great source of pride to him that his constant flatulence was cited as being one of the causes of his marriage breakdown.

I probably saw Dave last in 1986 and as far as I know he was resident in Texas, (Houston I think).

With regard to the other character, he was at Dhahran during the same period and worked in the Purchasing Department. The two were not on socialising terms as far as I know and I shall refrain from making any further comment about that individual

Regards to all,



From: David Howley, Melton Mowbray
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 03:50
Subject: RE: UKMAMS OBA - OBB#022908

Hi Tony,

That is definitely Keith Smith – were we all that young looking once! Great person. I last saw him at Colin Allen’s retirement bash at the School.



It's illegal to clean your car with used underwear in San Francisco

From: Keith Hubbard, Tenby
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 07:01
Subject: Ablaut

Hi Tony

I was at Akrotiri, on Station movements (Air Cargo) at this time and as you correctly say, everything going on to Dhekelia was double handled.

Fortunately we had an attachment of Royal Marines with us also had a couple of American Navy guys, so manpower was not a problem.

Keith Hubbard


From: Ian Place, Meanwood  
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 11:16
Subject: RE: Ablaut


 I've been away again, in the States this time, North Carolina, South Carolina and Phoenix Arizona -- nice weather there whilst the rest on the continent was suffering with snow and ice.

Anyway enough of me--you wanted to know some of my memories of Ablaut. I can tell you from a personal point it started one day after my 25th birthday--20th July 1974. I and my team (Hotel team, the ugly bunch as we were known), were whisked off to Akrotiri where surprise-surprise panic had spread in like wildfire.

I remember holidaymakers in their flip-flops walking off 70 sqn Hercs having to reboard 24 sqn Hercs parked on the other ramp. At the time we thought it was odd, but it was war so we assumed someone knew the greater plan.

Bristol Britannia's, which were heading down route to Changi, were turned around and sent back to Fairford(Brize was closed for re-surfacing) and they were turning back to the ramp before take off as they did not have enough fuel!

Pallet loads and flat floor loads of medical supplies flown in from all over--hard work. All over in 10days all the Landrovers ran out of fuel and we recovered on the 30th July to Fairford.

Not much else I can remember except that we were dry, no alcohol for 10 days as no one had the time to go and get any


Before the Rockies or the Alps were formed, the dinosaurs were already extinct.

From: Ian Stacey, Chicago, IL
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 17:09
Subject: Dave Stephen's Sunbeam Talbot

Hi Tony,

I was just reading the latest brief and Dave Stephens question about the Sunbeam Talbot he sold to Mike Green. Dave was right, that was a beautiful car, selling it to Green was like casting pearl's before swine!

One week four of us went to Wales for a white water canoeing trip (down the Teifi) and we went in that car - it was luxury personified. The four of us were Mike, myself, John Dunn and Nigel (Noddy) Sanders.

Anyway, the reason for this message is to tell Dave that he wont hear from Mike for a few weeks because he is currently spending five weeks in Australia.

I know what happened to that car! - but I should really let Mike report on its ultimate demise when he returns from Oz.




From: Charles P Collier, Marlborough
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 17:34
Subject: Trip up country


I continue the last story about being appointed bodyguard to Sqn Ldr Alan D’Arcy of HQ Middle East Command (HQMEC).

We travelled out from Khormaksar on a Beverley of No 84 Sqn, staging at Habilayne camp where you see a travel control security check carried out by the Beverley crew in progress. This was on the emplaning of Federal National Guard (FNG) soldiers at the staging post. Alan D’Arcy is seen walking on the perimeter in the distance passing his time during this turnaround.
Habilayne Flag Stop  Arrival at Ataq

We arrived at Ataq and were met by representatives of the Upper Aulaqi tribe including their leader called the Naib.


Here he is, in western dress, firing his pistol as a practice shoot, again to pass the time, whilst waiting for the tribal transport to take us to the Arab town of Nisab.





You see Alan leaning against the Naib’s vehicle and the leader’s Chief of Staff looking into the distance for sight of them.





These duly arrived: Landrovers driven by Arab drivers over the barren countryside at high speed, with tribesmen escorts armed to the teeth.

These high rise buildings were built entirely of mud with very thick walls at the base and the atmosphere inside very cool during the heat of midday with draughts allowed through the windows, although being ornate wooden frames, but with no glass so cooling air moves freely. 

At this point I must explain the role of Alan D’Arcy’s trip up country. He was a secretarial officer at HQMEC but was also a fluent Arab speaker; and as such he had offered his services of Arabic translation to the HQ branch concerned. Hence, he was asked to visit the leader of the Upper Aulaqi tribe and to explain to him what British government policy was with regard to their tribal future in the politics of the day.

I must explain further what the situation was in the colony at that time. The British Government had made a rather vague statement that the end of British control of Aden was on the horizon. This was a highly political statement for it unleashed a fever of nationalism amongst the Aden Arab workforce. They considered themselves head and shoulders above their countrymen in the tribes of the surrounding area. As time went by this national fervour spawned extremist groups which were: Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY) an Egyptian sponsored group and the National Liberation Front (NLF).

Another Egyptian sponsored grouping but with different objectives and methodology so they were in direct competition and daggers drawn at each other in their respective race to replace the British with their form of government when we left.

What had put the cat amongst the pigeons was the British decision – which had been maintained throughout - to devolve power to the tribal leaders and a new government HQ building was constructed and commissioned for use at Al Ittihad for this purpose.

The Aden Arab workforce were far from happy to be ruled after independence by a bunch of feudal tribal warlords who, in their opinion, came out of a16th century world and not the then present 20th century day of commerce, trade and distribution.

Also, in 1967 the Arab/Israeli war was in full swing so Cairo was spreading propaganda saying that we – the British in Aden - were aiding and abetting the Jewish Nation in the slaughter of brother Arabs on the Golan Heights!

So, it was to counter these untruths that Alan was sent to Nisab to give the correct British interpretation of events leading to our pull-out from Aden in 1967. Although, he was unaware of what was in store, as traumatic events took place after we left and for which we had no control.

To be continued.

All the best to you all


Prince Charles owns a collection of toilet seats

From: John Bell, Cairns, Qld. 
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 19:33
Subject: Belize Roulement


Interesting to read Chas Cormack’s letter on the Belize Roulement. They were always one of the best tasks.

I’m not sure if the following incidents occurred on one detachment or over two. (The timelines blur with the passing of the years).

I was with Taff (Clive) Price at the Nassau end while the rest of the team were doing the sharp end. We had had a good night at the “Junkanu” nightclub and as a result had no sleep.

We arrived at the Hastings very early, about 30 minutes before the crew and the squaddies and their baggage were due. After laying out the baggage net we sat down and waited for the pax.

The next thing I remember was being woken by Taff. The troops had arrived, Taff had loaded their baggage, finished the trim sheet, ready for me to sign, and boarded the pax, whilst I slept through it all. I awoke to see a squaddie leaning over me ready to get into “His” seat and the whole pax load and crew having a good laugh at me. Thanks Taff!

Another time the UKMAMS team and ATLO were in the hut on the pan and two busloads of soldiers pulled up ready to board the inbound Britannia back to the UK. A 2nd Lieutenant came into the hut and asked if the Brit, now on finals, was on time. A young SAC shouted across something like “24 hour delay – come back same time tomorrow” as a joke.

The Army officer quickly left the hut, jumped on the coach and the two coaches left, before anyone could stop them. We sent a Landover and the same SAC to the Army holding area to bring them back but it was too late. The soldiers, delighted at the chance of a night in Nassau, had dispersed throughout the town. The next few hours was spent rounding up as many as they could to make up a return load for the Brit. Somehow this was achieved, but not with the original chalk. They had to bring forward some guys from the next chalk. Happy days!

Cairns, Sunny Queensland
(How can a State have 68% of its area declared a drought zone and 65% declared a flood zone?  This was the recent situation in Queensland. Answer: Flash floods that miss the reservoir catchment areas. Odd!)



From: Basil Hughes, Pattaya
Sent: Friday, February 29, 2008 20:22
Subject: Memories

Thanks for the latest update

Chas and I and are remembering things from the very early years -- is anyone interested?

Nassau -- I am sure we used Argosies for my trip as I remember that we had filled the Unit box with pineapples and it had to go by Argosy which had engine problems on the way back and was delayed. The fruit was rotten when it got back and had damaged that little electric photocopying machine we used to curse on the way back -- I say curse but at least it worked better that the Canon which has just packed up on me again. What was that little electric photocopier called?

My team did not visit any of the places he named as we found that in stead of spending 7 shillings for a bottle of beer in the hotel and the tourist area we could go over the Hill and buy beer at 1 shilling a bottle. Of course we were slightly lighter in colour to those we were drinking with but we met several who had seen service in the RAF in WWII so the parties went on for a long time. In fact I cannot remember the end of one of them as I was woken up by a very sunburned young lady who told me that her Dad was starting the car to take me to the hotel. The car was the biggest heap of rust I had ever seen but it could go. How the others got back I never found out and we all kept very quiet but every at every opportunity disappeared over the Hill.

Jamaica - - Our team went there but for some reason we were one member light so we enlisted the aid of a member of the Stores staff who had been born on the Island. I remember the RAFA club and a team member and a dog sleeping together on the floor plus a visit to a member of our additional members family home . It had taken 30 sticks of explosive to blast the site out of the hill and the view was magnificent. Our host realised that we were thirsty and put a large bottle of Coke on the center of the table and a bottle of white rum in front of each of us.

The hotel we stayed at was very grand but I cannot remember the name except the word Grey comes into my mind. Those hot grapefruit with honey for breakfast! We also were taken to a bar -- a large space resembling a barn with many small tables and chairs on the ground floor and a balcony all round at with broken stairs up to it with small cubicles with a curtain over the door. I don't know what was in the cubicles.

Please remind me Chas about Italy what was the name of the airfield?  I remember some connection with the Dr Barnardoes home down the road from Abingdon

I don't know whether it is of interest to any of our old comrades but if they come to Pattaya there is a branch of the British Legion which meets every Sunday. I can give them details if they contact me but I cannot get there as much as I would like as I and busy teaching.  My group this session is 5 strong and consists of one lady who sells parrots, two who work in local banks and two lawyers. -- I worry that if I retire I will expire so I carry on teaching!

Regards to all


There were over 300 banana related accidents in Britain in 2001 - most people slipped on peels

Mystery Photo #030608


From: James Aitken, Brisbane, Qld.

Sent: Sunday, March 02, 2008 16:03
Subject: Pension petition

A new petition to Downing Street regarding "frozen pensions"  Maybe the PM will get sick of us enough to do something about it !!



Please sign the new e-petition. /

The routine is the same as the previous one. You fill in your name and address and email. As you do not live in the UK you select the drop down box and identify yourself as an expatriate.

The e-petition site will send you an email. You must then click on the link to confirm that you wish to be listed as a signatory.

You can only use your email address once, but you can include two names on the signature line.

In Sweden, it's against the law to teach a seal to balance a ball on its nose.

From: Dave Wilkin, Essex
Sent: Tuesday, March 04, 2008 16:44
Subject: Mystery Photo 022908


Ref the mystery photo 022908 - The photo is of  part of the Supply & Movements Flight RAF Masirah. Taken during the 1963/64 shipping season.

Yes we did use the railway to move stores from the jetty to the various compounds around the station.

As the O F T did not come on line until late 1964 the trains were also used to move bulk fuel (Avgas Avtur Diesel Civgas) in 45 gall drums to the various fuel dumps .

Right now before I get the thumb screws out, how did you get a copy of that photo?

Ref the terrible two H and H of Abingdon. I could relate a few tales of that pair.


Dave Wilkin

Tsk tsk Dave - you ought to know better than to ask an ex-MAMS gentleman where he managed to purloin something! Remember the old MAMS addage!


From: Steve Tomlinson, Brisbane, Qld. 
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 07:40
Subject: DC

Hi Tony

After 4 weeks straight work (Ops & Teaching) I’ve managed to wangle a 3 days off before I have to
travel down to Melbourne on Monday for some more instructing!

Hoping to drop in on DC tomorrow, will let you know what transpires.

Best regards


For more than 600 years, the official language in England was....   French.

From: John Tudor, Stevenston
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 07:02
Subject: Gordon Woods

I am sorry to say that Gordon is terminally ill with Cancer. It would appear that his wife Pat and the family are fully resigned to the fact that they won't have Gordon around much longer.

He is under the care of the Macmillan nurses and doctors.

I will inform you of any further developments.


From: Malcolm Porter, London
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 09:53
Subject: Re: Gordon Woods

I didn't know Gordon but as an ex Mover may I extend my thoughts to his family.

Malcolm Porter
(Surface Mover 1960-1963 Air Movs thereafter until 1973)


From: Di and Paul Weir, Leighton Buzzard
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 11:54
Subject: Re: Gordon Woods

Hi Tony,

Very sorry to hear about Gordon being very seriously ill.  I didn't know Gordon, but I have heard of him in my travels whilst in the RAF.

It's always very sad to hear about one of our "Movers" suffering like this.  If you are in the position please pass on my condolences to his family.

Take Care

Paul (Stretch) Weir.


From: David Cromb, Brisbane, Qld.
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 16:10
Subject: Re: Gordon Woods

HI Tony,

More terrible news eh?  It seems to be all around us, my problems fade into insignificance in comparison.

I tasked with Gordon on many occasions, he was & still is a wonderful person.

Please convey our deepest sympathies to Gordon & his family.

Kindest regards,

DC & family.


From: Ian Envis, Crowborough  
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 18:37
Subject: Re: Gordon Woods

The worse thing Tony, there are so many good guys and their families who are, as we write, suffering.

As you say - thoughts & prayers.

Ciao Ian

Ian Envis
Mob: + 44 (0) 7785 231 936


From: John Tudor, Stevenston
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2008 17:38
Subject: Re: Gordon Woods

Tony, could you please add that any correspondence on this matter comes through me please as we are in daily contact with Pat and family and we don't want them distracted in any way.



That's it for this week

We're all thinking of you Gord, be brave.