28 March 2003


A new member joining us this week is Ivan Gervais from Warrington

Welcome to the OBA!


From: Ken Wright, Liverpool, UK
Date: 17 Mar 2003 17:03
Subject: Heads Down...


Just wanted to say good luck to any of our people able to read this who will be involved in the Gulf operations.

We are all behind you and are praying for your safe return. 

Heads down

Ken Wright


From: Jack Riley, Urangan Qld., Australia
Date: 19 Mar 2003 19:30
Subject: Iraq

I would like "our" teams and their families to know that they are very much in our minds and prayers.

We look forward to your speedy and safe return.

Go well.

Jack Riley


From: John Belcher, Chippenham, UK
Date: 20 Mar 2003 16:20
Subject: BZZ Station Commander's Accolades


This is the first paragraph from the Station Commander’s foreword of the Brize Norton station magazine.

“Looking out over a pan full of Boeing 747s, Antonovs and a variety of charter aircraft in addition to our own, one might be forgiven for thinking this was Heathrow rather thank Brize Norton! This has been one of the busiest periods Brize Norton has ever seen and my major task for this month is to say thank you all those people involved in making it happen. 

At the forefront have been our Movements staffs. I joined the shifts as they dealt with the second day of a 747-load of passengers being delayed for diplomatic clearance reasons. Standing at the check-in desk, I was amazed at how rude passengers could be; how they abused their ranks to vent their frustrations at our men and women; and how they asked for things we could not provide. I was extremely impressed with the way our young and often inexperienced movers dealt with everyone with patience, politeness and a smile – and this was just one day of many. 

As aircraft went unserviceable or got delayed, loads had to be moved around, re-packed and sorted out, involving everyone working together in a very hard and time consuming task. A big thank you to all the movers – I don’t envy you your jobs!”

Group Captain J Lamonte



An actual letter handed to a flight attendant
on a  recent Qantas flight. 


From: John Belcher, Chippenham, UK
Date: 20 Mar 2003 16:40
Subject: Updated Profile

I joined the RAF on the 31st of January 1984 at Bristol CIO. After Swinderby, I arrived at the Movements School to be greeted by the instructors, Sgt. Bruce Oram and Cpl. John Conduit for the operators course (number 51 – the 152 Operators started recently). I managed to scrape through the course and was posted to B-Shift, UKMAMS in June of 1984. There I stayed until December 1986, when I passed the Mobile course and was put on Hotel team. B-Shift had only put me on the Mobile course in order for me to learn to drive forklifts! 

To begin with I was on the supplementary team - November or Papa. My first task was a standby job to Watisham to offload a UAE Hercules. It was carrying missiles, Sidewinders, I think. After the offload, which the aircrew completed for us, we flew with our Landrover back to Lyneham. That was an eye-opener for this first time Muppet; only 2 strops on the Rover, and no restraint on the mountain of crew bags, which promptly fell over on takeoff! 

I had just settled in to Mobile and had completed 3 or 4 jobs when PMC sent me to Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands. I had an excellent 4 months, the other movers making the tour: Tony Dunphy, Jim Muir, Nip Betts, Dave Salmon, Tim Pyne and Colin Menmuir, to mention but a few. 

On my return I had moved up the tasking board and Hotel team welcomed me. The team consisted of Fg.Off. (now Sqn. Ldr.) Simon Fletcher, Flt.Sgt. (now Mr) Mick McMahon , Sgt. (now Mr.)Dave Roberts, Cpl. (now Flt.Sgt.) Steve Bishop and SAC (now Sgt.) Baz Murphy. We seemed to be lucky, and were tasked as a team for most of the time (well, we seemed to do a lot of the 5 Airborne exercises together). 

In January 1989, after 2 years on Mobile, PMC decided that I had had enough fun, and sent me to Belize. By the time I left Hotel team, there had been a few changes and the team consisted of Fg.Off.Lee Doherty (Now Wg. Cdr. and a former OC UKMAMS), Mick McMahon, Phil Smith, Cpl. Stu Whitton and SAC Jase Holmes, whom I had been with in the Falklands. Jase was killed in a motor bike accident in 1996. 

While in Belize, I started to get a complex about being followed by a short Italian speaking Flt.Sgt - George Lynes. He had been in MAMS Ops while I was on Mobile and arrived half way through my tour in Belize as the Flt.Sgt. Air Movements Flight. 

At the end of the 6 months (actually 5 months and 3 days), I was posted back to Lyneham, this time to A-Shift. The Warrant Officer was Terry Roberts, who saw the light and became Mr. Roberts of Swindon, to be replaced by the self same short Italian speaking Flt.Sgt. now promoted to Warrant Officer. 

I had been on A-Shift for 6 months when PMC made a mistake, as I hadn't saved enough tokens from my cornflake packets, and sent me a blue letter saying that I was to be promoted to Cpl. I was promoted 6 months later in May 1990. This came just at the right time, as I was getting married in July 1990, and the extra money helped. 

Whilst I was on my honeymoon, a bloke called Hussein decided he wanted to see what Kuwait was like as a holiday destination. I got back to work to find that the RAF had started the Operation Granby deployment without me. A rather frantic 4 months followed, although I did manage to get Christmas and Boxing days off. 

There was a payback though; MAMS Ops had asked the shifts to supply 3 men to go to the Gulf on the 5th of January for a month (while I was away I had apparently "volunteered"). 

My month started on January 5th and ended on March 25th! I spent the whole time at Riyadh, apart from a quick trip to Ali Al Salem to recover the RAF Regiment NBC team. Tornadoes and other allied aircraft had visited the airfield. The HAS (Hardened Aircraft Shelter - supposedly bombproof) all had neat holes in the roofs. In 1998, Ali Al Salem became the base for Tornadoes for the no-fly zones over Iraq. 

After I got back I stayed on A-shift until the 1st August 1993, when I was allowed back on Mobile by my wife and son, George (despite many coments, he was NOT named after a short Italian speaking WO). He had been born on the 29th December 1991 (Yes! 9 months and 4 days after I got back from the Gulf!!). 

This time I was put on November team. I spent exactly 1 year on Mobile this time. In that time I was twice sent to Italy for a month long detachment. Gio Del Colle, which was the base for Jaguars supporting the forces in Bosnia, and Ancona for the Sarejevo airlift. 

On the 2nd of August 1994, PMC decided that I had worked hard enough, and needed another holiday. I was posted to Gibraltar, and had an excellent 3 years there with the likes of Dave Wall, Ken Morris and Colin Jehan. Dave sadly died very suddenly in 1995.

On returning to the UK, it was back to Lyneham yet again and to Day Pax where I remained until March 2001. I am now an NVQ and Key Skills assessor working from the Movements School. I say working from as I am officially based at Innsworth and detached permanently to the School. I am studying part time to become a lecturer for post compulsory education and have gained the Assessor and Internal Verifiers qualifications – ready for my discharge in Jan 2006.

2nd February 2003 saw Rachel and I becoming parents for the second time when James was born. 

Finally a confession for all those Muppets who took the mobile course between 1981 and 1984. These courses were subjected to intruder attacks during their field training. Kev Timms from MAMS Training was an instructor with the Chippenham ATC and trained the cadets to act as intruders - the infamous Timms Commandos. Well, I was one of them! 


Iraq - People are dying -


From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, UK
Date: 21 Mar 2003 21:30
Subject: Landings and Take Offs

Hi Tony

Interesting Take Offs and Landings

In 1968 F team were on a North American task, deploying in an otherwise empty Belfast. Our first port of call was McClelland AFB which we approached in the lazy afternoon sunshine.

We were strapped in down the back in the old blue sticky seats. Nothing untoward on the approach, but at the first 'touch' of terra firma the aircraft bounced quite violently, came back to earth with a bang and then proceeded to fish tail down the runway, making an incredible racket augmented by the empty hold of the Belfast while we watched the sun - through alternative sides of the aircraft!

Apparently it was: 
a) A co-pilot's landing, the skipper took over on the first bounce, and 
b) Although the tower called a 4 knot port cross wind, the controller actually meant to say 40 knots starboard cross wind!

We had left some interesting tyre marks across the whole width of the runways as well as most of the BZZ inventory markings which had once adorned the side-walls of the tyres.

Needless to say, a rather shaken crew and MAMS team, waited for a flat calm before lifting once more into the luft.

David Powell 
F Team 1967-69


From: Charles Collier, Marlborough, UK
Date: 25 Mar 2003 03:55
Subject: Another AA Story, Circa 1958

Hello Tony

Yes, my first days in the RAF were at RAF Halton - No 1 school of RAF Technical Training - from 1958 to 1961. As I explained life was not our own. We were first accommodated in the Initial Training Flight for four months. Thirty or so young men of 16 and 17 years of age were in each of the 6 rooms of the three floor barrack block. Monday to Saturday life was frenetic - I don't think we were ever still for more than two minutes! Except, for three Sundays in the month which did not involve a church parade.

So, what did we get up to? Well, on this occasion we decided that we could have our own swimming pool - en suite - so to speak! Let me explain: the ablutions were on each floor on the middle bit of the three floor barrack block that sticks out to the rear. We were issued with foot long sticks of bull soap to carry out block cleaning. We had stored away a number of the soaps and when put these on the central heating radiators they became malleable. So, dressed for swimming and armed with these soaps we proceeded to the ablutions and closed the door. 

Carefully, with the bull soap, we sealed all the door and drains and the turned on all the taps - warm and cold. It took about half an hour to reach six inches of depth. But after two hours we had two foot of water in which to support our bodies floating about. We then turned the taps off! I suppose that the thrill was now at an end. And we realised that it was going to take more time to drain the water from the ablutions as it was not under the same pressure as that from the water board! We removed the seals of bull soap and waited. Ever so slowly the level diminished. When it was at about three inches, some bright spark managed to open the door - and that did it! Gallons of the stuff cascaded down the three story barrack block - Thank goodness nobody was on the staircase at the time!

We did enjoy ourselves with mind provoking activity - we were doing calculus at the school at the time and the filling of a swimming pool - and draining was easily worked out by that mathematical system - we proved it!

Keep smiling all of you



From: Rip Kirby, Somewhere Sandy
Date: 26 Mar 2003 13:34
Subject: Arabian Nights – Gulf Update 2

Well, greetings again one and all from an Infidel in the land of camels, sand and oil. A somewhat sombre update this time, for obvious reasons, but not too downbeat I hope.

As you are no doubt well aware, fighting in the Gulf commenced nearly a week ago at the time of writing. The Coalitions’ (or was it just the USA) final 48hr ultimatum to Saddam was a bit of a surprise as most of us still thought the politicians would pull a negotiated settlement out of the bag, and that maybe the UN inspectors would be given more time. That said, in some ways, the start of hostilities was somewhat relieving (perhaps the wrong phrase) in that at least something was happening. Some of the guys and gals had been in country for quite some time awaiting developments. So, things got real serious real fast. I won’t dwell on the military campaign up north too much – there’s enough of that on the telly. Suffice to say it is quite a different crusade from Gulf War 1 twelve years ago, with different objectives and obstacles to overcome.

I would suggest that the outcome is not in doubt, what is concentrating our minds now is the aftermath. A lot depends on what happens next and what the UK’s role in post war Iraq is going to be. Not being privy to Messrs Bush and Blair's plans, we do not know yet if we will be sticking around to do (even more) peace keeping and humanitarian activities, or if that will be given over to the UN.

Therefore, no time-scale yet for getting home. As things progress, my colleagues up north in Kuwait will probably move forward into Iraq and some of here may head up to take their place. After the conflict, as I said, much depends on Britain's role. Even if we hand over to the UN fairly quickly there is a huge amount of men and material to organise getting home. That said, what generally happens in respect of us mobile movers and porters from Lyneham is that once we have done our duty hero bit, other guys from elsewhere in the trade are gradually sent out to take over from us. So fingers crossed on that score. Take note Mr Blair, I have a sweetheart to re-acquaint myself with, end of RAF career re-training to do, and a ski-bum goatee beard to cultivate. 

Now, what has been happening here in Fujairah since my first newsletter some three weeks ago. Well, we got real hectic real fast. Went from accepting one medium sized freighter from UK, and launching 3 or 4 of our smallish sized planes up north per day – to getting one medium and 2 really really big freighters in from UK and sending up to 8 missions out each day….all in the space of 10 days. Plus several odds and sods ad hoc flights in and out from time to time. In addition – lots of stuff seemed to be in the wrong places and we also spent considerable time and effort getting it to where it should be. I swear that the airport is now 2 inches lower due to the weight of all the cargo we had backlogged here at one point. But, as always, we clever movers and porters had a cunning plan. Managed to shift a fair proportion of stuff by ship in one job lot (was actually quicker than trying to move it piecemeal over a period of time). Also enticed more crews and planes to migrate out here and assist in the airlift. 

As we were still running with the original manpower level we had at the beginning, we were a tad busy as you can imagine. Even the flight operations guys forgot their squabble about the format of the departures board. The jungle drums beat out requests for extra help and eventually reinforcements arrived to assist. And not a moment too soon. The troops were surviving on coffee, adrenaline, takeaway KFC and little sleep. Things appear to have calmed down a little now. The big air-lifters went away for a while, the freight mountain has all but disappeared and we actually cancelled a planned flight last night due to lack of cargo for that particular destination. Nobody is sure if this will continue or if it’s just the eye of the storm soon to return. But we are taking advantage of the break and recharging batteries while we can. And to top it all – I had a much needed day off today: first one since I got here on 4th Mar. Snoozed much of it - 12 hrs on 12 hrs off does get to you after a while. Spent a good 40 mins on the phone to my beloved - we are having new central heating installed it seems (“they were having a sale”), last time I went away a new kitchen was bought, the time before that it was a conservatory ! (sorry Myrah, just having a laugh – yes we DID discuss it before I left !) and generally mooched about. Pretty refreshed now and ready to get back in the fray tomorrow. 

Mind you, for all our woes here we are uncomfortably aware that our colleagues up north are having a much rougher time of it. Though probably as busy (if not busier) as they are at work our domestic situation is infinitely easier. I guess you could argue that those are the breaks and it could easily have been the other way ‘round: us up there and them down here. And we may yet go forward to do our bit too.

Well, reckon I’ve bored you enough for this time. As always, thanks for listening to the ramblings of this demented military genius. Hope you and yours are all hale and hearty. 

Till next time – Slainte Mhate !

PS. Postal address for those that want it is: 
FS CJ Kirby, 
Op Telic, 
BFPO 673.


From: Karl Hibbert, Doha, Qatar
Date: 26 Mar 2003 23:00 (Arab Time)
Subject: Change of E-mail Address

Hotmail spam is now running to about 30+ per week. I have got to stop using this hotmail address. Would love to receive your e-mails at  

Take care, be safe.



A guy walks into a quiet bar carrying three ducks-one in each hand and one under his left arm. He places them on the bar, has a few drinks, and chats with the bartender. 

The Bartender is experienced and has learned not to ask people about the animals that they bring into the bar, so he doesn't mention the ducks. 

He and the guy chat for about 30 minutes before the guy has to go to the restroom. Now, the bartender is alone with the ducks. After an awkward silence, he decides to try to make conversation. "What's your name?" he says to one of the ducks. 

"Huey," answers the first duck. 

"How's your day been, Huey?" 

"Great. Lovely day. Had a ball. Been in and out of puddles all day." 

"Oh, that's nice," says the bartender. Then he says to the second duck, "And what's your name?". 

"Dewey," comes the answer. 

"So how's your day been, Dewey?" 

"Great. Lovely day. Had a ball. Been in and out of puddles all day. If I had the chance, I would do it all again." 

The bartender turns to the third duck and says, "So, you must be Louie." 

"No," growls the third duck, "my name is Puddles and don't ask about my day." 


Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend!

Best regards