Gatineau/Ottawa
28 March 2008

 

New members recently joining us are:

Alex Masson from Chelmsford, UK

Alan Brooks from Birmingham, UK

Welcome to the OBA!

 

From: Tony Gale, Gatineau/Ottawa
Sent: Sunday, 10 February 2008 1:57 a.m.
To: Tony Millsom, RNZAF
Subject: Air Movements

Dear Wing Commander Millsom,

I am (founding member) Secretary and Webmaster for the United Kingdom Mobile Air Movements Squadron Old Bods Association (UKMAMS OBA) which is a privately run web-based organisation devoted to maintaining contact between current and former members of the Royal Air Force Air Movements organisation. The membership is currently 400 +/- RAF Movers and ex-RAF Movers living around the world.

Since any disaster relief or armed intervention generally involves the RAF working very closely with many Commonwealth forces, I am leaning towards building a sister organisation to the OBA comprising of Commonwealth Air Force Air Movements people where experiences can be shared, old friendships renewed and new friendships formed.

The website is at: http://www.ukmamsoba.com – there are no membership fees required and no tacky advertisements anywhere on the site.

I am in search of a person in your organization, possibly someone who is now retired, a movements Guru perhaps, who would be willing to act as an initial Liaison. The only qualifications are a positive attitude and computer literacy with the ability to scan photographs. Perhaps you might know someone who would fit the role?

Sincerely,

Tony Gale
Secretary & Webmaster
UKMAMS Old Bods Association
Gatineau/Ottawa, Canada
Tel: 819-684-9140
Mob: 613-255-8465
http://www.ukmamsoba.com

All the ammunition we were allowed was 5 bullets - I wonder how many died because of that?

From: Charles P Collier, Marlborough
Sent: Saturday, March 08, 2008 07:50
Subject: Aden was an eye opener 4

Carrying on with my account of life in Arabia Felix with Alan D’Arcy it follows:

Having arrived at the Arab town of Nisab we were taken to our accommodation, a white building of mud in the shape of a stockade on the outskirts of the town. You see Alan walking towards the building alone.

He was play-acting for the photograph, carrying his briefcase and dressed in an Arab futah (skirt) pretending to be the typical British colonialist about to take over a fort with just modest physical exertion!

During the history of South Arabia since Capt Haines of the Indian Navy captured Aden in 1839; only Aden town itself was taken and the vast hinterland beyond was left to its own warlike way of life. The sole attempt at pacifying the Northern tribes was to send Arabic speaking political officers out to ethnic areas to report back to Aden on local intelligence gained and to make friends with local leaders to try and bring them into the British scheme of tactics and policy for the area. So, it was to the old political officer’s residence at Nisab that we were about set up the accommodation for a 10 day stay. The building was protected with one entrance gate which could be securely locked.

We were in a male preserve where the prowess of each man was measured by his ability to fire his weapon accurately. In other words, to kill the enemy with as few rounds as possible.

In the town, women were there, but hidden from view whilst strangers were in their midst. Although youngsters, of either sex, could roam around unhindered.


The Tribal leaders decided that the next day - after Alan and I were refreshed - we should all go for a picnic in the desert close to the edge of the Aulaqi territory.

The journey started early next morning before the sun rose too high in the sky so that we could get shelter from it, at the huge boulder you see here.

 

Our day out was to include a sumptuous meal which would be slaughtered and cooked on site. You see the meal tethered in the Landrover being completely unaware of what their future held for them!

Water was carried in hog skins so that coffee could be prepared and the cooks had their knives sharpened. We were going to the outer fringes of the tribal region so attack from neighbouring tribes and nationalists was a distinct possibility.

 

 

 

We enjoyed the meal which was indeed fresh meat cooked to perfection so it wasn’t long before the tribal warriors went to sleep, leaving specified watch keepers on the lookout of course!

 

 

 

After sleeping, shooting practice was the next item on the agenda. Here you see the Naib with his Russian AK 47 automatic rifle showing his men what a superb shot he was.

I was asked to compete but I chose to use my Walther pistol and with a suitable trajectory and after allowing for the wind, got near to the target at the extreme edge of my pistol’s range. Nevertheless, I was congratulated by the assembled warriors – it also, let me off the hook in case I showed greater ability than the Naib with his own weapon type!


 

Finally, a scrupulous tidy-up of the campsite so that others who visit will have no inkling of who was there before – a very necessary security precaution in this part of the world!

 

 

Until next time,

Regards

Charles

Looking forward to the next episode!

Sitting in the NAAFI eating baked beans on toast (Marmite on the toast) listening to "Go Now" by the Moody Blues

From: James Aitken
Sent: Sunday, March 09, 2008 00:33
To: enquiries@rnzrsa.org.nz
Subject: Air Chief Marshall Sir Keith Park

Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association


A friend of mine who Ivies in Te Aroha recently had an overseas visitor who wished to visit the birthplace of the esteemed RAF Air Chief MarshaII, Sir Keith Park, GBC, KBE, MC and Bar, DFC, who was born in Thames on the CoromandeI.

Imagine his horror when he discovered that there was no memorial or plaque to mark his birthplace. Even worse, when enquiries were made at the visitor's centre, he was unknown !

Currently there is a move afoot in Britain to have this hero of not only the First World War, but the man who commanded the pilots in Southern England at the Battle of Britain, honoured by the erection of a bronze memorial statue in Trafalgar Square. The funds for this are already in place and a petition is in process to have the siting approved.

It would seem fitting that at Ieast some smaII memorial would be of interest to tourists as weII as IocaIs and that the staff of the visitors centre are made aware of the significance of this son of Thames.

Further information is available at the petition site: http://www.sirkeithpark.com/petition.aspx

Regards

James Aitken
ex Royal Air Force 1953-1961
Queensland
Australia

Does anyone know where Phil Clarke is? Last heard of in Vienna in 2003

From: Terry Mulqueen, Hastings
Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2008 10:34
Subject: Iranian Holiday!

Hi there,

At last I've found time to put pen to paper, or is it fingers to buttons now? We old fogeys will never get used to these new fangled instruments, I bet they don't even have Trim Sheets now do they? Still enough prattle...

Receiving a message from old Brian Kingdom reminded me of a wee "sojourn" we had in the company of one Dinger Bell in Bandar Abbas, Iran, ooh about a thousand years ago.

We were deployed (for want of a better word) to recover some Navy cargo left behind when they pulled out along with the defunct Shah. As soon as we landed and watched the Herc do a quick escape (!) we had an unexpected large reception committee, we thought, 'how hospitable.' We soon changed our minds as we learnt the smart Iranian gentlemen were all "Gestapo" types sent to watch our every move.

Afer settling into our Hotel and meeting the one RN resident, we inspected the "cargo"; a Land Rover and equipment - no problem we thought, our Herc will be with us the next day and we'll be on our way back to Nairobi.

Two weeks or so later, as we waited for the 4th promised Herc, we looked back on our fortnights' holiday. The "cargo" had now been claimed by the Iranians as we obviously didn't want it, we had survived 2 earthquakes -having witnessed the walls and ceiling of our hotel rooms parting company, and become quite used to the "clunk click"of the Iranian Gestapo listening in to my every phone call to the Air Attache in Teheran

Brian had now become good friends with the various dead fish he spoke to on his many wanderings between the "Rotting Hulks"on the "beach", Dinger had become an offficiano in making terrific Vodka and Coke, and luckilly we had befriended an ex Army Chopper pilot working for an oil company who finally put us out of our misery and flew us out after everyone it seemed had given up on us.

We finally arrived in Teheran to discover everyone and his mother was attempting to get out of the country. We at last smuggled ourselves onto a British Airways 747 en route from Singapore (by way of me giving the check in staff my biro and starting a standby passenger list with our 3 names at the very top!).

There's so much more I could relate to about this "wonderful" trip, it surely was a "one off". I was just so fortunate to be accompanied by 2 great guys who luckily shared my sense of humour. Oh yes, when we finally returned to Lyneham I had to fight to obtain allowances of a sort, all the while being told about the "X" Factor! Oh happy days.

Regards

Terry Mulqueen

I can just see you now Terry, wide-eyed grandchild on your knee, telling them of your tales from afar!

From: David Stevens, Bangor
Sent: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 07:51
Subject: RE: UKMAMS OBA - OBB #030608

Hi Tony

I do not have Ian Stacey's email so message for Ian: "Thanks for the info 'Stace'. I await Mike's response - with keen interest!!!!!! Not too late for a courts martial!!!!"

Derek Clayton, ex Mike's team, got in touch with me after my query about the Sunbeam, so that was good, but no info on the car.

Some more good stuff in the last newsletter. I did recognise the train engine in the previous pic comp. because I did my stint in Masirah. However, as I recall it was not in use then. How should I know I was only OC Supply!

I have booked in for the Big Bash at the end of September and so I hope to catch up with many friends then - not least Charlie Cormack of course.

Best regards

David

(I did respond to David regarding how to access member's e-mail addresses)

One teabag is good for a minimum of 4 cups of tea

From: Mike Green, Coventry
To: David Stevens
Subject: Rave From The Grave
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2008 17:46:00 +0000

Greetings from a chunk of your past!

What happens when I'm swanning around Australia? My name gets bandied around the ether and I find myself remembering good times and good blokes on my return!

Great to hear from you, Dave, and I seize this opportunity to congratulate you on your current work which puts lazy blighters like me to complete shame.

Well now, the old Sunbeam mark 3 series 90. You've probably imagined it going out in a blaze of glory - 100 mph pile up on the M1 or something else redolent of Brunhilde's immolation in Gotterdammerung!

The truth, I'm afraid is far more prosaic. When I left the Service in '68 at the end of my SSC I got a job as area manager with Regent/Texaco which, after a month's training, involved taking delivery of a company Cortina plus limitless supplies of free petrol. Although the company paid me far more than I was worth, I wasn't sufficiently wealthy to run two cars, so, through the agency of my brother, I sold it to a friend of his who had long coveted it. Unfortunately, not long afterwards the gearbox packed up and he got rid of it for little better than scrap! (much to the disgust of both me and my bro.) Moreover, the Cortina was crap, to coin a phrase. So there you have it. The only further thing to say is that I seem to remember you sold it to me not as a Car, but as a Gentleman's Sporting Carriage! I demand my 150 quid back!

Coming back to the old days on MAMS, I am still in touch pretty regularly by email with old Stacey over in Chicago, Pete Underwood from C team in Nova Scotia, and, as you already know, Derek Clayton here in UK. But I have bad news for you about poor old Nigel Healey. He died maybe 5 or 6 years ago. Ian Stacey found out when he phoned him and his nephew answered and told him the news. He was, I think, a very lonely man in recent years and never got round to doing all the improvements to his retirement property which I visited on a couple of occasions. I met up with him again for the first time since I left the Service at the 1992 reunion at Lyneham, where I also came across Stacey, Pete Underwood, Sandy Sandiford and Chas Cormack.

Talking of reunions, I am delighted to hear that you'll be at THE BASH in Sept. as my wife Pat & I will certainly be there, accidents etc. notwithstanding. I'm trying to persuade Ian to cross the Pond as well, and Pete is coming from Canada so it should be quite a hooly.

Just to finish off (as my 2 typing fingers are wearing out) I only spent a year with Texaco (hated it!) and after mature reflection (and 6 month's dole) I went to college to train as a teacher. The upshot was that I finished my working life as Head Teacher of a primary school in my home town of Coventry and retired in '96, since when I have given myself over to pleasure, relaxation, travel etc., much as I seem to remember I mostly did all those years ago in the mid 60's!

All the Best

Mike

From: Bob Dixon, Dauntsey,
Sent: Saturday, March 22, 2008 09:10
Subject: Support for the Gurkhas

Hello Tony

I received a message from Kevan Timms (many will remember Kevan) pointing out the injustice being done to the Gurkhas by the UK Government and, like Kevan, I feel very strongly about these fine soldiers.

I have reproduced below Kevan’s message and my response to it. Both messages went to wide number of friends but if you could publish it in the OBA Brief I think most Movers will support the petition of our Government.

Thanks! Our messages follow:

__________________________________

Hi All and a Happy Easter,

Asking you all here for a moment of your time. If you haven’t already done so, please spare a couple of minutes and log into the link below and sign up to the petition to allow all past serving soldiers of the Gurkha regiments to remain in this country and to receive the benefits to which they are surely entitled. I don’t often ask for such support but having served with these guys on a number of occasions and having experience of their standards and loyalty to this country, I have never felt so strongly and been so angry about such appalling behaviour by our government in the past. If you feel the same, please ..click!

Thanks

Kevan

______________________________________

Hi all

Thanks for the message from Kevan encouraging us to support the Gurkhas.

I have been involved with them since 1968 and also went to Nepal on several occasions delivering relief supplies from the Far East Air Force. I saw their homeland and, when flying over it, one marvels that the delivery of the meagre pensions to their hilltop villages by a young Army officer takes him on a 3 month trek each year. I also met Gurkhas who had carried their aging ex-military fathers to a meeting point on their backs for a week. To see them was a very humbling experience. I still have a pair of handmade cuff links they presented to me in 1969 which I still wear with pride on formal occasions.

The size of the pensions of pre-1990s retired Gurkhas is derisory but it is their only income. Although costs are far lower in Nepal than in the West, they are still not going to live in any luxury on the British pension. However, no group of people has a finer, more loyal, record of service to the UK and we owe them immense thanks and gratitude. Like Kevan, I am rarely moved to rail against the (many) stupidities of our MOD and Government(s) but this kind of treatment to such people makes you ashamed to be British and you wonder how much value was placed on your own 4 decades of service.

Rant over – do sign the petition! http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Gurkha-soldiers/

Cheers

Bob

PS – I will send this message to the UKMAMS OBA website which reaches many Movers, past and present, who have had contact with the Gurkhas and I am confident that they will support the petition.

R Dixon
Gp Capt (Retd)

Chairman
United kingdom Mobile Air Movements Squadron Association

They issued us with "Cold/Wet" gloves - How about some "Warm/Dry" ones for a change?

From: Terry Roberts, Swindon
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2008 05:42
Subject: FW: MoonWalk 2008

Hi

I would not normally forward this type of email but in this case it is a very worthy cause. I was only thinking the other day this time last year I was contacting you all about Derek Coles who passed away 1 April 2007 from cancer, I am sure we all know a friend, fellow mover or family member who has had cancer.

Derek Pilkington is still struggling with his fight with prostate cancer which has spread to his bones. I hope to go over and visit Derek & Trudy next Friday 28 March 2008.

Apologies if you have received the following message direct from Dona or Colin they are not aware that I am sending this to you.

Best regards

Terry Roberts

________________________________________
Subject: MoonWalk 2008

Hi everyone

As many of you will have heard, I'm in the middle of training for the London MoonWalk, which is a 26 mile walk through London on the night of Saturday 17th May (in aid of Breast Cancer) and would love you to sponsor me at the following website https://www.bmycharity.com/V2/Dona

Little did I know that the training would be so demanding. Jane (a very old friend) and I are out walking four times a week and so far our weekly total has reached 20 miles. In between the walking I'm at the gym using the treadmill or, attending Pilate classes - desperately trying to relax the muscles that have tightened during the walks.

The longest walk we have done so far is 8 miles, we have done this a few times now, the worst of which was last Sunday in the rain and sleet - we certainly aren't fair weather walkers any more.

In a couple of weeks time we have to do a 20 mile walk to build our endurance - I think I should get Colin to follow in the car just in case we need a quick rest.

Luckily we seem to be injury free, just the odd pain in the shins each time we step up the pace. Thank goodness we both invested in some decent trainers, mind you I think they will be worn thin by the time we finish the walk.

Well hope you can see your way to sponsoring our efforts - it is such a good cause.

Please do keep an eye on the website, I'll try to post weekly updates and new photos

Thanks in advance

Dona Allen

 

From: William Nangle, Kingston, ON
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2008 10:00
To: Terry Roberts
Subject: Derek Pilkington

Hi Terry,

My name is Bill Nangle and I was a member of UKMAMS in 1977-1979, and more importantly, Derek was my shift WO, I'm sure he will remember me as I was the only mad Canadian on D Shift.

I have been trying for a good number of years to find his address to write him a letter, but the old bugger is just too good at staying below the radar.

I went on to serve another 20 years in the Canadian air movements world after leaving the RAF in 1981, and I want Derek to know that he was the finest WO I ever had the honour to serve under, in either air force, nobody even came close to him as he set a very high standard.

After I was commissioned in the Canadian Forces I held every WO I had to his standard, few came close. But more importantly it was what he taught me as a young sprog, far from home, that has carried me through my air force career, and allowed me to go further than I, and I have no doubt Derek as well, ever thought.

Many a shift I remember him throwing himself on the floor and "performing" one handed push-ups to impress the new sprogs, their faces were always a picture after he informed them that he was still getting over heart surgery (which was still very new back then).

Could you please pass along my very best wishes and warmest regards to him? And if you could pass along his postal address I would appreciate it as I would love to write to him.

Cheers,
Bill Nangle
Kingston, Ontario

That heavy old Greatcoat smelled of mothballls - still, I wish I had one now...

From: Alex Masson, Chelmsford
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2008 12:18
Subject: The old trade!

A SIGHT TO GLADDEN THE EYE!

HASTINGS ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND

I was looking on the internet and came across this picture of a Hastings on Christmas Island. LOOK WHO is standing in the doorway of the aircraft, waiting for the Bedford Army lorry to be backed up, so that the five tons of fresh fruit and veg can be offloaded. Yep! the one with his hands resting on the top of the door is me!

The passengers (identifiable by wearing long trousers), and the crew (dressed in flying suits) have just left the plane. Note there are Army, Navy and RAF Officers as well as Civilians from the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment. By the look of the uniforms of some who have arrived they appear to be Americans.

The steps have been moved away and the lorry at the left of picture, is turning, facing the camera and the driver’s mate is jumping out in order to help the driver reverse to the doorway. Note the large ‘chock’ on the ground which was there to stop the lorry running into the plane.

There were no passengers on the aircraft arrival which I describe here in this extract from my memoirs! [does not pertain to this actual arrival, just typical arrivals of the day]:

The Hastings rolled in, more or less on time, and the two Bedford Army lorries, each with a driver and mate, appeared almost by magic and parked alongside our Section even before the plane had taxied to rest in front of us.

Before the marshaller had signalled the pilot to stop and cut the engines I was pushing the rickety wheeled steps out to the aircraft. As the thunder died from the Hercules 106's and the props whispered to a standstill, I steered them to the opening door high up on the Hastings side. Once in place, I bounded up them to be greeted by the Air Quartermaster who thrust the aircraft papers in my hand. "All yours." he said cheerfully and began removing the crew baggage. "Thanks Sarge." I replied as I surveyed the enormous pile of crated fruit and vegetable. "Where're the eggs?" The AQM pointed out the cases of eggs and I nodded and began to remove the lashings to the net which had been securing the load. (we had managed to purloin some USAF cargo nets for these loads – very useful!)

One by one the crew left the plane and I had to make way for them as they squeezed past the load I was unlashing. With the last one gone the steps were removed and one of the Army trucks was backed very carefully up to the aircraft door. It was almost a daily ritual and the Army drivers now had it off to a fine art. It was often the same guys who came with the trucks but I never got to know their names and they simply referred to me as "corp'". Everyone acknowledged everyone else on the island, often by nick names, but proper names were seldom used other than by close friends. (at this time I was the only ‘clerk air movements’ on the island – although the section consisted of one Flt Lt AMO and three sergeants and me the Corporal, the Sergeants would not lift or handle any cargo - help arrived several months later in the form of two LAC’s and later one SAC.)

As two of the Army lads clambered aboard I slid the first crate towards them yelling "Eggs!" and the cry was echoed as the first three crates passed from man to man out of the side door and onto the back of the lorry. In all of the loads which we handled, and I suppose we manhandled an average of forty tons of fresh food a week, I never heard any complaint about eggs being broken. The remainder of the load was not treated quite as gently. The next half hour or so passed in silence as I sent crates of bananas, grapefruit, cabbages, root vegetables and the like hurtling down the inclined floor of the aircraft to the rear for the others to load onto the trucks.

"That it then?" came the question as I followed the last of the load down to the doorway to get some air. I nodded and my assistants clambered into their trucks and roared off to deliver their loads to the main camp some four miles away and the port which lay beyond that.

I stood a few moments by the door to get my breath. Perspiration was pouring from me, my shorts, my only article of clothing apart from my socks and boots, with each leg rolled up and the waistband rolled down looked more like a bikini than service issue uniform and were wet through. The inside of the Hastings had been cool after it had landed but now it was stifling hot. I had already pulled open all the emergency window hatches along both sides of the aircraft as I had removed the load to allow more ventilation but it was still hot. As I turned my attention to clearing up the lashing strops and tidying up the aircraft floor, a member of the squadron ground crew ambled aboard, nodded and, mumbling the ritualistic acknowledgement, disappeared up into the business end of the plane where we loaders seldom ventured.

Then his voice came as if from nowhere "D'you know if this kite's going out tomorrow?" "I've got no load for it. Day after. Back to Hickham." I confirmed. He seemed satisfied and grunted accordingly.

I picked up the aircraft papers and three mailbags and lugged them back to the Movements Section where I dumped them on the desk in front of the Sergeant who was still working. "Thanks." he said, "The Post van has just arrived and they've brought mail for Malden and Jarvis for tomorrow's Dak." I greeted the Army Field Post Office driver and we exchanged mailbags. Then I turned to … END of extract.

Cheers

Alex

Quite amazing how one thing leads to another - there's more later on in this newsletter

How many of us were "tricked" into winding the undercarriage up by hand on the Avro Anson air experience flight?

From: Terry Roberts, Swindon
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2008 13:10
To: William Nangle, Kingston, Ontario
Subject: RE: Derek Pilkington

Hi Bill,

I have spoken to Trudy. Derek would love to hear from you, be warned that his memory is slipping. I do not give their address out to anyone without asking as I know this is a very personnel thing, and request that you do the same.

Derek and I go back to 1969/72 at Gutersloh. Derek was the Sergeant and I was the corporal and as you said full of life and one arm press ups. I remember one late night at Gutersloh when the airfield was snowed in (passengers were very restless) Warrant Officer Paddy Vance (deceased Paddy Vance was one of life’s gentlemen but an X rock who found us movers hard to understand) said to Derek, "Do something Sergeant!"

"Ok Sir" says Pilky, picked up the public address mike and did a rendition of 'Give me the Moonlight'. Everybody laughed and shortly after that the airfield opened - funny old world.

Bill I will certainly pass on your regards next Friday but as it has been some months since I have seen Derek so not really sure what to expect.

Regards

Terry

Any enquires about Derek please send them via Terry


From: Alex Masson, Chelmsford
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2008 17:40
Subject: The old trade

Greetings Tony,

I was not aware that you had run that picture before, asking where or what was going on! It certainly is Christmas Island during the first series of H Bomb Tests. There were other tests, after the mutiny! – oh dear, musn’t say that, the UK Govt won’t admit it happened!!! Talk about propaganda! That was why all those persons on the first series of tests (me included) were replaced!

However, my text explains who is who and what is going on in that picture. TG582 had arrived, round about 4.0pm in the afternoon from US Airforce Base Hickam Field – located on the other side of the Honolulu International Airport in Hawaii. This flight was called the ‘Shuttle’ which went up to Hawaii from Christmas Island and returned next day bringing supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables. As usual it carried Mail and Passengers as necessary.

The extract from my ‘memoirs’ does NOT refer to the day THAT plane arrived (though each ‘shuttle’ arrival was more or less the same).

The story which I relate in my ‘memoirs’ took place on the 29th March 1957 and begins :-

Friday 29th March 1957 was a hard day according to my diary. I made a note that I had plenty of work to contend with, sorting out various freight loads, as I awaited the expected arrival, due at 5.30pm, of the 'food shuttle' from the United States Air Force Base at Hickam Field, Honolulu. On this day it was one of 24c (Commonwealth) Squadron's Hastings WD491 with five tons of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Sometime during the afternoon the Squadron Leader commanding 1325 Flight ( the three Dakotas) came into the Air Movements tent and spoke with our Flight Lieutenant. As we, that is the Flight Lieutenant, two Sergeants and myself, all shared the same office tent the conversation was not exactly private. I learned that a request had been made to deliver some papers to the tiny island of Jarvis where one of the many recording station had been set up; as there was no runway the delivery would have to be made by way of a parachute 'drop'.

Clearly the Squadron Leader needed some advice from our Flight Lieutenant about supply dropping but it was equally clear that he was not impressed when he was referred to me a mere twenty year old. "I think my Corporal is the only one here with any experience, we'd better ask him." offered my boss.

I listened while the Squadron Leader outlined what was required and intimated that he had already arranged for a parachute and a 'bomb cell container' to be drawn from stores. Marvellous things RAF stores, they could almost be guaranteed to supply anything under the sun at a moments notice, provided of course that you had the right 'chit' signed by a suitable authority.

Yes, I could pack and prepare an 'R' type parachute. Yes, I could pack a 'bomb cell container' but it would need to be weighted down as the load was not heavy enough. No, I didn't think a 'bcc' was the thing to use, it was designed for attaching to bomb racks outside of an aeroplane and not for pushing out of the door. Well, yes, it could be done from the doorway but it was not as simple as that, practice was needed and I recommend the use of a skid-board which would have to be constructed ...

"No time for that. You pack the container, check the parachute and load the plane. It should be simple, my men can do the 'drop' but you can come along for the ride if you want to." The Squadron Leader was his usual abrupt efficient self and after listening to my misgivings decided to relieve me of any responsibility but was still kind enough to invite me along with him as supernumary crew. I thanked him and promised to have the equipment packed, checked and loaded in his Dakota in readiness for an early morning take off next day, along with the other stores which were to be delivered to Malden Island before carrying out the 'drop' on Jarvis.

Well Tony, it ended in disaster! – his crew couldn’t cope – the parachute and load were lost out at sea – and on return I was told to do the drop again – THIS TIME BY ME - TRAINING HIS CREWS and having some practise runs before setting out. I then went on to do several supply drops on surrounding Islands in the Pacific, some of them humanitarian. All were successful.

Before I was posted to Christmas Island, together with a colleague we had to join the Army for nearly two months and learn the ‘gentle art’ of Air Despatching! But that’s another story, for I have discovered that I am the only RAF – ARMY trained Air Despatcher! (my colleague, Phil Pratley never put his training into practise because he was posted to the staging post – Hickam Honolulu!! )

I am now a member of the Army’s “Air Despatcher’s Association”. Also, 18 months ago I flew again with Army Training Unit – the modern counterparts of those who trained me 50 years ago!! Great stuff – Hercules out of Lyneham on a 4 hour training sortie!!

I have not published a book – though I was going to publish my story in an aviation magazine – I even arranged for the editor and his girl friend to fly with me on the training sortie but – he’s let me down – he never published details of our Association’s Re-Union and hasn’t published my story.

I started writing this all up because my daughter asked me to put down, in detail, what I did during my RAF days, for the benefit of our grand daughter. Come back to me if you’d like more!

Alex Masson – ex Cpl 4164420 Lyneham Air Movements 1955 – 1958 with detachment to Christmas Island 1956/57.

Thank you very much Alex... we'll put an article on the site when the dust settles

Hands up all those who waddled like a lame duck out to the waiting Chipmunk?
(Any civilian reading this would think we worked in an animal care shelter!)

From: James Aitken, Brisbane
Sent: Monday, March 24, 2008 18:38
Subject: UKMAMSOBA

Alex’s recent photo showing him in the cargo door of a Hastings on Christmas Island gave me recall to a similar occasion while at Lyneham.

In this photo, Sgt “Abe” Abrams is handing up a bundle of old newspapers to me in the doorway of a Hastings…. serial number unknown.

Abe was an ex AQM who was seconded to Air movements at Lyneham around 1955 and was renowned for scrounging through all the SNCOs and Officers messes for day old newspapers. He would then bundle them up and depending on where the route aircraft were going he would deliver the bundles to the AQM for drop off down route. Bear in mind that back then this was the only news to reach the stations, albeit a day or two old.

This endeavour was picked up by the Swindon Advertiser and they sent out a journalist complete with cameraman to record the event. (An article complete with photo appeared in the Advertiser but I only ever kept the photo.) I happened to be working with Abe on the day they arrived and was recruited to appear in the ‘staged’ photo as if part of the aircrew. Apart from “supernumery” this was the closest I ever got to crewing!

Although this photo suggests that the papers were hand delivered to the aircraft and as such would avoid Customs, there was some poetic licence to get the story across to the readers. In fact the bundles went through normal freight channels and were delivered to the aircraft as part of mail or SHOP.

Jim Aitken


From: David Powell, Princes Risborough
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 14:01
Subject: OBA - the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal

Hi Tony

From the National Malaya & Borneo Veterans Association web site, I see that the Malaysian High Commission in London have announced that they will not be accepting any further applications for the Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal after 1 May 2008.

If any ex-FEAF movers and shakers believe they may be eligible, application forms must reach Fred Burden, the Associations membership secretary by 17th April. You have to be sponsored, you can’t apply to the High Commission direct, hence applications through a recognised body such as the NMBVA

Membership of the NMBVA is not a prerequisite. Check their web-site for full details and application form etc, but basic eligibility rules are: on the posted strength of a unit or formation in the prescribed operational area of Malaysia and Singapore for 90 days or more, 31 Aug 1957-12 Aug 1966 (9 Aug 65 for Singapore).

http://www.nmbva.co.uk/

Best wishes

David Powell

The linoleum floor in the barracks shimmered like a calm lake as we shuffled around with felt pads on our feet

From: KING PETER, SQNLDR, Auckland
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 20:49
Subject: UNCLASSIFIED : REPLY FROM NEW ZEALAND

Attn: Tony Gale

Dear Tony

Greetings from the RNZAF Air Movements organisation - We are an integral component of Expeditionary Support Sqn and WGCDR Tony Millsom is my CO - Hence, your e-mail has come my way.

By way of introduction, I am, coincidentally ex-UKMAMS myself and was on the Sqn late 70's early 80's. I subsequently served in a number of air movs appointments including Det Cdr Dulles, Falkland Islands and CO 4624 Sqn RAuxAF Air Movs. To cut a long story short I retired as a WGCDR in 2002 and emigrated to NZ. Civi life was no fun and I re-enlisted in the RNZAF in 2005 - I am now a New Zealander with the great privilege of commanding our Air Movs organisation.

I would be happy to act as your "Kiwi" correspondent, but thought it would sit better with someone with a vastly greater experience of our Air Force and its personnel. Consequently, Warrant Officer Brian Lay has stepped up and kindly agreed to be the contact you require (CC on this e-mail) - Brian is currently my Section Commander down in Wellington (my HQ is in Auckland)

Brian can contact you directly if you wish and we look forward to hearing further from you

Best wishes

Pete King
P.M. KING
Squadron Leader
OC Air Movs - Expeditionary Support Sqn
RNZAF Whenuapai

 

Mystery Photo 032808

That's it for this issue

Have a great weekend!

Tony