29 March 2002


New members joining us this week are:

John Tudor from Stevenston, Scotland, UK

Don Hunter from Johannesburg, South Africa

Trevor Curzon from Stafford, UK

Paul Weir from Leighton Buzzard, UK

Welcome to the OBA!


From:     John Middleton, Huntingdon,
Date:      22 March 2002 11:57
Subject:  Old Boys Briefs

Having read Fred Martin’s account of his time in Khormaksar brought back many memories, one in particular, unnassociated with work, always springs to mind.  I hope this will be of interest to others:

The Maalla Strait was a dual-carriageway joining the Crater and Steamer Point districts of Aden.  It was bordered by 4 and 5-storey blocks of flats taken over as ‘hirings’ and occupied by hundreds of servicemen and civilians.

Due to the deteriorating security situation at that time, all off-duty personnel were required to carry out armed block patrols between 2pm and 10pm, to assist the resident British Army infantry regiment in maintaining street security.

One Sunday morning, in the latter half of 1966, everything seemed peaceful enough. The two-man patrols, armed with Smith & Wesson pistols for Sergeants and above, Enfield 303’s for Corporals and below and batons and baseball bats for MOD civilians, were out on the streets. Suddenly a grenade was lobbed over the breeze block wall that was used to seal off the side road and bounced towards a British family on their way to church.  The grenade exploded in the middle of them.  The loudspeaker of a passing Landover cracked out, “Throw some sheets down!”  Over the balconies of the married quarters came the sheets.  The wounds were quickly dressed and the ambulance rushed the family to Steamer Point British Military Hospital. The young daughter in the family, about 11 years old, was very seriously injured.

As the day wore on, the tension increased.  At about 6pm, another grenade exploded in the street, this time thrown at a passing military Landover.  The Landover loudspeaker screamed out, “Stop that white Opel, registration number xxxxx!”  That was the trigger everyone needed, all hell broke loose, never mind the number plate, get the white car!  

From the balcony of my apartment, I fired directly at what I thought was possibly a white Opel and discharged my six rounds into it.  Up and down the street everyone with a gun was firing.  I suddenly realised that some bullets, being fired by the servicemen further up the Maalla Strait, were ricocheting off the road and whistling past the window of my apartment.  Time to take cover!  At the end of the “action” seven white cars were shot up, most of them crashed and many Arabs were injured. It was  fortunate that no Brits had been driving along the Maalla Strait at that time.

The following morning, we were told to report at 9am to the Khormaksar Armoury.  When I arrived, the queue was 100 yards long, two deep!  By then the British High Commission had slapped a ‘D Notice” on the British Press in residence, but they were outside of the armoury in force, attempting to quiz the troops.  When questioned by the Press, the most common answer was, “I know nothing!”  

At the Armoury hatch, the conversation was short and sweet. “What weapon?”  “How many rounds?” “Sign here, and don’t stop to talk on your way out!”  Needless to say, from that point in time, moral rocketed; we had done our bit!

A few days later a one-inch column appeared in the British newspapers, “An outbreak of shooting took place in the Maalla district of Aden between Security Forces and dissident members of the Aden Militia. No serious injuries were reported.”

It wasn’t too many months later that the terrorists had gained the upper hand.  Inertia grenades were being fired with increasing accuracy over the breeze block walls which closed off the side streets. The apartment blocks became a very dangerous place to be, and the evacuation of the families began.

Keep up the good work!  Don't forget to send your donations to Chas Cormack we must keep this association going!

John Middleton

[Ed:  Thanks John - that really reflects how things were at that time - I've added the account to the Khormaksar article.]



This is very surprising how it works out.  This is beer math!

Pick the number of times a week that you would like to have some beer (try for more than once but less than 10)

Multiply this number by 2 (Just for the heck of it)

Add 5 (for Friday)

Multiply it by 50 (I know, you have to get your calculator – didn’t have those things in my day!)

If you have already had your birthday this year add 1752,  if you haven't, add 1751

Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.

You should be left with a three digit number.  The first digit of this is your original number (i.e. how many times you want to have some beer each week).

The next two numbers are – your age!


From:     Jack Riley, Urangan, Qld.,
Date:      24 March 2002 20:30
Subject:  Plus ca change

Dear Tony,

Came across this report by Ian McPhedran, the Defence Reporter in the Brisbane Courier Mail this morning:-

"Beer shipments took priority over military equipment on military transport planes during the East Timor crisis. The report by the Australian National Audit Office quoted Canadian military personnel who found the priorities set by Darwin-based RAAF Movement Controllers ‘questionable.’

We saw pallets of beer being loaded on (Hercules aircraft) while our vehicles were still waiting in the holding area at the airport.  Darwin was a real bottleneck."

Love the choice of word "bottleneck" and delighted to see that someone did a great job training the Aussie Movers !!



[Ed: Heh heh]


From:     David Austin, Leicester,
Date:      23 March 2002 10:14
Subject:  Good Old Bad Old Days

Hi Tony

Thought you might be interested in the attached photo taken at Negombo/Katanayake in the mid 50's. How to unload a Bristol Freighter - no such thing as roller conveyor just muscle power in those days. I dug these out as John Cooper in Oz is running a website for RAF Katanayake so I sent him some of the Air Movs buildings there plus the Airfield and came across the attached which may be of interest.

The aircraft belonged to the RNZAF and used to fly into Negombo on a weekly basis mainly with freight. Anything awkward to load came on this as it was easier than the Valetta or Hastings to load-straight in through the front and not have to turn it thro' 90 degrees.

Keep up the good work

Dave Austin

[Ed:  Thanks very much Dave for that great shot - I've added the picture to Images 1950]


From:     Dave Cromb,
Date:      25 March 2002 15:42
Subject:  Re:  Old Boys Association

Have heard from Ian Berry about the OBA. Ian speaks very highly of you & the project. Congratulations.

Am honoured & humbled to accept your gracious invitation.  Have set wheels in motion to be on website, hopefully before the end of this week.  I'll advise further on that.

Is 0645 so have to go and earn the crust.

Brilliant to hear from you.


[Ed:  Thanks Dave - I'm looking forward to your application, although I just cannot imagine what kind of wheels are required!]


New on the site this week?  Apart from what has already been mentioned, I have added a new Mystery Photograph for all you people spotters, and there's an interesting story attached to it.


Well, that's it for this week

Have a great Easter weekend

Best regards