New retirements cut RAF VC10 fleet to four

The UK Royal Air Force has retired another two of its Vickers VC10 tankers, with the pair's departure reducing its inventory of the Rolls-Royce Conway-engined type to only four examples.

K3-model aircraft ZA149 was transferred to Bruntingthorpe airfield in Leicestershire on 18 March from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, the service says. It was followed two days later by ZD241, its final example from five ex-British Airways airliners to have been converted to the K4 configuration for the air-to-air refuelling role.

Formerly operated by the RAF's 101 Sqn, both aircraft will be used as a source of spare parts to support the remaining fleet's continued operation. Under current plans, the last of these will be retired from use in late September. The oldest examples have been in operation since 1966, and were originally flown as passenger transports.

The VC10's duties are progressively being assumed by a growing fleet of Airbus A330 Voyagers, which are being provided under a private finance initiative deal with AirTanker.

Three of the new-generation types are in use in the air transport role, with up to another five due to arrive at Brize Norton this year. Air-to-air refuelling training flights are expected to commence in the near future, with full capability due to be declared in May 2014. AirTanker is to field 14 A330s under the programme, with nine allocated to a core fleet for dedicated operations with the RAF.

From: Jeff Trenberth, Collingwood Park, QLD
Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2013 19:58
Subject: RAAF Mystery Photo 022213

Ha ha Hi Tony,
Also attached is a pic from around 2011 of the "Movements Mafia" day held at Ipswich Racecourse, it was a get together of all the Air Movements staff. You can see I had my beer goggles on for that one it was a great day!

Note: ironic that both locations I mentioned are also locations in the UK. We movers have a lot in common!  :)

Catch  ya mate

Mate, the RAAF mystery photo was my SGT Promotion Course which was held at RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia. 

I'm the bald one 2nd left; as you can see we all got along well. 
From: Gerry Davis, Bedminster
To: Ian Stacey, Sleepy Hollow, IL, USA
Sent: Friday, February 22, 2013 10:26
Subject: The Oil Lift 1965

Hi Ian,

I saw your bit in the MAMS Old Bods newsletter. I'm somewhat taken aback by your comments about NEAF MAMS having their detachment to Embakasi delayed for Christmas 1965 leave.

We had two teams on NEAF MAMS, which were formed in May of that year at RAF Akrotiri. All personnel had arrived by the end of May, and operations began with a flourish; 12 personnel in total. Both the teams did two lots of 3-month detachments on the oil lift.

About half of us were married and had to wait the statutory 3 months before the wives could join us. During September of 1965, over a weekend, the NEAF MAMS teams were posted to Nicosia. Nicosia had recently been designated as a care and maintenance unit together as a MDA for Akrotiri. This was somewhat of a distressing time, as the likes of me and my comrades had one days' notice on return to Akrotiri to travel the 70 odd miles up the road to Nicosia and find other accommodation, having only just recently settled in Limassol.

Just as we were settling in to the new accommodation (the wife had only been on the island for two weeks and already sampled two different houses), there came a knock on the door by the RAF Police summoning me back to camp and off I went on another long detachment to Libya (it was a place on our "must-visit" list!).  The 3 years I spent on NEAF MAMS 1965/68 were the most hectic part of my life. I just don't know how my wife put up with it.

The remainder of 1965 was equally  fraught with detachments right up to and including being on standby during Christmas. I arrived for my fist session at Embakasi on 20th January 1966. Then again on 14th August 1966. I apologise if you had the impression that NEAF MAMS were having a holiday time, and not pulling their weight, but no doubt the same as UKMAMS, we had other places to visit, mostly at short notice.

Its such a long time ago now but clearly in my mind, I honestly thought that prisoners in jail had a better time and treatment. I have missed out an awful lot, but I guess we can only see what we as individuals had to endure.

Gerry Davis

Glory days of the Bristol recalled

Retired squadron leader Hugh Francis, of Palmerston North, served as navigator with the squadron, based in Singapore from 1966 to 1968.  The squadron flew supplies into jungle forts manned by New Zealand, Australian and British troops along the Indonesia-Malaysia border during the Indonesian confrontation, he said.

Four Bristol Freighters and their crews were based at Changi in Singapore, spending week-long rotations at Kuching in Borneo.

"We flew anything and everything into Borneo,"Mr Francis said. "Food supplies, silly things like live goats for the Gurkhas and even a cat in a cage because the forces had rat problems.

"The Bristols flew low and slow, dropping up to 360-kilogram supply packs with parachutes attached virtually at the cookhouse door. "They were very, very noisy," he said. "Most of guys now have to wear hearing aids because ear protection then was very poor."
Mr Francis said he was sickened by the sights and smells of the Quy Nhon hospital where Viet-Cong prisoners were among those treated, handcuffed two to a bed so they could not escape.

Mr Francis retired from the air force in 1992 after 33 years of service during which he notched up 9000 flying hours including 3000 on Bristol Freighters as well as training New Zealand and Singaporean air force navigators.

Reunion organiser Murray Brown, of Blenheim, said the smell of oil was his strongest memory of his days as ground crew at Kuching and on detachment at Korat in Thailand and Labuan in Borneo. 

He recalled Bristols returning from Singapore with Tiger beer as their ballast and buying duty-free Jim Beam bourbon off the Americans at Korat for $2 a bottle.

RNZAF Association 41 Squadron president Barry Balsom, of Christchurch, said the squadron got together every two years but the Marlborough reunion was the biggest yet with 226 former servicemen and partners attending.

The Marlborough Express

A retired Bristol Freighter was the centre of attention at a RNZAF 41 Squadron reunion in Blenheim recently.

Parked in a paddock outside the Omaka Aviation Museum, the plane broughtback memories for former Royal New Zealand Air Force men who flew and crewed it during active service in Southeast Asia.

As navigator, during the run to the drop zone Mr Francis sat in the co-pilot's seat then climbed down into the perspex nose and "called the green light" when the correct position was reached. On any mission, the Bristol might do three to five drops in one zone, he said.

Bristols were regularly rotated between New Zealand for servicing and Singapore, avoiding Indonesian territory by crossing Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, the Philippines and Perth in Australia.

At the same time as servicing Borneo, 41 Squadron was flying missions in Vietnam, taking New Zealand soldiers and supplies to Nui Dat, and medical personnel and supplies to Quy Nhon where the New Zealand surgical team was based.

From: Robert Pountney, Forres
Sent: Friday, February 22, 2013 11:44
Subject: Reunion - 37th Boy Entrant Suppliers

Hi Tony,

Is there any chance you could publicise a reunion I arrange every year. It's for the 37th Boy Entrant Suppliers  who passed out from Hereford in December 1960.

We meet at the Menzies Mickleover Hotel outside Derby and this years will be on the 7th-9th June.

There must be many ex 37th who ended up on Movements so it would be great to add to our numbers. I can be contacted through my email address



One of our members recently sent in a e-mail requesting a printed hard copy of the newsletters, since he was experiencing difficulties trying to read it on the screen.  Regrettably, this would be both time consuming and very expensive.

There is a solution however: Using Internet Explorer as your browser, select the “Light” version of the newsletter.  Then hold down the Control Key on your keyboard and tap the +/= Key one or more times to increase the text size on your screen to a point where you can read it comfortably (you may have to use the scroll bar at the bottom of the screen to bring the screen content all the way to the left of the screen).  If you need to decrease the size of the text, hold down the Control Key and press the _/- Key (minus key) one or more times.  You should now be able to read the newsletter without difficulty.

To bring the text size back to normal, just hold down the Control Key and press the zero key once (above the letters on your keyboard, NOT the zero on the number pad).

The same conventions apply if you're using a Mac with Safari as your browser - simply use the Command key in place of the Control key.

From: Christine Dunn, Upwood, Cambs
Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2013 07:37
Subject: The late Brian Dunn

Dear Tony,

Just a little note to express my sincere thanks to you and the family of UKMAMS OBA for the messages of condolence received after you kindly put the details on your web site. Believing that there would not be any, so much time having elapsed, I was very touched and as I said before Brian would be "gob smacked".

I was particularly touched by the presence of David Stevens at the funeral. He travelled from North Wales to bring me pictures of Brian on the oil lift to Zambia and some kind words added by Ian Stacey. This was a touching moment in a very sad day for me.

If you would not mind I would appreciate your putting a little thank you to all MAMS personnel for their kind messages. Lastly thanks so much to you for your telephone call and help on this sad occasion.

Yours sincerely,


[Christine is now an honorary member of the OBA]

Globemaster to Carry Three Jumbo's?

TORONTO - An official with a zoo watchdog says the Royal Canadian Air Force has been asked to help transport three elephants from Toronto to their new home in California.

Julie Woodyer of Zoo Check Canada says she personally asked the RCAF to provide a C17 jet that could transport the animals from the Toronto zoo to a sanctuary in San Andreas, Calif.

Woodyer says she attended a meeting with zoo and Air Force officials recently to discuss possible arrangements.  She says she enlisted the RCAF's help because there are no fully pressurized commercial planes large enough to carry the animals in their crates.
Iringa, in front, and Toka are two of the three Toronto Zoo elephants that would be moved to a California animal sanctuary

She says Defence Minister Peter MacKay will ultimately decide if the Air Force will get involved.

Neither the Toronto Zoo nor the Ministry of Defence were immediately available for comment.

Montreal Gazette

From: Duncan Andrews, Ruislip 
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 19:38
Subject: RAF Mystery Photo 022213

Hi Tony,

The RAF Mystery photo is of the Ascension Island Movements Flight circa 1988, including me and (the now Kiwi Mover) Gid Wych.

We are stood in the Falklands P1 Bay which was always full of Herc props and other assorted AOGs!

We used to have massive issues with the payload of the Tristars, especially the KC1 and would routinely have tens of pallets on hand after offloading them from the overweight aircraft that were en-route "down South".

I seem to remember we had 32 pallets on one occasion which required the KC1 doing 2 extra round trips to Mount Pleasant after taking it's first load down. 

I recently returned from ASI after spending 6 months as both OC Movs and the Base WO, my fifth tour in 30 odd years but oh how it has changed since my first tour.

There  were 500 military personnel there in the early '80s and an Island population of around 2,800; now sadly there are just 20 or so military and less than 800 people on the Island.

The population of insects of the biting variety has unfortunately increased beyond belief.  There's no more sleeping outside in hammocks wearing just a pair of shorts; now it's mozzie repellant all over or watch out!


Duncan Andrews

RAF Brize Norton to get £226m training facility

It will also create 200 jobs in its construction and 100 jobs for the duration of the 18-year contract, principally at RAF Brize Norton. Philip Dunne, minister for defence equipment, support and technology, said: “Our air and ground crews have always been some of the best trained in the world and the facility at RAF Brize Norton cements that position for the RAF’s latest transport aircraft fleet.

“The blend of real and synthetic training will ensure crews can be ‘hands on’ with the aircraft throughout their training.”

A400M Atlases are able to carry 32 tonnes of cargo – twice as much as the Hercules – over a distance of 4,500km.

Oxford Mail

A NEW multi-million-pound training facility at RAF Brize Norton will create 300 jobs and train hundreds of service personnel. 

The Ministry of Defence has announced it will invest £226m at the Carterton airbase to build the state-of-the-art training school.

It will train RAF pilots and ground crew to operate the 22 A400M Atlas aircraft when they come in to replace the C-130 Hercules fleet from 2014.

The school will feature two flight simulators to train pilots, a specialist workstation to train loading crew and a cockpit simulator to train engineers.

From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury
Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 14:22
Subject: NSRAF Cosford Branch

Hi Tony,

At our monthly meeting today our speaker was Brian Jones who gave us a talk about his time on Christmas Island in 1957. This was  the time of the nuclear tests - designated "Operation Grapple".

He flew out from the UK by civil BOAC via New York and then by a US kite to San Francisco.  From there it was on to Hawaii and then the RAF Hastings shuttle to the island.

His trade was Motor Transport Mechanic and he was on the bowsers refuelling the aircraft used in the tests; the Valiants and Canberra's.

The living conditions were dismal, having to live in tents.  The water in the showers was sea water, and then there was a plague of flies all over the place.

He said that for the first test they were given a floppy hat to wear added to the bog-standard issue KD shirts and slacks. Then they were told to cover their eyes with their arms.  For all this they had an extra 5/- overseas allowance, and the only place to spend this was in the NAAFI.

The actual Valiant used to drop the device is now in the Cold War Museum here at Cosford.


From: Tony Gale, Gatineau, QC 
To: Alex Masson, Chelmsford, UK
Sent: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 19:28
Subject: Question re Xmas Island

Hi Alex,

Bit of a long shot - but did you ever bump into Brian Jones when you were on Xmas Island?



From: Alex Masson, Chelmsford
Sent: Thursday, March 14, 2013 05:41
Subject: RE: NSRAF Cosford Branch

Hello Tony,

I don’t think I ever came across Brian Jones, though I could have rubbed shoulders with him if he had been refuelling the Hastings while we were loading them. Strange as it was, on Christmas Island, and there were around three thousand of us, one spoke to everyone else at work, in the mess tent, in the tent lines, the NAAFI and the camp cinema but no-one never asked names! One only knew the names of others in the section or in your tent. Otherwise it was simply ‘mate’ ‘buddy’ or ‘corp’ or ‘sarge’.

Seeing as he says he had an extra 5/- (and I don’t know if that was a day or a week) he must have been a replacement after the ‘mutiny’ …… Oh dear! I musn’t say that! It didn’t happen according to official sources – but it did! And that’s why every man Jack was replaced beginning August 1957. Those who were on Christmas for the first three nuclear bombs were paid NO allowances whatsoever! The reason given was that there was nothing we could buy and therefore no cost of living.

However, a bar of Cadbury’s chocolate which sold in the UK for 6d was sold by the NAAFI for 1/- twice the price and a slice of fruitcake, also 6d in the UK was sold on the Island for 1/9d. I thought it was sold for around 1/- but I’ve been corrected by Bryan Beames (RAF Engine Fitter) who was one of the first to set foot on the Island, that it was in fact 1/9d.  I must admit, I wouldn’t buy cake at that price so I couldn’t remember. Bryan’s memory is in many ways much better than mine.  The reason given by the NAAFI was it cost so much to ship the goods out from the UK. I have since learned that it cost the NAAFI nothing as their stores were sent out in Navy Ships along with everything else for Grapple. We were ripped off! Ripped off by the NAAFI – but that was normal, wasn’t it?


From: Thomas Iredale, Heidelberg 
Sent: Friday, March 22, 2013 12:09
Subject: AW: The Next OBA Newsletter

Hello Tony,

Seems like you have played “matchmaker” linking Dick Lloyd and Duncan Grant; Duncan is again linked with me.

Here is a picture of (l to r) Duncan Grant, Brian Shorter and Ron McLeod, taken 1969 in Sharjah.



Marham base for Joint Strike Fighter

The RAF's newest stealth aircraft, the Joint Strike Fighter, will be based in Norfolk, the defence secretary has revealed.  Philip Hammond announced the decision that RAF Marham would home the aircraft on a visit to the base.  The facility, where Tornado aircraft are stationed, had been threatened with closure under the government's defence review but won a reprieve in July 2011.

The fighter is built by Lockheed Martin and will be known as the Lightning II.

Mr Hammond said that the Lightning II squadron based at RAF Marham would be a joint RAF and Royal Navy force and the station would be responsible for support and maintenance of both land-based and aircraft carrier planes.

He said: "The decision is extremely good news for the station, for the RAF, the Royal Navy and the local community.  I hope everyone now gets behind this project during the huge amount of planning work required over the next months and years on the investment and the infrastructure needed."

RAF Marham Station Commander Group Captain David Cooper said he was delighted at the announcement.  "This is excellent news for my personnel, for the local community and region, and for the Royal Air Force and UK Defence."

BBC News

From: John Wickham, Abu Dhabi
Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 04:39
Subject: Flyer - Veterans Ball - Thurs 20th June 2013


Can you circulate this to anyone who may be in the Middle East and would like to "Swing the Lamp."   Old, New, Serving, Ex, all welcome!
Kind regards

John Wickham

U.S. company to run British search-

and-rescue helicopters

A private U.S. company is to take over the work of Britain's military search-and-rescue helicopter service, whose pilots include Prince William.

The Department for Transport announced Tuesday that Houston, Texas-based, Bristow Group has won a 1.6 billion pound ($2.4 billion) contract to operate the service, which for 70 years has been run by Royal Navy and Royal Air Force squadrons.

Bristow Managing Director Mike Imlach said the company would replace Britain's aging Sea Kings with more advanced helicopters to provide a better service. But unions said they were concerned about the privatization.

Prince William flies a Sea King on rescue missions for the Royal Air Force.

His tour is due to end later this year, before the air force stops its search and rescue operations in 2016.

From: Syd Avery, Guardamar, Alicante
Sent: Sunday, March 24, 2013 06:58
Subject: Easter - Good Friday.

Hi, Tony and all Esteemed Readers,

We’re now at the beginning of the Easter week, and here in Spain that means Semana Santa, with religious service and parades taking place all over Spain. The Spanish people take this time of the year very seriously, and Torrevieja, on the Costa Blanca, close to where I now live, is no exception. However, there is one slight difference.
In the parades which take place on Monday 25th., and (Good) Friday 29th., one of the Pasos (floats) is carried by a Cofradia (Brotherhood) which goes by the name of Cofradia de Nuestro Padre Jesús en el Huerto de los Olivos, which translates to The Brotherhood of our Father Jesus in the Garden of the Olives. Nothing remarkable in that, except that of the Costaleros who carry the one and a half tonne Paso, approximately 104 of us, none are Spanish, and few are regular Churchgoers. We are all expats. from about10 different countries.

There is no other place anywhere else in Spain where such a non-Spanish Cofradia is allowed to carry a Paso in the Semana Santa parades. (And we don’t even wear hats!) Our uniform is as per the picture, and the whole parade on Friday is being streamed through the web via then select Directos TV. The Friday parade starts at 19:00 UTC, and I’m told that our Paso will pass the cameras about 45 minutes after the start.
This parade lasts about 4 hours, and at the end, our fluid levels have to be replenished, naturally!

This is my third year carrying, and at 70, I am in the middle of the age range of the Costaleros. Quite a few of us are ex-military, even the Russian army, and this helps with the discipline needed to carry the Paso.

Hope some find it of interest, not sure what it will come out like on the small screen, but in actuality, with the number of Costaleros, Pasos, the different colours of the many Cofradias and the thousands of spectators lining the streets of Torrevieja, it is quite a spectacle.

Tarra for now,


This newsletter is dedicated

to the memory of

Terry Roberts