18 April 2003


A new member joining us this week is:

Andy Brookes from South Cheshire, UK

Welcome to the OBA!


From: John Dunlop, Aberdeen, UK
Date: 11 Apr 2003 16:00
Subject: Shortest Flight

When I was stationed at RAF Northolt in 1962, we had a long break every three weeks. I was due for my break and, as the weather was turning foggy, I asked the DAMO if there was any chance of getting a flight on a USAF C47 which was going to Prestwick. 

The DAMO told me to go out and ask at the aircraft if there was a spare seat, to which they replied yes and welcome. The skipper of the aircraft was over at Ops, so they invited me aboard and fitted me up with a parachute, which was the done thing in t hose days. The captain returned and said we were not going to Prestwick, so I can lay claim to the shortest flight - never got off the ground!

To continue, There was a French Dakota going up to Warton, near Blackpool I think. I was terrified, there was a huge gap underneath the door and the fog/cloud/mist was like something out of a horror movie. I was never so glad to get my feet back on the ground.


Jock Dunlop

[Ed: Thanks Jock - brings up an interesting topic for a future discussion - "My Scariest Flight."]


From: John Bell, Cairns Qld., Australia
Date: 11 Apr 2003 22:48
Subject: Re: OBB 041103

Hi Tony & Chas

Re the AOC's piccy. The Sgt shown is Stu Elliot, who was later commissioned. I think he went on to buy a Bookshop in Lincoln called "Bilbo Baggins"" or something similar. 



From: Dave Barton, Kings Lynn, UK
Date: 12 Apr 2003 10:37
Subject: Shortest Flight

Hi Tony,

With reference to 'shortest flights' , mine was from Cairo International to the Cairo military base at Almaza - chocks to chocks 25 minutes but in the air only 5 minutes.

This was my 'Swan Song' prior to taking up the post at Gatow which included night stops at Akrotiri, Cairo, Dubai, Bahrain and Athens.

'till later,

Dave Barton


The bodies of seven British servicemen killed in the Iraq conflict have been flown back to a military base in the UK. The bodies, which include that of the youngest British soldier lost in action, arrived at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on Tuesday morning. 

The body of Lance Corporal Ian 
Malone arrives at RAF Brize Norton


From: David Cromb, Brisbane Qld., Australia
Date: 12 Apr 2003 20:15
Subject: Wellbeing - I Hope

Lazy Sunday a.m., Idle thoughts over mornin' T, too early (is it ever?) for a beer or ten. Following "Op Iraq Freedom", via Fox News, brilliant coverage, sadly over such a depressing subject.

It's difficult at times not to think of former colleagues who may be involved in such a conflict. One sees coverage of Allied forces capturing Iraqi airfields, which one would assume will be fully utilised & possibly see MAMS, plus their International counterparts, operating in most unfriendly conditions.

To all who find themselves in such a situation, our thoughts & prayers for a speedy & safe return.

Be good, be aware, be safe.

DC, Phyllis, Christopher & Chantal.

P.S. Re OBA 041103, I think Charles is correct, it is Sgt Elliott.


From: Pete Webber, Brize Norton, UK
To: Jim Aitken, Brisbane Qld, Australia 
Date: 11 Apr 2003 06:37
Subject: RAF Air Movements - History From Day One!


Let me introduce myself, I am Pete Webber and am a Sergeant Instructor on the RAFMS which I am sure you are aware is at Brize Norton.

Next year it is 60 years since the formation of the first RAF Air Movements training establishment was formed. The Air Traffic School opened its doors to trainees on the 1st of November 1944, based at RAF St Mawgan.

Since then we have moved about and settled now at Brize, which as it says at the main gate is the home to RAF Air Transport (that will be Lyneham's nose out of joint!) and Air Tanking. It looks like we may move to a new home in a few years, but still here at Brize.

I am looking at the history of the trade and attempting to get something written for a possible anniversary. I would appreciate any memories of trade training, and leads to others who may also be able to contribute. Will also be looking to do the same via the UKMAMS old boys net.

Any names from training (staff and trainees), stories, photo's etc will help fill out a great story.

Hope this finds you well

Pete Webber
Mover, and proud of it!


From: Jim Aitken, Brisbane Qld, Australia 
To: Pete Webber, Brize Norton, UK
Date: 12 Apr 2003 21:10
Subject: Re: RAF Air Movements - History From Day One!

G'day Pete,

I joined the RAF in Feb 1953 with the intention of going into the RAF Regiment. During square bashing at West Kirby I was told 'horror' stories of the Regiment training programme which in those days took place in the wilds of Scotland.

I 'chickened out' and requested Air Movements as this was the area I had been in, in civvy street... transport.

After West Kirby I was posted directly to Lyneham and was classified as a U/T (under training). The usual followed with a berth on one of the loading parties where the intricacies of loading/unloading Hastings, York's, Valetta's etc., was undertaken. No formal training as such and at that time I was not even aware that a Movements School existed. I think back then it was at Kidbrooke.

After a few months I was shuffled into Load Control and very shortly after that was placed into the Customs controlled Unaccompanied Baggage section. Again no formal training... rather a hands on approach and learn as you go. It seemed that promotion was 'time based' and I reached SAC rank without any "exams" as such. There was an establishment for a JNCO in U/Baggage and when my predecessor was demobbed I was promoted to fill that vacancy.

No such organisation as Mobile Air Movements existed back then as all the world was covered by permanent on-site movers on posting. MAMS has obviously evolved due to the closure of many if not all of the staging posts which once operated all around the world.

At the end of my 3 years engagement I left the service but re-enlisted a couple of years later intending to make a career in the RAF. Back once more to Lyneham and still no suggestion of 'schooling' other than the 'hint' that in order to advance to higher rank would require the passing of a Supplier 2 course. I believe this was more of an Equipment Trade requirement of which Air Movements was a branch. I was quickly posted O/s to Changi and spent my time in Passenger handling at Changi Creek. 

A dose of polio contracted at Changi finished my career but not before a year at Chessington MRU and an attempt to "soldier on" in my trade. RTU'd to Lyneham and subsequently posted to the satellite Transit camp at Clyffe Pypard again in Pax handling. I left the RAF in 1961 when it became obvious to me that a rewarding career was not going to happen with my residual disability.

So there you have it. Not a day in a classroom for Movements training and to be honest I don't recall any of my contemporaries who were from that background. Maybe the land and sea Movers were the bulk of the intakes in those days. 

I will be interested to hear the results of your endeavours to record this for the 60th. I still keep in touch with 'mover' happenings through Tony Gale's UKMAMS OBA site where I am sure you will find many more tales from the past.

Kind regards

Jim Aitken
An ex Air Mover and also proud to have served!


From: Dave Barton, Kings Lynn, UK
Date: 12 Apr 2003 15:57
Subject: Training

Hi Tony,

Have been intending to write but now that I have just seen your recent request for letters, have now got myself motivated.

Going back some 30 years when Mike Slade was in the chair I well remember all his schemes for 'training'. Most of us used to loath his ideas of getting us 'dressing up' in the new fangled protective clothing such arctic survival, jungle suits with those ghastly rubber boots etc. and wearing gas masks when working on aircraft. In those days there was never any thought of having to use them for real?

The crunch came on exercise 'Bersatu Padu' at the airhead at Penerak in Malaya. The 'boss' insisted that we wear our jungle suits in full from the start, needless to say this kit was not designed for working in and we were soaked to the skin within seconds and dehydrated very quickly.

Once the exercise got underway the situation became more serious. Each team were given two sheets of corrugated iron and told to dig a trench big enough to take the team, in the event of an air strike - we made ours as small as possible!

We did experience air strikes with the occasional bangs from previously laid ‘bangers’ but I think the most amusing thing we saw was an Army truck with a number of pioneers in the back with simulated spades shovelling simulated sand into simulated holes in the jungle runway.

Don Wickham, in the meantime, had reached a crucial point in doing the team’s dhobi in a ‘borrowed’ cooking pot over an open fire during an air raid when Jim Stewart threw a real ‘wobbly’ and threatened to put him in the ‘nick’.

‘Umpires’ were all over the place deciding who had been ‘killed’ or put out of action etc. None of us really took the whole exercise too seriously and made every effort to beat the system to smuggle in crates of beer etc. to supplement the ‘ration’ of two cans per day set by the C.O. – we beat the system.

At the time it was all a big joke to us but I am sure that if this had been for real we would have responded to all the training we had been given by 101%. These are things once trained in one never really forgets and am sure all those guys in the Gulf feel the same and thankful that they too listened to all the instructions, albeit with tongue in cheek.

Sadly, but thankfully, most of the guys in my era never had to face the real thing but I am sure we would have performed just as well as the guys out in the Gulf just now and am sure all of us ‘oldies’ feel proud to have been part of UKMAMS despite the fact we have only ‘played the game’.

Good luck to you all out there and hope you will soon be back home with your loved ones.

Dave Barton


From: Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
Date: 13 Apr 2003 04:28
Subject: Matters General


Sorry I had no input last week but I was off on my swansong thanks to Duncan Andrews' desperation for manpower!

Charles Collier is quite right, the grey (premature) haired guy was the Sqn Adj called Stu Elliott. He is also correct in saying that Stu later took a commission as a Clerk Sec. Whilst at Abingdon/Lyneham he was the last guy to continue wearing the old black dyed flying suits and jackets we had obtained via Chas Cormack. Seem to remember that Stu received many a comment that he belonged to the SS - black clothing and silver hair.

I'm sure you'll get some Gulf stories eventually, I suspect at the moment people are either pen shy, too scared, too busy, too tired or can't be bothered. The thought of a 4 month out-of-area tour at RAF Basra does not appeal. Ain't it amazing that 25 years ago the Tories started and the Labour Govt finished the withdrawal from Aden, Sharjah, Midway (Thumrait), Salalah, Masirah, Bahrain and even longer ago Iraq. Now we're back in most of these places living in tents because we gave away the hard accommodation!

Dave Powell's story about the chains is one example of many concerning 'movers flexibility'. Yes, it still goes on but not out of UK and only down route where there are no 'trappers'.

Anyway that's it for now. I've just been reading the back issues of Readers Digest and discover that I'm at the third stage of the five stages of life:

lager - aga - saga - viagra - gaga

Cheers for now,



From: Charles Collier, Marlborough, UK
Date: 16 Apr 2003 12:17
Subject: Expedition Training - ADEN 1966

Hello Tony, 

Another tale of my time spent in ADEN. I worked at No 114 MU - the theatre storage and mechanical unit based at RAF Steamer Point - and the CO was Wg Cdr Michael Dyer. He was very fond of sponsoring expedition training for the airmen (and women) and would start the ball rolling by passing the briefest of orders on blue note paper written in green ink addressed to one or other of the junior officers of the unit. Having newly arrived on my first appointment as an equipment officer, it wasn't long before I was in receipt of one of the blue coloured orders.

It said I was to pick half a dozen supply aircraftsmen and arrange to spend up to a week on Perim Island at the corner of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Transport would be care of the Diplomatic Wireless Service (DWS) who had a weekly resupply to the island by DC3 Dakota run by a private company. 

I asked for volunteers and was soon oversubscribed! So I chose five likely lads and me six. I contacted the DWS who to my surprise saw no problem with adding 6 passengers to their resupply aircraft and to come back a week later.

I was delighted, everything had gone so easily. It then came to order the combat rations and spades and shovels for digging latrines and hollowing out bedpits , etc. Again, this was no problem! 

The time passed very quickly and the day of departure arrived. We loaded everything at Khormaksar and took off for Perim Island.

The island was small and had been a coaling station for ships travelling to India via the newly opened Suez Canal. When oil became the fuel for more modern ships Perim Island fell into disuse. The lighthouse was manned by a local Arab keeper, and the DWS manned their transmitter station throughout the year.

So, we disembarked with our kitbags and marched away to the many beaches that were part of Perim. It wasn't long before we decided to pitch camp and go swimming. We had no tents just sleeping in prepared plots dug out in the sand in waterproof sleeping bags.

Our days were spent very lazily but enjoyably - even with the combat rations - and the week passed very quickly. I had taken a walk to the DWS to ascertain the time of the return flight. But to my dismay the DWS official said that the resupply would not be coming this week as he had sufficient material but more than that the owners of the Dakota aircraft had a serious technical problem with the aeroplane. The DWS man said that when this happened before he was three weeks before a resupply came in!

I thanked him for his information and pondering what to do next when I noticed an army Landing Craft (Tank) ship in the harbour flying the appropriate pennants that denoted it was British. At that moment, a Z craft with two soldiers sped towards the jetty - I rushed down to meet them and asked what their next port of call was, "Aden" they said. Whereupon I explained my problem with returning to base with five airmen. The called their captain on the radio and he accepted with the proviso that all the RAF contingent would be kept on the tank deck as no accommodation was available upstairs. I accepted and was told that I had two hours to get my team to the dockside.

I ran all the way to the beach where only two were missing - swimming out in the ocean! I despatched the best swimmer to call them back and then with the other two we struck camp and loaded kitbags.

Fortunately, the three swimmers returned and we all made our way to the jetty and embarked on a Z craft. On arrival at the LCT we climbed into the tank deck and arranged our beds for the night journey back to Aden.

I was just about to get ready for my sleeping bag when the first lieutenant came and asked if we were all right I answered that we were eternally grateful for the lift and that any arrangements were entirely suitably for my team. He then asked me what my rank was, "flying officer" I replied. It happened so quickly, that I didn't know what to do. I was almost carried upstairs with my bits and pieces and plonked on the bridge in front of the captain - an army captain - I thought I was for a stern admonishment for not being dressed for the occasion. He didn't say anything immediately as he was pouring out a gin and tonic - lucky chap I thought But to my surprise it was given to me! He then almost went on his knees to apologise. I said nonsense, but I did have some very tired airmen downstairs a was there anything that could be given to then to make life better. He signalled to his bosun to do what he could for the airmen on the tank deck.

I was then introduced to the VIP passenger and his wife - the CRCT Colonel. It was his little perk, his own flagship in the army's maritime inventory. He had been with his wife on a fishing/sightseeing trip.

We arrived at Aden port the next day and disembarked. I thanked the captain and crew and telephoned for transport to pick us up from the port — this was done.

In retrospect we had all had a wonderful time with no disasters as everything had fallen into place. My team said to me that if ever I was going again the they would like to come too!

I never saw any one of them again until I was visiting my good friend Bob at Stanmore some 25 years later He had a visiting supply group captain, and low and behold, it was one of my team all those years ago when we went to Perim Island. He recognised me first then I saw that it was the man who I sent out to get the swimmers back.

So, no matter what you do, someone will bring back all those memories at some junction in your lives.



From: Dennis Martin, Woking, UK
Date: 17 Apr 2003 16:56
Subject: Empire Windrush

I read in some of the OBA briefs references to the Movements School. When I was in movements I wasn't aware of any special instruction school. In my Certificate of Service (yes I have still got it!) my trade from Oct '52 to Mar '53 is shown as 'Supp Asst u/t Clk A.M. - I was in the loading party. From Mar 53 to Jun 54 I was 'clerk A.M. I recall some instruction on lashing down cargo and 'g' forces etc by the Flight Sergeant. The only classroom stuff was to pass the RAF education test Part one. That moved you up the money stakes to LAC. I was still in the 'Two -Six' brigade. From Jun 54 to Oct 55 I was Clerk Movements) - I was in Load Control .

Some time in that period we had an emergency when the "Empire Windrush" carrying Troops and families back from the Far East caught fire off of Gibraltar. A number of Hastings were sent out to ferry back the women and children, and I was called on to assist the Passenger dept, who were busy issuing rail warrants or transport to Clyffe Pypard. 

I recall the press being in attendance and remember one photographer leaning over taking pictures down the counter - I was standing at the end of it waiting to assist the next family. Some months later, one of my colleagues who lived in London told me that my picture - life-size- was in the Air Ministry, Kingsway window, along with others promoting the RAF Air Movements trade. I never did get to see it. Was that about the time -mid fifties -that the Movements school was formed or reformed after the war? 

My best wishes to all those out in the Gulf - looks like some of you will be heading back home soon.


Paddy wanted to be an accountant, so he went for an aptitude test: 

Tester: If I give you two Rabbits, and two rabbits, and another two rabbits, how many rabbits have you got? 

Paddy: SEVEN! 

Tester: No, listen carefully again. If I give you two rabbits, and two rabbits, and another two rabbits, how many rabbits have you got? 

Paddy: SEVEN! 

Tester: Let's try this another way. If I give you two bottles of beer, and two bottles of beer, and another two bottles of beer, how many bottles of beer have you got? 

Paddy: SIX. 

Tester: Good! Now, if I give you two Rabbits, and two rabbits, and another two rabbits, how many rabbits have you got? 

Paddy: SEVEN! 

Tester: How on Earth do you work out that three lots of two rabbits is seven? 

Paddy: I've already got one rabbit at home now!


Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend!

Best regards