25 May 2001


New members this week are:

Colin Oram who joins us from London UK.

Arthur Lansdowne from Elizabeth, South Australia

Bob Tring from Wantage UK

Welcome to the OBA!

I also received an incomplete application from Philp Salisbury and am awaiting further details before I add him to the Members List.

From: Phil Clarke
Subject: Martin 'Bones' Skelton
Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 12:07:38 +0200

Hi Tony,

Updating your memory again. Bones was indeed in the 48th, and he was the Corporal Boy Entrant who looked after us in the 50th in our hut. However we (you & I) saw him much later than '64. He was on the same (22nd Junior) Air Movements course at Abingdon with us.

You may recall an incident about half way through the course. I always got on with Bones and thought he was a real nice guy. However Geordie Allen of our entry, also on the course, didn't get on with him. One night Geordie came back to the block well pissed and started giving Bones a hard time, and threatening him. I stuck my nose in & told Geordie to shut it, and the upshot was that he and I had a punch-up, and I ended up being given a good hiding.

If you're out there Geordie, I'll accept a pint by way of apology, and if you are Bones, it's a pint from you for sticking up for you.

If Bones doesn't turn up soon, I'll give Northolt a call and try to contact him (unless he was kidnapped by Biggs on his return from the long Rio holiday).

New subject - Tony mate, I know I promised you an article about my time as a shiny mover, and I've done a lot of work on it. To prove it I'm sending a draft on a separate mail, but not yet for publication. I have done more than double what you see then a bug wiped about three hours work of the floppy I was putting it on. Just haven't had time since then because of other problems. My wife is an Infant's English Teacher with the Vienna Education Department, and she is currently working on a project with the Education Departments of Brno (Czech Republic), Bratislava (Slovakia) and Giory (Hungary). The working language is English, and I'm drafted in to do all the computer work, which is formidable, along with all the work for The Befrienders (Samaritans English Service in Austria) of which Margaret is a Board Member.

Well that's my excuse!

The site is looking better by the day - well done that lad!

Philip M. Clarke
Lauda Air
Tel +43 1 7000 75124
Fax +43 1 7000 75125
Mob +43 676 5455015
E Mail:

[Editor's Note: I received the first part of Phil's article, and I must say it makes for interesting reading. I did ask him for some photographs of the airline eye-candy when he was working at Gatwick!]

From: Jack Riley
Subject: Re: Old Boys Briefs 051801
Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 16:59:52 +1000

Dear Tony

Greatly enjoyed this week's briefs. Good for Ghislaine!

You'll be encouraged/surprised/astonished/awed (select one ) to know that I managed to send a couple of photos to Brian Lloyd via the scanner this week and miracle of miracles they seem to have arrived. I went to look out some photos of Passenger and Freight Section, Changi ....the original name for Air Movements Sections in the days when Pontius was a Pilate...and suspect I may have sent them to the RAF Changi Association for their archives. To my chagrin I realise that the young men in the picture would all now be in their 70's!

I am well aware that the meanderings of the aged are likely to go down like a lead balloon with most of the members who must find them as exciting as a history book but even so I will continue to fire off memories as they occur to me, leaving you to be highly selective (which means hurling most of them into the WPB). You will in no way "hurt my feelings" if they never again see the light of day!

When the Korean War started we, in P & F Changi, found ourselves working virtually non-stop loading ammunition and such onto Hastings birds. After the first five days or so the medical fraternity began to appear at regular intervals to feed us Benzedrine until the inevitable happened and we crashed out.

The return flights soon began to carry casualties. Being first on board when the doors opened on a load of Turkish burn victims is a horror memory as fresh as though it were yesterday. Thinking about it I have no idea where they went once they left us...presumably to the Army Hospital in Singapore for final repatriation when they had recovered enough to face the onward journey.

This brings to mind a clever innovation. Someone (Workshops probably) started with the wheeled chassis of a Bedford 3 -tonner and built onto it a sloping ramp, ambulance height at the lower end and Hastings door sill height at the top. A framework over the top used tilt covers to keep the rain off. Coconut matting provided a non-slip surface Low and behold a ramp for offloading stretchers. Sometimes though, even this was too painful and we developed a method of fitting a pallet to a fork lift truck and lowering them on that. It had the added bonus of reducing the risk of our gallant tractor drivers joyfully back the ramp into the side of the Hastings with too much gusto!

Even further down the track we began to be asked for in-flight meals for sprue patients. I'd never heard of it before, nor since, but clearly this was an illness developed by those in Korea and had something to do with fat-free diets. Perhaps one or more of our erudite readers can enlighten me.

End of sermon

Kind regards


[Editor's Note: Thanks Jack - all good stuff. I am putting together another article about Changi - this time it deals with the actual history of the RAF station from conception in the 1920's. The article will be published one chapter at a time over the next 8 weeks, commencing next week.]


From: Chris Clarke
Subject: Hiya Tony!
Date: Fri, 18 May 2001 21:58:12 -0400


I just got back from Cleveland after being on a Police Memorial Parade (read: huge piss-up with way too many heavily armed Yanks!) and I hooked up with my old corporal, Jimmy Bissell himself! We had a quick chat as I was in the thick of it with my Canadian colleagues, who can certainly put a few away! It was great to see him again, and he hasn't frigging changed! Still the same old loony Bissell! Now, I never would have got to meet Jim again if it wasn't for the OBA, good on yer Tony!

Jim's missus was well impressed because I brought her some UK Cadbury's choccie as they sell it here because of the big ex-pat community, unlike where Jim is in Illinois!

Ok, another thing I wanted to throw out there is this idea that the MOD have about contracting out the shiny fleet handling at BZN, starting 2003. I was talking to Ozzy Oswald about it, I can't believe (well I can.....sadly) that the RAF is actually considering replacing movers at Brize with civvies, it makes no sense at all. I agree that civvies can load and unload TriStars and VC10's, but then you deprive the new LAC/SAC's from the expertise and flexibility they learn when dealing with these aircraft, there will obviously be a reduction in the Trade's size, and obviously who ever thought this one up needs to read the Defence White Paper from 1983 "Lessons learned from the Falklands War". Or do we have to re-learn everything ? Lions led by donkeys?

The military reduces yearly and they justify this by saying that the Military is now a more 'ready to move' force, tactically able to deploy quickly to the Seirra Leone's of this world, with airportable support and logistics. The Movements trade, believe it or not, are the reason that the jockeys get engine running offloads and the like. Handling equipment that breaks down or is non-existent doesn't phase the UKMAMS warriors because they have all been out at TFD jumping on 'bang' pallets to get them in position at 4 in the morning, been in the vent of a VC10 cramming 150 pax worth of bags into a spot designed for 100, offloaded a frame change in record time, the list is endless. But this expertise that is demanded (and delivered) in times of war and on Operations is as of a result of hard earned and learned lessons, working on all the aircraft the RAF uses.

Take away the shiny fleet and you have two aircraft types that will be in an operational void in the new movers array of experience. I can't believe that the planners are running down a trade which is so vital to military air power and its projection worldwide. They really underestimate our part in any war effort, and this I believe is due to our management, who continually view movers as one up from manual labourers. Well we work hard, but I have met so many bright and intelligent people who drift into the trade, who have an amazing aptitude to cut through the crap, adapt and overcome and get the job bloody well done. Its about time which ever "Rodney" is DOM these days sussed that out. It makes my blood boil the way aircrews and some of our own Supply/Movs officers look down their collective noses at us. O.k., we didn't stay at school for 5 more years to get the degree in Zoology or basket weaving, but a lot of the guys are as intelligent as our learned officers, and we are, despite being continually crapped on, a lynch pin of British Air Power.

Maybe we should contract out the flying end of the Shiny Fleet? Surely we can get cheaper service from civvy pilots? Yea right! That will never happen so long as the RAF is run by Aircrew....... Its a pity we ex-movers can't speak out on behalf the serving movers who would be slapped down if they raised objections, give me an e-mail address and I'll bloody well write to which ever cabbage thought this one up!

Ok this rant over, but I'll save my rant re the C17's for another time!


See ya Tone

Pig Clarke
UKMAMS Det Burlington, Ontario
(By the way, still heavily armed and a way better shot than I was in the RAF!)

[Editor's Note: Many thanks for your viewpoints Chris. Does anyone else have any comments?]


From: Tim Pyne
Subject: Re: Old Boys Briefs 051801
Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 05:41:13 EDT

Hello Tony,

Ref Martin Skelton - yes it is the same one. I have passed on your e mail to him. Martin is living in the Mess here at Northolt on the next floor to the one I live on. He is due to leave the service in December this year and retire to Bergen in Norway where his wife lives in their house. In fact Martin is having a Top Table lunch in the Mess on the 5th June, prior to taking leave and resettlement in Norway for 3 months. He will return to Northolt for a few weeks prior to discharge.

Ref Doc Loosley, he is now out of the RAF and believed to be living in the Northolt area, where he runs a memorabilia shop....Martin Skelton has set himself the task of finding an address for you to pass on.

Hope this helps keep in touch.

PS. Could you add my telephone no to my details on the Members List.
++ 44 (0) 2088417899.

Many Thanks

Tim Pyne.

[Editor's Note: Thanks Tim. I hope Martin gets on the Internet when he settles down in Norway. I'm sure you'll all join with me in wishing him the best of luck.]


From: Chas Cormack
Subject: Oil lift Runners
Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 16:59:50 +0100


The names you want for posterity are Geordie Davison, Dave Rossam and Fergie Ferguson who were all from MEAF MAMS at Dar Es Salaam at the beginning of the oil lift and their team leader was a P/O Wiblin.

We had a session on New Years Eve 1965 in the Kilimanjiro Hotel in Dar Es Salaam, and whilst the aircrew were getting their pictures taken dancing in the pool in full evening dress, the movers were giving it some welly on the roof bar. It was at that stage that the three abovementioned expressed their intentions, as one minute they were going to be sent to Nairobi, and then they were told they were to go back to Aden to complete their tours.

Geordie and Dave are still in South Africa to my knowledge, whilst Fergie "gave himself up " as his mum was not very well and he was subsequently court martialled. His defending officer was one Sqn Ldr Don Clelland who got him off with 84 days and discharge, but as he had already done a total very close to that number of days under open arrest, he never had to do any bird.

I cannot remember if Ian Stacey was at Dar Es Salaam, but it was there that a set of steps got blown over on a mover, Stan Brown was his name and he was aeromeded back to UK and was last heard of back home in Belfast a number of years ago. Also Hurt on the oil lift was Ray Marks who fell between the Britannia Freight Lift Platform and the Aircraft, as all the bridging plates were knackered and the grocers wouldn't let us put in "Op Express" demands for securing pins, that accident happened at Lusaka.

Hope this helps, I contributed some of the bits for the book although there is some of Jerry's "poetic licence" in there as well.



[Editor's Note: Thanks Chas - I have added the information to the Zambian Oil Lift article]


From: Colin Oram
Subject: RE: Membership
Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 13:40:27 +0100

Hi Tony,

Thanks for the welcome. Am really looking forward to reading the next newsletter and hopefully catching up with a few people from the past.

With regards to Bruce, no I'm not related but it was always a standing joke with us that I was his long lost younger brother..It used to cause a bit of confusion in the Sergeants Mess at Brize too! I was at RAFMS and Bruce was on the squadron at the time.

I'll certainly try to put together a profile I've got a few old photos from my various travels so it shouldn't be too difficult.

While I am here Tony, I've been doing at bit of net surfing and came across the Bruggen closing down site. There are quite a few names there that I remember and it got me thinking that I'd wouldn't mind going. Do you know of anyone driving over with a spare seat? Obviously I'd pay my share of the costs. Also do you know if the attendance list is still open?

Well that's it for now. Thanks for a great site I've really enjoyed browsing the names and reminiscing and look forward to hopefully re establishing a few friendships.



[Editor's Note: Perhaps Whaty Campbell over in Bruggen can offer you a pointer regarding a ride to "The Big One". Nice to have you on board Colin, and we are looking forward to receiving your profile]


From: Nev Whitham
Subject: Re Rogues Gallery
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 13:44:18 EDT

Hi Tony,

Nev and I were perusing the Rogues Gallery the other day and came across a picture of Ben Johnson. Dont know if you knew, but he is actually Nev's uncle and was serving at Lyneham when Nev first got there in 1975.

Also (red herring) Nev's brother Derek Whitham was serving there at the same time. We sent Ben Johnson a copy of the gallery and he was really pleased with it - he knows most of them on there. He is now retired and living in Preston Lancashire.

All the best

Alison and Nev Whitham

[Editor's Note: Thanks Alison and Nev. It was great to hear that Ben was able to receive the pictures. Kindly send on my best regards when you are speaking to him next.]


From: Graham Flanagan
Subject: Re: Dave Whyke and RedCoat Air Cargo
Date: Tue, 22 May 2001 22:56:43 +0100


Reading the last O.B.A. Brief and the e-mail from Ian about Dave brought back one or two memories.

As I mentioned in my personal brief I worked for RedCoat for 6 months and I knew Dave, I had already left when the crash happened and it was that that caused the demise of RedCoat due to a legal wrangle over the engines I believe.

I am sure I first came across Dave at Hereford, he was in 'F' flight and I was in 'A'. Besides Dave the only other names that I can remember, ex RAF wise, are the senior Traffic Officer Merv 'The Swerve' and Titus Oats son who used to be a Brit pilot at Brize. I first came across Merv at Muharraq, he was the 'Ramp Tramp', the next time I came across him he was a Loadmaster on Belfast's.

One of the highlights of my time at RedCoat was when they were filming the TV series 'Buccaneers', anybody out there daft enough to have watched it?

Well that's my two pennies worth, for a change


Graham 'Geordie' Flanagan


New items on the site this week:

The Zambian Oil Lift on the Articles Page

Some views of the C-130J taken by Scott Innes during the UKMAMS Families Day last weekend - these appear on the Team Briefs page. If anyone has any more photographs of the event I will be happy to publish them to the page.

The first of 4 giant C-17 aircraft arrived at Brize Norton on Wednesday of this week and John Belcher very kindly sent in some photographs recording the scene in front of the Movements Training School. These have been added to the bottom of the article "C-17 Magic"


Well, that's it for this week.

Have a great weekend!

Best regards