1 June 2001


Joining us this week is Graham Parker from Carterton, UK

Welcome to the OBA!

From: Bob Dixon
Subject: Re: Old Boys Briefs 052501
Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 05:43:42 EDT

Hello Tony

I read Pig Clark's letter with interest and sympathy. He asks why the Director of Movements and others don't do something about the barmy ideas of civilianisation of Movements at Brize and elsewhere. As he says, it is difficult for the serving Movements Officers to say what is happening, but I have no difficulty in doing so!

In fact the main full time RAF Movements staff officer left in the RAF is at wing commander level in STC and DLP (no names no pack drill) has been fighting very hard indeed, with the assistance of OC UKMAMS, to bring some sense into those with the "big hand and small map" who forget the vital importance of a trained and expert uniformed Movements trade. They have, I believe, had some success and as of last week the plans to civilianise Movements have been removed from the overall civilianisation plot, except for Mount Pleasant. If confirmed, this is good news.

We should not forget that there are some dedicated Movements officers who fully understand the importance of the Trade and who fight very strongly for it. They have less influence than when we had a D Mov, but they are really doing their best to maintain the Trade and the future of Movements. Attacks on our trade will, of course, continue but this is nothing new. I was fortunate to work in Movements in every rank over 30 plus years and spent much time fighting off one nonsense or another. Whilst I understand the frustration of many serving in Movements today, don't write off the officer corps as uncaring or lacking in knowledge and enthusiasm for the Trade. After all, I am still gingering up those serving from my retired position and I can tell you that we do have friends amongst the aircrew. The current ACAS (Assistant Chief of Air Staff) is but one example of a very senior officer who asks after the Movers whenever we see him.

Not all is lost, so don't let the b------- grind you down. That said, we have to be vigilant and ready for the next load of nonsense that will come. The bottom line is that so long as the Trade does the job in all conditions and working all hours necessary to get the job done, that "can-do" attitude is the best defence against those who would write us off.

Still, it would be nice if someone would find a bit more of that vital ingredient that makes Service life so special - its called FUN and too many people seem to forget you need fun as well as everything else to make life bearable.

Regards to Movers everywhere, both the living and the dead - i.e. no longer serving!

Bob Dixon
Definitely retired but still ready to interfere!

[Editor's Note: Thanks Bob - I know it's very hard to let go of the fact that you served in the RAF - I last wore the uniform in 1976 and I still consider it a very important part of my life, even more so now since I started the OBA - huge nostalgia thing!]

From: Arfur English
Subject: Re: Old Boys Briefs 052501
Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 15:51:08 +0100

Hi Tony,

I read "Pig" Clarke's mail with great interest. We don't have to go as far back as '83 to read the Defence Paper. After Op Granby/Desert Storm, a big dinner was held in London to celebrate the achievements of the Armed Forces in assisting with the Liberation of Kuwait. Among the guests was the former Gulf Commander, Gen Sir Peter De La Billiere, a highly respected individual due to his ability to see things from ground level after rising through the rank, and receiving numerous honours and awards for brave and distinguished conduct in several theatres of Ops. He was Quoted as saying something like "The Forces are doing more and more, with less and less." How true? Very!

Look at recent Deployments since the Gulf; Bosnia, East Timor, Sierra Leone to name a few, I'm sure there are some not all of us are privy to, for obvious reasons. Detachment turnaround times on average 18 months...

A bunch of Civvies working BZZ/LYE will then attract a 40 hours working week ( 2 days/2 nights = 48 hrs as we know).. Therefore shift allowance will have to be paid..Most Civvies I know only do one job...i.e. Pax Check in/Load Control...etc... Unless they are going to be multi trained like most of us are now... God forbid another major conflict, most civvies will want overtime pay...

Whilst our aircraft are fairly easy to load with everyday load types, things like Tracked Rapier, ELRIC, ISO Containers need the specialist expertise we have built up over the years, and as Pig mentioned doing ERO's or record breaking frame changes, the Unions will insist on their 6 hour Tech deadline or 90 minutes for standard turnaround unless they get a bonus..

Soap box now stored with sandbag....

On another note Tony, could I put in plug for myself? I am putting together an Archive of Movers who have served at RAF Aldergrove, primarily for now those who were on posted strength. Anyone who was detached can forward their details and I will hold them for a separate project.

To date I have about 86 names of past/present movers who have served here. The details I require are:
Name & Initials
Tour dates
Rank (if guys were promoted in situ I will use both ranks).

I can be contacted via MMARS on BFSKKRR/BFSRKRR for attn Cpl English Ref: Historical Archive or via the above e-mail address Archive

Many thanks..
Well done on the Web awards

Rgds Arfur @ Crab Air

[Editor's Note: Thanks Arfur. Question - are you going to create a web page for this? Now there's a project for you!]


Editor's Note - I passed along Bob Dixon's e-mail to Pig as soon as I received it, in order that he could respond.]

From: Chris Clarke
Subject: Re: Civilianisation
Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 18:19:16 -0400

Good letter back from Bob Dixon, well, really I wouldn't have expected any less from him. Anybody who worked under him when he was OC UKMAMS has nothing but respect and admiration for him, plus he's a really nice guy, definitely one on 'our' side. And my slam at the Officer Corps was more a slam at the "Senior", as in Group Capt and above, I worked with some great 'Bosses' on MAMS, and my last 'Boss' John Bleeker at Goose Bay was one of my best supervisors, military or civilian (wonder where he is now?).

Well, if Bob's letter is anything to go by, at least I've re-ignited a bit of discussion on this matter, and if the Trade is anything like it was, my e-mail will have been pondered by many within hours of it being posted, which is good. The troops in the Trade are irreplaceable and need to be nutured. I just look at the lads I worked with from 1980-1990, a lot are like me, on new careers. And things like 'civilianisation' will ensure a lot of civilian firms throughout the world will benefit (lots Movements unrelated) from the experience bestowed onto soon to be ex-movers, for whom this latest turn will be their own personal 'final straw'.

I speak to friends still serving, I know I am just stating the bloody obvious.

I know that daily I draw on my experiences as a mover in my career as a cop, the ways we trained to look at all the options, ideas discussed within the team, the experience of the Sgts and Flt Sgts, the input of the team leader, explaining the whole picture, the problem solving issues dealt with at some third world airport 2 hours from chocks time, now that's pressure! My time in Movements has been of great benefit, even though I've not touched an aircraft since!

Any way, I've got a little more research to do about the C17 before I pull out my soapbox again.

By the way, civvies at Mount Pleasant gets my vote, who really wants to go there? That is a more realistic use of civilian labour, but there should be a mover in charge there, and the civvies should be trained by the RAFMS. I'm sure the fact that there are not a lot of jobs for local people down there would mean you would get a high level of interest from the Bennys (are we still not supposed to call them that?) but the RAF should ensure that RAFMS is the setter of the standards for the civvy movers, not some Mickey Mouse cheapest bidder at Whitehall outfit, run by some guy who is about to retire from the MOD. I worked on JATE, I know how these things happen!

Thanks for the opportunity to vent my opinions Tony!

Chris (Pig) Clarke
Burlington, Ontario
The Dominion of Canada

[Editor's Note - You're very welcome!]


From: Jack Riley
Subject: Re: Old Boys Briefs 052501
Date: Sat, 26 May 2001 10:23:03 +1000

Mornin' Tony

Another good one! I see Chas Cormack mentions Don Clelland/Cleland. You may recall that I also wrote of him in connection with the Radfan and East Africa His name does not yet figure on the Members List, does anyone know how to round him up?

Am in touch with John and Jean Bell - he's next on this morning's list - and in daily touch with Nev and Alison Whitham, they're next but one!


Jack and Judy

[Editor's Note: Perhaps Chas or Ian Berry could enlighten us about Don Cleland?]


From: Keith Hubbard
Subject: Receiving mail
Date: Sun, 27 May 2001 22:50:51 +0100

Hi Tony

Just to let you know that I'm getting my Mail OK. My system has been down over the past few weeks as I have been upgrading.


[Editor's Note: Thanks Keith. I sometimes receive an "Undeliverable" message back for some chaps after sending out the OBB's. Sometimes, try as I might, it just will not go through - there is still a lot of the tenacious British Bull Dog in me and so I don't give up easily. Unfortunately I have never had any success with Bruce Oram's address, and so each week his OBB is returned. If for some reason you don't receive your Old Boys Briefs don't panic - it is repeated on the web site along with the archived messages going back many months.]


From: Jim Aitken
Subject: Lady Movers
Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 09:11:34 +1000

Hi Tony

I noticed in a couple of recent photos on the website that there are some examples of the fairer sex amidst the hairy humpers. Does that indicate that the trade of Air Mover is open to women ? Certainly wasn't in my time anyway. Now that the gals are flying war machines and insisting on the right to serve with front line land based troops, there is no reason to not expect them to do a bit of " twoooooo - six ".

If the answer to that is in the affirmative then why no members of the OBA ? Ahhhhhh - perhaps the answer lies in the definition "Old BOYS Association"

May be necessary for a name change.............(*_^)


Jim Aitken

ps. The background does look a bit like a York !!

[Editor's Note: I have the greatest respect for women - I married one! As far as changing the name of the OBA if per chance one of the fairer sex applies, well...... let's just say the majority rules!]


From: Phil Clarke
Subject: Odiham To Close
Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 10:37:27 +0200

Hi Tony,

Another master stroke - need Britain tremble!!

In case you don't receive the page it is for the 27/5/01. UK news section.


"Sunday 27 May 2001

RAF Chinook base to shut in MoD spending review
By Macer Hall

DEFFENCE chiefs are to close one of the Royal Air Force's largest helicopter bases in a drive to save cash.

The decision to shut RAF Odiham, Hants, home of the RAF's Chinook squadrons, will be announced in the autumn under a Ministry of Defence rationalisation. The three squadrons will be transferred to a naval base at Yeovilton, Somerset, to operate alongside Royal Navy Sea King, Lynx and Gazelle helicopters under a joint rotary-wing command. Army Air Corps helicopters may also move there.

MoD officials estimate that the sale of the Odiham base, near Basingstoke, will raise £500 million. Its closure will, however, anger aircrew at a time when the RAF is struggling to retain highly trained and qualified personnel. Figures released by the MoD earlier this year showed that the RAF and Navy were short of 196 pilots, with many leaving the services for better paid jobs in civil aviation.

One pilot said that the relocation would cause operational delays because of the distance from Yeovilton to the Army's air assault barracks at Colchester, Essex. Chinooks, with their rotors front and rear, can carry 45 fully equipped troops or 10 tons of cargo. The move will also mean upheaval for 1,600 personnel, including 70 civilians.

An Army summer camp was first set up at Odiham in 1925. It became an RAF base during the 1930s being officially opened by General Erhard Milch, the chief of staff of the Luftwaffe, in 1937. During the Second World War, the base was home to No 225 Squadron, flying Lysander aircraft.

It was later used by the Free French and by Belgian and Canadian air force training units before being taken over by Fighter Command in 1943 for Mustangs and Typhoons. In 1948, six Vampires of No 54 Squadron took off from the base for the first Atlantic crossing by jet aircraft. Helicopters, including the Wessex and the Puma, were introduced from 1960, with the Chinooks arriving in 1982.

A spokesman for the MoD said: "We don't expect an announcement until the autumn. It is part of the rationalisation to create a joint helicopter command. Odiham is just one of the many places being looked at. Moving to Yeovilton is the major plan but a final decision has not been taken yet."




From: Jim Aitken
Subject: This and that
Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 19:33:25 +1000

Hi Tony....

I hope Jack Riley is able to put his hands on those photos of the P & F section at Changi. I am looking forward to seeing them.

I too recall the casevac Hastings at Lyneham bringing back the wounded from the Korean conflict towards the later end of that war. On arrival they were transferred to RAF Wroughton Hospital for assessment then no doubt transferred to the military hospital.

Jack's description of the innovation in making up handling equipment had me searching the memory banks. You know, the only piece of equipment I could think of apart from the good old fork lift was an item called a 'pinchbar'. This was a long steel shaft with a small solid steel roller wheel built into the end. To load a crated aero engine involved the fork lift bringing it up to the door sill and inching forward to allow the crate to be manhandled into a central position. Someone at the front would slide the tip of the pinch bar under the crate and lever downwards to let the wheel contact the floor. As many bods as could be got around the back and sides then "twooooooooo six'd " the load into its position. On a Hastings it usually meant the most forward compartment. Chain, strainers and lashing tape completed our 'tools of trade'. Loads were not palletised either. We had a flat top 'gharry' which would ferry the loose packages to and fro the aircraft. This 'gharry' also served to get the crew to the mess and to the NAAFI in shifts.

Now, according to Chris Clarke's message last week, the MoD are about to give the task over to civvies. In my day there would have been no takers but now that there is all the latest handling equipment no doubt there will be a stampede for the job. Chris is probably correct......there is a shiny-bum in Whitehall who knows not his arse from his elbow making fateful decisions. Nothing changes.............

Twooooooooo........six.............a Mover's serenade to shift loads was always in fashion back then. Amazing what you could shift with that call. Jack Riley will probably suggest that it was originally the call used to get the hangar doors open before the introduction of mechanical means!!

So many little buried memories are coming to the surface .............. a real nostalgia trip as Jack has previously said.


Jim Aitken

[Editor's Note: I remember the "Pinch Bar" but we were never allowed to use it on aircraft as it would damage the floor - much the same as allowing females on the aircraft wearing high heels - especially so for those of ample proportion where the load factor exceeded 250 Lbs per square inch!

As far as the "Two - Six" thing goes - I believe the origin was (and I'm sure I will be told if it's not correct): during WWII when the Spitfires were having their engines ground run, a whole bunch of "erks" would stand in front of the wings, hands firmly placed on the leading edges. The throttle lever for the Spit was partitioned into ten levels, each representing 10% of the total. When the Crew Chief shouted "two" then the erks took up the strain and whoever was sitting in the driver's seat advanced the throttle to the 20% mark. When the order "six" was given then the erks had to push really hard as the throttle was advanced to the 60% mark - the maximum allowed for ground runs. This "two - six" just carried over very naturally - as things do - into the Air Movements trade. Well, if it's not true it still makes for a good story!]


From: Phil Clarke
Subject: Privatising the Military
Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 12:03:05 +0200

Hi Tony, Hi Pig,

Hey - us Clarkes with an 'E' are doing OK on the OBA. Three already - let's try for a 5 a side footy team.

Pig, I agree with everything you say about this sneaky privatisation, but you know what they say, the country gets what it deserves.

One of the main problems as I see it, is that upon Air Movements privatisation, lots of adverts will appear in the RAF News and Flight International asking for retired and about to retire Movers to apply for all the positions being vacated by 'uniforms'. Although the wages will be small by aviation industry standards, they will be paid to guys already getting a very reasonable pension, topping things up to a very good crack. There will be no shortage of applicants, in fact probably a surplus. Retiring servicemen get very nervous, so to stay in the warmth of a service environment, though a civvie is very attractive, especially with a good pay rise, and probably honorary membership of the Mess they've just vacated.

The Company Base Manager will probably be a retired WingCo, with shift leaders being ex WO/SNCOs. No training costs - all that has already been done at the tax payers expense. The more menial positions may well come from local Job Centres, and that will be all OJT.

Already, most of 16MU Stafford is civilianised. The MT Driver trade is virtually a thing of the past, Firemen on their way out. Lots of the flying training units I think have Serco managing them. The list goes on and on and on - and you're dead right - we'll never ever learn.

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


[Editor's Note: In response to the above.... these two seem to have a thing going on!]

From: Chris Clarke
To: Phil Clarke
Subject: Re: Privatising the Military
Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 09:52:56 -0400

Thanks for the vote mate, I totally agree on the ex-military mind set thing, my security blanket was the cops, kept me sane, but these civvy companies who do MOD contracts are like the proverbial vultures, swooping in on Military personnel and using the experience, training and contacts they have as bargaining power to further thier own financial gain. You wouldn't believe how many ex- Majors, Squadron Leaders and Lt Commanders I met at civvy firms when I was on JATE. The full Colonel OC of JATE when I was there retired to a slot with the guys who had the 463L pallet contract, or of some similar ilk

The whole Defence Procurement industry has gone on for decades this way, and the civilianisation of the Military has taken this particular slant. The off shoot is that any new 'civilianistion' of previous military trades has usually meant hiring ex-military tradesmen. I was discussing this with a friend at the RAFMS and the contracters get great service for ten years or so until the ex-military types retire, but what then? They just keep taking ex-movers or the like? But because of them the trade contracts, less ex-movers, les expertise in those ex-movers, they won't have the aircraft type experience for them to be prospective hires for the afore mentioned blood sucking civvy company run by Wing Commander Dodgy-Git (retired) who's actual movements knowledge will be confined to him having his bags lost in Belize in 1988. Like you say, the country gets what it pays for.

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. (It's a brave and honourable thing to die for your country) - The old lie.

Cheers !

Chris (Pig ) Clarke

One of a long line of ex-mover Clarke's/Clark's who still love the job!


From: David Howley
Subject: Beverley - 30 Sqn.
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 08:24:30 +0100

Dear Tony,

Could you put this request in your next OBA please.

About 1965 I recall a story doing the rounds of AMS K'sar about a 30 Sqdn. Beverle that had returned to St. Athan for major servicing and over a ton of sand (2,240 lbs to the Old Boys) was found under the floor. Can anyone confirm this story, date it and even better provide the airframe number or code letter?

John Hamlin is currently completing the history of 30 Sqn., for Air Britain, to be published in the autumn. If this story can be confirmed he would like to use it.



[Editor's Note: Of this I know nothing, but one of our readers might be able to shed some light on it. Faling that, Peter Stubbs has a very interesting web site that appears to some degree to specialize in the Beverley: or e-mail him at:]


Scott Innes sent me, via an extremely swift snailmail, a CD with a movie that he recorded at the recent Families Day over in Lyneham. Depicted was the C130J, inside and out, the flypast of the Dakota - what a bird! and last but not least the TALO demonstration. Now, I don't know if anyone can explain to me why the passenger of the Landrover, as it was speeding away from the C130, found it neccessary to ignite a ground marker flare which not only blinded the unfortunate driver - (he ended up driving around in circles) but created an orange mist that enveloped everything and everyone in the vicinity! I must say I enjoyed it tremendously though - seeing the Lyneham Terminal again brought back some memories - Thanks Scott!

Pig Clarke gave me a call earlier in the week - that was a very pleasant surprise (he lives about two hours east of me in Ontario). We discussed everything MAMS and more. He said he heard that Air Movers were not trained on the C-17 and would not be able to load/unload the aircraft without a Loadmaster in attendance. I personally wouldn't be too concerned - as soon as the novelty of the "new toy" wears off things will be back to normal. It's the same as when the C-130 first came into service, and we had to endure those plywood sheeting floor covers...

A promised the article "The History of Changi" has made an appearance on the site, and I must admit it makes for extremely good reading. Anyone who ever visited Singapore, or even completed a tour there, will be delighted at the detail of the "mini-book" I was able to complete two chapters, and have almost got the third ready to upload


From: John Belcher
Subject: RAF News Deaths Column
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 20:43:03 +0100

I have just seen the following in the latest edition of the RAF News:

PURKISS Ernest James (Ernie) of Portsmouth. Ex-44th entry and corporal ground electrician, died on April 20th after many years of ill health. Stations included Finningley, Khormaksar, UKMAMS, Rudloe Manor and Oakhanger. Sadly missed by his mother, Maisie and all members of his family.


[Editor's Note: Ernie was on the squadron in the early 70's, and I knew him rather well at that time. Although he was an electrician by trade, he rolled his sleeves up with the rest of us when it came time to physically load or unload the aircraft - as did all of the engineers attached to the squadron. The thing that stands out most in my mind is that I bought a lovely little Wolsley car from him for the pricely sum of £35 and ran it for many years afterwards!]


Well that's it for this week

Have a great weekend

Best regards