03 July 2008

A recent loss of a family member in Northern Quebec plus my eye surgery just last week had delayed the Old Bods Briefs for a couple of weeks.

We were, however, able to celebrate Canada Day on 1st July and took great pleasure in seeing the Snowbirds aerobatic team perform over the Peace Tower at the Canadian Houses of Parliament in Ottawa - 'twas a beautiful day for it with nary a cloud in the sky.



A new member recently joined is:

RAAF Brian Smith from Melbourne, Vic., Australia

Welcome to the OBA!


From: Chas Cormack, Lyneham
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 11:08
Subject: Belfast Offload

I remember the saga of the Whirlwind very well.

Nobby Clark used to listen in on the local frequency and had heard the Belfast call finals at around 6am. On his way up to the cargo hangar at 7.30 he saw the Belfast all closed up and no movers to be seen.

His first thought was that we had left the load on to be done by the day shift. Tthere was also an AOG on board which was for a Kinloss Nimrod and the helicopter on YZ had been sent down specially to collect it and of course the shift was in the siht as it was also closed up and everything was frosted up and nothing had been done.

When I told him the Whirlwind was on the Condec he said it was impossible to do that, so I took him outside the hangar and showed it to him - then he started creating noise about the AOG. I then went down with him to the helicopter which was to take the spare to Kinloss which was a SAR chopper from Lossie and slid open the door to show him the AOG sat on the floor which was not tied in as the floor was covered for SAR duties.

His colour drained from his face and although he never apologised, I did not tell him I had done the trials at Odiham on Whirlwind loading into Belfasts and also done the recovery of Faith, Hope and Charity from British Guyana the night before they got their independance although that's another story. Those Wessex had sand traps on the front which were a permanent fixture and the Loadie forgot to unchain the back one and push it forward on arrival at Brize before opening the door and lowering the ramp - broken Wessex!

Nobby Clark got upset with me twice before that as I was incarcerated by the RAF Police at Akrotiri during the first evacuation of Cyprus in 1964 when he was SAMO there. I had been attached to MAMS to do the withdrawal and did not turn up for work in the morning. The other occasion was when I was on the Crazy Gang at Brize and a Belfast was going into Odiham direct with helicopterss with Frank Lightfoot and we were supposed to drive down to do the offload and I got Odiham Ops to send a chopper to Brize to pick us up while it was local flying and we recovered on the empty Belfast.

I also loaded the replacement Whirlwind at Changi for Hong Kong after one of theirs had gone in the harbour and once again I was with Frank Lightfoot, so I had a fair bit of experience with choppers on the Belfast.



Great stuff Chas - I only wish that we had the benefit of your experience when we were handling those helicopter loads way back when - I recall it was such a tight load that we had to inch the ramp down a bit, then move the helicopter back a bit.... on and on... someone sitting on top of the helicopter fuselage to check the clearance... very time consuming.

The odds of finding a pearl in an oyster is one in twelve-thousand

From: Ian Berry, West Swindon
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 11:11
Subject: Here's a Switch!

On a recent trip to Nellis AFB (Las Vegas) the Herc crew and MAMS team wanted to go for a sight seeing flight down the Grand Canyon and the Herc crew attempted to hire a private aircraft. Their documentation was not valid for the States but the MAMS corporal, Geoff Williams, who had a valid private pilot's licence, was and he was able to fly the rented aircraft with the Herc crew and MAMS team as passengers!

Keep it up - more info as I get it...


That is definately one for the strange situations records


From: Charles Collier, Devizes
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 17:02
Subject: Hearing Loss

Hello Tony,

I wonder if any ex movers are like me with a reduced hearing level. In my case it was due to my job as an airframe fitter - reaction riveting aircraft on 3rd line repair - before I was commissioned. Also, it was with my natural ability to be a good shot as I had a very steady nerves which allowed me to hit the target. I chose Equipment to be a quiet job but did not consider Movements until it happened which I enjoyed more. But this was a noisy occupation and it is without doubt that there will be some of you out there having difficulty understanding the flow of conversation in noisy situations.

If so I'll tell you what I did on leaving the RAF - I wrote to the War Pensions Dept at Liverpool explaining my circumstances and they referred me to be assessed at my local hospital audiometric dept. They confirmed that I had an industrial hearing loss and classed me 10 - 14 % disabled. I then reserved a £3k lump sum.

Since then I have been issued with digital hearing aids which I'm told cost £1500 each! Anyway, for the first time since my 20's I can now hear the birds singing and am much more aware of what is going on around me.

So, if anyone out there is finding it difficult with the spoken word then do what I did!


Kind regards


Invaluable information - thanks Charles!

Some bacteria can produce 16,000,000 offspring in 8 hours

From: David Cromb, Brisbane, Qld.
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 17:47
Subject: OBB #060608

Hi Tony,

Thanks for the brief, what absorbing reading it was,brilliant.

Taff Eynon & I hung around a lot together when at Abingdon, (remembering Abingdon being the home of the REAL UKMAMS), I have e-mailed him and look forward to reminiscing our exploits.

Another muskateer in arms was Bob Ford, who I roomed with. I have tried in the past to catch up with Bob, but failed miserbly - can anyone help? The legendry Guru Berry told me Bob was working in ESG as a civilian at Lyn, but my mails, snail type, were never answered. The late Fred Kitts was also in the same room. RIP Fred my friend.T hose were magic days and I shall never forget them.

Another fond, if that is the right word, memory I have of Abingdon is that upon arrival on the squadron I had to undergo a couple of weeks of training, which included morning workouts in the gym. Well one morning Norrie was taking the session and decided a game of soccer was in order. It was fast and most competitive. All was going ok and I was in fine form, that is until Norrie decided to clean me up against the bloody wall ! It was like being hit by a runaway train. After I had picked myself up I reminded Norrie we weren' t on the rugby paddock !! He just grinned.I was sore for days afterwards. It is great to see Norrie is in touch - Hi Norrie!

Thinking of those training days I also recall there was a WO, I think his name might have been Brocklebank. He had a sign outside his MQ with his name on it, very strange I thought.

So Ian has the filth on Ian E has he, that will be interesting I am sure.I too remember that infamous cottage, spent many a happy afternoon, and evening, there. It was shared with Pete Arnold and a navigator on 24 sqdn. Pete's culinary skills all seemed to centre around that awful tasting instant mashed spud, complete with lumps the size of marbles!

I have heaps of good memories of my time on the squadron and will recount them, if anyone is interested that is. I bet others have some interesting memories also of their tour on UKMAMS.S ome good, some bad and some bloody downright embarrassing!

Steve Tomlinson & I are meeting for drinks tomorrow. It'll be great to speak of the good old days. I'll keep you posted on any gozz that might be forthcoming.

Again my heartiest thanks for the briefs mate.

Cheers n beers,


Always a pleasure hearing from you DC - how's the foot?

From: John Bell, Cairns, Qld.
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 22:40
Subject: First ever task on MAMS


I see a reference to our “First task on MAMS” in the last newsletter. My own experience was a bit of a non-event as far as the task went. I had been stationed in Kenya, 12 months on air movements at Eastleigh and Nairobi and then 18 months at Mombasa on sea and air movements. I was posted to Abingdon and slotted into F Team. My disembarkation leave ended on 11 May 1965 and my team were Nassau-bound on 10 May on a Pole Vault. They were short a man and I was asked to return to report for duty a couple of days early and do the task. This I did. We flew from Lyneham on Brit 497 late on the 10th ; I had had no arrival procedures on the station and no training on the then “MAMS” flight. I met my team-mates for the first time when the Landover pulled up at my new Married Quarter to go to Lyneham.

The RAF Rugby Team were on the same aircraft and their leader (Manager)was an Air Commodore. Uneventful flight to Gander followed by straight into the hotel and sleep. I was a corporal and was in a single room. When I woke up I was dizzy and my head was throbbing and my throat was on fire. I could hardly move. This hotel stuff and travelling as a team was all very new to me and I was fairly delirious as well. I called the hotel operator and asked her to put me through to the ”RAF Team Leader”. Error! They connected me to the Air Commodore. I explained to him that I was crook and due to catch transport to the terminal etc. He told me he was an RAF Medical Officer and he would arrange for me to be taken to the local hospital under an arrangement the RAF had with the RCAF. He would also tell my Team Leader and I was not to worry.

An ambulance came shortly after and I was put in the Canadian Hospital where I stayed for 6 days with some sort of bronchial pneumonia. In the meanwhile my wife, who did not know a soul at Abingdon, had been told that I had been taken into hospital in Canada and they did not know why!

I was discharged from hospital in time to be taken to the airport to link up with my team returning from Nassau. I was expecting some sort of sympathetic noise at having missed a great trip and having been ill. No chance. My team Sgt was Dan Archer and he took me aside and read the riot act for calling the Air Commodore and not a Team member. It seems that the Air Commodore had not told the team until the coach was about to leave the hotel and they did a head count.

All in all a very memorable trip for all the wrong reasons.


Strange beginnings to your squadron membership John - but then those were early days

An average of three people a year die from vending machines falling on them.

From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury
Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 11:30
cc: Alex Masson
Subject: NSRAF Cosford Branch

Today was our monthly meeting of the NSRAF Cosford branch. 65 members turned up for a very interesting and brilliant talk given to us by our guest speaker Sqn Ldr Salley Varley. Along with a variety of slides she told us of her time as Manager of The Red Arrows for three years from 2003 to 2005.

She told us of her duties being involved in the forthcoming shows and displays which took her to Malta, Cyprus and India amongst other places and even had a number of flights in the back seat of a Hawk to the various venues.

Alex, she does recall meeing with you in Malta (how could she forget you when I showed her a photo of you I took in the restaurant at RAF Hendon Museum a few years ago with a bottle of 'Spitfire' in front of you.)

She started her career in the RAF as an Air Traffic Controller in 1985 and is now stationed at RAF Shawbury, just down the road from me, training recruits to be Controllers.

It's the annual NSRAF parade at Cosford on Sunday the 22nd June and there is an open weekend at RAF Shawbury at the beginning of July.



Is that Spitfire beer any good John?


From: Tim Newstead, Cheltenham
Sent: Wednesday, June 11, 2008 16:23
Subject: OBA - First MAMS Task

Hi Tony,

Your's and DC's prompt in the latest Newsletter caused me to dust off my log book...

... my first task (March 1970) - how could I forget it - was to take a Griffon engine out to a Shackleton stranded at Entebbe (Uganda) on route home from Majunga. We then got stuck there ourselves for 8 days with main undercarriage problems on the Herc.

The team was Flt Lt Martin Coombes (his last task?), FS Taff Thomas, Sgt John "Shep" Shepherd, Cpl Jimmy Jones, SAC John Cooper and myself then SAC. Can't remember the hotel name, but I do recall seeing news footage of Idi Amin swimming in the same hotel pool with his entourage at the height of his infamy! I do remember Taff "Mr Piano" Thomas tickling the ivories in the hotel foyer bar though that kept us in beer for a couple of days!

We then went on to Majunga and stayed in the Hotel de France with the overwhelming smell of cats' pee - a real come-down after the grandeur of Entebbe! My log book shows my longest flight ever on the way home - 13 hours 20 mins from Muharraq to Lyneham! Happy Days!

Keep up the good work!

Best regards

Tim Newstead

Good memories Tim - we really did have a superb job back then

Crickets hear with their legs

From: David Cromb, Brisbane, Qld.
Sent: Tuesday, June 17, 2008 19:57
Subject: Mystery pic 060608

Hi Mate

I was having a chufti at this only yesterday---again.

I have recently just finished reading about RAF Gan back in Noah's daze---' 53 ish. In the article there was a picture of the post office in it.

So my stab is the post office on Gan. If the picture was in colour it might have made it a little easier. The bike racks did help tho, everybody and their dog had a bike on Gan didn't they. I think I could' ve handled a tour on Gan, but I dont regret my tour on Masirah.

I did a tour on Akrotiri ' 69 to ' 71 which was fun and I had no right to have survived it !!, .But if I had any regrets at all from my time in the mob it was not getting an accompanied tour to the Far East or Cyprus. I did volunteer of course but was knocked back on account of having done two tours in such a short period of time, I toured Masirah in ' 72 remember.

Happy daze, hooroo.


You are correct Sir, but the colour? c'mon DC you know everything was in B & W back in the day!


RAF Hercules Fleet Under Strain

Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are taking such a toll on the RAF's ageing Hercules fleet that it could be left with a shortage of transport aircraft, the Whitehall spending watchdog warned. The National Audit Office disclosed that over the past two years, nine of the older Hercules C-130K's have had to be taken out of service early due to wing "fatigue". With the new European Airbus A400M unlikely to enter service before the end of 2011 - two years behind schedule - the NAO said there were now "significant risks" that the RAF would not have enough transport aircraft for future operations.

It warned that the Ministry of Defence needed to make urgent decisions in order to avoid a potential shortfall in capacity after 2010. The Hercules is the essential "workhorse" of the Iraq and Afghanistan missions, transporting troops, vehicles and equipment around the theatre of operations. The NAO praised the MoD for managing to keep at least 85% of the fleet operational in Iraq and Afghanistan - far higher than would normally be expected. However, it said, such a performance had come at a price. The high tempo of takeoffs and landings - often on rough, unmade, desert airstrips - has taken its toll on
wings, airframes and propellers.

In addition to the nine aircraft that have been "retired", a further four have been lost on operations, while five more C-130K's are due to be taken out of service in 2010. The remaining nine C-130Ks have undergone a £15.3 million refit - including fitting new wings to five of them - to enable them to keep flying to 2012 in order to help cover for the delay to the A400M.

However the NAO said that even the newer C-130Js were showing the effects of operating in such a harsh environment with a number of aircraft likely to need their wings replaced or refurbished from 2012. Edward Leigh, the chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee which oversees the work of the NAO, said that it was essential that the MoD got to grips with the problem. The MoD, however, insisted that the planned in-Service Date for the A400M was "still within the required timeframe to manage a smooth replacement of the Hercules".

Source: Ananova

Napoleon suffered from a fear of cats.

From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury
Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2008 13:21
Subject: National Service Day

Hi Tony

It was the big NSRAF parade at RAF Cosford today.We were divided into six flights all representing the square bashing stations Bridgnorth,West Kirby etc;I should imagine that there were about three hundred of us altogether on parade.

There were a dozen Standard Bearers to lead the parade various branches of the RAFA and British Legion and one unusual one was The Legion of Frontiersmen of Canada; the wind was so strong that they had a hell of a job hanging on to them.

Th C.O of Cosford Air Commodore Gammon took the salute and up on the podium with him was the Secretary of State for Defence and Veterans,Derek Twigg who gave us a speech telling us how good we were in the service of our country,but then we knew that already !!.

Unfortunately the B of B flypast had to be cancelled due to the strong gusts of wind but at least it didn't rain.

As well as us on parade there was a gathering of spectators,families and friends probably a couple of hundred and we had a RAF Regiment Guard of Honour plus RAF and ATC bands to keep us marching in step.

All in all a great day which I'm sure everybody enjoyed.



Thanks John - always a pleasure reading your news


From: Jimmie Durkin, Stafford
Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2008 15:53
Subject: Members Page "D"

Hi Tony

Last week I was on the phone to my old friend Alfred Vance speaking about the forthcoming AGM. Unfortunately I can not attend due to a very long standing arrangement. Both Alf and wife Doreen are not enjoying the best of health, although I can't speak for him I think it unlikely that he will be able to attend but when we spoke he had not seen his mail.

Speaking of Alf reminded me that when I saw my entry on the members page I had meant to follow up with a bit about the Abingdon - Bruggen - HM Customs problem but when I re-read my entry I saw that I had included a typo. If you look up paragraph four of my write up, the second line contains Vane. This should read Vance.

I'm uncertain if Alf was a FS or Sgt at the time or if he was UK or FEAF MAMS but I know he left a sign above what we were using as Load Control under the ATC tower saying something like WELCOME TO RAF LABUAN COURTESY of UK or FEAF MAMS!! We did not meet up on this tour but we met again at Gutersloh ( 1972-75 ?)where he was a WO MBE, DAMO in AMS while I was WO SCAF. We met again later here in Stafford during the 80s where we have settled since leaving the service.

The problem with HM Customs came about some time after the the Abingdon - Bruggen vehicles had been running successfully replacing temporarily the Beverley UGB, Tuesday to Wildenrath and return same day plus Thursday to Berlin via Wildenrath and returning Friday. We had a HM Customs officer, Mr Chaundy I think was his name. He was a HMC Collector, a very nice and polite man but a very experienced officer. He came into the Docs Office one day with a sheaf of papers and asked me to look into things as his head office had sent bills for urgent payment addressed to the SAMO Abingdon. I remember the sum was huge, I think it was for something like £140,000! (large but I can't be sure but certainly six figures). Mr C reminded me that the bill was up to a particular date and was growing weekly! It seemed that the inbound vehicles should have had a document which would have been presented at the port of arrival which would have been noted and returned to the driver who would complete it with his return load details for exports and return it to customs on his return trip. Abingdon had not been told of this document, The vehicles were arriving in UK with incomplete documents, customs were not delaying the military loads but were getting the drivers to sign a document. In effect the drivers were signing that the vehicles were being imported and were thus accumulating import duty. We copied lots of manifests which the SAMO delivered to Mov 3 (Air Ministry) and I believe Wg Cdr Cadwallader sorted things out. He later became the top the senior supply and movements officer I believe.

Best regards


Thanks Jimmie - really good stuff and I've updated the article and typo.

Tmesis is the act of putting one word inside another, for example, "abso-bloody-lutely"

From: Mark Stedman, Carterton
Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 16:08
Subject: new email address

Hi Everyone

Please find our new email address here

With effect from today.

Speak soon.

Mark and Denise

All changed this end - thanks Mark


From: Terry Mulqueen, Hastings
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 10:44
Subject: On Line

At last we have replaced our old antique computer and this is our new address


Wendy & Terry.

Got it - thanks Terry

If you keep a goldfish in a dark room, it will eventually turn white.

From: Alex Masson, Chelmsford
Sent: Thursday, June 26, 2008 12:51
Subject: Veterans Day

Hello each!

I haven’t dropped off my perch but I’m struggling (as usual) to keep my head above water!

Tomorrow is Veterans Day (decreed by our late prime minister so he could ingratiate himself with the ex-Forces personnel!!!!!)

Well, I decided to make good use of the day, and invited all the associations of Navy, Fleet Air Arm, Marines, Army and the RAF to hold a display in one of our shopping malls.

The object being (1) To Bring our Veterans to the notice of the public. (2) To recruit new members to each Association and (3) To raise a little money from donations to each of our charities.

You would not believe how long it has taken me to achieve the objective. We set up first thing tomorrow and I still have a lot to do.

We will be displaying – all day Veterans Day Friday 27th June and all next day Saturday 28th.

I hope to have some photos of the event for you to see after the weekend.

Thanks for all your ‘funnies’ – John Bell is excelling himself at the moment, with Jack being only a tad behind. Really there is some good input from most of the ‘gang’ – except for me, that is!! Sorry about that. I just don’t seem to have your contacts.

Cheers each, have a great week-end. I will be working – from now until we tidy up on Sunday.


Your endeavours for charity never cease to amaze me - well done Alex!


From: James Aitken, Brisbane, Qld.
Sent: Thursday, July 03, 2008 01:08
Cc: Derek Lehrle
Subject: Re: Keith Park.

G'day Tony,

Derek Lehrle in New Zealand has an update on the Keith Park recognition saga.
Here are the emails and attachment below.......
Looks pretty favourable.

    Thought the attached email I have just received would interest you. Looks like efforts on the Keith Park memorial subject has sparked some action in his birth place....Thames.  The Mayor has taken it further than I had hoped in contacting people in the UK.  Looks like some places in NZ have people in important positions who will listen and act on suggestions. Hope I can send you a photo in 2 years time showing the memorial in position.
Subject: Re: Keith Park.

Dear Derek and Pam,
I wrote to the Mayor enclosing your thoughts on Sir Keith.  The attachment is the reply that I received.  If you are unable to read it just let me know and I will endeavour to forward it some other way.



Thanks Jim - I guess you just have to be able to contact the right people!

You can't kill yourself by holding your breath.

Mystery Photo #070308

The shoulder flash on the recipient of the sheild reads "Royal Ceylon Air Force"


Formed as unit destined for service in Egypt in October 1914 at Farnborough, it was not allocated the number 30 until 24 March 1915. Initially composed of a single flight at Ismalia, a second flight was added at Basra in April, formally becoming part of No 30 in August 1915. Both flights moved to Iraq at the beginning of 1916 and in April carried out one of the earliest air supply mission when it air-dropped food and other supplies to the garrison at Kut-el-Amara which was being besieged by the Turks.

It continued to operate BE2s until the end of the war on bombing and reconnaissance missions but also received a multitude of other types including SPADs, DH4s and RE8s On 9 April 1919 the squadron was reduced to cadre, but before being disbanded, the RAF was given responsibility for 'policing' Iraq and as a result on 1 February 1920, the squadron was brought back up to strength and made a permanent part of the new command. It was initially equipped with the RE8 but in January 1921 these were replaced by DH9A, which it operated until 1929.

Wapitis arrived in April 1929 and had fully supplanted the DH9As by September. Hardy's were received i 1935 and Blenheim Is and Ifs in January 1938. In August 1939, the squadron moved back to Egypt and following Italy's entry into the war, it carried out escort missions in the Western Desert and fighter defence of Alexandria. In November 1940, it was set to Greece where it operated its Blenheims in both the bomber and fighter roles, but in March 1941, the squadron was redesignated a fighter unit. On returning to Egypt after the fall of Greece the squadron was re-equipped with Hurricanes. From then until December it was employed on night defence of Alexandria and then moved on to operations in the Western Desert.

However, condition in the Far East were deteriorating rapidly and in February 1942 the squadron was embarked on HMS Indomitable, from whose decks it flew to Ceylon arriving on 6 March 1942, just in time to assist in combating a Japanese attack against the island. Retained in Ceylon on air defence duties , the squadron saw little action due to the lack of further attacks on the island, so in February 1944 it moved to the Burma front flying escort and ground attack missions. In May 1944, the squadron was withdrawn from the front in order to re-equip with the Thunderbolt, which it took back into action in October continuing until May 1945. The squadron did not resume operations owing to the Japanese surrender, but it was retained in India. Its Thunderbolts were repalced by Tempest F Mk 2s in March 1946 but the following December (1st) it disbanded.

Less then a year later on 24 November 1947, the squadron reformed at Oakington in the transport role and remains so to the present day. Initially equipped with Dakotas, Valettas arrived in 1950 and Beverleys in 1957, it moved to Abingdon in 1950, Benson in 1952 and Dishforth in 1953. In November 1959, the squadron returned overseas, first to Eastleigh in Kenya and then Bahrain in September 1964. It was in Bahrain that the squadron disbanded on 6 September 1967. However, the following year, on 10 June, the squadron reformed once again in the transport role, equipped with the Hercules. As all the Hercules fleet is centrally pooled and aircraft are issued to squadron crews as required, it now operates all four varieties of the type from its base at Lyneham.

If you put a raisin in a glass of champagne, it will keep floating to the top and sinking to the bottom.

From: Ian Berry, West Swindon
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2008 12:38
Subject: Britannia XM496

Hi Tony,

Just a quick one.

This beautiful aeroplane is now at the Bristol Museum at Kemble. It was flown in a couple of years ago after finishing as a freighter in Africa.

The Britannia Association managed to get enough funds to repaint it into it's original colours.

I took this at the Kemble Air Day Sun 15th June 08.

Nice as ever.



Thanks Ian - My log book shows that I flew from Muharraq to Akrotiri on this aircraft back on 23 October 1971

That's it for this issue

Have a great weekend