04 July 2003


A new member joining us this week is Dave Hardy from Watford, UK

Welcome to the OBA!


From: Peter Brown, Perth WA., Australia
Date: 26 Jun 2003 21:46

Hi Tony,

Being a new "old boy" I'm not quite sure of the "drill" in contributing to the OBB, so I'm using you as the channel. If this is wrong please accept my apologies.

There are a couple of items in the OBB of June 27 on which I can comment.

Regarding the question about materials being sent out from the U.K. for the atomic tests in Australia, I cannot answer with any certainty. What I can answer with certainty is that Sir William Penny flew out from Lyneham for the tests on more than one occasion during my service in the Passenger Office at Lyneham. I was there between June 52 to Jan 54. I am going from memory but suspect that '53 is the most likely time. There was so much "bull" when he was flying out. The C.O. who was Group Captain Slee was there to farewell him as well as other Senior Officers. He would have certainly flown in a Hastings, but whether this was a "tarted up" aircraft I have no idea. I don't think that we were allowed onto the plane.

There is a postscript to that story. Since coming to live in Perth, I have made the acquaintance of an ex Royal Australian Navy gentleman. He was amongst those used as observers of the tests and is leading the fight for compensation. He, like the others was given no protective clothing and I have seen for myself the terrible problem he has with skin cancers etc. which he believes are the result of the contamination he received.

As to Diplomatic Mail. I seem to think that was always carried by "couriers". I have a vague recollection of civilian couriers coming through carrying their diplomatic pouches. They were always priority passengers on any flight. I am pretty sure that diplomatic mail was not included in general mail bags.

You answered the question about the Suez crisis. All I can add to that, is that at that time I was on the "H" reserve. Not many people may realise that National Service was 2 years full time and 4 years on the reserve. I was married by this time and we were expecting our first child, when I received in the mail, a railway warrant to R.A.F Station Kenley and a voucher to the value of ten shillings which I could cash at a post office in the event of general mobilisation. I wonder if that entitles me to a Suez crisis "gong"?

Jim Aitken and I have already vented our spleen to each other over the overseas pensions. It seems the U.K. Government can find money to fight a war in Iraq, but not 390 million quid a year for some of those who may have fought in previous wars. Maybe things are so tight back in the "Old Dart" that they could only afford to give servicemen in Iraq 5 rounds of live ammo. I see there has been a suggestion that the Military Police killed in the last couple of days, ran out of ammunition and that three of them were killed execution style. If that is correct and the story about the amount of ammunition distributed is correct, then someone deserves castration.

Over and out

Pete Brown


From: Paul English, Chippenham, UK
Date: 27 Jun 2003 08:40
Subject: Demob

Hi Tony,

Just a few lines to let you know that I finished my last 4 on - 4 off shift at 0515 Zulu this morning.

Although I'm still on the payroll until November 03, when my 23 years service comes to an end. I'm hoping to get into truck driving as I fancy a career change. However, if the right job offer was to be pushed my way, who knows.

I see Martin Liggett has landed a loadmaster job, where are these job ads secreted away??


Arfur (Almost Mr!)

[Ed:  Got the perfect job for you Arfur - see Martin Liggett's e-mail "Loadmaster Vacancies" later in the briefs.]


From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury, UK]
To Jim Aitken, Brisbane Qld., Australia
Date: 27 Jun 2003 13:23
Subject: Suez and all that

Hi Jim

I might even get a medal! I started my Middle East service in the Canal Zone and even although I went on to that little paradise you already know about (Mauripur), postings were still controlled from El Hamra. I think the award you mention is not for the Suez Crisis but for personnel that were stationed in the Canal Zone from 1951 to early 56 when we had to withdraw from that area.

The other subject you mention, the atomic testing, preparations for this started some time in 1952 in the Montebello Islands and Maralinga. The Woomera rocket range was of course also in operation and as far as I can recall all the UAH Hastings passing through Mauripur, and which had priority over other flights, were only going as far as Edinburgh Field and Salisbury. I think the only things giving off radiation were the luminous instruments on the control panels in the cockpit. I can not remember Christmas Island ever being mentioned. The main flights to Christmas Island started to go via Canada and the U.S. and commenced in late 1956 around about the time we had to vacate Mauripur. Whilst in my last few months at Lyneham a couple of the lads were posted to the States and had I been given that opportunity I might have signed on.

I have a copy of an article written by a Hastings captain who did both routes and he states that the in-flight rations on the old route to Aussie consisted of a Chinese 1000 year old hard boiled egg (must have been from Changi), a bully beef sandwich with turned up edges and a wizened apple. On the North American route to Christmas Island this was replaced by US fare consisting of fried chicken, crispy salad, cookies and ice cream (he didn’t mention the Mauripur bread rolls!).

He describes what was a load on the US route; mainly consisting of nine great steel drums containing the nuclear material. There would be an escort officer who would be armed with a Geiger counter whose task would be to monitor for any leakage of radio activity from the freight.

Whilst in Aden in late 56 there were two warships stuck there because of the Suez Crisis. We were invited aboard HMS Diana to have a look around and when I saw the food they had to eat and conditions that they lived under I was glad I was in the RAF. Just last year when the UK press were urging the government for compensation for lads that had suffered so many ill effects from involvement in the tests, there was an article about one ship that had sailed thru the atomic dust, it was the DIANA in 1956. Ooops!




After the death of six British military policemen in last week's bloody battle in southern Iraq, the soldiers of 1 Para speak out for the first time about their fury at claims that they abandoned their comrades. 

At a packed remembrance service in blistering desert heat, the 1,100 men and women of 1 Para Battle Group bade farewell last week to six comrades - military policemen trapped and gunned down by a rampaging mob in a dust-blown southern Iraqi town.

Their sense of loss was soon compounded by fury and frustration. For the suggestion has emerged that the dead men were abandoned to their fate after a patrol of Paras fought their way to safety in the ferocious battle that also claimed four Iraqi lives in Majar al-Kabir on Tuesday morning.

"The idea that the Paras looked after their own and left the RMPs [Royal Military Police] behind is frankly disgusting," said one officer, echoing the anger felt at the Battle Group headquarters in the remains of a former Iraqi army base near the city of Amara, 20 minutes' drive north of Majar. "We fought the war with them and spent five-and-a-half months with them."

Under a furnace-hot sun, emotions were also running high among soldiers on Amara's streets. "The Paras fought a phenomenal battle to get out and had they known anyone else was still in there, they would have done everything they could to help them," said Major Andy Harrison as he led a foot patrol past waving children. "Nothing grates more than the suggestion that they left the others behind."

The troops, who were regularly stopped by locals expressing regret over the killings, are still patrolling in Amara without body armour and wearing their distinctive maroon berets rather than helmets. Despite the first British deaths at Iraqi hands since the war, their commanders are maintaining a softly-softly patrolling style that contrasts dramatically with the confrontational American approach.

Their return to Majar yesterday for the first time since the incident was rather more forceful, however. Five hundred troops, still in berets but this time protected by flak jackets, poured into the town in 100 vehicles for a few hours, accompanied by RMP scenes of crimes officers who sealed off the police station where the men put up their last fight. 

Yet there were no incidents with local people in the unprepossessing town that sits on heroin-smuggling routes from Iran as the men who had been wandering through the market earlier in the week with Kalashnikovs slung over their shoulders stayed at home.

The dead men, who had been serving with the Battle Group since its deployment in the Gulf in February, became its first victims of the campaign when hundreds of townspeople waged a frenzied firefight with British troops near a muddy tributary of the Tigris 40 miles from the Iranian border.

Backed by reinforcements, a patrol of 12 heavily outgunned and outnumbered Paras fought their way out of the town, even after they were pinned down by rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machineguns and gunmen on roofs, during what would otherwise have been hailed as a dramatic text-book escape.

Only one of the men was wounded during the battle, although another seven soldiers aboard a RAF Chinook were injured - two seriously - when the helicopter was strafed from the ground as it tried unsuccessfully to land on a rescue mission.

Initial timelines of the violent sequence of events that morning - based on the often contradictory accounts of local people - suggested that the RMPs died in a protracted attack on the station that followed the extraction of the 12-man patrol. That prompted embarrassing questions about why the Paras had not staged a second rescue attempt. 

Yet even before the two hours of shooting died down at about 12.30pm, Lt Col Tom Beckett, the Battle Group's commanding officer, was being told by tribal leaders that the bodies of the six military policemen had been found at the town's dilapidated police station.

In his first public comments since the tragedy, he revealed: "It was clear that the RMPs were killed before or during the gun battle involving the Paras. They were certainly not killed afterwards. The idea that we abandoned them is inconceivable."

In common with his subordinates, Lt Col Beckett dismissed out of hand any suggestions that the Paras had only looked after their own. "Whether it's the chef in the cookhouse or a 1 Para soldier or an RMP lance-corporal, everyone here is part of one battle group," he said in an interview in a former Iraqi officer's room, where a single fan did little to lift the oppressive blanket of heat. "This was a tragic accident but it does not detract from our task in Iraq."

Until news came that the men's bodies had been discovered, it had apparently not even been confirmed that they were cut off inside the police station at the time of the gunfight because they had arrived in the town separately from the regular patrol. 

At Battle Group HQ, communications officers had tried in vain to make contact with the men (it later emerged that the three Land Rovers containing their radio equipment had been stolen or burned in the chaos). 

A British spokesman said yesterday that the Army was investigating media reports that the RMP may have managed to make an emergency call, but that a communication breakdown meant that it was not realised that they were trapped at a different location to the Paras.

Four of the victims were shot at close range in the head although it is not yet clear whether the injuries were sustained in fierce fighting or whether they were cornered and executed. Unless local people are willing to act as witnesses - and last week nobody even admitted seeing the battle around the police station - the killers are unlikely to be found.

Lt Col Beckett was also insistent that his men did not open fire first after they were surrounded by an angry stone-throwing crowd at the bazaar in Majar. "They came under sustained attack," he said. Privately, senior British officers have said that the first two men shot dead by the Paras had drawn Kalashnikovs on them - contradicting claims by locals that they were unarmed bystanders killed by troops firing indiscriminately.

Town leaders claimed that by entering Majar in the first place, British forces were breaking an agreement not to patrol there - signed the previous day in an effort to end protests after a weapons search in a neighbouring village on Saturday.

However, the Paras said that they agreed not to establish a permanent post in the town and to give local leaders time to try to disarm the area by themselves only as a goodwill gesture to calm tensions. "We would never agree not to patrol there," said one officer. "We are not in the business of establishing no-go zones."

The chain of events that spiralled out of control so disastrously began in the early hours of Sunday during a weapons search in Abu Abid, a dirt-poor village of stone and mud compounds.

Furious tribal elders made a series of outraged and ever more dramatic allegations against the British soldiers, claiming that they brought sniffer dogs inside their homes (offending local sensibilities as the animals are considered unclean), shot a villager's dog, searched women and confiscated money.

"If you kill my dog, I have to kill you," insisted 60-year-old Hummud Salah angrily, although few other Iraqis appeared to have heard of this particular blood pact in a country where the only dogs are usually mangy strays.

British soldiers say that the search was going smoothly until they started to find outlawed weaponry such as a mortar barrel and heavy machine gun. Indeed, the village headman, Salah Ugla Jabar, effectively acknowledged the real cause of the anger when he declared lividly: "Not even Saddam tried to take away our weapons and he was the worst dictator." Another man fumed: "These British are worse than terrorists."

These allegations of over-intrusive British searches set the scene for Tuesday's mob fury. Yet the speed and ease with which the mood was inflamed has raised questions about the possible role of outsiders determined to destabilise Coalition rule.

There were reports last night that former Saddam loyalists have travelled from the flashpoint areas north and west of Baghdad in recent days to try to encourage sheikhs and tribesmen in central and southern Iraq to fight US and British forces. In Majar, some people claimed that an ex-Ba'ath party official fired the first shot on Tuesday, although nobody was either able or willing to name him.

The risk of further escalation here was eased by the intervention of Abu Hattem, a legendary guerrilla leader known as the Lord of the Marshes for his stubborn 17-year struggle against Saddam's forces from the southern marshlands.

We encountered Abu Hattem accompanied by four truckloads of fighters bristling with weapons - in Iraq, even peacebrokers come heavily armed - as he arrived in Majar for a meeting with tribal leaders after talks with British officers. "There were faults on both sides," he told us diplomatically. "I am sure that if we all learn from this, there will not be a repeat of this incident."

The attack occurred in a region previously regarded as one of the most benign for Coalition forces, a heartland of anti-Saddam opposition where thousands of Shia Muslims were executed after the failed 1991 uprising. That such a brutal incident could happen here is a stark reminder of the extremely unpredictable environment in which British troops are deployed.

Indeed, if further proof of the dangerous volatility were needed, it came on Friday, when a local imam visited Lt Col Beckett for a fence-mending meeting. By the time he arrived back in Majar late for the main prayers, outraged locals were preparing to march on the British base because they were convinced that he had been arrested.


From: Dennis Martin, Woking, UK
To: John Cooper, UK
Date: 27 Jun 2003 17:01
Subject: Sensitive Cargo

Hi John, 

I was at Lyneham '53 to '55 and although it was never disclosed to us, 'secret' stuff was carried on the Hastings to Australia. During my time on the Loading Party and in Load Control, the loading of the 'UAH-PCF' was sometimes completed just before departure, awaiting the arrival a piece of equipment. This was often a timber frame with a 'flask' suspended on springs, or a large box that had more packing than goods. These were usually loaded just forward of the passenger seats.

Diplomatic Mail, a white canvas bag secured with a padlock, was carried by the Captain. I recall that occasionally it was a last minute thing - the Diplomatic Courier arrived by car and handed it over, or the Duty Movements Officer did the honours. The movements signal from the station of origin showing the aircraft load would signify its presence with the word 'DIP' 

Hope this is helpful. The old brain box has to unravel incidents that occurred between my time in the RAF and with Civilian Airlines that were charted to do the same job! Does anyone remember the British Eagle Britannia on charter to the Ministry of Transport to do the same trip, Passenger-cum-freighter to Woomera? It took off from Heathrow and couldn't get one of it's wheels up. The crew decided to dump fuel and return, but I think they had a red light on the dodgy carriage. It was diverted to Manston - away from houses and buildings and landed on a carpet of foam! No casualties, a couple of bent props and hush-hush.


Dennis Martin


From: Jack Riley, Urangan Qld., Australia
Date: 27 Jun 2003 19:47
Subject: SHOP

Dear Tony,

In "our day" in Changi,  SHOP (Safe Hand of Pilot) mail was always collected from the pilot of incoming aircraft by the DAMO and carried by him to the AMS where it was locked in a cage awaiting collection either by an Embassy vehicle or delivered by a service MT outfit called the Special Delivery Service.

Outgoing SHOP was handed to the pilot (only) when he signed for and collected his paperwork. I can only recall lead-sealed mail bags.




From: Murdo Macleod, Newport-on-Tay, UK
Date: 28 Jun 2003 09:42
Subject: Re: OBB 062703

Hi Guys,

I've had a bit of bother lately with my computer, and have lost all my contacts and there were a couple of e-mails that I failed to respond to, that I would like to, so if you are reading this and you sent me an e-mail to which you got no response, please re-submit and I will get back to you.

I am now retired from the M.O.D. at last and the freedom is fabulous, no more wars and definitely no more bullshit. Unfortunately I am now at a loose end and don't quite know what to do with myself, I don't play golf and don't want to and I am too heavy at the moment for diving.

I am thinking of taking up heavy goods driving if I can find some outfit willing to take a chance on employing a doddery so much choice. I tried to sign on the dole but at sixty they don't want to know, I can still work but am not required to register anymore. Straaaange.

I do have a few projects around the house to complete and after that I guess I'll have to look for work if I can get any. So will all my old pals please get back in touch so that I can reactivate my contacts list.

I will be changing back to BT in September when broadband becomes available in my area, whoopee, at last 21st century technology, I can hardly contain myself with all the excitement.

Cheers for now 



[Ed:  The following is an entry in the OBA guest book - it's from the late Don Wickham's son, John.  I did write back to John and expressed how much Don was respected in the Air Movements community.]

Sunday 06/29/2003 1:37:31pm 
Name: John Wickham 
City/Country: United Arab Emirates 
Comments: Was lovely to see my Father hasn't been forgotten after all his years on MAMS and as a mover. 


From: Dave Yeoman, Hadleigh, UK
Date: 28 Jun 2003 15:05
Subject: Suez Crisis 1956

Hi Tony, 

I read with interest Dave Cromb's remarks about the Suez Crisis and of course your follow up. I think there may be a bit of confusion regarding the awarding of the medal for Suez. I myself in days of yore when everything still worked as nature intended was one of those who, in the words of my Flight Sergeant at the time, was picked to learn how to fire a Sten from off a camel's back. 

We were seconded to No.259 Wing at RAF Yatesbury in Wiltshire in, if my memory still functions, September 1956 prior to being sent somewhere warm. We knew it was going to be somewhere warm because the first thing that happened was that we were kitted out with the old KD. We spent the remainder of September and all of October kicking our heels while the powers that be decided what to do with us. As I recall it was one of the cushiest postings I had.

After the initial preparations and, not knowing quite what to do with us, we were sent on a series of 48 & 72 hour passes with instructions to return immediately if contacted whilst away from base. Living just outside London at the time I could be found hitch-hiking up and down the A4.

When the call finally came we were transported to RAF Lyneham and flown in "luxury" to Malta aboard Shackletons. Signs of things to come Movements wise, as we were each given a restraining strap and told to secure ourselves to the floor of the aircraft. Yes, you guessed it, no Pax seats! 

On arrival at RAF Luqa we were then transferred to the aircraft carrier HMS Ocean for our trip to Port Said, arriving I think on the 5th or 6th of November. Once the dust had settled we disembarked and made our way to El Gamil airfield just outside Port Said where we stayed for the duration. For a while we shared the base with both the Army and also a French contingent living in tents until, in true Supplier style, we moved into one of the buildings and set up a stores/living area. 

My duties out there consisted mainly of being responsible for the petrol supply. This came in standard jerry cans which when emptied were taken down to the port area for exchange for full ones. For the first 10-12 days the 3 tonner carrying the aforesaid jerry cans was the only vehicle allowed off base on a non-operational basis. Yours truly volunteering to ride as armed escort, complete with Sten and a full magazine. One of the "perks" was being able whilst down town to "trade" with the natives. Not only did I take 50+ empty jerry cans but also a considerable number of our free-issue cigarettes which were duly exchanged for watches, leather goods etc., for those who were stuck on base. Unfortunately the Navy put the kibosh on this by allowing their blokes to come ashore when the town was settled.

We left Port Said a few days before Xmas '56 on board the SS New Australia which was used to convey surplus Poms to down under on the immigrant run. 

With regards to the medal, those of us who were out there during this period were eventually awarded the GSM with a Near East clasp. My one and only piece of "hardware" having left the RAF after 16 years because I was told that although I had served for a number of years on Movements I had to revert back into Supply. Not long after this (1971) they made Movements a separate trade within the supply set up.

Although a non-mobile mover, I still enjoy reading the briefs and now and again getting out the old shorts and bucket of sand whilst journeying down memory lane. 

Best regards 

Dave Yeoman. 


From: Howard Firth, Mossel Bay, South Africa
Date: 29 Jun 2003 10:44
Subject: RAAF Maralinga

Hi Tony, 

Prompted by Jim Aitken's and John Cooper's questions on Hot Loads and in particular the goings on at Maralinga. 

RAAF Maralinga was my first overseas. I was in Supply at RAF Colerne in 1965 when all my mates were being posted to Aden and the Gulf. When my posting came though I did'nt have a clue where Maralinga was. Four of us pitched up at Heathrow; me, Adrian Darter (301st AA), Jimmy Gardner (51st BE), and a guy called Dave Thompson. We left Heathrow on a British Eagle Britannia and arrived a week later in OZ. On route we had 2 engine fires and a hung up undercarriage emergency. We had un-scheduled stop overs in Singapore and Darwin. The flight after ours, a week later, crashed on take off from Heathrow I believe with no casualties. No wonder they went out of business.

Maralinga is 500 miles north of Adelaide in the Nulabar Desert. It was the site for UK A testing. Most of the airfield was RAF run, OC Supply was also SATCO, with a large contingent of Army Engineers and Pioneer Corps guys. We were re supplied from Adelaide by DC3 Ansett Ana aircraft. I don't think I ever saw an RAF aircraft there during my spell. All our provisions had to be collected from the railway station at, I think, Cuber Pedy. It was a 4 hour drive but worth it because you got to have first taste of the fresh rations on the way back. 

We were seconded to the AWRE Team responsible for clearing up the leftovers and cleaning the land for the Abo's to return to. We were responsible for 4 or 5 sites, huge holes in the ground about 1mile across, and all the Radiac equipment. No wonder I have no kids and I glow in the dark. The sites were hundreds of miles apart and we used to drive to each over a period of days. No roads just sandy tracks. It was great adventure for a 17 year old. 

We were there for 8 months, before one day we were all told we were leaving the following week. This is a great shame as we had decided to sell some of the more decent equipment to save it being bulldozed into huge pits in the desert. Too late to organise moving it to Adelaide with only a few days left. Probably as well. So up there somewhere are a whole load of fridges, washing machines and cookers. Maybe the Abo's found them! Because we were shipped out quickly, no reason given, the RAF said we could return to the UK or have extended leave in OZ. I had 6 weeks in Sydney courtesy of HM - very nice thank you. Only trouble was they posted me back to 16MU! No such thing as a free lunch. 

Life here is fine and the golf continues to improve. How did I ever have time to work? That should cause some replies! 

Best regards 


[Ed: In 1956-57 the arid rangelands of South Australia were subject to the detonation of nine major nuclear bombs, and many smaller bomb trials, as part of the British atomic weapons testing program at Maralinga and Emu Field. The establishment of Woomera had forged close military links between Australia and Britain and the Australian government barely questioned the nature and effects of nuclear tests. 

To carry out the tests thousands of Maralinga, Pitjantjatjara and Kokatha people were forcibly removed from their land by 'Aboriginal Protectors'. Maralinga was a direct act of genocide. Nuclear weapons contain radioactive substances poisonous for up to 250,000 years and contaminate land and water systems. The radioactive exposure of the tests was extensive as dense radioactive clouds travelled far and caused much sickness and death of surrounding communities. Traditional owners speak of the black mist that caused blindness and cancer. 

The British and Australian service personnel involved in the tests were also exposed to radioactive contamination. The area remains unsafe for habitation for 250,000 years is just another case of nuclearisation perpetrating directly and indirectly acts of genocide upon indigenous and non-indigenous people. The British continue to dispute their responsibility to rehabilitate the land.

For lots of interesting news articles about the Maralinga tests point your browser here.]


A little blonde girl comes back from school one evening. She runs to her mum and says: "Mummy today at school we learnt how to count. Well, all the other girls only counted to 5, but listen to me: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10! It's good, innit?"

"Yes darling, very good."

"Is that because I'm blonde?"

"Yes darling, it's because you're blonde."

Next day, the little girl comes back from school and says: "Mummy, today at school we learnt the alphabet. All the other girls only went as far as D, but listen to me: A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K ! It's good "innit?" 

"Yes darling, very good."
"Is that because I'm blonde, mummy?" 

"Yes darling it's because you're blonde.

Next Day, she returns from school and cries: "Mummy, today we went swimming. Well, all the other girls have no breasts, but look at me!" She proceeds to flash her impressive 36 D's at her mummy. "Is that because I'm blonde, mummy?"

"No darling, it's because you're 25."


From: John Belcher, Chippenham, UK
Date: 29 Jun 2003 13:57
Subject: MAMS Association Update


Couple of updates from the MAMS Association 

The special colour Summer edition of 'Team Brief' will be with Association members in the next few days. This edition combines the Spring and Summer editions. 

Meet and Greets – the next one will be on 25 July at the Windmill pub, West Swindon, on the 25 July from 1930 hrs. Open to ALL - both current and ex-Movers are welcome.

Finally Corporal Lee ‘Pob’ Heads, a mover based at Brize and his fiancée, were killed in a car crash on the 24 June. 




From: Charles Collier, Marlborough, UK
Date: 30 Jun 2003 10:48
Subject: New ISP

Hello Tony,

I thought you might wonder why the silence from me. Well, we had a problem with the hardware/software on my PC. The ISDN PCI card was causing us to be billed for voicemail when surfing the net as I am now, when it should have been free as we were paying the ISP a flat rate monthly charge. Well, to cut a long story short we decided to change from AOL to BTOpenworld. This has solved the problem and all is now on a proper financial footing.

So, a story next week



The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, has renewed his criticism of the British government following last week's Appeal Court ruling that expatriates' pensions can remain frozen in some countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

"We have been lobbying the British Government for years," he said. "But so far they've been completely unwilling to change."

"Our view is that the British Government should have fully indexed British pensioner recipients. This is very important in particularly South Australia and Western Australia where there is an above average number of people who were born in the United Kingdom."

The British policy costs Australia about $100 million (£40 million) a year in topping up British expat pensions.

Amanda Vanstone, the Australian minister for family and community services, said: "It's disgraceful that the UK Government takes the contributions from their pensioners during their working lives and then refuses to index those pensions in retirement if a pensioner chooses to live in Australia rather than, say, the United States. It is morally wrong.

"The indexation issue remains a priority for this Government and I will personally take every opportunity to resolve this matter and to pursue a better outcome for the 221,000 UK pensioners in Australia who are affected by the UK's discriminatory policy.

"Australia indexes every one of the pensions or benefits it pays to former residents living overseas. Most other countries behave the same way.

"The UK's penny pinching policy is well out of step with international practice in this area and the UK Government needs to reverse its indefensible position."

The Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, has renewed his criticism of the British government following last week's Appeal Court ruling that expatriates' pensions can remain frozen in some countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

"We have been lobbying the British Government for years," he said. "But so far they've been completely unwilling to change."

"Our view is that the British Government should have fully indexed British pensioner recipients. This is very important in particularly South Australia and Western Australia where there is an above average number of people who were born in the United Kingdom."

The British policy costs Australia about $100 million (£40 million) a year in topping up British expat pensions.

Amanda Vanstone, the Australian minister for family and community services, said: "It's disgraceful that the UK Government takes the contributions from their pensioners during their working lives and then refuses to index those pensions in retirement if a pensioner chooses to live in Australia rather than, say, the United States. It is morally wrong.

"The indexation issue remains a priority for this Government and I will personally take every opportunity to resolve this matter and to pursue a better outcome for the 221,000 UK pensioners in Australia who are affected by the UK's discriminatory policy.

"Australia indexes every one of the pensions or benefits it pays to former residents living overseas. Most other countries behave the same way.

"The UK's penny pinching policy is well out of step with international practice in this area and the UK Government needs to reverse its indefensible position."

[Ed: Jim Aitken from down under in Oz adds a comment, "Or else we won't be in the "Coalition of the Willing" in future!!.]


From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury, UK
Date: 30 Jun 2003 17:56
Subject: Aden During Suez

Hi there,

The Invasion of Suez affected many units outside the Canal Zone; Libya, Cyprus, Jordan, Iraq and of course Aden. 

At the time I was at HQBF Aden and was posted to Khormaksar in the October of 1956. Radio Cairo was broadcasting anti-British propaganda all over the region.We used to go to Gahleb's shop in Steamer; he was a little Adenii shopkeeper on No 1 Street. Gahleb would tell us he listened to the rantings and ravings from Radio Cairo pushing for revolt and then would switch over to the BBC overseas service and work out for himself what to believe. There’s not a lot to say regarding Aden during this time except it was really hectic and normal working hours went to pot.

There were lots of extra movements going on. All scheduled flights were cancelled, together with the weekly Eagle Airways Viking which plied between Khormaksar and Mombassa for the leave scheme that had been implemented in September that year.

We had all sorts of aircraft coming in day and night including Avro Tudors and Yorks, all carrying freight. It was quite a sight to see them landing in the dark with the Merlins spitting flames out of the exhausts as they shut down. Then there were Hastings and Hermes bring in the military; Army, RAF and Naval personnel. We had two BOAC Britannia’s come in one evening with a forward party of KSLI amongst whom were some old school mates from Shrewsbury, they didn't have a clue where they were bound for and I was able to tell them that next morning they were off to Bahrain in Valetta’s. The BOAC Britannia’s had been commandeered by the MoD even before BOAC could get them into service which eventually happened in March 1957. 

The harbour at Steamer Point was fairly busy too. There were two warships stuck there; HMS Kenya and HMS Diana and the troopship Empire Fowey which eventually left for the UK via the Cape.

As far as I can recall there was no trouble at that time from the locals, as we all know that was to come later.

I was two months over on tourex due to the Suez Crisis and eventually got away on one of the first Comet II flights out of Khormaksar at the end of January 1957. The Comet was on a VIP tour of the region and there were a couple of empty seats and so I got one of them. We flew the long way around; Entebbe for lunch, and a night stop at Kano. The next day we had lunch at Idris and eventually arrived at Lyneham on a cold, wet and dark afternoon.

Hope the forgoing, small as it is might be, is of interest.




From: Jerry Allen, Cheltenham, UK
Date: 01 Jul 2003 05:22
Subject:  Gurkhas in the Falkland's War
Dear Tony

A very good friend of mine has just published his first book and I thought that it might be of interest to anyone who follows the details of military history and in particular to those who served during Operation CORPORATE in 1982.

Mike Seear was a major in the 7th Gurkha Rifles when they deployed for operations in 1982. His book, 'With the Ghurkas in the Falklands - a War Journal' is a highly personal account of this unique fighting force in combat. Mike was dismayed that in the popular view the Falklands had been retaken by the Royal Marines and the Parachute Regiment with little help from other Army regiments. He set out several years ago to put the records straight and in the course of his extensive research he visited Argentina to interview ex-regular and conscript soldiers who had faced the Ghurkas.

Mike's book can be purchased directly either through the publisher 'Pen and Sword' or via his own web-site [no longer valid]

Mike is donating part of his (meagre) royalty from each book sold to the Ghurka Welfare Fund.

Many Regards

Jerry Allen


From: Martin Liggett, Swindon, UK
Date: 03 Jul 2003 16:21
Subject: Loadmaster Vacancies

DHL are looking for loadmasters for their daily B727 mail run Bahrain-Bagram-Baghdad-Bahrain.

The pay is $2500 tax free per month plus $50 per diem for days flown, hotel accommodation plus 1 meal is paid for. The contact and thread can be found at (freightdogs forum - loadmasters wanted thread).

This may be of interest to anyone who has just come out or is unemployed.




From Martin Liggett, Swindon, UK
Date: 03 Jul 2003 16:32


The local HTV news tonight have headlines that RAF Lyneham is to close!! 

The decision not to be officially released until tomorrow however, a senior RAF "spokesman" has leaked the Defence committee's decision early. Apparently the hangers and other infastructure would require £50 million to bring them up to specs for the arrival of the Airbus A400M, this money would apparently be put to better use at RAF Brize Norton.

Rumour has it that the base may not close completely, with the army being favourites to utilise the facilities, perhaps even moving the AMC from South Cerney.

This is a sad occasion, and no doubt will bring a lump to the throat for many movers both past and present that have spent many a cold night out on TFD building ammo pallets!

How about a farewell bash for all serving and retired movers in J5 ??



[Ed: Over to you Ian!]


Is this the end for RAF Lyneham?


An announcement on the future of RAF Lyneham is expected on Friday. It is feared the news could spell the closure of the Wiltshire base, and the transfer of its transport fleet to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. 

James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire, is to host a press conference on Friday ahead of what he describes as "a devastating Government announcement".

Tony Blair visited the base during the recent Iraq conflict, and said in May: "I accept and understand the very important role that it has played in previous conflicts and, I have no doubt at all, will play in future conflicts, too." 

RAF Lyneham is one of three air bases currently being reviewed by the Ministry Of Defence. 

It hosts 2,500 service personnel, 50 civilian staff and the Hercules transport planes. 

In the summer, the MoD announced the Hercules' replacement - the A400M Transport aircraft - would be based at RAF Brize Norton. 

If the site were sold for agricultural use, it has previously been estimated to be worth £11.25m. 

If it closes, the RAF base could be handed to the army. It could also be used to host government departments, or as an industrial site or housing development


Stranger Than Fiction

A fierce gust of wind blew 45-year-old Vittorio Luise's car into a river near Naples, Italy, in 1983. He managed to break a window, climb out and swim to shore -- where a tree blew over and killed him. 
Mike Stewart, 31, of Dallas was filming a movie in 1983 on the dangers of low-level bridges when the truck he was standing on passed under a low-level bridge -- killing him.
Walter Hallas, a 26-year-old store clerk in Leeds, England, was so afraid of dentists that in 1979 he asked a fellow worker to try to cure his toothache by punching him in the jaw. The punch caused Hallas to fall down, hitting his head, and he died of a fractured skull. 
Two West German motorists had an all-too-literal head-on collision in heavy fog near the small town of Guetersloh. Each was guiding his car at a snail's pace near the center of the road. At the moment of impact their heads were both out of the windows when they smacked together. Both men were hospitalized with severe head injuries. Their cars weren't scratched. 
George Schwartz, owner of a factory in Providence, R.I., narrowly escaped death when a 1983 blast flattened his factory except for one wall. After treatment for minor injuries, he returned to the scene to search for files. The remaining wall then collapsed on him, killing him. 
Depressed since he could not find a job, 42-year-old Romolo Ribolla sat in his kitchen near Pisa, Italy, with a gun in his hand threatening to kill himself in 1981. His wife pleaded for him not to do it, He burst into tears and threw the gun to the floor. It went off and killed his wife. 
In 1983, a Mrs. Carson of Lake Kushaqua, N.Y., was laid out in her coffin, presumed dead of heart disease. As mourners watched, she suddenly sat up. Her daughter dropped dead from fright. 
A man hit by a car in New York in 1977 got up uninjured, but laid back down in front of the car when a bystander told him to pretend he was hurt so he could collect insurance money. The car rolled forward and crushed him to death. 
Surprised while burgling a house in Antwerp, Belgium, a thief fled out the back door, clambered over a nine-foot wall, dropped down and found himself in the city prison. 
In 1976 a twenty-two-year-old Irishman, Bob Finnegan, was crossing the busy Falls Road in Belfast, when he was struck by a taxi and flung over its roof. The taxi drove away and, as Finnegan lay stunned in the road, another car ran into him, rolling him into the gutter. It too drove on. As a knot of gawkers gathered to examine the magnetic Irishman, a delivery van plowed through the crowd, leaving in its wake three injured bystanders and an even more battered Bob Finnegan. When a fourth vehicle came along, the crowd wisely scattered and only one person was hit, Bob Finnegan. In the space of two minutes Finnegan suffered a fractured skull, broken pelvis, broken leg, and other assorted injuries. Hospital officials said he would recover. 
While motorcycling through the Hungarian countryside, Cristo Falatti came up to a railway line just as the crossing gates were coming down. While he sat idling, he was joined by a farmer with a goat, which the farmer tethered to the crossing gate. A few moments later a horse and cart drew up behind Falatti, followed in short order by a man in a sports car. When the train roared through the crossing, the horse startled and bit Falatti on the arm. Not a man to be trifled with, Falatti responded by punching the horse in the head. In consequence the horse's owner jumped down from his cart and began scuffling with the motorcyclist. The horse, which was not up to this sort of excitement, backed away briskly, smashing the cart into the sports car. At this, the sports car driver leaped out of his car and joined the fray. The farmer came forward to try to pacify the three flailing men. As he did so, the crossing gates rose and his goat was strangled. At last report, the insurance companies were still trying to sort out the claims. 
In a classic case of one thing leading to another, seven men aged eighteen to twenty-nine received jail sentences of three to four years in Kingston-on-Thames, England, in 1979 after a fight that started when one of the men threw a french fry at another while they stood waiting for a train. 
Hitting on the novel idea that he could end his wife's incessant nagging by giving her a good scare, Hungarian Jake Fen built an elaborate harness to make it look as if he had hanged himself. When his wife came home and saw him she fainted. Hearing a disturbance a neighbor came over and, finding what she thought were two corpses, seized the opportunity to loot the place. As she was leaving the room, her arms laden, the outraged and suspended Mr. Fen kicked her stoutly in the backside. This so surprised the lady that she dropped dead of a heart attack. Happily, Mr. Fen was acquitted of manslaughter and he and his wife were reconciled.
An unidentified English woman, according to the London Sunday Express, was climbing into the bathtub one afternoon when she remembered she had left some muffins in the oven. Naked, she dashed downstairs and was removing the muffins when she heard a noise at the door. Thinking it was the baker, and knowing he would come in and leave a loaf of bread on the kitchen table if she didn't answer his knock, the woman darted into the broom cupboard. A few moments later she heard the back door open and, to her eternal mortification, the sound of footsteps coming toward the cupboard. It was the man from the gas company, coming to read the meter. "Oh," stammered the woman, "I was expecting the baker." The gas man blinked, excused himself and departed.


Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend!

Best regards