18 July 2003


A new member joining us this week is Keiran Lucey from Marham, UK

Welcome to the OBA!


From: David Barton, Kings Lynn, UK
Date: 11 Jul 2003 06:31
Subject: Salalah

Hi Tony,

Reading Dave Cromb's letter referring to landings at Salalah. I well remember flying into Salalah in the early days, normally in the Argosy but quite often by Andover and Sky Van, usually in a cloud of dust. The runway was hard sand and quite short as I remember and reverse thrust was a must. Later the C130 managed the landing but never heard of a VC10 landing there, at least not during the 60's and 70's.

In the early days I recall that two flatbed trailers loaded with sand-filled 45 gal drums were towed out either side of the aircraft for protection from stray or otherwise, shots from the enemy. These trailers were locally known as 'drumedaries'. I never did see concrete walls for protection.

Still on the subject of Salalah, does anyone recall the medical set up known as No.1 FST (Field Surgical team). As far as I remember it was situated behind the Sgts Mess and I well remember helicopters landing nearby with wounded from the battle area. One evening while having a drink or three in the Mess there was an urgent call for 'O' Positive blood. Being a 'donor' I was whipped into a tent and promptly relieved of some well primed blood. To this day I never did learn if this was genuine as there was a 'leg pull' known as a 'Rubber Dick' which was all the rage in the Gulf at the time. Did I fall for it? There is another one I well remember but will relate that another day.


Dave Barton

[Ed:  I came up with a few slides which I have been able to scan into my computer.  They were taken at Salalah in 1971.]

A C130 parked on the ramp at Salalah.  Sand filled 45 gallon drums are on either side of the aircraft to prevent damage from mortar fire (presumably those that would have missed a direct hit!)
One of the 'drumedaries' that Dave Barton mentioned  parked in front of the C130 (as opposed to 'dromedaries' which describes animals of the camel family). 

There were so many 45 gallon drums at Salalah.  Here, some enterprising (and bored) chaps fabricated the only air defence system required (the rebels didn't have any aircraft).  

I'm no strategist, but I would have thought that such an object d'art would have invited an attack rather than acting as a deterrent!

The 'Astra' cinema consisted of an outside brick wall painted white with about 30 or so hard steel folding chairs placed in front.  At nighttime, when the film was showing, the temperature would dip to a freezing 80 degrees F., a drop of some 40 degrees from the daytime norm - and we would sit wrapped in blankets, with our feet feeling like blocks of ice.  At the conclusion of the opening cartoon a shout of "Good old Fred!" would be heard - making reference to Fred Quimby, the producer of the cartoon. 
This was my home-away-from-home for a year in the mid-sixties.  The huts were partitioned in the middle, with four chaps at either end. 

In 1966 the trees were mere shrubs, but we faithfully watered them several times a day.

A close-up of my old accommodations reveals that it was now being used as the station church!

Back in the mid-sixties the inside walls were covered in Playboy centerfolds.  Although I didn't venture into the building I would imagine that they had been removed.

At sunset in Salalah, yours truly is preparing to depart.


From: David Cromb, Brisbane Qld., Australia
To: The Editor, UKMAMS Association Team Briefs, Lyneham, UK
Date: 11 Jul 2003 08:31
Subject: Team Brief

G'day & greetings Mick,

I just received Issue #47 thanks.

Yeah, pictures tell a better story in a way. It also gives us on the outside an idea what is happening and what it currently looks like on the inside. Journos will only show & tell newsy things.

Sadly, your comment regarding a lack of articles is once again so true, but understandable given global news. I say again because it has been the cause for comment before.

I can't speak for others but I must admit to have fallen into the trap of submitting articles on a regular basis to Tony's brilliant newsletter, the Old Boys Briefs, possibly because it has a weekly distribution, but that is still no excuse.

Henceforth I shall copy all parties in on all future submissions. I trust no party has a problem with that, if they do, speak up now or forever hold the peace, as they say. The editors then have the option of what they wish to do with the ramblings.

Tony, good last OBB as usual. Thanks for your comments re VC-10 landings at Salalah. Having thought about it, those bloody huge concrete walls were 45 gal drums.

That's got that sorted. I will revert soon with some news.

Mick, keep up the good work & hope you get improved support.

Be good, be aware & be safe.

Cheers, DC


From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury, UK
Date: 12 Jul 2003 04:36
Subject: Medals and A Tests

Hi Tony,

I wrote off to the medal man at Innsworth last week about the Canal Zone GSM and had a reply in a matter of days - they can’t have too much to do!! 

I’m informed that the newly announced medal will recognize service in Egypt circa 1951-1954 and that it will be issued in the near future, however, the criteria relating to this award has not yet been published. I’ll bet I miss this one by a few days just like I missed the Southern Arabian Peninsular one, ah well.

Reading Peter Brown’s memories of the UAH’s leaving Lyneham jogged the old grey matter. Some of the aircraft transiting Mauripur had just a few passengers on like high ranking officers and civilian boffins. I’ll bet 'Mr Jones' on one of them was in fact W. Penney passing through. If you read the Mauripur article on the OBA web site you’ll see we had some fun with the Pakistani medical people spraying the interior of the aircraft which caused the passengers to cough and splutter.

With regards to the A tests in Aussie, I had a look for a web site for the tests on the Montebello Islands. Sure enough, HMS Diana is mentioned in one as taking part in the 1956 tests. She was used to sail through two tests; the first in May 1956 and then the second on the 19th June. The article states that the second test was the largest and HMS Diana was sealed as best as possible then sailed into the fallout. Afterwards she required extensive decontamination. She was refused entry into the port of Fremantle on account of her role in the test, and, as I mentioned previously, she was stuck at Steamer Point in Aden because of the Suez Crisis on her way back to the UK. We were allowed to go on board for a visit - I wonder if we were an addition to the tests?

Cheers for now



Codes of conduct when eating out in China

Culture shock is an issue that we foreign friends hear about all the time in the Central Land (Zhong Guo). There are immense differences that contribute to creating a totally different way of life here. One of the most striking is in the codes of conduct, or what is considered to be good manners.

Visitors are nonplussed that 5,000 years of history have given the Chinese a rich culture complete with codes of etiquette and behavioural guidelines and yet people walk around spitting and belching without embarrassment. One must not be dismissive of something just because it differs from what one is used to. There is a strict code here but it is just not the same as the western way.

Let us start with the moment that you walk into a restaurant for supper. You are greeted by a wall of sound. This first noticeable difference between a Western eating place and a local one is the awful noise that is essential for a good dining experience here. The Chinese enjoy a good racket at supper time like we might appreciate a string quartet or gentle tinkling of the ivories in the background.

If you can have a decent conversation with someone sitting next to you without raising your voice then it just 'aint happening. Don't try to break up the argument between the people screaming across the table, they are just showing their mutual appreciation. Where we whisper sweet nothings, they yell at each other.

Having resigned ourselves to the din, lets wash our cutlery and then our hands in the bowl of tea in the middle (you didn't drink it did you? Did someone tell you it was soup?).

Now for the chopsticks. As long as you can hold two in one hand you will be complemented on your skill and possibly asked if you have any Chinese blood in the family. Someone is bound to ask you to pick up a peanut or two with them to while away the time until the first dish appears.

Next comes the eating part where you get to guess what it is that you are eating even though you may really prefer not to know. The Cantonese are known throughout China as eating everything with four legs except the table, and anything that flies or swims except aeroplanes and submarines respectively. So if it is a special meal, you may get to enjoy the delicate flavour of endangered species or maybe a household pet or two.

If it is a business meal you will have trouble picking and choosing what you eat because your hosts will be out to impress you and will order one of everything short of an elephant.

A drink to go with your exotic fare? The rice wine is de rigeur. Don't sip it gradually. Not that anyone with a functioning brain would want to do so as it ranks on the desirability scale somewhere between Texaco lead free and tractor vaporising oil. Fortunately custom requires that you throw it down your throat quickly when summoned to do so by your host. The quick and the crafty have been known to throw it behind them into the specially trained poison-proof rubber plants which abound in restaurants. As long as you cough a lot afterwards and act like you want to be sick then no one will spot your misdemeanor.

Done with eating yet? Someone will order a bowl of fried rice or fried noodles at the end just to make sure you are full. If you eat all the fried rice/noodles then more will be brought so unless you want to really stuff yourself, you are better off leaving a bit in the serving dish.

When all are full and feeling a bit sick from the excess food and rocket fuel combo, they bring the fruit. People around you will fight for their right to pay the bill. I generally ignore this and let them get on with it. During this time you are also expected to dig out remaining bits of the aforementioned delicacies from between your teeth with the toothpicks provided. One of the niceties of Chinese culture comes into play at this stage.

During the eating stage it is acceptable to chew your food with mouth wide open and full smacking of lips to show your appreciation. You can even shout at the others while you chew. However, when you wield the toothpick it is a major faux-pas to let anyone else see your teeth. You must master the art of picking your teeth through closely sealed lips and behind a shielding hand so that no-one can see what you are doing.

Done that? OK get out of there, pausing only briefly to thank whoever succeeded in paying in faltering Chinese and to be complemented on your grasp of the language. Then go home and regret not having mastered the sleight of hand required for the rice-wine-on-the-rubber-plant routine.

By Will Charlie


From: Rupert Snell, Lincoln, UK
Date: 12 Jul 2003 10:40
Subject: My New E-Mail Address

Due to excessive SPAM, please note my new e-mail address. 



[Ed:  Spam is a real issue nowadays.  Hotmail has got a very good filter system built right in - just go to Options and select your level.  I have yet to find a good free application for multiple addresses in Outlook 2000, which is the mail programme I am using.  There is a filter built in, but it requires manually adding each sender as and when you receive the unwanted mail, and these people that send the spam have countered that by employing a new sender address every time they sent out an advertisement.]


From: Jim Aitken, Brisbane Qld., Australia
Date: 14 Jul 2003 15:36
Subject: Lyneham Closure

Hi Tony,

The recent news of the impending closure of RAF Lyneham will no doubt hit some of us 'oldies' hard. It must be said that there was a shock to the system when I visited the Duxford Museum in 1998 and saw a Hastings on display!!

Before the demise (if it happens!) I wanted to record my words in the RAF Lyneham website guest book. Perhaps we OBA's should all voice our opinions and let the MoD know what we think of them.

A copy of my entry is reproduced below.



Brisbane, Queensland, Australia 
Sunday, July 13, 2003 at 21:59:31

I served in Air Movements at Lyneham from 1953-1956 and again from 1959 to 1961. I was detached to Clyffe Pypard on passenger transit duties until that station closed down with the building of the new 'Hotel' at Lyneham. The news of the closure of Lyneham was a great disappointment. The fact that current facilities at Lyneham need upgrading at huge expense is due to typical bureaucratic bungling in the past where no money has been allocated for any ongoing upgrades.

Back in the 'cold war' days when National Service was at its peak, Britain maintained bases all around the world and money was found for that. So where has all the Defence money gone which is no longer needed to support those facilities?

The Services are all at a fraction of their previous manning numbers. Obviously, no thought has been given to the social implications of this closure. Much of the civilian infrastructure established to support this unit will be decimated and a further loss of jobs occur. I just hope that there is an outcry against this blunder and that the politicians get a swift shake-up from the voters.

James (Jim) Aitken
Ex Mover and Lyneham "Old Boy" and proud of it.


From: Jack Riley, Urangan Qld., Australia
Date: 14 Jul 2003 08:12
Subject: This and That

Dear Tony,

Great Briefs lately. Well done!

Daughter, Sarah, in Melbourne, produced an 8lbs 8oz blockbuster boy. Ouch !

Briefs reminded me of two things relating to 'equipping the troops' When I was sent out to Burma during the war 'they' issued a Bombay Bowler...the sort of thing now worn by the Band of the Royal Marines. I carted it all the way to Mauripur, was met with ribaldry, and duly jumped on it.

Immediately post-war I walked into a storage hangar to be confronted by a mountain of clay pigeons, clearly purchased to help improve aircrew hand/eye co-ordination. Investigating these, I discovered that our gallant Air Force had enough, at current consumption rates, to last 100 years. Further enquiries revealed a Denomination of Quantity (DoQ) as 'Each'. Sadly 'Each' meant a 'Box of 100'

If any of 'our men in Iraq' find themselves issued with a Bombay Bowler or unloading clay pigeons... be alarmed... be very alarmed!

Regards to all


[Ed: Congrats on the new grandchild Jack!]


'Bumped' air passengers to get as much as £415 compensation

Passengers who are "bumped" off flights because of deliberate over-booking will be entitled to compensation of up to £415 under proposals passed by the European Parliament recently.

Airlines may also be liable for similar payouts when they cancel flights, and will have to provide free food and, if necessary, accommodation when a lengthy delay is expected.

About 100,000 British travellers find themselves denied a place on their booked flights every year because carriers have sold more tickets than they have seats, mistakenly assuming that some customers would not turn up.

Under the EU package, which has yet to be finalised and will require endorsement by transport ministers next year, barred passengers who were booked on flights of less than 930 miles would receive £170. Those on medium-range flights of 930-1,860 miles would be paid £275, and on longer journeys £415.

Similar amounts may be payable to people with reservations on cancelled services. However, flights scrapped because of air traffic control problems, bad weather, strikes by third-party staff or other factors outside the airline's control would be exempt from the compensation provisions.

Across the whole industry, cancellations are estimated at about 0.8 per cent of flights, roughly 10,000 a year. But many of these would be likely to escape penalty.

The plan also provides that short-haul carriers must offer passengers free food and refreshments and, if necessary, overnight accommodation if they expect a flight to be delayed by more than two hours. For long-haul operators, the delay threshold is four hours.

The measures will apply to scheduled carriers, and could be extended to charter companies if MEPs convince the European Commission during the next stage of the legislative process.

The European Parliament also wants Eurostar and Continental high-speed rail services to be included where they face direct air competition. But an option to introduce "name and shame" performance tables comparing airlines' records on overbooking was rejected.

EasyJet expressed concern that the levels of compensation were disproportionate to the fares its passengers paid.

"£170 is more than four times our lowest fare, which is an unreasonable charge. We want the compensation to be a percentage of the fare paid," said a spokesman. He also urged a uniform system of compensation for all types of transport.

The Department of Transport said it supported improved passenger rights, but did not want them to "stifle legitimate competition", which could lead to higher fares generally. Britain would work with other EU states to work towards a "suitable compromise" on the package, it said.

Ryanair insisted that it had no concerns about the legislation because it would be rarely affected. However, the carrier has been frequently criticised in the past for its lack of care for passengers caught up in long delays.

British Airways said it already provided compensation up to £400 for overbooking, which it said affected five of every 10,000 BA passengers, compared with an industry average of 11.


From: Dave Salmon, Springfield OR, USA
Date: 15 Jul 2003 11:35
Subject: Latest

Dear Tony

Just an update on what I'm up to at the moment. 

After I got laid off from Monaco Coach at the beginning of April this year (along with 450 others), I canceled my Jun/Jul trip to the UK to see my kids and brought it forward for 3 weeks in April. 

When I returned to Springfield, I was back at work within 2 weeks, working for Country Coach as an Electrical Fault Finder. As much as I enjoy the job, I no longer felt secure in the RV Industry. Country Coach hires big in the Summer and then lays off in the Winter months.

I've been thinking about trying to get back into Movements and using my FAA Dispatcher's Certificate the RAF so kindly paid for. Although things were still up in the air (no pun intended) since Sept 11th, I had been looking at other areas of opportunity in Aviation. 

I contacted Nige Clewley working for Dyncorp in Muscat. Thanks to information received from both Nige and Keith Parker I have been hired by Dyncorp as a Traffic Manager Specialist working out of Thumrait, Oman. So I leave Eugene Airport at 6am Thursday 17th July for places really hot on a one year contract. 

Well, that's the latest from me, will keep you posted on any future news.

All the best to everyone,


Dave Salmon

[Ed: Bon Voyage Dave - Another gallant member of the OBA joins the ever increasing Old Boys in Thumrait!]


Britain and America are heading for confrontation over the shooting down by a US Patriot missile battery of an RAF Tornado GR4 in which the two-man crew died.

A US board of inquiry has reportedly exonerated the operators of the battery that brought down the aircraft as it came into land at Ali al-Salim airfield in Kuwait after a mission over Iraq on March 23, three days into the war.

The dead men were the pilot, Flt Lt Kevin Main, and navigator, Flt Lt David Williams, both based at RAF Marham, Norfolk.

The US Central Command inquiry concluded that the battery "mistook the aircraft for an anti-radiation missile based on its high-speed descent and lack of functioning IFF [the plane's Identification Friend or Foe signal]".

The preliminary finding, reported identically in two US specialist defence journals, is unlikely to be backed up by the RAF board of inquiry, putting the two sides on an inevitable collision course.

The MoD refused to comment last night, saying that the RAF inquiry was still in process. But RAF sources point out that IFF is a "no-go" system - meaning that if it does not work the aircraft will not take off.

It could have failed in mid-flight but that is unlikely without the pilot noticing and warning ground controllers, particularly when he was coming in to land.

The Tornado's movements would have been monitored by an Awacs airborne early warning aircraft, which would have noticed if it did not have a functioning IFF system.

The RAF sources also dismissed the suggestion that the radar image of a large aircraft could resemble a small missile.

It is not clear what action if any will be taken against the pilot of an A-10 Tankbuster who attacked two British Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicles a week after the Tornado was shot down, killing one soldier.

There is concern over the American attitude towards a number of recent friendly fire incidents.


British officer was 'human canary' in Iraqi attack

A British officer acted as a "human canary" during the first enemy missile attack of the Iraq war because the troops did not have enough batteries for their chemical agent monitors, defence sources said yesterday.

When the first al-Samoud missile attack on allied troops in Kuwait took place on March 20, the nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) officer for one of the British brigades did not have any batteries for his monitor.

"He had to go out of the tent and stand there," one source said. "The thinking was that if he fell down there were probably chemical agents around."

The sources also said some British troops were not allowed to test the filter canisters on their respirators because of a shortage of filters.

The tests normally find some filters are not working but also cause damage to some that are working and there were not enough spare canisters to cover the normal 30 per cent wastage during tests.

Given the Government's reasons for going to war, the troops' inability to prepare properly for a chemical attack was extraordinary, commentators said.

The Ministry of Defence's own initial report on the war recorded that five Iraqi missiles were fired at British troops, forcing them to put on NBC suits. But it admitted that while there were sufficient suits in theatre "some difficulties were experienced in ensuring that the correct sizes were available".

The Liberal Democrats attacked the failure to provide proper protection from chemical and biological weapons as "shocking", given the Government's specific claim that it was going to war as a result of the threat from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

"This was an act of true heroism on the part of this officer," Paul Keetch, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, said.

"He should be decorated for his bravery.

"The MoD may have had doubts about Iraq's ability to deploy chemical weapons, but to put our troops in such a position is shocking."

A report in the journal Defence Analysis says that British artillery units also crossed the border into Iraq with less than a day's worth of ammunition.

"The artillery only had 4,500 rounds of 155mm ammunition, 140 rounds per gun, less than one day's expenditure," the report says.

Francis Tusa, the editor of Defence Analysis, said one of the problems was the new system of accounting known as resource account budgeting (RAB) which forces planners into "just in time" equipment procurement.

"Although planning for the war started in June last year, RAB ensured that contracts for desert equipment could not go out until the end of the year," Mr Tusa said.

The first of six Royal Military Policemen murdered by an Iraqi mob last month was buried with full military honours yesterday. Some 600 mourners attended the funeral of Cpl Simon Miller, 21, at the Church of the Holy Trinity near his home in Washington, Tyne and Wear. 


Lasting Marriage

My wife and I have the secret to making a marriage last. Twice a week, we go to a nice restaurant, a little wine, good food and companionship. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays. 

We sleep in separate beds. Hers is in Florida and mine is in New York.

I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back.

I asked my wife, "Where do you want to go for our anniversary?" She said, "Somewhere I haven't been in a long time!" So I suggested, "How about the kitchen?"

We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

She has an electric blender, electric toaster, and electric bread maker. Then she said "There are too many gadgets, and no place to sit down!" So I bought her an electric chair.

My wife told me the car wasn't running well and that there was water in the carburetor. I asked where the car was, she told me, "In the lake."

My wife is on a new diet. Coconuts and bananas. She hasn't lost any weight, but BOY, can she climb a tree now!

She got a mudpack and looked great for a few days. Then the mud fell off. 

She ran after the garbage truck, yelling, "Am I too late for the garbage?" The driver said, "No, jump in!"


Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend!

Best regards