16 August 2002


From:     Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
Date:      09 Aug 2002 10:16
Subject:  Hope Irvine’s Swansong – A Trip To Remember


The query from Ken Wright certainly lit a few fires in the memory department. Hope was one of life's characters and was also one of the more outspoken one's. Towards the end of his time on UKMAMS he fell foul of a little wizened WO Clk Sec who happened to be the Sqn Adj. On being told to do something really mundane which was also a job for the LAC Hope told the
WO where to put it, this ended in him getting charged - a rare event for a Sgt.

However, in mid Nov 1980 Hope, Fg Off Bob Parker and myself were tasked to deploy a VC10 load of freight to Nellis going via Goose and McClellan (Sacramento) on the way. Once this was achieved we would pick up one of two Hercs and fly on down to Barksdale where we would meet up with another half team (Flt Lt Alan Ovens, Sgt Hugh Curran and Cpl Stu Whitton). We were then to recover the very last Ex Giant Voice detachment of the Vulcans and recover to Waddington via Gander.

I could go on for a while but to make the story short we were first hand witnesses to the burning down of the MGM Grand Hotel Casino which was happening directly opposite our windows. It was just so surreal watching helicopters land in the car park in front of us with survivors whilst others continued to hover above the fire. Hope being Hope said he thought the
coverage on the TV was better than outside the window! The end result was that 85 people lost their lives.

On reaching Barksdale in the early hours of Sunday morning the ground power unit broke down and Hope was told by the aircraft Captain to cross over the red markers by the B52 Bombers and push over another power set. Hope without
bothering to explain just told him to 'bog off!'. We only managed to bring the Captain down to earth by explaining that the B52's were armed with nukes and crossing the red line would result in the use of deadly force. Eventually the problem was sorted and the crew departed for their hotel whilst we caught up with Curran and Co and proceeded to backload the Hercs.

It was now about 0430 in the morning when the six of us, cold, tired and sporting filthy overalls and hats, headed for the hotel via an all-night 7/11 store to pick up some beer. Once in the store we did a 'bomb burst' with some picking up magazines, microwaving hamburgers etc. In the middle of the store was a large fat guy who was sitting on a stool, surrounded by security
monitors, looking at this bunch of scruffily dressed MAMS Commandos with some suspicion.

Hugh Curran sidled up to him and started a conversation, "Hi, how's it going?" etc. He then asked if the store had ever been held up to which the guy replied, "No, they wouldn't dare, we're too close to the base". At this Hugh said, "Well, it ain't your night!" and before anything more was said the store clerk fell off his stool and made an attempt to grab a gun from under the counter. Whilst this was happening Hugh coolly leaned over the counter and said "It's a joke man". Sadly the clerk was not amused and we were all thrown out of the store.

After the 'run in' with the pilot, Hope was not too impressed with the crew. The Co-pilot had tried to make small talk by saying he had just bought a 'MAMS proof' suitcase which was indestructible. When we arrived at Gander it transpired Hope had somehow managed to lose his trousers (I kid you not) and we had to sneak him off in civvies. This was after we managed to upset the Co-pilot who's suitcase was somewhat wedged in a pile, and on pulling hard the handle departed from the suitcase! We then handed off to him his 'MAMS proof' suitcase stating it had just failed the field test!

On the last leg over the Atlantic to Waddington, Hope had completely switched off and stated that he was getting off at Waddington and going home. On arrival there that was just what he did, in civvies again, his jacket being found on the aircraft on arrival at Lyneham.

I'm sure Hope must have returned to Lyneham to clear but we never saw him again. As far as I know he owns a Fish and Chip shop near Lincoln which he runs with his wife.


What about the rest of the team? Hugh Curran reached FS and left the RAF in the late 80's. He now flies as a Loadmaster for Heavylift. Alan Ovens is now a Group Captain, Bob Parker is now a Wing Commander. Stu Whitton was promoted Sergeant on his 'swansong' in Nairobi in Dec 90, he's now out and works for the MT pool at Lyneham.

[Ed:  Quite the character this Hope Irvine!]


From:     Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
Date:      10 Aug 2002 09:20
Subject:  FW: Hope Irvine’s Swansong – A Trip To Remember

Dear Tony,

I forwarded a copy of the story to Ken and this was the reply. Sadly it looks like all stories don't have a happy ending.


-----Original Message-----
Sent: 10 August 2002 12:39
Subject: Re FW: Hope Irvine’s Swansong – A Trip To Remember


Thanks for the story – that’s the Irvine I remember….   the Irvine that told a young PC at 0200 one Sunday morning to shove his pencil and note book up his rectum!  This was on a lad’s day out from POL at Scampton to Skegness, the copper nearly had a heart attack.  Well I would have too with Hope two inches from your face homing in for the kill

The bad news is that it looks very much like he is no longer with us.  I had an e-mail yesterday from Colin Allen via Terry to say that Hope had passed away suddenly.  I am making efforts to confirm this sad news and I will let you know the outcome.

I took an instant like to Hope and we had some great times at Scampton.  He was most definately someone to have on your side.

Thanks once again



Date:      09 Aug 2002 18:36
Subject:   R A F Abingdon

I was posted to the above station in 1950 is there any trace of the station remaining do you know ?

2521508 Houghton

[Ed:  I forwarded this to Ian Berry…]


From:     Dave Cromb, Brisbane Qld., Australia
Date:      09 Aug 2002 21:12
Subject:  Re:  Old Boys Briefs 080902

Re Dave Powell's "Hey ho"

'Tis true, bullshit will always beat brains!!. When all is said & done the scenario should be alarming, what is it they say about ostriches?!!.
As for the article on Arctic & N Atlantic medals. I'm with you Tony. My father served in the Merchant Navy, saw service in both theatres, and was torpedoed, not once but twice. My father was also heavily involved in the evacuation of Dunkirk.

All Governments around the world, not just the British, should never forget the atrocities of war, and the demands and expectations of those sent/called upon to serve their countries, some of whom were only just out of their schoolyears.
Recognition of such service, no matter how many years pass, should not be obstructed.

Sadly, my father passed away 20 years ago. I'm sure he will be watching the proceedings most intently.
I for one truly hope common sense will prevail, but let's remember we are talking about public servants here!!!

Cheers Tony, a good OBA           

Dave Cromb

[Ed:  Thanks Dave.  I remember listening to similar stories when I was growing up, that's all the adults seemed to ever talk about - the War, and who can blame them...]


As the Trans Canadian train pulled into Calgary station, a couple of strangers, a man and an attractive woman, boarded the train and asked the conductor if there were any berths left. He said that he was sorry but there was only one left, a double bunk berth. The man turned to the woman and said, "Well it's a long trip, so if you don't mind, why don't we share, I'll take the top bunk and you have the bottom one, is that OK with you?"

The woman readily agreed so they settled down for the night. About two hours later, as the train was getting well into the foothills of the Rockies and it was getting a bit cold, the man leaned over the edge of his bunk and said to the woman, “Are you still awake?"

She answered "Yes, why?"

The man, shivering, said, "Could you pass me that blanket on the dresser there, it's getting quite chilly up here?"

The woman answered "I've got a better idea, lets play man and wife!"

The man excitedly said "Sure!"

So the woman said: "In that case, get your own blanket!"


From:     Jack Riley, Urangan Qld., Australia
Date:      09 Aug 2002 03:15
Subject:  Re:  Old Boys Briefs 080902

Greetings Tony

Just to let you know I'm still in the land of the living. Great Briefs again this week.

Chap walks in with a steering column stuck down the front of his trousers."Cor...isn't that uncomfortable ?" asks his mate.

"Sure is" he replies" drivin' me nuts!."

Have a good week



[Ed:  Thanks Jack - Good one!]


From:     Roger Hargreaves
Date:      10 Aug 2002 05:39
Subject:  Last Operational Britannia


I recently became aware of your captioned picture of our Bristol Britannia XM496 at our Kemble facility .

A few facts for your information................

One of the reasons for the aircrafts '' sorry state '' is that it was rubbed down last summer prior to being repainted in RAF Transport command livery . Sadly so far this year the weather conditions have prevented the aircraft being repainted as planned. However , we are now planning to have the aircraft scaffolded and a plastic cover put in place which should help matters.

Internally, we have made considerable progress is restoring the cabin to its RAF configuration , including building a mock - up galley, installing original RAF seats , etc
This aircraft is not loaned to the Bristol Aero Collection , but we try and open in co-operation with the Museum.

Our other two aircraft which are civil versions of the Britannia are on long term loan to the BAC will eventually go to Filton when the museum relocates in the next few years. The BAC was previously based at the old Bristol Aeroplane Company shadow factory in Banwel , near Weston - Super - Mare.

Realizing that UKMAMS have a close working connection with the Britannia, we would like to encourage your members to visit our aircraft at Kemble and perhaps persuade some of your members to help open the aircraft to the public or even give a hand with the restoration programme.

I look forward to hearing from you

Best regards,

Roger Hargreaves
Britannia Aircraft Preservation Trust    

Ed:  Thanks Roger.  Here's an opportunity for all you aviation buffs to roll up your sleeves and help out!  Please contact Roger directly if you wish to get involved.  I copied this to Dave Berry, of the Britannia Association.]


From:     Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
Date:      10 Aug 2002 05:47
Subject:  Re: R A F Abingdon

Yes, most of the old RAF Abingdon still exists although it's now in the hands of the Army. RLC (Royal Logistics Corps) to be precise who used to be the RCT (Royal Corps of Transport). It's now called Dalton Barracks and is full of trucks but the runways are still there and usable. I'm sure if old boys wanted to visit it would be possible. Hope this helps.
Ian Berry

[Ed:  Thanks Ian]


From:     David Berry
Date:      10 Aug 2002 18:09
Subject:  Re:  Last Operational Britannia

Hello Tony
Thanks for keeping me 'in your sights' with regard to Britannia news. I am, in fact, well aware of the situation with 496 at Kemble - between you and me, not an entirely happy state of affairs.
I keep in touch with your website and admire your industry. You certainly have 'hit a spot' with a lot of people.
Here's to your continued success.
David Berry

[Ed:  Thanks David.  For those of you that don’t remember David (no relation to our Ian), he was an ex-RAF Britannia driver and is now an author of many books on the subject.]


From:     Jack Riley, Urangan Qld., Australia
Date:      10 Aug 2002 03:17
Subject:  OMANCEN A Registry of Oman Expats (civilian and military)

Hi Tony

The enclosed arrived today. I will reply. Have you heard of them before ?



----- Original Message -----
From: <
To: <
Sent: Friday, 9 August 2002 7:45
Subject: OMANCEN - A Registry of Oman Expats (civilian and military)

Dear Squadron Leader Riley

As the figure-head of UKMAMS-OBA I felt that was appropriate to contact you in the first instance to tell you about our efforts to keep alive the achievements of all Oman Expats.

Their contribution to the development of Oman over the decades has been tremendous and yet very little acclaim has been given. I had personal experience of this during the three years I spent on Masirah Island, where I met may of your RAF types. It was only later that I began to see the overall picture of what had been achieved in Oman and I received many letters from
those same chaps, expressing a great need to be attached to Oman in some way, just as you have done it through UKMAMS.

It has long been an ambition of mine to do something to bring this monumental achievement to the notice of the rest of the world and to give ourselves a 'slap on the back' . To do this I will first build our database and then compile my proposed book 'The Oman Expat - A Tribute' .  It will be published soon I hope, but I want to include as many names as possible within its
pages. Perhaps you could help bring my campaign to the notice of your fine body of men.

I send a 3 page attachment and ask that people contact me as soon as possible if they are interested.

Thank you so much for your patience in reading this.   By the way I used to visit your neck of the woods frequently, years ago, when I was an engineer aboard the ships of Shaw Savill and Albion - How is the old place?

All the best

Ken Dixon
Masirah Veteran (BERS)

[Ed:  If anyone wants the forms that Ken mentioned, just drop me a line and I will forward them to you…]


From:     Keith Parker, Thumrait, Oman
Date:      13 August 2002 04:56
Subject:  Presentation – OBA Global


Have you ever wondered when you sit on a park bench and look at the plaque, who the person the seat is dedicated to would have been?

Well, as you will see in the picture all us OBA people have two seats dedicated to them here at Thumrait.

The story is..... we took pity on the RAF Movements Det here in Thumrait all those poor movers with nowhere to sit and contemplate the days on their "Chuff Charts" so OBA Global to the rescue. As you will see the picture is me handing over the seats to FS Bob Redman and yes that is Al Stacey, sitting at the end in the other picture, still alive and kicking. 

The materials used to make these benches?  Well what else for movers, old dunnage of course!!!!

Good luck to all

From the OBA Chaps in old Thumrait (Midway to the older amongst you)
Keith Parker, Mike Maybery, Bob Whitworth, Brian Harper

[Ed:  Thanks Chaps – they are a beautiful sight!  I have them in Images 2000 on the site]


[The following was received in the Guest Book on the site:]

Tuesday 08/13/2002 7:41:17am 
Name: darren for norma shoesmith
Homepage Title:
Homepage URL: http://
Referred By: Just Surfed In
City/Country: newcastle nsw 1800100102 0249550014
Comments: like info on 576 squadron lancaster ll799 /went down in weyersheim at 230am on the 29/07/1944.survivors were Barrows  &  McStay.  the inquery is for norma shoesmith whos brother steven allan smith died in the crash. any info would be greatly appreciated!

[Ed:  I forwarded this enquiry to the Lancaster Association.]


From:     Stuart Stephenson
Date:      14 Aug 2002 08:02
Subject:  Re:  Searching for info on 576 Squadron

Dear Tony,
Reference your enquiry about the 576 Squadron Lancaster.

It was a Lancaster 1 serial number LL905 bearing the code letters UL-H2.  It took off from RAF Elsham Wolds at 2135 hours on operations to Stuttgart.

It crashed at about 0230 about 2 km NE of Weyersheim (Bas-Rhyn), 15 km NNE from the centre of Strasbourg, where those who died are buried in Cronenbourg French National (Mixed) Cemetary.

The crew’s names were:
F/O R. W. Brown RAAF
Sgt D. R. Northcote
Sgr S. W. Barrows (became a POW)
F/O R. S. McGibbon RCAF
F/S R. J. L. McStay RAAF (became a POW)
F/S S. A. Smith RAAF
F/S R. Weeks RAAF.

As you will see only 2 of the Crew survived the crash.

Best I can do. I leave it to you to forward this to Darren.

Best wishes
Stuart Stephenson.
Chairman, Lincolnshire's Lancaster Association.

[Ed:  Thanks Stuart - I did forward it on, and I trust it was sufficient information.]


How to bathe a cat

1. Thoroughly clean the toilet.

2. Add the required amount of shampoo to the toilet water and have both lids up.

3. Find the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.

4. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids. (You may need to stand on the lid so that he cannot escape.) The cat will self - agitate and make ample suds. Never mind the noises that come from your toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.

CAUTION: Do not get any part of your body too close to the edge, as his paws will be reaching out for anything they can find.

5. Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a "Power Wash" and "Rinse", which I have found to be quite effective.

6. Have someone open the door to the outside and ensure that there are no people between the toilet and the outside door.

7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids.

8. The now clean cat will rocket out of the toilet, and run outside where he will dry himself.


The Dog!


New on the site this week:  In addition to the two photographs in Images 2000 from Keith Parker, there are an addional 5 photographs in Images 1970 courtesy of Geoff  Elliott.


Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend!

Best regards