Gatineau/Ottawa
17 August 2001

 

A new member joining us this week is Dale Walker from Lyneham - Welcome to the OBA!


[Ed: I had received a photograph taken at the funeral of Sqn Ldr Mike Slade, a former OC UKMAMS, and in the accompanying write-up, it was stated that Bob Dixon had given the eulogy. I wrote Bob and asked if he possibly still had the eulogy, as I thought it would be very fitting to put it on the same page as the photograph.]

From: Bob Dixon Bobdixon1@cs.com
Subject: Re: Mike Slade
Date: Mon, 13 Aug 2001 08:46:59 EDT

Tony

I have now found my eulogy for Mike Slade.

Sorry about the time taken, but it was written in my earliest days of using a PC and in another programme. However, the benefits of OCR and scanner have saved the day.

The funeral was very impressive, with a packed church of local people as well as a good turnout from UKMAMS past and present. The cortege party were well prepared by the Stn WO and a nice wreath in the words of UKMAMS was very appropriate. The family wanted the funeral to be a memorial to a full and active life of a very much loved family man. All who attended will remember the uplifting experience it was for all.

With the passing of Mike Slade and Jimmy Stewart, the Movements world has been a poorer place. However, much as many of the Movers criticise their officers, and that is an honorable established tradition, they make "exceptions" for the drive of Mike Slade and the humanity of Jimmy Stewart. I was privileged to work alongside them both. It is important to reflect that whilst the strength and character of the Movements Trade is owed to its Warrant Officers and SNCOs, and they have kept the Trade going through thick and thin, there are a few special officers whose devotion to the interests of the Movements Trade have been exceptional. Mike and Jimmy were not the only ones who deserve to be remembered in that category.

All the best to you

Bob Dixon

~~~~~~~

In preparation for the honour of speaking today about Mike, I have had many inputs to help me, and perhaps the one that sums up Mike's impact upon so many of us was the comment that went as follows:

"You know, you have to feel a little sorry for Saint Peter, because, when Mike gets there to interview him, he'll have to be on his toes !"

Mike has had such a full life that it is impossible to do him justice in a few minutes. So I will restrict myself to his working life to illustrate what made him special and how much we owe to his example and to his achievements.

Aircraftsman Slade joined the RAF on the 12th of March 1940 to be an instrument maker, training at Cranwell and Halton as an apprentice. Graduating in March 1942, he soon after volunteered for detachment to Gibraltar. Here, one of Mike's traits - determination - soon became apparent. He told me of the difficulty he had getting his practical trade testing done to qualify as a Leading Aircraftsman; the tests required him to get airborne several times to work on the equipment and prove his competence - all this at a time when in Gibraltar they were massing for the invasion of North Africa. Nevertheless, he persuaded Wellington crews and others to take him aloft and he passed his LAC Board! Mind you, he returned to the UK and was promptly sent to Canada without his LAC badge because the paperwork failed to keep up with him!

Some may not know was that Mike did aircrew training. Displaying another of his traits - initiative - he applied to the Headquarters in Winnipeg for such training and, naturally, came top of the initial course. However, officialdom then caught up with him and he was dragged off the course, because instrument makers were far too valuable to be diverted into flying duties, and he was sent back to his trade.

Mike returned to the UK on Christmas eve 54 years ago and spent the rest of the war and early post war years working on instruments and the link trainer before taking a posting to Germany to a base Repair and Salvage Depot. I believe it was there that he took up his lasting interest in clock and watch repair. He was very competent at this and, like everything he ever did, he never accepted anything less than perfection in his work.

In June 1951 Mike was commissioned into the Equipment Branch and had a variety of supply duties appointments at Innsworth, Northwood, Malta, Hartlebury and Amport House - then the Headquarters of Maintenance Command. He moved with the Headquarters to Andover followed by Kidbrook for Movements training. Then followed his first Movements appointment - to Nicosia and then Akrotiri in Cyprus. It was to be in the Movements world that he would leave an indelible mark.

In Cyprus Mike was promoted to Squadron Leader and, a year later, returned to the UK to the kind of job that was to become his other Air Force forte, in a planning appointment at the Ministry of Defence. More planning work followed later in Germany, Upavon and Wilton. We met again at Upavon when he handed his Married Quarter over to me, number 4 Hastings Close, and he made it memorable by insisting that we celebrate the occasion with the officials doing the handover by all of us drinking a glass of sherry together - proper sherry glasses of course - and a very bemused Barrack Warden to boot!

Mike was, as most of us know, a very keen and good sportsman. He played hockey for several counties, the Combined Services, the RAF team and many of the RAF Commands and representative cricket for the RAF, British Army of the Rhine and RAF Commands. He captained and ran many teams over the years and countless people, myself included, remember his support and encouragement when we played with him.

In between his planning jobs, Mike took Command of the Mobile Air Movements Squadron (MAMS) whose small teams still travel the world to load and unload transport aircraft in peace, crisis and war. When Mike arrived in October 1969, this fairly new Squadron faced many problems. Mike set himself the highest standards, and acted as an inspiration to all. He set in train the provision of all the essentials that enabled the lads to do their job efficiently and he raised the reputation of the Squadron to great heights. He also introduced fitness training and they certainly played as hard as they worked - with inevitable consequences. It was, however, Mike's maxim that, whilst he would verbally bounce miscreants off his office wall, no outsider was permitted to do so.

For example, there was a SNCO put on a charge after an accident between his Landrover and another car. Because the offence was so serious, Mike was forced to refer it to the Station Commander for judgement. Nevertheless, Mike was present, standing behind the Station Commander as the charges and evidence were read out. The SNCO then said (undoubtedly coached by Mike) that he was guilty but that "the accident was caused by an error of judgement." Mike whispered in the CO's ear who, with a puzzled look on his face, adjourned the hearing for a few minutes. Mike then pointed out to the Station Commander that an obscure note in the Manual of Air Force Law stated that if an error of judgement was the case then the person was to be found not guilty. Accordingly, the Station Commander recalled the SNCO and told him his verdict - he was let off and certain higher authorities had apoplexy when they heard... but too late.

Mike was universally admired and respected by the Squadron although he could be a stern taskmaster. Yet he obtained the co-operation of all because he was patently working in their interests. He had great moral courage. Indeed, many of us believe that his fierce fighting of bureaucracy and his willingness to take on anyone in authority cost him the higher rank that he deserved to reach in his career. Be that as it may, he always had a droll sense of humour to sustain him, and it took some folk a while to appreciate it... Like the airman who decided to ignore the normal convention of making requests through the chain of command, and approached Mike direct asking for compassionate leave as his wife was due to give birth in the near future. "I'm placing you on immediate standby for deployment world-wide" was Mike's swift response. A very chastened lad left the office and it took him a while to realise that whilst he was on such a standby, nobody else could send him away from Abingdon and his home!

Having left an enormous reputation behind him at Abingdon, which was officially recognised by the well deserved award of a MBE, Mike moved on to complete his regular service in the planning appointments I mentioned earlier. During this time he battled against very serious illness with the support of Marion who has devotedly sustained him throughout their 48 years of marriage, many house moves, and in bringing up their 6 daughters. Leaving the RAF in July 1979, he was promptly taken back as a Reservist and returned to Amport House, now the RAF Chaplains School, as their General Administrator for the next 8 years. I believe it was there that he adopted gardening as another hobby - as always with full vigour. When I saw his home garden a few months ago, I instantly recognised his touch - he must be the only man who could arrange for his garden to conform so that order and beauty last all the year round! When he left Amport on his second retirement, it was in style, as a helicopter whisked him away from the lawns and delivered him to nearby Old Sarum airfield.

Of course, that is not the end of the story. In May 1991 he was elected District Councillor for his own St Marks ward. He was quickly involved in a range of activities and became a member of the Economic Development and the Amenities and Tourism Committees with a major interest in sports and leisure - especially for young people. He was also Vice-Chairman of the Management Committee and even found the time to represent the Salisbury and the Kennet District Councils on the
National Association of District Councils. His energy and enthusiasm continued unabated. I have been told that, and I quote: "Mike did more in 3 1/2 years than many Councillors achieve in a lifetime". Mike would have liked that. Never content, always trying to improve, breaking new ground and leaving nothing to chance have been the hallmarks of Mike's careers. He would have been delighted by the approval of a Sports Council grant, which came in the day after he left us, which will fund a Sports and Leisure Officer - but as quietly pleased too that the smaller tasks he set in train are still coming to fruition - for example the re-siting of street TV boxes and connectors in a more discrete way within his own ward. His wish that contributions be made to set up the "Mike Slade Sport Scholarship" will mean that his work in the Salisbury District will continue and it is very fitting that the young sports hopefuls will benefit from his determination to do something especially for them.

There is one more of Mike's inspired legacies that should be recognised today as many of us here owe him directly for it. He was Chairman of the UKMAMS Association and he was instrumental in its formation. In the constitution of the Association, which he wrote, it says that the objects of the Association are to "foster mutual friendship, esprit de corps and comradeship" and to provide relief to those "in conditions of need, hardship or distress." Those words sum up his philosophy of life. They are Mike.

And that is how I suggest that we should remember him. In all matters great and small, he put everything into them and he left behind him such a dynamic and active legacy that the results of his work will be seen long after he has moved on. I have tried to adopt, albeit very imperfectly, the advice and the example I have had from Mike over the years. These words that I prepared for today would never have passed his eagle eye without constructive correction. However, I hope he knows that I have done my best!


Bob Dixon
Dauntsey
21 December 1994

[Ed: I had the honour of serving under Mike Slade when he was OC UKMAMS. Many thanks must go to you Bob for being there for Mike, recognising the fact that the man was a legend in his own time - sadly this is something that many youngsters did not recognize, myself included I'm ashamed to say.]


From: Scott Innes ScottNInnes@aol.com
Subject: Link of the Month
Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2001 18:36:23 EDT

Tony

I've got a link that might be of interest to any bored Mover who has sat in the cockpit of a Herc parked across at TFD at 3 in the morning, rain belting down, waiting for the DAMO to get off the sofa in the VIP lounge to do a load check and wondered how to start the bloody engines!!

There is an engine procedures trainer available at http://home.worldonline.dk/~csbruun/

The program is a demo, but if you aren't too worried about a nag screen every 5 minutes or so, get that bleed air going and rev those engines!!

Best wishes

Scotty

 

From: Jack Riley jjriley@australis.aunz.com
Subject: How It All Began
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2001 11:38:56 +1000

Hi folks

Thought you might like this.

Jack

In ancient Israel, it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot. And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she had been called Amazon Dot Com.

She said unto Abraham, her husband, "Why doth thou travel far from town to town with thy goods when thou can trade without ever leaving thy tent?" And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, "How, Dear?" And Dot replied, "I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale and they will reply telling you which hath the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah's Pony Stable (UPS)."

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. The drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever moving from his tent. But this success did arouse envy. A man named Maccabia did secret himself inside Abraham's drum and was accused of insider trading. And the young man did take to Dot Com's trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Siderites, or NERDS for short. And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums, that no one noticed that the real riches were going to the drum maker, one Brother William of Gates, who bought up every drum company in the land. And indeed did insist on making drums that would work only with Brother Gates' drumheads and drumsticks.

Dot did say, "Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others." And as Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel, or as it came to be known "eBay" he said, "we need a name that reflects what we are," and Dot replied, "Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators." "YAHOO", said Abraham. And that is how it all began, It wasn't Al Gore after all.

[Ed: Was that how it all started? Wow, you've got one heck of a memory Jack!]

 

New on the site this week? If you like photographs, then we have photographs - lots of 'em. Ian Berry has been busy again this week and sent oodles over. I haven't had the time to put them all on the site yet, but hopefully I will on the weekend. I did manage to put up 25 or so which are divided between the 1970's and the 1990's - and it's all good stuff!

Nobody, as yet, has managed to guess what the current Mystery Photograph is all about. I will have to put it into an "unsolved" archive on that page and put another one up on the weekend (I have lots! ).

Ian also managed to find the following which was written by Jerry Porter whilst he was OC Movements Squadron at Bruggen:

It was announced today that RAF Bruggen, the last bastion of civilisation within British Forces Germany was to close. MOD officials confirmed the rumour and announced that the date of 1 October 2001 had now been set. A senior spokesman for the RAF, whose normal duties include looking at the bigger picture stated, in a carefully worded press release "This is the first I've bloody heard of it". The reason for closure remains uncertain but is widely thought to be a direct result of the RAF's world record attempt to cram as many units into RAF Marham as possible.

The former front line RAF base, which hosts an Air Movements Squadron as well as a few other minor units, will shortly be handed over to the Army who have been evicted from Krefeld for non-payment of rent. Representatives of the Bruggen community remained cautious about the proposed changes and a local dignitary went onrecord as saying "Whilst we will welcome the absence of aircraft noise, the sound of squaddies hitting each other and throwing up in our car parks will take some getting used to". Particularly missed will be the personnel of Movs Squadron whose charm and wit has helped to maintain a strong mutual bond between the Station and Community.

Movements personnel confirmed that the entire squadron were looking forward to the move and more importantly, being civilianised at their next unit. "It will be a great step forward for the trade and a personal privilege for all of us to be replaced by civilians, as they are able to carry out our duties so much better than ourselves".

"Civilians, noted for their willingness to work long hours of unpaid overtime and deploy on out of area operations for protracted periods, have been increasingly used to support the military, with great success. "Who can ignore the Tornado engine contract, the 320 Squadron maintainence contract or the great advances in messing standards that have been achieved through contractorisation?" A senior officer was quoted as saying."You can bet your Knighthood that this is the way forward, the modern Services are no place for the Serviceman and there is certainly a certain degree of uncertainty over their future; of that you can be certain, Indeed, the future isn't what it used to be".

Despite this, he went on to confirm that the RAF still regarded its personnel as its greatest asset but needs to make small savings wherever it can. "If we don't make savings now we will be unable to waste millions in the future. For instance, the C17 will cost us £289m to lease but it will be good value for money as we will get to use it for two hours and three minutes each day. Indeed, when it arrives, the C17 will become our greatest asset and personnel must be lost to pay for it". Quoting RAF Bruggen as an example, he described how the uniformed personnel were often found away on detachments, EOD clearance duties or providing Station guards, while the dedicated civilians remained at their posts 'getting on with the job'.

"What we need is a public private partnership initiative type strategy thingy. The lessons of the Balkans should not be forgotten." He went on to say "If we run short of Movers, as we did Caterers and Drivers, we simply need to adverise in the Daily Mail.

RAF Bruggen will become officially known as 'Javelin Barracks' when they finally take over on 1 April 2002. The Army have established an Implementation Team to co-ordinate the mov. The team, whose motto is 'On the bus - off the bus' are expected to chop and change their minds as to who goes where and when, many times between now and the appointed date. A spokesman for the implementation team confirmed that they had intended to move some elements in early but were forced to revise their plans when the units concerned took a wrong turning off the A52. It is rumoured that unless they get a better road map, they may not move into RAF Bruggen at all.

The bigger picture often referred to in order to justify daft decisions, is in fact one of LCpl Roberta Winterton as taken by the 'The Sun' Newspaper it can revealed today. RAF Bruggen Movements Squadron also have a big picture but this is of a British World Airlines BAe 146 getting airborne out of Southend Airport.

 

Well, that's it for this week.

Have a great weekend!

Best regards

Tony