31 August 2001


Joining us this week is Dillon Willans from Andover UK

Welcome to the OBA!

From :          Charles Cormack
Subject :       Re: Old Boys Briefs 082401
Date :          Sun, 26 Aug 2001 00:55:29 +0100

Hi Tony

I can confirm that the photo of the York was not taken at Gatow as the gate guardian had a Hastings but  at this time I cannot put my hands on a photo with its tail number, although I have a plaque which was on  a clock with photos of it.

I was DAMO at Gatow in 82/83 and did some research involving the Berlin airlift which started "officially" on 26 June 1948 when the MOD ordered 100 aircraft of  Transport command to the British Zone of  Occupation and Gatow had two runways, one concrete the other PSP.

The first loads of coal were flown in on 19 July by Dakota and  the Yorks were transferred to flying  foodstuffs and they were using 40 Yorks and 50 Dakotas. Fuels were flown-in in drums till 27 July until  Flight refuelling started using Lancastrians  G-AKDR being the first with 8800 gallons, all fuel into Berlin came courtesy of RAF flights.  In July there were 513 RAF movements and 155 BEA movements in addition to those connected with the airlift. The work on the new runway was completed on 17 July when MRAF Lord Tedder visited from Wunsdorf.  Salt was flown in by Sunderlands which landed on the Havel and the Yacht club was known as HMAFV Daedalus until 14 December when ice was imminent and precluded them operating.  Aquilla Airways were operating Hythe flying boats into Finkenwerder and they were also terminated at this time.

The total sorties in December were 6,737 with an average to that  time of 278 landings per 24 hours and  Gatow had handled 321,620 short tons, one ton every 53 seconds. Dakotas were allowed 6 minutes for offload, Yorks 8 minutes and Skymasters 12 minutes.  14th March 1949 was the first loss of life and aircraft when a York landed short, and the peak day was on April 16th  when 1,383 aircraft brought in 12,849 short tons with a landing every 62 seconds.

The siege was officially lifted on 12 May 1949 but the airlift continued until 6 October when the last  aircraft, a Hastings, landed at Gatow. The grand total was 277,728 flights by British aircraft (RAF and Civil) and a total of 543,623 tons. If anyone wants more information and can get hold of either Operation Plainfaire or Berlin Airlift which are alas out of print they can get more detail.

I believe that the gate guardian was a CMk2 as it had a clear wing and higher tailplane. I do remember however that the main difference for movers who loaded them , I being one, was the MTOW which was  81,000lbs for Mk1 and 83,000lbs for Mk2 as they were used for the changeover in Belize when the troops were flown to Nassau by Britannia and transferred to Hastings as the max landing weight in Belize was  68,000lbs.

The last York I loaded was a Dan Air one in Nicosia in 1963.

Thats it
Chas Cormack

[Ed:  Thanks Chas - I have uploaded a much better image of the York in its place, courtesy of John Holloway (Images 1980).  Also included is a history of that aircraft.  Another new interesting image on the site (Images 2000) is one of the recently renovated Belfast, Tail No.371 "Enceladus" along with an aircraft type history - all very good stuff.  It's hard to realize that this particular aircraft is now "historical" since I flew on it and worked with it many times - does that make me historical?

Those statistics from the Berlin Airlift are amazing - I just cannot imagine how those chaps handled the sheer volume of aircraft and freight.  I guess the most intense Operation I was ever on was Spearhead back in '69, where we brought the Army into Belfast at the start of the current troubles.  I believe, if memory serves, that we were getting an aircraft in every 10 minutes and turning it around in 5 - for 76 hours!  The only food we got was what we could salvage from the gobbly boxes that the Army had left behind.  I recall too the way that Jack Murray did trim sheets - it was a beautiful thing to watch - he would literally start in the envelope and work backwards from there - you really had to see this to believe it.  Last I heard of Jack by the way is that he transferred to the British Army as a Sergeant - that would have been in the mid 1970's.]

From:            Scott Innes
Subject:         Re: Humour
Date:            Sun, 26 Aug 2001 07:32:06 EDT


I saw you're new homepage on Friday night. Normally I go straight to your noticeboard thru my 'Favourites' but for some reason or  another it went to the home page. Very impressive I must say, although (here we go!) the image looking back towards the ramp was a little dark. My only comment, so well done.

By the way, we had a little boy, Adam who was born on 21st June. Mother and baby doing well (he's now 9 weeks old). Hopefully another one for the RAF Careers to deal with in 17 years and 45 weeks!!  Unless of course it's all been civilianised by then.

Also saw a C17 overhead  the Cotswold WildLife Park at Burford yesterday. Came in low and slow. Very quiet, very large and very impressive.

All the best


[Ed:  I wrote the following in response - "Thanks Scotty - the image was dark by design.  Congrats on the birth of Adam - I trust the little guy is keeping you awake at night?"  To which he replied, "Sadly, no sleepless nights,  he's that good, plus if  you hold him with his head in the gas oven for 5 minutes he'll sleep all day!!" ]


From:        Shuggie Shewan
Subject:     Re: MovOps course photo GB01
Date:         Sun, 26 Aug 2001 10:43:51 +0100


These additional names were from memory, and boy does it make me shudder, have they always let this many unfortunates gather in one group or was this the turning point for the trade ;-)

I'm sure somewhere I also have a copy of this photo and will endeavour to look it out in the coming weeks, to see if I can put more names to faces.

Back row: 2nd left Colin Crow,
Middle row: 4th left Paul Stanford, 1st right Terry Green.

Regards, Shuggie

[Ed:  I think you're right Shuggie - what a motley looking bunch!  I've added the names to the photograph]


From:       Peter Chappell
Subject:    Malayan Emergency
Date:       Mon, 27 Aug 2001 20:27:27 +0100

Tony, I wonder if you can help.

I am looking for info about an a/c crash in the Malayan jungle between 1955 and 1959.

It was either a Single or Twin Pioneer.  It crashed and burst into flames and the survivors were lifted out by helicopter after three days.  The reason I am curious is that my father-in-law was one of the survivors.

Hope all is well with you and yours

Rgds Pete Chappell

[Ed:  Thanks Pete,  maybe Jack down in Oz can help us on this one?]


From           Scott Innes
Subject:       Mystery Photograph Suggestions
Date:           Mon, 27 Aug 2001 16:19:58 EDT

Ascension 1982-1983!!  Before the Tristars came a calling!


[Ed:  Wrong again Scotty - are you sure you're getting enough sleep with that new baby in the house?]


From:         Siggy Siggery
Subject:      New E-Mail address
Date:          Mon, 27 Aug 2001 22:41:23 +0100

Just a quick line, advising of new e-mail address

Rgds Siggy

[Ed:  Thanks Siggy - has been looked after]


From:        The Liggetts
Date:        Tue, 28 Aug 2001 19:47:56 +0100

Hi Tony.

I just thought it was time to come out of my vows of silence !!???

Am I the the only one in thinking that there is a clash here with the OBA and UKMAMS Association ??

I know from a reliable insider that the Association is not moving forward in the new members arena, also the website for said organisation is a little impersonal , whereas, the OBA website is more aligned to the stories of old "warriors/muppets", so surely a mix of the two, i.e. F540 extracts and memoirs would only enhance our membership and would get a good mix of the old and the new.

I know 2 things are against me in this suggestion :

1.   I have lapsed in my Association membership

2.   I am nearly a Supplier, as I now work in Icelands Distribution Depot in Swindon.

However I really do miss "the Mob" and I think a mixture of the old and the new such as Ian Berry's stories/pictures would only serve to strengthen and enlarge the circle of movers who want to stay in touch.

So how about getting together and having a Muppet website/newsletter, we could still donate an annual subscription to strengthen the link.

Yours hopefully.
Martin Liggett

[Ed: Martin, Martin, Martin - I gather you stock canned worms in the distribution depot?  Let's deal with these issues:

There is no clash between the OBA and the Association.  When I started the OBA in March 2000 I was not aware of the Association in Lyneham - I had been out of touch for 25 years, was feeling very nostalgic for the great times I had on UKMAMS and couldn't find anything on the web about them. When I did discover the Association I immediately got in contact with them and offered up my services to convert over as their website.  Association policy did not allow this, especially since I, at that time, was not a member.  It was then that the Association created their own website.  Our two sites are, I will agree, of a completely different flavour, but rather than being in competition, I believe we complement eachother.  You have to bear in mind that the Association is still bound by committee and the members of same are, in the main, still serving in the RAF.  On the other hand I am a civilian, have been for over a quarter of a century, do not have to answer to anybody else, but at the same time I do employ a personal code of ethics and try to maintain a high standard for the OBA web content.

You are correct about the membership of the Association being down.  It is my understanding that there were originally over 1200 names on the books, but sadly the active membership has dwindled to the 600's or thereabouts.  (I am sure Ian Berry will correct me if I'm wrong on those figures).  I will indeed go out on a limb here - I believe that the membership is down because of lack of contact - with all due respect to those people who have kept it alive, a newsletter (Team Brief) four times a year, especially in this day and age, is unfortunately not enough.  It is a problem, since the majority of the membership do not have access to modern communications in the form of computers, and the good people who put the Team Brief together just do not have the time or resources to do anything other than what they are already doing.  There are social gatherings such as Meet & Greet and Open House etc., but, as in my case, when you're thousands of miles away from Lyneham it's not always possible to make the meetings.

It had been suggested at one time to put the Team Brief onto the OBA site - but to what end?  It would mean that the Association membership would dwindle even more; why should one pay an annual subscription to the Association when they could get the same information from the OBA for nothing?  I hasten to add that the Association does not revolve around the Team Brief.  The mandate, as set out by the late Sqn Ldr Mike Slade when he first started it in 1990, was to "foster mutual friendship, esprit de corps and comradeship and to provide relief to those in conditions of need, hardship or distress."

Having said that - if there are any inactive members of the Association out there, who, like Martin, really feel the need to make a contribution to the OBA - well unfortunately your money is no good here.  It would be really good in the coffers of the Association though.  Seriously, your support will make all the difference - if you have a lapsed membership now is the time to renew - no questions asked.  Martin, please don't take offence, you would be welcomed back onto the active list - every little helps.]


From:             Paul English
Subject:          New Email Address
Date:              Tue, 28 Aug 2001 20:24:40 +0100

Would all my contacts please note with immediate effect my new email address is as follows:

This is due to a change of  ISP...

Best Rgds

Paul  (aka Arfur) English

[Ed:  Thanks Arfur - Got it]


From:           Paul English
Subject:        Mystery Photograph Suggestions
Date:            Tue, 28 Aug 2001 21:29:33 +0100

Could it be Mt Pleasant circa 86-87..or maybe 91
Boeing 747
British Airways
BA flying the route as we had no aircraft spare due to operational tasks in Far/Middle East


[Ed: Yes Arfur - it was the last BA 747 charter landing at Mount Pleasant in the Falklands. This very nice photograph was taken by Rip Kirby in 1986.  I'll  put up another teaser on the weekend.]


From:            Paul English
Subject:         Opening Page
Date:             Tue, 28 Aug 2001 21:45:53 +0100

Hi Tony,

What can I say mate, you have exceeded your high calibre again. The new opening page is FANTASTIC !!!!!!!!!!  (not shouting, just overactive praise!!!!).

Nice touch using a "tirfor" to enter the "dark world of movements" that lurks in the C130..

Best wishes
Arfur @ Crab Air

[Ed:  Thanks Arfur - I was beginning to wonder if anyone noticed.  My thoughts were possibly  with the Monty Python crowd when I revamped it - "and now for something completely different!"]


From:       Jim Aitken
Subject:   Guest book entry
Date:       Thu, 30 Aug 2001 20:11:57 +1000

Hi Tony

The following entry was left on my website guest book.  Can you post this in the 'briefs' to see if there are any takers?

"Name:          John 'Gary' Cooper
Where from:    Suffolk England
Comments:      Any of you movers out there ex RAF Katunayake Ceylon 1959-60, please get in touch."

Can you see any 'mileage' in a " looking for" page on your site? I know there are a lot of ex-service sites such as "where are they now". "missing you" and "service pals"  which tend to get overcrowded.  Being trade specific could make searches for old buddies a bit more defined. Just a thought.

As an ex Pom, have you checked out this site? A great way to catch up with old school chums. I have hooked up with a girl  I had a 'crush' on 50 years ago !!  Trouble is she is now 65 and I don't think I fancy her anymore !!  Just joking.....she's a lovely lady.

Jim Aitken
Qld.  Australia

[Ed:  Several interesting items in that mail of yours Jim. I did try a "Where are they now" page on my site when it first started.  I thought that it would be popular, but it wasn't.  I even "seeded" it in a couple of places to get the ball rolling, but alas - I think I had a total of 4 enquires, 2 of which were mine, and, after 6 months just dropped it from the site.  The other problem is that you could be maintaining stale enquires on your pages. For instance who knows if these people found eachother after only a few weeks - they are certainly not going to tell you, and how long do you keep their enquires active?

I did look into the Friends United website - my brother had a real "ydoow" on for it.  It looked fantastic, I filled out all the information required, several different procedures with passwords and user id's etc., and then got to the bottom line where they wanted money - not for me.  I really do have a thing about paying for stuff like that especially when there's so much available that doesn't cost any money.  I know they are trying to make a living out of this, and the best of luck to them, but I have a hang-up about shelling money out over the web - never have and trust I never will.

John "Gary" Cooper - What a guy!!  John and I have been corresponding for the last month.  He was being repatriated to the UK from Ceylon in March 1960.  The first leg of his journey was in a Hastings from Katunayake to Gan, where he was to meet a Britannia to get him back to Lyneham.  Long story short - Hastings pranged in the oggin on approach to Gan.  You can read all about it in the latest article on the website entitled "Splashdown on the Equator"

By the way - for those of you who haven't seen it - Jim has a nice site at [no longer valid]


From:            Brummie Overgaard
Subject:         UKMAMS
Date:            Thu, 30 Aug 2001 09:41:16 EDT

If you could be so kind as to add my name to the list,
all the best,


[Ed: Delighted to do so Brummie, but.....   details!  I need details!]


Well, that's it for this week.

Have a great long weekend!

Best regards