19 September 2008


New members recently joined are:


Gaetan Chasles, Gatineau, QC, Canada

"Great site! As a background I served in 1,3 and 5 Air Movements Squadrons, and flew on the Chinook Helicopter and Convair 580 (Cosmopolitain) as a loadmaster, had a great career, and still going on."

Gerry Morrow, Morinville, AB, Canada "What a life as a mover!!"

Chuck Ives, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Mike Gerigk, Port Alberni, BC, Canada

Isabelle Linteau, Toronto, ON, Canada "Lots of great memories of Exercise Strong Resolve in Norway being in charge of a MAMS team (UK, CA, US, GE, IT) It was great!!"

Welcome to the OBA!


At last count the OBA website has 308 pages made up of 3,255 individual files including some 1,900 images. Since last November the site has been visited almost 26,000 times.


From: Andy Jack, Brampton, ON
Sent: Thursday, September 04, 2008 11:13 PM
Subject: Contacts

I've heard from a couple of RAF Movers I was stationed with in 1978-79 in Akrotiri, Cyprus. I was also at RAF Nicosia Feb-Mar either '63 or '64 (memory fading!).

If anyone is coming to the Toronto area or Sarasota Florida (in the winter) please feel free to contact me for information or help. Both of my phone numbers are listed in the CAF Member's pages.



During the 1600's, boys and girls in England wore dresses until they were about seven years old.

From: Syd Avery, Torrevieja
Sent: Friday, September 05, 2008 9:29 AM
Subject: UKMAMS/RAF Aircrew

Antonio, ciao bello,

As many of your readers know, this animosity/wariness goes back decades.

In my humble opinion, we were regarded as lesser mortals as we were consigned to the entrails of our working place, and not up at the sharp end. Unfortunately, it was a case of "follow the lead dog". If the Captain did not like MAMS, then the rest of the crew were obliged to follow. Some Captains were good and appreciated what we did. Otherwise, unless we could provide/arrange things, like DF's, coffee, sugar and such like, we were ignored, and at times, detested. A sad thing to say, but I truly believe that. A lot of them did not trust us. Come to think of it, there were a lot of them I did not trust.

Ironically, when I started flying commercially as a Loadmaster, I met and flew with some of the captains who were anti-MAMS in the Service. In a civillian environment, they were totally different. Friendly, helpful and great times were had both during rest times and operations. They then had the opinion that a loadmaster, and the majority were from the MAMS stable, were worth their weight in gold, both to the company, and the crew. I had an entertaining, and.....interesting..... time. They had things we did not. Catering, flight pay, flying kit, and at one stage, if you remember, allowances! When our Leaders began to achieve these things for us, I can only like it to a form of jealousy began to raise it's head within our wing-ed bretheren. We just sat in the back, we did not manage to coax the big silver [before camo] bird into the sky. We slept whilst they worked [they never saw us working whilst they slept]. Why should we have these benefits that they did?

There are many more things which I am sure readers can put to the story. A shiny brevet on the uniform does not make a person any better than those without. We are all human beings.

First MAMS job? F/S John Evans, Sgt Gerry Burns, me, J/T Ted Moore and SAC Steve Phare. Ballykelly by Whistling T/t (Argosy). We were parked with the port mainwheel on a drain grating and could not get the support strut in. Team + others had to rock the aeroplane back and forwards to get it off the grating. That night in the local hostelry of the Drop in Well, they had a lock in at closing time. Unfortunately, we were too slow in making our exit... Back to Abingdon by Andover, and the Captain was a great guy (we were at school together for 5 years - no animosity there!).

When I can get some slides scanned, I may have a couple of mystery piccies for you.

To all my contempories out there, thanks for great and rewarding times. I enjoyed it all.

DC, do you need your hand stroking?????????

Hasta tomorrow.


From: David Cromb, Brisbane, Qld.
Sent: Friday, September 05, 2008 5:53 PM
Subject: OBB #090508

Gerday Champ. As always mate anuva great read. Ta.

Here's the Aussie comeback you thought might be forthcoming.

Message for Wayne Flaherty, he can consider himself very lucky indeed, if it weren't for geographics I would be happy to accommodate him in a challenge, he can buy mine n I'll buy his.... hope he has a plastic card, cos he 'll need it !! I take no prisoners Wayne !!

I'm sure our leader, Jack, would be prepared to adjudicate!

Good to read your story Wayne, keep 'em coming mate. If ever you stumble or stagger down this way give us a bell n I'll show you true Oz hospitality, in the extreme!

I await incoming ......

Cheers n beers,


Google got its name from the word ‘googol’, which refers to the number one with a hundred zeros after it.

From: Dave Morrow, Carterton
Sent: Friday, September 05, 2008 3:52 PM
Subject: Re: UKMAMSOBA OBB #090508-Reply


Trying to get some photos together. Will add as they are uncovered/appear! I have the help of the Oxford University Archeological Dept searching my garage and attic as we speak.... Any news on George North?

Thanks for your efforts!


PS... Anyone need a cartoon doing?


From: Ted Baker, Brighton, ON
Sent: Saturday, September 06, 2008 12:55 PM
Subject: CAF Mystery Photo #090508 Suggestion

Hi Tony,


Photo  is  Cpl Stewart of 2 Air Movements Squadron, based in Trenton, Ontario

Do not know where pic was taken or what exercise.




Thanks Ted - regrets - no prize this time as, in addition to the name of the person, we also required the location and the Operation that the person was currently involved in. Once more our giftmeister in Vienna, Phil Clarke, is breathing a sigh of relief! Keep trying though...

In 1998, Sony accidently sold 700,000 camcorders that had the technology to see through people's clothes.

2 Air Movements Squadron, a component of 1 Canadian Air Division and an integral Squadron of 8 Wing, was established in 1951 to provide trained, experienced personnel to support Wing flying operations as well as airlift activity on deployed operations "Anywhere In The World".

The Squadron operates from 1 and 2 Hangars and the new passenger terminal at 8 Wing, Trenton, Ontario, and is responsible for processing all airlift traffic including passengers, freight, baggage and mail which may be originating, staging through or terminating at our Wing.

Recent statistics indicate an average of 23 million pounds of freight and 42,000 passengers are processed through 2 Air Movements Squadron annually.

In addition to the constant and large administrative airlift support at 8 Wing, 2 Air Movements Squadron maintains an operational capability with four, 10 person Mobile Air Movements Sections (MAMS). Deployments in Canada and abroad serve to fine tune our teams in preparation for any contingencies or wartime operations.

Some of the larger deployments the Squadron has participated in include OP Torrent, OP Toucan, OP Palladium, OP Constable, OP Airbridge and OP Friction, which earned the Squadron a Canadian Forces Commendation.

Members of 2 Air Movements Squadron are proud of their motto "Nunquam non Paratus" (Never Unprepared).


From: Charles Collier, Devizes
Sent: Saturday, September 06, 2008 4:55 PM
Subject: Hearing levels

Hi Tony,

I thought I would expand on what happened to me with regard to my hearing loss. After graduating from RAF Halton as a 20 year old substantive corporal airframe fitter I was posted to No 60 MU RAF Church Fenton. After a couple of years at this I applied to become a pilot. I was sent down to RAF Hornchurch for aircrew selection and found everything going in my favour until we came to the audiometric lab. I was tested and at 22 years of age I was told that my hearing level was of a man in his 70's! Instead I was offered a commission in the equipment branch of the RAF.

However, once a year after that I was sent to the Central Medical Establishment (CME) at Goodge St to have my hearing level monitored over a period of some 5 years. It was apparent that I was being used as a test person in the research for introducing hearing defence measures in heavy metal bashing or the aviation industry.

Given the foregoing circumstances, I can conclude that with defective hearing I was not to be offered much promotion so instead plodded along - enjoying myself - as a Flt Lt.

Now I have been fitted with two digital hearing aids by the National Health Service and I am back in the land of the living. Wish I had these aids back in 1964, my career might have been rather different!

All the best


Well Charles, even if you shot for the moon and missed, you still ended up amongst the stars!

Avocados are poisonous to birds.

From: Graham Flanagan, Stafford
Sent: Sunday, September 07, 2008 10:38 PM
Subject: OBA 090508


I do not know if you will or want to include this in your next newsletter but I felt I have to make a comment to your reply to James Aitken's message:

"Thanks Jim - regrettably there have been only 22 members so far who have made a (monetary) contribution to the new & improved OBA - I anticipated this going in so it comes as no surprise. Human nature dictates that if you can get something for nothing then why pay for it. On the other hand I don't want anybody to be left out in the dark if they're unable to manage a member's fee - so I go with the weakest link and no one gets left behind.

There are two spots on the web site where you will be able to click on a link to PayPal - at the foot of the home page underneath the pictures of all of the pretty airplanes, there's also one on the RAF Member's page underneath the interactive world time zones map. Your contribution will make a positive difference."

I remember when I became a member of the OBA, before you closed down and became ill, and I can remember when the shout went out for help in respect of help for you to defer the cost of running this great site. With somewhere in the region of 300 members surely it would not be too much for the guys to donate, £10 or whatever a month to help you in the running cost. I am not saying that you should make a massive profit but I would like to see this site carry on bringing news and information about old pals etc. As you said if the [official] UK MAMS assoc goes then this the only real lifeline that movers have really got.

At the end of the day you can sanitise this or not post it but I felt so strongly about your comment as I love your site and look forward to your newsletters. So come on guys help Tony out or in the end we could loose this site again.


Graham (Geordie) Flanagan


From: Charles Hince
Sent: 04 September 2008 22:40
Subject: Need for a dedicated military hospital.

Dear All,

When I forwarded to friends the information about petitioning for a dedicated military hospital, one of my friends put me in touch with General Dannatt.  You may be interested in the exchange of correspondence between us on the subject:


I am taking the liberty of responding [to] your kind email to John Wright, a mutual friend, about our petition for a Dedicated Military Hospital.

Before going any further, may I tell you how much those of us in the ex-service community have admired the forthright responses you have given in public to the difficulties faced by our forces.  You have done more for morale than anyone else could have done and we all greatly appreciate the stands you have taken.  I know very well that what you have said in Public is a mere shadow of what you have been doing behind the scenes.

With regard to our petition for a Dedicated Military Hospital:-

  • We needed Milbank because its location gave us access to the best doctors in the Land.
  • The decision to go to Woolwich was wrong, as it was too divorced from the great London Hospitals but it and the other Service hospitals gave access to caring for the ex-service community.
  • At Selly Oak we have been trying to make the best of a bad deal.  Yes, the surgeons and clinicians are good, but they are not of Harley Street standards and the ward staff are abysmal ( personally I have the highest regard for the NHS surgeons but, due to unionisation, the ward staff can be awful).  We need our QARANC ward sisters and staff and should not compromise over any other arrangement.
  • The new military wing at Selly Oak will undoubtedly be a great improvement, but I expect it will be under the NHS umbrella and not under military control.  Our wounded servicemen have a right to expect to receive the best treatment in the land and that is in the operating theatres in the Capital not in the Provinces.
  • We still have the land in London to build such a hospital, even having sold Chelsea Barracks, there still remains the Duke of Yorks.  A high rise hospital there would be well placed to draw on the best expertise of the London NHS and Harley street.
  • Like the Musgrave Hospital in Northern Ireland, a military run hospital will provide the security our service personnel should expect and not have Muslims disturbing them.

This is an issue of the Military Covenant; if we expect our servicemen to give their "All", which they are unstintingly doing, we should ensure that they receive the best possible care when they come home injured, Not just the "best we can do in the circumstances"!  Clearly, we have made bad mistakes in giving up our dedicated medical service hospitals and their staffs in the interests of maintaining an adequate force structure.  By calling for a dedicated Military Hospital, we recognise that we are aiming high but that is part of the Military Covenant.

I thank you hugely for all that you do and for so kindly responding to our Petition.

The politicians may not appreciate you but by golly we do.

Yours very sincerely,
Charles Hince (Brigadier retd. '84) "

The following reply was received.


Thank you for your email, all your support for our wounded Servicemen, women and Veterans, and for your kind personal comments.  I very much believe that we must all do what we can in whatever position we are in, in these difficult times.
With regard to a hospital, of course I am fully in support of the principle of a dedicated Military Hospital for soldiers, sailors, airmen and veterans, and in London it would have access to the very best clinicians and specialists available. But that was the dilemma faced by the Conservative Government in the mid-1990's and they opted for closure of all the military hospitals, establishment of four MoD Hospital Units (MDHUs) attached to large regional hospitals and to set up the Royal College of Defence Medecine (RCDM) at Selly Oak to train all our military consultants, doctors and nurses.  In the peaceful days of that decade, post Cold War and pre Iraq and Afghanistan, that looked resonable, but was always a risk if we ever got into real conflict again and took casualties  -  which even the least keen student of history would have known was inevitable.
So that was where we found ourselves at the start of Gulf War 2 in early 2003.  Initially our casualties were quite small and the new 'risky' arrangements just about worked.  But when casualties began to rise in Iraq in early 2005 and then we began serious operations in Afghanistan in 2006, the problems began to show up terribly.  Selly Oak, and the associated hospitals in Birmingham, managed to provide clinical care, but the wounded soldiers/patients were spread out all over Selly Oak and the other hospitals so our soldier-patients felt very isolated and disorientated (on patrol in Basra one minute surrounded by fit mates - explosion - next conscious minute in a bed in Birmingham surrounded by sick civilians).  What was worse there was none of the military welfare or support available to the soldier-patient or his family. Those of us to close to this situation could see it was all wrong, but the Defence Medical Services (DMS) could not and were resistant to changing anything.  Initially the NHS Trust in Birmingham was the focus of terrible media coverage but the real fault lay with the MOD over policy and the DMS people at Selly Oak over delivery. They kept maintaing their main task was to train people at the RCDM, and that casualties were a secondary task. Eventually after a number of local initiatives and changes were forced on Selly Oak, principally by the Army Chain of Command, there was a big shake up. The Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff for Health, an RN Vice Admiral, and the Commandant of RCDM, an RAF Air Commodore, were changed and things have improved.
At Selly Oak now there is a Military Managed Ward (S4) which has a 70-30 proportion of military staff to NHS staff, albeit under NHS Governance, there is a proper command and control system for patients which tracks and monitors their progress from point of wounding through rehabilitation, a comprehensive welfare support network for servicemen and their families and the prospect of a full Military Ward in 2010 in the new PFI built hospital, albeit again under NHS Governance. SSAFA have bought and are equipping a 'Home from Home' for families at Selly Oak which will open soon.  At the Defence Medical Rehabilitaion Centre, Headley Court, Help for Heroes has paid for a £6m Swimming Pool and refurbished Gym, SSAFA has opened a magnificent 'Home from Home' for families and this has been complemented by the Government committing another £28m to refurish/expand other facilities there.  So we have come on a long way over the last three years, albeit nothing that I described will benefit Veterans. Their care, morally, is still the responsibility of the Services ( 'we care from cradle to grave'), but is actually delivered by the Department of Health, the Service Charities and Regimental Associations, loosely overseen by a junior MOD Minister with responsibility for Veterans. (To be fair, the Government has just published a cross-Departmental Command Paper to improve the circumstances for service people, their families and veterans.  It is worth a read and, if fully implemented, will be useful.)
But how much would have been different if Woolwich, Haslar and Wroughton had still been open, or the then Government, on MOD advice, had opted to partner with St Thomas's or found the money to build a new hospital at the The Duke of Yorks, I do not know. All I do know is that largely by the wrong route we have reached a satisfacory,if not perfect, situation now. Furthermore, I am most grateful for the generous support of many individuals and organisations in the private and charitable sectors who, out of concern for our wonderful service people and their longsuffering families, have put their hands in their pockets and have made that wrong route largely possible.  Whether Gordon Brown will change policy on the care of the Wounded and Veterans, again I do not know, but I do know the MOD cannot afford to build a new hospital, and nor can we expect the Treasury to pay. The National finances are very bleak!
So, thank you again. My purpose in this email is simply to inform you where we are currently, and to wish you all the very best.  
Yours ever,  Richard"

I have just received from General Dannatt the following.  You may like to respond to his appeal.

Dear All,

Please forgive a message out of the blue but having spent nearly forty years in the Army avoiding jumping out of planes that are otherwise perfectly servicable, the Help for Heroes cause is so important that I am breaking the habit of a life time. My daughter Richenda and I are doing tandem jumps with the Red Devils on Monday 8th of September in order to raise money for Help for Heroes  -   a charity very close to our hearts.
I would be incredibly grateful for any sponsorship large or small! Below is the link to our "just giving" page.
With very many thanks, Richard.

A Russian man who wore a beard during the time of Peter the Great had to pay a special tax.

CAF Mystery Photo #091908


From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 6:15 PM
Subject: NSRAF Cosford Branch

Hi Tony

Today was our monthly meeting. We'd all been sent a Newsletter last week in which it was said our speaker was going to give us a talk about 'The Flying Helmet.'

I couldn't think how anyone could give us a talk on this for two hours, which was the normal length of guest speaker talks, however the emphasis was on the word 'The' and as it turned out the talk was about a very special helmet.

In 1941 Flt Lt 'Cookie' Long, flying a Wellington of 9 Squadron, was shot down over Holland and survived the crash only to be taken prisoner. He eventually arrived at Stalag Luft III.

He escaped from the camp in what is now known as the "Great Escape" but unfortunately was recaptured and was one of the fifty airmen murdered by the Germans.

We were shown a video outlining the story of his helmet which was found by a Dutchman and, in 1999, when it was in the care of other escapees who survived, it was handed over to 9 Squadron at Waddington when a flight of Tornados arrived from Bruggen and the helmet was presented to one of the pilots.

One of the survivors of the escape was in attendance at Waddington, namely Sqdn Ldr Jimmy James who lived just down the road from Shrewsbury. He passed away earlier this year and as he was laid to rest a flight of Tornados flew over the service as a guard of honour fired a salute.



p.s. - I just came across this news item:

Great Escaper Commemorated

The late Sqn Ldr Jimmy James MC has been remembered by the renaming and dedication of an aircraft hangar in his honour. The ceremony included a flypast by a DC-3 Dakota of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and a Tornado GR4 of his old squadron, 9 Squadron based at RAF Marham. Fellow former WWII POWs, members of the 9 Squadron Association and present members of the squadron were present to honour his memory. Baroness Harris of Richmond, a long-term friend of the RAF Regiment from the days when it was based at RAF Catterick, was the guest of honour.

Jimmy James flew a Wellington bomber of IX Sqn from RAF Honington on the night of 5th June 1940 when he was shot down South of Rotterdam and became a prisoner of war. He was involved several escape attempts before eventually ending up in Stalag Luft 3, where he became one of the ‘Great Escapers’ on 24th March 1944. Of the 76 escapers that day 50 were executed and Jimmy James was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was kept in solitary confinement. He survived the war until his retirement from the RAF in 1958.

Jimmy James died on 18th January 2008 aged 92, and an RAF Regiment contingent from RAF Honington provided the pallbearers at his funeral. His utter refusal to accept incarceration, even when recapture carried the prospect of summary execution, and his unwavering dedication to duty are an example to us all. By this dedication he will remain an example to all of the young men who will hold their graduation parades in the ‘Jimmy James’ Hangar in the years to come.

Source: BBC News

Bluebirds cannot see the color blue.

Royal Air Force Opens Replica ‘Great Escape’ Hut as Lasting Memorial

An emotional silence fell over Zagan, Poland as two years of dedicated hard work culminated in the official opening of a replica of the famous ‘Great Escape’ hut today, Saturday 16th August, in the presence of two of the camp’s original residents.

Prisoner of War at Stalag Luft III, Charles Clarke,
opens the Project 104 Hut by cutting the barbed wire.

Air Commodore (retired) Charles Clarke OBE, President of the Ex-PoW Association and Andrew Wiseman were guests of honour at the opening of the replica hut, which has been built at the site of prison camp Stalag Luft III. It is half the size of the original and took two weeks to build but was the result of committed research and fund-raising over a much longer period.

The build team predominately comprised enthusiastic amateur builders from the Royal Air Force, but was supported by four expert Royal Engineers from the Army, and assisted by a Royal Navy Chief Petty Officer. During the two-week build, the volunteer crew was split into teams Dick and Harry – alternating between spending three days building and three days learning about wider stories of World War II at sites in Berlin, Krakow and Auschwitz. As temperatures soared, the sound of hammers and saws echoed through the trees in this usually peaceful location as the hut’s build progressed. Built next to Great Escape Museum in Zagan, it will act as a permanent memorial to the bravery of allied personnel imprisoned in Stalag Luft III during World War II.

Project 104 started two years ago as the brainchild of Dr Howard Tuck, Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Tim Barlow and the late Squadron Leader Jimmy James MC after a visit to Zagan. Since then the team has raised £60,000 in donations with the strong support of Air Commodore (Retired) Clarke at the Ex-PoW Association. Army Royal Engineer, Lieutenant Colonel Phil Westwood was also brought on board quickly to ensure that the finished hut was built to a high technical specification and will stand as a memorial for years to come.

Flt Lt Barlow was thrilled to see the fruits of the team’s hard work. He said, "It feels absolutely fantastic. It’s the culmination of two years of really hard work, which has been over the last two weeks really quite exhausting.

"It’s a relief to finish it in a way but it’s also really a great honour to have led the team here and to see the finished article.

“I can’t thank the team enough. The guys have worked really long hours over the last couple of weeks in the heat and they’re unskilled labour.

"The Royal Engineers under Lt Col Westwood have been brilliant. They’ve told everyone exactly what needs to be done and helped out on the ground and really made it happen.”

Flight Lieutenant Tim Barlow at the completed replica '104 Hut'.

For Tim and his team, building a memorial to their military predecessors has huge importance: “We should learn from the past that’s been one of the main parts of the trip. It’s also about paying our respects to people like Charles Clarke and Andrew Wiseman who have come out here with us and given us their time. It’s making sure we remember exactly what they did and that it’s never forgotten.

“I can remember standing with Charles and Andrew back in December 2006 on the site when we were talking about the project – finding the site of Charles’s room and seeing a tear come down his face. It makes my heart flutter and brings a tear to the eye.”

Air Commodore (retired) Charles Clarke OBE, and Andrew Wiseman have been with the building team for the duration of the two-week project, along with Dr Howard Tuck. During visits to historical sites they shared their knowledge and experience to give personnel a unique insight to the period. Andrew and Charles were clearly moved at the hard work that had gone into honouring them and their former colleagues.

Prisoner of War veterans of Stalag Luft III Charles Clarke and Andy Wiseman at the original site of 'Hut 104' and 'Great Escape' tunnel Harry

Charles said: “My original idea was to have the hut on the site of the original Hut 104, but I realised that it was quite isolated so I persuaded the museum to have it here. This room is very realistic they have done a magnificent job. My aim is to arrange for a party of prisoners of war, they are all well aged and many of them are not able to walk, to come over for a few days so they can see this place. It’s worth remembering the support the Ex Prisoners of War Association has given this project both financially and in every way.” Both men feel the strong bond of former and serving members of the military working together to achieve a goal. Andrew said: “Today is the fruition of a long time of dreams and ideas. It brings back memories, not all of them good – not all of them bad. I have been tremendously impressed by the way the children, as I call them, currently serving in the RAF and the other services – who had never held a hammer in their hand until they came here – worked magnificently in all sorts of weathers. I also find it very touching the way they have looked after Charles and I.

Another key member of the team delighted to see its successful end is historian, Dr Howard Tuck. He said: “I knew we’d get to this day. It’s been an emotional roller coaster at every level from project planning and meetings to trying to raise money and trying to get things translated to Polish, building regulations and visits.

“It’s emotional for the veterans because it’s very rare that you can deliver something as substantial as this to them. It’s tremendous to give them that as a gift. I’ve been on lots of projects and this one really tops them all.

It’s very important that the future generations of the RAF see what their predecessors went through and how they lived and they can learn some lessons for themselves”

In memory of Jimmy James, who died in January, Howard added: “I can almost hear Jimmy actually, He would be immensely proud. The RAF is a big family and you never really leave. I think he’d stand here and he’d have a wry smile. He’d be bursting with pride and perhaps a little intrepid that we were going to make him spend the first night in the hut!”

The aim of Project 104 was to build a replica of
'Hut 104', this image is the completed project

None of the project would have been possible without the input of the Army’s Royal Engineers, who were on hand to keep RAF volunteers on the straight and narrow. Lt Col Westwood said: “I came up with the concept of the hut and a Royal Engineer draftsman did the design work. We have had a Clerk of Works and Surveyor from the Royal Engineers here on site. Without them we would have been struggling to do it at all.

“The RAF volunteers have done absolutely brilliantly. We had little teach-ins at the start of every day to show them some of the skills they haven’t done before but some of the basic carpentry skills and glazing skills and roofing skills they’ve been absolutely brilliant. It’s their commitment that’s made them good. The morale is fantastic because they all want to be here and volunteered”.

The opening ceremony, the culmination of a multinational effort, saw military representatives from various nations, civic dignitaries, veterans, the local community, plus family members of those imprisoned there during WWII. It culminated with a flypast by a Tornado GR4 from IX(B) Squadron based at RAF Marham in Norfolk. Squadron Leader Jimmy James and James ‘Cookie’ Long, who both took part in the Great Escape were part of IX Squadron. Cookie was one of the 50 personnel recaptured and executed on Hitler’s orders. Cookie’s helmet, goggles and scarf were flown in the Tornado in his honour.

How the room would have looked when tunnel 'Harry' was dug.

And while the hard work for the hut may seem to be over, the Ex Prisoners of War Association, Lt Col Westwood and Flt Lt Barlow are already moving on to its next stage. Col Westwood said: “We’ve built the hut half-length and would like to do a half-length tunnel. Perhaps not quite as deep or as dangerous as the other one, but to give people a real experience of what it must have been like to go down the tunnel and escape from the other end. I’ve already sketched that plan but we just need a bit of funding.”

As with the original personnel involved in the Great Escape, members of Project 104 are determined to keep going until they reach their goal. Anyone interested in finding out more or donating to the project can do so.

© UK Crown copyright 2008


From: Alex Masson, Chelmsford
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 6:54 PM
Subject: Support for Tony Gale

Hello each!

The reason I have been a little quiet of late is because since our return from our holiday in Canada our daughter (named Young Legs by our illustrious Hon Chairman Sqdn Ldr Jack Riley) had to undergo an operation. This in itself did not appear to be a problem but slight complications set in. She did not react well to the anaesthetic or the subsequent medication. However, we are pleased to be able to tell you that she has at last settled down after the ‘op’ and is now, more or less, back to her normal self.

I am now frantically rushing around organising the “Battle of Britain Week’ annual collection 15th to the 21st September at all the local supermarkets and Malls. We hope to achieve, yet again, our ambitious target of £10,000 this year. We have already a head start with cash from several functions earlier in the year together with the ‘Veteran’s Day’ collection.

The main problem I face is lack of collectors! Out of 200 members I have only 13 volunteers!! I suppose it’s about the same proportion as those of the MAMSOBA who have subscribed to Tony Gale.

On that subject, I was very pleased to read Jim’s comment in the last ‘Brief’. Well done Jim! You have beaten me to it yet again! This was a matter I raised with Tony when I spoke with him in Canada. He told me that very few people have donated towards the upkeep of the site.

He is really doing a fantastic job at great expense to himself and I think this should NOT be ignored. He should not be left to finance this venture alone. I know that Jack, Jim and myself, along with a few others, have subscribed – and are willing to subscribe again but I think ALL members should be made aware of the situation. This ‘rant’ is not aimed at all the new members who have just joined us, but all those UK members who were in way ahead of me! By the way, like Jim, I am one of the ‘Old Movers’ (No, not as old as our very senior citizen Jack) just a tad behind Jim, at 72.

Tony is a great guy and will not raise this matter himself – so I am more than pleased that Jim Aitken did. Tony is also very much aware that some members may not be in a position to pay very much. However, just a few dollars from each would solve the problem and ensure that UKMAMSOBA continues to flourish! Tony knows those who have subscribed!

Finally – thanks Tony for another brilliant OBB.


On average, a person will spend about five years eating during his or her lifetime.

From: Jack Riley, Urangan, Qld
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 4:50 AM
Subject: Briefs

Greetings all,

Over the years we have discussed the best way of funding the Association. For various reasons we have avoided asking for an annual subscription.

However I am not prepared to allow Tony to bear the production costs on his own. He does so much for us already .

Would you please send him , via the PayPal links , a once- off contribution of the price of a packet of cigarettes in your neck of the woods.

If this is a problem for you please let me know privately and I'll be happy to make up the difference.

Go well

Jack Riley
Hon. Chairman


From: Keith Parker, Kandahar
Sent: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 10:08 am, EDT
Subject: Guest Book Comments

Hi Tony,

I'm on sick leave from Afghanistan at the mo, I am now the proud owner of a Titanium hip.

Tell Dave Cromb that the bar in Salalah was known as the "Wobbly Wheel" and the building was still there in 2004 when I was last there, and the young Chico who used to collect all the empties is now the Mess manager in The RAFO Officers Mess. He is very proud of his start to working life and can still do a mean Geordie accent (swear words and all).

Cheers for now


Your job right now is to take it easy for a while and get well Keith.

A married man is four times more likely to die during sex if his partner isn’t his wife.

From: James Aitken, Brisbane, Qld.
Sent: Thursday, September 11, 2008 2:34 AM
Subject: Reaction

Tony mate...

I have to say how disappointed (read 'disgusted' !) I was to hear of the pathetic response from a membership approaching 400. You obviously have a better understanding of so called "human nature" than I have.

Hard to believe that Movers could be so stingey, as to accept your effort and expense, without making a small contribution.

I hope you have by now received my "widows mite" and I just hope that conscience will prick those other [people] who are tighter than a fish's [posterior orifice].




From: Sandra Hinks, Belleville, ON
Sent: Friday, September 12, 1:51 am, EDT
Subject: Guest Book Comments

Looking for Brian Berkin-Hewitts....if anyone knows how to contact him, please e-mail me. We have lost contact for many years now, and I would love to try to reach him again.

Hi to all MAMS/Loadies.


All of the Earth's continents are wider at the north than in the south - and nobody knows why.

From: James Aitken, Brisbane, Qld.
Sent: Saturday, September 13, 2008 5:58 PM
Subject: For "OBA" Briefs

Hi Tony

Among the OBA membership are many who have elected to live in retirement overseas.

Due to the intransigence of successive UK Governments, the payment of age pensions in mainly Commonwealth countries is frozen at the amount first granted. If you had chosen to live in European countries or America, then you would receive annual uprating in line with cost of living rises.

There are several organisations that are endeavouring to have this anomaly rectified, and the link above is a good starting place to find out what is happening.

Eventually the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) will try this case. In the meantime those affected can do their bit by following some of the suggestions indicated in the website.

Health and happiness are more important than money......but why should the politicians get away with this flagrant inequity?


Jim Aitken
(pension frozen since 2000 !)


From: Ian Berry, West Swindon
Sent: Sunday, September 14, 2008 11:42 AM
To: Sandra Hinks
Subject: Brian Birkin-Hewitt

Hi Sandra,

Been out of the mob just under 5 years now but believe Brian is still an ALM on 99 Sqn at RAF Brize Norton flying on C17 Globemasters.

There should be one or two guys in the OBA at Brize who can confirm?

Also worth looking at the MoD Website to see if direct contact through to Brize?

Best regards,

Ian Berry

People who are lying to you tend to look up and to the left (their left).

From: David Cromb, Brisbane, Qld.
Sent: Sunday, September 14, 2008 5:27 PM
Subject: Kathmandu trip

Hello Tony,

In 1974 our task was to deliver telephone cables and gear into Kathmandu for the Nepalese Government. The load consisted of some ginormous reels, taller than me and I am 6' 1''

The team was Pilot Officer Burch, Flight Sergeant Taff Sugg, the legendry Sergeant BobTurner, Corporal Stevens, Dave Moss and yours truly.

There were two significant events that came about on this trip; Firstly we were cartwheeled in a Landrover being driven by a Nepalese soldier on the way from our hotel to the airport.

Sadly, a young girl was killed in the accident.

The locals went ballistic as you can well imagine and really started to lay into the young driver, they were going kill him, of that I am sure. The legendry man himself, Bob Turner, with no regard for his own safety, leapt to the soldier's defence, putting himself between the angry mob and the young fellah.

As for the team, other than being shaken up, were were uninjured, a fact a certain UKMAMS standby officer forgot to mention when he sent word to our wives, girlfriends and the like of our accident. I had only been married a short time and poor Phyllis was beside herself with worry. I later found out the officer [was admonished] for his lack of tact.

Secondly, whilst the team (minus our leader) was having a 'quiet' drink in the hotel bar, word came to us to behave and go to bed. Well that was not a clever move for our team leader. Suffice to say we didn't turn in. It came about that each and every one of us got a [dressing-down], mine came standing leaning around in the hotel car park next morning. I regret to say that it became rather heated and Taff Sugg was beckoned and instructed to place me on report on our return to base. Strange, it never happenned - full marks Taff! R I P my friend!



Good story DC - next one please!


Mystery Photo #091908

A bird 'chews' with its stomach.

Big Bash Weekend
RAF Lyneham
Friday & Saturday - 26th & 27th September 2008
Next Weekend!
Next Weekend!
Next Weekend!
Next Weekend!
Next Weekend!
Next Weekend!

Friday - Meet & Greet

Saturday - 1 Air Movements Wing Families Day -

  • UKMAMS Association AGM at RAF Lyneham at 1330hrs on Saturday 27 September will have the EGM and Disbandment as a special Item for discussion.  This is the opportunity for all those who want to discuss the future of the Association to come and make their opinions count.

Saturday evening - Dinner/Dance

More details on the AMW website here: Big Bash


The Armed Forces face a mass walk out with under-funding leading to a "major crisis" in defence, an influential report backed by former military chiefs warns.

They will soon be "paralysed" by the growing number of resignations and will take a decade to recover, the UK National Defence Association paper says.

A “huge burden” has been placed on the Forces with more than 12,000 troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan that has led to an immense strain on both troops and equipment.

All three major political parties must now unite to back the "woefully under-funded" Forces whose budget urgently needs to be increased from the current £34 billion to £50 billion over the next three years, it states.

"The national interest requires the full-hearted engagement of Government and Opposition to rehabilitate our Armed Forces and repair our defences. Now is no longer the time for party politics," said Winston Churchill, the UKNDA's president and grandson of the wartime leader.

He warned that the Forces were "in crisis" with funding the lowest since the Thirties when "inadequate defence provision paved the way directly to world war".

The report highlights as a serious worry the continued drain of personnel which saw 20,000 troops resign last year fed up with poor pay, time away from families and inadequate accommodation.

"Remedial action can no longer be delayed without running the unacceptable risk of mass retirements from the widely demoralised Armed Forces," said the report, Overcoming The Defence Crisis, that was compiled by former generals, admirals and academics.

"There are no cheap victories in defence, but failure would be even more expensive. Never have all three Services had so little with which to do so much"

There has been a serious decline in morale resulting in more than 50 per cent of the military having considered resigning, according to the MoD's own survey.

To reverse the "unacceptable threat of major resignations" and restore morale the Services need a rapid improvement in pay, kit and manpower.

"The serious inadequacy of Britain's current and planned defence provision is undeniable," the 20 page report said.

Defence funding has hit the lowest level since the 1930s with no increase expected despite worsening world events

The Services have become "so run down" in terms of troop numbers and equipment that "urgent rehabilitation" is required.

With no major defence review since 1998 – before the Forces had fought five wars – the paper called for urgent review and for the Government to commit to higher spending before it concluded.

The paper argued that with equipment and personnel so worn out it would take three years to restore to previous levels even with the right funding.

The authors called on the Tories to exercise their bi-partisan duty "to ensure the country is properly defended" by encouraging the spending increase.

David Cameron's position of refusing any spending commitments was "completely inappropriate" as inadequate defence funding put "everything else at risk".

There was a "huge mismatch" between what the "seriously under-resourced" Army was being asked to do and what it could do properly. In order to meet requirements the Army needed to expand by 10,000 troops.

The RAF was "so run down" in numbers and capability that it was unable to meet commitments "by a wide margin". Apart from Eurofighter Typhoons it was fielding an ageing and expensive fleet. The RAF needed to increase numbers from 41,000 to 55,000 to "meet the growing known threats and the unpredictable" otherwise Britain would not retain air superiority on operations for the first time since the 1941 invasion of Crete.

On present trends the Navy's once formidable Fleet will be "grievously weakened" heading towards half its current size by 2020 with no air cover for the next nine years after the withdrawal of the Sea Harrier.

With fewer warships there was insufficient training and as a result "standards are dropping".

The MoD said the Defence budget had experienced its longest period of sustained real growth for over 30 years.

“Additional Treasury funding allows us to deliver urgent and cutting-edge equipment to operations,” a spokesman said.

The Atlantic Ocean is saltier than the Pacific Ocean.

Former MAMS Commando & OBA member Rip Kirby and his partner Myrah McPherson have started a unique company in the French Alps.

We wish them 'Bon Voyage' on their new path!

Check out their website here:
Alpine Care-Takers

From: Andrew Kay, Stafford VA
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2008 11:03 AM
Subject: One for the OBB

Hi Tony,

Just a quick note to let you know that I am still enjoying the weekly OBB's as much as I ever did.

Thought the old troops might be interested in this report and accompanying picture that came into my inbox the other day. The image of a C130 fuselage going into the belly of a C5 is both amazing and a little scary!

The company I work for now has an office in Canada and following successful contracts we have with the US Marine Corps, we have been doing work with the Canadian Air Force as they start to transition to the C130-J model and other "glass cockpit" aircraft.


Andy Kay

Always nice to hear from you Andy and many thanks for the amazing story!

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y - On Sept. 10, a 105th Airlift Wing (AW) C-5 Galaxy from Newburgh, N.Y., landed here with precious cargo – a training fuselage of a C-130A that the 143AW in Rhode Island no longer needed.

It was the first time a non-modified C-5 had carried this cargo. And getting the C-130 onto the C-5 was no easy feat. It took more than two years of careful planning to make it happen.

“About two-and-a-half years ago it was mentioned that Rhode Island received their J-models, and that this aircraft was no longer applicable for training their crews,” said Master Sgt. Glen Preece, a loadmaster with the 139th Airlift Squadron (AS) here. “Rhode Island checked on a few things and said ‘OK, if you guys can transport it, you can have it.’”

Preece began the legwork. “I was asked to go out and took a look at the trainer to see if I could take the wings off of it,” he said.

He and a crew were able to cut off the wings off and tow it to Rhode Island’s flightline. He also approached the 105AW about getting a C-5 to transport the training fuselage. They agreed to help out.

The most challenging part of the process was obtaining a certification letter from Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Preece needed to prove that transporting the C-130 would be possible. “I explained to them about the hydraulic unit we installed to lower the nose gear to prove that we could raise the mains and deflate the struts to get it to sit low enough,” he said. “And then we had to build a shoring kit, which was monstrous.”

Building the shoring kit took about three weeks, and Tech. Sgt. Brian Irvin, another 139AS loadmaster, helped figure out how they would build the kit.

“I would estimate that the entire shoring kit weighs about 22,000 pounds,” Irvin said. “The shoring kit angles and how we stepped it up was a lot of math and mental work. We had to get the fuselage approaching the C-5 at approximately the same angle as the C-5 floor.

“With such small clearance, if you’re going in off-angle it’s not going to work. It had to be very precise. We got copies of the flight manuals of the C-5 and we built the shoring kit to match that.”

Preece received approval from Wright-Pat, and all the hard work and preparation was finally tested Sept. 8, when the crew went down to Rhode Island to load the training fuselage.

“It went very smoothly loading the plane,” Preece said. “They gave us an eight-hour timeframe, and I think we did the whole thing in four hours.”

“There was a lot of planning, I think we did a very good job anticipating as much as we could possibly ahead of time,” Irvin said. “Anytime you are loading something that big with a couple inches to spare in clearance, there are going to be things you didn’t think of. The shoring kit worked exactly as we wanted it to.”

The next step was transporting it here and unloading it. That ended up being a little more difficult than loading the plane.

“Where the C-5 parked I knew immediately that it wouldn’t work,” Preece said. “So we went and walked around and we found a spot that did work. This time it took about six hours to offload.

“Safety and not damaging the C-5 were paramount,” he said. “Once the C-130 got just outside the C-5, there was a ramp made for the nose gear, and getting that to track was a little difficult at first.”

But with the help of several guardsmen from around the base, they were able to unload the aircraft with no major mishaps.

After maintainers work to get the aircraft up to training standards, many units will be able to use the aircraft at any time for training.

“This is going to be hugely invaluable for the base, it’s going to be used for loadmasters, aeromeds, aerial port, and maintenance will be able to do some OJT on it by just getting it fixed up,” Irvin said.

“Some people from outside may not see it, but in the wintertime most of our aircraft are deployed (as part of the unit’s arctic mission),” said Preece. “The aircraft that aren’t deployed in the winter are really tied up in maintenance. So there’s no aircraft availability sometimes. This will be available 365 days a year, 24/7 for anybody that needs it.”

Transporting a C-130 on a C-5 has never been done before, so “the fact that it was done safely without any major mishaps was an accomplishment in itself,” said Master Sgt. Michael Peck, another 139th AS loadmaster, who was part of the crew that transported the fuselage. “The teamwork from all the units and from everyone here was remarkable.”

Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Morgan, loadmaster superintendent with the 139AS, agreed. “We had a lot of people involved, to include ops and maintenance. The support was outstanding. We couldn’t have done it without the 105th at Stewart. They were outstanding to work with. It was really a joint Guard effort.”

That's it for this issue - please send submissions for inclusion here.

Have a great weekend!


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