28 September 2001


From:           Phil Clarke, Vienna, Austria
Subject         Sultanate of Muscat & Oman - High Politics
Date:             Fri, 21 Sep 2001 07:24:31 +0200

Hi Tony,

Came across this whilst clearing out the garbage.  It's been with me since my my days in the Oman Police, and I was assured at the time that it was 100% genuine.  Wouldn't surprise me if you, and other members who spent time out there, have come across it.


Letter sent by the Consul General Muscat to the Earl of Home, then Foreign Secretary.

August 17th, 1960

My Lord,

I have the honour to refer to Your Lordship's despatch No. 8 of the 29th July, in which you requested me to ascertain, on behalf of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, whether the Bb clarinet music, enclosed with your despatch, was a correct and up to date rendering of the National Salute to the Sultan of Muscat and Oman.

2. I have encountered certain difficulties in fulfilling this request.  The Sultanate has not since about 1937 possessed a band.  None of the Sultan's subjects, so far as I am aware can read music, which the majority of them regard as sinful.  The Manager of the British Bank of the Middle East, who can, does not possess a clarinet.  Even if he did, the dignitary who in the absence of the Sultan is the recipient of ceremonial honours and who might be presumed to recognize the tune, is somewhat deaf.

3. Fortunately I have been able to obtain, and now enclose, a gramophone record which has on one side a rendering by a British military band of the "Salutation and March to His Highness the Sultan of Muscat and Oman".  The first part of
this tune, which was composed by the Bandmaster of a cruiser in about 1932, bears close resemblance to a pianoforte rendering by the Bank Manager of the clarinet music enclosed with Your Lordship's despatch.  The only further
testimony I can obtain of the correctness of this music is that it reminds a resident of long standing of a tune, once played by the long defunct band of the now disbanded Muscat Infantry, and known at the time to non-commissioned members of His Majesty's forces as (I quote the vernacular) "Gawd strike the Sultan Blind".

4. I am informed by the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs that there are now no occasions on which the "Salutation" is officially played.  The last occasion on which it is known to have been played at all was on a gramophone at an evening reception given by the Military Secretary in honour of the Sultan, who inadvertently sat on the record afterwards and broke it.  I consider however that an occasion might arise when the playing might be appropriate; if for example, the Sultan were to go aboard a cruiser which carried a band.  I am proposing to call on His Highness shortly at Salalah on his return from London, and shall  make further enquiries as to his wishes on the matter.

5. I am sending a copy of this despatch, without enclosure to His Excellency the Political Resident at Bahrain.

I have the honour to be Sir,
(J.F.S. Phillips)
Muscat's consul General

[Ed:  Can't say that I've seen that before Phil - it's amazing what happens in the upper circles...]

From:         Andy Kay, Stafford VA, USA
Subject:      Re: Old Boys Briefs 092101
Date:          Fri, 21 Sep 2001 07:26:35 -0400

Hi Tony,

I would love to get your 5 day weather forecast for Afghanistan.  After the last 10 days or so we could all do with a bit of a laugh.

Luckily nobody we know personally was caught up in the events of Sept. 11th.  My sons baseball coach works in the Pentagon and was in the office that got hit about 5 minutes before it happened.  Another friend of ours is due to retire from the US Navy in the near future and he has been told already that he will be staying in for the foreseeable future.  Karen (my wife) is inactive Navy Reserve, so hopefully is safe from the call up.

Life here struggles to get back to normal, but it does my heart good to see the way the American people are rallying around and supporting each other and the President.  It is impossible to buy a U.S. flag anywhere as they are all sold out.  Flags are being flown in front of every house, on cars, on highway overpasses - everywhere!  I guess it is almost like the spirit that Londoners had during the blitz.

Lets just hope they follow through on all these plans and finish the job completely.  Maybe the US Government will extend the flying hours on the C-17's - they should take a hint from Avis Rental Cars and give unlimited mileage!


Andy Kay

[Ed: Thanks Andy - we too, north of the border, are feeling the ripple effects of the attack in more ways than one]

From:          Jerry Allen, Cheltenham, UK
Subject:      Operating Limits
Date:           Fri, 21 Sep 2001 05:59:15 -0400

Dear Tony

I have read with a certain amount of amusement the story of the apparent operating limitations on the C17.  Frankly, I suspect there is a lot more to the saga than is apparent to the majority of us grunts.  It is not unusual that new aircraft have limits imposed on them whilst the system "beds in".

I remember a similar situation with the Tristars when they first made an appearance in RAF colours.  I was working at Dulles in the early 80s on a typical bright blue, brilliant sunshine but very cold winter day.  Early that morning, jets of every type and from every airline were leaping off in every direction from the main runway as the morning East-coast commute was in full swing.  The Tristar we had loaded had an ETD of 0830 local; everything was set, the pax on-board, crew armed with numerous bottles and 200's.  The home team sat in the Dodge Ram stuffing themselves on donuts waiting for the departure.  0830 came ... so did 0835, 0840 and 0845 .... did the Tristar move? Not a chance!  0850 ... 0855 and your brave author
ventured a radio patch via the "Page Girls" (you have to be of a certain age to understand this), "Um, captain, dear chap, any chance of you going anywhere today?".

Back came the reply, "Not just yet, its too cold".

(me)  ...... "Come again?"

(captain) ...... "Too cold, young man.  The ac isn't cleared to take off below **C"

At that moment the chuckles of the Page Girls and the humming rendition of the Dambusters theme was audible over the RT.
Irrespective of the ac's clearance in civilian colours (remember, all of these first few early Tristars were ex-BA) the clearances of  Boscombe Down were more restrictive.

An illustrative story maybe but crews new to ac types have to gain the necessary experience of riding the new bike - the same will apply to the C17.

Keep up the good work.


Jerry Allen

[Ed:  Thanks Jerry - nice to get these snippets from you]


From:           Kirstie Wood
Subject:        Desert Campaign WW2
Date:            Thu, 27 Sep 2001 07:30:17 EDT

I am  researching for a documentary series on the North African Desert Campaign of WW2, I am keen to make contact with ex-servicemen and women that were in the Middle East between 1940 and 1943. More specifically I am searching for members of RAF squadrons that served in Malta in August 1942, acting against Italian reinforcements.

I would be very grateful for any information that you may be able to provide.

Many thanks,

Kirstie Wood
Telephone & Fax: 01525 377420

[Ed: The television company is called 'MPR Film and Television', and they are based in Munich, Germany. They are making a three part series in association with ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen), covering the entire Desert Campaign 1940 to 1943. The program will appear on British television some time next year.]


From:        Ian Berry, West Swindon, UK
Subject:    Mystery Photograph Suggestions
Date:        Thu, 27 Sep 2001 14:04:56 +0100

Where;    Somewhere in Alaska - Fairchild?

When:    Late 80s

What:    Recovery of torpedoes

Who:    A MAMS team

Why:    Presume at end of trials to return them to UK

I believe Rip Kirby was involved.



[Ed:  Close enough Ian!  This particular Mystery was forwarded by John Belcher who writes: "Found another photo from Rip Kirby's photo album that might make a more taxing mystery.

It is of a torpedo being offloaded at Elmendorf Air Base, Alaska, from a CASA CN 235 Mar/Apr 1988.  It was a trials operation (Op Bilbo I think) where the RN submarine was firing the torpedoes under the ice in the Arctic. The torpedo would be recovered and taken to Prudhoe Bay, loaded to the CASA, flown back to Elmendorf, then loaded to a Herc and recovered back to the UK.

At the same time, another sub was doing the same thing at the AUTEC ranges (Op Deep Effort) in the Bahamas. Rip's team (with Dibs Loveridge) did a month in Alaska. I was on the team who had to rough it with a month in Florida!!]


There has been a proliferation of both written and visual material on the e-mail circuit concerning the current situation in the USA and the Middle East.  I received one such e-mail just this morning - it's very subtle and requires little work on your part to "break the code"  I have not verified the facts - but if there's any truth to it then it is very scary indeed!

"One of the aircraft that hit the World Trade Center was designated in Air Traffic Control as "Q33NY". In your word processing program select font size "26" and then select the "Wingdings" font.  With your Caps Lock on enter "Q33NY".

In some word processors there are more than one set of Wingdings - you'll know when you have found the right one...

As an added "Scary" I did the same thing with the abbreviation for New York City "NYC"  The results are quite disturbing.


Well, that's it for this week - I have quite a lot of stuff to add over the weekend - been slacking off for a couple of weeks...

Have a great weekend

Best regards