08 November 2002


New members joining us this week are:

Lee Butler from Reading, UK

Martyn Harrison from Odiham, UK  (No e-mail address supplied)

Welcome to the OBA!


From:     Charles Collier, Marlborough, UK
Date:      29 Oct 2002 14:33
Subject:  Another story - about Madagascar

Hello Tony,

As I said, there is another story to tell about my life on the island so here goes:

We had an RAF detachment at Majunga comprising - if my memory serves me well - of four Avro Shackleton maritime surveillance aircraft. Their role was to patrol the Beira straights (the main port on the Mozambican coast) which could be used for oil tankers feeding the Smith Regime in Rhodesia.

The year was 1966 and Ian Smith, the leader the Rhodesian all white Federal Party, had declared a Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from the United Kingdom Government and British Crown. The British Government refused to accept Rhodesian Independence, and, at Britain's request, economic sanctions were imposed by the United Nations Security Council. Smith then severed all links with the Commonwealth. Hence, the role of the detachment was to deploy maritime surveillance over the Beira Straights at all times to maintain strict sanctions control.

At first the French did not have much to do with the RAF. They had been actively discouraged by the French Government (General De Gaul was President) as they had not been asked for their opinion regarding this detachment of British forces on French (Madagascan) soil. However, that didn't last long. By the time I arrived as the second equipment officer social activity was beginning to thaw. The first we knew about it was when an invitation to the five officers of the detachment HQ arrived, and we were invited to attend a soiree abroad a French warship moored in the bay.

On the evening concerned we made our way down to the jetty along with local Majunga dignitaries: Chef de Province, M le Mayor and the Commissioner of Police - all Madagascans and being Moslems no alcoholic drinks. The French Naval motor launch crew, smartly dressed sailors, assisted us on board and we made our way to the warship named "Alsacienne". Once on board we were made at home and offered cocktails for us and lemonade for the dignitaries and polite conversation with the captain and officers. All this time the ship's orchestra played mellow music.

After about an hour and a half, the three national anthems were played and it seemed that the party was over. But no! Being the junior officer I made my way to the gangway only to be stopped by a French lieutenant. At first I thought it was to allow the Madagascans to leave first, which they did. Whereupon we five RAF officers were led back to the cocktail floor. The orchestra had changed to a dance band and at that moment five French girls walked up to each one of us and said they were available for a dance!

The girl allocated to me, Gabrielle, was the daughter of a French army medical Lt Col at the local hospital. We danced the night away, bid our farewells, and journeyed back to the detachment HQ and to bed. The next evening I had another dinner with my friend Dr Jospin and I told him what had happened - he knew all about it as he had been on the arrangement committee. He then put his hand in his pocket and pulled out a car key. This he gave to me with the instruction the take Gabrielle out and have a good time.

Happy memories - as you all can imagine; you can't beat the French at arranging a good party!

Many regards


[Ed:  That was almost too much information Charles.....  almost....    :o)   ]


From:     John Holloway, Shrewsbury, UK
Date:      01 Nov 2002 13:27
Subject:  Apaches

Hi Tony,
I assume you have probably seen on the news that the MoD are putting the new Apache helicopters into storage at RAF Shawbury just down the road from here.

 The reason given for their storage is, "We don't have any pilots to fly them!"

More taxpayers money up the chute!

[Ed:  What is the country coming to.... all these young 'uns....   don't have a clue how to run the joint!]


From:     Chas Cormack, Swindon, UK
Date:      01 Nov 2002 15:19
Subject:  Gatow Carving

The last place I saw the carving that Dave Barton mentions at Gatow was in the Sergeant's Mess in 1983.  I am not sure if Jim Macintosh was the last in post there but the late Geoff Beard replaced me in ‘83.
Dougie Betambeau may be able to cast some light on the subject as he was there with Jim.
Sorry I cant help anymore.
PS Ed.......There is one person who has CL44-D4 experience and that is Pete Clayton, but I think he is well settled now, although I remember them and worked on the RCAF Yukons, I think I am past the stage of flying except on holidays.  Roll on February when I get my 6 weeks "Benidorm Leave"

[Ed:  Thanks Charles - send us a postcard!]


From:     Charles Collier, Marlborough, UK
Date:      02 Nov 2002 07:24
Subject:  RAF Movements Officers' Reunion

Hello Tony,

Last night I attended the 54th annual RAF Movements Officers’ Reunion at the RAF Club, Piccadilly. I chatted to a lot of ex UKMAMS officers - now retired - who knew nothing of your website. They all seemed interested so you might receive a flood of applicants!

While chatting to some of my Aden colleagues it reminded me of a good story for the next weekly brief!

Many regards


[Ed:  C'mon Charles - that's just too much of a temptation - the Aden item appears later in this week's briefs - Thanks!]


From:     Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
Date:      05 Nov 2002 03:59
Subject:  The Annual Movers' Top Table


The Annual Movers Top Table will be Friday 29th November in the Sgts Mess RAF Lyneham. So far 90 have paid up front with another 20-30 owing.

Those departing include: Gordon Black, Tony Dunphy, Graham Fitzgerald, Tony Feast, Wigan Johnson, Bev Beveridge, Willan Dillon, Taff Kelly and H Firth.



[Ed:  Thanks Ian....  it looks like it will be a good bash!]


Rumour corner…  you didn't hear from me but…..  (The date was apparently 4th November 2002):

Enforced mobilisation of up to 10,000 reservists will be announced by the Government this week in preparation for a war on Iraq.  In a move not seen since the Korean War, a Queen's Order will give defence chiefs widespread and highly controversial rights to call up many more people than would normally be available.  Senior officers from all the units involved have been summoned to a meeting at the Ministry of Defence today to be briefed on the mass mobilisation.

The announcement could come this afternoon with Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, answering a question in the Commons from a primed Labour backbencher.

The mobilisation is part of continued attempts by Britain and America to increase the pressure on Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons of mass destruction.  The Queen's Order, which has to be signed by the Queen, will ensure that the Armed Forces have the largest possible pool of reservists to call upon. It has been forced on the Government after attempts to call up key personnel for the war in Afghanistan were thwarted by regulations that allowed reservists and employers to block the move.

Normally reservists need only serve for six months in any two years. But a Queen's Order allows them to be called up indefinitely no matter how recently they served. Some reservists now coming to the end of their six-month call-up as part of the war on terror will be told that they must remain serving. Others mobilised for the war in Afghanistan will be recalled. It also means members of the Services discharged within the past 12 years and any reservists who left the reserve forces within the past five years are eligible for call-up.

"This is a very drastic measure," one source said. "It is what we would have done if the Russians invaded western Europe and for reasons of national survival. It opens up the number of people eligible and means all previous bets are off. There will be no arguments for not going on business or personal reasons and if you refuse the police are likely to come knocking on your door."

In theory, refusal to take part could result in a reservist being taken into military custody with the possibility of the call-up being challenged in the civilian courts. It is unlikely that any single case would be allowed to go that far because of the risk of it becoming a cause celebre among anti-war campaigners.
The mobilisation, which is expected to be matched in America this week, is seen as further pressure on Saddam. The source said: "It was previously known simply as the coercion plan but is now known as 'Force on Mind' with three components: credibility, timeliness and consequences. Saddam will know that no British effort can be credible without dependence on large numbers of troops. In order to do the job we have to make a mass call-up of reservists and this is it. It shows we could not be more serious."

MoD plans to begin deploying a reduced strength armoured division and an aircraft carrier task force to the Gulf this month have been disrupted by Treasury complaints that it would cost too much. But it is thought that ultimately Tony Blair would overrule Gordon Brown's objections and order the deployment to go ahead. The Government was wary of courting controversy with a Queen's Order and wanted to ask for volunteers. But defence chiefs said that would produce only a few hundred.

Logistics personnel from all three Services will be among the first called up together with special forces, intelligence and signals reservists. They will be followed by up to 10,000 other troops, some of them simply "backfilling" for troops deployed to the Gulf, others providing battlefield replacements for any troops killed or wounded in Iraq.  They will include specialists such as engineers and medics who have been stripped away from the Armed Forces by successive defence cuts, primarily the Options for Change introduced by the Major government in the early 1990s.

During the 1991 Gulf war only 1,500 reservists were called up but that was only achieved by gutting the army in Germany and the UK. Cuts and commitments such as the firemen's strike mean a much larger call-up this time. The MoD had planned to introduce the mobilisation surreptitiously with an announcement made as call-up orders arrived on the door mats of the first reservists.  But when ministers were told that this would take two weeks they feared news might leak out early, causing even more controversy.

[Ed:  Hey Chas!   Do you still have your ear defenders handy? - John Bell over there in Oz - you can run but you can't hide!!]


From:     Charles Collier, Marlborough, UK
Date:      06 Nov 2002 16:23
Subject:  Aden 1965-67

Hello Tony,

This is another tale of my time in the Middle East. As you can see from my postings [Ed:  Profile page - via the Member's listings], my first commissioned appointment was as OC Disposals No 114MU RAF Steamer Point, Aden. My task was to sell redundant equipment from the three services in Aden to 70 authorised Arab contractors by tender action. My task entailed me travelling to different sales sites and visiting Army and Navy supply departments to negotiate sales of their equipment. The main problem was that I did not have any dedicated MT. If I had to go on a visit I had to bid for the one Morris Mini car that was at the call of all five 114MU officers including the wing commander. Consequently, as the junior officer I had great difficulty gaining access to the mini!

It wasn't long before I realised what to do. I was selling MT, landrovers, 3 tonners, 10 tonners, coaches etc. So, I went to see the army major responsible for providing me with army vehicles after component recovery had been made. I told him my predicament and he responded that it was possible to provide a landrover if the RAF was take it on charge in which case they would not recover any components. I told him that I would arrange this.

Lo and behold, my telephone rang and it was the Army major who informed me that LWB land rover,18 DM 26 was available for me to drive away. "But be careful', he said, "the front drive is a little loose and when a certain speed is reached the land rover's  front wheels will start to shimmy."

I went immediately up to RAF MT Allotments and saw a Flt Lt Meredith who, after I had told him the circumstances, brought the Army vehicle on the RAF inventory. I collected the LR and drove it down to MTSS where the Chief Tech said that he would fit shims into the front wheels the take up the slack that had allowed for the shimmy. And then it would be sprayed in RAF colours before delivery to me.

This all worked fine. I used the Land Rover on a daily basis until one day a squadron leader on the command equipment officer's staff rang and told me to park my LR at the officer's mess entrance at 1400 on that day with the key in the ignition and the log book on the seat. When I asked why, I was told brusquely that the Command Equipment Officer would be using the vehicle until further notice! I asked when I could expect my LR back, whereupon he slammed the phone down on me.

During the following week I saw the group captain  and squadron leader motoring around in my LR. To say the least I was a little pissed off! I rang the squadron leader once again to asked when I would have my vehicle back - "You'll be told" and the  phone slams down. This was too much; I went straight down to MT and saw the MTSS chiefy and told him my story. Without a bat of an eyelid he said "Don't worry sir, I'll have you LR back with you next week! "How will you do that" I enquired. "I'll just remove the shims I fitted when the squadron leader brings the vehicle in for servicing next week". I thanked him for this and waited patiently. What happened was that the LR was driven out of MTSS by the group captain who nearly turned it over whilst going round a bend. He drove it straight back to MTSS saying that their requirement for it had finished! 

So, by fair means - or foul - I got my Land Rover back!

Many regards


[Ed:  Thanks for the entertainment Charles - good stuff!]


A English Bobby came home unexpectedly at lunchtime only to find his wife in bed with two men.

He looks at the three of them and says, “ ‘ello ‘ello! “

His wife, lower lip trembling, said sheepishly, “Aren’t you going to speak to me then luv?”


New on the site this week?  As I had mentioned previously, I am in the process of moving the web site over to another server.  With the current count of 579 pages containing a total of 1,672 files, it was necessary for me to create a spreadsheet just to keep track of everything.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I will have to divide the site into 7 unique URL addresses.  I wasn’t too sure if this would work at first, but after some experimentation it would appear, at first blush, to work seamlessly.

The move has already started.  I have uploaded a new Application for Membership page with a brand new form that should work even if you are behind a firewall (commercial company address).  There will be an immediate acknowledgement for you which means that there are no second guesses as to whether the application was submitted or not.

A bonus of this new form is that you can send me an instant message if you change your e-mail address or location  – simply fill in your first and last names etc., and write “Please update my details” in the comments block. 

The Member’s listings are also on the new server and can be directly accessed individually from the main menu now (rather than going through another page).

With so many files to manipulate there are going to be errors in page links and wotnot somewhere along the line.  If you happen across one please let me know a.s.a.p.

Finally, some figures to blow your minds…..  I get statistics listings from the server each month, here’s a summary of the current report:
Detailed Access List Log Analyzed on 01 Nov 2002 00:14:48 for the period 01 Oct 2002 to 31 Oct 2002. 

A total of 22,883 pages were accessed by 3,650 unique hosts. Of those pages, 5 (0%) were viewed by London Webmasters, and 22,878 (100%) by outside domains. There were approximately 7,229 distinct visitors; the typical visitor seems to have spent about 3 minutes visiting the site and to have viewed some 3.2 pages. There were a total of 140,382 files downloaded and 1,224 errors related to, consisting of 1,430,628 kilobytes of information

Wow!   Talk about taking UKMAMS to the world!! 

If anyone wants to view the detailed reports just go to:  some aspects may take a long time to download - just be patient.


Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend!

Best regards