Gatineau/Ottawa
14 November 2003

LEST WE FORGET

11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month 

In Flanders Fields
(J. McCrae)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

World War I poem by Lt-Colonel John McCrae

 

A new member joining us this week is:

Christopher (Ned) Nethercoat from Wirral, UK

Welcome to the OBA!

 

From: Andrew Kay, Stafford VA, USA andrewkay2000@msn.com
Date: 07 Nov 2003 23:03
Subject: Re: OBB 110703

Hi Tony, 

Seeing that picture of the Concorde flying in formation with the Red Arrows in this week's OBB reminded me of my first contact with the Concorde. 

As a young air cadet with 242 (East Ham) Squadron, the biggest thing we ever did was the (infrequent) visits to Cambridge airport for Air Experience Flights with the Cambridge University Air Squadron in their Chipmunks. I loved flying in those 'Chippies' and it was always worth the long trip on an old RAF bus from East London to Cambridge for the two 30 minute flights we used to get in our day there. The QFI's were all VRT types and presumably this was the only flying they got (we are talking about the early '60s), and although they acted bored by the endless stream of gawky kids, they would do a few aerobatics if you requested them. I remember getting strapped into the seat pack parachutes and waddling out to the flight line to climb aboard, get strapped in, slap on the headphones and be sternly admonished to "Not touch anything"! 

One Saturday we went all the way out only to be met by low clouds and drizzle at Cambridge. No flying that day. Faced with 20 or so miserable air cadets our officers asked around if there was anything we could do at the airport. Cambridge airport was run by a company called Marshall's and at that time they were doing development work on the nose cone of the then only planned Concorde. We got a guided tour of the mock ups and saw a working version of it lowering and raising itself as it would for take off, landings and in flight configuration. Of course we had no idea what we were looking at or what it would be attached to. Wish I had taken some photos of it back then. 

My other memory of the Concorde was at Brize when I was going through the Air Movs Training School (and I suppose the RAFMS) when the Concorde used to use Brize for touch and go training for the crews. What a noise as that thing took off again and again. I seem to recall some people managed to get a joyride on it when it stopped in for those flights, but not me. 

A great aircraft, way ahead of its time and one that will never be seen again I think. 

Best regards, 

Andy Kay

 

From: John Bell, Cairns Qld., Australia johnjeanbell@optusnet.com.au
Date: 07 Nov 2003 23:33
Subject: UKMAMS Logbooks


Hi Tony,

Just reading Ian's letter on the keeping of log books. Sometime in the 70s I remember doing a task overseas with another team. As we came into the UK at the end of the task the inevitable travel claim forms were passed around and scrutinised, by me on this occasion, to make sure we all told the same lies. I queried one form with a guy on the other team (Cannot remember who) and we ended up comparing log books to resolve the different timings. This guy had clocked up over an hour more flying time than me despite our having flown on the same ac at the same time throughout. I started my time when the wheels left the deck and stopped when they touched down again. I cannot remember if this was the 'official way' or not but it did seem logical. The other guy, and I think a few of his team, started when the ac taxied off and ended when the ac stopped taxiing. Did anybody have any other methods used to time the hours we logged?

I can also remember having to rewrite a full team's set of claim forms so that they matched those of the operating crew, who showed a take off time some 10 or so minutes later than mine, giving them an extra allowance of some sort. 

Whilst I am in rambling mode and on a similar theme: I was lying down on a set of jump seats in the back of a Herc listening to the crew doing their steely eyed bit, using my own headset. The co-pilot called the Loadie and said something to the effect "Go and see if you can find one of those MAMS monkeys who looks like he knows how to read and get him to fill in their claim forms from the crew master form". I had a quiet chat with the Co-pilot later and did he go red, muttering something about 'shouldn't allow MAMS to have headsets'.

I think RAF Transport aircrew are wonderful people!

Keep the briefs coming Tony,

Regards 

John

 

From: Ned Nethercoat, Wirral, UK c.nethercoat@btinternet.com
Date: 08 Nov 2003 06:58
Subject: Khormaksar MAMS

I was really pleased to find your site. I found the Blackburn Beverly site first and then the UKMAMS site.

I was in the RAF from 1964/69 - the best times of which were when I was at RAF Khormaksar, in Aden, where I was an SAC., on one of the 6-man, Mobile Air Movements Squadron teams based there. I was actually one of those there till the very last day of the withdrawal, and on the very last aircraft out. During my tour of duty, two or three people from the MAMS detachment would go out on just about every air transport operation or exercise that took place, involving the movement of troops, supplies, equipment, machines, arms, munitions and casualties, anywhere and everywhere in the Arabian Peninsular and East Africa. Mostly on Beverley's, but occasionally on Argosy's too, if the strip would take them, particularly along the coastal route stations. 84 and 30 squadron were the Bevs, and 105 squadron (I think) the flying pigs. The MAMS role was to go with the aircraft to ensure the aircraft were loaded effectively and safely - i.e. with loads distributed safe to fly, and restrained against the right G factors, with any hazardous cargo properly secured or protected, and the entire cargo payload also positioned in the right place for rapid unloading, or a very quick turn round, often in hostile or primitive conditions. All whilst the AQMs served and made tea for the flying aircrew (joke, if any ex-AQMs read this!). 

My 9 yrs old boy recently started taking an interest in aircraft, and I had been looking out for Beverley material to show him for a while now, without much success at all until I found the Blackburn Beverley Association site. Of course he's mainly into Spitfires and Hurricanes at the moment, but when he saw a photo I downloaded from the BBA site he said is was "cool"! I'd love to show him over a real one - are there any left anywhere? Interestingly, the Cosford Aerospace Museum, does not feature the Beverley at all - not a picture or a mention anywhere, yet, as we know, the Bevs were the workhorses and tactical transport mainstay of their era, and certainly of most of the airborne ops whilst I was in Aden. 

I got to be very attached to those great lumbering beasts - despite their looks, I always felt safe in them and they were so perfect for their roles, I don't think the C130s were ever quite so versatile, or so well-fitted for tactical supply in difficult terrain, as were the Bevs. 

As well going all over South Arabia our teams had two quite long detachments to Embakasi (in Kenya) and in Ndola and Lusaka, in Zambia, whilst the oil-lift, following Rhodesia's declaration of UDI, was ongoing. We were turning round Argosies, Britannias, C130s, assorted other aircraft (Iike a Carvair, and others I now forget), all laden with either 45 gallon steel drums, or huge rubber drums of oil - that had come overland to Nairobi from Dar es Salaam. At Ndola the airport itself was protected by a flight of UK Javelins - from whom I am not sure, and the "Movements office" was a ten-foot square tin-roof hut, that we shared with the local Flying Doctor service. Once when off duty, we were roped into going out deep into the African Bush to help recover a wrecked light aircraft, and we met with mud-hut villagers who had never seen white people before. 

My usual "oppo" was Barry "Geordie" Fisher an ex-boy entrant. Barry and I were never really close friends around the billets and at MAMS HQ, (I was a bit of loner anyway) - but we shared a lot of experiences together and came to rely on and trust each other on the job - and I think we worked well as a team. Two other rankers I remember were Rod Packman and Alan Howe, with both of whom I shared a room. There might even have been a third team, as we were "Charlie" team, but my memory is getting a bit rusty for names and details that far back, it was over thirty years ago.

Each MAMS team also had two SNCOs, and a junior officer in charge, and on anything more than a "milk-run" trip one at least NCO would go also with us. The SNCOs, were no doubt also involved in planning and admin functions that we erks knew nothing about, and at least one would come with us on anything out of the ordinary, but for the bread and butter milk-runs (such up country re-supplies, or FRA troop movements) it was usually just two of us, and a corporal at most, getting up in the very early hours for a pre-dawn take-off, and back before the heat got too much and affected the flying. 

The officers I recall were F.O Nigel Sanders, Pilot Officer Paul Stamp, and Flying Officer Jock Drysdale, (who tended only to turn out only on the longer or more interesting trips!) and the o/i.c. was a Flight Lieutenant known as "Black Mac". One of the two sergeants was Tony Lamb, the other was John Mathews? And the flight sergeants, I don't remember their names, but two were both Irishmen, one of whom taught us the words to the songs "The West Claire Railway" and "The Wild Rover", which we would often belt after a few Tiger beers - and I think a later replacement for one of them was a Flt Sergeant Belcher. My two special mates at Khormaksar (not on MAMS), were Corporal Dick Lynn (who I knew from my days at RAF Cosford) a big chap, whose hobby was football refereeing, and an SAC John Cosgrove, not then on MAMS.

I think the most satisfying thing for all of us, is that, after a short while, even though every task was a bit different, nobody ever had to tell us what to do. We knew from experience what needed to be done and how - and even though as lowly airmen and not much more than boys in years - we each became confident enough to organise and manage teams of locals to do the back-breaking work, and those flight crews that knew us did not interfere. 

In Zambia, for example, there were some occasions when things were so busy, that I single-handedly marshalled in some of the arriving aircraft, managed the entire unloading of the oil, and back-loading of the empties, with only the help of a score of native labourers. Whilst another airman or corporal, would be doing the same elsewhere on the pan. On the oil-lift we took a competitive pride in turn-around times, including refuelling, that could sometimes be a quick twenty-five minutes. The further away from home station you got the less emphasis there was on rank or status, and the more there was on what you knew and were capable of doing. 

Our teams regularly went to a lot of interesting and exciting places including scores of sorties and detachments up-country, to Wadhi Behan, Mukalla, Muqueiras, Dhala etc, that became almost everyday trips. 90% of the trip on Bevs - Dhala in particular was a very tricky place to get into with sheer, steep cliffs at the end of the runway - and only the Bevs with their reverse pitch thrust could do it. Very occasionally, we were turned back from a flight up country because the pilot got a radio report that there were armed "dizzies" awaiting us in the hills. The intelligence came from SAS and "political officers" who were dotted about the countryside around our bases. 

Geordie and I, with Corporal John Moreland, (later replaced by Frank ?), also went on many re-supply trips along the coast route to Riyan, Salalah, Masirah Island and to Sharjah - in what was then known as the Trucial Oman States. The other teams members would have done very similar trips, but, of course, I only know about where we went and what we did, but Rod and Alan's stories would be just as varied. 

At Riyan, where an old Dakota did get in every now and then, we once did a grain supply trip and I vividly remember about ten or twelve locals, led by an old chap whose knee joint was bent sideways, unloading the sacks on their bare shoulders and chanting "Al Hamdu Lilla", incessantly as they worked. On this particular trip the Beverly captain had agreed to backload a huge volume of personal effects for the (British) Colonel of the Hadramat Bedouin Arab Legion, who was due to return to the UK after eight years in post. We loaded up his stuff and he thanked us all and gave everyone a Legion head-dress (kuffia and aqual) as a souvenir, and off we took. Two day later we learned he has been shot dead - by his own driver -on the grounds that he was abandoning the men who need his continued leadership.

Funny thing about most of those desert Arabs, they could very generous, loyal and hospitable, but they were also capable of deliberate cruelty and were merciless to their enemies. At Habilayn, an upcountry desert camp and airstrip, near the Yemen border, I heard a story, that says something about the way of life for some of the very poorest of those local people,.. An Arab came into the camp to ask for medical help for someone who had fallen into a well nearby. The man was asked where the casualty was now, and he said "still in the well, since yesterday". "But why didn't you tell us sooner?" he was asked - to which the answer was "I wasn't coming this way till today!" 

I did three quite long stints at Habilayn, where the enemy "belindicide?" rockets were coming in several times a week.. There were about 300 or more army chaps there, including SAS, supported by just a BASO and 2 RAF erks at any one time, handling Bevs, Andovers (I think), Wessex, Scouts and Sioux helicopters, Twin-pioneers and Beavers, with occasional Dakota visits, and also the odd Hunter strikes called up when a gang of "dizzies" had been spotted. Being on 24 hour call-out, we never did regular guard duties, or had to carry the old 303s, because whenever we were sent anywhere dodgy we strutted around with .38 S&W pistols, or sterling SMGs much of the time, and felt we were really into something. With good reason sometimes, because at Habilayn we came under "dissident" fire on many nights, mostly sporadic rifle fire, but also from rockets sometimes - which the British Army returned with mortars and GPMGs, and occasionally our 105s would open up, if they had a target, it could certainly get quite noisy, and a bit scary too. Especially if you were in the "shitehouse" at the time, which was mostly used after nightfall, as it was both very exposed, and rather too stinky during the day.

Once, when we were attacked really quite fiercely, I recall several of us were cowering in our dugouts, the tent shaking so much that one of our chap shouted it was "rubble falling on us, and we'll get a direct hit in minute". But not so - it was just a chap called "Skegs" Curran, who was so scared we couldn't get him to move into the "sanger" and so he was hiding under a bed, with his legs kicking against the walls of the tent! But they did kill some of us sometimes - The cookhouse got it once, which was just twenty yards from where we slept.

I well recall another incident, at Habilayn, when a bunch of Marines had been brought up country, for the experience of it, and somehow an anti-tank weapon they were being shown (which I think was normally detonated from a protective pit in the ground) went off by accident and killed nine or ten of them by the blast. I'd seen the flash and bang from our side of the camp, and minutes later could just make out people scurrying around unusually. We alerted a Wessex crew, who were on standby in the next tent, and as soon they found out what had happened I went with them to the gun-site about a mile way from the camp.... they were all dead and laying just as they fell. Funny thing was I lifted three or four of them myself, I remember it was as if they weighed no more than sleeping children - must be the adrenalin. After they were checked over by an M.O., the bodies were brought out onto the strip again and lined up on their stretchers, in the heat of the Aden sun, and impromptu guard of honour was formed. It was brought to attention, by some hairy-arsed RSM, whilst the bodies were loaded into a Wessex, to go back down to Khormaksar. Then, as the last one went in, a bugler played the Last Post. The remembrance of that moment still gets my neck hairs going even now.

My team also so did one long trip down to Lethsoso and Botswana, in two Bevs, for their independence celebrations, with a glorious few weeks living off the hog at the George Hotel, Manzini, in Swaziland. As far as I remember the route was via Mombasa, Lourenco Marques, to Matsapa? then on to both the capitals for their respective Independence Days, with a contingent of UK bandsmen and foreign office on types on board, flown in to mark the occasion. I also somehow got to see something of Madagascar on the return trip - I think because we could not get into Lourenco Marques. 

I also remember a couple of trips to a place called Assab, by the Red Sea, when we were picking up foodstuffs that had be dumped there and collected, for some political because the Suez Canal was impassable, (I think) but I forget the exact reason. 

Another time, at short notice we had to take a squad of FRA (Federal Republican Army) soldiers, (our side) and some British soldiers chaps, to bail out the local pro-British Sheik on the Island of Socotra, who was being got at by some "dizzies" who had sailed out from the mainland. We landed and all spread with guns at the ready, to protect the aircraft, while some young officer, led his platoon and their FRA backup into the nearby township. An hour later, without a shot being fired they emerged with prisoners in tow - the captives and the FRA seemingly on the best of terms, the prisoners made a pile of their weapons and we took them all back to the mainland. I heard later they'd been beheaded, but I don't know if it was true.

Several times we got to fly and work on a Belfast, but in general most of the shorter sorties were in Beverly aircraft. 

Of course whilst we "blue jobs" were swanning around in aeroplanes, the real everyday action was in and around the strategic centres and townships, such as the notorious Crater District, where the army patrols would be getting shot at many times every day, especially in the last months. But it was not always like that. At the start of my tour at Aden we used to be able to go swimming in the sea to Elephant Bay, beyond Steamer Point, but later as things got tighter we were recommended not to go far at all. On one of my rare later recreational visits downtown, along the Maalla shopping strip (later known as the Murder Mile), on my 21st birthday, our own small group was sniped at from a nearby building - that made it memorable.

I think we were supplemented by some UK MAMS chaps towards the end, the names escape me now, but I do remember, coming in from off a Beverley flight, and on opening the clamshells and lowering the ramps - seeing a gang of pasty-faced, white-kneed newcomers waiting there.. On asking a rather plump chap among them, to put the pegs into the anti-tip strut for me, I was met with a torrent of "who the F--- do you think you are.." type abuse. That was my first meeting with Jimmy Hill, (who l later found out was a very experienced air mover already) and unbeknown to me J.H. never did not take kindly to being told what to do - but when we worked together at Benson, later, we got on very well together but has was always one to, shall we say, speak his mind.. 

After the close-down of Khormaksar, when Aden became the Peoples Republic of South Yemen, I ended up spending a further six months in Bahrain. From there making two or three trips into Jeddah and Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia, taking in radar cabins, and up to Kuwait a coupe of times and into Teheran once, I forget why. And once we took part in a exercise on Yas Island in the Gulf, that was early-aborted, because the paratroopers and other soldiers taking part could not cope with the 140 degrees heat. 

But by then I was ready to come home. It was not the same at Muharraq, it was more humid, there was less to do, and there was not the sense of purpose that we felt in Aden. Also whilst in Aden the MAMS teams were the envy of many on the camp, because of the variety in our roles, and because we were we excused parades and guard duties and worked unusual hours. Up at Muharraq we were just incomers - with no privileges, living in the transit billet, and resented a bit by some of the movers already there - can't blame them, we got all the interesting jobs and must have seemed a bit cocky.

Khormaksar was for a while, the busiest airport in the world, because it was also a civil airport and a route station to the Far East for civil and military aircraft of several countries and governments. I remember a few very tense hours once when an Air India passenger jet could not get its landing gear down, and so it stacked around for hours, to use up its fuel, before a crash-landing without wheels. It was smoky, but fairly quiet as it slid along on its belly, but it ran out of runway and went through the perimeter fence in the sea (maybe that was the plan) and came to rest twenty yards out into the shallow water. I was there with a fire crew, and, miraculously, nobody was hurt, except the pilot who was only bruised - but he did a terrific job to get them down so safely.

In the last few weeks of RAF Khormaksar we were all very busy bringing back stuff from up country for shipping anything worth taking, back to the UK or up to RAF Muharraq. But to see that great hive of activity being so rapidly run down and stripped of everything useful, first by us, and then by the locals, was more than a little sad. My understanding of the politics of it is still a bit hazy but, though an orderly one, it was still an ignominious withdrawal. We'd been forced out by sustained terrorist activity by FLOSY and the NLF, but as soon as the British did leave the place quickly descended into inter-factional fighting and chaos. Despite that, such is the way of international politics, that I found myself, whilst then stationed up in Bahrain, going back to Aden again, in a C130, not long after we were kicked out, supplying the new government with boxed JP trainer aircraft! 

And perhaps my only personal small claim to a place in history derives from those few weeks, when as the very last RAF serviceman out of Aden - just one step ahead of a Major Gen Philip Tower, who was C. in C. Middle East, I was also the very first uniformed serviceman (as far as I know) to set foot in Aden again - on the first flight back. When we were not sure it if was safe to land or not, but as soon as we stopped moving, and the side doors opened, I jumped out -in order or to claim that dubious distinction before anyone else could do so. 

After my tour I heard it said that there were many more incidents of bombs, explosive sabotage, sniping etc., in the Aden campaign, that any other "peacetime" engagement, including N. Ireland. Though far fewer fatalities than N.I., but of course as the "enemy" had a different skin colour, and we lived largely behind barbed wire, security was easier to maintain. So, having had all this excitement, (I was still only twenty one) it was bit of a come-down to to end up at RAF Benson, in the Ops Centre, doing Argosy "trim sheets! 

I have still got quite a few old photos, which I will get around to scanning sometime and send you - many with Beverleys in the background and of Beverley interiors - and I am now enthused enough to dig them out and try and make some order of them, so will contact you again when that happens. 

Inshallah


J4276154 SAC "Ned" Nethercoat C. R.


1964/69 - My postings.

RAF Innsworth - Square bashing

RAF Kirton in Lindsey -Supplier A. training

RAF Cosford - Permanent staff at SCAF

RAF Abingdon - Short training detachment for Air Movements training

RAF Khormaksar in Aden - MAMS service

RAF Muharraq in Bahrain - MAMS service

RAF Benson - Load Control in Ops Centre.

Demobbed July 1969

 

UK ARMED FORCES IN CASH CRISIS

Britain's armed forces are facing an unprecedented financial crisis, with the prospect of across-the-board cuts that could threaten future military operations.

So serious are the budgetary problems, say military sources, that a freeze on recruitment has been suggested but abandoned - apparently on the grounds it would be too embarrassing and send the wrong message.

Defence officials are frantically looking for other ways to cut running costs, such as holding fewer training exercises and reducing or delaying orders for equipment.

These could have a serious effect on operational effectiveness and morale, say defence officials. They add that savings on forthcoming long-term projects would not help solve the immediate crisis.

The Ministry of Defence admitted yesterday that it was negotiating with the Treasury what it called "adjustments" to this year's £31bn budget.

Officials concede this means cuts, but refuse to say how much or where they will fall.

 

From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury, UK Jhy122@btinternet.com
Date: 08 Nov 2003 17:06
Subject: Jack's Joyride

Hi Tony

Thanks for another superb issue of OB Briefs. Looking at Jack's contribution re Northolt and his joyride thru the London barrage balloons I searched up a bit of info.

Northolt as we all know was the base for the Polish Squadrons during the Battle of Britain and I imagine there were other continental flyers there who had escaped the Germans too.

As to what the aircraft was that he took his trip in could have been a Koolhoven FK58;this was a Dutch aircraft built for both the Dutch and Belgian air forces but not in great numbers

It’s the 8th RAF Mauripur reunion this coming weekend at Stratford on Avon which I am looking forward to; I'm told that there are 100 members and wives attending so it should be as good as the previous ones and so there should be a few more memories unlocked for us to enjoy.

I hope that the Beverley is saved; there's plenty of room at Cosford now; they could even have a Concorde !!!

At this very moment I’m watching The Festival of Remembrance from The Albert Hall; as usual the RAF band very smart and have not missed a note.

Cheers

jhy

 

From: Ian Newlands, Didcot, UK ian.newlands@ntlworld.com
Date: 09 Nov 2003 10:41
Subject: Re: OBB 110703

Hi Tony

Good to see the OBA has picked up with the contributions but may I say the ex pat OZZIES are hogging the site so come on you Brits - get your fingers out and on the keyboard!!! I'm sure there are a wealth of stories ripe for the telling out there. Anyway Tony here are  some more "Funnies for the Weekend #3"

 

A man walks into the Doctors for his Annual medical and the Doc says "Do you know that you have some lettuce sticking out of your bum?"

"Lettuce?" says the man, "that's nothing it's just the tip of the iceberg"
_____________________________

Three smiling corpses are lying in the morgue and the detective asks the Coroner to state the cause of death for each of them.

The Coroner points to the first body "This is Fred," he says. "He died after winning £10 million on the Lottery."

He goes to the second smiling corpse. "This is Jim," he says with a smirk on his face," He died after spending all night having sex with a super model."

Finally he moves on to the last smiling corpse. "This is old Bill," says the Coroner. "He died after being struck by lightning."

"Well", asks the detective. "why the heck was he smiling?"

"Oh," says the Coroner, "he thought he was having his picture taken."

___________________________________

A man saves a patient from drowning and on hearing this the Chief Physician of the hospital calls the man in to thank him for his valiant efforts.

"Mr Smith," says the Doctor "your records and your heroic behaviour indicate that you are ready to go home. I'm only sorry that the man you saved was later found with a rope around his neck.

"Oh he didn't kill himself," Mr Smith replied, "I hung him up to dry!"
_____________________________________

A rabbi and a priest are involved in a bad car crash and both vehicles are a total write-off. Nobody is injured but the rabbi spots the priest's collar as he climbs out from the wreck.

"So," said the rabbi, "you are a Man of God and I am a Man of God and look at our cars. God must have intended us to meet and become lifelong friends."

"I agree," said the priest, "you will be my closest friend for evermore."

The rabbi goes back to his wrecked car and returns with a bottle of Morgan David wine, unbroken. "Look at this," the rabbi says, "another miracle already, let us seal our new friendship with a drink"

The priest takes the bottle and downs a good long swig and passes it to the rabbi.

The rabbi hands it back "Are you not having any?" said the priest.

"No, I think I will just wait for the police......."
______________________________________ 

Well Tony, that's it for the weekend 

Have a good one

Foddy (Ian) Newlands

 

From: Duncan Andrews, Wroughton, UK duncan.andrews@usa.net
Date: 09 Nov 2003 18:46
Subject: The Basrah Detachment

Tony,

I've just moved house and have also been posted to the C-17 Movs Evaluation Office at Brize, at least now the number plate my wife bought me for my birthday makes sense: C17 MOV, yes I know it's very sad!

After my 10 weeks at Basrah prior to it becoming a 4 month detachment I have a few pictures of the place to share with people. It looks like an international airport from the outside but from the inside it's very different:
The baggage hall before the belt went u/s (stay with it the images get better).

Now the pax have to carry their bags whilst following a bodge tape line laid from the check-in desk to the baggage hall!

SAC Robbo Robinson and SAC Russ Gascoigne are seen on trolley stacking duties!

I've just completed the Joint Service Job Evaluation process, I found myself completing 15 pages in answer to the questions in the JE questionnaire followed by an interview, fingers crossed we might see some ranks within the trade get up-banded, who knows? 

Something I was unable to comment on as it is not our "core business" but happens, as we all know, all the time was our handling of every other bugger's aircraft when we are deployed (or for that matter dealing with them at LYE or BZZ). An example is this AN-124 carrying who know what and which just happens to land at Basrah at unspecified times and intervals (walls have ice cream and all that)

 

By using a "borrowed" Container Handling Rough Terrain (CHRT) forklift we were able to offload containers and load them to the waiting vehicles.

SAC "Hadders" Hadfield shows his driving skills


It's a shame we don't have access to something like this all the time as it makes working around a deployed base so much easier (do many senior officers/policy makers/higher level budget holders read this?) 

Our lads were far better at driving this beast than the so called "expert" army driver that appeared on odd occasions to drive it!


The new replacement for the JCB performed well, but like all UK vehicles it overheated when used in the middle of the day in 50+ degrees C! 

The increased airflow in this one due to the front screen having been broken and the doors removed was nothing to do with Al Stacey's driving, honest Gov!


The cargo office looks well found but with the constant power cuts and the heat it was less than comfortable


View towards tower and cargo hanger from under the wing of an AN 225


This is Sqn Ldr Martin Logan, OC UKMAMS detachment and me in Umm Qasr - no, I haven't put on weight - it's the body armour! 

Sqn Ldr Martin was the first non-UKMAMS four month detachment "volunteer".

Umm Qasr, pronounced "um caz-zar" or "Umm C" for short, is the location of the Joint Force Logistics Component (JFLogsC) for Op TELIC and the nearest port to Basrah, about 1 1/2 hours drive away.


Here is a picture of my wife and the man in her life (I know my place!) 

"Kilroy" has been with us since Cyprus.  This picture was taken just before Pauline was detached to Basrah as a Corporal auxiliary mover on 5 November 03.

 

Did you serve in any of the following conflicts; Palestine, Malaya, Kenya, Cyprus or Aden?

If so the BBC would be very grateful for your help in researching a major documentary series.

If you have a story to tell please contact Charles Young on 020 87524610 or email: charles.young@bbc.co.uk 

 

From: Jack Riley, Urangan Qld., Australia jjriley@ozconnect.net
Date: 09 Nov 2003 19:19
Subject: Power and Corruption

Dear Tony,

Writing in the 15th Century the much-maligned Machiavelli wrote, "It should be noted... how easily men are corrupted and in nature transformed, however good they may be and however well taught"

We need look no further than our own lifetime to find examples of power and corruption. Not just corruption in an economic sense but corruption of the soul. It seems not to matter where one looks but our modern world sees corruption of church, of state, of business, of sport, of the individual.

There was a time when most children were raised in stable, loving homes, where property was sacrosanct, where truth was king, where a man's word was his bond, where leaders, whether they be teachers or politicians, were respected. Such values have given way to a hedonistic society. 

We have seen the rise of super powers enforcing their will, in the name of their people, by use of arms or threat. Dictators have come and gone. Man’s inhumanity to man continues unabated. despite the lessons of Hiroshima or the Holocaust. In China and India populations explode as elsewhere do the numbers of the starving, the AIDS- infected, the refugee, the homeless. 

Well-intentioned organizations such as the League of Nations and the United Nations have become toothless tigers subservient to national interests. Even their Agencies are under threat.

World religions, mostly founded on the precepts of love and humanity, now misuse the name of their religion as justification for war. There is nothing new in this but the situation worsens by the day.

Hand in hand with these changes we have seen rapid declines in morality, decency, and good taste such that many of our young have few worthwhile guidelines. In this the media ,whilst arguing that it merely follows social patterns, have done little to maintain standards. How little good is there when measured against the bad and the ugly ?

So where do we go from here? The easy way is to accept things as they are and to salve our conscience by assuring ourselves that there is nothing we, as individuals can do to bring about change. 

But there is an alternative. The good news is that there are still more of 'us' than 'them’. The first step is to put our personal life in order and to set an example in our home. Violence, anger, and strife are out : peace, love, honesty, fairness and reasonableness are in. The second step is to stand up for the things we believe in, at the ballot box, in the media, in our public life. There is truth in the old adage, "The pen is mightier than the sword." We should bombard any organization, church, state, or business with letters demanding action or change. Always address the man at the top, by name if possible. The third is to spread the word so that your efforts build into a groundswell of public opinion.

Those of us who have been at the sharp end know at first hand the horror and futility of warfare as a solution .There is a better way and you can help to bring it about. 

If we really are to build a better world for our children we must always bear in mind that all man seeks is a safe environment... food, shelter and peace.

Fight corruption wherever you find it.

 

From: Shuggie Shewan, Crabair, UK shuggie_shewan@hotmail.com
Date: 10 Nov 2003 15:31
Subject: Closure of the CRABAIR Bar

Tony,

I hope you don’t think this an intrusion, but I would like to pass on some information that your readers might find ‘INTERESTING’. It concerns a subject that will be close to a lot of people’s hearts.

On the 26 Nov 03 at RAF Aldergrove, there will be a committee meeting of the Crab Air Bar and at this meeting the future of the bar will be decided. As some of the OBA members might be aware, about two years ago the Air Movements Flight over here was amalgamated into the ‘Joint Transport & Movements Sqn’. [Along with Jt MT Flt and Surface Movements Troop [SMT] (Army Movers)]. 

As the owners of the only Flight bar within the Joint Movements Sqn, everything was ticking along fine for the AMF & SMT until there was a change of personalities within the MT Flt and it now seems that the bar has become a Sqn asset with the profits being split 3 ways. Not sure how legal this [hostile] takeover is and to be honest, I don’t think there is much the lads can do to stop it, but as I know a lot of OBA members have been over here, I thought it only right to let you all know what is occurring. 

At the committee meeting, to formally comply with the bar’s constitution, there will be a vote on the future of the bar.
The options open to the guy’s [and girls] are as follows

Option 1. Acceptance of the MT proposal to buy into the STOCK ONLY of £600:00.

[AMF & SMT would match with existing stock or cash equivalent]

[Profits from all stock would then be divided between all parties] 


Option 2. To formally disband the bar, selling of all bar assets.

[Beer fridges, Stereo, Ice Machine & dishwasher]

[All profits/loses to be split between AMF & SMT]


What I would like to ask is that if anybody out there has any views on this that they would like the current members of the AMF RAF Aldergrove to hear, then please send them to me. I will ensure lads get to see all messages and they will then be passed to the current Officer i/c [FS Neil Cutler]

Shuggie Shewan

 

Spain provoked a diplomatic row with Britain yesterday (03 November 2003) by closing the border with Gibraltar for the first time in nearly two decades, ostensibly as a health precaution after the virus-stricken Aurora cruise ship docked in the colony.

The move, seen in Britain and Gibraltar as a blatant act of political harassment, re-ignited the dispute over Spain's claim to sovereignty.

It also injected new tension in relations between London and Madrid, usually close partners in the European Union and close allies over the war in Iraq.

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, called Ana Palacio, his Spanish counterpart, for what British officials described as a "robust" conversation. In public, Mr Straw said: "I regret the action by the Spanish government, which is unnecessary and disproportionate."

Mr Straw said the decision to withhold the passports of those who went ashore was "a perfectly adequate safeguard" to ensure that no one could cross into Spain.

Ana Pastor, Spain's health minister, said the frontier had been closed as a preventative measure "so that no Spanish citizen runs any kind of risk".

When the ship left for Southampton last night, the border was re-opened, but the incident left a sour taste. It was the first time Spain had closed the border since 1985, when it was opened following a 16-year closure.

Peter Caruana, Gibraltar's chief minister, described the Spanish as "outrageous" and said: "I think that if Spain was not claiming sovereignty of Gibraltar the frontier would not be closed."

Gibraltar accused Spain of harassing the colony by imposing lengthy border checks, restricting telephone lines, refusing to recognise its territorial waters and preventing air traffic from using Spanish air space.

 

From: Jack Riley, Urangan Qld., Australia jjriley@ozconnect.net
Date: 10 Nov 2003 19:31
Subject: Falklands

Hi Tony,

I see Dave Barton is off to the Falklands for a few weeks "to appease the better half." Do we presume he's leaving the better half in the UK?

Regards

Jack

 

From: Dave Yeoman, Suffolk, UK Jndantiquesx3@aol.com
Date: 11 Nov 2003 15:25
Subject: Re: Old Boys Briefs

Hi Tony,

Great to have the Briefs back running again, was suffering withdrawal symptoms and resorting to reading the archives!

Anyway my reason for the e-mail. A couple of weeks ago, chatting to a couple of ex-service types whilst polishing off the odd dram, we got to talking about things we remembered from our service days. For some reason we got onto motors (as blokes tend to do) and a memory came flooding back of my time at Lyneham back in the late 60's.

At the time I was transferred to the Movements section as they were short of SNCO's whilst Supply was awash with us. Of course not being Movements qualified at the time I was placed in the Cargo hanger on I think possibly D shift. The time was around the mid 67/68 period as I went on a Movements course at Abingdon later in 68. Needless to say, having passed the course, went back into Supply until I was posted to Bahrain. Anyway I digress, does anyone remember a Rolls Royce saloon (Maroon) I think which turned up in the shed either en-route to the Rolls Royce works for modification/repair or for onward routing back to its owner the late Shah of Persia?

Can any light be thrown on this, especially with regard to how it was transported back to its then owner. Fairly certain that the C130's were operating from the base at that time and as I had the pleasure(?) of unloading and loading one at Muharraq in 69/70 that the Beverley was still in operation. Couldn't see it going on a Britannia though perhaps someone knows how it could. Nothing riding on this by way of drinks etc., just the fact that it may help to prove at least one mover, albeit static, still hasn't quite lost his marbles!

Although its early may I take this opportunity to wish you and Movers everywhere, a very merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Dave Yeoman

 

Date: Jim Aitken, Brisbane Qld., Australia jayay@pacific.net.au
From: 12 Nov 2003 16:14
Subject: National Service Day 2004

Hi Tony

In true Mover fashion I 'scrounged' this 'date claimer' from an ex-service newsgroup and I thought some of the ex National Service OBA's might be interested. For information the newsgroup the web site is http://www.usenet.org.uk/uk.people.ex-forces.html.

Regards

Jim Aitken
_____________

June 27th 2004, the last Sunday in June, has already been designated National Service Day to commemorate the 3.7Million men who served their country with National Service.

The National Service (Royal Air Force) Association are arranging, planning, organising a massive parade, march past and other events at Cosford.

This will be combined with a Reunion Weekend I am in the process of organising. Keep an eye on this newsgroup and I will post details as and when known.

The National Service (Royal Air Force) Association have just had a cracking reunion in Scarborough. The hotel, the visit to the Eden Camp, the visit to York Air Museum were nothing less than superb.

Watch this space as they say, and you too could do as others did, meet up with your old pals after 50 years! (Yes it happened on Sunday at York Air Museum during a massive Buffet Lunch)

 

An Englishman, an Australian and an Arab were in a bar talking about their families.

The Englishman said, "I have ten kids at home and if I had another one I would have a soccer team."

The Aussie said, "I have 14 kids at home and with another I would have a rugby team."

The Arab said, "That is very nice, but I have 17 wives at home and if I married another one I would have a golf course!"

 

Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend!

Best regards

Tony