22 November 2002


New members joining us this week are:

Mac (John) MacIntosh from Peterborough, UK

Bill Cundall from Selby, UK

Welcome to the OBA!


From:     Fred Martin, Godalming, UK
Date:      15 Nov 2002 06:02
Subject:  OBB 111502

Dear Tony,

Re: Charles Collier’s brief on Nicosia 1962/3 where you commented about the bad English Winter.

I can confirm that Charles was right, the bad winter was 1962/3. It started just after Xmas 1962 and went on until March 1963. I know because I missed it!

I was at the time sunning myself on the glorious golden beaches of Aden reading letters from my family telling me just how bad the UK weather was. I looked around at the lush vegetation and the beautiful landscape, felt the warm breezes, smelt the lovely aromas emanating from exotic places like Crater, Sheik Othman and Maalla and I thought to myself, “What a lucky guy you are!”

I also clearly recall seeing a photo of a Britannia covered with snow at Lyneham. The Photo was in the RAF Magazine (I can’t remember what the magazine was called) with the caption, “No doubt there are airmen serving abroad who wish they were back in the UK.”

Yes, too flipping right there were, me included!

Great website Tony, keep up the good work

Best Wishes

Fred Martin

[Ed: Thanks for putting me straight on that one Fred, although I would think that, judging by your description of Aden, your memory 'aint what it used to be either!]


From:     Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
Date:      16 Nov 2002 04:19
Subject:  Notice Board


I don't know if you are aware but with the new Notice Board page you can no longer press on a line and the page comes up.

KOS is an abbreviation for "Knackered Old Sh**s".

Finally, is it too late to include a notice mentioning the fact that there is a 'Meet & Greet' at the RAFA Club Swindon next Friday 22nd November, all welcome.

Cheers for now,


[Ed:  Thanks Ian.  With regards to the Notice Board missing page links, it would take a long time to replace the links in that page after I moved it to the new server. Then I would have to change them again every time I moved something else over to the new server.  As soon as the dust has settled after the move I will revamp them.]


From:     Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
To:         Distribution List
Date:      17 Nov 2002 12:06
Subject:  (P1949835) Derek Farrant

Dear All,

At a recent El Adem reunion I was asked by a 'long' retired colleague if I knew Derek Farrant who was an ex-Supplier/Mover who served on UKMAMS and was also at Swanton Morley in the early 70s. On doing some research I discovered he was an ex-brat from the 50th Entry.

I have also discovered that he served on UKMAMS at Abingdon between May 1970 and April 1971. He was discharged from the RAF on 6 May 1974.  I wonder if anyone out there can throw any light on Derek?  Even a locale from whence he originated can help me with my search.


[Ed: I believe Derek was from Norwich.  We have the 50th Entry reunion slated for September 2003, although I gather that quite a few of the lads have been having pre-reunion practice sessions!]


From:     Charles Collier, Marlborough, UK
Date:      17 Nov 2002 17:22
Subject:  A Trip to Carlisle Airport 1963

Hello Tony, this is yet another story from my corporal days!

We were detailed to travel to Crosby-in-Eden airfield near Carlisle to attend to an Avro Anson that had landed, and attempted to taxi to the dispersal, but before it arrived its’ undercarriage was retracted! So it was sitting on it's belly.

We were warned that accommodation was difficult but the chaps at RAF Carlisle MU would do their best. They were a civilian manned unit with RAF equipment officers in management, so only an officer’s mess existed which naturally was not available to us.

We travelled to Crosby-in-Eden and were met by a very dapper and correct RAF squadron leader with a handlebar moustache who welcomed us to Carlisle. He had arranged for a crane and ground power for the Anson so our job was quite easy. The aircraft was craned up, and with the power unit attached the undercarriage was lowered, locked and settled on the ground. There was minimal damage which we were able to correct that evening.

The good squadron leader had explained that as no accommodation was available from RAF resources and that he noted that we had safari beds he had arranged with a Carlisle boarding house for our night stop using these beds.

We ventured round to the address with our beds and knocked on the door. The landlady met us and explained that her house was full but knowing our circumstances she was prepared to put us up in the TV lounge when her guests had departed after the Queen (as it was in those days) closing the TV for the night.

So she suggested the we might like to have a wash and brush up and then go and see the highlights of the town returning at about 11 o'clock when she would make arrangements for our night stop. This we did and had the usual sampling of the local beer returning at the due hour.

The landlady opened the door and welcomed us in making the TV lounge available for our safari beds. She went on to explain that although she thought all the guests had gone to bed, if anybody was still left out they would come in by the TV lounge window! She then left. My sergeant said that he would sleep below the window and wo-betide anybody trying to climb in, they would get his fist between their eyes! We all felt comforted by this.

Anyway, the morning arrived, there were no unwanted arrivals, and we made our way to the washroom where we all prepared and then went into breakfast.  To our complete astonishment and surprise there were many couples there of all ages but all MALE!  Each couple was completely infatuated with their partner, oblivious to our presence. We could hardly keep our composure but nevertheless managed to have breakfast and depart.

We motored back to the airport and were met by the Carlisle squadron leader. He asked us how we had enjoyed the night stop and I said that it had been rather interesting, given that he had put us up in a homosexual brothel!

"My god" he said, “we've used that address many times before but it will now be deleted from our list.”

We thanked him nevertheless - he had done his best and we saw how vast human life is and extends for some!

Another story next week - keep smiling


[Ed:  Thanks Charles. I can’t wait to find out what other trouble you got yourself into!]


A tourist walked into a pet store and was looking at the animals on display. While he was there, a warrant officer from the local Royal Air Force station walked in and said to the shopkeeper, "I'll take a maintenance monkey, please."

The man nodded, went to a cage at the side of the store and took out a monkey. He put a collar and leash on the animal and handed it the warrant officer saying, "That'll be £2,500.00 please."

The warrant officer paid and left with the monkey.

Surprised, the tourist went to the shopkeeper and said, "That was a very expensive monkey. Most of them are only a few hundred pounds. Why did that one cost so much?"

The shopkeeper answered, "Ah, that maintenance monkey, he can perform the duties of any Corporal Technician with no back talk or complaints. It's well worth the money."

The tourist spotted a monkey in another cage. "That one's even more expensive, £5,000.00! What does it do?" 

"Oh, that one is a ‘Maintenance Supervisor’ monkey; it can instruct at all levels of maintenance, supervise maintenance at the unit, intermediate, and MU level, and even do most of the paperwork. A very useful monkey indeed," replied the shopkeeper.

The tourist looked around a little longer and found a third monkey in a cage. The price tag read £50,000.00. The shocked tourist exclaimed, "That one costs more than all the others put together! What in the world could it do?"

The shopekeeper answered, "Well, I've never actually seen him do anything but drink beer and play with himself, but his papers say he's a Pilot!


From:     Jack Riley, Urangan Qld., Australia
To:         Air Mail
Date:      18 Nov 2002 20:21
Subject:  Recruitment - Letter to the Editor

I have been looking at Gateway, the magazine of Royal Air Force Brize Norton, October 2002.  I looked for, and could not find, mention of a friend who retired that month after 29 years of service.
I made enquiries and discovered that:

a.  He was not dined out
b.  He received no farewell gift
c.  He went formally unthanked
d.  He arranged his own farewell party
However strong his feelings for the service I cannot see him recommending the Royal Air Force as a career to those he meets in civilian life.
May I suggest that Commanding Officers be reminded of their responsibilites to those who have given a lifetime of service. If nothing else it should be a matter of courtesy.
Squadron Leader


From:     Bill Cundall, Selby, UK
Date:      18 Nov 2002 21:04
Subject:  Does anyone remember?

I worked on air movements in Aden, Baharain, Changi and Akrotiri. I would love to get in contact with Flying Officer Maggie Davies (ex Changi) or anyone else that remembers me.



[Ed:  Welcome to the OBA Bill.   I do believe you are the first MT type to join our ranks.]


Rumour corner….   You didn’t hear it from me, but…

Britain's contribution to any war on Iraq has been thrown into disarray because it will take "up to three months" to prepare the Army's Challenger 2 tanks for desert warfare, defence sources said yesterday.

Infuriated military commanders have also been told that the Army does not have enough spares and ammunition in stock and will have to go on to the open market to have any chance of getting them in time.
Challenger tanks failed during exercises in Oman last year. The problems throw further doubt on the deployment of British tanks. The Ministry of Defence has denied reports that the Treasury tried to stop a "light" armoured division being used on the grounds of cost.

Defence chiefs believe that, with the Republican Guard expected to use its T72 tanks to protect Baghdad, it would be irresponsible and dangerous to mount an attack without tank protection.

The MoD was heavily criticised after a cost-cutting decision to overrule military commanders and cancel modification of tanks taking part in an exercise in Oman last year led which to disaster as half of them ground to a halt in the desert.

Maj-Gen Rob Fulton, a senior MoD capability manager, told MPs last month that it was considering "desertising" 234 tanks, enough for two armoured brigades.

But senior defence sources said Vickers, which sub-contracts production of the parts involved, told the MoD that it had none in stock and the work would take up to three months. Vickers refused to confirm or deny the allegation.

The MoD also did not deny it, but insisted: "If we have to go down the military route we will ensure we have all the equipment we need to carry out our task."

The British contribution to any US attack on Iraq is expected to include a "light" armoured division centred on 7 Armoured Brigade and elements of 4 Armoured Brigade to be based in Kuwait with four US divisions.

The shortage of parts and ammunition was caused by Treasury-driven attempts to cut costs. The armed forces once stockpiled all the spare parts and equipment they needed, but now order them only when they need them.

This might work for a force that never had to fight, defence sources say, but it was always likely to break down when troops needed to deploy quickly.

Bernard Jenkin, shadow defence secretary, said that, despite its increasing demands on the armed forces, the Government was failing to pay for the equipment they needed.

"Events are constantly showing that the Government is unprepared even for any foreseen events," he said. "There is nothing left in the kitty for the unexpected."

MoD officials initially said the Government was waiting for the United Nations resolution on Iraq to be agreed before ordering any troops to deploy, and then that it was waiting for Saddam Hussein to accept weapons inspectors.

But despite Saddam's announcement that he would allow inspectors to go to Iraq, sources said deployment orders have still not been received and are not expected for at least a week.


From:     Alan Liptrot, Wigan, UK
Date:      19 Nov 2002 12:08
Subject:  Phil's comments on SA80

Hiya Tony,

Following Phil Clarke’s comments about Royal Ordnance and the SA80, there is more to it than you may be aware of.

I worked for Royal Ordnance for almost 20 years, most of the time in both production management and R&D capacities.

The modifications to the original weapon (which became the SA80) were due to MoD (customer) requirements, and to external pressures from other NATO countries. This resulted in a less than satisfactory compromise in the resulting weapon, although it did conform to customer specification. Here's a short history of the beast.

Early researches into a small calibre assault rifle indicated that a 4.85 mm projectile allied to the case of the American 5.56 mm round would be an ideal choice and a new weapon.  The Individual Weapon XL65E5, was produced and demonstrated.

The Individual Weapon (IW) seemed to be an ideal rifle for the British army, but they were foiled in their project. NATO decided that any new cartridge would have to be the standard round for all the NATO nations, and each nation had its 'pet' cartridge and weapon project. The result was one of the most exhaustive series of small-arms trials ever carried out over a number of years.

Although the 4.85-mm round and the IW performed very well it soon became obvious that the extensive production facilities already set up to churn out the M193 5.56 mm round would be the final factor in the choice of the winner. The outcome was the selection of a Belgian round, the 5.56-mm SS109, and this marked the end of the 4.85-mm IW.

But all was not lost for the IW. Despite the choice of a new NATO standard round, every nation involved decided to stick to its’ own choice of weapon design. The UK thus went ahead with the IW, rechambered to take the new SS1O9 cartridge. The result was the IW XL7OE3

After undergoing troop trials, production got under way in 1984 as the SA80. The last series of modifications to the SA80 were carried out by Heckler & Koch (now a subsidiary of BAe), the RSAF at Enfield (the original developers) having been closed by BAe.

Another example of 'shifting goalposts' was the LAW80 anti tank weapon. MoD, via Hunting Engineering - the prime contractor - once again kept changing the requirements during the development phase.

I was involved with both projects, intimately with the LAW80, although to a lesser degree with the SA80.

As a footnote, Royal Ordnance was sold to BAe as a profitable concern. BAe at the time were busy acquiring several companies such as Ballast Needham Construction and Rover cars. BAe lost vast amounts of money on both Ballast Needham and Rover, both have since been sold or otherwise disposed of.

After BAe bought RO, the only part of the BAe empire to turn a regular profit was the RO branch, with the ammunition division contributing the majority of the support. The ammunition division has since been broken up, and the majority of the work 'farmed out' to various companies. Large calibre shell filling was given to Simmel in Italy for example. I got the personal impression that the work was given in return for co-operation, or to generate orders, for BAe's prime concern of aircraft.

'nuff said for now, see ya



From:     Duncan Andrews, Wroughton, UK
Date:      21 Nov 2002 19:24
Subject:  Top Table Lunch 29 Nov 02


As you may be aware the roof blew off G Wing of the SNCOS' Mess at Lyneham during the high winds we experienced recently. Because of this the Mess cannot offer any rooms for the Mover’s Top Table lunch being held on Fri 29 Nov 02. 

All is not lost however, thanks to the sterling efforts of FS Taff Wood, we have obtained the use of the Tac Med Wing block for the night, so if anyone requires accommodation please contact either me or Taff at:     or

Telephone 01249 89 7422 for me, or 01249  897243 for Taff   
or fax to 01249 890231

Many thanks

Duncan Andrews


Two fleas had made arrangements to meet every summer in Miami for a vacation. This one particular year one of the fleas arrives in Miami and he's shivering and shaking.

The other flea asks him, "Why are you shaking so badly?"

The first flea says, "I rode down here from New Jersey in the mustache of a guy on a Harley motorcycle."

The other flea responds saying, "That's the worst way to travel. Try what I do. Go to the New Jersey airport bar, have a few drinks. While you’re there look for a nice stewardess. Crawl up her leg and nestle in where it’s warm and cozy. It’s the best way to travel that I can think of."

The first flea thanks the second flea and says he will give it a try next summer. A year goes by.....

When the first flea shows up in Miami he’s shivering and shaking again.
The second flea says, "Didn't you try what I told you?"

"Yes," says the first flea, "I did exactly as you said. I went to the New Jersey airport bar and had a few drinks. Eventually this nice young stewardess came in. I crawled up her leg right up to her warm cozy spot. It was so nice and warm that I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was back in the mustache of a guy on a Harley motorcycle!”


Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend!

Best regards