23 November 2001


A new member joining us this week is Phil Overson from Swindon, UK

Welcome to the OBA!


From:     Tim Richardson, Epsom, UK
Subject:   Re: Old Boys Briefs 111601
Date:       01 January 1997 06:58

I also saw the pictures supplied by Neville Whitham and, doing the math, they were taken 26 years ago (summer 1975) and we knew by then that Thorney Island was to close.

As well as Nev, Nidge Robinson, Neville's Brother and myself, there was also Rick Leader who was re-building an Austin 7 in between jobs in the crew room. We three, as in the photo, stayed to the bitter end emptying buildings and stuffing it all into the old 46 squadron hangar from were it went to auction.

Our last boss was Dougie Barr. He went on from Thorney Island to organise the Royal Tournament for the RAF.   I met him again whilst on a visit to MoD a few years back and he was my host.  Through the same line of occupation I visited Northolt in '89 bumping into Andy Sturgess and Phil Marchant. The old terminal was still in place at that time.

The artist, Mark Postelthwaite has produced a picture of the old buildings. It is good. He has a web site at and his work turns up in 'FlyPast' magazine.

Nev's pictures make me feel a lot older than I am.  I have just been made Chairman of my local branch of the Royal British Legion and as I have taken over from a man 40 years my senior I feel a lot better. I cannot get used to the idea of wearing tweeds held up by braces though!

Does anyone have any trace on Derek Stronach (NHT '70s)?  He used to sleep walk not only to different beds but in different buildings. He recycled a meal out of a first floor window and went through it without waking up!  Ian McHardy has also appeared up in Scotland.

Best regards

Tim Richardson

[Ed:  Thanks Tim.  Mark Postlethwaite currently has an exhibition at Midland Counties, Hinckley, which will be available for viewing until Christmas.  Mark's website can be seen at:]


From:       Ian Berry, West Swindon, UK
Subject:    Mystery Photograph Suggestions
Date:        16 November 2001 09:38


I would have thought someone would have got it by now. It's WO Bruce (Oral) Oram getting wheeled out of the Movements School on a passenger carrying S-Type trolley earlier this month.   It was his last working day in the RAF.

As your members read, this Friday, 23rd November, we will be dining him out at Lyneham along with your mate Martyn Skelton.  I've got some good dirt on Bruce and may pass some on in the future.

One of the best stories was that after the first joint Officers/SNCO's dinner night in their mess Bruce was responsible for those present incurring hundreds' of pounds worth of damage. It happened because we decided to have a game of cabbage rugby.

The three Squadron execs at the time (1 Wg Cdr/2 Sqn Ldrs) were not the best-loved or respected individuals.  As the game progressed. Many genuine blows were exchanged and sometimes there was more than one scrum at the same time. During one of the contacts Bruce had his arm severely cut by a watchstrap. Being thick skinned he ignored it, but for the next 10 minutes he passed on his blood to everyone else's clothing!   It cost me £250 to replace the damage.

Needless to say scores were settled that night, and even though we all had bruised ribs etc., we had a great feeling of retribution. As a result of that evening we decided all future Joint Dinners would include the wives so as to prevent a re-occurrence, those were the days.

There was an article in the local paper this week saying that Lyneham could close by 2010. We have announced that we are buying 24 A400 Airbus Freighters but that depends if they ever get built (the Germans are getting cold feet). They are to be based at Brize Norton, Lyneham or St Mawgan.

The last airfield is a joke as, in my opinion, it would mean shipping export freight the length of the country, and the main road to the South West is a nightmare in the summer months. Once the VC10 Tankers are phased out from Lyneham there is space available for the Airbus/Hercs. Their replacement by the way could be converted Airbus A300 series and will be civilian-operated out of Boscombe Down. No doubt between their tanking missions they will be hauling tourists to Ibiza! Even though good old Tony Blair has 'volunteered' us for another war the defence cuts continue. The C130J is still a joke but the winch is due to arrive shortly...



[Ed:  Thanks Ian for the insight on Bruce's adventures - as you've whetted our appetites I think we're all looking forward to reading some more.  I just cannot imagine Lyneham closing, but if you read between the lines of the following item taken from this week's RAF News it would appear that it might happen]


The future of three major RAF stations, Brize Norton, Lyneham and St Mawgan, is to be considered by a new high-level study.

The Strike Command study has been commissioned to consider the most effective use of the three stations and to identify their future roles.

An RAF spokesman says RAF St. Mawgan has spare capacity and it is likely that Brize Norton and Lyneham will also have spare capacity following the introduction of the future strategic tanker aircraft and the A400M transport aircraft.

The spokesman said the MOD regularly reviews its estate requirements and these reviews are a normal part of the planning process.

"No decisions have yet been made and the study will take several months to complete.  The first stage will identify the A400M basing. Any recommendations arising from the study will be subject to consultations with trades unions and other interested parties as appropriate."

St. Mawgan is currently the home of the Sea King Operational Conversion Unit and Maintenance Flight, the Search and Rescue Headquarters and a Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron.

Additionally,  the RAF School of Combat Survival and Rescue and No.1 RAF Regiment are located there as well as the US/UK Joint Maritime Facility.

The airfield is used for Sea King training and major exercises and the station has the capacity to handle an entire main operating base on deployment.  In addition to the military activity, there is a contract in place to support the operation of Newquay / Cornwall international airport and its civil flights.

Brize Norton and Lyneham are presently the home of the RAF's air transport and air-to-air refueling fleets with Hercules C-130J and C-130K aircraft at Lyneham and TriStar's, VC10's and C-17's at Brize.

The VC10 and TriStar aircraft are due to be replaced by the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft programme from 2007 and both of the consortia bidding for the FSTA programme have proposed the continued use of Brize Norton for the tanker fleet.

However, as they will be fewer aircraft involved, and it is anticipated that aircraft maintenance requirements will drop with these more modern aircraft, Brize Norton will have spare capacity.

The C-130K's and C-17's are planned to be replaced by 25 A400Ms towards the end of this decade and the first stage of the review will be to identify the optimum basing  for the A400M fleet.

"The team will review the use of the bases to ensure that the most effective use is made of them.  This will include consideration of the future role of each airfield.

"The work will be completed in consultation with the FSTA integrated project team to ensure that basing and wider commercialisation proposals by FSTA prime service providers are taken into account."


From:     Sara Underwood, PEI, Canada
Subject:  Posting an announcement
Date:      16 November 2001 19:29


I don't know if you usually do this sort of thing, but I've set up a web site for my parents, Peter and Joan Underwood's 50th Anniversary.  Peter is a member of your group. Would you be able to post a notice and link on your site? There's a guest book there for visitors to sign, so their friends from the RAF would be able to leave them a message. No Longer Valid

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Yours truly,

S. Underwood
Director of Communications and Marketing
Suite 1, R. Birt Centre
14 MacAleer Drive
Charlottetown, PE
C1E 2A1

Tel: (902) 629-6765
Fax: (902 629-6774

[Ed:  Congratulations go to Pete & Joan Underwood who celebrated their 50th last Saturday, 17th November - but the website is still open for viewing and signing of the guest book - the more the merrier!]


From:      Ken Davie, Minneapolis, MN, USA
Subject:  David Powell in Malta
Date:       Fri, 16 Nov 2001 07:54:02 -0800 (PST)

Hi Tony,

I read with great interest the e-mail sent by David Powell. I didn't remember who he was until I came to the bit about the Carbon Tetrachloride (CTC) mouthwash! I was in Malta with the teams at the time.

One day, Bob Turner came back to the barracks and told us that David had swallowed CTC thinking it was lemonade. It was a very hot and sweaty day. As the story unfolded, we learned that, indeed, Bob had probably saved David's life. I have often related this story in my travels, and more often wondered if there were any long-term effects on Dave, or whether he had survived the event long-term.

The reason is this; at the same time as he swallowed the CTC and was in hospital, there was a story going around that a sailor had recently done the same thing, that is, ingested CTC. They had taken him to hospital in Malta, and he was treated and released. A couple of weeks later, he was working aboard ship and dropped dead. It seems that both of his lungs had collapsed.

Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but I'm delighted to hear that David survived all these years!

Where is Bob Turner now, I wonder? David can thank his lucky stars that Bob was there. He was incredibly capable, as we all know, and his fast thinking saved the day.

In a somewhat related story, I was swimming with some friends in a lake that was created by the Amirkabir dam in Iran. I was working in a Casino there in 1977. We were at a high altitude, the lake was fresh water, and breathing was very difficult. One of my friends, an Indian fellow named Ash Patel, started to go under. As he screamed, I managed to get to him and we struggled to safety just in the nick of time. We were very lucky that we both survived.

After the event, he told me that, where he came from, if a person saved another person's life, they had adopted them, and so he would call me Dad! After 20+ years, just recently, I received an e-mail from Holland, where he is working in a Casino. The e-mail started 'Dear Dad'!

Perhaps David Powell can manage to find his 'Dad', Bob Turner!

All the very best...Ken

[Ed:  Thanks Ken - the last I heard of Bob was that he was a loadie for the RAFO out in Oman.]


From:      Martin Liggett, Swindon, UK
Subject:   Job Vacancies
Date:       16 November 2001 11:22


Greetings from the world of beer, wine, toilet rolls and nappies!

Further to my last message regarding Loadmaster vacancies (hopefully somebody had a welcome phone call), I spoke to Heavylift this week and as all three A300/B4F's are flying together with their acquisition of two TU 204 F's, they are crying out for Loadmasters, however, the calibre of people on the market is somewhat limited (must be ex RAF Loadies!!!!!)

If anyone is interested call Anthony Gunn, Cargo Planning Manager, at 01279-680611.

The basic pay is approximately £19,500 per year, plus £5 per hour flying and a tax-free sum of £52 daily for time spent out of the UK.

All the best for now.


Martin Liggett

[Ed:  That's great Martin - I have placed the advertisement on the Jobs (OBA-tunities) page along with some very nice animated graphics that I lifted from the HeavyLift site - I'm sure they won't mind!]


From:       John Bell, Cairns, Qld., Australia
Subject:    Dave Powell and XL Brazilians.
Date:        18 November 2001 01:35


Nice to read Dave Powell's letter this week.

I first met Dave in El Adem, Libya on, I think, Exercise Dazzle (the memory plays tricks these days and sometimes I mix up one task with another). We had been working fairly intensively on getting the SAS and their less glamorous mates off Argosys and Britannia's and into the desert. Dave had just opened a bottle of soft drink and someone shouted "Finals!" He took a quick swig and shot off with his lads to do the turn-round.

Shortly after, they all came back into the crew room, sweating and exhausted. Dave picked up the bottle he had left on the windowsill and pushed the rest of the drink down his parched throat.  Wrong bottle!!  He had picked up a bottle of Carbon Tet (CTC) that the local movers kept on hand to clean grease stains off their uniforms and overalls. The milk treatment was applied and Dave was whisked away.

It was a few days before we found out that he had not died on us!!  It was to be years later when I met up with him again. Somewhere in Norway he, for reasons now lost in the mists of time, bought the UKMAMS guys a case of beer.

I have three distinct memories of that El Adem Exercise, other than Dave's attempt to dry clean his larynx. A Britannia brought in a long light metal strip to fix the edge of one of the Argosys. The box was about 6 inches by 6 inches by 30 feet long. We manoeuvred the box out of the cargo door, beyond the point of balance. I was then told to sit on the end inside the aircraft to prevent it from tipping out while the boss nipped off to get the forklift suitably positioned outside.

The local SAMO came onto the Brit and asked me where the Team Leader was. I started to explain when he threw all his toys out of his cot and started to bollock me for not standing up to talk to him. I tried to tell him that I was a counter-weight but he was not in a good mood and ordered me to shut up and stand up. A second attempt to explain had him literally red faced and double furious. He made me stand up, the box tipped and was about to slide out the door when I leapt back on it, but by now the balance was greatly changed and I was lifted up and pinned to the roof for about 30 seconds until the Boss came back on and saved the day. The SAMO discreetly disappeared whilst this was being achieved.

I also remember the Beverleys doing run-ups at Bomba Airstrip. They generated clouds of dust that were as close as you could get to duplicating the mushroom of an atomic explosion. Pretty awesome.

The third memory was a short flight in an Argosy. There was a second Argosy alongside of us as we flew slightly offshore along the North African Coast. The crews were seeing who could fly the lowest I think. I remember looking out at the other aircraft and seeing it at what appeared to be only a few feet above the water and creating a large wake behind it!

New Subject:  I also received a request from the XL Brazilian. If he hits on every person with prior military connection on every web site like ours, that publishes E Mail addresses, his success rate should get enough kit to run a tidy little Government Surplus type Store. I wonder???

Happy Days!! (Well, maybe not for Dave...)

John Bell

[Ed: All good stuff John - I would have loved to have seen that SAMO's face when you were up on the roof of the cabin!]


From:      I.F.G.Hokins
Subject:  Vulcan Crash Akrotiri
Date:      19 November 2001 08:10

There was an accident at RAF Akrotiri in, I believe, 1963 when a Vulcan from RAF Coltishall crashed on take-off with the loss of all on board.

Having just come off shift at the Sigs Commcen and seeing what had happened I jumped on my scooter and raced towards the scene.  Obviously nothing anyone could do except map out the site for the Air Accident  Investigators.

I am a member of the RAFBEA [Royal Air Force Boy Entrant's Association] and an active member on a site for ex boy entrants and although we have over 70 plus members on the internet there doesn't seem to be anyone with knowledge of this.

Is it possible you or your members could help?????

I.F.G Hopkins

[Ed:  For all you history buffs out there - especially Scottie and Ian Berry - can we help Ian out here?]


From:      John Holloway, Shrewsbury, UK
Subject:   Misc
Date:       19 November 2001 13:22

Hi Tony

Just to keep in touch, I mentioned a while ago that the MOD were having a clearance sale at Shawbury  of aircraft in October. Well the ex Queens flight Wessex  XV733 went for £50,000 and I have been told that it is going the helicopter museum in Weston Super Mare. The cheapest Bulldog went for £20,000 quite a bit more than what was thought they would.

This last weekend I went to the sixth annual Mauripur Association reunion at Stratford on Avon, just over 100 members and wives attended Thursday, Friday and Saturday; the wives enjoyed the shops etc., whilst we revived old friendships and memories of half a century ago. We had a couple of new faces turn up and they brought some fresh memories with them and loads of new photos.  It’s quite emotional when they meet old mates after such a long time.

We had the usual dinner and dance on the Friday night and special guests were the Pakistani Air Attache with his wife and children.

We now have over 200 members and new additions are happening quite often. The Website is up and going now so for us old uns it’s pretty good .

Sorry I can’t help with the search for info on Sqn Leader Luck at Lyneham.  From memory I don’t think that I came into touch with many officers; the Customs hut where I worked was situated some distance from the movements area, as Jim Aitken can confirm, and I think the only officer I spoke to was when I was doing my chitty clearance for demob and I was asked if I had considered signing on for extra service.  I politely declined  even though there might have been a chance of a posting to the USA, which at that time was fast becoming the new route to Australia and the Far East.

Cheers for now

John Holloway

[Ed:  Can you let me have the URL address for the Mauripur site John? - I'll place a link to it from our site.


From:     Frank Kennedy, Dubai, U.A.E.
Subject:  RE: Old Boys Briefs 111601
Date:      20 November 2001 01:19

If material from an ex-submarine navigator is acceptable to you, the attachment will be of interest to any of your crowd that served in Sharjah. The shop shown is trading near where the NW perimeter of the base once was. Such 'classics' are not uncommon here - shops such as 'Junco Trading' and I'm told (but yet to find) that there is a 'Salman A'Ala Restaurant but I've yet to find it. In my opinion he best one I have seen is the Moh'd Al Kharbash Driving Academy but I never seem to have my camera when I see one of his cars. I'll get a snap sooner or later and forward it if you like.

On a more serious note - I would appreciate you publishing my sincere thanks to those who have responded to my request for material for my book on Mid East bases. I am still in need of stuff on Sharjah, Bahrain and Oman so any more would be most welcome. In particular, please thank Jack Riley for the material he sent to me via UKMAMS, it has been safely received. Since I am Chairman of the Dubai RBL, this year's Poppy Appeal has (until a few days ago) taken up all of my spare time. I am now into the research mode again and aim to publish by next summer.

Many thanks
Frank Kennedy

[Ed:  Thanks very much for those photos Frank - There is already a photograph of the F.F.Art shop in Images 1960 courtesy of Ken Davie.  If anyone has any historical stuff from the Gulf stations that they can get to Frank I'm sure it will be much appreciated.]


From:      Jack Riley, Urangan, Qld., Australia
Subject:  The French Language Gender of the Computer
Date:       Thu, 22 Nov 2001 09:37:20 +1000

Hi team
Thought you might enjoy this

A language instructor was explaining to her French class that in French, nouns  unlike their English counterparts, are grammatically designated as either masculine or feminine.  "House," in French, is feminine-"la maison" whereas  "Pencil," in French, is masculine "le crayon."  Puzzled one student asked,  "What gender is a computer?"  The teacher did not know, and the word wasn't in her French dictionary.

So for fun she split the class into two groups by gender and asked them to decide whether "computer" should be a masculine or feminine noun. Both groups were  required to give four reasons for their recommendation.

The men's group decided that computers should definitely be of the  feminine gender ("la computer"), because:

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic

2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is
incomprehensible to everyone else

3. The smallest mistakes are stored in long- term memory for possible later retrieval

4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your pay check on accessories for it.

The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine  ("le
computer"), because:

1. In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on

2. They have a lot of data but they are still clueless

3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the

4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you'd waited another week you could have got a better model for less.

The women won.

[Ed: Thanks Jack!]


From:      Tony Geerah, Wootton Bassett, UK
Subject:   Mystery Photograph Suggestions
Date:       22 November 2001 19:06

Hi Tony

Well I know this one as I was there two weeks ago!!  We will dine him and six others out of the Air Force on Friday 23rd Nov. at the Sgt's Mess RAF Lyneham.  It's Big Bad Bruce Oram.

For the readers; other members being dined out are WO's Sam Borland, Bill Kearney, Martin Skelton, FS's John Calver, Teddy Edwards, & Andy Hartley.  Some 116 movers will attend the Top Table at Lyneham starting at 12 noon,  should be some sore heads on 24th Nov.

Keep up the good work

Cheers for now Geerbox.....................

[Ed:  Thanks Geerbox - I was going to put in a reminder about the dining out, you've saved me a few keystrokes.  Please pass on my regards to Bill Kearney, I joined up with him on 25th September 1963.  I seem to remember while we were Boy Entrants that he washed his uniform in the bathtub at one time - and on more than one occasion I recall that, during our many forced cross country marches Bill would suffer with the most terrible blisters on his heels - but he kept on going without complaint.

There was another Irishman in our entry - Paddy something or other - wore thick coke bottle glasses and didn't have a hairline on the back of his neck - just kept growing down and down.  Anyway, the thing I remember about him was that at about eight-o-clock every evening he would east a whole loaf of toast, each piece carefully soaked in malt vinegar before being consumed.]


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Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend

Best regards