UKMAMS has recently held a twenty fifth anniversary weekend, rather artfully timed to coincide with the date of its formation as a Squadron twenty six years ago. Although the squadron has enjoyed a relatively short history, the foundation stones for its inception were laid way back when the earth was a swirling mass of hot gas. and sub-atomic particles. As biblical scholars will undoubtedly be aware, God moves in mysterious ways. It is also widespread theological belief that he made man (with one or two notable exceptions) in his own image.
Following a particularly trying period of World creation God decided on the seventh day to rationalize these two concepts and create an organisation that would combine both parameters. It was therefore determined in prehistory that UKMAMS was destined not only to exist, but enjoy a certain level of divine patronage.
Almost without doubt UKMAMS would have come into being 640 million years earlier but God was a little concerned that a certain Mr Charles Darwin had been pencilled in for a particularly promising career annoying Catholics and to accommodate this, his other best seller "evolution" was allowed to take its course. So that UKMAMS could get started relatively quickly evolution was initially intended to be a fairly fast process. This also fitted in with the Creators other plans as he had no desire to make things easy for palaeontologists whom he felt sure he would come to despise (as it turned out God was mistaken in this premise and he later turned his wrath towards golf players and train spotters, both of whom he inflicted with the desire to dress up in strange clothes thus incurring the ridicule of their fellow man). Unfortunately the Military mind was tasked to oversee the entire evolutionary project, and predictably the whole process became painfully slow.
Whilst considering the impact that an organization like UKMAMS would have on the face of the earth, the Gods neglected to appreciate the impact that a rather large and sadly ignored meteor was also about to have on our planet, and as history will testify within a few short millennia almost all life on Earth became extinct.
With a clean slate so to speak the way was now clear for the formation of UKMAMS. At first the United Kingdom produced two organisations called the Army and the Navy, however these were relegated to rather minor roles and achieved their greatest notoriety giving their titles to a department store. It was therefore a little later but with considerable public pride that the Royal Air Force came into being.
One of the key tenets of air power, we are led to believe. is its flexibility. Modern fighter and bomber aircraft can move at tremendous speeds, and can carry quite impressive payloads. Despite this the limited range of our aircraft still allows certain areas of the world to remain out of the reach of our military retribution, which means that for our forces to be fully globally effective the military needs some method of taking itself close enough to a potential enemy to effectively engage them in hostilities. From the Army's point of view the need for mobility is considerably greater, unless we accept that all future conflicts will be fought on Salisbury Plain, and British Rail manage to maintain an effective transport service. With the realization that whilst Salisbury Plain was indeed a good battle field, BR were too unreliable came the rationale for the creation of a movements organisation that would be responsible for the strategic and tactical movement of our armed forces throughout the world. The strategic part of the deal was largely taken care of by British owned and operated airheads in countries across the world. Initially Britain had airheads and movements organisations in places as diverse as Hong Kong, Bahrain, Canada, and Western Europe. However it was becoming increasingly apparent that there were areas that were not covered by our foreign holdings and the concept of tactical mobility still needed to be addressed. The answer to these problems lay in the creation of a movements organisation dedicated solely to air movements activities, and who could operate independently away from main base areas. This organisation was eventually to be called United Kingdom Mobile Air Movements and was first formed at RAF Abingdon. The Royal Air Force chose Abingdon because it was in the United Kingdom, and was a place that- God liked to refer to in benevolent and paternal terms whilst making sure the French suffered freak weather conditions, strange epidemics and disgusting apples for being so obnoxious.
And so it came to pass that the United Kingdom Mobile Air Movements Squadron was countenanced by the lord who saw that it was good (albeit quite small yet perfectly formed). There were at the time other RAF mobile movements organisations in existence, based namely in the near, middle, and far east, but whilst they were sister organisations and employed the same people on rotational postings as their UK based relation, they have no direct significance to the current squadron history.
One of the popular themes of religion at this time was the concept that "not even a sparrow could fall without God noticing". To ensure that the badge of the squadron reflected its true divine patronage the RAF with true military efficiency mistook the message in the parable and after a great many meetings and papers on the subject got it almost completely wrong. The Squadron was eventually raised under the sign of the swift (its first badge was borrowed from the Transport Command crest and was not terribly appropriate or original), and although no one was a hundred percent certain why such a bird was used, everyone was convinced it was their idea ensuring that no one argued and all were happy.
The formation of UKMAMS not only pleased the sight of God but also pulled together what had been an ad-hoc and increasingly unacceptable approach to air movements. This was emphasised by the cold war which was at its peak in the mid sixties (when the squadron achieved its current status) and the thought of Soviet mischief around the world did little to console NATO chiefs, who saw the fighting response also placed emphasis on the ability of the military to be able to mount a swift deployment of military power to any part of the world and there contain any threats to peace before events got out of hand. Mobile Air Movements existed as a concept at RAF Abingdon some eight years prior to the formation of UKMAMS as a squadron, as an element of the Air Transport Development Unit (ATDU) with four teams allocated to the task. By all accounts they were not always employed to the most efficient purpose, but formed the base on which the squadron was to be formed.
Surprisingly enough very few people understood what the term "Air Movements" encompassed. To cover their ignorance many advertised the notion that the job was highly secret and really ought not to be discussed. As it happened the Guru Rhaji was able to shed some light on the subject in his famous "third world" address when he described air movements as "the loading, unloading, and co-ordination of all aspects of air transport". Unfortunately he then discredited himself by wittering on about British Imperialism and passing out in a chemically induced stupor. If you were to compare military air movements with a similar civilian occupation you would encompass everything from the travel agent to the aircraft handling organisation at the airport. Possibly the only aspect of air transport that isn't covered by the term air movements is the actual flying of the aircraft. This is done by a largely uneducated breed of men who had often been forced to leave school more quickly than was good for their neurological development (often for offences concerning warm jellies and choir boys).
During the early fifties before the inception of UKMAMS the UK enjoyed a good deal of popular appeal throughout the world. Understandably the country liked to impress its colonial (and not so naive) friends by flying what was at the time an enviable line-up of aircraft, and which would visit them on regular occasions. The pride of the Royal Air Force (then as now) was the transport fleet. These aircraft were particularly good at carrying things in large quantities and were best demonstrated doing just that. To prove how good these aircraft were it became necessary to load and unload them in front of the locals. Sadly it became all too apparent that the crews were not the best suited to demonstrate this aspect of British air power as the vast majority were not themselves convinced that the aircraft was there for anything other than their own private purposes. At what must have been great expense to and ironically the relief of the British tax payer the Royal Air Force would round up huge teams of its personnel from what ever branches were available at the time, and position them in strategic locations along the predicted routes of our aircraft ready to load or unload them as required. The sites of such operations were often selected to achieve the greatest amount of diplomatic kudos whilst suffering the least amount of political damage. Despite the fact that these irregular movements teams were untrained, and largely uninterested the policy was thought to be fairly sound, until the British Government started to get complaints following a spate of unwanted pregnancies from around the world (this strangely enough coincided with an equally alarming plethora of rather embarrassing rashes amongst the reluctant movements teams).
To counter this ad-hoc and not always too efficient method of operation a permanent cadre of personnel was set up dedicated to the world wide air movements support of our transport fleet, but not attached to any permanent organisation. It is widely believed that this last caveat was more due to the personnel hygiene of those involved than any military policy extant at the time. From an initial four teams set up in Abingdon back in 1958 franchises were soon springing up all over the world. By 1964 no fewer than nineteen teams were in existence, eleven of which never bothered to return home. Instead these itinerants took up residence with the Far, Middle, and Near Eastern Air Forces respectively, and became the previously mentioned sister organisations to UKMAMS.
It was terribly unfortunate at the time that many of our colonial "friends" around the world were rapidly forming the opinion that Cricket was an exceedingly dull game. Perhaps slightly less impressive was a British diplomatic missive that informed all nations that the acceptance of cricket was in fact a pre condition of our continued friendship. Within days many messages of goodwill came flooding back. It was sad therefore that these gestures of international support were so poorly translated by our linguists. Many of these diplomatic directives were interpreted as less than supportive, displaying in many cases the author's wish to self determination. Others were more quickly translated as simply saying "sod off then", and before they could be properly "interpreted" British nationals overseas had begun to sod off in droves. As a consequence the scope of our operations began to shrink as rapidly as our national cricketing ability.
Such was the loss of so many global commitments that by 1966 there were vast numbers of sun-tanned movers all loitering about RAF Abingdon looking for re- employment So numerous had they become that on 1st May 1966 UKMAMS was awarded Squadron status (incidentally enabling them for the first time to field a semi reasonable cricket team). With grotesque military enthusiasm UKMAMS continued to wander the globe providing air movements support for our transport fleet. In those formative early days the fleet comprised a variety of colour coded aircraft such as the Argosy, Valetta, Beverley, Hastings, Britannia, and Comet. Whilst it is out of chronological sequence it should be noted that UKMAMS originally operated under the badge of the then Air Support Command. The badge was a rampant lion but was often mistaken for the Chelsea football supporters club. This was obviously a constant source of embarrassment and in 1973 UKMAMS decided that it could not live with the stigma any longer. The search was on for a new badge. The squadron incorporated the swift in its logo and spent hours pondering a suitable motto. An airman whose name is lost to posterity provided the graphics for the badge, but mistakenly drew the bird at an oblique angle. His flight commander (who it is rumoured was also often at an oblique angle) noticed the lurching animal and indicating the design with the butt of his chewed pencil gave the mumbled instruction "swift to move" sadly this was mistakenly taken as an instruction for the inscription. By the following Monday UKMAMS was to be forever denied a stirring Latin legend extolling its members to the slaughter of all non cricket playing nations.