From: Barry Fletcher, Georgetown TX
Subject: The Last Ride
Thought you might enjoy seeing my last ride on the Triumph.
Senility is setting in.
Fort Paull Museum's Sudden Closure
The future of a Blackburn Beverley aircraft has been cast into doubt after a museum's sudden closure. Fort Paull is a gun battery and fort on the north bank of the Humber Estuary a few miles east of Hull, that has been a museum for 20 years.
In a statement the fort said, "Due to unforeseen circumstances" it would not be reopening after its winter closure. Former museum curator Wally Duggan said the Beverley aircraft was the "last of its type." The 10-acre site has an eclectic collection of military history items.
Mr Duggan, of the closed Beverley Museum of Army Transport where the Blackburn Beverley had been displayed, said: "It isn't something you put in your back garden but they were marvellous and served all over the world."
Mr Duggan said the plane, that arrived at Fort Paull in 1983, deserved a long-term future and somewhere to display it.
Here are a couple of e-mails that should have appeared in the New Year's edition of the OBA newsletter, but slipped through the floorboards:
From: Don and Maureen Hazlewood, Swindon, Wilts
Busy time this year, Grandson at Christmas and Lympstone Manor for New Year, Then back to Afghan for some peace. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.
From: Mick & Myra Maybery, Alnwick, Northumberland
To all our friends and acquaintances we wish you a very happy Christmas and New Year. May 2020 be a peaceful and safe year for you all. God Bless.
From: Kevan Lawrence, Doncaster
Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #123119
The December newsletter was as good as we always expect now mate, well done. A lot of memories invoked by this edition. For a start Dougie Betambeau's pic came as a bit of a shock! What happened to that fresh faced, fit young guy from Gutersloh?
Another Gutersloh memory was 'Stretch' Weirs wife, Diane, going into labour while Bruce Oram and his wife Shirley and I were at a Christmas Eve drink in their flat. Shirley went off to accompany Diane while we kept on drinking. Bruce and I took turns going out on the balcony looking for a star in the East!
I am in contact with Bernie Hurdsfield and his wife Helena but, once again, that pic was a shock! Is he wearing a helmet?
I may have asked you this before, but do you have any info on two guys who were movers at Gutersloh? They are both Scots: Sammy Letham and Jimmy Eckford.
Iron Maiden Lead Singer Bruce Dickinson Made Honorary Group Captain In RAF
The lead singer of British metal band Iron Maiden has officially attested into the Royal Air Force. Bruce Dickinson, who has been performing with the band since 1981, has been awarded the role of Honorary Group Captain in No. 601 Squadron.
The rock star first contacted the RAF Fencing Union in December to enquire about representing the Royal Air Force in the sport. He could compete in the RAF Championships on 16 and 17 May and could attend the Royal Air Force Fencing Open during the following month. Depending on his performance at the RAF Championships, Mr Dickinson could be selected to represent the RAF at the Inter Service Championships, which takes place between 13 and 16 July.
He once ranked at number eight in the country at foil - one of three weapons used in fencing which each has its own rules. The RAF's new Honorary Group Captain now competes at épée - the largest weapon in the sport.
Mr Dickinson has flying experience, having held a commercial pilot’s licence for more than 20 years. The Iron Maiden frontman has previous connections with the RAF, having completed an emergency landing at RAF Halton in 2015. He was flying his Fokker triplane when it began to run low on fuel.
Mr Dickinson also personally flew Royal Air Force pilots home from Afghanistan to RAF Wittering in 2008, taking control of a Boeing 747 chartered by the Ministry of Defence to transport RAF pilots back to the UK.
The news was originally broken online by the RAF fencing team
From: Martin Read, Torquay, Devon
Subject: Old Bod Contact
For those that know me and anyone wanting to say hello and hangs about the English Riviera for their hols and for those that don’t know me or remember me from UKMAMS I have put a brief summary below:
I joined Air Movements in 1974 and did tours at Gan and Germany then joined UKMAMS in 1980 until 1986. I had an opportunity to became a Loadmaster, also at Lyneham, and continued there until 1995 when I went on to the Queen's Flight at Northolt which was a very different job and although I am not really a “shiny” I had to adapt and take elocution lessons. I finished up in a bunker at High Wycombe on a ground tour and left the RAF in 2000 after 26 years.
I went on to do a variety of Jobs including project managing at Heathrow Airport, property maintenance, practice manager at a vets and latterly facilities management (this will be my last job retiring sometime soon hopefully!).
I have 2 sons who are both over 30 now and a Grandchild in the family; plenty busy this Xmas.
My wife Helen and I moved to Torquay from Swindon in 2013 to be nearer to my mum and dad both still going strong but need support and there is nothing more relaxing than seeing the sea every morning so won’t ever go back North! Except for day trips to watch my beloved Swindon Town FC several games a season when I can travel up by train and pull out my recently obtained Senior Rail Card (where has the time gone). Out of nowhere I ended up sitting next to John Cockyane at a Plymouth Argyle v Swindon match on New Year’s Day this year after not seeing him for 35 years! Of course we didn’t recognise each other initially but the conversation soon went RAF and the stories surfaced. John prompted me to make this contact so here we are.
I went to one of the biannual reunions organised by John Conduit 4 years ago at Wroughton and it was great to meet up with some of the old reprobates from the previous life and share stories. Al Randle (best centre back in RAFG), Tony Geerah, Phil Vicary, Steve Perry, Sam Heaphy et al. I was hoping to attend this year again but the weekend clashes with my passion for cycling sportives and there is an event in Cornwall on the same weekend. Hopefully I can attend the following one in 2022.
Anyway, Happy New Year to all!
From: Charles Gibson, Monifieth, Angus
When I was on UKMAMS at Abingdon we went to Northern Ireland to pick up some troops to transport them to Gibraltar. The population of Gibraltar were holding a referendom to return to Spain or stay with the UK and the authorities were anticipating civil unrest. I think it was about 1968.
Eventually, we were due back in the UK, and Johnny Cooper and I were tasked with getting a shark from the wall of the airport lounge for our crew room. We managed the task and got it on the aircraft but were stopped at the end of the runway until we returned the shark by dropping it off of the aircraft.
From: Alex McGrath, Sunderland
Here is a wee gem from RAF Bruggen about 1996 ish. So the AMS was challenged to a games night by the Dusseldorf based RLC Regt unit. An MT bus was arranged and a few days later, after a few pints in the Movers' Bar, off we headed.
I will be honest and admit that what went on during the course of the night is a bit of a blur as most memories of nights out in BAOR normally are, but I seem to recall John Dodds had his usual sport Billy head on and winning is everything mentality, especially against the Army.
Taking the sporting challenge very serious (who can remember the tantrums during the tournaments of carpet bowls in Load Plans?) our team Captain was very keen to egg us on and subsequently lambast us should we get pumped by the opposition.
Overall it was a most enjoyable night, plenty of beer, plenty of food and of course more than enough Asbach. No idea who won, but I am gonna say with Doddsy’s leadership, it must have been a Blue win on the night.
So what is so memorable about the night? Well, it wasn’t really about what happened during the event, but more about what happened afterwards on the bus home.
So after a few of the regular ditty’s were belted out on the way back to camp, about halfway home, someone at the back started a rendition of Chuck Berry’s 1972 classic “My Ding-a-Ling”, not your normal foot tapping favourite from a bus load of pissed up EuroMAMS, but after a few lines, everyone was getting into the spirit of the sing-song.
So imagine the scene, Anonymous (Anon) starts it all off:
(Anon) When I was a little biddy boy,
(Anon with much accompanied laughter) My grandmother bought me a cute little toy,
(Anon still going it alone) Silver bells hangin' on a string,
(Anon and a few cohorts) She told me it was my ding-a-ling-a-ling!
(louder) Oh, my ding-a-ling,
(louder still) My ding-a-ling,
(Everybody) I want you to play with my ding-a-ling!
At this point Anon stands up in the middle of the bus and whilst clanging a massive bell that he could hardly hold screamed, MY DING-A-LING, MY DING-A-LING, I WANT YOU TO PLAY WITH MY DING-A-LING!
Yes it was the RLC Regiment's bar bell! At this precise point no one cared about the games night, the night had well and truly been won as the whole bus erupted in song.
How did they do it? Well a fuzzy memory rekindles that it was stealthily slipped off its dangling point, smuggled to the Ladies toilets where it was then promptly slipped out through a window and onto the bus.
I may have recollected the story wrong in parts, so if Taff Murphy-Brown would like to share the true version of events, I would be delighted to be reminded for my upcoming novel aptly named “Whatever happened at…”.
Additionally, if any of the seniors present at that time on AMS can inform us of the subsequent nuclear fall-out on the Monday morning, that might be worth a chuckle as well.
I think the Army may even have retaliated as well at some point, hopefully some updates will be forthcoming.
From: Chris Goss, Marlow, Bucks
Three souvenir stories come to mind. The first was me acquiring a sign in Bergen saying "Beware of Thieves" (14-15 Aug 85). Second was Roger Gough seeing a stuffed fox in the hotel reception in Andoya on the same trip (13-14 August 1985). He asked permission if he could get it for the crew room and while we distracted the staff, he grabbed it and ran off only to come to a sudden stop as it was chained to the floor. Finally, in the dining room in one of the hotels in Gander there was a net spread across the ceiling on which were various stuffed or plastic sea creatures. I wanted a stuffed lobster and worked out if I sat beneath it and pretended to stretch on standing up, I could flick it backwards over a wall to a waiting team member (in this case SAC Rich Newton). Worked a treat and I still have said lobster somewhere.
Saw Gatineau on last night's programme on the Red Arrows. Also good to see Douggie (Bronzed Madonna) Betambeau and Gordon (Dorien Gray) Black at Jean Cowan's funeral last week. Sad for Peter Cowan and his family but brought back memories of Douggie being my Co-ord in 1984 and my first trip on MAMS 2 March 1985 (Exercise Trumpet Dance Top McChord) when Gordon, Hughie Curran, Bob Dickman, Sandy Sanderson and Gus Turney were looking after me a pre-Mobile Course Officer. Gordon hasn't changed one bit....
From: Steven Boucher, Bridlington, Yorks
Subject: Ghosts of Christmas Past
Christmas Eve 2005 in the Falkland Islands and the Air Movements Flight had borrowed a minibus from the Falkland Island Tour Company and gone into Stanley on the lash! We ended the night in the Globe and a good time was had by all.
We set off back to Mount Pleasant (MPN) in the early hours of Christmas morning, driven by our designated driver, the only one sober! A few miles into the journey we suffered a tyre puncture. Despite all of us attempting to find the jack we were unsuccessful. We attempted to raise help on the built-in radio; it's Christmas morning so no luck there.
It was decided to drive back to MPN with the flat tyre, arriving around 6am to some exasperated RAF Police on the gate watching us as the sparks flew from our bare wheel!
So began Christmas Day for the AMF. The wheel was kept, painted and signed by everyone. Not sure if it’s still there.
From: Richard Lloyd, Dunfermline, Fife
Subject: Souvenirs for the Crew Room
In 1972 I was 26, and a very happy young guy serving as OCSCAF at RAF Gütersloh, with a wonderful team of people, both female and male, civilian and service. I had a marvellous boss, one of the very best, Jim Shearer.
The Station Commander was the legendary Keith Williamson (later ACM Sir Keith). We were the nearest station to the East German border and 2 squadrons of Lightning’s (19 & 92) on Battle Flight, and 2 of Hunters (2 and 4) and 18 Sqn Wessex helicopters were there to show our strength.
Occasionally, we would ‘hit the town’ and visit a local restaurant and generally misbehave, but not too seriously. One time, I had had much too much beer and fell in love with a polystyrene chicken in a Wienerwald fast food restaurant and made it clear to my guys that this was a highly desirable souvenir, that I would love to take back to the squadron the following day, and that whoever ‘liberated’ it would receive my personal admiration and favour, probably forever.
The next day, I can recall with painful clarity the ghastly reality of the chicken on my desk, the pride of the guys responsible, the grotesque chicken paint scheme, and worst of all, the consequences if one were found out. The chicken was returned to the Wienerwald and the topic never mentioned again... at least not in my hearing!
From: Gary Wilcox, Ralston, AB
in 1979 we were on exercise at Shilo, Manitoba, and John 'Taz' Melanson and I volunteered to stay late and unload the last Herc. To our delight the General's jeep was offloaded and his plaque was there for the picking. That night we arrived back to the barracks and gave to it our Warrant Officer, Del Cottreau. Never did find out where it ended up.
From: John Guy, Northampton
Subject: Belated Season’s Greetings
Firstly, a belated wish that all Movers past, present and their families have a happy, prosperous & healthy 2020.
Having perused the latest edition of the newsletter several times, it finally struck me that given time nothing stays the same. In this respect I am referring to colleagues with whom I have worked closely with, but not seen since my retirement in May 1988, or prior to that.
For example; Pete Herring, Pete Horton, Gordon Black, whilst it was nice to see you again, without names being published you would not have been recognised by me. Sorry but time marches on and all that! By the way you are not the only example of this phenomenon within this newsletter.
However there are two examples of the opposite occurring. Arthur... you were easily recognisable as you haven’t changed a bit. Likewise Mick... was it the 1979-82 era when we last worked together?
Finally, which of the two Petes put in an appearance in the classroom at the British Airways School, London, where I and others from RAFMS were being introduced to a new trim sheet for an aircraft about to be introduced into the RAF, whose type I cannot remember, and for all I know may well be out of service by now?
From: Norman Stamper, 03184 Torrevieja
Subject: Ghosts of Christmas Past
As it's a wet, cold and miserable day here in Spain I've spent the last few hours going through our photo albums seeing if we had any memories of Christmases overseas and I've come up with the attached memories of our time in Wildenrath. There are some old familiar faces that bring back lots of good memories of one of our better postings.
From: Clive ‘Taff’ Price, Brecon
Subject: Xmas Memories and Stuff
In 1966, I escaped being sent to Zambia on the oil lift by the skin of my teeth. Later, the teams out there told me that the initial accommodations were in pig sheds on the local agricultural show ground and Xmas dinner was fried egg sandwiches, Ho Ho Ho!
Back in the 1960's F team were in Oromocto, New Brunswick. It was a lovely small town, and we stayed in the motel, ate, drank and met a lot of the local people. The late Cpl. Bob Turner was a great collector of souvenirs, and took a fancy to the Canadian flag on the top of a store in the shopping mall. At night he managed to get up there, but as it was almost winter the ropes were frozen solid and he failed. He probably consoled himself with a car number plate or two.
Cheers for now,
Clive (Taff) Price
From: Syd Avery, Guardamar del Segura, Alicante
A very good day to you, and all our Readers. I hope that everyone had enjoyable festivities, are keeping to their New Year Revolutions and whatever familial disagreements were extremely minor. Riet and I spent Christmas and New Year in Spain, lunching/dinnering and imbibing (in moderation) as driving was involved. Many different nationalities, enjoying life and having fun together. Politicians, please note. Enough of such drivel.
Three souvenir hunting expeditions come to mind. The last two involved assistance from the much loved and departed Ian “Dinger” Bell.
First one was the 'Line Encyclopedia' of one of the 800 series Fleet Air Arm squadrons. Supposed to be carrying them from Lossiemouth to Yeovilton but for some reason we left them at Lyneham. This book was quite large and was sequestered behind the winch during loading, and as the pax went off the ramp, said book disappeared via the crew door. Lots of sailors, not all big and hairy, came back looking for the book, but left empty handed, with copius mutterings. Next day, in front of the Big Boss, with multi Damoclesian Swords above the head Book recovered from Crew Room and despatched to Yeovilton. Don’t know who took it, but glad it wasn’t me!
Mounted deer horns from Norway - Dinger sat on my shoulders to “rescue” this trophy and as he stretched up to reach it, pulled me forward into a huge holly bush with many sharp pointy things on their leaves. I looked like a massive case of chicken pox. Last time I saw the horns, they were still in the crew room.
(In all honestly, neither myself or Dinger knew of the importance of this next item of plunder!) A certain Royal Danish Air Force Squadron killed the first German tank on Danish soil in WW2. One of the bogies of said tank was mounted, and hung outside the Squadron Headquarters after the cessation of hostilities. Dinger and I thought that this splendid item would grace UKMAMS Headquarters. Just the thing every UKMAMS Headquarters should have. Quite heavy, but the next day it was “safe” at Lyneham. A few days later, we were despatched on another task, fortunately...
Due to the importance that was attached to this tank bogie, I’m led to believe, that the situation reached levels astronomical even above Air Force circles, and a directive, not of “….please take it back.”, but “…gerritback…..now!” It was taken back by one of our lovely Junior Officers complete with Number Ones and Sword, post haste.
Compo soup bombs with a Wombat through the front of the Twynham as reprisal… nah, we won’t go there!
Thanks for your wonderful work Tony, it is greatly appreciated by, I’m sure, one and all.
From: John Guy, Northampton
Subject: Ghosts of Christmas Past
My first Christmas away from home, let alone the first in the RAF, was in 1951 at RAF Fanara (Canal Zone, Egypt) MEAF 15
Sent on leave immediately after square bashing this AC2’s first ever posting was to the above unit. My introduction to this event was to be on guard Christmas Eve. On the morning of the 25th I arrived back at my tent to find that the Senior NCO’s had already been round with early morning tea. Come lunch time the officers provided a waiter service. Sometime during that meal someone used a tangerine as a missile aimed at any officer. Well this was followed by a barrage of fruit missiles from which the officers eventually retreated.
To conclude; Christmas 1989, 90 & 91 RAF Gatow (Berlin) I’m providing the service along with others
The following video was taken at Christmas 1952 in the Canal Zone, and would have been very similar to John's experience a year earlier:
From: Andrew Downard, Ballarat, VIC
Subject: Ghosts of Christmas Past
I had the pleasure of enjoying my first overseas Christmas (and first Christmas not heading home to family) at RAF Muharraq aged 19. I say enjoyed but to be honest, even then I couldn’t remember much about the three or four days of Christmas 1970. There were Barrack bars galore, the Movers had a western-themed bar and all our crew walked around in poncho’s made from blankets. The benefit of these was a lit Zippo lighter or match could be produced from under the poncho should the need arise (or not). Someone hired a mini-moke which proved that wrapped up in a poncho you couldn’t hold on; however, the lack of flailing limbs prevented injury when the inevitable corner came up, and passengers were ejected.
The Christmas lunch was served by the usual suspects from the officer’s mess who had to dodge the brazil nuts that were being tossed up into the fans creating some erratic enemy fire. It was also the scene of one of the classic “Zulu Warrior’s” of the tour.
There was also the strange mix of characters that seem to congregate around the barrack bars. A couple of guy’s from the pink Landrovers (SAS) were earning lots of free beer betting that one of them had more than one belly button. A healed bullet wound in the stomach won the day there. We also had a lightning pilot from Dhahran who diverted with a technical issue in time for the festivities. I’m sure there were many more amusing incidents, but when I woke up face down in the sand, just in time to go on shift, most of the memories had fled.
On a final note, I was on night shift on New Year’s Eve where we had one of the movements DAMO’s walking around with a local Arab bagpiper. His name was Rollo if I remember correctly, never found out the Arab's name.
From: Barry Tappenden, Shortstown, Beds
Subject: Ghosts of Christmas Past
The first and last Christmas Dinner at RAF Seletar. Arrived in 1964 , but was deployed over every Christmas. I must admit the menu is better than compo!
From: Norman Stamper, 03184 Torrevieja
Subject: Souvenirs for the Crew Room
My memories of the Crew Room are of the time spent at RAF Wildenrath from mid 1985 to mid 1988 in the FDC Bar. My Secondary Duty was as the i/c FDC Bar, so a lot of time was spent overseeing the running of the bar. As you can see from the photos there are not many shots of the souvenirs that were collected over the years. Every year there was a football match between the Erding Detachment and Wildenrath Movers, can't remember which year it was, but we played away on this occasion. In amongst the return baggage was the town sign from Erding; never did find out who was responsible for liberating it.
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, Bucks
Subject: Ghosts and Souvenirs
I regret that I don't have any first hand stories regarding souvenirs, other than acquiring early stage team leader's grey hairs from the knowledge that certain members of my team wouldn't get out of bed without their stubby screwdrivers and well oiled adjustable spanners, coupled with an unhealthy interest in Military Police Landrovers!
Having said that, I do still have the squadron commander's triangular pennant 'tidied up' from the abandoned flight line offices which we took over during Exercise Overdale, September 1967 at Gutersloh, just before it closed. This was the exercise where there was a bit of an altercation between one of the residual resident Care and Maintenance team complaining that all he had to do was to keep driving round the airfield, resetting the flags they had put up round the perimeter track to keep vehicles off the grass, and a certain UKMAMS corporal moaning that the only fun he had was driving round the perimeter seeing how many flags he could demolish!
Ghosts! Hopefully someone will come up with the definitive story about the RAF Abingdon Ghost. All I can remember is that it used to appear by one of the dispersals and featured an aircrew member running to stop a Beaufighter (?) taking off and crashing into the nearby Boars Hill. I was told on good authority that the 'event' did have its own file in Station Headquarters. Maybe this file finished up in the public records at Kew? What I did come across while trying to dig up some more on the RAF Abingdon ghost was this link to some fascinating stories on Forces Reunited: https://www.forcesreunited.co.uk/forum/17486/ghosts-of-the-raf/
Stay safe, especially on dark moonless nights!
F (for fingers) Team UKMAMS RAF Abingdon 1967-69
From: Mike (Vern) Lefebvre, Burton, NB
Subject: Ghosts of Christmas Past
Greetings to all,
The best memory of Christmas to me was in 1966, my second Christmas in the Military and first away from my family home and friends. Having finished with basics and Trans Tech courses for a year, I reported to 2 Air Movements Unit Trenton in September. Christmas season was one of the busiest times of the year with flights taking families home for the holiday to all parts of Canada for $5.00 a person. So, we were at work as usual except for the 25th and New Year’s Day.
On that Christmas morn, in my best bib and tucker civilian attire, I walked across the road to the mess hall to a lineup at the entrance where ID cards had to be produced. When I showed mine I was told to stand there until told otherwise. So this I did and within a short time the Station Group Captain arrived and I was introduced to him as the youngest service man present.
We poured the rum into the plum pudding sauce, he addressed the troops and then left. After we ate, the PMC of the mess (I assume he was) and I visited the Guardhouse to release the prisoners for the day. We visited the Officers' Mess, WO and Sgt's mess and on to the junior ranks mess.
In mid afternoon I phoned transport for a ride downtown and again for a ride back from a friend's house, then returned to the mess where I was summoned to the phone by the bar manager. The commandant was asking how things were at my new rank. I said all is great and asked if I could put a round for the house on his tab. He asked me how many were there and I said just a few. He said go ahead.
They were not all that memorable, but I do remember flying over Montreal at midnight coming back from Newfoundland on an empty aircraft after delivering 5 passengers to their home for the holidays when normally I would have been in church for mass in my home town very near to there.
Update (a couple of days later...) At the time of the first scribble, I was concentrating the battered grey cells on ghosts, and the Geilenkirchan penant souvenir was just an afterthought. I couldn't be bothered searching through the records. However, a look in the old log book highlighted that we (F Team) must have had an interesting time on Overdale!
Sept 15th: out to Geilenkirchen, Argosy from Benson, and back the following day by Beverley to Abingdon, on Overdale. Then on the 19th we drove over to Benson for the day, pesumably to help out with some loading work. These tasks seem like deploying activation kit.
Then on the on the 22nd-23rd we took a Britannia (488) for a round trip of Lyneham - Gibraltar (overnight stop) - Ballykelly - Lyneham supporting Exercise Perfect Play.
Then a couple of days to catch up on the laundry and pack for a long task as on 26th we were off again by Argosy from Benson to Geilkirchen on Overdale, presumably the actual activation task, and with our Landrover. Although we were away for a month, the notes include a drive over to Bruggen on the 29th and again on the 30th (both Overdale).
Then on the 6th October, can't recall why, we went drove across to Bruggen to pick up a trip from Bruggen to Bruggen, on VC10 (806 P1 Sqn Ldr Taylor 10 Sqn) via an overhead at Brize Norton! Then drove back the following day, via Wildenrath.
A week later, and it was a 46 Sqn Andover for a day trip across to the USAF base at Bitsburg. A week later, 21st October, the team deployed by road to Wildenrath for a night. Then, finally on the 26th October, we loaded our kit and the Landrover (with 835 exercise miles on the clock) on to a 47 Sqn Beverley (290 P1 Flt Lt Skinner) for the return to Abingdon.
So it must have been for many of the one-liners in the UKMAMS Operations Record. Happy memories of a fascinating time.
(David mentions, "the one-liners in the UKMAMS Operations Record" - What was known as Form 540, Operations Record Book. This "Book" was maintained at UKMAMS Headquarters by the Duty Ops Officer, a rotating position utilizing the team leaders. I am duplicating this book, bit-by-bit, that reflects tasks from 1964 to 2006. It's by no means complete as yet - still a mammoth work in progress - but it does paint a picture of the diverse tasks we were engaged in back then. Have a shuftee at http://ukmamsoba.org/orb.html and perhaps it will tickle the old grey cells and prompt some good stories from our readers.)
From: Keri Eynon, Thatcham Berks
Subject: Christmas Overseas
In all my time in the RAF I only had to spend one Christmas overseas as a singly (did spend others as a married man with my wife there).
My Christmas was in 1969 at RAF Muharraq, my first overseas posting and my first Movements tour. There are a few memories that came flooding back about that time. There was the "Block Bar" competition - each section had to convert one room in their block to a bar - ours took the theme of a "Pit Stop" we had to take it in turns to serve behind the bar as well as doing the obligatory "Pub Crawl" to check out the competition.
One lasting memory was of the MT bar designed as a wild west saloon complete with "hitching post" outside to which they tethered a donkey which they had "borrowed!" from the local village until the owner came screaming for it back!
My other lasting memory is of Christmas dinner served by the officers with the CO having charge of the brandy sauce for the pudding, for this we had had demi-johns of brandy sent in from Cyprus - apparently the chef had told the CO that it only needed 4 demi-johns unfortunately - or otherwise! the CO got distracted when adding the brandy and lost count so for "safety sake" to make sure it tasted right he added 2 more demi-johns. Needless to say, the sauce only tasted of neat brandy and as a result, after also consuming the free beers that had been provided, added to a visit to a couple of block bars on the way back to our block and the rest of Christmas day was something of a blur which started to clear by mid-morning on Boxing Day. Great fun along with a few other memories of the time leading up to Christmas Day and then the entertainment that came from the UK just after New Year with pop star Joe Brown being the star act.
With regards to "Crew Room Trophies" there are some memories, but mostly of what others "acquired" which I am sure those involved will have put "pen to paper" about.
Again thanks for the newsletter each month and also keeping us up to date about people, especially at sad times when we bid farewell to old comrades, as in this case regarding Christmas recalling and bringing back memories of them.
From: Mark Attrill, Tallinn
Subject: Ghosts and Souvenirs
Christmas 1998. I was serving in HQ Stabilisation Force (SFOR) in Ilidza, Sarajevo. At the time, the HQ was located in an old Spa Hotel complex which all sounds very luxurious but it was not. The complex had been a former Bosnian Serb Army HQ and all the windows in our building had been previously blown out and, in some cases, replaced with plastic sheeting. I was working as SO J3 Air 'Special Projects' which, in reality meant that I was the military focal point for liaising and working with the embryonic Civil Aviation Authority and commercial airlines to re-establish a civilian aviation structure in post-war Bosnia - A great job!
I had just got back from a trip with the boss to Belgrade and woke up on Christmas Day morning to discover the power had been cut and the standby generators had not kicked in... so no hot shower and no cooked breakfast. Furthermore it was around -15C. So I proceeded to my 'office' which was, in reality, a metal container on the back of a US Army command truck. As soon as I opened it up, and entered what could only be described as an ice cave, I realised that the standby generators were out all over the camp and had obviously been that way for some hours. Everything in my metal box was totally frozen - even the keys on the computer keyboard would not work. There was no option but to de-camp (literally) to one of the airline offices in the Air Terminal down the road at Sarajevo International Airport for the day while the US civil engineers worked on defrosting the office complex.
Souvenirs for the Crew Room - My first ever trip! We were on a day trip from Leuchars to Rygge, Norway, to deploy equipment for a squadron exchange. Having completed the unload, and given it was my maiden trip, I was 'tasked' with acquiring the obligatory souvenir for the crew room. Our Norwegian hosts had, rather naively, given us access to the squadron crewroom while we waited for the C-130 to be prepped for the return journey. I was halfway up the wall, precariously perched on a chair lifting a rather large squadron crest off the wall when the RAF fighter detachment commander (actually the squadron commander) walked in and spotted me. Initially miffed, his demeanor changed rapidly as he walked out of the room muttering "I didn't see that, Flying Officer." As I walked back across the dispersal, somewhat awkwardly with a thinly disguised trophy, to our waiting aircraft, the Wing Commander sidled up to me and offered his congratulations while admitting he had had his eye on the same piece of memorabilia - phew!
New members who have joined us recently:
Denis Gilbert, Tucson, AZ
Tim Richardson, Tadworth, Surrey
Martin Read, Torquay, Devon
Jacques Guay, Port Charlotte, FL
Mik Gidney, Swindon, Wilts
Kiwis Happy to Share the Loads
RAAF and RNZAF Air Movements personnel work together to palletise equipment at RAAF Base Amberley, QLD
Similar equipment and procedures make the process of integrating into other Air Load Teams much easier than one might think. That’s why Royal New Zealand Air Force Flight Lieutenant Emily Hall and her team of three Leading Aircraftsman were able to hit the ground running at No. 23 Squadron’s Air Movements Terminal within 24 hours of arriving at RAAF Base Amberley in Ipswich, Queensland.
“We watched the impact of the bushfires and felt powerless” Flight Lieutenant Hall said, speaking on behalf of her Mobile Air Load Team (MALT). After seeing the devastating Australian bushfires from neighbouring New Zealand, Flight Lieutenant Hall and her team were quick to act when they were given the opportunity to support Operation Bushfire Assist. “Everyone in my team is always eager to help.” Flight Lieutenant Hall said. “They were all on leave when I called them, but everyone flew out to Australia the next day."
Temporarily accommodated at RAAF Base Amberley and working from the base’s Air Movement’s Terminal, Flight Lieutenant Hall and her team felt right at home. “The procedures are the same, the culture’s the same, even the banter’s the same – it’s like being at home,” Flight Lieutenant Hall said. “Only this time, we can do our job, do what we’re good at whilst actually having a positive impact on Operation Bushfire Assist.”
A major part of the efficient and effective movement of personnel and materiel to support Air Force’s activities, operations and exercises, Aircraft Load Teams working from Amberley have been running two shifts a day and working eight to 10 hours per shift.
As the Officer in Charge of No. 23 Squadron’s Air Movements Section, Flying Officer Megan Ryan witnessed the NZ MALT integrate seamlessly with the squadron’s Air Load Teams from day one. “It is excellent having the NZ MALT working here within our Air Movements Section," Flying Officer Megan Ryan said. "It’s great to see how seamlessly our Australian and New Zealand teams work together as coalition allies. We are very grateful for New Zealand’s support and assistance throughout this time.”
While NZ MALT teams regularly train, deploy and undertake exercises with their Australian counterparts all over the world, they don’t often have the opportunity to work from Australian Air Force bases. “We got really excited when we arrived, Amberley is huge,” Flight Lieutenant Hall said. “The transit accommodation is new and shiny, the planes are bigger, the teams are bigger and the loads are bigger. Everything is that next level up and there’s more concurrent activity here. It’s exciting seeing so much going on and everyone has been super accommodating.”
While admitting this is an opportunity for her team to upskill, Flight Lieutenant Hall said the real reward was the opportunity to help out in this time of need. “All our training, all the courses and all the exercises are worth it because we’re actually able to help people in need,” she said. “Even though we’re not on the front line, it’s still tangible the satisfaction we’re getting because we’re seeing all the freight moving to areas in need. It definitely makes you proud to be a Kiwi.”
From: John Telstra
Subject: RAF Boy Entrants’ Commemorative Coin
From Boys to Men
Many months ago it was discussed amongst the Facebook "RAF Ex Boy Entrants Group" that consideration be given to striking a Commemorative RAF Boy Entrants Medal, however as we wanted the theme to be strictly Royal Air Force we needed the MoD's approval. Sadly this was not obtained as they would not sanction an unofficial medal. However they indicated they would consider a Commemorative Coin.
After many weeks of communication we finally agreed on a design and was issued a license to use the licensed material in connection with the manufacture, sale and distribution of a "Royal Air Force Boy Entrant" Commemorative Coin. This Commemorative Coin has a limited quantity and production time.
The material is Cupronickel 75/25 it has a diameter of 38mm, slightly larger than a GSM and is approximately 3mm thick. The detail for the Obverse and Reverse as indicated in the manufacturers artwork is Die Struck. Personalisation is achieved by engraving, the appropriate training station on the scroll as shown in the diagram. Personal information engraved round the bottom edge.
Motto: after considerable deliberation to find a suitable meaningful motto it was decided to use “Ex pueros hominem” which translates to “From Boys to Men”
This RAF Boy Entrant Commemorative Coin is available to all Ex Boy Entrants and/or their family and will be offered for a limited time. Those that wish to purchase one of these unique one-off Coins can complete the attached application (.pdf format) print it, complete it and follow the listed directions.
This Newsletter is Dedicated
To The Memories of:
Tony Saw (RAF)
Eddie Grace (RAF)
Marty Evans (RAAF)
Terry Durepeau (RCAF)
Doc MacKenzie (RCAF)
If you wish to help support the OBA:
In Canada, via e-mail transfer
Overseas (including the UK), you may send Cheque or Money Order to:
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