RAF opens new £70m hangar for Atlas aircraft
From: Thomas Geoghegan, Folkestone, Kent
Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #012618

Hi Tony,

Another great and informative issue in January.  I suppose you, like myself, will be saddened seeing the condition of Lyneham of late, but it's the way of lots of the old former stations we may have served on. Not too long ago I saw some photos of RAF Church Fenton. I wish I hadn't, it was disgusting seeing one of my favourite postings allowed to crumble to ruins.

As regards the Bristol Freighter (Memories of RAF Changi), I remember being flown by the RNZAF in the early 1960's along with despatchers from the Royal Corps of Transport (RCT) based with us at Seletar.  Many years later one of my friends in British Airways Maintenance Control actually purchased a Bristol Freighter.  The aircraft lived alongside our old wing hangar for some time but then was written off when control was lost on take off at another airfield. I remember he took some time to get over his loss.


The Royal Air Force (RAF) has officially opened its new £70m hangar to accommodate the new Atlas transport aircraft at RAF Brize Norton. Designed to accommodate three of the RAF’s new Atlas aircraft, the hangar is built over a total area of 24,000m2 and has a height of 28m.

The Atlas maintenance, repair and upgrade facility, which has been constructed under Defence Infrastructure Organisation contracts, is fully operational to support the transport operations of the UK airforce across the globe.

The RAF has built the new hangar with an aim to make the maintenance of the transport aircraft easier, safer, and more efficient.  The RAF’s Atlas fleet is supported by an agreement signed between the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) as well as the Airbus Defence and Space.  The deal is part of the country’s on-going support to the Atlas programme, which has been capable of retaining 8,000 job opportunities across the national supply chain.

UK DE&S director air support Adrian Baguley said: “The Atlas programme is delivering a world-class fleet for the RAF, offering the UK next-generation transport and airlift abilities for operations all over the world. This new facility will ensure that work continues for decades to come. Expert support on the ground in the UK is an essential part of that capability and this new facility will ensure that work continues for decades to come.”

Capable of carrying up to 37t over a range of 2,000nm, the aircraft can deploy troops and equipment between and within theatres of operation either by parachute or by landing on short and potentially unprepared airstrips.  In addition, Atlas can accommodate armoured vehicles which can help significantly reduce the time required for a deploying  force to be ready to fight.  The aircraft is also capable of performing humanitarian roles which include deployment of mobile cranes, excavators, and large dump trucks for disaster relief operations.

The UK MoD has ordered a total of 22 Atlas aircraft for the RAF, 18 of which have already been delivered. The remaining aircraft are scheduled to be delivered by 2022.

Air Force Technology
From: Duane Bach, Carrying Place, ON 
Subject: Memories of Norway

Hi Tony,

This was our 6-week MAMS Team in Bardufoss, Norway in 1974. I could be wrong on the deployment date but it was a hazy time back then thanks to good ol' Canadian Club!

From left to right, as I remember, in the rear is MCpl Paul Turcotte, Capt Bouchard (who became a Tracker pilot later on), Pte Doug Dearing, Cpl Andy Robicheau.

In the front is yours truly and Pte Terry Hare.


From: Chris Goss, Marlow, Bucks
Subject: Memories of Norway

Crikey - so many memories of Norway.  On detachment at Bardufoss, we fitted toilet brushes to the roofs of our Mercedes FWD vehicle and convinced all that it was new radar antenna. 

In Andoya, Roger Gough took it on himself to nick the stuffed Arctic Fox in the lobby.  When all was quiet he grabbed it and ran only to find out it was a popular target for being nicked and was chained to the wall. 

In Tromso, acquiring a sign which said "Beware of Thieves". 

Again in Bardufoss, going toboggoning on plastic bags - Ritchie Holland went hurtling down the hill and came a cropper, badly damaging a nipple; he could not stop laughing despite the pain

So many and happy times.  I remember also another Bardufoss detachment where I was the only officer in charge of 3 teams.  There was an obnoxious LAC from Shift who got on everyone's nerves and in a wind-down drink, he said something to me after which the room went very quiet.  Cpl Andy Hartley then said, "Do you mind stepping out for a bit Boss"; I did and after hearing a lot of thuds, was asked back in to receive an apology from said LAC who was now sporting a bleeding nose!

From: Tony Gale, London, ON
Subject: Crash of Hercules XV194

Back in September 1972, I was on Foxtrot team loading some Army chaps and their equipment out of Wittering bound for Tromso in Norway. The load was designated as a Bedford Truck, a 3/4 ton trailer and some PSP to be loaded on the ramp. When we were underneath the truck we noticed that the elliptical springs, which should have been, well - elliptical, were actually straight. When we checked the "empty" truck (as per the manifest), it was full to the gunwales of all kinds of stuff (including booze if I remember correctly). With a half hour to chocks there was no time to check-weigh the vehicle, and so we offloaded the trailer and the PSP, and put the truck on the C of G using every available chain to secure it.

When the C-130 landed in Tromso it aquaplaned on about 2" of water on the runway and overshot, eventually coming to rest in a gully. The floor separated from the airframe of the aircraft, but the truck was still attached to the floor! The only casualty, as far as I can recall, was the Flight Engineer who had his hand on top of the co-driver's seat when pranging and subsequently got one of his fingers firmly trapped in the seat. I understand that the ALM used his knife to separate finger from Engineer when a very quick exit was called for. The aircraft was a write-off.

From: Ian Berry, Swindon, Wilts
Subject: The Demise of Herc XV194 - Tromso, Norway, Sep 1972


Having read your e-mail concerning the 'overloaded Herc' I thought I should fill in the gaps. The incident occurred during Exercise Strong Express in September 1972. Hercules XV194 was one of many chalks departing from RAF Wittering with a 1 Sqn (Harrier) load on board. Yes, it was a 4 ton truck containing all their duty frees with one passenger and your team, F Troop, did load it (yourself, George Lynes, possibly Chris Twyman, Dave Barton, Don Wickham and Tony Moore). My team, Echo, were working opposite on nights (Gus Hatter, Ken Browne, Ross McKerron, Gordon Gourdie and myself, as Bob Tring was doing the IALCE in Bardufoss). I can confirm that you used extra lashings on the truck and received no thanks for it.

The aircraft was operated by a crew from 24 Sqn (Hit the floor - it's 24!!). The Captain was a Flt Lt 'Crasher' Gibbs and the MALM was a bloke called 'Pincher' Martin. The aircraft was airborne okay and reached Tromso in Northern Norway okay, it all went to 'rats' on the landing.

The co-pilot was tasked to do the landing and the approach was normal. The runway was covered in slush as a result of new snow and the edges of the runway had concrete monsoon drains which assisted with the disposal of melted snow. The Loadmaster was sitting upstairs on the bunk seat and the passenger was standing behind the Air Engineer with his hand gripping the 'towel rail' on the back of his seat.

On touch-down the aircraft started to veer to the left. The Aircraft Captain, without saying 'he had control' feathered the two starboard engines. The co-pilot, believing he was still in control, applied right rudder and brakes.

Instead of a gentle correction to the centreline, the aircraft swung hard right and left the runway. As it crossed over the 'monnie' drain the cockpit area of the fuselage broke off by the crew door, coming to rest at an angle to the main fuselage, the tail also broke off. At this stage the crew 'legged it' through the flight deck windows leaving everything still switched on and live! The passenger had trapped his hand on the 'towel rail' when it folded under the impact, the navigator gave him a 'whack' which loosened his hand but broke his fingers.
The following accounts regarding Hercules XV194 were originally published in 2001
On hitting the ground outside the aircraft, the ALM had a heart attack (non-fatal). The main fuselage was covered in dirt which had entered through the break and if the ALM and pax had been sitting there they would have been killed. The Load remained 'nailed to the floor' and not one bottle was broken!

A Chief Tech and a Sgt eventually climbed back into the aircraft to make everything safe, there was no fire. The aircraft was a write-off.

At the Board of Enquiry everyone, apart from the Navigator, was found guilty of negligence, both pilots for lack of co-ordination, the engineer for leaving the frame live and the ALM for not being at his correct position for landing - even though he would have been killed!
Once again the MAMS team were never thanked for their application of extra lashings. (Today I might add we would have been hung if we had not first offloaded the vehicle and check-weighed it).

Where are they now? Believe it or not the Captain, Gibbs, is now a check-pilot for the CAA!! Everyone else is now retired, the co-pilot and engineer shortly after the crash. The ALM, Pincher Martin, was permanently grounded and left two years later. He's still in the Lyneham area selling insurance!

Hope this fills in the gaps. (ps: No one can sue me as the accident report was printed in Air Clues some 25 years ago... )



From: Charles Collier (d), Marlborough
Subject: Tromso Accident

Hello Tony,

... I was leading two teams of UKMAMS personnel for the annual Harrier force exercise in Norway. We were on the deployment phase when the support transport aircraft were to arrive in quick succession for us to offload and disperse to their forward areas.  It was then that Hercules XV194 was on approach to Tromso, carrying amongst other things, the Wittering accountant officer and the imprest account for the station detachment!

As the aircraft touched down on the runway it veered to the starboard side without correction and fell plumb into the storm drain at that side of the runway. With the fuselage in the drain the mainplanes were level with the runway and surrounding area. It came to a stop near the detachment HQ without catching fire. The crew with the one extra officer escaped through the overhead hatch and ran along the port mainplane onto the runway to escape. 
As the accountant officer had left his imprest on board I volunteered to recover it. Knowing that the fire extinguishers would have fired I put a breathing mask on and entered the crashed airframe. I made my way along to the point where the money bag was and recovered it. It was rather eerie as everything seemed in place and ready for takeoff. But as Ian had said, it was a write off. So I delivered to a very grateful accountant officer his imprest for the forthcoming detachment.

Many regards

From: Tony Last, Huntingdon
Subject: Submarines in the Middle of Norway?

While looking through my MAMS tasks log for something to include this month,  I happened upon a Norway task back in Oct '86 that gave us a bit of a laugh. The team was Sgt Tony Feast, Sgt Taff Owen, Cpl Jim Bissel, Cpl Andy Vicary and of course myself then FS Tony Last. Our load was a submarine mast in a massively long aluminium box which was then crated. It had to go to Norway for a stricken sub somewhere off their coast and required the use of a Mk3 Hercules (AC 202).

The mast was loaded by the base shift overnight, using a Condec and various NATO pallets and pieces of roller, and fitted quite snugly just behind the winch housing at the front all the way to a quarter of the way up the ramp. Clearly the front was secured to prevent forward movement on the aircraft floor and then the ramp door was closed allowing the crate to rise up the ramp on rollers before it was secured to the ramp floor. We had never seen so many chains on a single box. The first thing we did once airborne was to take half of them off and stow them back into their box. Between us (and the Loadie) we reckoned there were enough lashings to give at least 120g forward and aft restraint and much similar upward.

The journey to the arrival at destination went without incident and in the meantime we had a hot breakfast, a couple of ciggies and a read of the paper. Before we knew it we were landing at Kristiansand, Norway, some 1hr 54mins after take-off. Having taxied to the pans we were met by a startled looking Norwegian military person, in a small vehicle with lots of flashing yellow lights. The Loadie jumped off to do the meet and greet stuff and find out where they wanted us to park but came back shortly with a puzzled look on his face. Apparently, the man wanted to know what we were doing on his airfield as they weren't expecting us. After some chatting with HQ38 Group the captain decided he would have a chat with the Norwegian. He explained we had a submarine mast for a sub off their coast and a flight plan to bring it here where the Norwegians were meeting us and on-moving it.
The Norwegian was even more puzzled because the sea was 'many, many miles from here' but then nodded his head and asked the captain to come with him. Off they went with the Captain returning some short while later looking somewhat embarrassed. Seems we have landed at the wrong airfield he said. What's this 'we' business we thought.  Meanwhile of course we had the ramp chains off so the ramp could be lowered in anticipation of an offload. Seemingly we should be at Kristiansund NOT Kristiansand said the Captain. That's at least another hour's flying time north from here. Ooops! Whata mistaka to make, we thought. I think HQ took the rap for it although it was never confirmed to us.

Chains back on and off we went to the find the correct airfield. Sure enough there was a reception committee waiting for us on the tarmac. There was also an enormous forklift with a boom about 30 ft high with tines wide enough to pick up your average 3-tonner. It was apparently used in oil pipe laying. Having consulted with the Norwegian powers that be, this was their total asset available to effect the offload. Needless to say we wouldn't let the forklift come within 20 metres of the aircraft as it was absolutely useless. The Captain, now quite exasperated, was back onto HQ38 Group to report the problem and told them it looked likely that he would be bringing the mast back to the UK as there was nothing suitable to offload it, i.e. no transfer loader or Condec equivalent. He said he would have a chat to the UKMAMS team on board for any suggestions.

Meanwhile we had completely unlashed the crate reckoning we could probably run it off the aircraft ramp using the NATO pallets and the pieces of roller we had on board if it came to it. The decision was made and all went well until the front of the box (the seriously heavy end) dug into tarmac on the pan and despite all the huff and puff we couldn't move it forwards or backwards. The captain came down to see how long we would be and I explained our problem but also suggested that there was a way we could get round it. Anchor the front of the crate (now embedded in the pan) to a heavy duty D-ring (also set in the pan) close by, which was normally used for securing parked helicopters and light aircraft in windy conditions. Then, if he started up the aircraft, he could drive it away from the crate and let the aircraft unload the box onto the tarmac while we moved NATO pallets and rollers to assist it on its way. Brilliant he said and off he went to start up. Well it worked a treat and as soon as it was clear of the ramp we shut up and scarpered leaving the few bits of roller and the NATO pallets behind. We've no idea how they moved it from there. Maybe it's been made into an airfield roundabout with suitable flashing yellows. We had a laugh though before disappearing off to the not so funny Lossiemouth for a few days TACEVAL.  Oh what joy!
A Dish Served Cold
1971 Norway: The Echo Team Leader was Fg Off Paul Steiner, a headstrong individual. On a specific task to Bodo, he instructed all of the team to take Arctic protective clothing. On the approach to the airfield, whilst over the Norwegian mountains, there was plenty of snow around and so he ordered the team to don their protective clothing. Not taking heed whatsoever of their protests they all had to don parkas, balaclavas and even knee-high mukluks. 

The aircraft landed and the team leader leapt out enthusiastically, followed sheepishly by his team only to be greeted by bright sunshine and the ground handlers wearing shorts and laughing uncontrollably!

On the same task (rumour has it) the team were accommodated with a Norwegian family.  Although friendly enough the team were getting pretty fed up with being fed a cold breakfast every morning, normally of fish. FS Ken Browne ('The Hustler') advised the team that he had fixed it with 'the mother' and had shown her how to make bacon and eggs. Sure enough the next morning they were given bacon and eggs for breakfast - straight from the fridge where she'd placed them the night before after cooking them!
From: Wayne Harker, Edmonton, AB
Subject: Memories of Norway

Hi Tony,

By far my most memorable occasion working with members of other nation's "Movers" was Exercise Strong Express in Bardufoss, Norway, in September 1972. 

We all (British, Canadian and American) movers worked together on mixed IALCE (International Airlift Control Element) teams to unload and load the aircraft from all nations for this NATO northern flank exercise.  When an aircraft came in, the senior mover of the nation flying the aircraft led the team for that task.  This worked well for aircraft for our home nations, but I am not sure how we handled aircraft of other NATO nations. 
I recall trying to offload a jeep and two trailers off an Italian "Boxcar" C119.  The Italian troops had loaded the jeep and trailers daisy chained when the aircraft was loaded.  The troops felt they could just hook up the two trailers and back them off the C119.  Their English was not great and none of us spoke Italian.  FUN!

We all learned a lot about each other's aircraft and loading methods.  Until that time I am sure no British or American loaders believed that we Canadians could show up with 3/4 ton vehicles loaded into a Boeing 707.

Our off-duty time was spent in each others drinking tents.  The British introduced us to a ridiculous drinking game where we passed an empty beer can around the table and smashed it against our foreheads in succession two see who was finally NOT able to put a new dent in it. 
Each country did host one big evening party with food and drinks for all.  Many Zappers, Flashes, hats etc., were traded while we were there, and in my opinion we all went home with a better understanding of our foreign allies, their equipment and their methods.

Wayne Harker
From: David Taylor, York
Subject: Memories of Norway

Hi Tony,

The only time I got to Norway with the RAF was a Britannia day trip in August 1963. It was trooping exercise (Barfrost ll) to Andoya, but we had to divert to Bardufoss as an aircraft had crashed on the runway at Andoya, blocking it for a time. We returned ten days later to recover the troops. Never got to see much but recall it was quite cold, even in August, though nowhere near as cold as Thule, Greenland.

20 years later, long after leaving the RAF, now working in the oil industry, I was to spend a lot of time on the Norwegian West coast, all the way from Kristiansand to Bodo, in the Arctic Circle. Beautiful country, does not shut down when it snows (and it really does snow!), 24hr daylight in the summer months. Biggest drawback: beer at the equivalent of £8 a pint!

Best regards,

(Transport Command Mobile Servicing Flight)
From: Andrew Spinks, Dubai
Subject:  Memories of Norway

My ‘logbook’ is packed somewhere (while renovations on our house are in progress) but I recall 2 trips with F Troop to Norway, one to Rygge which was notable for, well, nothing particular, and one a round-robin on a C130 exchanging Canberra ground equipment and compressed gas cylinders at several Norwegian air bases.

This took us to airfields which included Oerland in mid-Norway, Andoya in the north and Stavanger in the south. The load was a bit of a pain because it involved bits and pieces being offloaded and U/S or lifex equipment reloaded at each airfield but what I really remember about the trip was the Atlantic Hotel in Stavanger.

At this stage I was young, single and impressionable. I remember the hotel receptionist - probably the most beautiful woman I had ever seen (well, at that stage in my life, Mrs S). So what happened next? The hotel restaurant was made to look like a pier on the waterfront and I had one of the more memorable dinners of my lifetime there.  Following this was a great evening of beers, stories and laughs with the team.

Many years later I landed a dream posting to the NATO HQ just outside Oslo and spent 3½ years in that lovely country. It is said these days that it is the best place in the world to live... and I would not disagree!
From: Ronald Meredith, Spalding, Lincs
Subject: Memories of Norway

I have two Norway stories:

Story One - Many moons ago, when in my only ever stores job, OC Supply & Movements at RAF Cottesmore, I jumped a 115 Sqn Argosy that was taking an engine out to one of our 360 Sqn Canberras at RNoF Bodo. We night stopped so that we could recover the defunct engine the next day. I was carrying 3 bottles of best Malt whisky for 360 Sqn to give to selected RNoF staff, who were always cooperative and great hosts.

About 1000, just before departure, the captain asked the co-pilot if he had organised in-flight rations for the return. No, said he, the RNoF  do not provide flight rations for visiting non RNoF aircraft, but suggested that I bought some from the civil side of the airport; they took me over but everything was so expensive, I decided not to blow the imprest. Well, said an irate aircraft captain, you carry the imprest for essentials, I regard in-flight rations as essential; there are 6 of us on board, make a nice selection and we will get away, I will delay our take off time by 45 minutes, so get to it, that 360 Sqn Landrover by the ramp will take you there and back.

The co-pilot returned with a wonderful selection of sandwiches, pastries and fruit drinks and placed the bill in the captain's hand. I cannot remember the exact Kroner sum, but it converted out to about £140.

Uneventful flight back to base and the food was absolutely brilliant and appreciated by all. Obviously the co- pilot turned in the bill with what was left of the imprest to our chief acker basher. The latter was aware that I had been on the trip and telephoned me to confirm that this was a genuine and necessary expenditure. Of course said I, at least we made our own coffee, if he had bought 6 coffees, that would have been nearly another £30. The acker basher nearly exploded, but said that he must try and get on the next Bodo trip!
Story Two - (I will get to Norway in a moment).

I was lucky to have my first skiing  lessons at a fabulous ski centre north of Tehran, built on the orders of the Shah who was still on the throne and I had been seconded for a short time, to the Iranian Defence Academy.  On a posting to 2ATAF, I used the ski facilities available to the RAF at Oberammergau and elsewhere, but instead of going downhill all the time, opted to attend a Nordic  Ski cross-country course in Norway.

The course was run by the army and accommodation was fairly basic. Most on the course were Army or Royal Marines, destined for a unit which required ski and winter survival skills. An RN officer and myself were the only volunteers on the course.
We did everything required of the troops and rapidly acquired the ability to "walk" on the ski's to get both uphill and downhill, avoid trees or other obstacles, make small jumps and dig snow holes. On treks through the local forest, we frequently met local Norwegians and they were always very friendly. When the "operational" troops  went off on a 3 day and 2 night cross-country exercise, we remained to receive additional basic training and both of us secured the appropriate Nordic ski certificate. We were also able to take up the hospitality offered by some of the locals who regaled us with their wartime stories. For each household where we were looked after, a bottle of scotch was always our thank you.

Ron Meredith
From: Tony Street, Buffalo, NY
Subject: A funny tale abut an encounter with "Norwegian Seafood."

In the fall of 1969, we of 437(T) Sqn, RCAF, took part in some sort of NATO exercise flying to and from Bardufoss Air Base, Norway. Our mission (God, I love that word…so American) was to bring in fresh Canadian troops, stay the night and leave at the crack of dawn, with the stale ones.

On our arrival at 1500hrs, we were met by the MAMS team who gave us a “What’s what and where,” briefing that included the vital G2 that the barracks were a good walk from the club and the club was between us and the barracks. This played a big part in our decision-making process.

We got transport to the club and had a few beers and arrived at a plan. It was decided that we would finish this round, walk to the barracks, shower, change and return for dinner. Striking while the iron is hot, so to speak, we donned our parkas, grabbed our bags and stepped out into a medium sized blizzard that obscured even the moon from view. Not wanting to perish an icy death in Norway if we happened wander off the beaten path, we beat a retreat into the club.

Around about 2300hrs, we somehow got a ride to barracks, only to find nobody in charge to assign us bedding/lodging. Despite this being a 24hr come & go operation, the bedding store was closed. A brief recce showed us that all the beds had been slept in and that the linens could be, in our beer-hazed minds, still warm. After a few more pints from the beer machine, we racked out, with the smell of used, stale linens caressing our senses.

Upon return to Trenton, two days after the trip, a few of us showed up at sick-call with our Norwegian Seafood, CRABS! We dubbed them Norwegian as that’s where we got them, in fact they could have come from any NATO country participating in the operation. I’d hate to think mine came from Greece!

NBs: Because of the delicata situ here, the MO, at the request of our Squadron Commander, presented us with letters outlining a virulent outbreak of Pediculosis pubis originating in NATO countries, etc., etc., that we were able to re-present to our wives and SOs. Some went downtown and had them photocopied for future use. Remember, this was in ’69.

One of the guys, more experienced in these matters than I, was reported to have announced to the MO, “I gotta case of crabs.” His knowledgeable reply? “Give it to the MAMS guys, they’ll drink anything!”
From: Syd Avery, 03140 Guardamar del Segura
Subject: Memories of Norway

I was on a part of Arctic Express in February 1969, but on an “outstation”, on the island of Andoya, located just before you turn right, round the corner at the top. A fishing port. Sit in a downtown restaurant and watch the boats come in and unload their catch. Our esteemed Deputy Leader, whilst munching his way through a big lump of cod, enquired as to whether the fish was local and fresh!

Accomodation for us was... in tents! (Strange how all the support personnel were in tents and the Phantom fixers were in permanent accommodation on the main camp. These particular bell tents had fires in the middle which gave out a lot of heat. I cannot remember whether they were coal or wood burners. At night, once snuggled up in sleeping bags with the fire on it was quite warm. To keep the fire going during the night, the duty Snowdrop (RAF Police - guard), on his rounds, would replenish the fires in the tents. All worked fine until one particular night, said duty Snowdrop for some reason failed in his stoker duties. No fuel, no fire, no heat. Brass monkeys had nothing on the cold when we woke up. Representations were made, in dulcet terms, of course, by i/c's, and after a lot of discussion and give and take, all were accommodated on the main camp.

We were given a hire car for the journey between the camp and airfield, and driving to the camp one evening, it was requested that I drive with greater alacrity. Gentle touch on the speed pedal. Next thing, we have snow all over the windscreen, and we are up to the hubcaps in snow! We six couldn’t get it out, up the creek sans snowshoes. Fortunately, two Norwegian army trucks came along and the guy in charge wanted to pull it out with chains. It was pointed out to him that the bodywork of our car would, in all probability, detach if he did this.  He went to the back of one of the trucks and grunted a few times which I suppose was Norwegian and about 20 guys, all conscripts, jumped out, got around our car and at a further grunt lifted and carried it back on the road. Cost us a few hundred cigarettes and a few old Norwegian Krone. Nobody complained about speed after that.

We handled a RHAG (retractable hydraulic arrester gear) and were able to have a runway side-seat to watch it being used. Very impressive rate of deceleration.

The night before we were due to leave by Argosy to Benson, it snowed. Whilst some loaded, others dug in a race against another snow storm to get the aeroplane out. Valiant efforts saved us a three day snow-in.

Some years later, much further south, returning to the hotel from a calorie top up, one of the team saw a set of antlers he took a fancy to. So there we were, he on my shoulders and me with my faced stuffed in some type of holly whilst he wrestled with the antler fixings. When I PVR’d, some 35 years ago, the antlers still hung in the crew room.


From: Clive Price, Brecon
Subject: Memories of Norway

Why did we often go to places well out of season; Greece in the hottest month of the year and Norway, the land of the midnight sun, in mid winter?  Dressed as Inuit (original Canadians), we were thrown into work as soon as we landed. It was a multi-nation NATO northern flank exercise.  I was grabbed by an American full colonel who was in overall command of the ramp and ordered to direct all Hercules to reverse up to a snow bank topped by a road.

I was in marshalling heaven! The British aircrews with their shiny new(ish) Hercules were as nervous as kittens being backed up.  When I batted them to stop, oftentimes they hit the brakes so hard the nose wheel went at least a yard in the air!  One young angry aircrew officer came over to me to have a go (cut me a new one). Before he could speak I said, "Sir, this is what war is like, get used to it!"   Problem solved.

I encountered the American colonel on several other occasions,  I quickly saluted and retreated fast! I could say a lot more but my one typing finger wants to go to bed. You know the rest Tony as you were there also.

Cheers to you all out there!

Taff Price (F-team, UKMAMS Abingdon, 1966-1970)
F540 Operations Record Book Entries
Jun 1964 Exercise Northern Express Colerne to Vaernes and Bardufoss, Norway and return Plt Off Stevens plus team. Hastings TG476 and Britannia XM517
Feb 1965 Exercise Winter Trail Benson to Vaernes, Andoya, Bodo and Bardufos, Norway and return to Lyneham Plt Off Stevens plus team. 1st Inniskillings and 43 Marine Commando Group.  Argosy XP441 and Britannia XM636.  This was the first use of our newly issued Arctic clothing, which I recall was most effective!
Mar 1965 Exercise Cold Winter
Benson to West Raynham, then on to Bodo, Norway. Return to Benson via Lyneham
Plt Off Stevens plus team.  Positioning of 1 Squadron (Hunters).
Britannia XM658 and Argosy XP139
Mar 1965 Exercise Cold Winter Benson to Vaernes, Bodo and Gardemoen, Norway and return to West Raynham and Benson Plt Off Stevens plus team.  Recovery of 1 Squadron (Hunters). Argosys XP141 and XP441
Sep 1965 Special Lyneham to Ballykelly, Northern Ireland, then to Bodo Norway.  Return to Lyneham via Ballykelly Plt Off Stevens plus team.  Shackleton engine change.  Britannia XM657
Mar 1966 Exercise Winter Express Benson to Andoya and Vaernes, Norway then Lossiemouth, Scotland and West Raynham. Return to Benson Pilot Officer Stevens and team.  Recovery of 54 Squadron (Lightnings). Argosys XP857, XP141 and XP139
Feb 1967 Exercise Cold Winter UK to Andoya, Norway Plt Off CF Clark plus 8. Air Movements support to Hunter deployment in Norway
Mar 1968 Special Gutersloh, Germany to Rygge, Norway Flt Lt J Binns plus 4. Deployment of personnel and equipment of 4 Squadron (Hunters) from Gutersloh to Norway
May 1968 Special Oerland, Norway to Kinloss, Scotland Fg Off Jim Stewart plus 2. Recovery of a Griffon Power plant (Shackleton) from Norway to Kinloss, Scotland on Argosy Task 4010
Aug 1968 Exercise Viking Ship Scotland to Stavangar, Norway and return Fg Off P A Wiblin plus 5. Deployment of personnel and equipment of 51 (Highland) Div from Scotland to Norway and recovery of elements of the Norwegian Defence Force from Norway to Scotland. Britannia Task 6520
Mar 1969 Squadron Exchange Rygge, Norway to Laarbruch, Germany and return Cpl Syd Avery plus 5.  Repositioning RNoAF Squadron and 31 Squadron RAF (Canberra PR Mk 7) after exchange between Norway and Germany
Oct 1969 Special Rygge, Norway to Leuchars, Scotland Fg Off RG Clarke plus 7. Recovery of personnel and equipment of 11 Squadron (Lightnings) from Norway to Leuchars on Herc Task 3700
Feb 1970 Exercise Arctic Express Waterbeach, UK to Andoya, Norway Fg Off Frank Holmes plus 4. Airlift of Rotary Hydraulic Arrestor Gear (RHAG) to Andoya, Norway to support Phantom Fighters
Mar 1970 Exercise Arctic Express Andoya, Norway to Waterbeach, UK FSgt Roy Millington plus 4. Recovery of a Rotary Hydraulic Arrester Gear (RHAG) and personnel of 39 Regt RE from Norway to Waterbeach
May 1971 Exercise Evil Edge Oerland, Norway to Honington, UK Fg Off Pete Simpson, FSgt Dave Eggleton, Sgt John Bell, Cpl Syd Avery plus 1. Recovery of 12 Squadron (Buccaneers) from Norway to Honington
May 1971
Exercise Evil Edge
UK to Oerland, Norway and return FSgt Reg Carey, Cpl Dave Wilkin, SACs Terry Fryer & Polly Parkin plus 1. Squadron exchange of 12 Squadron (Bucanneers) and a RNoAF Squadron
Mar 1972 Exercise Hardfall Odiham, UK to Norway Fg Off Paul Steiner, FS Ken Browne, Sgt Rocky Knowles, Cpl Colin Eyres, JT Gordon Gourdie & SAC Bob Tring. Deployment of 72 Squadron (Wessex) to Norway
Sep 1972 Exercise Strong Express Wittering, UK to Tromso, Norway
Flt Lt Charles Collier, Fg Off Brian Clucas, FS Taff Thomas & Tony ‘Chomper’ Lamb, Sgts Ivan Gervais & Merv Corke, Cpls Keith Simmonds & Tom Blues, SACs Bob Ford, Bob Thacker, Keri Eynon and Fred Kitts.  Deployment of 1 Squadron (Harriers) from Wittering to Norway. (n.b. It was during this deployment that Hercules XV194 was written off when it left the runway on landing and ‘broke its back’ - everyone escaped.)
The above is just a small sampling of the Operations Record Book listings. 
To see a more comprehensive listing visit http://ukmamsoba.org/orb.html
The following have joined the OBA recently:

John Harney, Perth, WA
Gary Davies, Derry Hill, Wilts
Welcome to the OBA!
Last year saw the Royal Air Force’s Airbus Defence A400M swoop in to provide hope and much needed humanitarian aid in the aftermath of devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean – its first operational tasking. Tim Robinson reports from RAF Brize Norton as the Atlas flexes its muscles and takes over more of heavy lifting from the iconic Hercules.
Ruman saw A400Ms deliver much needed aid to the hurricane-hit Caribbean. (MoD)
“Working side-by-side on the hurricane relief was the first time I've heard a C-130 special forces support pilot turn around and say: "It's actually quite good at this, isn't it?" That was a mark of respect.” This, the words of Wg Cdr Gareth Burdett, OC XXIV Sqn (who was also in charge of the air mobility wing deployed for Operation Ruman, the UK’s Caribbean assistance mission), is a tribute to the RAF A400M’s operational debut in a major international humanitarian mission in September of last year. The UK humanitarian relief effort, in the wake of the damage and destruction left by Hurricane Irma as it swept through the Caribbean, saw Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines and RAF personnel scrambled a short notice to deliver urgent aid and assistance. As well as HMS Ocean and RFA Mounts Bay, the relief effort also included RAF Puma helicopters, C-17s, a C-130 and two A400Ms to deliver much needed food, water and essential aid to UK Dependencies and other islands in the Caribbean that had been affected by one of the worst storms in history.

Though the first Airbus A400M for the RAF was delivered in November 2014, Operation Ruman was the first operational debut for the UK A400M fleet and a significant milestone for a force that is still growing with a mix of 24/70 Sqn aircrew swinging into action.
The RAF now has 18 A400Ms in service, pooled between the OCU XXIV Sqn (24 Sqn), LXX Sqn (70 Sqn) and, 206(R) (responsible for trials and evaluation testing). Four more aircraft are set to be delivered between now and 2019 to take the whole force to 22 aircraft and another ex-C-130 squadron, 30 Sqn, is set to reform in 2018 as the second front-line A400M unit. 

The OC of the RAF A400Ms front-line operational unit, 70 (LXX) Sqn, Wg Cdr Ed Horne said: It's worth stressing that the Atlas force of 70 Sqn and 24 Sqn, and our engineering colleagues, are still in growth and still a relatively immature organisation. It's not something that we held a standby commitment for, or anything like that. So to get two aircraft out the door in such a short timeframe, for over 4,000 miles away, really playing to the aircraft's strengths in terms of its reach and its range, was a fantastic achievement.

Echoing this view, was 24Sqns OC, Wg Cdr Burdett: The A400M was remarkable in what it could do, It could take three times as much as a C-130 into a tight, small strip without taking any military risk in its performance. Whereas C-130 was taking in five tonnes, the A400 would be taking in 15.
A400Ms were able to deliver heavy loads into tight airstrips.
During the airlift, two A400Ms deployed to Barbados via a refuelling stop in the Azores (the C-130 taking a longer route via Iceland, Canada and the US) before all three began 'hub and spoke' type transport missions to deliver much-needed supplies to the stricken islands of the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Antigua and US Virgin Islands. In around a month of operations, the two A400Ms and C-130J delivered approximately 1,500 tonnes of aid, the vast majority of that delivered by the Atlas – thanks to its increased airlift capacity over the Hercules.

Mixed loads were common, said Wg Cdr Horne: “We had food, water, building materials, shelter kits, DFID aid type-stuff, in among JCBs playing to the volume sizes of the aircraft as well as its lift capacity, and then 54 passengers as well in the side seats.”

Though the A400M is big (37 tonnes total cargo capacity) it is also remarkably 'light on its feet' thanks to 12 main wheels in two six-tyre pairs. This and its capability to operate into smaller airfields, while still carrying a huge load meant that the Atlas made its mark in Operation Ruman.
Notes Wg Cdr Horne: “If I talk about Beef Island Airport in the British Virgin Islands, the runway length, it's concrete of course, but about 4,000ft long, and we were able to transport in the order of 20 tonnes, compared to the C-130’s seven or eight tonnes. We love the C-130, but you can't help but draw comparisons.” He added: “I would stress there is that we didn't have to employ any sort of special take-off or landing techniques. Everything was done to the standard that all the crews are trained to, using the same sort of tactics and techniques that we would use here at Brize Norton.  In Ruman, we didn't miss a heartbeat on the A400 for serviceability, and its performance was absolutely superb"
The range of the A400M also proved its worth in Operation Ruman, allowing the aircraft to deliver aid without needing to find somewhere to refuel at the delivery end. Says Horne: if you could imagine that most of these places have been smashed up by a hurricane and therefore not only were there limited communications available, but there were also limited services available like the ability to refuel aircraft. If I take the Turks and Caicos Islands as an example, that's about 1,000 miles from Barbados. So to go 1,000 miles there and 1,000 miles back might be beyond the fuel range of other transport aircraft. The A400M wouldn't have any issue in going there and back without having to refuel.

Horne also is enthusiastic about the aircraft from a pilots perspective, especially the HUD, situational awareness, powerful brakes and crisp, precise FBW system: From an operational point of view, from a testing, environmental scenario where it's windy, gusty, you're trying to accurately land on a short strip, the fly-by-wire capability coupled to all that situational awareness really makes it a step above.

The aircraft is also receiving praise from the RAFs loadmaster community  for its next gen qualities and design features. Rear ramp steadying struts and the ability of the aircraft to 'kneel' and reduce the angle of the ramp allowing vehicles and loads to be more easily loaded. This and an integral winch, means forgetting two pieces of essential equipment for the C-130J (an 'elephant's foot' support for the ramp and a winch) is now a thing of the past.
The picture at right shows the cavernous A400M cargo hold. The RAF worked with Airbus to introduce a flexible curtain at the back after feedback from passengers that the rear of the cargo bay can become colder than the front. 

Sgt Andrea Harrison, a Loadmaster on 70 Sqn at Brize, highlighted the automatic load-locking system, which can be used either from a side panel or the loadmasters station as a step-up from the 'charismatic' C-130J she had previously flown. The A400M's wider cargo hold, too, said Sgt Harrison, also allowed for easier checking of loads and pallets, with Loadmasters able to walk around the sides, rather than clamber over the loads.  Another advance over the C-130, she said, was that weight and balance calculations (for say additional cargo along a route), can be added on the fly while in flight, an improvement over the C-130J where the computer would only allow the Loadmaster to make changes while on the ground.
Training for the A400M for the RAF is conducted by 24 (XXIV) Sqn, based at Brize Norton, which is the Air Mobility Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) for A400M, C-17 and C-130. The squadron has 12 pilot instructors, eight loadmaster instructors and ten engineer instructors, with the unit to add a further six pilot instructors in the future when at full strength. The squadron’s strength, says Burdett, is its mix of highly experienced instructors. “The calibre of the instructors I have is phenomenal. They are all experts from the aircraft types they've flown before, and we've deliberately gone for a blend.” He added: “We've got people who are experts on the Herc, which is the obvious angle, but people who are experts on the C-17. We're bringing together the blend so we don't end up in groupthink and just using it in the same way that we've always used a Herc, because that would be a massive waste of this aircraft that can take three times as much into a small strip.” 
For the A400M training and conversion, it works closely with ATSL (A400M Training Service Ltd) a joint venture between Airbus and Thales. Civilian instructors from ATSL (two pilots, three LMs and four engineers) provide initial conversion training, before handing over to the RAF instructors for the more operational and tactically focused part of the course. 

A new A400M training facility features two full-motion flight simulators (FFS) from Thales which theoretically allow zero-flight time qualifications. However, the current type conversion course features 33 simulator flights, followed by four flights in the aircraft, with line training after that. All told, the OCU is aimed at lasting four months. As might be expected, a fair few of these new A400M pilots are from the shrinking C-130J force, but there are others from Shadow R1s as well as ab initio pilots direct from the King Airs at 45 Sqn. While 24Sqn is currently in 'surge mode' at a steady state, the OCU will be training ten A400M crews a year.
As well as type conversion, 24 Sqn’s role also includes refresher training, with front-line crews returning to the sims four times a year, to brush up on operating procedures and maintain standardisation. This refresher also includes annual checks and instrument ratings.        
A Cargo Hold Trainer allows loadmasters and other personnel to get familiar and train on loading and unloading the Atlas.
ATSL provides four sim flights a day per sim to the RAF, each lasting around three hours. The two simulators, with the latest visuals, can be linked to each other, to allow for formation flying, and instructor stations can also 'fly' additional AI A400Ms, allowing up to four aircraft to be flown simultaneously. However, notes Wg Cdr Burdett, despite the ramp-up in crews there is still spare capacity, and talks are ongoing with other A400M operators about potentially using this facility to train their pilots. While the simulators are currently used for type conversion, Wg Cdr Burdett also foresees that the A400M force will expand their use to include mission rehearsal. Networking to other simulators (its pace though, dependent on funding) is seen as part of the future of collective training for RAF.

The facility also features classrooms for training engineers with the latest in 3D 'virtual reality' which allows students to open, inspect and crawl all over a detailed 3D model on a desktop computer, before moving on to line training. At some point, 24 Sqn hope to add VR goggles to the training, to immerse students even further. As well as the FFS, computer-based training classrooms, the new 24 Sqn training facility also includes a Loadmaster Procedural Trainer.
Just outside of the building, 24 Sqn can make use of a 1:1 scale rear fuselage mock-up, the Cargo Hold Trainer-Enhanced (CHT-E). Though the outside looks like bare metal, inside the rear cargo bay and all its equipment (including working winch and ramp) is replicated to allow Loadmasters and movers to train in loading and unloading the real aircraft. One of three CHTs in existence, the RAF's version is enhanced with additional features, including smoke that can be introduced into the cargo bay to train for smoke and fire emergencies. As well as training the squadron's own personnel in loading and unloading the Atlas, the CHT-E also fulfils another function in allowing 'third party' user groups from Britain's armed forces such as medics, logisticians, or 16 Air Assault Brigade to familiarise themselves with the cabin dimensions.
While Operation Ruman saw the A400M and the Lockheed Martin C-130J working together, the new airlifter is now beginning to shoulder more and more of the Hercules’s traditional missions (although the C-130J is set to remain in service until 2035 – in the niche role as special forces support).

For instance, as well as a regular transport flight to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus supporting Operation Shader, last November it was announced that a A400M is now detached to the Middle East to support UK forces around the Arabian Gulf– taking over from the duty C-130 that has been based there since 2003.  

The RAF A400M has also been used recently on support flights to Ascension Island, where its ‘high flotation undercarriage’ has made it invaluable in not damaging the runway further after concerns over the runway.
As well as growing the force with the OCU and replacing the C-130J on ‘concrete to concrete’ transport tasks, another priority is for the RAF to expand the Atlas with a programme of capability development, that includes low-level tactical flying, fielding the DAS (defensive aid systems), NVGs, parachute and cargo airdrops, austere airfields and AAR (air to air refuelling).

In 2018, notes Wg Cdr Burdett, “We'll be looking to develop low-level flight further. We'll be looking to develop air drop, because that's one of the core skills for tactical air transport, and one of the most useful when it comes to some of the tasks we don't get much choice over, such as humanitarian aid or evacuation operations.”  Following airdropped container work, the next phase will see the RAF develop the A400M’s parachutist role, with an initial goal of delivering 30 paratroops. Although this is smaller than the 108 paratroops that could be eventually carried, this will allow the RAF and air delivery specialists to gain experience and knowledge and work up gradually to this final target.       
While some test and evaluation work (like beach landings, trialled last year) falls to Airbus test pilots (with RAF pilots onboard too), 24 Sqn also has its own small capability development section of instructors, working up techniques such as low-level flying, for example using the famous Mach Loop. 70 Sqn too, is also expanding the range of Atlas capabilities – with crews going through a NVG training package. (Indeed, NVGs and austere airfield operations were also demonstrated when the RAF deployed the A400M to the major air mobility exercise, Exercise Mobility Guardian in the US last year – which also included the Atlas loading a US Army Stryker vehicle.)           

Another upcoming string to its bow will be outfitting the A400M for the medical evacuation role. This will sit somewhere between the CH-47 MERT (Medical Emergency Response Team) and the C-17 'flying hospital' used for more deliberate, planned evacuations. Though any A400M medical evacuation mission would undoubtedly be towards the more deliberate end, the ability of such a large airlifter (able to carry the C-17’s equipment) to get into smaller and more austere airstrips will provide a leap in MEDVAC capability for UK forces.

Though the aircraft has experienced teething issues, the RAF has benefited from a close support partnership on site at Brize Norton with Airbus, FlyBe and DE&S civilians.

Like many new aircraft before (and no-doubt after) the Airbus Defence A400M has suffered its share of teething troubles – the discovery of engine gearbox issues in 2016 and the crash of a pre-delivery A400M with the loss of four of the six Airbus flight crew onboard in 2015 saw the RAF temporarily ‘pause’ A400M operations in each case while it assessed the risk and instituted fixes.
However, by working proactively with OEM Airbus, the RAF has managed to mitigate many of the issues that has blighted it. For example, the RAF, said Wg Cdr Horne, working closely with Airbus partners on site, reduced gearbox inspection and replacement process time (that involved taking the EPI turboprop off the wing) by half through the collaborative development of an on-wing process. Said Horne, that “made a huge difference when you're trying to generate aircraft.”  Operation Ruman, too, had seen the aircraft perform well in terms of serviceability. Said Wg Cdr Burdett: “There have been challenges with reliability. But in Ruman, we didn't miss a heartbeat on the A400 for serviceability, and its performance was absolutely superb.” 

One major reason that may account for the difference between the RAF experience with the A400M and other operators, is the extremely close relationship at RAF Brize Norton between service personnel, manufacturer and civilians in supporting the A400M in the Single Engineering Organisation (SEO).
A new state-of the art 24,000m(sq) hangar and MRO facility at Brize Norton, Government-owned but maintained by Airbus, was opened in May 2017 to provide integrated support for both line and depth maintenance. This facility features two large deep maintenance bays, underfloor power systems, as well as automated parts dispensing and tool-tracking. It also includes another bay for line maintenance. The new facility, which features 350 RAF, Airbus, FlyBe (which is contracted to provide depth maintenance) and DE&S civilians working together under one roof, in a three-storey facility with Google-like ‘coffee spaces’ also has been built with an eye on the future. The depth maintenance bays, for example, are big enough not only for the A400M, but also for the Voyager MRTT and C-17.
In conclusion, the A400M has been a long time coming, from UK plans to replace the Short Belfast, to the Future Large Aircraft (FLA) and twists and turns of a much-delayed European defence procurement programme – the first developed under civil certification rules. While other snags could still emerge, the evidence from the Royal Air Force, one of the most experienced and skilled air arms in the tactical air transport business, is that it is proving to be a worthy successor to the much-loved Hercules. Enthuses Wg Cdr Burdett: “A400 came into its own as an air mobility asset on Op Ruman.”

However, perhaps more instrumental in its success so far in RAF service, is in the men and women who fly, load, maintain and support it: (whether in uniform or not) and who are Atlas’ real strength, according to Wg Cdr Horne. “I think that's really the main strength at Brize Norton, is that when the call comes, the capacity is there, but crucially, so is the willingness of the people. Our people dig in and go the extra mile.”   
From: Mark Attrill, Tallinn
Subject: Memories of Norway


As someone who only two years ago completed a six-year tour of Norway (the longest I have lived anywhere during my 58 years on the planet), the country is dear to my heart and I cannot forget the trips I took there with UK MAMS.

In fact, I took my very first trip to Norway when I was not officially a member of UK MAMS - In the summer of 1980, I was posted to RAF Lyneham as a holding Officer on the Supply Wing but a very kindly OC Wing agreed to further loan me to OC UKMAMS so I could get a taste of the movements world since I had expressed an early interest in doing the Officers Movements Course. I worked with Merv Corke on shift and was then asked to go on a short task with Fg Off Ian Russell and his team to Gardemoen to deploy some F-4s. During the trip I was led astray by the FS and 'persuaded' to assist with the liberation of a Norwegian Flag from the crew room on the Flightline. In the process I was caught by the RAF Phantom DETCO who, uncharacteristically, turned a blind eye and allowed us to continue. I managed to get my first trophy for the Crew Room and I hadn't even arrived on the Squadron at that stage!
Fast forward three years and I was back at the Squadron looking after India Team. We deployed a 'scratch' team to Bardufoss for one of the regular winter deployments in 1983. I do remember my JNCO, Paddy Power, was with us and I think Gonzo Burke and Turk Bird, both on my team, were there too. We arrived and were looked after by the RM detachment on exercise Clockwork, who loaned us a 1 Tonne Landrover to get to our accommodation.

There was no on-base accommodation due to the exercise and we had been allocated a ski lodge hotel half way up a nearby mountain. The problem was the 1 Group Loggies had conducted the Site Survey/Recce in September and we arrived in the depths of winter and six feet of snow. In spite of snow chains, we failed to get half way up the hill and had to trek for several klicks to get to the lodge.

The evening menu was pretty limited - whale meat stew and beer. The next morning at sparrow we headed down the hill, managed to get the wagon started in -15C and headed back to the air base. Someone - I cannot recall who - lost control after a couple of miles and we ended up in a ditch - Paddy got badly bruised ribs and one or two others had bumps to the head but fortunately nothing too serious - it was around 5 in the morning.        
I noticed a house with lights on a bit further up the road so two of us headed over to seek assistance. Fortunately, the house owner was a taxi driver just about to go on early shift in the town - he agreed to take us up to the base where we managed to get hold of the RM MT Det and acquired a 4-tonner recovery vehicle to tow us out and get us moving again - Our wagon was largely undamaged and perfectly serviceable but we trundled off to Bardufoss rather sheepishly under the watchful eye of the Royal Marines and even managed breakfast before the first Albert arrived but it was a salutary lesson to the planners to take account of the winter months within the Arctic Circle when planning off-base accommodation. We got Paddy back to Lyneham and a 7 day sick pass - thankfully nothing more serious - I have some photos of the incident somewhere but they are, regrettably in storage. Maybe one day I can publish them here.


From: Ian Envis, Crowborough, East Sussex
Subject: History of RAF Lyneham

With the RAF Centenary now upon us with effect from 1st April, 2018, there is much happening around the country. The detail below is about RAF Lyneham - now an Army Base, which has planned some temporary activities to remember the old place (especially for the likes of RAF Movers like myself and Don Hunter etc.).

I'm investigating a day/evening for a visit to remember my mis-spent youth with RAF UKMAMS (1974-76) and the lifestyle of a brave (my interpretation) and very stupid bachelor officer!
RAF100: A History Of RAF Lyneham, 16th January - 16th June 2018
As part of "RAF 100" which sees the Royal Air Force celebrating 100 years since its formation, the REME Museum is hosting a temporary exhibition which looks at the history of the site when it was an air base, a new exhibition, ‘RAF100: A History of RAF Lyneham’ opened on January 16th.

Using historical images as well as interviews with serving and former RAF personnel and families who lived and worked on the base, the exhibition will provide visitors with an overview of the important work undertaken at RAF Lyneham.  As part of the exhibition, there will be three evening talks, open to the public. Please note booking is required via our website: www.rememuseum.org.uk.

18th April: Lyneham and Repatriations, Andrew Lloyd, Director of Army Museums Ogilby Trust.

13th June: End of an Era, Mike Neville CBE.

Tickets will cost £10 per person and will allow entry to the talk as well as access to the main Museum after the talk has finished. Talks start at 7 pm, doors will be open from 6.30 pm.

We are keen to encourage visitors and the local community to share their own memories of living and working at RAF Lyneham. Visitors are invited to bring in photographs which they can have included on the exhibition walls allowing other visitors to see. There will also be the opportunity to write about their favourite memories.

For those who want to participate online, we have created a social media hash tag #RAF100Lyneham for people to come together and share their memories and stories about RAF Lyneham and what this period of history has meant for them.

Cheers Ian
From: Dave Brixey, Wellington, Somerset
Subject:  Why are Movers Dying?
Why are Movers Dying?
With the most recent death (Andy Olsen) at the relatively young age of 48 from  cancer and the previous slew of cancer related deaths over the past 3-5 years within a group of relatively young, fit and otherwise healthy men. All linked by one thread, they were all either serving or ex-RAF Movements tradesmen (TG18b as some of us knew it) or Movements Officers. Nothing else links these deaths, place of origin/birth, family or social backgrounds and upbringing, post RAF employment and places of residence are, by and large, random and cover the Country, in fact the whole globe. Further, some came into the trade from dis-established trades – Boat Crews etc, and that further makes TG18b a random sample.

If all the cancer deaths came from a small village in Middle England, went to the same schools and then into a small trade within the military, served their contracts and then moved into agricultural (or any industry) then the large cluster of deaths would stick out. The fact is these deaths only stick out because we are all now on social media and speak to each other from various places across the globe and rarely meet up in large groups, and few work closely together post RAF service.

Yes, most of us imbibed freely and oft-times heavily during our service and some smoked (again often heavily) but the cancers that seems to be getting us aren’t the typical ones for our age group.

Lies, lies and statistics time.

At the peak manning of the trade there were never more than 900 active movers. There would have been some additional manning at RAFMS so potentially another 60 ‘baby’ movers so a top figure of 960. I haven’t ignored the R.Aux AF Sqn. (no slight intended or to be inferred) but some of us cross decked to them or from them so they are included along with us regulars for statistical requirements.

Of the notified deaths (UKMAMS OBA Newsletter / RAFMAMS Association source) between Dec 2012 and the end of Feb 2018 there have been 45 deaths of RAF Movers. Of those 45 deaths, 19 were directly attributable to cancer and most were under 60 years of age (as declared via various sources like the Facebook forums (RAF Movers, VVSVA & RAF Movements). The figures on the number of deaths may need to be refined as I have had some updates.

There may be more from the 45 deaths that were cancer, just no evidence available from open sources to confirm or deny the cause of these deaths.

I’ve made no mention of those who I have knowledge of having had cancer and getting successful treatment; were I to do so I believe that the numbers would be further out of kilter with a similar group from any comparable group of males.

Could we try and get some information from former and current colleagues?

Could you copy and paste the below into an e-mail, complete the requested information and send it to me at tiodave@btinternet.com

Many thanks

Dave Brixey
Current Age:
Cancer diagnosed at age:   
Cancer type (if known):    
Did you ever smoke?  Y/N:  
Contact E-mail Address: 
Dates of RAF Service: 
Part Four - A new route to Singapore - Jan 1946
MY TIME IN THE R.A.F., 1943-1947
An Air Mover's Story in Eight Parts
Norman Victor Quinnell, 1925-2008
On the 3rd of January, a dozen gathered at the guardroom with all our kit, and boarded a bus for the 60 miles to Waterbeach, Cambs. A mixed bunch, with only one other Air Movements character, and by the time we had got to the plane several Army personnel and the odd civilian were added. So far as I could determine the majority had Middle East postings, and those of us going beyond assumed that we would be flown onwards to our destinations. No information was elicited from enquiries other than that once out of the UK your next “port of call” was responsible for onward travel, as if co-ordinated movement had not been invented. As it happened the response was to get the passenger moved on anywhere as soon as possible.

The aircraft was an ex-US Liberator bomber, converted by sealing the bomb bay doors, putting in some kind of flooring along the fuselage, and canvas seating down the sides. Since there were no windows a few lights were arranged in the top, and an Elsan in the tail end. Obviously unpressurised, it would have to fly below 10,000 ft. There was a quite inadequate heating system, but I don’t recall the details; it was uncomfortable and cold. Ration packs were issued, as were flasks of tea, overseen by a steward. He also gave out information on progress, but, for the most part, wisely retreated to the crew quarters.

We sat and pondered our fates, amid the noise and increasing cold.
We took off around 11am, and 3 hours later landed in Southern France at an airfield at Istres, for refuelling. It was then another 4 hours to Castel Benito, in Libya, where we spent the night in wooden barracks, and could relish the warmth. The name indicates homage to Mussolini, and it seemed curious that in 1946 it was still retained. I have never found out where the place was, but guess in the vicinity of Tripoli, though I saw no signs of any large settlement.

The next morning, shortly after breakfast, we were airborne again, and a few hours later were descending past the pyramids to an RAF airfield outside Cairo. A little before the pilot announced that he was having trouble with one of the plane’s four engines and there would be a delay of a day or two. I’m not sure if Cairo was a diversion (from Haifa) or an intended stopover, but it became an excellent break, lasting four days until the engine was fixed. Meanwhile we were well fed and billeted in a camp nearer Cairo city.

Conversation with the regular occupants established the ease of getting into town by bus or taxi, both relatively cheap (counting 4 to a taxi), and there was much advice on where not to go, and generally dealing with the populace. Also, never go anywhere alone, and preferably in threes or more.

Egyptian currency, £’s and piastres, was obtainable at the camp, so on the second afternoon, armed with a simple map, a small group explored an allegedly civilised area of bazaars and coffee shops, though the latter were filled with characters smoking hookahs. Everywhere was crowded, noisy, and not a little intimidating. One was constantly being harangued to purchase unsavoury foods, ridiculous produce “to be sent home”, or to be taken to see some incredibly lewd shows. It was colourful, but hot, smelly, and rather frightening as an initial excursion, so after a couple of hours we retreated to the comparative peace at the camp, and I scribbled some messages home on postcards.

There was no difficulty in leaving camp, provided one adhered to the signing procedures, and returned by a set hour. So another expedition the following day was on similar lines and equally pointless, with the constant shouting by traders and imploring by beggars. I suppose it was intriguing rather than enjoyable, although on each occasion we had not gone as far as central Cairo, and kept near the main route back. In retrospect it seems ridiculous not to have more adventurous and visited the real sights of the city, or even the pyramids, but it was a matter of timidity, coupled with finances, and the good things would have been expensive.

Early on the 7th we were told to be ready for an after lunch take-off, this time to Shaibah, Iraq, where we would spend the night, and then go on to Karachi. In about three hours, before nightfall, we landed. I have no idea where Shaibah was, or is, for it may still exist [Outskirts of Basrah, used as UK base in 2nd Iraq War].  It was an airfield in a desert, and encompassed by high, heavy wire fencing, with guard posts at intervals. So far as I remember it had the normal issue of hutments with brick built control tower and HQ buildings. Had it been pre-war one might have expected an adjacent settlement of some sort. Once settled in we were told to take no notice if gunfire broke out during the night. The RAF Regiment was in charge of security and, to keep them alert, any Bedouin tribesmen in the area would ride past the perimeter fence, shooting through it. Apparently this happened on a weekly basis, and return fire was expected, though it was a sort of game.

To add to its inhospitable state, the daytime temperature reached a ridiculous height, resulting in the air thinning, so that it was unsafe for loaded aircraft to take off between about 10am and 2pm. As a consequence, next morning we were airborne before 9am. And while our sleep had not been interrupted, it was good to leave one of the remotest outposts of the RAF. I don’t know it, but there was a song called “The Shaibah Blues”; I doubt if it was ever recorded!
It was late on the 9th of January when we landed at Karachi airport, and finally parted with the converted Liberator and its general discomfort, to be driven through the hot, crowded squalor of part of the city, to a transit camp. Apart from feeding etc. there was the matter of currency, and getting rupees, annas, and pies against our sterling. If you hadn’t changed back Egyptian money while in Cairo it was too bad.

The morning after arrival all the RAF personnel with me were singled out for a medical check and inoculations. It made no difference that all those we’d had a fortnight back were listed in our paybooks and  documents, and signed by an MO, they would all be done again! Protestations being useless we went through the rigmarole once more, though it was agreed that the smallpox scratch would be on the other arm. There was no chance of a visit to the city for the next morning I, with a half dozen strangers, was back at the airport to board a plane bound for Poona. By now I knew better than to query why I was on such a peculiar and indirect route; a previous enquiry elicited the reply “Because you’re on the manifest !”. However, our transport was a Dakota, the general workhorse among aircraft, and though temporary, the seating was fairly comfortable. (Over the next year I would find that Dakotas absorbed much of the working day). Apart from us RAF personnel the rest of the passengers were Army, Officers and other ranks, and it became clear that Poona was an Army base in the hills, and not far from Bombay.

The distance was only about 600 miles, and reached by the afternoon of the 11th. After being shown to our billets a half dozen, mostly RAF, were called to an office to be told that in two days, on the 13th, there would be a train journey to Madras, and from there anyone bound for Singapore would probably go by boat. In the meantime we were free to look at Poona.

The name was familiar from childhood tales, and perhaps rather as I expected. Fairly large, and very much a military town with numerous barracks interspersed with streets of houses, generally bungalows, often with front and back gardens, quiet and well maintained. They clearly housed military families and, I suspect, in some areas housing belonged to officials who worked in Bombay, 100 miles away. For them and their families, Poona, several thousand feet above the hot coastal plain, would be an ideal rest place. There were some Indian-run shops but the main shopping areas seemed to be more towards the non-white districts. The place that held me for much of that day’s ramble was a church, and particularly its cemetery. There were the tombs and graves of Generals and lesser men, wives, and so often children, going back for a century or more, and especially interesting were those of the staff of the East India Company. (More than 50 years later I would find a similar but much smaller cemetery in Macao).

During a large part of the day I was on my own, something one couldn’t possibly have attempted in Cairo, so was probably never more than 2 or 3 miles from the camp. A few more days in Poona would have been welcomed.

Directly after breakfast on the 13th our small group assembled at about 8am outside the billet with all our kit, to be picked up and taken to the railway station. India’s railways were, I think, broad gauge on major routes and narrow gauge on others, and Poona was on the main Bombay to Madras line. Madras was around 600 miles from Poona, probably less than 15 hours travel.

Once at the station it became plain that we would be on a special troop train. Other RAF and Army were already waiting and when it arrived, well before 9am, it consisted of 5 carriages, 3 of which were occupied. There were no Indian staff, save for the engine crew, but an Army Warrant Officer, or similar, was seconded to oversee the distribution of the boxes of rations, water etc. and deal with any problems that could arise. Maybe it was a pleasant break from life in barracks.
I can’t remember how the carriages were set out, but think they had a central corridor; they were certainly quite comfortable, and since there were no scheduled stops except for locomotive fuel, we settled down to watch India go by.

It was mid-afternoon when the train drew to a halt at a small station, a shortish platform only on the left hand side of the train, and no buildings at all that were visible, and to each end there seemed to be jungle, while monkeys cluttering the few trees beside the platform decided to descend and jump to the bars alongside the carriage windows. General instructions included one against feeding monkeys which was initially ignored but soon enough adopted when it was realised how vicious they were.

Within minutes, in this apparently desolate spot, men and boys appeared on the platform, shouting and jostling and armed with baskets of fruit and vegetables, boxes or trays of drinks, and even small silverware trinkets. A minor bedlam accompanied by monkeys leaping back and forth and trying to cling to the window frames. Some transactions were undertaken, mainly for fruit, and always via the windows. After a while, realising that business was exhausted, the traders melted away, simply disappearing behind the platform. They were replaced by children, utilising the usual begging stances, but they were only a handful (start giving and the number would multiply) so it became relatively peaceful.

We now heard that the stop was the result of problems with the engine, and this was a suitable place to wait for a replacement, although one could not be expected until the next morning. (It may have been that here there was a double stretch of line to facilitate any train going in the opposite direction.) With the prospect of a cramped sleep I was with a number who emerged to stretch their legs. The first surprise was to see that many of the occupants of the front coaches were alongside the track as well as on the platform because of their numbers, and they were part of a West African regiment, probably Nigerian. All were over 6ft. and, incongruously, were under the command of a white Lieutenant who was no more than 5ft. high. It was fascinating watching him mixing and shepherding them about.

The second surprise came when I and another fellow went to explore behind the platform where the villagers had gone. A path wound down a slope to a village of some size, a good 30ft. below, where it spread out on a large flat area until it merged into trees and, I think, small paddocks or fields. The village was effectively bounded on the right hand side, as we viewed it from the top, by an enormous stone wall which almost reached the level of the railway platform and virtually abutted it. The railway may have been cut into a hillside at this point. The wall seemed to be 6 to 8ft wide on top though irregular and ruined, and it was enshrouded with masses of creeper. To its far side there was simply jungle, with numerous monkeys shouting.

We rightly considered it too dangerous to clamber upon, but agreed that we were looking at the walling of an “ancient city”. There was no place name on the platform and, stupidly, I made no attempt to find out. It has been an irritation ever since, and may be quite well known, but how does one enquire about an old fort or city within a hundred miles either side of the halfway point between Poona and Madras? Because it was so unexpected, and so huge, this piece of Indian antiquity has lingered in the memory over the decades.

Indian trains were well equipped with sanitary ware and water so, following a hot and uncomfortable night, we all managed to wash and shave, get some tea made for breakfast, and guess when we might move. A few hopefuls came up from the village with their wares and noticeably kept clear of the West Africans, a bit too large and strange perhaps. Then, by mid-morning, a relief engine appeared and we were on our way, and with no further incidents reached Madras late on the 14th, but in time for a proper supper.
The hutments at the camp were fine. I think it was another transit place, not large, and run by the military from an adjacent barracks. As always, one was segregated by rank, Officers in a special area, NCO’s in another, and the “hoi polloi” elsewhere. But at Madras, and I don’t recall it at the other stations, there were a range of extra facilities. A quick clothes washing (“dhobi”) place where stuff handed in could be collected a few hours later. There was also a shop that did sewing, and, of great importance, an hourly service of tea by wandering “chai” or “char” wallahs.  I remember conversations with one of these fellows that brought home one Indian problem. He was about my age, and had quite good English but was completely disadvantaged by being light skinned, clearly the result of having an Indian mother and an absent British father. Indeed he said his father had been British and in the Army, though he hadn’t known him. His mother had evidently done all possible in bringing him up, but he was an outcast from both sides, especially as an adult, and he obviously considered himself of a somewhat higher station than his compatriots. Getting any decent employment seemed impossible. To the Indians he was of no caste or family, while, for the same reason when it came to British employment of Indians, they were wary of giving jobs to people with a superiority chip on their shoulder. A curious situation which was then new to me, but must have affected tens of thousands.

Still, the camp was pleasantly hot and relaxed and one could also sign to go into the city on the regular army lorry transport. These were usually the large Bedford trucks with canvas tops and open backs, and slatted seating down each side and often in the middle. Not comfortable but extremely useful, they had been used to take us to and from airports etc. and were usually called “gharries” - an Indian term that I’ve probably mis-spelt.

A handful of us went into a part of Madras one afternoon but didn’t linger for very long. Lots of small shops and stalls, and while it was not at all dangerous, elements of the Independence Movements were visible in posters and pamphlets. (There was some support for a Chandra Bose, who had either escaped British clutches or been banished, and was running a campaign for violence from some other country.) I think we tired of the general bustle, and particularly the beggars of all ages, though mostly male. Some could only haul themselves along the pavements by their hands, leg joints broken or malformed by their parents soon after birth to ensure they would enter the profession of beggar. Others had one useful arm and leg. Quite unlike Egypt.

The idle life started drawing to a close when on the 18th I was one of five RAF and two Army personnel called to the HQ building and told to report at 8 next morning for a gharry to the naval part of the port, and a ship to Singapore.

The ship was not what we had expected. A Royal Navy vessel, perhaps about 80ft long and with pointed bows, otherwise like a decked landing craft though I think there were hatches for loading stores etc. into the hold, and it must have been a small supply craft, with a number rather than a name. There was a wheelhouse towards the stern and companionways leading below to a galley, a mess room, crew’s bunks, washroom and toilets. Beyond were a number of tiered bunks in alcoves, more than we would use but here we would sleep and store our kit.

There was a crew of four, and I suppose one was a junior Officer in charge, though I don’t remember him. Once our stuff was stored and bunks sorted there was a general introduction which focused upon emergency procedures, life jackets and rafts, and meal times. Smoking was restricted to the mess room and the deck. And provided we didn’t interfere or fuss the crew we could go on deck whenever we wished.
We were soon away, leaving behind naval and merchant shipping, and slipping through a smooth blue sea to a featureless horizon. An awning had been erected over part of the deck so one could stay outside in the shade. The meals, of which I’ve forgotten details, were taken below, and must have been of a fair standard.

Come nightfall and the temperature dropped from hot to very warm. The best place to be was on deck so most of us brought a mattress up and slept under the stars. At daybreak down for ablutions and after breakfast up on deck again.

We had sailed well after the monsoon period and the boat ploughed through quite calm seas for four days, and must have gone through the Nicobar Islands, though I don’t recall seeing anything other than a ship or two. Then, after dark, lights of Singapore appeared and an hour later we berthed at one of the numerous jetties in the large harbour. With farewells to the crew, and accompanied by our kit, we sampled terra firma at the end of a voyage of almost 1900 miles.

In all I had travelled over 8,000 miles, 5,600 by air, 600 by train, and 1,900 by ship, and it had taken around 19 days. Had I gone by air, as I guess was originally intended, it may have been only 1,000 miles less but unlikely, with various stops, to have taken more than 6 or 7 days. Still, I was grateful for the experience, and India certainly made an impression. The cities were chaotic, and therefore appeared unsafe, though with the little experience I had, it seemed that people completely ignored you unless there was a possibility of business. Poverty imposed itself everywhere, and at first that was disturbing, until you realised it formed such a large part of Indian society it was accepted as a natural condition, especially by those suffering it.
To be continued...
Flight Lieutenant Derek Oldham, a RAF C-130 pilot, based at RAF Brize Norton turned 70 years old on the 16th of this month.

With over 51 years of service in the Royal Air Force he is breaking all known records!

Derek, who is a No. 622 Squadron Reservist, still instructs in the C130 simulator on No. 24 Squadron and is always on hand to offer assistance, drawn from encyclopaedic knowledge of his subject and extensive experience.

The amazing model (pictured), is a 3D ‘This is Your Life’ and has all the aircraft he has flown as well as his football team Manchester City, an airdrop during Ethiopian famine, his trainspotting youth, his dog and some family photos on his desk.

Happy Birthday to an exceptional RAF Ambassador!
Peter and Sue Orton (RAF) celebrated their 50th
wedding anniversary on 17th February
Someone Goofed!
The Birth of a C-130 Hercules
The Qantas Defence Travel Center Staff walking all over Lance Haslewood - Fairbairn 1996
More Relevant Stuff
This issue is dedicated
to the memories of
Andy Olsen (RAF)
Myke Wood (RAF)
Francois "Frank" Bessette (RCAF)
Freda Brown, wife of David Brown (RAF)
Tony Gale

If you wish to send a donation to the OBA
drop me an e-mail and I'll tell you can do it.