RAAF gets first Dassault Falcon 7X aircraft for VIP missions
The first RAAF Dassault Falcon 7X aircraft shortly after landing at Canberra, Australia.
The first of the Dassault Falcon 7X aircraft being leased by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has touched down in Canberra. RAAF is leasing three Falcon 7X aircraft to replace the Bombardier CL604 Challengers.

The new aircraft is designed to provide a larger passenger load, modern communication, as well as increased range and endurance.  Designed and manufactured by Dassault Aviation, the Falcon 7X is an advanced business jet that has a standard crew of three and can accommodate up to 14 passengers.

34 Squadron commanding officer Wing Commander Jason Pont noted that the Falcon complements the service's existing larger Boeing 737 business jets.  Pont said: With a maximum operating speed of Mach 0.9 and a range of up to 11,000km, the aircraft can fly from Canberra to anywhere in the world with only one stop. Its ability to land at almost any airfield provides notable regional and remote airfield accessibility.

The Falcon is powered by three P&W PW307A engines and features a high-tech wing and an advanced glass cockpit with a heads-up display.  The aircraft is equipped with an infrared enhanced vision system and has satellite communications to support government business while airborne.

Number 34 Squadron will operate the Falcon aircraft as part of the SPA fleet, based at Defence Establishment Fairbairn in the Australian Capital Territory.  The Department of Defence also stated that Northrop Grumman will continue to maintain the fleet.  Northrop Grumman Integrated Defence Services is under a contract to deliver through-life support to 34 Squadron at Defence Establishment Fairbairn.

From: Ian Berry, West Swindon, Wilts
Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #032919

Hi Tony,

A good read as always but... oh dear, there were six RAF squadrons operating C130 Hercules and you seemed to have omitted 36 Sqn?  I'm sure other mature readers may contact you too...


From: Tony Gale, Gatineau, QC
To: Ian Berry, West Swindon
Subject: Missing Squadron
Hi Ian,

Maybe I should be CMA by adding E&OE at the bottom of my newsletters, but that would be a cop-out.  The truth is, I blundered.  I really should have known better as I had flown with them on many occasions.  My apologies to 36 Squadron:
36 Squadron RAF - The squadron was at RAF Colerne flying the Handley Page Hastings and concentrating on tactical transport operations.

In August 1967 the squadron relocated to RAF Lyneham and the Hastings were replaced by Lockheed C-130 Hercules. It was disbanded on 3 November 1975.
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, Bucks 
Subject: More Fat Albert Memories

Hi Tony - Thank you for another great Newsletter.  The tales from Paddy Hirst and Clive Price triggered some more memories in the old grey cells.

One of the most bizarre was when F Team were dispatched (by road) to a very fine airfield somewhere near Lincoln for a very sensitive C-130 trials loading task.  I am pretty sure that the load, one quite large, heavy, strangely shaped container was a very realistic dummy, but in every respect it was treated as though it was the real thing.

Everything had to be executed exactly as detailed in the relevant schedules.  At first all went well.  The convoy arrived on time, loading commenced, despite the pressure of a very sour faced audience of MoD-ites and security-types etc., not exactly pleased that outsiders, even worse - MAMS outsiders, had been allowed to share in their world.

Then it went wrong.  For reasons which were never really determined, about three quarters of the way through the loading, following the instructions for securing the container, we discovered that we had run out of the specified short chains and only the longer were left.  So, we did what any MAMS crew would have done - took a longer chain in lieu to connect from the floor lashing point to the tensioner, and make a neat coil with the excess chain.  Wrong!  For this 'type' of load we really were expected to follow the protocol, to the letter!  In some ways very reassuring, in others, frustrating.  Needless to say we were blamed for the trial coming to a grinding halt until more (correct length) chains could be sent up from the south.

Talking of being short-chained.  While on an Exercise Street recovery task at RAF Embakazi, Nairobi, in November 1968, the final Hercules sent out for the remaining pile of kit was found to be woefully short of chains of any length.  So, off to the local market we went to seek out and purchase more chain with the right size links.  This was chopped up in the station workshops.  A sample was stressed tested at 5,000 lb using the unit crane and something very heavy.  We then applied a 50% insurance factor and completed the load with tensioners (luckily there were plenty of those) at both ends of each chain length and rated the chain at 2,500 lb. breaking strength.  Loading completed was followed by my shortest C-130 flight ever.  This was from RAF Embakazi across the main road to Nairobi International airport, to refuel before XV221 headed back to Fairford via Muharraq and Nicosia.

This was also the trip when yes, it is true as gleefully recounted in previous newsletters, I did accidentally purchase two size 10 left desert boots in Nairobi market while trying to sort out the chain thing; a minor error only discovered when I came to try them on in-flight on the way home!

Clive Price's mention of his forgettable Belize flight, reminded me of my worst trip, the recovery phase of Exercise Attract, Ascot 3292, XV217 courtesy of a 36 Sqn C-130.  This was from Accra, Ghana, in full para seat fit squeezed in with 80 plus large Welsh Guards in combat kit, who appeared to have turned up straight from jungle training.  This was an 11 hour 40 minutes sweat box ride, with just about 90 minutes 'fresh air' during a refuel stop at Luqa, Malta.
Mention of cattle class travel is an excuse to tell you about a tip I was given at my local model railway club, as you do, last week, and about 52 years too late!  One of my fellow modellers at the Risborough and District Model Railway Club is Jon Jewitt, ex RAF, Movements, TSW, and Service Hendon Museum model maker.

When travelling in C-130 para seats, Jon's tip is to take two short lengths of lashing tape.  Tie the end of each strip to the para seat webbing behind your head about level with the top of your ears.  Pass one tape across the forehead and secure to the other strip.  You may look like an idiot, but the end result is that when you nod off - your head stays contentedly upright rather that flopping uncomfortably sideways or forwards!  To upgrade to premier class - add ear defenders and eye-shield.  Jon claims that with this technique you can achieve full snooze before wheels up.  I expect that this is where 90% of our readers will now claim to know/have used this technique - but it was news to me.

The Accra task also involved one of the most unusual UKMAMS tasks I was ever given.  From the exercise deployment phase, the MAMS team returned with a request for us to purchase a pram for the young Defence Attaché's wife, who was expecting their first child, and bring it down on the recovery airlift.  As F team was tasked for the recovery, I was given the pram procurement task.  The following Saturday afternoon, accompanied by one or two equally ignorant (in pram related matters) bachelor team leaders, and clutching the Major's open cheque ("...but don't spend more than £20") we headed for a large department store in Oxford.  Problem, there was quite a large selection of prams; however, our technical questioning of the young lady detailed to attend to our needs was limited to issues such as:
How fast will it go?

What is it like cornering?

How safe is in a crash? and

What are you doing this evening?

In the end the pram chosen was the one which was closest to RAF blue, looked nice and was in budget.  In due course, manifested as 'MAMS Team Leader's personal baggage' on Britannia XM520 from Lyneham to Accra with the returning Ghanaian troops, the pram was delivered to a very happy dad-in-waiting.  Meanwhile, from the surreal to reality, after a night stop in Accra we returned in the C-130 XV217 as described above.

Stay safe

David Powell
UKMAMS 1967-69
From: Tony Gale, Gatineau, QC
Subject: Memories of Fat Albert

The Date:    15 February 1972
The Place:   Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Foxtrot Team had been deployed in a C130 Hercules to recover some Army Engineers that had been doing some work in Ethiopia.  We stayed overnight in The Ras Hotel, a moderately comfortable, but old-style colonial building in the heart of the downtown area.  By comparison, there were some grass thatch huts on the cleared plot next to the hotel.  As there was neither television nor radio, we entertained ourselves in the restaurant, and then the bar before retiring for the night.  As I was drifting off to sleep, I was admiring the picture hanging on the wall across from the bed.  A majestic lion was portrayed, in the stance of stalking some game in the elephant grass.
Daybreak came all too soon, and it was time to be mobile again.  It just happened to be my birthday, and, being the generous chap that I am, I decided to give myself a birthday gift.  What would be better than a reminder of Africa in all her glory.  As I was figuring out just how to pack the object d'art, Flt. Sgt. Don Wickham (d) came into my room. "Here Tony," said Don, "I've been packing up houses for 18 years, let me do it for you."

So the booty was in the sack and we all headed to the airport to get on board the C130.  The engines roared into life and the aircraft taxied out to the end of the runway.  Then, there was a long, long wait, the aircraft eventually returned to the parking ramp and the engines were shut down.

The captain, looking mightily peeved came down from the flight deck and announced, "All right! who's the bastard that stole the picture from the hotel?"

The game was up - I was nobbled fair and square!

Having owned up to the felonious deed, I was instructed to make amends immediately.  The aircraft was impounded on the ramp until the purloined picture was returned safely to the place of origin.  This was embarrassing to say the least, but I remembered the motto from my days at Hereford: "Take the Bull by the Horns."
So, having changed into civilian clothes, I wrapped the offending article in some brown paper and made my way off of the aircraft to go back through Customs and Immigration.  Now, I don't know how many of you have attempted to get back into a foreign country minutes after you have officially departed?  I was given the third degree, and had to tell my story over and over again.

After what seemed like an eternity I was able to get  into the country, and hailed a cab to get me to the hotel.  I know for sure that I was charged double the regular fare, but I really didn't have time to barter, and anyway, that was the least of my concerns.  My next hurdle was getting the picture back into the hotel without further loss-of-face.  Then it struck me - I was told to return the picture to the hotel, not to give it to anyone in particular.

I instructed the cab driver to go to the rear of the hotel and wait.  My heart was pumping furiously as I made my way into the service entrance and quickly located a room that was used for cleaning supplies.  There was a very convenient nail sticking out of the wall, to which I applied the knocked-off knick-knack.  I made a hasty exit from the building and got in  the cab for the return journey to the airport.

It was no trouble to go through the departure Customs again - I was literally whisked through (I suspect they wanted me out of there in a hurry!).  I sheepishly got on the C130, where a very irate aircraft Captain was waiting for me.  I explained where the loot had been deposited and he hurried back to the flight deck.  Minutes later the engines started and we taxied to the runway and took off.  What a relief!

About an hour into the flight the captain came to the rear of the aircraft and said to Don, "Make sure this man gets punished when we get back to the UK!"

Since Don was an accomplice, I never heard about it again!

Tony Gale
Foxtrot Team 1968-73
If you have stories of questionable souvenir gains, please feel free to share!

There was an unwritten MAMS saying back in the day:
"If it's not nailed down, it's mine.  If it is nailed down, pry it loose!"
From: Paul Fitzpatrick, London
Subject: VC-10 Memories

Having been out of touch, I have just caught up with the series of memoirs about the VC10.

Jock Iredale's comment about the elevated captains of these splendid aircraft reminded me of an incident one early morning in the Air Movements shift shack at Akrotiri in 1969/70.

We were loading one of the monthly medevacs/casevacs and the PM Hospital staff were having some problems with their patients. It was a full stretcher load, including several striker frames for some soldiers who had been injured on exercise. So we had to declare a delay. Not really a massive problem. Crew duty wasn’t an issue and all the paperwork had been done. We just had to await a medical all-clear.

Into the shack stormed the captain of the aircraft. Gosh, we thought - sort of - an angry “Sqn Ldr”. He ranted, he raved and was unwilling to understand what was going on. On reflection, he must have had theatre tickets! But his behaviour was unnecessary, undignified and fruitless; including some colourful standard RAF obscenities he prepared to exit the office and turned to the door.

Now we had a Cpl Pax clerk called Gareth Jones. He had many children, a lyrical accent and was very bright and extremely well read. His Welsh passion and sensibilities were disturbed by the behaviour of the captain. As this officer reached the door, Gareth said in a theatrical sotto voce, so we all heard it, ‘Where ignorance exists, vulgarity inevitably inserts itself’.

Nearly 50 years ago, but Gareth’s put-down remains bright in my memory. And it taught me professionally never to lose my temper.

Best Wishes BODS!

Paul Fitzpatrick
Short History of the Blackburn Beverley
The Blackburn B-101 Beverley was a 1950s British heavy cantilever monoplane transport aircraft built by the Blackburn and General Aircraft companies.

Originally designed and built by General Aircraft as the GAL.60 Universal Freighter, the first aircraft was dismantled at the Feltham, Middlesex factory and transported to Brough in Yorkshire to have its maiden flight on 1950-06-20. This was followed by a second, the GAL.65, which was modified from the original. Clamshell doors replaced a combination of a door and ramp, and the tailplane boom received seating for 36 passengers. The Bristol Hercules engines became Bristol Centaurus with reverse pitch propellers a feature that gave it a short landing length. The RAF placed an order in 1952 as the Beverley C.1 (Beverley, Cargo Mark 1). All Beverleys would be built at Brough.

The aircraft is a high-wing cantilever monoplane with a fixed undercarriage. The large fuselage has a tailboom fitted with a tailplane with twin fins. The tailboom allowed access to the rear of the fuselage through removable clamshell doors. A 36ft main fuselage space was supplemented by passenger accommodation in the tailboom. The main cargo hold could accommodate 94 troops with another 36 in the tail-boom.

The aircraft was designed for, and indeed was quite proficient at, carrying large bulk loads and landing them on rough or imperfect runways, or mere dirt strips. It could trace its design back to the GAL49 Hamilcar glider of the Second World War. At the time of its entry into service it was the largest aircraft in the Royal Air Force (RAF). It had an enormous interior cargo area split into two levels which amounted to around 170 cubic meters of space. Paratroopers in the upper passenger area jumped through a hatch in the base of the boom just before the leading edge of the tailplane.

In total, 49 of the aircraft were produced, with the last one being manufactured in 1958 and the final retirement from RAF service in 1967.
RAF Squadrons Operating The Beverley
53 Squadron - On 1st August 1957 the disbanded squadron reformed at Topcliffe, equipped with Hastings aircraft and these continued in use until replaced by Beverleys in February 1957 at Abingdon, where it was still based when it disbanded on 28 June 1963.
47 Squadron - The squadron became the first operator of the Blackburn Beverley at Abingdon in March 1956, the aircraft being built near and named after the very town where the squadron had been formed in 1916. The squadron disbanded on 31 October 1967
34 Squadron - The squadron was based at Tangmere flying Hawker Hunters on defensive patrols over Cyprus in October 1956 during the Suez Crisis after which it returned to the UK, where it disbanded on 10 January 1958. Its final incarnation began on 1 October 1960 when it reformed at Seletar as a Beverley equipped transport unit. It flew these in theatre until final disbandment on 31 December 1967.
30 Squadron - Initially equipped with Dakotas, Valettas arrived in 1950 and Beverleys in 1957, it moved to Abingdon in 1950, Benson in 1952 and Dishforth in 1953. In November 1959, the squadron returned overseas, first to Eastleigh in Kenya and then Bahrain in September 1964. It was in Bahrain that the squadron disbanded on 6 September 1967.
84 Squadron - When the British pulled out of Egypt in 1957, the Valetta squadron transferred to Aden, where Beverleys were added to the inventory in 1958. The Valettas were retained until August 1960 when they were passed to No 233 Squadron. The British withdrawal from Aden led to another move in August 1967 when it relocated to Sharjah and at the same time it converted to Andover C Mk 1s. It moved to Muharraq in December 1970, remaining in the Persian Gulf until disbanding on 1 Oct 1971.
From: Bryan Morgan, Abingdon, Oxon
Subject: Memories of the Blackburn Beverley
My early memories of the Blackburn Beverley had nothing to do with Air Movements as I joined the RAF in 1959 as  P Ed O serving 12 months on No 1 Wing at RAF Halton and then 4 years as an instructor on No 1 Parachute Training School at RAF Abingdon.

The old Bev was a delight to jump out of, especially from the floor hatch in the boom, as It certainly had the lowest speed across the dropping zone of any aircraft known to mankind.

One of my fondest memories was flying from Abingdon across to East Anglia where we were due to drop several hundred TA paras on their annual training camp.  After take off, the Nav, who was a rugby playing pal of mine, came down from the flight deck to take up his position in the lower nose position similar to that used by bomb aimers in Lancasters during WWII.

He invited me to join him upon which he said, "We're going across low level at 250 feet, so I thought I would navigate from down here."  I was unimpressed with the lack of instrumentation surrounding us but was quickly reassured when he produced an AA atlas out of his nav bag!  Fortunately, his map reading skills were up to the task.

After my time at Abingdon I was posted, extraneously, to RAF Changi as a DAMO and always loved having a Beverley across from Seletar - they were such a dream to load.

Having completed my tour I transferred to the Supply Branch which took up the next 25 years with Air Movements always being my preference.

Bryan Morgan
From: David Taylor, York
Subject: Memories of the Blackburn Beverley

Hi Tony,

Dishforth, in 1957, was where I was based at the time, and it being a Master Diversion station I got to see lots of interesting visiting aircraft. Even the incredibly ungainly-looking Blackburn Beverley, just entering service, put in the odd appearance. In fact I well recall the first visit of this lumbering giant; its departure in particular.

The aircraft began its take-off roll, pace unhurried, engines roaring, seemingly in frustration, for it rolled, and it rolled, and it rolled. It appeared to have as much enthusiasm for flight as would a block of flats, which is exactly what it reminded me of (I even recall hearing of a pilot who compared it to flying a block of flats from the top floor). But it was eventually successful, clawing its way into the sky just as quickly as multi-thousand horsepower and somewhat parochial aerodynamics allowed. Well, the aerodynamics were fine as far as the coefficient of lift went, but I could imagine form drag as being a bit of a problem.

Not exactly stealth technology, this! Such a performance, that once it was safely airborne I felt as if I should applaud. Others were less gracious. One of my mates remarked, "Well, even a chock would become airborne if you whirled it round on the end of its rope."

This was one of the less disparaging remarks overheard at the time. And I did hear tell of one bemused American who - upon first setting eyes on Blackburn's biggie - was heard to comment, "Sure as hell won't replace the airplane!" Nor did it, but over the years it did do an excellent job in the role for which it had been designed, that of short/medium range transport and general load carrier. The big failing of the Beverley turned out to be the engines' seemingly voracious appetite for oil. It was said that if the aircraft wasn't dripping oil, or burning it, it didn't have any! It even had a top-up tank in the wing, from which, on the longer flights, oil could be pumped into the engine reservoir whilst airborne. This of course meant some unfortunate needed to crawl into the wing, right behind those roaring engines, to do the pumping!
My only regret is that I have no photographs of this era, security being so tight at the time. Cold War and all that. Photography on or near the base was not just frowned upon, it was a definite no-no. Although I do have a photograph of the Beverley, in its prototype form, then known as the Universal Freighter, or GAL60 (for General Aircraft Limited). It was taken at Brough, near Hull, where it was built. Another Yorkshire success. The photo was taken back when, as ATC cadets, we’d been invited to act as programme sellers during an open day at the airfield, which was Blackburn’s base.

During my later career I did get to fly in and service the Bev, though I never flew in the boom, preferring instead to look out of the cockpit or the supply-dropping glass in the nose.
From: David Moss, Sorbie, Dumfries and Galloway
Subject: A Beverley Poem

Hi Tony, here's a poem all about the Beverley which I came across: 
Near the factory owned by Blackburns
By the waters of The Humber
Was a small decrepit airfield
Filled with junk and filled with lumber.

“Waste not want not” said the Boss Man
“No one’ll ever buy it,
let us fit it all together
then the RAF can fly it.”

So they started work in earnest.
All with hacksaws madly cutting.
Bits of lorry, bits of fencing,
Bits of barn and Nissen hutting.

Thus a structure was created,
Roughly nailed and stuck together.
Covered o’er by Nissen hutting,
To keep out the winter weather.
Antique wheels from old tractor,
All were fastened by older clamper,
underneath the metal mountain
just before the bogey damper.

In each engine cowling snuggly fit,
firmly held by a special fixer,
was a shining power unit.
A “Special MOD 10 concrete mixer.”

When they ran the mighty motors,
all the airframe madly shaking,
some were pulling some were pushing.
They’d  just discovered ‘Airscrew Braking.’

So beware you mighty birdmen,
lest you drop an awful clanger.
Don’t fly Blackburns’ pet abortion,
Best you try to fly the hangar.
From: Len Bowen, Chishom, ACT 
Subject: Memories of the Blackburn Beverley

G'day Tony,
Bowen and the Beverley - a Saga across Several Continents
To set the scene, I'd seen Bevs before I joined the RAF, during 18 months in Aden with my late father in 1957/58, but I never got a chance to fly in one.  It wasn't until I joined the RAF on 13th December 1963, was commissioned as an Equipment Officer on 3rd June 1964, then went on to specialise in Air Movements at RAF Abingdon in January 1965 that my love/hate relationship with the Beverley really began.


Significantly, my first ever Bev flight, on 9 Jan 65, ended abruptly with an engine fire!  I was by then a Pilot Officer, supernumerary with the Abingdon Air Movements Section awaiting my formal Air Movements Course.  The Section was providing movements support for a Tactical Landing demo for some visiting foreign Brass, and, though not yet AMS-qualified, I went along for the ride as unskilled labour.  The idea was that we would do a steep tactical approach, land on the grass next to our visitors then - max reverse pitch and brakes - doors open - ramps down - two Ferret armoured cars offloaded - ramps up - doors closed - short field take-off; all in two minutes.  Not a bad trick when you remember that the ramps, each weighing over 100 lb, had to be lowered on their cables, man-handled out into position, then once the vehicles were off, the operation reversed before the doors could be closed for take-off.

My (informal) log book shows that we got airborne at 0930 in XB269, with Major Van-Haven, a USAF Exchange pilot, as Captain.  We landed 10 minutes later to practise our demo.  Whether the Major was a bit heavy-handed with the reverse pitch, or it was just the old Centaurus play-up that I was to come to know and love (?), I do not know.  What I do know is that as soon as we were on the deck and the Skipper hit reverse, there was an almighty bang and a large cloud of smoke from No 4.  As planned for the demo, we ran off the aircraft but instead of deploying the ramps and the two Ferrets, we just kept running, closely followed by the Loadmaster and then the rest of the crew!

As the smoke cleared, we realised that there wasn't a major fire, just a blown cylinder - or two.  The RAF Fire Crew treated the engine to a dose of foam then we got back aboard and off-loaded the Ferrets in slow time.  We completed the TL Demo later that morning in 150 without further incident.  Welcome to the wonderful world of the Beverley, Len!


By the time I was AMS-qualified, "Confrontation" was in full swing. As a result, when we were asked where we wanted to go, I said Borneo, and my No 1 mate from Officer Cadet Training Unit days, Plt Off (later Gp Capt) Jock Drysdale said Aden.  We were the only two on the course who got our posting of choice; all the rest going to Lyneham, Colerne or staying at Abingdon.  I arrived at Labuan on 4 Aug 65, where the Beverleys of 34 Squadron, RAF were doing invaluable service with daily air drops of food and fuel to forward DZs.
OOPS!  The Bevs also undertook the occasional air-land task.  On the 29th October 1965, XH116 left Labuan for Jesselton1  to uplift a platoon of Ghurkhas to Tawau and then return to Labuan via Sandakan to drop off a platoon of Royal Malaysian Regiment (RMR) personnel.  Yours truly, then a 20-year-old RAF Pilot Officer, was flying on the task as the Air Movements Officer.  All went well until start-up and taxi at Sandakan.  For a number of reasons, not least the late arrival of both our Ghurkha and RMR passengers at their respective enplanement airfields, we were well behind schedule.  Though my Log Book only shows a little over two hours flying for the day (in "116", that is), it was mid-afternoon when we left Sandakan - or at least tried to do so!  There may have been just a little bit of "get-home-itis" around as we rolled along the unfamiliar taxiway - and ran our port wing tip straight into a power pole-cum-lamp post about 500 yards from the runway threshold; coming to an abrupt and embarrassing halt in a cloud of dust and a shower of sparks! 
We had just refuelled, so seeing a sizeable chunk of wing tip hanging off the shorting-out power pole, and not knowing if a fuel tank had been ruptured, we rapidly vacated first the aircraft, then the immediate area. Rapidly may be something of an overstatement, actually, considering that both the Bev's cockpit and passenger boom were 20+ feet above the ground, and no passenger steps or inter-deck ladders were in place.  Nevertheless my Air Movements team certainly would have given the local orang-utans a good run in the speed and agility stakes that day as we scrambled down the inside of the fuselage and left the aircraft through the nearest door.

After the dust had settled, and no immediate conflagration had occurred, we made our way gingerly back to the poor old Bev.  She had lost a sizeable chunk off the port wing tip, the port aileron was bent off the outboard hinge, and, yes, the port outboard tank was seeping AVGAS.  Clearly "116" wasn't going anywhere for some time!  Nor, with the fuel leak, was anyone keen to reboard the aircraft, crank up the generators and call Labuan to inform them of our predicament.  Instead we trooped forlornly back to the huddle of airport buildings.  Sandakan was then only a small airport with limited facilities.  As we arrived at what passed for a Passenger Terminal we met a small, dapper Anglo-Indian gentleman in an immaculate khaki uniform leaving the building.

Aircraft Captain:  "Can we use your telephone, please?  We've got a bit of a problem."

Airport Official:  "Oh dear me no, Sir.  We are having no telephone service in the terminal at this time." (Peter Sellers would have been proud of the accent!)
Captain:  "Can we use the radio in the Tower, then, please?  We really need to contact Labuan urgently."

Official:  "I am most exceedingly sorry, Sir, but the Air Traffic Control Tower is having no radio either.  Some bloody fool has knocked down a power pole somewhere, and we are having no electricity or telephone whatsoever to the airport."

We left the Captain to explain the situation, slunk back to '116', drew lots for who would fire up the system (unfortunate choice of words), radioed Air Headquarters at Lab - and eventually returned home ignominiously in the back of an RMAF Herald much later that night!  I do remember that I had to stand the crew dinner at Sandakan before we left, as I had been paid that morning before we left Labuan, and the rest of the crew only had small change on them - or so they maintained.  I think I got the money back when we got home, but I can't remember. 

By early 1966 I knew that my request to extend my tour in the Far East, onto FEAF MAMS, had been approved.  Accordingly when my fortnights' mid-tour leave came due, I didn't feel inclined to do what most One Year blokes did  -  head for Singapore or 'Honkers' and blow all their Overseas Allowance savings on booze, women, cameras or stereos - or all four if they has been real 'Posbie'2  during the preceding months.   Accordingly I managed to wangle a few days up-country, at Sepulot, where I could get in a bit of chopper flying and shooting.  It was at Sepulot  (known locally as 'Splot') that the next chapter in my Beverley saga was written.


One of the highlights of most days was watching the Bev airdrop.  The size of the DZ on the strip was such that only two x 1 Ton Container could be delivered at once.  Accordingly, if we were to receive the usual full load of AVTUR, at four 44 gallon drums per Container, we were treated to four separate passes, with two Contained dropped on each pass.  About my second or third day at Splot, we were idly watching the drop from the verandah of the basha that acted as the Officers' / Sergeants' Mess, when somebody with better eyes than myself said, "What are those little puffs of smoke behind the Bev?"

We knew it couldn't be Indon anti-aircraft fire, as the presence of a Company of Gurkhas at Splot ensured that there wasn't an Indon within 50 miles of the place - at least not one with both ears still in their pre-ordained location!  So what were the small puffs of 'smoke' that accompanied the appearance of each container out of the back of the Bev?  One of the blokes disappeared back into the basha and reappeared moments later with a pair of powerful binoculars.  He watched intently as the Bev circled the DZ and made its next run in - then he dissolved into near-hysterical laughter!  The bloke next to him grabbed the binos, then joined him in hilarity as the next drop occurred.  Both were laughing too much to clearly explain what was happening, but we caught the odd strangled words such as - "chickens"  and "lowest tenders".

It was my turn with the binoculars for the next pass, and all was revealed.  The Gurkhas liked their rations fresh, and some bright spark back at Labuan had decided to strap a cage of live chickens onto the top of the four AVTUR drums on each One Ton Container.  Unfortunately the cages were locally produced, obviously of the cheapest material possible - hence the 'lowest tender' comment - and the shock of the static line on the Container's web harness was breaking open the cages just as the 'chute deployed.  This in turn was liberating the chickens - at about 100 knots and 500 feet AGL.  [Animal lovers should turn to a new page at this point]. 
This is not a natural environment for a kampong-raised chook, and their predicament was made worse by them being almost completely and instantaneously plucked by the slipstream; hence the puff of ‘smoke’ – or rather feathers – as each Container left the aircraft!  As far as I could see through the binos, once liberated, the chooks would try one or two vain beats of their now largely-featherless wings, then, with a metaphorical shrug, bow to the inevitable and go into free fall.  Their impact with the ground was spectacular, but somewhat messy.  Some bounced like footballs, but most simply went splat – or rather splot!  By the time the AD was over, the DZ and the surrounding area was littered with sad and sorry little piles of minced chicken.

That evening we were invited to dine with the Gurkha officers – on chicken curry.  In the absence of a major refrigeration facility at Sepulot, and with the week’s-worth of the Company’s fresh rations having been dead on arrival, so to speak, there was no alternative but to consume the lot immediately.   The evening was somewhat marred by the necessity to pick slivers of shattered chicken bone out of each mouthful of curry.  Fortunately, the Major OIC the Coy didn’t hold the RAF responsible for the debacle.  The loads were rigged, loaded and dispatched by Royal Army Service Corps personnel, the Air Force only provided the delivery platform – and 75% of the chickens had in fact landed on the DZ.  Only the few retaining some flight feathers has ‘spun out’ into the surrounding ulu, so the Bev crew at least were ‘on the ball’.

I believe that the delivery of ‘live’ chooks in this way was suspended immediately, and the RASC proponent of the idea was invited to ‘morning tea’ by the Colonel of the Gurkha Regiment – but was not offered any chicken sandwiches.

I did one last Air Movements task away from Lab before I was finally tour-ex.  On 29 th April 1966 Flt Lt Chris Lansdell flew Beverley XP264 from Lab to Anduki, on the Brunei coast, to pick up a load of Gurkha wives and children who were returning with their husbands to Hong Kong after the latter’s’ time in Borneo was complete.  He took a couple of my Loading Team and myself along to assist with the PAX enplanement.

Simple job?  Thirty five minutes flying each way, and just a few dozen ladies, kids and their baggage to load.  Easy? …. Well …. as with any Bev task, things were never quite that easy.  I think I’ll title what transpired as …


I should have known that the day wasn’t going to be that simple when we walked out to the aircraft.  Because the Gurkha family pick-up was a ‘one off’ task, and so as not to waste time in the normal air drop schedules, it had been decided not to re-hang the clam-shell doors, just stretch a couple of cargo nets over the 10´ x 10´ gap at the rear of the fuselage for safety, after fitting what few passenger seat sets we had in Lab on the lower deck floor, and rigging the para-seats along the side walls.  This gave us about 50 seats down stairs, but still not enough for all the PAX, so some would have to go up into the tail boom to use the seats there. 

No problem, except for some reason there were no inter-deck ladders at Lab, presumably because they were not needed for in-country air drop tasks, and took up valuable weight and space on the deployment / redeployment legs from/to Seletar on aircraft change over.
Not an insurmountable problem, however.  We arrived at Anduki, and with the aid of a couple of Queens Gurkha Officers (QGO) as translators, sorted out our load of passengers.  We got the baggage on board and netted down quite easily, and then selected the families with younger kids to sit downstairs.  Gurkha children are wonderfully well behaved, and we knew that if they were told to stay in their seats for the short flight, and not approach the open albeit netted rear of the fuselage, they would do so.  We also made sure that there were a couple of seats right by the safety-netted rear for the AQM and myself, to act as shepherds just in case anyone got inquisitive about our 'drop-head coupe' configuration in flight.

This left about two dozen or so ladies and older kids to help up the side of the fuselage and into the boom.  Not a big deal really, and most of the wives and kids shinned up the stringers without any problem.  A couple of the more matronly ladies needed a bit of a helping hand, however, and I was in the process of doing just this when it happened.  I was about slightly off to one side of the female passenger that I was assisting when the world went brown, and I couldn't see at all well.  What had happened was that the lady in question was well endowed in the 'busty substances' department, and in stretching up to grasp the next stringer above, her left breast had escaped from the halter top of her sari, and slapped me fair across the face, knocking off my glasses and then remaining there like some early film test for the face hugger in 'Aliens'.  I initially did not know what was happening, and it was only when I went to remove what was obscuring my vision, and encountered a substantial amount of warm brown boob that all became clear, so to speak.  I was a lot less worldly wise in those days, so quickly removed my hand.  The lady, quite unperturbed, took one hand off the side of the aircraft, tucked the appendage back from whence it came, and completed her climb unaided.

Unaided by me, that is, because even with the 'face hugger' mammary removed, without my glasses which had been knocked off on impact, everything was a blur.  Unaided, too by my small team of 'Movers' and the 34 Sqn crew, who, having seen what had occurred, were now draped over the aircraft floor and seats in paroxysms of mirth, joined wholeheartedly by the rest of the Gurkha wives seated below.  Eventually I recovered my glasses and my composure, in that order.  The plastic frame of my RAF-issue specs had not fared well in the contact with the aircraft floor, however, and it required a couple of turns of 'Instant Airframe' tape from the Flight Engineer before clear vision was at least partly restored.

The rest of the flight was uneventful, and the off-load of the PAX at Labuan equally so, courtesy of an aircraft servicing ‘giraffe’ to facilitate the passengers’ disembarkation from the boom via the rear para hatch.  The fun re-started when I presented myself to Sick Quarters in order to get a Purchase Order for a new frame for my spectacles in down-town Victoria.  Lab being a small place, the story of Plt Off Bowen’s close encounter with a flying boob had circulated quickly, and the young Medical Orderly who filled in the necessary Form Med No XXXX for me to sign to get the replacement specs took much delight in having me carefully record in great detail where, when and, particularly, how the work-related accident had occurred that required the RAF to replace my glasses frame.

It took me several days to live the incident down, and it was only when I swallowed my embarrassment, and pointed out somewhat forcefully that of all the Air Movements and 34 Sqn personnel on almost-celibate Labuan, I was the only one to have had close personal contact, albeit fleetingly, with any part of a female body for some considerable time!
On 30 July 1965, I few out of Labuan on Argosy XC496, ‘Tour-X’ in Borneo.  ‘Confrontation’ was over. What the late Neil Davies, the famous Australian war cameraman, called “The last of the gentlemen’s wars” was finished, and we felt justifiably proud of ourselves.  I joined FEAF MAMS with enthusiasm and anticipation – mainly anticipation of spending a lot of time in the back of Beverleys over the next two years!

After two major MAMS jobs, closing the RAF Stations at Kuantan and Gong Kedak on the east coast of Malaya, and a bonus trip back to UK to become an instructor/examiner on the new CONDEC aircraft loading vehicle, I was back on the move again by Bev. 


15th December 1966 saw us heading for Hong Kong via the Philippines, with Flt Lt Rod Dornan as Captain, to return a radar system that the Yanks had loaned us, from Kai Tak to Clark Field.  We were to stay at RAF Kai Tak, and in anticipation of doing our Christmas Shopping in Kowloon, we all had wallets well stuffed with Hong Kong dollars.

Unfortunately good old ‘116’ got us back as far as Clark Field on the first shuttle, and no further. She blew an engine in a big way on start-up, so instead of returning to Kai Tak and a night of debauchery in the fleshpots of Kowloon, there we stayed.  Doubly unfortunately, 16 Dec 66 was a Friday, and by the time we bowed to the inevitable and made arrangements for accommodation in the trailer (caravan) park Transit Camp, all currency exchange facilities were closed.

Now all USAF bases run on a cash economy.  No signing a Bar Chit in the Officers’ Mess for drinks and meals here.  The ‘O Club’ (Officer’s Club) wanted cash on the nail for goods and services, as did the NCOs’ Club and the Base Canteen.  No cash – no service!  We had a whip-round in the crew and my MAMS Team, and between the fourteen of us came up with less than US$50 ‘green’ – and over HK$50,000!  As we were supposed to be staying in Service accommodation at Kai Tak, even the meagre Flight Imprest was in HK$!

Our Yank hosts were very understanding, but equally unable to be of much help.  We had no Philippine visas, so could not leave the USAF Base, and all on-base financial institutions were closed for the weekend (no flexi-tellers or ATMs in those days!).  They even put out a broadcast over the Base PA system asking for anyone who wanted to exchange some currency.  We got just a couple of takers, however; both from the Base Coin & Bank Note Collecting Club, and as they only wanted one of each denomination HK note, this didn’t swell the coffers very much!  Eventually, however, we found that:

The Philippino ‘House Boy’ who ran our area in the Transit Camp gave extended credit on cases of ‘San Mig’ (‘San Miguel’, Philippine beer), Coca Cola and ‘Manilla Blunt’ cigars
3.  I suspect that he was getting them on the black market, but beggars can’t be choosers, so for the weekend we dulled our appetites with cigars and our senses with San Mig.  By Monday morning we owed him about half the national debt of some Third World countries!

Crews on flying duty were allowed one free meal (breakfast) at the Flight Line Canteen each day.  Accordingly, each morning, we all got into our flying suits, trooped out to the aircraft, fired up one or two of the engines for just long enough for everyone within five mile to know that the ‘Limey Crew’ were working – then headed for the Greasy Spoon.
Fortunately the Yanks are big on breakfasts, so we could pig out on enough to last us through to ‘dinner’ - which was usually one of the smallest and cheapest hamburger you could buy at the Base All-ranks Canteen for each of us.  The rest of our sustenance remained San Mig, Coke and cigars!

One of our semi-illicit visits with the Greasy Spoon was brightened by the encounter that one of my MAMS Team members had with American eating habits.  Mac was a big Glasgow lad who liked his food, so the weekends forced abstinence was especially hard for him.  On the Sunday morning he piled his meal tray (the type you see in WWII movies, with shaped areas for each food item, like little curved troughs for sausages, round hollows for ‘eggs over easy’, etc, etc) with one – or – two of everything on offer, from bacon, through eggs, sausages, beans, tomatoes and hash browns, to pancakes and waffles. 

As we came to the end of the chow line, the big Afro-America Sergeant cook who presided over the operation said to Mac, “Yah wan’ some sirrrup, Mack?”.  Mac, thinking (a) How did he know my name? and (b) Yeah,  some maple syrup on my waffles would be nice, replied,  “Aye, yes, please Sarge” – whereupon the Sergeant produced a ladle the size of a small spa bath and delivered about a pint and a half of maple syrup over Mac’s entire breakfast; eggs, bacon, sausages, the lot!

Mac was so surprised that he didn’t complain, and so hungry that he ate the lot – but he did admit that baked beans and tinned tomatoes with maple syrup must be something of an acquired American eating habit and taste.

Finally Monday came, XB262 arrived from Seletar with a new engine – and a US$ Flight Imprest, as it had been decided that the operation would now be mounted from Clark Field, not Kai Tak.  We never did get our Christmas shopping spree in Hong Kong, though we made up for it in the Clark Field PX – after converting all our HK $ to US$ with the Base Finance Office, paying off our mega-‘tab’ with the House Boy, and having a major pig-out on steak and lobster at the O Club!

I did a couple more odd MAMS jobs, and also the Far East School of Joint Warfare Helicopter Handling Course, then we were on the move again, this time to Thailand on Exercise FINO.

The British Forces (mainly the Royal Engineers) had built an airfield at Leong Nok Tha, in northeastern Thailand, close to the Mekong River and the Laos border.  ‘CROWN FORCE’, as it was known, was the British contribution to SEATO, and as near as we came (officially) to any involvement with the Viet Nam conflict.  Exercise FINO was to be a communications exercise, with Air-Transportable Signals Squadron from Seletar deploying to Leong Nok Tha for a month to practice setting up comms links in field conditions
4, and as usual, MAMS were to be first in and last out to operate the air head.

We left Seletar in the late evening of 15 Feb 67, with Wing Commander Harry Guile, the 34 Squadron CO, one of nature’s true gentlemen and a superb pilot, driving – surprise, surprise – 116!  The load consisted of our MAMS SWB Land Rover, our gear, and a RAF Fire Tender and crew to provide airfield crash rescue cover for the rest of the deploying force. 

We refuelled at Don Muang Airport, Bangkok, and were airborne again just after first light.  About an hour out of Bangkok, one of the engines quit with the usual histrionics, and after some deliberations the Skipper decided to divert to the USAF Base at Ubon, rather than continue on to a strange and largely unmanned airfield on three engines.  By now we were so used to Bevs, that losing an engine was a routine matter, and the only embuggerance was that we, the MAMS Team and the Crash Crew, wouldn’t be at Leong Nok Tha before the first of the deployment aircraft landed.

All seemed quiet until we commenced our final approach into Ubon.  Suddenly down the back in the boom, we became aware that we were being paced by a Kaman Husky twin-rotor chopper with a large CO2 fire-suppression bottle slung under the fuselage, and, as we flared for landing, what seemed like a fleet of fire trucks and ambulances were racing beside the aircraft.

What was wrong?  What hadn’t the crew told us about?  This wasn’t normal for a Bev with just an engine out?  What the hell was going to happen?  No brakes?  Burst tyre?  A fire?  WHAT THE F***?!?

As we came to an uneventful stop and turned off the runway – still with our entourage of emergency vehicle – Harry Guile came up on the PA, and laconically said:  “Sorry about that chaps.  They seem to take things rather seriously here!”  The understatement of the year, but typical Harry!

Of course, we should have realised that at the time Ubon was one of the mounting bases for the bombing of North Vietnam, and other less-publicised air ops in Laos and Cambodia.  An aircraft coming in with an engine out usually meant that it had taken ground fire or was otherwise in serious trouble.  The USAF emergency services, not knowing that three-engined landings were quite normal for Bevs, reacted accordingly.  Even Harry was surprised when the Kaman chopper showed up, and more so when the raft of emergency vehicles lit up their flashing lights like a Christmas tree as we reached Short Finals.

All’s well that ends well, however, and we transferred the load to ‘112’, which was diverted back to Ubon, after delivering the first of the comms gear to Leong Nok Tha (without benefit of Movers or Firies).  We were on the ground at CROWN FORCE by early afternoon, and our MAMS terminal air head was operational within minutes of landing.  All in a day’s work when you fly Bev-Air!

FINO deployment and redeployment out of the way, we turned our attention to the Indian sub-continent.  The British Government had agreed that the RAF would assist the Indian Aid Mission to Nepal in the delivery of several large pieces of electricity generating equipment from Bharawa in Northern India to Pokhara, at the foot of Mount Anapurna.   The strip at Pokhara was DC3 – and Bev – capable, but the generating kit wouldn’t remotely fit into a Dak, so we got the job.
The recce for the job, between 27 Mar and 1 Apr 67 was remarkable only in that for once 116 came back with the same four engines as she started the trip (something of an achievement by 1967).  We did have a somewhat odoriferous leg from Calcutta to Britenagar, as we delivered a crate full of live pigs to the Gurkha Training Camp there but all the rest of the task was uneventful.  We flew direct back to Seletar from Calcutta, taking 11 hours 10 minutes for the leg (something of an achievement ANY time in a Bev!).  As that occurred on 1st April, we took it as an 'April Fool's' joke. 

The job itself was destined not to be quite so smooth sailing, and turned out to be an event-filled trip.


After staging through Butterworth, on our first night in the sub-continent we were staying in the Calcutta Grand Hotel, the best aircrew-approved hotel in town.  Our skipper for this trip was Flight Lieutenant Bob Humphery, who was a bit of an old woman about crew discipline.  He decreed that, because of the possibility of stomach problems, all of the aircrew were to have all of their meals in the hotel, which he considered safe.

Obviously my MAMS Team and I weren’t as important to the mission (though who was going to do the loading and unloading if we were all prostrate with Deli-belly was never discussed), because when I told Bob that we were going out for the evening he didn’t jack up.  I’d met an ex-Indian Air Force Spitfire pilot on the previous trip through Calcutta, and he had invited my team and myself out for the evening to sample some real Indian entertainment. 

Flying Officer Pat Weldon, the Nav, didn’t get on very well with Bob Humphrey, and being a stroppy Yarpie, didn’t take too kindly to being told (ordered?) where he could or could not eat, and asked if he could join us peasants when we went out slumming.  Bob sat on his captain’s dignity, and predicted dire stomach problems for all we sinners who didn’t eat in the ‘clean’ Grand Hotel, as he had directed.  I don’t recall what or where we did eat that evening, but I do remember it involved many bottles of Carlsberg Elephant lager, a lot of very hot curry – and several lovely dusky-skinned young ladies who also must have been very hot, as they kept taking their – and our – clothes off!

Anyway, within 24 hours of leaving Calcutta, all the crew that had eaten with the Captain in the Grand were down not just with the tropical two-step, but with full-blown dysentery – while my gang were all still fit and well.  The Indian Aid Mission lift went ahead, but at one stage the last leg of our Bharawa – Pokhara shuttles was being flown by Pat Weldon and the British Air Attache to Nepal, a Flight Lieutenant Twin Pioneer pilot, alone on the flight deck while the rest of the crew queued for the two toilets in the boom.  There was the Elsan chemical toilet at the rear of the flight deck, but convention said that it was not used. 

Convention went to the four winds on the last hours’ final hop back to Kathmandu from Pokhara.   Now not only were all but one of the crew stricken with the runs, but we also hit probably the worst storm through which I have ever flown, before or since, and safe movement between the flight deck and the tail boom toilets was impossible.  The only person who enjoyed that part of the flight was a civilian Met Man from Seletar who had come along as supernumerary crew.  He reckoned that some of the clouds we saw during the storm were straight out of the textbook, and very, very rare.  All I knew was that said clouds were stuffed full of Himalayan mountain tops and we only had one fit aircrew member who was Beverley-qualified – and he a Navigator! 
Our relief on an eventual safe arrival at Kathmandu was intense, and while the rest of the crew went off to bed – and one actually into hospital (the Flight Engineer, I think) – my MAMS Team, Pat Weldon and I went off to the Indian Embassy party laid on to thank us for the days’ work.  The Indian Ambassador to Nepal at the time was also ex-Indian Air Force, and had two charming and beautiful daughters in their early twenties.  Expecting a fresh supply of steely-eyed, lean-jawed RAF aircrew, they had in turn rounded up all the unattached daughters – and some of the less-firmly-attached wives - from the diplomatic community in Kathmandu.  What they got was my bunch of rough neck Movers plus one Fg Off Weldon5
Kathmandu, 24 April 1967

'116' 34 Sqn Crew, my FEAF MAMS boys (self on far left) , the British Embassy staff and other assorted friends and camp followers
Nonetheless a great time was had by all who attended.  I did have a couple of bad moments when one of my team, a wee Geordie who could pick a fight in an empty room, and was about as smooth and as subtle as a bad train crash, was seen walking off into the bushes with the wife of one of the British Embassy staff!  They may have just been looking at the ornamental shrubs, but funny, Geordie had never shown an interest in things botanical before.

What should have been a 48-hour crew rest in Kathmandu, turned into almost a weeks’ stay while the aircrew recuperated.  During that time the fit members of the party had the chance to explore.  We were adopted by the owner of the Royal Hotel, Boris Lizanovich
6, and spent a memorable day in his summer cottage in the hills outside Kathmandu. 

We shopped for smoky topaz and genuine kukris in the back streets of the city, and we continued to foster our sometimes-intimate relationships with the diplomatic community.  Probably a good dose of the trots for some has never had such a serendipitous outcome for so many other people!

Our next big MAMS task was a dream – sort of.  August 1967. A week based in Saigon, but delivering OXFAM, Catholic Relief Mission and other charity relief supplies throughout South Vietnam.  I went up to Saigon by Argosy a couple of days ahead of the Bev and my Team, to work with the British Air Attaché, sorting out the freight, meeting the charity workers with whom we would be dealing, and visiting some of the places we would be delivering loads, in the British Embassy De Havilland Devon aircraft.
Beverley '264', Dalat, Vietnam - 26 August 1967
Delivering OXFAM, Catholic Relief Mission and other charity relief supplies
I wasn’t on the aircraft on this trip, having drawn the short straw and stayed back in Saigon to work out (I thought) the next day’s sortie to Danang and Kontum.  I got the full story of what happened there from my MAMS boys when they (eventually) got back to Saigon much later that evening.

150 arrived uneventfully at Loc Ninh, and my Movers were unloading the rice, blankets etc onto the back of a couple of local trucks, when they noticed some consternation among the flight crew.  Apparently one of the engines had been giving warning signs on the instruments during the flight, and when they dropped the filters, they found several pounds of fresh iron filings and other bits of assorted scrap metal.  With the strip too short for a three engine take-off, 150 was a fixture at Loc Ninh until a new engine could be delivered from Seletar – or else somebody decided that 60 tons of aircraft sitting in all its glory in desert camouflage, in the middle of a green SE Asian jungle, would make a good target.  Nobody was taking bets on which would happen first.

While the crew was discussing the turn of events, a worried-looking US Army Green Beret Captain wandered up and inquired how long they would be there.  On being told the situation he became even more agitated, stating that that the sight of our “alum’num cloud” stuck on “his” airstrip would “-attract the VC like flies to shit!”.  At this, the Flg Off Co-Pilot, fresh from UK asked where the VC were?  The Green Beret pointed to the rubber estate that closely lined both sides of the strip.  “There, man.  Just right there”, he replied.

Before anyone could stop him or interject, “Well, why don’t you just chase them away then?” the Flg Off responded. 

Much to everyone else’s amazement, the Green Beret was so taken aback by the Co’s naivety that he didn't deck him!  The Beret just wandered away muttering:

"I got me.  I got a buck Sergeant so high on pot he couldn't find his ass with both hands.  I got fifty three Veetnameess irregulars.  I don't chase nobody nowhere.  Not even for some goddamn limeys in a goddamn flying museum piece!"
One of these places was Loc Ninh, a small township north west of Saigon, right up in what was known as the ‘Parrot’s Beak’, near the Cambodian border.  The dirt airstrip had a Catholic church and Mission at one end, and a US Special Forces camp at the other.  Loc Ninh was to be the location for my next Bev ‘happening’, and for once it wasn’t with ‘116’.


When the Bev taxied in at Tan Son Nhut Airport at Saigon, both the Air Attache and I were horrified.  We were carrying out charitable relief operations in a war zone, and some idiot had allocated 150, the only camouflaged Bev in the 34 Sqn fleet, to the Task!
7  OK, it was the Middle East ‘shit and custard’ colour scheme, but it was still camouflage, and while we hadn’t expected big red crosses on the aircraft, we had at least hoped for a silver bird that Charlie might just not immediately assume to be the enemy.  This was to prove doubly worrying the next day when we ran the first sortie – to Loc Ninh.
In fact, 150 remained safely at Loc Ninh for the next 72 hours, while the crew and my MAMS boys were returned to Saigon in the Air Attaché’s Devon to await the replacement aircraft.   264 arrived from Seletar with an engine change kit, and the only time anyone took a shot at or near 150 was just as an Engine Fitter was undoing the fuel pipes, when an American parachute flare bounced off the wing, close to where he was sitting in a puddle of AVGAS.  We never discovered whether the SF Captain got tired of waiting for Charlie to show his hand, and decided to get in on the act, or if his SNCO had had one funny cigarette too many.  Either way they missed their mark, and while we completed the rest of the lifts with the non-camouflaged 264, 150 returned safely (for now) to Seletar.

We later found out that we and the Bev were actually in no danger whatsoever from the VC.  The Catholic priest was paying 10 - 20% of everything coming into his Mission to them, just to keep his church intact and himself alive, so as the bringers of more largess, we were actually under VC protection.  The same, it seemed, might not have been said from the US Special Forces!

The first sortie with 264 was to be to Da Nang, on the coast, then Kontum, in the Central Highlands.  It was on this trip that my next ‘tale’ took place.


On the morning of 24 Aug 67 we left Saigon with a mixed load of rice, blankets, tinned goods, milk powder – and a crated bathroom and toilet set, down to the last tile, tub, tap and toilet seat (and even a bidet- - very French, considering the target audience).  Long awaited creature comforts for a group of French nuns operating a Convent and Mission School at Kontum.  264 was in full song – amazingly still mounting the same four engines with which she had left Seletar.  My MAMS Team was working hard as always, and we were even talking to the Co Pilot again after his faux-pas with the Green Beret at Loc Ninh.

We first landed at Da Nang, where we off-loaded some of the rice and blankets, and enplaned two Kontum-based nuns.  Actually only one of the two was French, a tall, wiry lady in late middle age, with a weather-beaten face and a lightening-fast flow of speech which completely defeated my O-Level (failed) schoolboy French!  Fortunately, however, she was accompanied by an American Peace Corps worker who was fluent in French and, for an American, almost fluent in English, too.  The other member of the party was a young Vietnamese novice, who, judging by her gazed eyes and open mouth had never been near an aircraft of any sort, let alone something the size of a Bev.

We filled the space left in 264’s freight bay by the consignments off-loaded at Da Nang with more cases of tinned and dried food, and with some difficulty assisted our passengers up the side of the fuselage and into the tail boom.  So as not to lose cargo space, we weren’t carrying an inter-deck ladder on this trip (again!), so PAX enplanement was a case of climbing up the side of the fuselage, using the stringers as a ladder.  The older nun went up into the boom like a kid up an apple tree, but the young novice needed a considerable amount of persuasion and help to make the climb; all the more difficult when one is reluctant to employ the usual ‘push on the bum’ method employed to assist reluctant passengers up the side of the fuselage!   With some difficulty and a little embarrassment all round, we got her safely seated, and my Team and I climbed up into the boom, too, along with one of the AQMs.
Finally airborne out of Da Nang, we climbed steadily up over the Central Highlands.  After about 50 minutes flying we started our descent into (we thought) Kontum.  The crew were briefed that, though we knew that we were on a peaceful relief supply mission, this information might not actually have got through to the gentlemen – and ladies – in black pajamas on the ground, who treated any aircraft, particularly large, slow-moving ones (like, say, a Bev) as targets.  At this stage the VC were not thought to have anything as sophisticated as shoulder-launched SAMs or any other weapon heavier than .50cal/12.7mm machine guns.  Consequently, the technique was to arrive overhead the secure airfield at a height well out of small arms range, and then make a steep spiral descent and land as quickly as possible – no long, low straight-in approach here!

Just as we started our spiral, however, I became aware that our two female passengers were very agitated.  They were pointing out of the window, first at the ground and then further down the valley into which we were descending, all the time keeping up a rapid flow of mixed French and Vietnamese.  Most of it was too fast for me, but I didn’t need to have studied at the Sorbonne to get: “C’est ne pas Kontum!  C’est ne pas KONTUM!”

I wasn’t on intercom on this particular trip, but by now the AQM, too, was aware of our passengers’ concerns, and he relayed his somewhat ad-hoc translation of the old nun’s protestations to the front office in a calm scream.  Subtle comments such as “Where the #$%& are we going?”, “The old girl says it isn’t Kontum!”, and “What the @$%&* are you getting us into – Sir?” quickly had us leveling off about 8000 ft AGL and having a good look round.  There was indeed an airstrip below us, but for what was supposed to be the center of US and South Vietnamese forces in the area, it did seem somewhat small, deserted and overgrown!  There was also a much bigger airfield visible about 10 miles further down the valley, however, which did appear to have lots of aircraft, vehicles and building.

We did a quick 180, and within a few minutes were on the ground at the real Kontum.

Once on the deck, we were met by the local Catholic Relief Agency reps, some USAF personnel and a gaggle of nuns from the local Convent, all of whom had been watching our initial descent well to their north (you can’t do anything discretely in a Bev!).  Everyone seemed to be talking at once, in English, French and Vietnamese.  In the interests of better communications, my MAMS Team and I added Scots, Geordie, Welsh and Cockney to the discussion.  This helped a lot, and it transpired that while the disused airstrip towards which we had been descending wasn’t actually in VC hands (well, not that day at least) it certainly wasn’t the place to land 60 tons of sitting target (like, say, a Bev) unless you had a multiple Huey gun-ship escort!  To be fair, what maps we had were pretty old, local navaids were minimal, we didn’t have the right frequencies for most of the Yank comms, and the runway headings at Kontum and the other strip were on almost identical headings …… but still ….

As with all our arrivals at aid delivery locations during our Vietnam visit, there was a reception committee with speeches of welcome and thanks, and garlands for the crew.  Once we were all lined up in front of the aircraft, and several lovely young ladies in the local al dzai (sp?) costume had strung frangipani flowers round our necks, the Captain, Sqn Ldr Bacon, called us all to attention.  He stepped forward, and with a glint in his eye pulled the navigator’s brevet off his bush jacket (they were only pop-studded on for ease of laundry in the SE Asian climate) – and formally presented it to our former passenger, the flying nun!
As with all our arrivals at aid delivery locations during our Vietnam visit, there was a reception committee with speeches of welcome and thanks, and garlands for the crew.  Once we were all lined up in front of the aircraft, and several lovely young ladies in the local al dzai (sp?) costume had strung frangipani flowers round our necks, the Captain, Sqn Ldr Bacon, called us all to attention.  He stepped forward, and with a glint in his eye pulled the navigator’s brevet off his bush jacket (they were only pop-studded on for ease of laundry in the SE Asian climate) – and formally presented it to our former passenger, the flying nun!

Now I don’t know how they did things in the French Indo-Chinese armed forces, but there was clearly no doubt in the old girl’s mind that the Nav had just been stripped of his rank, was about to have his buttons cut off and have his sword – had he had one handy – broken across the Captains knee.  If her speech was rapid before, it became positively ballistic now, as she interceded for the young man’s future and perhaps even his life!  Eventually, with the help of several interpreters, we got her calmed down and explained that it was only an English joke, and not a permanent end to the Nav’s career.  Obviously, as far as she was concerned, understanding that it was just an “English Joke” clearly explained everything.

The rest of the deployment was uneventful, though the Nav completed it without a brevet on his uniform; he hadn’t brought a spare half-wing with him.   When I thought back to those halcyon Beverley days, I liked to think that somewhere there was a very elderly retired French nun (do nuns retire?) who had in her keeping an RAF Navigator’s brevet, and who used to smile when she remembered the crazy English crew who couldn’t find the right Kontum without her help.


I had a number of other Bev flights before the end of 1967 saw the demise of the dear old girls with the disbandment of 34 Squadron.  My last flight was on 7 December 1967, when we brought back a load of used Pressed Steel Planking (PSP) from Kuantan.
9  I recall it being one of the filthiest loading jobs we ever did, as the PSP had been layed on Kuantan airfield for at least 20 years, and was muddy, rusty and infested with ants, spiders and the occasional scorpion.  The planks were twisted and bent, and wouldn’t stack straight, so to obtain adequate load restraint, we had to thread each sheet into three tie-down chains.  Flying time to and from Kuantan was quite short, but the actual loading took us most of the day.

The final disbandment of 34 Sqn was marred by the loss of 150 and her crew.  I’m sure you will have had the story from many sources, so here I will draw a veil over the whole tragic and completely unnecessary affair.  150 impacted with steeply rising ground, in a controlled flight into terrane, about 175 feet below the ridgeline at the end of a blind valley. The aircraft disintegrated on impact.  The crew died instantly, though we did not know that for three days as the weather was by then so bad that it took that long before we could get choppers into the area and, with considerable difficulty, find the crash site.  It was indeed ironic that the first fatal accident with a Beverley in the Far East should occur just sixteen days before the Squadron disbandment parade.

Indeed, the crash happened so close to the end of 34 Sqn’s time at Seletar, that the final Squadron Nominal Role on the Parade Programme still contained the names of  150’s crew.  Inevitably, the deaths cast a shadow over the final days of the Beverley.  The Squadron Disbandment Parade was rained off, but the post-parade celebration went ahead, though in a somewhat subdued atmosphere
Indeed, the crash happened so close to the end of 34 Sqn’s time at Seletar, that the final Squadron Nominal Role on the Parade Programme still contained the names of  150’s crew.  Inevitably, the deaths cast a shadow over the final days of the Beverley.  The Squadron Disbandment Parade was rained off, but the post-parade celebration went ahead, though in a somewhat subdued atmosphere.  

All that remained was a study in vandalism, as an army of local scrap dealers dismembered the Beverley carcasses by hand, right outside my office window.  The old girls still had one bite left, as one day I watched a small Chinese gentleman hack-sawing though the main spar inboard of where he was squatting on the wing, out beyond what was left of No 4 engine mounting.  At first I couldn't believe it - the old joke of sitting on the branch you are sawing off - but sure enough there he was.  I called all the rest of the blokes in the building to watch, and we started placing bets on how long before the inevitable happened.  And happen we knew it would, because only the day before we had watched other 'scrappies' cutting through the front and rear spars, from the under side of the wing!

It only took a few minutes until tired aluminium skin and severed spars succumbed to the force of gravity.  Fortunately for our saw-wielding vandal the wing did not drop clear, but rather hinged slowly along the cuts, and, acting rather like a king-size child's playground slide, deposited the workman unceremoniously onto the tarmac.  The wing-tip didn't quite reach the ground, so he actually did drop about six feet when he reached the end of his slide.  He appeared bruised and shaken, but otherwise unhurt, as his gesticulating and jabbering workmates helped him to his feet.  Secretly, I had hoped that the whole outer wing would drop suddenly like a gallows trap-door - and with similar results.  I know he was just doing his job, but ………….. 


But let us not end on a sad or vindictive note.  Rather let us remember the fun side of my time with the Bevs in FEAF and also some of the people that made them fun.

While in Singapore I became interested and involved with motor sport, as a member of the Forces' Driving Club.  After writing off a TR3A (trying to avoid a suicidal tri-shaw driver in the early hours of one morning heading back to the Seletar Mess ‘from a private sin’, as Ian Fleming would have put it), I became the owner of a very well preserved Mk VII Jaguar, and competed in various driving Tests, Sprints and Rallies over the next 18 months.  My Nav for some of the early events was Master Air Quartermaster Pete Oxley, of 34 Sqn.  We had some interesting times together, and though we never won - or were even well placed - in any events, we enjoyed ourselves.

A whole bunch of the Seletar mob were involved in motor sport, and I became very good friends with a bloke called David Waring, who ran an Australian-made Ford V8 Customliner.  He was a Flying Officer with 110 Sqn.  Back in UK in 1968, I was Best Man at his wedding to Adrienne Palmer, one of our civy 'schoolies', who taught at the RAF School on Seletar.  At their wedding I met Dave's cousin Penny, but, being eight years my junior she was much too young to be interesting.  Four years later David was Best Man at our wedding.  Penny and I are still married 45 years later.

A group of young officers from Seletar formed a pop group 'The Helicopter And Transport Social Entertainment Team' ('T.H.A.T.  S.E.T.'), covering everything from the Beatles and Manfred Mann to Spaghetti Western themes
10 and Bert Bacharach.
Fg Off Ken New (34 Sqn) was on drums, Fg Off Graham Dainty (110 Sqn) was on electric organ and Fg Off Lew DeMarco (103 Sqn) played lead guitar.  Other names are lost in the mist of time.  My Mk VII Jag being the only car big enough to take the bulkier bits of gear, I became Road Manager.  We mainly played the many Navy, Army and Air Force Officers' Messes on the island, the advantage being that, as we were ourselves officers, we could join in on the party during and after our 'gigs'.  I don't think the boys even made enough to clear the cost of their instruments, but we had a lot of fun.  Ken New's big number was the drum solo, ‘Caravan’, which went for about seven minutes, and usually brought the house down.  He was GOOD! 

Looking back on those halcyon days, I can honestly say that "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times".  Vietnam was at its height.  Tet 1968 happened while I was still at Seletar, and while we weren't involved in 'Nam some of the anti-war feelings rubbed off, and when we got back to U.K. we weren't welcomed as the conquering heroes of Confrontation as we expected.  In fact very few people in UK had even heard about Confrontation; truly the 'Forgotten War' that Harold James and Denis Sheil-Small describe it in their book of the same name.  The Labour Government's announced run-down East of Suez had begun in earnest, and we were left with an anti-climactic feeling of "Well, so what was that all for?"

On the other hand we had experienced the Far East when it was still an adventure.  When 21/- bought $10 Singapore (S$10); 'Tiger' beer was 50c a can in the Officers’ Mess.  You could completely pig-out on sate for S$2.oo (@ 10c a stick).  A curry dinner for two at 'Fattys' in Albert St was S$7.50 - or S$10 if you split a large bottle of beer between the two of you - and replacing the half-shaft on a MkVII Jag cost S$50 ("Oh no, Sah.  Not Jaguar half-shaft.  Bedford 15 cwt.  Same same half-shaft; no so shiny but much cheaper!")
11.  We could still afford (just) to drink in the Raffles Hotel, eat Chilli Crab on the sea wall at Bedok Corner (now about 8 km inland, and buried under the Freeway between the city and Changi International Airport), and swim in the Officers' Club pool while white-clad waiters brought us cold Singapore Slings at S$2.oo each.  We could jump in the car and drive to Mersing beach for the weekend, or go to the RAF Cottages in the Cameron Highlands, for non-slip nooky12.

When we deployed on Task, it was by invariably by Beverley, usually at about 8 - 10,000 ft, where, seated up front on the Band Stand, with your legs dangling down into the Nav's air drop aiming window, you could watch the jungle unroll at a leisurely 150 knot.  When we finished a job, there was none of this modern C130 nonsense, where you spend the next several hours hunched in para seats in the freight bay, with your feet up on the load.  It was climb into the boom, strip off the sweaty flying suit or Jungle Greens (JGs), a strip-wash in the toilet, then on with clean khaki drill (KDs), ready for a quick beer as soon as you disembarked. 

When I deployed operationally, I carried my own 9mm Browning, (bought by mail order from Thomas Bland of London, for £32 10s 6d, when I found that we were still being issued .380 S&W revolvers at Labuan in mid-1965, with ammo Red Carded in Cyprus 10 years earlier!), and because MAMS were not then scaled for any flying kit, we obtained all our other gear from 'Thieves Market' in Singapore, then had one of our aircrew mates exchange it for new items from the Store - whereupon the old items found its way back to Thieves Market, to start the cycle all over again.  On the Beverleys you will recall that we seldom if ever used palletised loads, and did most of our cargo restraint with 200 lb lashing tape, so my pistol holster (English leather, a 21st Birthday present from my favourite Aunty in Scotland) was balanced by a Puma White Hunter sheath knife – which some bastard finally stole out of my Nav Bag in 1980 when I was on the RAAF MATU Team.
We weren't a law unto ourselves, though - quite!  We still had to put on a tie and a long sleeved shirt to enter any of the Public Rooms in the Mess after 18:00.  Flying clothing and JGs were never acceptable wear in the Mess, even in the Down Under Bar, the livers-in playground, and jeans were not acceptable in any form either, unless for Fancy Dress.  Mess kit still included a stiffly-starched bib fronted shirt and a wing collar, guaranteed to ring-bark your neck by half way through the evening.

We had our beds made, our laundry done, our rooms cleaned and a morning cup of tea delivered all by a Tamil amah, but we were expected to tip her at least S$25 a month, as her pay from the RAF was a pittance.  When I drove the Jag in competition, all racing numbers and other decals had to be covered while I was on the Station, and I couldn't have any sponsorship stickers displayed anywhere on the vehicle at any time – officers were strictly amateurs who didn’t compete with sponsorship.

Ladies' skirts worn in the Mess could be no shorter than knee level.  The first thing I knew of the Swinging Sixties was when I drove out of the RAF Lyneham gate in October 1966, and damned near hit a tree in the middle of Wootton Bassett watching my first real mini-skirt! 

As I say - "The best of times; the worst of times", and at the centre of it all was the dear old Beverley.  We hated them when they went u/s at the worst possible time in the worst possible place, but we loved them when they took us to somewhere new and exciting - or brought us home to Seletar for a hot shower, clean sheets and a cold beer, after a particularly unpleasant task.  I still get goose bumps when I remember the smell of raw mud when you first opened the door at on the old pan at RAF Kai Tak, right next to Hong Kong harbour.  Or the smoky smell of the kampongs as I drove my MAMS Team into town in our Land Rover for a private sin after a long day working on an airfield ‘somewhere in Malaysia’.  Or that particular smell from the Bev Elsan after a long and bumpy flight.  Or the million and one other things that made up three memorable years as part of the Far East Air Force in the mid-'60s.

Anyway, I've rabbited on enough.  I hope I've brought back something of the feel of the time and the place.  For me, the Bevs will also be pivotal to that experience. When the 48 Sqn Hercs arrived we got on and off Task quicker.  Loading and unloading was easier with pallets being the norm, not the exception, but we flew at 25,000+ ft, out of sight of most of the detail on the ground, and already the old way of life was passing.  I am glad that I wasn't there to see Seletar and Changi close.  I'd much rather remember it the way it was; hearing a Bev cranking up at 02:00, so that it could stage through Saigon at first light on its way to Hong Kong, before the war really started for that day, or seeing one coming in over the Johore Strait just on last light, often with one prop feathers, and going down to the bar to meet returning mates for a cold beer and a line-shoot or two about their latest Bev-borne adventure.

Len Bowen,

Canberra. ACT, April 2019.

(34 Squadron Disbandment Cover and Footnotes are on the following pages)

1. Now Kota Kinabalu.

‘Posbie’:  Cheap, mean or miserly.  Derived from ‘Post Office Savings Bank’, where most of the ORs who didn’t have Bank Accounts kept their savings.  Hence “You Posbie Bastard!”, if someone didn’t stand their round at the bar.

Really quite excellent large but mild cigars, with an unusual green tinge to the tobacco.  A favourite ‘duty free’ buy in the Philippines, but not a food substitute!

In ‘Blackburn Beverley’, Bill Overton says he couldn’t ascertain what the reason for FINO. ('FINA', incorrectly, in the book) was.  Now all is revealed.

5. In ‘Blackburn Beverley’, Bill Overton records that Pat was there, but (as usual) the Groundies (my MATU Team and a couple of Sqn ground crew) don’t rate a mention.  Hopefully this will redress the balance.  Contrary to popular literature, the Bevs didn’t load themselves down-route!  Gripe over.

A colourful White Russian who had been a ballet dancer, a night-club owner in Calcutta, and who had helped engineer the bloodless coupe that returned the King of Nepal to the throne – for which work he received the licence to open the first ‘western’ hotel in Kathmandu.  His biography, ‘Tiger For Breakfast’, is well worth reading.

In 1980, my next door neighbour at RAAF Richmond, Corporal, now Warrant Officer, Peter Hind, and I were talking about ‘odd aircraft’ over a beer in the back yard one evening.  (No segregation of Married Quarters by rank in the RAAF, and Peter and his wife were/are both ex-Brits as well.  We soon became and still remain firm friends).  Peter said “While I was a Medical Orderly with the Aussie team in ‘Nam in ‘67, we saw a bloody great brown camouflaged thing arrive in Saigon one morning.  I found out later it was called a Beverley.  I think I’ve even got a photo of it somewhere!”  Guess what?  ‘150’ at Saigon!  Who said ‘Six degrees of separation’?

8. Less than three months after we visited Loc Ninh, it was the site of a major engagement, when VC and NVA regulars tried to overrun the SF Camp.  At one point of the battle 105mm guns and their crews were being airlifted in by Chinooks, dropped onto the airstrip and immediately going into action, firing canister rounds on open sights into the self same rubber estate from which our Co Pilot had suggested the VC be chased.  Maybe he had a point after all!

The PSP was urgently required to make up dispersals for the newly-arrived Andovers, at some of the Tactical Training strips in Malaysia.  The Andover C2 had a kneeling undercarriage, and while this worked OK in UK and Europe, the kneeling mechanism didn't like dust, heat and humidity.  It would kneel all right, but then refuse to un-kneel.  At one stage half the new Andover force was spread out over southern Malaysia, squatting undignifiedly at the edge of various airstrips.

The Spaghetti Western era started while I was in Singapore.  Our whole gang in the Seletar Mess were Spaghetti Western-mad, and I remember sitting through three straight sessions of 'A Fistful of Dollars' when it was first released.

Choon Wat, my little Malay Chinese mechanic who kept my old Jag running through races and rallies from a lock-up shed the size of a phone box, did all his work on the side of the road in Jahalan Kayuh (sp?) the village just outside Seletar Main Gate.

A reference to the absence of humidity, which made late-night love making much more pleasant than in the torpid heat of Singapore (nobody we knew had or could afford air conditioning then)
From: William Devlin, Port Talbot, West Glamorgan
Subject: Memories of the Blackburn Beverley

In 1963 I was posted to FEAF MAMS at RAF Seletar. I had come from a stores environment, never even seen a “Bev” before then.  We worked with 34 Sqn Beverlies a lot. Two incidents in particular coloured my opinion of the “Bev”.

The first,  I was travelling from Tawau in North Borneo to Labuan. There had been 30 plus Gurkhas flown out to Tawau. I was helping the AQM to clean up after them and I asked the ‘Q’ what to do with a pile of RAF paper cups.  "Sling them outside" was his reply. Being  a newbie I thought he was having me on, but no, he took the cups from me walked to the Para door at the back, opened the door and threw the lot out! For the rest of the trip back to Singapore I needed no encouragement to sling the rubbish out of the aircraft!

The second incident I was flying back to Labuan again from Tawau in a ‘Bev’ this time minus the Clam Shell doors. Same AQM! This time he showed me what would now be called vandalism. I got a roll of toilet paper, held onto one end, then threw the roll out of the aircraft leaving a long streamer of paper floating down over the jungle!

I dare say that couldn’t be done on any of the modern day aircraft, not that you would be allowed to do it!

I was posted back to the UK this time to Benson and Argosies.  It was not the same.


From: Bernie Hurdsfield, Corby, Northants
Subject: Memories of the Blackburn Beverley

Hello Tony,

My first contacts with this beast were at RAF Abingdon on my Movements course. As well as the mock-up, we sometimes got to play with real ones.

At RAF Labuan in Borneo, we had a permanent detachment from RAF Seletar of two Beverleys supplying the up country bases and Army by air drop. I went on a drop and the strangest sight was was standing at the back strapped to the floor watching trees go past horizontal while we circled round for another drop. I was too scared to sit on the back with my legs dangling like the Army Air Despatchers.

On a lighter note, we lost one of our two DP fire tenders so we got word the same day of a command reserve replacement on route from Singapore on a Beverley. When the aircraft arrived, it was in the circuit for an hour before it landed. The reason, I hear you ask, we did not have sufficient fire cover for four-engined aircraft and nobody in ATC would make the decision!

When the detachments ended and they were going back to Seletar permanently, the last aircraft was borderline on weight and space. He took off using the whole runway and lumbered away, as they did. Five minutes later he came back flat-out  100ft above the runway and stood it on it's tail and waggled it's wings. We were waiting for the load to come through the back doors but we had done a good job and no harm done.


From: David Forsyth, 85270 St Hilaire de Riez 
Subject: Memories of the Blackburn Beverley

This is not a Mover’s Tale about the Beverley; it's an anecdote from one of my Engineer Branch Flight Cadet chums on 94 Entry at Cranwell, Colin Pilcher, who is no longer with us. I hope it will cause a smile or two.

David Forsyth
Loitering with Intent
One of our drill instructors in D Squadron was Flight Sergeant Flight. In one of his previous existences in the Royal Air Force, Flight Sergeant Flight had done a lot of flying in Beverley aircraft. As aircrew or as a passenger, I never knew. The Beverley was an interesting aircraft. It shared a lot of its heritage with the Route Master London bus. I suspect that its aerodynamic design had been heavily influenced by the Route Master. It had similar aerodynamics and the cruising speed was not so terribly different.
Anyway, there we were on parade in front of College Hall. We happened to see a Beverley aircraft grinding past us. Flight Sergeant Flight's words were: "Stop looking at that aircraft, gentlemen, you can see it's a Beverley, it'll still be up there when you go off parade!"

The late Colin Pilcher
From: Mike Stepney, Stewarton, Ayrshire
Subject: Memories of the Blackburn Beverley

Hi Tony,

During part of my tour at Khormaksar I travelled back and forth to a number of Gulf stations running a weekly direct exchange system for classified equipment.  Usually I would depart Khormaksar on a Monday and on a short route would stop off at Riyan and perhaps Salalah, returning to Khormaksar late evening. Occasionally I would undertake an extended trip that would take in Masirah, Sharjah and sometimes Muharraq.  Most of these tasks would be by Argosy, but occasionally a Beverley would be assigned for the shorter trips when there was no Argosy available.
Although the Beverly was noisy and generally a grubby aircraft, I quite enjoyed the travelling as there was always plenty of room to move around, and get some shut-eye. The only drawback with using the Beverley was that the loadmasters were very reluctant to open the clamshell doors, and insisted that the mail and classified items could fit through the passenger door, something to do with problems on the locking systems, and if they could not lock the clamshell doors, they would be stuck away from main base, and their airconditioned mess! 

The Argosy trips were very different and it was usual to taxi in to dispersal, ramp down keeping one engine running, do the necessary mail drop and equipment exchanges, then ramp up, restart the remaining engines then off to the next unit.

One of the more out of the way RAF units that I visited was RAF Habilayn, near (Thumier/Dhala) in the Aden Protectorate, located just south of the Yemen border. These trips were in support of the small detachment of  RAF and army cooperation aircraft, the Twin Pioneer and the Beaver, all part of our policing the area and keeping the rebel Arabs in line.  This route was predominately served by the Beverley, and given the short hop from Khormaksar and the rough landing strip, the Beverley and not the Argosy, was the most suited aircraft for this type of work.

The attached picture was taken by (I believe) Ian Berry/Gordon Gourdie.  This incident was at RAF Habilayn on 21st June 1967.  The Beverly XM106 had just landed and was taxiing to the dispersal when it ran over a Russian Mk7 mine.  It is believed to have been laid the previous evening by some Arabs who had managed to penetrate the base security screen!  Thankfully I was not on that flight and the only time I visited after that was up by Twin Pioneer and return by Wessex!
As an aside, I came across this link: http://www.ukserials.com/losses-1967.htm in refreshing my memory on the clash between the Beverley and the Russian mine.

Considering we were not at war in 1967, the number of aircraft losses compared to what we have experienced in recent years, gives cause for reflection. Clearly we had more aircraft flying and many more types to deal with in the late 60's but the attrition rates in 1967 are nothing short of mind blowing, over 100 aircraft lost/damaged are listed for 1967!


Mike Stepney
From: Alexander Angus, Kippax, West Yorkshire
Subject: Memories of the Blackburn Beverley

Hi Tony,

Like me, many of our comrades, particularly those of us of advancing years, and of the Brit persuasion, will remember the loading of the "Bev" as being easier than the likes of the Hastings or the Dakota etc., due to the 10x10 rear access. However, I wonder how many flew in her, particularly in the tail boom. Somewhat out of our comfort zone up there.

While stationed at Khormaksar, three of our shift were sent up the Radfan to Habilayn, ostensibly to unload a Bev that had slipped off the runway, though when we arrived, the job had already been done. Hey-ho, same kite back, same iffy seat in the tail boom. I reckon you'd pay money at Blackpool pleasure beach to experience a scary situation like that, and we got it for nothing. Yee-haw!

Not my favourite flight, but she was a good old workhorse, apart from the fact that there was reports of the engines going into reverse pitch in mid-air. Never saw this myself.

Best regards

From: Mick Goater, Goole, West Yorks 
Subject: Memories of the Blackburn Beverley

Sorry but I am too young (don’t get much chance to say that now) to have worked on the Beverley, but I love the aircraft, built not far from me in Brough.

I have been to see it at Fort Paull (one of the Forts most impressive exhibits is the world's only surviving Blackburn Beverley).  Worth a visit if you are in Yorkshire area: http://www.fortpaull.com/exhibits.aspx


From: Gerry Davis, Bedminster, Somerset 
Subject: The Blackburn Beverley

One of my most memorable incidents whilst working on a Beverley took place during my two years (1960/62) on Air Movements at RAF Bahrain (later renamed Muharraq).

On Friday 6th October 1961, a Blackburn Beverley arrived from Kuwait (Q8) at Bahrain; tail number XM110, loaded full with several tons of boxed live 105mm howitzer cannon shells.

It was nearly lunch time and we wanted to get off so as to avoid the mess queues, and leave the offloading until later. The boss decided otherwise, because it was ammunition!

At this time one of the many “practice” war exercises was underway, so we offloaded it rather sharpish. We were ambling back to the section and we were about a dozen feet away from the aircraft, when there was an almighty explosion and the aircraft blew up. It later transpired that a bomb was placed on the aircraft at Kuwait with a timer.  Wasn’t it fortunate that it did not go off when the aircraft was airborne, or when we were on it?   From then on all the Arab workers were excluded from the camp.  Work from then on became that much harder.

From: Charles Gibson, Monifieth, Angus 
Subject: Memories of the Blackburn Beverley

The first time I saw a Beverley reversing was at Abingdon and to say I was shocked is putting it mildly!

Chas 43rd
Group Captain Douglas H.M. Chandler commanded No.47 Squadron at Royal Air Force Abingdon from October 1964 until October 1967 when the squadron was equipped with the Blackburn Beverley C.1.

Wing Commander Harry W. Guile Flew the Blackburn Beverley on No.47 Squadron at Royal Air Force Abingdon from April to October 1956; when Officer Commanding No.84 Squadron at Khormaksar from June 1958 to September 1960 and finally, when Officer Commanding, No.34 Squadron in Seletar from June 1966 until its disbandment in December 1967.
From: Eddie Mottram, Woodley, Berks   
Subject: Memories of the Blackburn Beverley

Dear Tony,

As soon as I read your email and saw the topic for this month it brought back the memory of my first day on UKMAMS. But, before I share that memory let me give you a little background.

I was stationed at RAF Wattisham and in September 1966 I was sent to Zambia on the oil lift. In November the operation was closed down and we loaded the final Britannia, including the lifting platform, and flew out on 5th November 1966. I returned to Wattisham but in January 1967 I was informed that I was posted to UKMAMS at RAF Abingdon.

I duly arrived at UKMAMS HQ on 7th February 1967 and was called into the office of Sqn Ldr Jacobs. He welcomed me to UKMAMS, asked me how I felt about leaving Wattisham to which I replied that I was very happy there and was sorry to have had to leave. He said, "Not to worry, because I have arranged a flying visit back to Wattisham for you tomorrow."
On 8th February 1967 I boarded Beverley No. 285, piloted by Flt Lt Clinch and we took off from Abingdon at 08.25 hrs and landed at Wattisham at 09.15 hrs. The task was called "Jigsaw 7". We left Wattisham at 16.30 hrs and arrived back at Abingdon at 17.17 hrs. Who said Sqn Ldr Jacobs didn't have a sense of humour?

That was my first flight on a Beverley and we were seated in the Tail Boom, which held 36 seats. I remember being a little nervous going to the toilet and having to go over the hatch in the floor used for parachute jumps or should I say drops. I have since learnt that there had been a fatality when a serviceman, unaware that the hatch had been left open, fell twenty feet to the ground when exiting the toilet. A modification was later made to prevent the toilet doors from being opened when the hatch was open.

My next trip on a Beverley was on 6th May 1967, A/C No. 284. Flew from Abingdon to RAF St Mawgan then on to RAF Thorney Island and back to Abingdon. Cannot remember why!

On 22nd May 1967 I boarded Beverley No. 267 and flew from Abingdon to RAF West Raynham and then on to Le Bourget for the Paris Air Show. We left Le Bourget on 25th March on board Beverley No. 269 and the pilot was Flt Lt Gale. Is he a relative of yours Tony? [To the best of my recollection - no.]

July 14th saw me board Beverley No. 287 piloted by Sqn Ldr Thompson and we flew from Abingdon to RAF Wildenrath. Next morning we flew to Celle then on to RAF Lyneham and finally back to Abingdon.

On 21st July I flew from RAF Benson to RAF Machrihanish on board Argosy No. 135 and returned to Abingdon the same day on board Beverley No. 286. As part of the same exercise, on 28th July I boarded Hastings No. 487 at RAF Colerne and we took off for RAF Machrihanish but had to return U/S. Changed to Hasting No. 327 and flew to RAF Machrihanish, from there I flew on to RAF Odiham on board Argosy 847. From RAF Odiham I flew back to Abingdon on Beverly No. 290. According to my log book this was a special low level flying exercise over water.

I was on Exercise Overdale and had flown out to RAF Geilenkirchen on 25th September and flew back to Abingdon on October 23rd 1967 on board Beverley No. 267, the pilot was Fg Off Foster.

That was my last flight on a Beverley and I believe they ceased operating in December 1967.

All the best

Eddie Mottram
My 9-year old boy recently started taking an interest in aircraft, and I had been looking out for Beverley material to show him for a while now, without much success at all until I found the Beverley Association site. Of course hes mainly into Spitfires and Hurricanes at the moment, but when he saw a Bev photo I downloaded from the BBA site he said it was, 'cool'! Interestingly, the Cosford Aerospace Museum, does not feature the Beverley at all - not a picture or a mention anywhere, yet, as we know, the Bevs were the workhorses and tactical transport mainstay of their era, and certainly of most of the airborne ops whilst I was in Aden.

I got to be very attached to those great lumbering beasts - despite their looks, I always felt safe in them and they were so perfect for their roles, I dont think the C130s were ever quite so versatile, or so well-fitted for tactical supply in difficult terrain, as were the Bevs.

I was in the RAF from 1964/69 - the best times of which were when I was at RAF Khormaksar in Aden, where I was an S.A.C. on one of the 6-man Mobile Air Movements Squadron teams based there. I was actually one of those there until the very last day of the withdrawal, and on the very last aircraft out.

During my tour of duty, two or three people from the MAMS detachment would go out on just about every air transport operation or exercise that took place, involving the movement of troops, supplies, equipment, machines, arms, munitions and casualties, anywhere and everywhere in the Arabian Peninsular and East Africa. Mostly on Beverleys, but occasionally on Argosies too, if the strip would take them, particularly along the coastal route stations. 84 and 30 Squadrons were the Bevs, and 105 squadron (I think) the flying wheelbarrows. The MAMS role was to go with the aircraft to ensure the aircraft were loaded effectively and safely - i.e. with loads distributed safe to fly, and restrained against the right G factors, with any hazardous cargo properly secured or protected, and the entire cargo payload also positioned in the right place for rapid unloading, or a very quick turn round, often in hostile or primitive conditions.
I'm here only to illustrate the very impressive height of the Beverley boom
Self showing off with Sterling SMG at the ready...
Chris Nethercoat's Story
(Originally published in 2001)
As well going all over South Arabia our teams had two quite long detachments to Embakasi (in Kenya) and in Ndola and Lusaka, in Zambia, whilst the oil-lift, following Rhodesia's declaration of UDI, was ongoing. We were turning round Argosies, Britannias, C130s, assorted other aircraft (Like a Carvair, and others I now forget), all laden with either 45 gallon steel drums, or huge rubber drums of oil - that had come overland to Nairobi from Dar-es-Salaam. At Ndola, the airport itself was protected by a flight of UK Javelins - from whom I am not sure, and the Movements Office was a ten-foot square tin-roof hut, that we shared with the local Flying Doctor service. Once when off duty, we were roped into going out deep into the African bush to help recover a wrecked light aircraft, and we met with mud-hut villagers who had never seen white people before.  My usual 'oppo' was Barry 'Geordie' Fisher an ex-boy entrant. Barry and I were never really close friends around the billets and at MAMS HQ, (I was a bit of loner anyway) - but we shared a lot of experiences together and came to rely on and trust each other on the job - and I think we worked well as a team. Two other rankers I remember were Rod Packman and Alan Howe, with both of whom I shared a room. There might even have been a third team, as we were 'Charlie' team, but my memory is getting a bit rusty for names and details that far back, it was over thirty years ago.

Each MAMS team also had two SNCOs, and a junior officer in charge, and on anything more than a 'milk-run' trip at least one NCO would go also with us. The SNCOs, were no doubt also involved in planning and admin functions that we erks knew nothing about, and at least one would come with us on anything out of the ordinary, but for the bread and butter milk-runs (such up country re-supplies, or FRA troop movements) it was usually just two of us, and a corporal at most, getting up in the very early hours for a pre-dawn take-off, and back before the heat got too much and affected the flying.

The officers I recall were Pilot Officer Paul Stamp, and Flying Officer Jock Drysdale, (who tended only to turn out only on the longer or more interesting trips!) and the OC was a Flight Lieutenant known as 'Black Mac'. One of the two Sergeants was Tony Lamb, the other was John Mathews? The two flight sergeants, I don't remember their names, but both were both Irishmen, one of whom taught us the words to the songs 'The West Claire Railway' and 'The Wild Rover', which we would often belt after a few Tiger beers. I think a later replacement for one of them was a Flt Sergeant Belcher. My two special mates at Khormaksar (not on MAMS), were Corporal Dick Lynn (who I knew from my days at RAF Cosford) a big chap, whose hobby was football refereeing, and an SAC John Cosgrove.
Federal Regular Army (FRA) soldiers under closed clamshell doors.
Alan Howe is sitting on the sill and that's Gordon Gourdie crouching on the starboard door.
I think the most satisfying thing for all of us, is that, after a short while, even though every task was a bit different, nobody ever had to tell us what to do. We knew from experience what needed to be done and how - and even though as lowly airmen and not much more than boys in years - we each became confident enough to organise and manage teams of locals to do the back-breaking work, and those flight crews that knew us did not interfere.

In Zambia, for example, there were some occasions when things were so busy, that I single-handedly marshalled in some of the arriving aircraft, managed the entire unloading of the oil, and back-loading of the empties, with only the help of a score of native labourers. Whilst another airman or corporal, would be doing the same elsewhere on the pan. On the oil-lift we took a competitive pride in turn-around times, including refuelling, that could sometimes be a quick twenty-five minutes. The further away from home station you got the less emphasis there was on rank or status, and the more there was on what you knew and were capable of doing.

Our teams regularly went to a lot of interesting and exciting places including scores of sorties and detachments up-country, to Wadhi Behan, Mukalla, Muqueiras, Dhala etc, that became almost everyday trips. 90% of the trip on Bevs - Dhala in particular was a very tricky place to get into with sheer, steep cliffs at the end of the runway - and only the Bevs with their reverse pitch thrust could do it. Very occasionally, we were turned back from a flight up country because the pilot got a radio report that there were armed 'dizzies' awaiting us in the hills. The intelligence came from SAS and 'political officers' who were dotted about the countryside around our bases. Geordie and I, with our Corporal John Moreland (later replaced by Frank ?), also went on many re-supply trips along the coast route to Riyan, Salalah, Masirah Island and to Sharjah - in what was then known as the Trucial Oman States. The other teams members would have done very similar trips, but, of course, I only know about where we went and what we did, but Rod and Alan's stories would be just as varied.

At Riyan, where an old Dakota did get in every now and then, we once did a grain supply trip and I vividly remember about ten or twelve locals, led by an old chap whose knee joint was bent sideways, unloading the sacks on their bare shoulders and chanting "Al Hamdu Lilla", incessantly as they worked. On this particular trip the Beverly captain had agreed to backload a huge volume of personal effects for the (British) Colonel of the Hadramat Bedouin Arab Legion, who was due to return to the UK after eight years in post. We loaded up his stuff and he thanked us all and gave everyone a Legion head-dress (kuffia and aqual) as a souvenir, and off we took. Two day later we learned he has been shot dead - by his own driver on the grounds that he was abandoning the men who needed his continued leadership.

Funny thing about most of those desert Arabs, they could be very generous, loyal and hospitable, but they were also capable of deliberate cruelty and were merciless to their enemies. At Habilayn, an upcountry desert camp and airstrip, near the Yemen border, I heard a story, that says something about the way of life for some of the very poorest of those local people. An Arab came into the camp to ask for medical help for someone who had fallen into a well nearby. The man was asked where the casualty was now, and he said, "still in the well, since yesterday". "But why didn't you tell us sooner?" he was asked - to which the answer was, "I wasn't coming this way till today!".
Charlie Team: Geordie Fisher, John Matthews, "Chiefy" Pollock and self outside the squadron office in Aden.
Geordie Fisher and self at Ndola Airport
I did three quite long stints at Habilayn, where the enemy Blindicide rockets were coming in several times a week. There were about 300 or more army chaps there, including SAS, supported by just a BASO and 2 RAF erks at any one time, handling Bevs, Andovers (I think), Wessex, Scouts and Sioux helicopters, Twin Pioneers and Beavers, with occasional Dakota visits, and also the odd Hunter strikes; called up when a gang of 'dizzies' had been spotted. Being on 24 hour call-out, we never did regular guard duties, or had to carry the old .303s, because whenever we were sent anywhere dodgy we strutted around with .38 S&W pistols, or Sterling SMGs much of the time, and felt we were really into something. With good reason sometimes, because at Habilayn we came under 'dissident' fire on many nights, mostly sporadic rifle fire, but also from rockets sometimes - which the British Army returned with mortars and GPMGs, and occasionally our 105's would open up, if they had a target, it could certainly get quite noisy, and a bit scary too, especially if you were in the 'shitehouse' at the time. This was mostly used after nightfall, as it was both very exposed, and rather too stinky during the day.  Once, when we were attacked really quite fiercely, I recall several of us were cowering in our dugouts, the tent shaking so much that one of our chaps shouted it was, "rubble falling on us, and we'll get a direct hit in minute". But not so - it was just a chap who was so scared we couldn't get him to move into the 'sanger' and so he was hiding under a bed, with his legs kicking against the walls of the tent! But they did kill some of us sometimes - The cookhouse got it once, which was just twenty yards from where we slept.

I well recall another incident, at Habilayn, when a bunch of Marines had been brought up country, for the experience of it, and somehow an anti-tank weapon they were being shown (which I think was normally detonated from a protective pit in the ground) went off by accident and killed nine or ten of them by the blast. I'd seen the flash and heard the bang from our side of the camp, and minutes later could just make out people scurrying around. We alerted a Wessex crew, who were on standby in the next tent, and as soon they found out what had happened I went with them to the gun-site about a mile way from the camp.... they were all dead and laying just as they fell. Funny thing was I lifted three or four of them myself, I remember it was as if they weighed no more than sleeping children - must have been the adrenalin.

After they were checked over by the M.O., the bodies were brought out onto the strip again and lined up on their stretchers, in the heat of the Aden sun, and an impromptu guard of honour was formed. It was brought to attention by an RSM, whilst the bodies were loaded into a Wessex to go back down to Khormaksar. Then, as the last one went in, a bugler played the Last Post. The remembrance of that moment gets my neck hairs standing on end even now.

My team also did one long trip down to Lethoso and Botswana, in two Bevs, for their independence celebrations, with a glorious few weeks living off the hog at the George Hotel, Manzini, in Swaziland. As far as I remember the route was via Mombasa, Lourenco Marques, to Matsapa? then on to both the capitals for their respective Independence Days, with a contingent of UK bandsmen and foreign office types on board, flown in to mark the occasion. I also somehow got to see something of Madagascar on the return trip - I think because we could not get into Lourenco Marques.
Self outside the RAF Habilayn HQ tent - which housed the Movements bods and the BASO
Self with a "wog-dog" behind our sanger, which we dug out to a 3 foot depth
I also remember a couple of trips to a place called Assab, by the Red Sea, when we were picking up foodstuffs that had be dumped there and collected, for some political because the Suez Canal was impassable, (I think) but I forget the exact reason. Another time, at short notice we had to take a squad of FRA (Federal Republican Army) soldiers, (our side) and some British soldiers, to bail out the local pro-British Sheik on the Island of Socotra, who was being got at by some 'dizzies' who had sailed out from the mainland. We landed and all spread with guns at the ready, to protect the aircraft, while some young officer, led his platoon and their FRA backup into the nearby township. An hour later, without a shot being fired they emerged with prisoners in tow - the captives and the FRA seemingly on the best of terms, the prisoners made a pile of their weapons and we took them all back to the mainland. I heard later they'd been beheaded, but I don't know if it was true.  Several times we got to fly and work on a Belfast, but in general most of the shorter sorties were in Beverly aircraft.

Of course whilst we' blue jobs' were swanning around in aeroplanes, the real everyday action was in and around the strategic centres and townships, such as the notorious Crater District, where the army patrols would be getting shot at many times every day, especially in the last months. But it was not always like that. At the start of my tour at Aden we used to be able to go swimming in the sea to Elephant Bay, beyond Steamer Point, but later as things got tighter we were recommended not to go far at all. On one of my rare later recreational visits downtown, along the Ma'alla shopping strip (later known as the Murder Mile), on my 21st birthday, our own small group was sniped at from a nearby building - that made it memorable.

I think we were supplemented by some UKMAMS chaps towards the end, the names escape me now, but I do remember, coming in from off a Beverley flight, and on opening the clamshells and lowering the ramps - seeing a gang of pasty-faced, white-kneed newcomers waiting there. On asking a rather plump chap then to put the pegs into the anti-tip strut for me, I was met with a torrent of, who the f*** do you think you are type abuse. That was my first meeting with a very experienced air mover who did not take kindly to being told what to do.

After the close-down of Khormaksar, when Aden became the Peoples Republic of South Yemen, I ended up spending a further six months in Bahrain. From there making two or three trips into Jeddah and Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia, taking in radar cabins, and up to Kuwait a coupe of times and into Teheran once, I forget why. And once we took part in a exercise on Yas Island in the Gulf, that was early-aborted, because the paratroopers and other soldiers taking part could not cope with the 140 degrees heat.

But by then I was ready to come home. It was not the same at Muharraq, it was more humid, there was less to do, and there was not the sense of purpose that we felt in Aden. Also whilst in Aden the MAMS teams were the envy of many on the camp, because of the variety in our roles, and because we were we excused parades and guard duties and worked unusual hours. Up at Muharraq we were just incomers - with no privileges, living in the transit billet, and resented a bit by some of the movers already there - cant blame them, we got all the interesting jobs and must have seemed a bit cocky.
Inside a Bev freight bay - tribal leaders en-route to K'Sar - all of whom refused to unload their weapons!
Unloading a squad of FRA. British Army tents can be see in the background
Khormaksar was for a while, the busiest airport in the world, because it was also a civil airport and a route station to the Far East for civil and military aircraft of several countries and governments. I remember a few very tense hours once when an Air India passenger jet could not get its landing gear down, and so it stacked around for hours, to use up its fuel, before a crash-landing without wheels. It was smoky, but fairly quiet as it slid along on its belly, but it ran out of runway and went through the perimeter fence into the sea (maybe that was the plan) and came to rest twenty yards out into the shallow water. I was there with a fire crew, and, miraculously, nobody was hurt, except the pilot who was only bruised - but he did a terrific job to get them down so safely.

In the last few weeks of RAF Khormaksar we were all very busy bringing back stuff from up country for shipping anything worth taking, back to the UK or up to RAF Muharraq. But to see that great hive of activity being so rapidly run down and stripped of everything useful, first by us, and then by the locals, was more than a little sad. My understanding of the politics of it is still a bit hazy but, though an orderly one, it was still an ignominious withdrawal. We'd been forced out by sustained terrorist activity by FLOSY and the NLF, but as soon as the British did leave the place quickly descended into inter-factional fighting and chaos. Despite that, such is the way of international politics, that I found myself, whilst then stationed up in Bahrain, going back to Aden again, in a C130, not long after we were kicked out, supplying the new government with boxed JP trainer aircraft!

And perhaps my only personal small claim to a place in history derives from those few weeks, when as the very last RAF serviceman out of Aden - just one step ahead of a Major Gen Philip Tower, who was C. in C. Middle East, I was also the very first uniformed serviceman (as far as I know) to set foot in Aden again - on the first flight back. When we were not sure it if was safe to land or not, but as soon as we stopped moving, and the side doors opened, I jumped out - in order or to claim that dubious distinction before anyone else could do so.

After my tour I heard it said that there were many more incidents of bombs, explosive sabotage, snipings, etc in the Aden campaign, that any other peacetime engagement, including N. Ireland. Though far fewer fatalities than N.I. So, having had all this excitement, (I was still only twenty one) it was bit of a come-down to to end up at RAF Benson, in the Ops Centre, doing Argosy Trim Sheets!
Me with my family, in 2001. I haven't changed much have I?
From: Barry Tappenden, Shortstown, Beds
Subject: Memories of the Blackburn Beverley

FEAF MAMS - We were loading the Beverley with a full compliment of Claymore mines at USAF Clark Air Base in the Philippines and to make the trim perfect we had to put some into the boom. Halfway into the homeward journey to Singapore, we encountered a "slight" problem with the heating in the boom; it overheated with heat and smoke pouring out very close to the Claymores!  Question -  do you eject them through the boom door or wait and hope the aircrew can control the heating?  Fortunately, after a very long 10 minutes, things cooled down, but for the rest of the flight it was a bit chilly!

Whilst we were on welfare work in Vietnam, supplying essential items for Save the Children we were tasked to go to Dan Ang, a pretty hot spot by all accounts but we had been assured that they (USA and Vietcong) would stop hostilities whilst we offloaded.  We were given one hour and the team did a very quick turn round. The area was pretty tight to manoeuvre the Bev to get a clear take off. I was detailed to marshal it out. After being on the ground for 50 minutes, the skipper got a call to take off immediately as we were taking incoming. At this point I was still outside. With the engines turning at full revs I ran to the rear, and to this day I can't remember getting back on board - but I somehow managed it! After we took off all we got from the USAF air controllers was "Your undercarriage has not retracted" (It's permanently down and welded on the Bev!).
From: Tony Gale, Gatineau, QC
Subject: Memories of the Blackburn Beverley
Salalah, Oman, 1966 - yours truly standing in the rear door of an 84 Squadron Beverley.  It was tough loading these aircraft with the outside air temperature at about 140ºF - especially when they were being refuelled at the same time with Avgas dripping on one's head from the cross-feed pipes in the ceiling of the main freight bay.   It was legend that these beauties never leaked oil - they were merely marking their territory!

There were only about 50 of us permanently at this staging post, so it was a big deal when someone's one-year tour came to an end. It was standard practice for the aircraft, normally an Argosy on the KRSM run (Khormaksar - Riyan - Salalah - Masirah), to "beat-up" the base. After having taken off, the captain would make a circuit and then fly across the camp full speed and a height of about 100' as a farewell hoorah.  My own departure in June of 1967 was no exception and I was lucky enough to travel back down to Khormaksar on a Beverley - my last ever flight in the type.

I consider myself fortunate to have experienced that neck of the woods before it became a tourist destination.
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, Bucks
Subject: Beverley Memories

Hi Tony,

For me, the name 'Beverley' always brings back a smile and happy memories.  A first tour, supposedly in supply, at RAF Changi introduced me to the Beverley on activations, detachments and closures at forward strips at Gong Kedak and Kuantan.  I also scrounged a trip as a 'passenger' on a stores drop from Labuan to forward DZs in Borneo.  These regular bread and butter runs into the mountains were so 'outside the book' that, apparently, when the flight checkers came out from UK for the annual aircrew standards reviews, 34 Sqn at RAF Seletar had to put on special training trips, usually ending in a drill MSP drop back on somewhere flat, large and safe, such as an airfield, for the benefit of the trappers.

One memorable Beverley afternoon found me doing a 'Changi Splash' parachute jump.  This was the result of several Tiger beers in Temple Hill Mess a couple of days before, and now finding myself standing first in a stick of three!  This had been proceeded by just a couple of hours of drills in the parachute training school hangar in the morning which mainly concentrated on practicing how to undo all your strapping on the way down so that when the empty parachute bag dangling 30 foot below you hit the water, you had to execute a 'Geronimo!' style star jump out of your harness to avoid being dragged all the way to Indonesia.  That was fun!

For its time the Beverley was a great load carrier.  During my pre-MAMS spell with Load Control at RAF Abingdon station movements, there was a book in the office with a very detailed proposal by Blackburn for a 'Super Beverley'.  I seem to recall that, similar in layout, it would have been about 50% bigger in size and payload; pressurized and turboprop.  However, not to be, as Blackburn were committed to the Buccaneer.  Furthermore, the MoD had an expensive Britannia main-spar jig looking for work, as were Shorts in Northern Ireland, and the result was the Belfast.  Whatever did happen to that book?

This huge airborne crate carrier, albeit not the fastest, produced some fascinating tasks.  One of my first MAMS trips was Abingdon to Gardermoen (Oslo) with a large box containing the fragile landscape model of Tromso Fiord that had been used for planning the 617 Sqn attack on the Tirpitz.  Then there was the run from Filton to Toulouse with the prototype engine in-takes for Concord 002, and back via Tours to collect a Spitfire.
There was also the incredible Beverley trim sheet on which you plotted not only the horizontal plane, like all other trim sheets , so that the front bit balanced the back bit, but also, because of the height of the aircraft, there was a 'vertical' trim calculation.   Presumably to stop the aircraft doing a forward somersault on landing?  Can anyone confirm this?  During my time there was a rumour that at least one team managed to load a Beverley (on first attempt) which was out of trim vertically!

One sad memory was seeing the disbanded 84 Squadron Beverley fleet staggering back into Abingdon from Aden with their desert paint scheme enhanced by some incredible 'street' art mostly of large flowers.  This was after all the late 1960s, a time of peace, love and flower power!  In the struggle to get the aircraft home, I vaguely recall one arrived back with a very large box which had once contained cartons of cornflakes in the 'bomb aimers' window as a quick fix bird strike repair.

Finally, going back to Changi there was a story going round of when a Beverley plus MAMS team had been up at a forward strip in Thailand, a USAF Globemaster (the original version) had taxied in alongside and proceeded to show off its drop down floor panel 'lift' etc.  And, how a very proud loadmaster was going on about the benefits, facts and figures of his aircraft, when he happened to comment on the 'rather nice machine you guys were using'.  To which, maintaining a deadpan expression, a MAMS NCO was heard to comment 'Ah, but you ought to have seen the RAF transport that brought that one in!'

Happy Days
Stay Safe
David Powell UKMAMS 67-69
Click on image below to see full size Beverley Trim Sheet
From: Gerry Davis, Bedminster, Somerset
Subject: A Beverley detachment whilst on NEAF MAMS Circa 1967

We were tasked to fly from Akrotiri to Amman, Jordan, as part of a delegation which was involved in trying to sell Lightning aircraft to the Jordanian Air Force; we set off after loading a Blackburn Beverley with a Lightning aircraft pack-up, consisting of spare wheels, specialist tools and other assorted equipment. There was also a huge circular compressed liquid oxygen container  and a couple of Firestreak missiles.

The Beverley had its huge rear clamshell doors taken off as a precaution in case there was an emergency situation whereby the lox container had to be jettisoned. We took along two army Air Dispatchers who were specialists in dispatching goods whilst airborne. The jet fighters had already flown to Amman.

After about an hour into the flight, I noticed that one of the engines had feathered and the prop stopped. We were told that we would have to divert into Beirut International Airport. After landing, it was ascertained that one of the engines was unserviceable and because of the sensitive nature of our load some of us would have to stay and guard the aircraft.  Fortunately, for me and the two lads, the two army Air Dispatchers volunteered for this. We were to be in Beirut for four days awaiting the arrival of a replacement aircraft.

We were transported to an hotel on the waterfront, which had been organised by the embassy Air Attaché. I had to share a room with a lad called Shamus. A nickname that we christened him with as he hailed from Northern Ireland. He was a lovely fellow; his Nan sent him Mars bars regularly; no wonder he was covered in spots!

The first night in this Hotel, the evening entertainment was Scottish country dancing. It was amazing to witness all the Scottish expatriates arriving from throughout Lebanon for this event, all wearing their individual clan kilts. Ceremonial swords were produced and laid on the floor for the dancing.

The next day both Shamus and I were told to book out of the hotel and make our way to another one. We were told that a Royal Navy ship had entered port and our accommodation had previously been booked for them.  We had to make our own way to this other hotel after being given directions as to where it was, about 500 yards distance via the Arab quarter on 'Shank's pony'.
So off we went both struggling with our kit through the streets. We happened to pass by an Arab gent who had a sword. I said Good morning Abdul, to which he seemed to take offence, drew his sword and waved it at us. We two quickened our pace as best we could and made haste to our new billet. He followed us for some time scaring the daylights out of us, shouting and gesturing with his sword. Honest, it was a great big thing!

On arrival at the Hotel we booked in, got the room sorted and proceeded back to the other Hotel to meet up with the others for something to eat. (We had to eat there with the others for all our meals.) In the meantime, we were worrying about our Arab friend and whether our kit would still be there on our return.

As we had a while to wait for a relief aircraft to rescue us, we all chipped in to hire a taxi to see the sights, and enjoyed a day out. There is, of course, much ancient history to view nearby to the capital.  Our driver, who spoke good English, seemed quite knowledgeable. It was worth the money!

On returning to the hotel, it was getting quite late, both Shamus and I were thoroughly knackered, we had to share a large double bed, which had a long light flex dangling down from the ceiling, with one of those push button switches on. I said to Shamus, You ready for the lights out? "Yep" he replied, so I pressed the switch and electrocuted the pair of us, both of us started screaming like 'Banshees'. No one came to our rescue though!
Our holiday soon over it was back to work to greet the arriving Argosy, and those two Army lads who had spent all that time out there on that warm apron guarding our aircraft. They could not have done much anyway as they did not have anything to defend themselves with.

So after changing the loads over between the two aircraft, the Beverley departed on three engines empty, and we left on the Argosy; both aircraft returning  to Akrotiri.

The total exercise was a flop as the Jordanians bought American fighters. We incidentally had a bet that they would buy American jets. They probably got them for nothing anyway.
From: Tony Street, Buffalo, NY 
Subject: Freebish and the Hat


In September of '68, with an augmented crew totaling about 12, we were preparing for a flight from Trenton, Ontario to New Zealand on a 437 Sqn Yukon.

At the end of the final, all crew, pre-flight briefing, the lead pilot, nicknamed "Freebish," instructed the loadmasters: (He may have been recalling what must have been a particularly unpleasant event), "I want no loose articles in the a/c at any time! Everything will be tied down and secured for takeoff, cruise and landing! Do I make myself clear? Let's go!" (Rather harsh, I thought coming from from the mild mannered, pleasant and smiling fellow the squadron had come to know and love).

We boarded the a/c and took our positions. Freebish was the last aboard. He hung his tunic on the coat rack and, as he walked toward the flight deck, casually flipped his hat onto the crew rest bunk.

As we were taxiing out on this grand adventure, a loadie, ears still ringing, grabbed the hat, placed it on the floor seat track beside the coat rack, popped a 5,000lb tiedown ring fore and aft of the offending item. He then got a cargo strap and cranked the hat into the floor.

Some hours later, upon our arrival in Honolulu, the crew were milling around the area tryng to look as nonchalant as possible while awaiting Freeb's reaction.

Freebish left the flight deck and came back to the coat rack and, without so much as batting an eye, unstrapped the hat, Punched the dome out (Its true shape never quite returned), slapped it several times against his thigh, raised it and blew the dust from it as best he could. He then grasped it fore and aft, snapped it on his head (John Wayne comes to mind), and announced, "Follow me," as we all trekked off the aircraft into customs. Not a word was ever spoken about the hat.

Best regards

The Origin of the Warrant Officer 
By: WO Reinders, C Coy
The rank of Warrant Officer has a rather interesting history which is not well known, even amongst those who hold that rank. Commissioned officers have a commissioning script, which is a formal document issued by or in the name of the King or Queen. Warrant officers are neither a commissioned officer nor considered a non-commissioned officer, but rather they are a rank in between. The rank was instead issued with a warrant rather than a commission. A warrant is simply a legal document which is issued by an authority other than the King or Queen.
Commissioned officers were placed in command of ships of the English navy starting in the 13th century. These commissioned officers were often aristocrats whose position in society placed them in command; they were usually not career sailors and therefore did not possess experience or training in the skills of seamanship. They often had no first-hand knowledge of life on board a ship; let alone how to navigate such a vessel. Instead they relied on the expertise of the ship's master and other expert seamen who tended to the technical aspects of running the ship.

As cannons came into use, the officers also required gunnery experts. Due to their knowledge and skill set these experts were granted officer status by the various authorities. For example, the ships gunner was warranted by the board of ordinance. In addition to their skill set and knowledge a warrant officer was also required to be literate. These warranted officers were professionals who bridged the gap between the commissioned officers and the regular seamen who were normally illiterate and used as the work force on board the ships. Other specialists such as a ship's carpenter, boatswain and surgeon were vital to the safety of all on board, and were accordingly ranked as officers - though again by warrant rather than by commission.

In the late 18th and early 19th century, a commission as a naval officer was seen to be a career rather than a means for social advancement and commissioned officers were given seamanship training which included navigation and how to set the sails. This resulted in tasks previously completed by a warrant officer now being completed by the ships commissioned officers. At the same time, the seamen were now becoming better educated and the gap between commissioned officers and seamen became less pronounced. With the warrant officer rank becoming redundant it began to be phased out by around 1842 with the highest ranking warrant officers receiving commissions. The rank was finally abolished in 1949.

The armies of Commonwealth countries took on the rank of Warrant Officer at about the same time that it was becoming redundant in the navy. The Sergeant Major, who was the highest ranking non-commissioned officer was granted warrant officer status. While a commissioned officer was responsible for both tactical and strategic command he would rely on his warrant officers to provide him with advice and knowledge in the many details necessary to efficiently run a military unit.
In 1881, the cavalry Regimental Sergeant Major and infantry Sergeant Major were among a number of senior non-commissioned positions that were confirmed with warrant, thus making them warrant officers. By 1915 in order to take into consideration the differences in levels of responsibility the rank was extended with the introduction of the new ranks of warrant officer class I (WOI) and warrant officer class II (WOII). During the unification of the Canadian forces in 1968, three levels of warrant officer were established: Warrant Officer, Master Warrant Officer and Chief Warrant Officer.

Often these new warrant officers primary task was to serve as a technical expert, providing valuable skills, guidance, and expertise to commanders and organizations in their particular field. Examples in the Canadian military are the assistant instructor of gunnery (AIG) or the Master Gunner both held by the various warrant officer ranks.

Originally there was no insignia to denote rank. An officers clothing and familiarity with his subordinates was all that was required to be recognized as to the position he held. As militaries became larger and formal uniforms were introduced a rank insignia was needed. In the present day, militaries of the commonwealth countries use a two-dimensional representation of the crown to denote a warrant officer, representing their association with the sovereign. The two-dimensional St. Edwards crown was introduced by command of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, replacing the Tudor Crown used previously.

Since its implementation, the rank of warrant officer has always been synonymous with experience and skill, something that has taken a life time for these soldiers and sailors to acquire. In the modern day, warrant officers are now often part of a command team in which they and the commissioned officer work together to provide their subordinates with the best leadership possible. This team approach combines two individuals with different skills and experiences, resulting in a sum which is greater than the parts.
From: Glen Falardeau, Devon, AB
Subject: The RAF back in the day...

Hi Tony,

Thought you might like this - I wonder how many ex-RAF members of advancing years can relate?
When obscure form numbers like - 1369, 6442 and 252 could mean career-changing moments.
When bizarre uniform items such as the thunderbird jacket and the flasher mac
When the glorious anonymity of JTs, SACs and LACs before they introduced rank slides for airmen
When colleagues were posted to RAF stations that nobody knew existed (i.e. ‘Machrihanish? Never heard of it – are you sure it’s not a wind-up?’)
When the 'back of the bike sheds' was considered an appropriate location for career counselling.
When wearing medals was considered the particular right of the lucky few Silver Jubilee recipients or the handful from the South Atlantic.
When OOA tours meant 4 months limited to communication by ambiguous means such as ASMA, the bluey or a cable and wireless phone card.
When the question ‘Where the hell is Decimomannu?’ at least stood a remote chance of being answered.
When crewrooms were occupied and people partook of unintelligible games like Uckers and ‘Hunt’
When an RAF aircraft recognition poster was larger than A4 size
When you remember curious anomalies such as male only stations (eg Wattisham)
When anything Soviet was ‘bad’ and anything NATO was ‘good’
When you drove around with BFG plates
When you witnessed a survival scramble or spent some time in an HPS
When QRA that involved ‘instant sunshine’ and the ‘two-man principle’ in the ‘no-lone zone’
When your NBC suit came with a detachable hood.
When being issued with DPM kit seemed quite exciting.
When Friday lunchtime (afternoon) was spent in the pub (in uniform)
When doughnuts on day 3 or 4 of an exercise had particular significance
When ‘AOC’s’ meant an enormous parade (and if you were lucky enough to be at Lossie, repeated 3 times)
When some lucky people had the pleasure of being recruited as FLMs and TAGs.
When you had access to a variety of personal weapons that seemed to have come out of Battle Picture Library (303, SLR, SMG etc)
When you got 3 x Get You Home (wherever home was that day) a year.
Baby's heads
Being scared of rock apes
Seeing plumbers running and thinking "hope it's the NAAFI wagon"
Seeing aircrew running, and KNOWING it was the NAAFI wagon!!
Itchy blankets
Cheap beer in a busy NAFFI
When MT had fleets of British built vehicles
Wearing Gas Masks for hours at a time
When an MoD civilian being a very rare breed indeed
Blue uniforms
When RAF push bikes had the basket on the front.
Mod Plods
Stations without fences
Doing Fire Bucket
The tiniest sliding windows in Guardrooms
Tin Helmets
When your whole world could be put into a couple of scrawny lockers.
When only TG1 and TG2 were on the high payband
Pickaxe handles to fight off the Commies
Singing in the bar
SACWs who could write backwards on glass walls
Thinking SAMA was neat 'cause it could tell you your leave balance
Starting night shift at 4pm, finishing at 8pm.
Having the choice between a tech charge and a 'quiet word' with the FS
Station Workshops who could make anything for a crate of beer.
The knowledge that we really were defending the country
Thanks Glen!
From: Mike Lefebvre, Burton, NB
Subject: Where Are They Now?

[For full text from Mike see the widescreen version]

Here are some of the people I rubbed elbows with under every type of equipment our Majesty's army owns. So, where they now?
Jacques Amplement
? Bennett
Rick Bodianouske
Levis Boudreau
? Castonguay
Ken Cosman
Yogi Goudreau
Murray Jacklin (clerk)
Gus Leclerc
Lt Beaver McDonald
Don Paluck
Wayne Shaw
Ron Slade
Jack Thibodeau
Bill Bereza
Gus Bonner
Crash Gastonguay
Rob Clark
? Green
Oscar Henaut
Real Lauzon
Vern Lefebvre
Henry Nadeau
Robert Rayworth
Carl Skinner
Jack Thetreault
Bill Wheeler
[Note:  If you wish to send an e-mail response to anyone in the newsletter, just click on the flags next to their name (or right-click if you just want to copy their e-mail address)]
From: Kevin Stanger, Calgary, AB
Subject: Where Are They Now?

I hope you're having a dry external and wet internal Easter! Could I ask you put in the Where are they now:

Martin Hughes, sergeant PVR from the RAF Movements School late 90s ish


From: Peter Thompson, Swindon, Wilts 
Subject: Where Are They Now?

Hi Tony,

For your "Where are they now" feature.  Has anyone seen or heard of Colin Japp? He was best man at my wedding in 1987. We were both on `C` Shift BAMF at RAF Lyneham at the time.

I went off to Akrotiri in 1989 and haven`t heard of him since. If anyone can help I would be most grateful.

From: Jerry Allen, Cheltenham, Glos
Subject: The AeroData Outage Shows How Little We Know About Air Travel

Hi Tony,

The article below (discovered by Andy Spinks) is fascinating.  At first it sounds like just another commercial delay story but keep reading.  The real story is the automation of Weight and Balance (trims to you and I) and the apparent total reliance on single systems.  I am sure the members would be interested to read.

This Latest Outage Shows How Little We Know About Air Travel
If only it were an April Fools' joke: On Monday, hundreds of flights were delayed after a brief software glitch affected U.S. airlines Delta, Southwest, United, American, Alaska, and JetBlue. The issue was due to a third-party, non-FAA system called AeroData, which some airlines use to determine the plane's weight and balance data, which is necessary for takeoff.

"Much like any software that any company would use, you would hope that your provider has developed adequate backup processes so that if the primary system fails, a backup system kicks in almost instantaneously," says Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and the president of Atmosphere Research Group. "Clearly, that didn't happen."
After implementing an internal ground stop for 40 minutes on Monday morning, Southwest said it was anticipating scattered flight delays and that customers should check with the airline for the latest updates. Delta, meanwhile, cited a brief third-party technology issue that affected some Delta Connection flights and said it was working to resolve some resulting delays. United, which had about 150 delays, advised travelers check the website for the most up-to-date information. American, Alaska, and JetBlue have all said they are working with customers.

If technology problems cause headaches for fliers sounds familiar, it is: Last week, travelers on JetBlue, American, and Alaska flights were stuck in long lines after Sabre, an airline reservations company, went down for 30 minutes.

Despite the length of this outage (relatively short) and the number of delays (relatively small), the AeroData outage has brought to light some of the unknowns of air travel, including a pilot' s pre-launch plan and keeping track of where and how much luggage is placed. (Entering incorrect baggage weights, as seen in the case of Southwest, is dangerous.) It's also shown, once again, just how dependent airlines are these entrusted systems to do some of their most important work.

So where does AeroData fit into takeoff - and what power does the FAA have? Harteveldt says in this case, it helps to think of the FAA as a traffic cop. "They don't directly employ AeroData," he says. "AeroData works directly with the airlines. But the airlines have to file their flight plans with the FAA, and weight and balance data is a component of that flight plan." In other words: If you're an airline that uses AeroData to crunch your weight and balance information and that system is suddenly no longer available to you, you won't get clearance to fly, because you can't provide that required information. (This also explains why airlines that don't use AeroData had no issues; other weight-and-balance technology systems include Evinta, LodeStar, and Jeppesen.)
AeroData, for its part, has no social media presence, a bare-bones website, and an address in Scottsdale, Arizona. (AeroData has not returned phone calls seeking comment.) Yet the available intel shows just how critical it is to flight operations: A 2017 consumer case study of the company says AeroDatas flight deck client-server application is the last application used by pilots before the aircraft entry door is closed prior to takeoff, presciently noting that just five minutes of system downtime can result in over 100 delayed flights and loss of revenue. More than 50 percent of all North American flights depend on AeroData, and the company says its soon to be 85 percent.

A plane's correct weight and balance are essential to safe flight, and have been required for decades. "This is not new," says Harteveldt. "One of the first things you learn when you're starting to fly is the importance of weight and balance and how you calculate it on the little planes that you learn on as a student pilot. So it's fundamental."

Chalk it up to physics: Both weight and balance can dramatically affect takeoff speed, cruising speeds, and maneuverability while flying. Based on a plane's design, the FAA assigns a maximum allowable weight for commercial aircraft. Still, a planes operational weight may be lower than its maximum, due to factors like high-density altitudes or shorter runways, both of which are considerations figuring into how much weight a plane can carry. (Think of it sort of like a much higher-stakes trip to the grocery store: Just because you can carry up to 100 pounds of fruit without hurting yourself, you may not do it every time, because the weather could be nasty or you might have to walk farther than normal.) There are also important pre-flight considerations: when every seat is occupied and the fuel tanks and baggage compartments are full, the airline is grossly overloaded, according to the FAA's comprehensive Weight & Balance Handbook". This means something has to give: either the pilot leaves baggage or passengers behind in order to reach the plane's maximum flying range, or they'll have to sacrifice range and find a way to take a shorter route. If this all sounds complicated, it is - which is why figuring out if a plane's weight and balance are safe is largely left up to technology.

For now, the FAA has said it's looking into the cause of the outage. But in situations like these, where flights are delayed because of technology glitches, do travelers have any recourse? The short answer: not really.

A passenger on a U.S.-based airline has fewer rights than one flying on a European-based airline, says air travel expert and airfarewatchdog.com founder George Hobica. In the U.S., passengers only have the right to get a fare refund if a flight is canceled or severely delayed; to received compensation if bumped from a flight; and to be compensated for lost or delayed baggage. That's about it. As weve previously reported, passengers flying on a European-based airline have more protections; if the outage had affected one of these airlines, passengers would probably have a case", says Hobica.

From: Neil Collie, Canberra, ACT
Subject: RAAF and RNZAF Movers

Hey Tony,

Thought that you might like this. A picture of Dave Milne and myself watching Rugby. Dave's with us as our exchange OPSO at HQ 1st Joint Movement Unit (Australian Defence Force). We regularly get together to watch Super Rugby, have a few beers, and sort out the Movements World. Tonight was my team the Australian Capital Territory Brumbies v Dave's Canterbury Crusaders. Dave's lot gave us a stonking! The wee Kiwi git!

All the Best

Neil Collie
p.s. I'm catching up with Dave tomorrow on ANZAC Day so I'm hoping to get another photo with gongs for a comparison!
Richard and Sue Lloyd, Dunfermline, Fife

In addition to celebrating their 39th wedding anniversary, as of Friday 26th April, the happy couple will be taking up residence in Dunfermline.

Congratulations Richard & Sue Lloyd!
Graham & Helen Parker, Limassol
Graham & Helen Parker celebrated their 25th Anniversary on 16th April - Congratulations!
Chris and Netty Austin, Hinckley, Leics
Chris and Netty Austin recently celebrated their 7th Wedding Anniversary - Congrats!
More Relevant Stuff
This Newsletter is dedicated
to the Memories of:
Tony Moore (RAF)
Oscar Jeffrey (RCAF)
Ralph Edward (RCAF)
John "Hank" Middleton (RAF)
If you wish to send a donation to the OBA
drop me an e-mail and I'll tell you how to do it.

Tony Gale