RAAF Receives 10th and Final C-27J Spartan Transport Aircraft
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has received its 10th and final Leonardo C-27J Spartan twin-turboprop, tactical transport aircraft.
Minister for Defence Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne announced on 18 April that the final C-27J had been “welcomed into service” in a ceremony held at RAAF Base Richmond, adding that the move marks the upgrade completion of the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) fleet of air-mobility platforms. “The Spartan provides flexibility to Defence operations, allowing us to land at airfields that are smaller or unsuitable for our much larger transport aircraft like the C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster,” said Payne.
In service with the RAAF’s No 35 Squadron, the C-27Js are intended to provide a battlefield airlift capability for the ADF as well as to supplement the existing Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy’s fleet of helicopters in the airlift role. Initial operating capability for the platform was announced in late 2016, with final operating capability scheduled to be declared in late 2019. Payne also announced that the C-27Js, which are currently operated from RAAF Base Richmond, are set to relocate to RAAF Base Amberley in early 2019. “The relocation to Amberley will allow No 35 Squadron to work from facilities purpose-built for the Spartan, and to be more responsive when deploying across Australia and into the Asia Pacific,” said Payne.
In November 2017 the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced that it had awarded an AUD200 million (USD155.5 million) contract to Northrop Grumman that covers through-life support (TLS) services for the RAAF’s C-27J fleet.
From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury
Subject: Checking up
We have not seen anything from Alex for a year now, so fearing the worst I phoned his number this afternoon. His wife answered and when she shouted for him to come to the phone I was greatly relieved.
We had a conversation for quite a few minutes and he told me that last May he had suffered a stroke and amongst other problems caused by it that he was unable to use his keyboard. He is on medication of course and hopes to get back to something normal soon.
He does enjoy reading the monthly Briefs that you send out and looks forward to contacting you in the future; perhaps you could e-mail him some time?
Cheers for now
From: Tony Gale, Gatineau, QC
To Alex Masson
Subject: I just heard...
I just received an e-mail from John Holloway who told me that he had spoken to you and that you are on sick parade. I was wondering why I hadn’t heard from you in a while, but since the mail-merge e-mails that I had been sending to you were not being returned as undeliverable, I thought that perhaps you were just slowing down a wee bit.
I understand that it’s a long and frustrating path to recovery that you’re on and my thoughts are with you on that score dear friend.
I have a question – and perhaps Legs can answer yes or no, but would you have any objections to my publishing John’s e-mail which will possibly result in you receiving get-well-soon messages? I know when I had been in hospital in the past and I received messages of encouragement from quite a few people, it cheered me up no end!
With very warm wishes to you,
From: Heather Masson, Chelmsford, Essex
Subject: Re: I just heard...
Legs is typing this on Alex's behalf!
Thank you for your very welcome letter of understanding. Following my stroke I went downhill over Christmas and as a result I had total body pain and had to call the doctor out. He immediately put me in touch with a specialist and it was discovered that I had Pollymyalgia and as a result the Consultant put me on Steroids; which worked. Whilst having the blood tests they discovered that I had excessive Calcium and Para Protein in my blood. The Pollymyalgia is now under control thank goodness. Of course this sent alarm bells ringing because the Calcium could be an indicator of Cancer somewhere in the body. Then followed of course, further tests to be done. I had the Bone Marrow Biopsy and a CT Scan which has now shown that the BM is Okay! but the CT showed a nodule behind the Thyroid.
Yes, it has been worrying times but I've had one good bit of news last week and that is that The Bone Marrow Biopsy has come back clear! I am now waiting for an appointment with an Endocrinologist for him to investigate the Thyroid. One of my friends in the medical profession has assured me that it need not necessarily be something to worry about. It could be dealt with by Radio Therapy or surgery, we shall have to wait and see. I will update you at a later date.
I am more than happy for you to disclose to others of my health etc.
Legs and Alex
[If you want to send an e-mail to Alex to wish him a speedy recovery, just left-click on the flags next to Heather's name above, or right-click to copy the e-mail address to your clipboard.]
From: Arthur Taylor, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffs
Subject: A Suitcase Full of Memories
Reading David Taylor's excepts from "A Suitcase Full of Dreams" triggered my thoughts about a real suitcase I have which is full of memories. In fact, I still have and use the overnight case I had when I was an AQM in the 50s and 60s. Nowadays, with me being 87, it spends time with me in the hospital, and all the nurses want it (I am talking about the suitcase ha-ha!). I look back and just reminiscence of the long and varied career I had in the RAF.
A couple of months ago one of my nieces, the daughter of my twin brother, had one of her daughters getting married and she wanted photos of her granddad during his service career. My brother and I joined the RAF together in 1948, but only once served together in 1952-3 at RAF Kasfareet in Egypt. He only did 5 years and wished he had been like me and made it a career. However, I have a host of photos from us as children and in the RAF, and these were wanted as part of a collection for a board at the reception. God, how many memories they brought back!
A trio of photos here:
Yours truly with HRH Princess Anne on a visit to RAF Stafford.
When Roy and I joined the RAF in '48. I am on the right and being the eldest I got the overcoat; those were the post-war years, but still again many happy memories.
With Mum in 1943 when she was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1943. The medal is housed on a wall in the Cheshire Regimental Museum at Chester Castle. They were doing a wall there about "British Women Workers at War". I had the medal framed along with both the citation and the invitation letter to go to Buckingham Palace for the presentation by King George VI. My elder sister went there with Mum. Just another part of the suitcase mate!
Take care and regards to all,
On 14 June 1968, a royal review was conducted at RAF Abingdon by Queen Elizabeth II, accompanied by Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, to mark the 50th anniversary of the RAF. The above artwork by Norman Hoad depicts a small section of the review with every operational aircraft type of RAF Air Support Command being represented.
From centre top, travelling anti-clockwise, the aircraft types are: Armstrong Whitworth Argosy, Bristol Britannia, DeHavilland Comet, Blackburn Beverley, Lockheed C-130 Hercules, Vickers VC-10, Short Belfast and Hawker Siddley Andover.
From: Charles Gibson, Monifieth, Angus
Subject: Memories of RAF Abingdon
Memories of RAF Abingdon: Oh happy days! I did an exchange with a chap who was desperate to move to Lyneham. I was put on to UKMAMS and there I met up with Johnnie Cooper (ex Boy Entrant from my Entry, the 43rd) and another ex Boy Entrant, Bob Turner, 37th Entry I think.
We did the autum exercise in Germany; Fg Off. Charlie Clark was our team leader. OC UKMAMS, Sqn Ldr Jacobs decided that we should go on the range and fire our weapons as a team and the team leader Charlie Clark shot a sheep!
As we refused to name the person who shot the sheep, the Sqdn Ldr fined us junior ranks £10 each, Sgts and Flt Sgts £20 and Charlie Clark £40.
From: Chas Clark, Sprucedale, ON
Subject: RAF Abingdon
I had just finished my Air Movements training and was posted onto UKMAMS. The future was bright, I had some money in my pocket and bought my first car, a Ford Popular. It had a bench seat in the back which was great for getting to know the girls and it had, heaven help us, pneumatic windscreen wipers which slowed down in the rain. It was old but I loved it.
Story One: The MAMS building was on the other side of the runway and on one occasion I was heading back to the mess in the car and had to pass SHQ on the way. Just then there was a hell of a bang and I looked in the rear view mirror and the complete exhaust system had fallen off and lay in the middle of the road! I thought it politic not to leave it there, stopped the car and ran back up to collect it. Just then, the massive wooden doors of SHQ opened and Gp Capt Norman Hoad (who went onto greater things) stepped out with the SWO. I had the presence of mind to come to a screeching halt and give a quick salute and as the Station Commander was returning it, I bent down to pick up the exhaust pipe. It was red hot and I burnt my hands quite badly. Needless to say, several expletives later with my hands clasped under my arms and dancing a jig, I noticed the SWO and the Gp Capt were holding each other as they collapsed with laughter. Normality soon resumed and the SWO tucked his stick under his arm and marched off with the Gp Capt for a barrack inspection. Needless to say, the story was around the station in a flash and cost me several beers.
Story Two: My team, the "Busy B's", were tasked by Jock Mackay to go over to the JATE hangar and help them with a trial with portable fuel bladders which would be used in the field for refuelling helicopters. Off to RAF Benson and loaded up 3 full fuel bladders onto an Argosy and stayed on board as we flew back into Abingdon and parked in front of JATE. We lowered the tail ramp and fitted the 2 small ramps and then waited for the JATE experts to come on board. There was much humming and hawing between the JATE personnel as to the best way to get the bladders off. The favourite method was to attach the towing harness to the bladders and then to a landrover and back them off. My Flt Sgt, Trev Tipton, then took a hand and suggested that as we had miles of apron behind the aircraft, the simplest thing was to roll them to the top of the tail ramp and let gravity take it's course to get them down the small ramps onto the concrete. You would not believe the inertia that 5000 gallons of fuel in a rubber bladder has. It went like a racehorse across the aircraft pan with one of the JATE team sprinting after it complete with a metal chock from the roller conveyor which he threw under it. This dramatically slowed the bladder down but it still continued to roll with now a large spray of fuel coming out of it like a Catherine Wheel! We beat a hasty retreat back to the MAMS crewroom leaving JATE to explain to an irate Stn Cdr and the crew of three fire engines trying to contain and clear up 5000 gallons of fuel!
Story Three: My last story is brief but it involves my having to go into Sqn Ldr Bill Jacobs' office immediately on my return from positioning some Canberras from Germany to Rimini for a NATO exercise and having to tell him that I had lost an airman there. Bill just looked at me then slowly lowered his head to the table and started to gently bang his forehead several times before yelling, "Get out!" Jock Mackay, behind me, was shaking with laughter as I was marched out. I did quite a lot of Station Orderly Officers after that and young Ian, when he returned a fortnight later, also suffered at the hands of the SWO for quite a while. It took a couple of bottles of whisky and cartons of cigarettes before Jock would task our team for another overseas trip.
From: Clive Hall, Swindon, Wilts
It was the very early 70's and Abingdon was preparing for yet another royal visit - kerbstones painted black/white, grass painted green. It all looked nice until... loading a low chassis refuelling truck into I think was the Belfast or Albert mock-up and a nozzle beneath said vehicle caught on the sill of the ramp and about 5,000 litres of Avtur spilt everywhere! The roads were sticky and the newly painted kerbstones had no paint remaining. The SWO was literally jumping up and down (toys out of the cot) and the station master nearly had heart attack!
As always, MAMS training asked us all to kindly sweep the Avtur away (into the drains which polluted the water table) and repaint said kerbs and grass! It was a laugh a minute there with Pete Worthington, Terry Titterington and company.
Oh happy days!
From: Ian Place, Meanwood, West Yorks
Subject: Memories of RAF Abingdon
Tony, I have many fond memories of Abingdon. The only one I can back up with two photos is my wedding day, 27th April 1974. The first one is my wife April, myself and Ian Berry. The other is of Dave Cromb at the reception.
I believe it was at the Red Lion Pub where we spent our first night together, then we went back to work. No expenses spared in those days. Ian Berry said, and I quote, "I give them a couple of months, that's all." Well, nearly 48 years and we are still together!
From: Neil Middleton, Ipswich, Suffolk
Subject: Memories of RAF Abingdon
I was at RAF Abingdon on Air Movements course No. 28 in the November/December time of 1966. Our course didn’t get the overnight stay in Germany flying in the Beverley, but we had 2 hours circuit and bumps in an Andover which was great!
The bit that stands out for me though were the barrack blocks with their coal fire heating with one bag of coal per room per week.
Anyway, this particular night we could not get the fire going and one of the lads in our room was a bit of an artist and had the job of painting an "Andy Capp" on the gents toilet door and "Flo" on the ladies toilet door in the NAAFI. He had access to paint and thinners that were kept in the Beverley Mock up in the hangar. So he and I went to the hangar, got a NAAFI cup full of thinners and went back to the room.
From what I remember when we got back there were 4 or 5 lads lying on their beds. Well I opened the fire door took hold of the cup of thinners and threw it on the coals. Well, next thing I saw was a big ball of flame and smoke come out of the fire go up past my face up to the roof, spread out and gradually disappear.
Recovering from the shock, I turned away from the fire and asked if anyone had seen that, there was no one left in the room, they had all done a runner! To be honest I don’t blame them, but I thought my career in the RAF had just finished.
By the way the fire still didn’t light, but it was decided that we would not use any more thinners. Apart from that a great bunch of people on the course and I had a great time at Abingdon.
The course was well balanced between the brainy and brawny bits, the assembly of the BFLP and Trianco transfer loader were vital skills that I never had to put into operation. They were fun as our afternoon tea break was taken at the Sally Ann from where we could laugh at the Pongos playing on the Knacker Cracker [Paratrooper training towers]. Away from training, the 101 Club and the Thursday night musical piss up provided rest for the over used right hand, local totty was plentiful and supplemented by home grown WRAF ladies. The WW2 H block barracks, heated by coke stoves were not totally ideal for entertaining guests, but somehow some people manage.
My next visit to Abingdon was for training on the brand spanky new Condec, the future was here, and I was a born again SAC mover with the world at my feet, if only we could be a separate trade?
With the trade finally established, I at last started to think seriously about career prospects and applied for UKMAMS at Abingdon. The high priest of postings offered NEAF MAMS at Akrotiri as a consolation prize. By the time I eventually got onto Golf team, UKMAMS was now at Lyneham, so my ambition of a full posting was crushed.
Abingdon not only turned my career out of the doldrums, I married an Abingdon girl, amazingly we are still together 50 years on. Memories of a golden time and place that was pivotal to my life, such a shame the Brown Jobs now have this and Lyneham. C'est la vie !
From: Peter Orton, Camberley, Surrey
Subject: Memories of RAF Abingdon
Abingdon - probably the best RAF station in the UK. In those golden times of Bevs, Hastings, Argosies and Andovers, which were scattered around four or five stations in the south of England. Brits and Comets turned Lyneham into a services LHR, Belslows and VC10s roosted at an ex USAF base at Carterton somewhere in remote Oxfordshire, but the shiny 10s had to night stop Lyneham to get loaded. This was the background to hundreds of blanket stackers being annotated QEQAM after 8 weeks in paradise, walking distance from Abingdon on Thames, or the Black Horse or Bystander, and a short bus ride or 45 minute walk to Oxford. What is not to love?
Late 1966, the year we won some soccer trophy or other, this young, unhappy, square peg in round hole, blanket-stacking LAC arrived for 28 JAMC and became reborn. Movements was a job that engaged mind, soul and body, with the variety of Cargo, Traffic, Load Control and Passenger handling. The added bonus was these were easily transferable skills to civil aviation. If only it could be a trade in it's own right?
From: Allan Walker, Burnley, Lancashire
Subject: Memories of RAF Abingdon
RAF Abingdon was one of the best tours for me. I started off in 1969 as SAMO then transferred to UKMAMS in 1970. I led a team for a year then went on to be Training Officer for a further year before finishing my tour as Ops Officer.
In 1969, as SAMO, I met King Olaf of Norway who visited the Unit to present a Squadron Standard to 46 Squadron who at that time were equipped with the Andover aircraft. That same year I also met Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars and Team Lotus.
In April 1971 UKMAMS celebrated its 5th Anniversary with an Open Day [http://ukmamsoba.org/obb070111.html] and a full range of activities for all members and their families. One memorable occasion was seeing Flt Lt Alan Johnstone’s team erect a 12 x 12 tent inside-out during a race to see which team could erect their tent fastest.
In 1971 RAF Abingdon hosted pilots and officials of the London to Victoria (British Columbia) Air Race where I met a number of the competitors.
In 1972 the Unit saw the departure of an SAS Bomb Disposal Team who parachuted into the Atlantic to counter the threat of a bomb on the liner QE2. This eventaully turned out to be a hoax, but because of the dangerous nature of the operation the team were awarded the Queen's Commendation for Bravery.
July 1972 saw eight UKMAMS teams deployed to Gutesloh and Wildenrath on Operation Glasscutter which moved 2 Battalions of the British Army from Germany into Northern Ireland in support of Operation Motorman during the IRA troubles. The only person left behind was SAC Barnard Richardson (Barney), our Clerk Sec Admin Assistant.
As Ops Officer one of my duites was to send out a “chitty” to wives if a team was delayed on task for any length of time. Having run out of these, I asked Barney to replace them. I signed these off without properly checking. I was telephoned by an irate wife wanting to know why I had sent her a “chitty”. I explained that it was to tell her of the delay of her husband. She then asked if I had read it. On reading it I could understand her angst. It read as follows: “I am pleased to advise you that your husband has been delayed...” instead of, “I regret to inform you etc”. To this day I am not sure whether this was a genuine mistake by Barney or he was winding me up.
All the best to Movers Past and Present
King Olaf of Norway presents 46 Squadron with their colours.
Video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woE3PuRWbO8
SAS members dropped near QE2 following bomb threat.
Video at: https://youtu.be/D6qngIuZjx4
From: David Moss, Sorbie, Dumfries and Galloway
Subject: RAF Abingdon Memories
My first contact with RAF Abingdon was my Air Movements course over fifty years ago. I wonder how many movers still serving did their training at Abingdon?
My next visit was on my birthday in 1972 and was my posting in date when I joined UKMAMS at its real home. That was the start of the most interesting and at times alarming parts of my time in the RAF. It had me traveling all over the world, staying in some fantastic hotels, meeting some really amazing people and sampling some great foods and drinks which at times could result in some nervous tummy for the next few days.
On that Movements course, as those of you who did your training there will recall, we used to use aircraft mock-ups and fuselages to practice loading and lashing, but we also got the use of the odd Beverley that became available from time to time.
Back in those days (time to pull up a sandbag chaps) the Parachute Training School was also at Abingdon in the next hangar to that used by MAMS and they used the same mock-ups as we did to practice their training exercises. I will never forget the time we were having a break and a group of Army chaps were stood waiting for a Beverley to taxi round for them to board for their first jump from an aircraft. The expressions on their faces was priceless when the aircraft stopped and then started to reverse towards them. Obviously, they had never seen an aircraft do this before and were absolutely gobsmacked to see such a thing. Most of us managed to keep a reasonably straight face but there were a few that could not control their mirth.
ex-Lima & Quebec Teams
A Blackburn Beverley at Abingdon
From: Arthur Taylor, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffs
Subject: Memories of RAF Abingdon
My goodness, how those memories go back to 1954. No.55 AQM Course, followed by Air Despatcher's Course (no, I did not do any parachuting). However, that didn't last long as I was asked if I would prefer to be at RAF Dishforth which was nearer to Manchester where Kath and I were living at her Mother's house. So, off I went to 30 Squadron with Valetta aircraft on AQM duties, but staged RAF Abingdon on many occasions with both the Valetta and Beverley aircraft on Route Schedules, Specials and Air Despatch Tactical, with which we rotated with the other Beverley Squadrons. I stayed at RAF Dishforth until 1960 when I left the RAF, but as you know, I rejoined 6 months later. Tried to get back on AQM duties, had the medical etc., at RAF Biggin Hill, but they said I was hightone deaf, so unable to go back as AQM (which by now was an Aircrew trade.), so back to being a Supplier.
Years later, 1970, again to RAF Abingdon on a Movements Course prior to a posting to HQBFG, HMS Jufair, Bahrain. I ended up at RAF Muharraq in the Booking Centre; we all moved. Upon return from Bahrain I was Posted to RAF Thorney Island on Movements. Then in 1971, back to RAF Abingdon on No.1 Advanced Movements Controlller course and remustered to the trade of Movements Controller. 1972, posted to UKMAMS Bravo Team, RAF Abingdon and stayed there until 1974 when the Squadron moved to RAF Lyneham.
My memories of RAF Abingdon were great happy memories, there was a great spirit in the Squadron which, I think, lost it's identity when we moved to Lyneham, but that is a personal opinion. As you know, I wasn't there very long as I went to be the RAF Rep in Bermuda. But now at last we have the Squadron back.
Returning to thoughts about RAF Abingdon and UKMAMS... We had good Married Quarters and thinking we were going to be there for several years I wallpapered the lounge and kitchen. Oh boy! What a surprise when I returned from task one Monday night and was told I had been allocated an MQ at RAF Lyneham at 1000 on Thursday. What a rush to get the wallpaper off and repaint the lounge and kitchen! Memories, but we got a pat on the back for a smart MQ. Should think so, it was newly decorated. Happy memories. Kath had a job in the NAAFI Shop (i/c Fruit and Veg), we were just around the corner from very good friends. The social life in No.1 Sgt's Mess was great. There were also the activities in the old No.2 Sgt's Mess, and of course the local hostelry, many a good night there. The "Meet the Boss" Friday afternoon in the NAAFI where we had the pianists Taff Thomas and Les Charlesworth on the piano, oh boy! The ear-bending I got when I eventually got home. I'll always remember on one occasion I had a bucket of water thrown at me. Dear Kath., we had many a laugh about it in later life.
Another memory was of the Poodle Baz and Dot Shatford had. Baz used to say to it, "Come on, we'll go and see Arthur." Off they would go and on the way the dog would pick up a stone and bring it to me, then I had to throw the stone and keep the dog occupied for a while. Then off we would go to the Sports Fields just across the road from my MQ to watch the sports, mainly cricket. Sadly the dog went blind, but did manage for a few years, and now both Baz and Dot have passed like many others from that happy era of UKMAMS, RAF Abingdon.
The following have joined the OBA recently:
Geoffrey Bird, Lake Albert, NSW
Peter Bessant, Chorley, Lancs
Welcome to the OBA!
Those were the days my friend...
More Relevant Stuff
This Newsletter is Dedicated
to the Memories of:
Peter Holland (RAF)
Neale Harrison (RAF)
Larry Lashkevich (RCAF)
If you wish to send a donation to the OBA
drop me an e-mail and I'll tell you can do it.