30 January 2005 Iraqi insurgents shot down RAF Hercules XV179, killing all ten crew on board. Painting by aviation artist Barry G Price



While you were out - Boy Entrants Senior Entry paid a visit

Richard and Caroline Allen of Llanmartin, South Wales, celebrated their 26th anniversary recently

John and Rachel Belcher celebrated their 30th on the 21st July

Phil and Emma Overson - 21 years and counting!

Bruce Townsend is with Jane King-nee Bairstow - the Beer Garden is open!

Kaz and Bugsy Felstead tied the knot 26 years ago!

Bev and Kev Laing were hitched 37 years ago!

PAF C-130 ramp load - note the fuel oil dripping into the rice sacks!

Artwork that was hanging in the Air Movements lounge at Gan in 1963

Peter and Rose Herring exchanged vows 53 years ago!

In this colourized picture from the 1939-45 era, a group of Women's Auxiliary Air Force transport drivers pose at RNZAF Station Ohakea

It's been eight years since Ian (Stretch) and Emily Mansfield said, "I Do!"

Blue Angels C-130J "Fat Albert" First Flight at Cambridge Airport

After nearly 2 years of anticipation, the United States Marine's shiny new C-130J "Fat Albert" finally took to the skies today, 20th July 2020, on her first flight test. This is an ex-RAF Hercules which the USN's Blue Angels purchased; she was known in RAF service as ZH885.


We see her departing Cambridge Airport in the hands of the "Blue Angels" own crew for the very first time since conversion. We are thrilled to have had her at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group for conversion from the RAF to the USMC who operate her on behalf of the Blue Angels! 




From: Stephen Tomlinson, Tenerife, QLD
Subject: Lockdown Special Part IV

Hi Tony

We've been corralled at home since March except for a few non-COVID related Dr's appointments and a few urgent radioactive shipments that needed my delicate touch in Brisbane! Australia seems to have fared well in the COVID stakes, only 104 deaths so far [as of June 30th] with the country being closed to the outside world, although there are still some international flights operating. Each State within Australia have also closed their borders and there is very little intrastate travel except for essential services, logistics, etc.

However, we are now very close to opening-up State borders again but with a recent, large, spike in community transmitted cases in Melbourne, the easing of lockdown might be delayed until the Victorians get their act together?! Totally different on the West Coast, Western Australia has everything open! But then again, it's almost another country over there anyway! So easily people (and politicians) forget there is still no known cure to this nasty lurgi!.

Stumbled across the attached video where necessity was driving airlines to convert their PAX aircraft to Cargo Aircraft (especially for the bulky/fluffy loads such as surgical masks,  PPE, etc from the Far East into Europe).


Apparently, Airbus is marketing cargo conversion kits for its A330/A350 aircraft? Is this Airbus trying to teach a new dog old tricks?! Can't remember Lockheed/Vickers issuing "conversion kits" for the C130 or VC10?! Role changes were the usual order of the day with MAMS, especially in PSY when it happened daily, unless ASI forgot to load the roller/side-guidance to the ramp of the southbound PAX flight!


With regards to loading freight/bags through the passenger door of a widebody, I remember well the first RAF Tristar visit to HKG in the late 80's, with Ian Russell on board. To offload anything from the main passenger door, the belt was at such a steep angle the bags & freight offloaded themselves, without the assistance of the moving conveyor!


Keep safe & well and regards to all the movements fraternity from Downunder.






From: Andrew Finlayson, Adelaide, SA 
Subject: RE: UKMAMS OBA OBB #063020

I pounced on the newsletter as I always do Tony and after the pangs of guilt for not having contributed anything (yet again) have subsided. I noticed the comment on the painting of the Hastings at Nicosia.  I had the very good fortune to serve my  first tour at Nicosia. I have been back to that beautiful island since but could not get near the now isolated airfield. I wondered if there are any RAF helicopters still involved with the UN deployment that is mentioned as being still stationed at the old airfield? I would dearly love to see any pictures of the former RAF station or what may be left of it. It’s a long shot of course but I thought someone among the wide movements family might know something.

Apart from that more power to your elbow and if I can rack my brains and come up with something vaguely interesting or at least relevant I will make haste to grab pen and paper.

From: Tom Walker, Wg Cdr (1AMW-OC), Brize Norton 
Subject: 1AMW Articles

From OC 1AMW

Dear Association Members,

I hope this finds you well in these slightly uncertain times. I am delighted to be able to report that, in the great tradition of the Movements Trade, the Wing  lost not a single day of work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The three articles that we’ve included with this edition will give you a sense of what we’ve been up to since March, and how we continued to sustain operations and support the national response.

1AMW goes from strength to strength following our reorganisation in 2017 that saw Air Movements Squadron at RAF Brize Norton join the United Kingdom Mobile Air Movements Squadron and Operations Support Squadron as our third Force Element. The recent refurbishment of Hangar 49 (Cargo Hangar), that completed in June, represents a significant inward investment in the movements enterprise and the results (especially for those who have worked in Cargo Hangar previously) are absolutely stunning.

I do hope to be able to catch up with you at the next movements reunion, but in the interim we are working on a history museum in our HQ at RAF Brize Norton. If you are interested in offering photos or objects for the museum, or you wish to take part in the accompanying oral history project, please get in touch through Tony Gale. As always, keep safe!






1 AMW Coast-to-Coast Wall Run 2020: we’re running 90-miles in 3 days along Hadrian’s Wall in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund, Kajiado Children’s Home, and Cirencester Opportunities Group. If you want to support us, please see our JustGiving site at: justgiving.com/fundraising/stephen-jones146

1AMW and RAF Brize Norton support to Operation BROADSHARE 2020

By Flt Lt Anne Scott 1AMW


At the beginning of 2020, way before lock-down (if we can all remember what life was like back then), RAF Brize Norton was tasked to support Operation BROADSHARE; a task to repatriate British Nationals from Wuhan Province, China at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.


It was a task that not only pulled on resources throughout Brize Norton including 1AMW, RAF Police, Station Ops and Air Traffic Control, but an effort that spanned several governmental agencies to assist the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO). Brize Norton’s task was to plan and facilitate an airfield to allow the repatriation at a time when other airports were cautious to receive such an aircraft, with the unknown virus gripping world media. As the perimeter fence was surrounded by numerous news agencies, behind the gates of Brize the station pulled together to assist and facilitate the arrival of the first WAMOS Airlines Boeing 747 aircraft.


The repatriation was given the green light in late January and the evacuation of Brits from Wuhan Province started when the World Health Organisation [WHO] declared an international public health emergency.


The first B-747 arrived on the 31st January carrying more than 80 British Nationals. As the FCO, Public Health England (PHE), Police and Ambulance services from surrounding areas anxiously awaited the inbound flight to land, 1 AMW’s Air Movements Squadron were ensuring the correct aircraft handling equipment was in place and prepared themselves to get ‘hands on’. Before the Duty Air Movements Officer (DAMO) could authorise the opening of the aircraft doors, the PHE representatives had to assess the on-board situation to ensure that passengers were showing no signs and symptoms of Covid-19. Once the clearance was given, the DAMO signalled for the crew to open the aircraft doors to finally allow for the offload of all passengers to the pre-positioned coaches which would take the passengers to the isolation facility on the Wirral.



This set the tone for further flights, with the second aircraft landing into Brize Norton late on Sunday the 2nd of February, this time carrying 11 passengers. Again, representatives from several organisations came together to assist the flight upon arrival. Due to a passenger developing suspected symptoms in flight, this required a slightly different handling approach. Personnel were ordered to use the PPE that was provided and once the DAMO had given the ok for the doors to be opened the AMS team then arranged and assisted in the offload of baggage from the hold. The final B-747 arrived at Brize on the morning of Sunday 9th February, this time carrying more than 200 people. With the arrival falling within the midst of Storm Ciara, the task presented a number of additional challenges for Movements team, not least the ability to safely use the passenger steps, operating on the very edge of their limits. Slightly different from the previous tasks, this flight had repatriated not just British Nationals, but also passengers from a host of other European nations. Whilst the UK passengers were all transferred to Milton Keynes, the other passengers boarded European military aircraft to take them on to their final destination, adding to the complexity of the morning’s already busy flying programme.


Thanks to the hard work of Brize Norton personnel and those from other governmental agencies, over 300 personnel were repatriated within a period of 8 days. This being only the start of the military’s support to the governments fight against COVID-19.



From: Gerry Davis, Bedminster, Somerset
Subject: Lockdown

Never been so busy, completed all those outstanding jobs that SWMBO has nagged about for ages; together with lots of other ‘urgent’ tasks that needed doing.

Then there are the new procedures to adhere to that the doctor's surgery have instigated, one of which is you don’t get to see a doctor, but if you’re lucky you get a phone call appointment at home followed by a lengthy queue at the chemist, as they only allow one at a time in the shop, which is not very nice if it’s raining and what’s more they never seem to have what’s been prescribed and you have to go back again a day or so later. We have tried to see a doctor several times but phoned the emergency services and two paramedics arrive within 10 minutes to whisk you off to A&E.

Then there is the shopping, which is an urgent requirement for SWMBO in case there are bargains to be had. Although entering each shop (with mask on) requires one to sanitise one’s hands, if like SWMBO, this can happen several times. Your hands on these occasions smell and feel soft after the dozen or so entrances.

The bus journey into town, that’s if you're lucky to get a seat in the restricted seating arrangements that have been put in place. If not, you must wait another half hour for the next bus. Whilst putting on one’s mask, it's amazing to see those that care not for this restriction and flout the necessity to keep their distance and wear a mask.

Then there are the hospital appointments, for one it’s two bus journeys the other is where I have to buy the car park on exit, this one there is a small bus/train to get you to the distant internal appointment centres. 


The biggest bugbear for me is not being able to give my daughters and grandkids the much needed, by me, hugs and kisses.  Time, no doubt, will pass.






1AMWs activation of Dakar, Senegal, as an interim technical stop for the South Atlantic Airbridge


On 11th March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic, which within week’s was accelerating at an unprecedented pace.  As countries began closing their borders and announcing international travel restrictions, Cape Verde was no different.  Unfortunately for UK Defence however, degradation of the Ascension Islands runway in 2017 resulted in Cape Verde being used as an interim technical stop for South Atlantic Airbridge (SAA) flights and a hub for Tactical Air Transport into Ascension Islands until the runway repairs could be completed. 


With Cape Verde’s borders and hotels closing, this posed a very real operational risk to SAA operations and the 2-person, Individual Augmentee (IA) movements detachment established in Cape Verde to support it.


When SAA operations through Cape Verde ceased, the IA detachment were recovered back to the UK on 22nd March to be administered by 1AMW and held at readiness to redeploy to Cape Verde or with suitable preparation and agreement, any future SAA technical stop location.



SAC Howlett, Senegalese Handlers and Flt Lt Pete Maughan

In order to maintain critical air lines of communication between the UK and the BFSAI Joint Operating Area (Falkland Islands and Ascension Islands), an alternate mid-route technical stop needed to be established.  Dakar in Senegal was selected and on 26th March 1 AMW were activated to deploy to Dakar to re-establish the SAA until such a time that it either reverted back to Cape Verde or could be taken over by IA’s.  A team of 5 UKMAMS personnel (1 x Flt Lt, 1 x Cpl and 3 x SAC) armed with copious amounts of mosquito repellent departed RAF Brize Norton bound for Dakar.  Their mission was to establish a new interim technical stop to enable the essential continuation of the SAA.



Led by Flt Lt Pete Maughan, over the course of the next 48 hours the team experienced several challenges including the prospect of a previously unknown requirement to go into 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Dakar. 


Fortunately, OC 1AMW, Wg Cdr Tom Walker, was able to do some swift, late night negotiating with the Defence Attaché to secure the freedom of movement which the team would require in order to successfully do their job.  After a comprehensive brief by the Defence Attaché and Deputy Defence Attaché on the local climate and regulations in force (including a very strict, daily curfew between 2000-0600L), the team were dropped off at their hotel.  Due to COVID-19 restrictions the lived hotel experience was very different to normal expectations with the team restricted to one single floor (including during meal times), which was enforced by the full-time presence of Embassy security staff.  Nevertheless, the hotel staff and quality of catering was excellent throughout.


The next day, the Deputy Defence Attaché escorted the team to the airport. Whilst there, the team despatched the Voyager which they initially arrived on back to RAF Brize Norton, and then received/despatched a second Voyager, which was on its way to Mount Pleasant in the Falklands Islands.  The ground handlers were exceptional throughout and the team were aided by the fact that the airport had no other commercial aircraft to support.  Content with the service received from the ground handlers and the assessment of operations in Dakar, 3 of the UKMAMS team returned on the first aircraft, leaving Flt Lt Maughan and SAC Howlett in situ.


The day’s work was far from over however.  Flt Lt Maughan and SAC Howlett began meeting with airport authorities, Embassy staff and ground handlers, liaising closing with DSCOM to establish time scales, agree flight schedules within curfew times and confirm all services required to support Voyager aircraft.  There was one hurdle which the team couldn’t overcome however. 


Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there was no authority for passengers to disembark the aircraft under any circumstances, so as well as keeping all passengers on board while it was being refuelled, the team were also heavily involved in the creation of contingency plans for several different scenario’s including aircraft unserviceability which would require all passengers to remain on board overnight until a rescue flight could be generated.

Thanks to all this work and the superb support received from the Defence Attaché and his Embassy staff, and the Senegalese government, on 29th March, UK Defence once again had a safe and effective Airbridge through Dakar, capable of supporting 2 scheduled aircraft per week and additional frame swap aircraft.  By the third rotation, the SAA was adding even more value and on 2nd April, on behalf of the Senegalese Government it provided the first of several repatriation flights back to the UK for FCO staff, British Nationals and vulnerable persons.


Unfortunately, the plan to backfill IA’s into Dakar on 6th April did not work out.  UKMAMS therefore continued to support the detachment until 1st May, when 1AMW Operational Support Sqn (OSS) RAFLO’s (Flt Lt Chris Jacobs and Fg Off Rachael Brook) took over from UKMAMS, freeing up their capacity for other contingent tasking.  Albeit later than originally planned, on 12th May IA’s were deployed to take over the detachment from 1 AMW and the OSS RAFLO’s returned to the UK.


Establishing Dakar as an interim technical stop as successfully and swiftly as 1 AMW did prevented what would have otherwise been a crippling effect on BFSAI operations.  It is a great example of 1AMW’s role in supporting wider UK Defence.



Flt Lt Maughan and SAC Howlett presenting the Ground Handling Manager with a token of 1AMW’s appreciation for their support

1AMW Brize Norton

From: George Graves, Carlisle, Cumbria
Subject: Colin

Hi Tony,

On hearing the sad news of the death of Colin Allen, although I never actually met him while I was serving, I'd like to share a memory of him with you.

He was one of the organisers of the MAMS big weekend reunion in 1992.  As the date was nearing he rang to say all accommodation, hotels etc., in the area were full. Then he said we were welcome to stay with him and his family, I thanked him but said there's my wife Eileen and 2 of my children, he said no worries we have room. We went and had a lovely stay and a great weekend.

We send our condolences to Dona and family. Colin was a lovely man, may he rest in peace.


George and Eileen

Colin Sammy Allen
a MAMS legend

UKMAMS Task 482 - Turkey PPE Recovery - April 2020


At the start of 2020, COVID-19 began to sweep across the globe becoming a major pandemic that ground society as we knew it to a halt. Lock downs, social distancing and the furlough of workers became common place as the disease reached its peak infection rate in the UK, and the NHS became overstretched with the shortage of life saving PPE becoming headline news.


In response to the crisis, NHS suppliers began searching for new PPE manufacturers in order to quickly plug the gap but were in direct competition with other Nations increasing the need to quickly secure potential suppliers. At short notice, UKMAMS were mobilised to deploy to Istanbul in Turkey, where Foreign Office and NHS staff had secured a contract for an initial batch of 400,000 items from a new supplier.


Because of the scale of the load and the tight timescales involved, 20 UKMAMS personnel were deployed on the initial A400M with the order to plan, accept, paperwork, build and load the entire consignment to a further 2 x C17’s and 2 x A400M’s.



They say no plan survives first contact, well this resonated perfectly with this task! On arrival at the airport it was clear that the expected delivery from the Turkish supplier was not going to be met and that the initial plan had to be torn up and started again from scratch. To make matters worse, strict COVID-19 restrictions in Turkey and the sudden arrival of National Turkish media made this task far more complex that the usual UKMAMS task.


After the first day the decision was made to send whatever PPE we had on hand back to the UK on the initial A400M with the UKMAMS team remaining in Turkey on the understanding more PPE was being secured by the NHS team at DE&S and more aircraft would follow as soon as we had a confirmed plan.


As the days passed the PPE orders started to slowly be received and we ended up with enough to fill to capacity a C17 and an A400M. On the fourth day of negotiating with all stakeholders, which included breaking through a severe language barrier (Google translate has become a team favourite) and eating rations in hotels rooms cooked in kettles, we were finally in a position to recover back to the UK with the task achieved.


By the end of the task the team recovered 24 aircraft pallets worth of essential PPE.  As soon as the shipments arrived at RAF Brize Norton, Air Movements Squadron and an RLC team were on standby to quickly rebuild the loads for ground transport directly to the NHS PPE distribution depot. In summary, this was a fascinating task that provided the team with a series of unique challenges that were made even more complex due to the political fallout in the UK and local language barriers. Overall though the team operated in the usual MAMS manner, acting professionally throughout, and making the very best of a bad situation.  


1AMW Brize Norton 

The Misadventures of Jarvo

Episode 1: Jarvo loses it in Addis Ababa
(his bag that is...)


Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, July 2017


On a warm sunny Sunday morning, my first in Nova Scotia, I decided that I really fancied a coffee.  So, I wandered across the road from my newly rented apartment to my local Tim Hortons.  I say local because it was the closest, although at times it’s possible to see three of them from a single location, very confusing; are they different?   Apparently, they aren’t as I subsequently found out.  As an Englishman, I find the concept of ‘Drive Through’ quite amusing.  In England you would only drive into a retail establishment if you were robbing the place.  Anyway, it seems that the drive through is exclusively for people still in their pajamas and driving an obscenely large black pickup truck.


The queue of cars seemed endless.  I wandered inside and looked up at the menu while the staff stared at me expectantly mumbling into headsets.  Thankfully, another customer came in and stood behind me for a few minutes before noticing my blank face and then politely asking if he could go ahead of me.  He ordered a double-double tugoh.  I peered at the menu and could not see that anywhere.  When my turn came, I asked for a coffee with milk. 


“Fuhyere?” asks the lady.


“I’m sorry?” I said blankly. 


“Is it fuhyere or tugoh?” 


“I don’t know,” I said starting to panic.  She started to look at me like I had special needs. So, I said “Tugoh” as the previous gentleman had done.  The relief on her face was a wonder to behold.  I paid for the coffee and sat down to enjoy my beverage.  Epic fail, it was a dark muddy colour and the milk had failed to add any essence of lightness. I finished the liquid with some effort and was about to leave when the lady breezed past running a cursory damp cloth over the surrounding tables. 


“I thought you wanted coffee tugoh,” she said cheerily. 


“Isn’t that what I have?” said I.


“No, it’s fuhyere obviously!”  Obviously, bless her, she explained and also enlightened me on the double-double thing which sadly is not very enlightening for the coffee.  I now drink French Vanilla.



A year later I am in beautiful Lunenburg, still in Nova Scotia and still unable to handle anything but French Vanilla. How did I end up in Lunenburg?  Well, it’s possible, if you weren’t really paying attention that you can get to a stage in your life where it feels like you have something of an uncertain future looming in front of you.  Not renowned for my ability to pay the slightest attention to anything, I found myself in that place during a hot steamy July in Naples, Italy in 2006 where I was posted as a Royal Air Force officer to the NATO headquarters. 


Newly single and a tad frustrated, I recklessly volunteered to be a NATO Movements Control Officer for four months or thereabouts, assisting the African Union (AU) moving their troops and civilian policemen in and out of Darfur in the Sudan.  It was to be a period where I would rediscover some of the things I loved about life, re-establish a loving relationship with my parents and meet the person who would forever change my life for the better.  What follows is the story of my time rampaging around Africa and how it made me look back on all my previous mammoth muck ups around the world; there were a few, I’m ashamed to admit.  It may read to some people like one man’s descent into insanity and in some ways it very nearly was.  It may also be offensive to some people, especially the French, but at the end of the day, it’s a love story and I emerged from the entire debacle liking myself a lot more and certainly liking the world again, so tough shit.  Enjoy!


The border between Chad and the Central African Republic, 1985 (although it seems like yesterday to me)


The guy with the gun seems fairly calm.  I say the guy with the gun but they all have guns, I mean the guy with the gun pressed against my forehead.  The one pacing around behind him is not so calm, in fact he is rather animated and becoming increasing loud and seemingly agitated.  I don’t understand what he is saying, perhaps that’s for the best.  It goes quiet and the man in front of me starts counting down from ten.  He is counting in French, I ask him to speak English and he stops counting and looks at me with a bemused look on his face and lowers the pistol.  He asks if I am American, again in French, I say no.  I happen to be wearing a Union Jack T-shirt which he seems to notice for the first time.  He looks over my shoulder, presumably at another of his colleagues.  I know there were at least 4 of them when they stopped my Toyota but I suspect there are more.  I ask if I can have a cigarette and he tilts his head slightly to the side in a gesture I take to mean yes.  I extricate the packet from my very sweaty shorts, there are 2 inside, I offer him one.  He takes it and I take the other one, light it and pass him the lighter.  He lights his own crumples the empty packet, drops it on the dusty ground and puts the lighter in his pocket.  I have another pack in the vehicle and ask if I can get it.  He nods and I retrieve the pack and give it to him expecting him to pass them around his men, he doesn’t, it goes in the pocket with the lighter. 


Things are calmer now, I am shaking but it seems to be diffused.  They have a quiet discussion which I don’t understand, I stay silent and never look at any of the others.  By not being American I seem to have disrupted whatever they had planned.  Ten minutes pass.  I tell him I have to be at the airstrip in 15 minutes.  More discussion ensues, although it is not as quiet as before.  He turns back to me and points with his chin in the direction I was travelling when they appeared. 


I get in the Toyota, start the engine and drive slowly away...



Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday 27th August 2006


Boredom had started to get a hold of me as it tends to do regularly whilst serving in the military, ‘Hurry up and wait’ had become something of a mantra for me.  I had been working for a year as the XO (executive officer) for Brigadier Geoffrey Dodds in the Operations Center in NATO’s Naples HQ.  Big G was a delight to work for despite his occasional under pressure twitch.  He had a brain the size of a planet, a great sense of humour and a somewhat heroic willingness to place his trust in others, even the French. 


The Brigadier chaired a daily meeting at ten o clock in the morning where a representative from all aspects of the NATO operational system would be present to either brief him on what was happening or to answer his many questions.  Most people sat around the periphery of the room except for a select few who sat at the big table with Big G.  This was his Predict Team of eight or so, Intelligence people mostly, who were the ones who were supposed to warn him of any impending problems in the Balkans theatre of operations.  One morning I announced his arrival at the meeting, everyone stood up, he did the usual “Good morning gentlemen” thing and sat at the head of the table as normal.   However, he was alone at the table, no sign of his Predict Team.  He turned to me and said “Jarvo where are my Predict Team?” “Maybe they know something we don’t Sir,” I said.


He made all the decisions while I farted about making sure he was in the right place at the right time, in the right uniform, 2 socks the same colour and with all the facts he needed to hand.  I was also largely responsible for walking his dog Spud, which I largely delegated or possibly abdicated, some would say, to my assistant, Corporal Sarah Packham.


I’ve never had much luck with dogs; they were never even close to being my best friend.  Spud was a lovely intelligent Jack Russell but, whilst he was under my care, I lost him a number of times around the HQ, my plaintive cries of “Spud, Spud please come back” were to echo around those buildings on many occasions.  I also failed to stop Spud munching his way through the venetian blinds in the Brigadier’s office, watched stupefied through the office window as it hauled itself onto his desk and ate a bar of chocolate he had left in his in-tray which, poor Spud then proceeded to projectile vomit noisily and rather stinkily over a chair during an important video conference.


I think it all started in my childhood in Leicester, with my Father who at the time considered me to be childish and irresponsible, I think he still does.  Far too irresponsible obviously, to have a dog or any kind of pet really and I consistently proved him right.  I think it was his hatred of dog shit that was the real reason.  He did relent enough to let me have a Gerbil, which I let out of the cage and never found again, a budgie found hanging from its perch one morning, a rabbit which died in mysterious circumstances possibly suicide, and tropical fish, which due to a thermostat problem, boiled in their tank.  Despite the fact that negligence was never actually proven, I had a sneaking suspicion that I would never be the next David Attenborough.


I did 2 spells in the military, firstly as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers, then after a seven year gap, I joined the Royal Air Force as an Officer.  Most ex-military people will almost certainly tell you and always when they get together over a few beers, that as time passes you look back on your past and can only seem to remember the good bits; even what seemed quite miserable at the time can seem very funny later in life. 

After I left Leicester at the age of seventeen in 1979 to make my way in the world, I did sort of have a dog on two occasions.  The second time was at RAF Lyneham in 1998.  I called my desk officer, who decided on Officers’ Postings, and asked if there was any likelihood of me being posted anywhere overseas, “No chance Jarvo” she told me.  So, based on that iron clad response my wife and I got a Jack Russell pup for the kids.  A mere six months later we were on our way to Nairobi in Kenya for three years without the pup.  You have to love the military.


The first time was after I left the Army in 1984. I managed to find myself a job as a surveyor and the forward reconnaissance man for oil exploration crews in Chad, Central Africa, and the Sudan.  The crews normally consisted of fifteen ex-pats split into teams and two hundred and fifty local labourers and it was a tough old job, long hours, bad condition etc., etc., boo *ucking hoo!  When the crew was in a fixed location for a period of time, they would pull four large trailers containing the accommodation, mess hall, offices etc, Wild West like, into a square, plonk a line of trestle tables in the middle and that was the limit of our comfort.


Anyway, our four-man survey team in the Sudan had a fairly cute looking stray dog attach itself to us whom we affectionately named *uckrat.  Being suddenly surrounded by a strange alien race that didn’t kick him or throw stones at him like the locals were prone to do, he very quickly assumed that he was a fellow alien and barked, snarled and growled at anyone with anything more than a reasonably good tan.  The seismographic team did not particularly like *uckrat and had a rival pet; a goat named Gerty who would sit on the lap of their chief at the table bleating softly to itself as he somewhat disturbingly petted it.  The seismographic chief was a huge Scotsman called Ballbag who had the hairiest mat of a back I had ever seen, it was tough not to stare as it often had large amounts of debris hanging from it.  Being quite young and fairly hair free I was fascinated by this carpet thing on his back.  It was only years later when I woke up one morning with hair seemingly sprouting from every orifice that I felt any sympathy for him. 


One day, Gerty clomped her way up the steps into our office trailer and proceeded to chomp her way through all of our days’ precious survey computations.  My boss, John Wood, surprisingly took exception to this and instructed our labour team to get rid of it forthwith which they duly did.  And very tasty it was apparently!


That evening, Ballbag wondered the camp calling for Gerty with a little tear in his eye while we feigned indifference and concern.  Sadly, the morons in our labour team had eaten Gerty and then decided to stretch out the skin above their tent to dry out, which of course, was the first sight that greeted Ballbag when he emerged from his pit the next morning.  Initially, his revenge was fairly restrained.  We were due to be visited by the head of exploration for the oil company to which we were contracted, who was unfortunately a large Afro-American gentleman.  As he exited the helicopter at our site, he was greeted by a snarling beast of a dog decorated with a marker pen pair of glasses, *UCKRAT written in large letters on one side and most appallingly of all, I HATE *IGGERS written on the other side.  “Whose dog is that?” “It’s the Survey teams, Boss” was Ballbags helpful reply.  Suffice to say we didn’t have a dog for long after that.


Ballbag wasn’t finished, one night he set off a fire extinguisher, threw it into the cabin John and I shared and shut the door.  I awoke thinking a savage sandstorm had hit the trailer and flipped it over.  John leapt from the top bunk in a panic. Luckily I was there to break his fall and we both burst from the room clad only in our underwear, caked in powder and coughing our guts up.  Ballbag sat outside, beer in hand, feigning indifference and concern.  That was not an experience I would care to repeat.

Once Big G sadly had departed to pastures new, his replacement, a German Colonel, had completely different requirements, an outrageous accent and a distinctly dodgy limp.  Cpl Packham and I were bored shitless.  That was when I decided I had to get off my arse and do something else or end up drinking myself to death alone. 


The job that luckily presented itself to me looked deceptively simple at first glance, four months roaming around Africa making sure that the strategic airlift supplied by the NATO nations to get the AU troops in and out of Darfur was being properly utilised and that nothing went horribly wrong.  Fat chance of that, I’d been doing this sort of thing for years, six of those years in Africa, and it was always a hiding to nothing job. 


The first act of the whole show was to get to the NATO HQ in Lisbon where the mission in Africa was supposedly being run and from there to Addis Ababa where they had a deployed office near the African Union HQ. 


In the terminal at Naples airport, I met up with Terry White, the American captain who was going with me, at the check-in and we spent the next hour tutting and hissing at the stupidity and rudeness of the Neapolitans and their inability to stand in a queue only to find we were in the wrong queue ourselves!  Terry is a tall, clean cut genial family man from Sweet Lips, Tennessee or somewhere like that and being a Spam, a slightly rude term for an American, translates in one way as Self-Propelled Automated Mouth, was wide eyed and eager to get going on the adventure.  Exceptionally, he was a quiet guy unlike your average American, as we say ‘lovely people but no volume control’.   As a space briefly cleared at the right check-in desk, Terry butted in beautifully, I followed the Terry-shaped blur and we were away.  Unfortunately, he appeared to have brought the entire contents of his wardrobe and enough toiletries for several years despite my advice, he believed that Africa was all mud huts and no shops, so it was a somewhat painful check-in. I suspected there was a wifely influence in there somewhere.


Italians irritatingly and inexplicably love to clap and cheer whenever their aircraft lands safely; sometimes they even drop their mobile phones, it seems like they have never really embraced the miracle of powered flight.  Terry and I spent an eternal seven hours loitering in the eternal city’s Airport and then flogged on to Lisbon. 


Lisbon had a nice relaxed feel to it after the constant undercurrent I felt whilst in Naples.  In fact, in the first thirty minutes there, I wasn’t robbed or run over at all.  We met up with our erstwhile traveling companion, Rafa Rubio, a swarthy Spanish Air Force Officer who seemed very cool and immediately likeable.  He would be staying in Addis Ababa as our liaison officer while Terry and I travelled round Africa. 


The three of us endured an interminable period of preparation briefings, mostly what seemed like totally unnecessary crap including a long ramble on the Arabic language and Arab customs even though I pointed out we were not actually going to any Arab countries.  After two days, Terry, Rafa and I headed back to Lisbon airport to fly to bloody Rome to connect to Addis.  However, the flight from Lisbon to Rome was delayed and we were reduced to wandering around the airport seeking some entertainment. It was at this point that my life changed forever. 

Lounging at an Internet terminal and attempting to surf porn to waste half an hour, I exchanged a few pleasantries and eventually contact details with a lady sat next to me called Karen, a Canadian from Halifax, Nova Scotia with Dutch nationality on her way back to Holland, who was also delayed. Despite my previous less than glorious experience with Canadians who are basically Americans with table manners, I decided bravely to give her a chance. 


The boss on the oil exploration crew in Chad was a French Canadian, who I found very difficult to understand.  It was even worse when he spoke.  As part of my duties on the crew, I was charged with setting up satellite navigation (satnav) stations to check coordinates around the working area.  Don’t be confused, this wasn’t a simple task of wandering around with a tiny box and being home in time for tea and medals like it would be nowadays, this was a logistical nightmare.


In those days there were lots of boxes, cassette tapes, antennas, a solar panel and a car battery.  It took a good three days to get a decent enough positional fix and I was finding that the solar panels were struggling to keep the batteries charged for that long.  So being my usual genius self I started nipping out early in the morning before anybody was up and about and swapping the batteries out from other people’s vehicles.  Every evening a different person would be complaining about their flat batteries but I pretty much got away with it until I was only left with the boss’s vehicle to plunder.  Sadly, he started work earlier than me and was watching bemused from his office window as I rendered his Toyota effectively useless.  His bollocking was memorable in that I didn’t understand a damn word of it, I thought I had been sacked, then maybe promoted, then sacked again.  Whatever, I had disliked French Canadians since that moment. 


The non French-Canadian Dutch Karen was a tiny thing, engaging and beautiful and there was an immediate mental and of course physical attraction between us.  She was to become my best friend, my soul mate and eventually my wife, so it was the most valuable few minutes I had spent in a long time. Thank you, Portugal Airlines, for the delay!


Back to the thrilling action and lo and behold thanks to the delay in Lisbon we contrived to miss the connection in Rome to Addis having scampered hell for leather through the airport only to get to the departure gate as the doors hissed sarcastically closed in our faces.  Our suitcases were checked through and no one could tell us if they had made the flight or not, they certainly weren’t on the baggage conveyor.  After wandering agitatedly around Rome airport attempting to follow their hopeless and misleading signs and sweating like a Newfy taking a spelling test, we eventually got a bed, well three beds (we weren‘t that close yet), in the horrendously expensive airport Hilton. 


Most of the next day was spent attempting to beat some kind of compensation to cover the hotel and nibbles out of Portugal Airlines while watching with mild amusement as the Caribinieri in charge of odd items, X-rayed dogs and fondled their crotches Michael Jackson (RIP) style each time anything remotely resembling a woman passed by. 


With hollow assurances ringing in our ears that our luggage would indeed be joining us, we boarded the midnight flight to Addis Ababa.  It was less than an hour into the flight before I came very close to killing the irritating child in the seat behind me, but I managed to maintain a superficially happy face as we were in Club Class (for the one and only time) and the Ethiopian Air Staff were excellent if a little over-attentive.

I had spent the best part of six years in Africa during my many careers and experienced some pretty dramatic weather conditions in that time but my God, Ethiopia, even from the air, resembled a very full sponge and it was still raining heavily as we aquaplaned to the terminal.  We found out that a thousand people had died in floods in the previous month alone and I could fully understand why.  To cheer myself up a bit, I accidentally dropped my weighty day-sack on the irritating kid’s foot and exited the aircraft hurriedly to avoid the screaming. 


The visa formalities were achieved with very little fuss and then came the bad news, Rafa had his bags but Terry and I were empty handed.  It was seven o clock in the morning, I was feeling cold and wet and now I was getting seriously pissed off.  However, I put on my best happy face, jumped in the waiting car and off we went to the Addis Hilton Hotel where I thought I could at least get a cup of tea and a hot shower… but no, we were informed that the rooms would not be ready until eleven-o-clock.  Then joy, a call came from the airport, our bags were now there so off we went again.  As I sort of semi-expected as a glass always half-empty type of guy, Terry’s bags were there, mine weren’t.  I’m sure you can picture my expression without me describing it, pretty much like the weather.  Once again, the Ethiopian Air Staff were great and I was eventually compensated with some beer tokens for the inconvenience.  Still, after an extra night in Rome with just my hand baggage, I was fairly underwear critical and not at my usual sparkling best.  Luckily, I was able to fit in well in Addis and was able to keep most of the flies away from Terry. 


Dinner that evening, with the three existing members of the NATO team already based in Addis, was in the Zebra Grill.  Although looking a little rough and shack-like from the outside, it was warm and atmospheric inside, i.e. pitch *ucking black.  This was Terry’s first introduction to the facsimile they call toilets in African restaurants and I could tell he was genuinely thrilled but liberal amounts of beer and our first goat kebabs of the trip eased his trepidation.  Roasted over an open pit in the corner of the restaurant by squinting chefs, the meal was more than adequate and thankfully quite cheap. 


The next morning, I was awoken by the telephone in my room with the mother of all altitude-induced hangovers to be informed that ‘Yes Mr. Jarvis, your bag is now at the airport’.  Off I trundled again to be led by the ever smiling Ethiopian Airways man round to the back of the airport to a stack of bags where he gleefully pointed out a Samsonite suitcase with an England sticker on the side and JARVIS written in big white letters on all sides (I like to be able to see my bag on the carousel).  ´That’s not mine´ I said in a cheeky chappy sort of way. I had never seen a man look more crushed.  I admitted the truth that it was indeed my case, ignored his ‘You English Wanker!’ expression, thanked him profusely and bumbled off to try and ruin someone else’s day. 


Back at the hotel, we met up in the NATO dungeon of an office, a suite in the bowels of the hotel. Terry, Rafa and I then proceeded to get briefed to death yet again with the same inane crap that we had endured in Lisbon.  I then retired gratefully to my room to surgically remove my underpants and unpack my suitcase to the sounds of gunfire and screaming from the slums opposite.


The Addis Ababa Hilton was a fairly typical posh chain hotel plonked into a developing country, full of ex-pats, business types and with a smattering of hopeful local ladies loitering in the bar.  There were a lot of military types in residence, the small NATO team and a few more European Union servicemen attached to AU offices. 

The Hilton did have in its favour a pretty good gym and Monday morning I decided it was time to try it out.  Sadly, I had foolishly forgotten about the debilitating effects of altitude and proceeded to set off at my normal running pace, male ego of course prevented me from slowing it down so after twenty minutes I was an attractive shade of beetroot and coughing up a lung.  I scanned the room checking out the admiring glances from the other people in the gym and casually waved away the hovering medical team.  Terry in his wife-beater muscle vest looked on mystified.


Tuesday was the day of our big meeting with the African Union team responsible for the rotation of forces in Darfur and the assigning of our local liaison officers.  Those guys were unintentionally hilarious, we had a massive movement of troops and equipment to plan and supervise but they decided to spend half an hour arguing about the loss of a $10 SIM card while we sat bemused amongst them.  The entire meeting was punctuated by racking coughs and noisy throat clearing and the occasional wheezing fit from me.  Terry just looked slightly bewildered; a look he would come to perfect over the coming months. 


We finally got to the main issue to be discussed.  It seemed that in the past, the aircraft payloads had been affected, largely out of the Sudan, by the troops bringing home gifts.  We were told that chest freezers, plasma TV’s and even goats had been presented as hand baggage, where they were getting this stuff from God only knew.  The Africans at the table all harrumphed, tutted, nodded and agreed that it was finally time to come down hard on this sort of thing. I coughed and smiled knowingly, I’d done this crap before all around the world, somebody will always consider themselves exempt from the rules, normally aircrew, wives of senior officers and the French.  The big Colonel, and he was big but had a really nice suit, tried to explain to us dumb white innocent officers, that it was in the African culture to bring expensive gifts back for each of your family if you have been serving abroad.  In fact, it was actually expected.  It’s not just African culture I told him in a slightly capricious way - just take a look in my ex-wife’s jewelry box!


After the meeting, Terry and I managed to get a good result with Lieutenant Colonel Azinta from the Nigerian army, who was to be our Liaison Officer when we eventually got to Lagos.  The Lieutenant Colonel had that battle-weary look about him and a dry sense of humour even if he rarely smiled himself.  Lieutenant Colonel Azinta was even able to sort out some transport (with his family in Lagos) and we generally had a warmer fuzzier feeling as a result.  This turned out to be very handy when the retarded NATO admin guy suddenly confessed to having a snag with getting our visas for Nigeria, basically he had done cock-all about them.  I made a quick phone call to this Lieutenant Colonel Azinta and we were having nibbles and cups of tea in the Nigerian Defence Attaché’s office with a shiny new visa in our passports that very afternoon. 


In the meantime, I had been working out our movement plan to meet up with the deployments and booking the flights which looked to be a complete nightmare.  Terry was a little overwhelmed by the scale of Africa.  Bless him, he had made himself a scrapbook of maps so he could get an idea of where he was going but hadn’t seemed to have absorbed much of it so was trying to put it all in relation to the size of the States.  I told him I thought he was in denial.  “That’s the Nile there, isn’t it?” he said pointing at the map.  I discovered later that Karen had done much the same thing with a map of Africa pinned to the wall above her desk, although she seemed to have secured the services of most of the globe’s intelligence services judging by the way she was able to track me down. 

We started with a map of the continent and proceeded to draw lines all over it until it resembled a map of the London Underground and didn’t really help at all.  For instance, I had to go from Addis Ababa to Lagos to Enugu to Abuja to Enugu to Lagos to Nairobi to Kigali to Entebbe to Kigali to Nairobi to Accra to Dakar to Addis Ababa which is hell of a post-it note to present to a blank looking travel agent.  It cost upwards of $7500 for economy including an eleven-hour flight from Dakar to Addis.  I was already looking forward to that one.  I wondered if I would ever see my luggage again.


Just as we seemed to getting our ducks in a row, we had some bad news, the whole show was apparently to be cancelled thanks to the internal machinations of the AU political machine and we were to be returned to Naples forthwith.  Disappointedly, we packed for home; Terry’s face was a picture incidentally, as his already bulging bags looked ready to surrender completely, it never fits back in once you have taken it out (sums up my sex life). We decided that we should commiserate in a difficult to locate German Restaurant called the African Queens, dodgy name, tacky furniture but it was actually quite nice. However, I suspected my lamb was a bit goatish… I know the difference.  Incidentally, Jarvos tip of the day, avoid Ethiopian red wine unless you’re constipated.  Eventually, political common sense prevailed and the troop rotation program was put back on track.  However, we had lost a valuable few day and would now leave on the following Tuesday morning which would leave us very tight for time to get the lay of the land in Enugu and then get the Nigerian Battalion ready to move.


Before we left Addis Ababa, the Cameroonian Colonel, Roger Quitcha, at the Darfur Integrated Task Force (DITF) the part of the AU running the Darfur operation, invited the three of us to have a spot of afternoon tea at his flat.  Rafa forgot, despite constant prompting from Terry and me, to find out if Roger was a Muslim or not as it would be a tad of a faux pas if we had turned up with a bottle of Scotch and some bacon sandwiches.  After much twittering and rock-paper-scissors etc., we settled on a compromise box of Danish pastries and some fruit juice.  The Colonel lived above a supermarket in fairly basic conditions and was obviously a bit lonely and missing his rather large family.  That said, we had a wonderfully pleasant evening chatting, sipping tea and nibbling on cake and biscuits. 


Back at the hotel I found myself staring at the chunky NATO laptop and satellite phone we had been issued and pondering the potential effect they would have on my already tightly packed suitcase.  Dumbly, NATO issue a brick of a sat phone instead of a mobile phone, these things are not meant to be used as normal daily communications devices and I had a strange feeling that I would probably be using my own phone more than I would have liked.  I had now completed my twentieth trial pack of the suitcase and it was looking a little tight to say the least, some things would have to go.  On the plus side, Terry was in a much worse state.  This was the part of the trip where I reasoned that we should only take things that we were prepared to lose but at least we could leave some stuff in the NATO office here in Addis if needed.  I slept the agitated sleep of a worried man, my dreams playing like the video of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’.


The phone networks were an issue though.  To save some money on my roaming charges, I had purchased a local Ethiopian SIM card.  However, I could text Karen but couldn’t receive any messages back so I thought she was ignoring me.  However, Karen is not a woman to be put off easily and she eventually tracked me down through MSN.  We chatted online endlessly and effortlessly as though we had known each other forever with a considerable amount in common.  The only fundamental and possibly relationship breaking matter was her preference for salt and vinegar crisps.  I’m a sour cream or cheese and onion man. The first time Karen and I managed to webcam we spent ten minutes just beaming at each other.  Luckily, I had found the time to take a chainsaw to my ever-blossoming nasal hairs, had I let myself go a bit... mmm.  However, life was good.  [To be continued – watch out for Episode 2 next month – “Jarvo gets ethnically profiled”]

Video - Alert Air Drop

Have you ever wondered what same-day delivery looks like in the Canadian Arctic? Members of 436 Squadron conducted a trial air drop at Canadian Forces Station Alert on June 22, 2020. The Arctic station is a significant strategic location in Canada's North, and the successful air drop adds another tool for resupplying the station.


Canadian Armed Forces


From: Kevin Koslowski-Smith, Cambridge, Cambs
Subject: Lockdown Special IV


As someone who hates DIY and is a proponent of DDIY "Don't do it yourself" I have been forced to redecorate the kitchen and do damage repair to the bathroom and the garden. I have a large collection of masks, both bought and made for me and wear them all the time (I have Type 2).

I am lucky in that I work for the military as a civvy driver (RAF Henlow) and although still being paid, cannot do overtime (we normally do one day in every 10 - listening out for the phones mostly). I have gone back to drawing, reading and listening to music - I have always cooked in my household, otherwise we'd only get takeaways!

The weather has taken a downturn lately here in darkest Cambridgeshire but hopefully we will still be able to go on holiday in August to Cumbria. I have been in contact with Gerry Pengelly (of the Movers' Pengelly Cup), who lives not far from me and we have said we'll meet up for a beer after this pandemic has been declared safe.

All the best, Kev
From: Richard Lloyd, Dunfermline, Fife
Subject: Lockdown Special IV

Dear Tony,

Wishing all power to your continuing editorial responsibilities for UKMAMSOBA, which you carry out out so very well!

I’m a pretty good and enthusiastic occasional cook. The occasional comes to the more permanent when as twice in the last 3 years, the OH has been out of commission owing to fracture of a) wrist and b) leg. So, during lockdown it has been ‘agreed’ that I will cook once a week.

I made a stonking Chilli Con Carne, and two weeks later decided to repeat the exercise (a wee secret is to add a couple of squares of very dark chocolate). I reached for the familiar ingredients from the fridge and whacked them together, not noticing that what I thought was a tube of tomato purée was in fact, a tube of chilli paste; A mistake I will not make a second time - blew my head off, and I’m keener on chilli than my OH!

Best, Richard
From: Stephen Smith, Reading, Berkshire  
Subject: Lockdown Special IV

Good Morning Tony,

I write this email at the end of what has been two s**t weeks in my life. Two weeks ago, I had a fall in the garden and landed heavily on the corner of a laden wheelbarrow.  An ambulance trip to the Royal Berkshire Hospital followed where it transpired that I had fractured a rib on my left.  Then earlier this week, I learned that a close family member has been diagnosed with cancer. 

That said, #Lockdown has seen me take up baking as a hobby.  I have been making cakes, biscuits and bread.  I give these to families and friends as well as using them to reward myself.


One of my best efforts was a Raspberry and Blueberry Drizzle Cake (recipe is available from Tony if peeps want to try it).


Stay safe everyone and let’s all raise a glass to those who are no longer with us.


Take care,





After the bad news, there is good news to be shared. Margot, my working Cocker Spaniel bitch, is due to whelp any day now and so by the time the newsletter goes out we should have a litter of puppies crawling around the house.


Lockdown – where can I start... Prior to Lockdown commencing, I recognised that I would be working from home a whole lot more than I used to with the then imminent onset of Lockdown.  Approximately 100% to be precise.   Back then, I was the proverbial fat basta** weighing in at 116.6 Kgs with food, crisps, chocolate, and other goodies being my downfall.


I enrolled in a health and weight-loss programme, setting myself the target of losing 10Kgs.  Well, I exceeded that target and this morning I weighed in at 105.7 Kgs.  I have now re-baselined my goal to lose another 10 Kgs.


Stephen Bird, Chester 
Dave Nip Betts, Runaway Bay, QLD
John Belcher, Chippenham, Wilts
Derek Barron, Calne, Wilts
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, Bucks
Subject: Lockdown Special IV - Lockdown Food

Hi Tony,

Not much to report on latest Lock Down topic; except for one incident, possibly in retaliation to a proposal that I should now clear out all those no-longer-read railway magazines? Stupidly, instead of the standard safe "Jolly Good Idea! I’ll add it to my list,” my reaction was: to draw SWMBO's attention to several huge piles of untested recipes torn out of newspapers and magazines collected over the years.

Consequently, for lockdown, we have been working through said recipe piles.  Fortunately, while locked in, we have been able to get organised for a regular rolling weekly supermarket sourced grocery delivery once we had worked out the delivery computer program lead time – currently 25 days.  So, the good news is that I have been enjoying, and in some cases actually cooking, an incredible variety of dishes during lockdown.

Successful: ‘excellent to eat, easy to make, have that again' recipes are then filed in our official menu folder; otherwise, it is off to the waste paper recycling box!

The down side is that the kitchen shelves are now overflowing with a vast range of half-opened bottles, spices, packets, tins, jars etc., of obscure ingredients, many of which will be well past their 'use by' date before we ever get round to needing them again.

Stay safe,

David Powell
F Team UKMAMS 1967-69
Keeping it in the Family - Akrotiri Movers' Story

A father and son team from Calne in Wiltshire are working alongside each other on the Joint Movements Squadron at RAF Akrotiri in support of operations.


Flight Sergeant John Spanton, (54) and his son Harry (21) a Senior Aircraftsman, are both Movers, responsible for handling freight and loading and unloading the aircraft arriving at the base daily as a part of wider operations in the Middle East.  The pair are working alongside each other for four months while Harry is on detachment from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.


For John, who heads up a team of 17 personnel, watching his son brings back memories of when he first joined the RAF. “It’s been a great experience to watch my son do the job that I have been doing for years,” he explains. “I am very proud to see how he is developing into a movements tradesman.”


Both joined the RAF because of the opportunities it has offered them. “The best part of the job,” says Harry, “are the ever-changing working scenarios.” As a mover on 1 Air Mobility Wing he gets the opportunity to support operations world wide at short notice. “I also enjoy the social aspect and the opportunities for adventure training and sport.”


“I joined up at 22,” says John, I felt I was going nowhere with limited qualifications. The RAF gave me the chance to learn a trade. I never expected to stay in for more than nine years, but I loved the opportunities I was offered. In my career I have worked on a range of projects in areas such as IT and careers.”


For Squadron Warrant Officer Kev Skinner, having the father and son team on the squadron has certainly had its benefits. “Having John and Harry working together on the Joint Movements Squadron has been tremendous,” he explains. “I have personally known John for over 30 years, and it is great to see Harry now continuing the family connection with the Royal Air Force and Movements trade as his career takes off. Throughout Harry’s deployment to Cyprus the Squadron has overcome many challenges in order to continue handling transport aircraft in the face of Coronavirus pandemic, the Spantons can be justifiably proud of their combined contributions to the team effort.”



Royal Air Force

Editor: Flt Lt Meg Robins. Photographs: SAC Laura Bullas

From: Ian (Stretch) Mansfield, Swindon, Wilts
Subject: Lockdown Special IV

Hi Tony,

Thought I'd share a barbecue I cooked last weekend for my wife and me. Cedar smoked planked salmon, with homemade coleslaw and rosemary potatoes.  The salmon is cooked on a cedar plank that had been soaked in water for an hour before cooking. The plank is then put over direct heat to char one side, then the salmon is added onto the charred side. I seasoned with salt and pepper then placed thinly sliced lemon over the flesh to prevent drying out.

The salmon is then cooked over direct heat for 30 minutes - you can also add smoking chunks of wood such as applewood or cedar directly to the coals, but I skipped this step.  The rosemary potatoes are cut into small cubes (small helps them cook quicker and thoroughly) then placed into a foil pouch (household foil doubled over with the sides folded a few times to create a seal). A good glug of olive oil, season again with salt and pepper and add a few sprigs of rosemary. Place over direct heat for about 40 minutes turning over once halfway through cooking. The coleslaw was made with red and white cabbage, apple, carrots, celery and onion.  Turned into a fantastic meal.

Quick COVID-19 update from me. I am a Health & Safety Leader for a lawnmower manufacturing company (Ariens Co), and we make Countax and Westwood garden tractors, and Ariens Zero Turns (Google them). When things kicked off with COVID-19 I recommended to the senior management that we take a break from manufacturing for a variety of reasons - lack of stock and frightened workforce being the main ones.


We decided to put the operations side onto a two-week paid leave over Easter while we formulated a plan for further operation. This was then extended to three weeks furlough for the guys.  The majority of the office workers were advised to work from home, and all took the opportunity. With a bit of planning and cajoling our suppliers we managed to become fully operational after just three weeks and have been at it since.


Needless to say, I'm playing a key part within the company by keeping people safe. We've had a few tested for COVID-19 but all have come back negative, and I hope that continues.


Since leaving the RAF in December 2012 I have had several Safety roles and am now settling into this one. I am also the company DGSA as we ship lithium batteries. That was a nice surprise on my first day to be voluntold that they needed me to be a DGSA - someone must've read my CV!


Anyway, that's enough of my rambling.  Hope that everyone is keeping well, and my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones recently.


Kind regards, Stretch



From: David Jarvis MBE, Lunenburg, NS 
Subject: The Berlin Wall Project

Here’s an odd one for you; why is there a four feet by nearly 12 feet section of the Berlin Wall in a small fishing town in Nova Scotia, Canada?  I’ll come to that, but first, why would I be involved in moving it from one place to another within the town.  It’s simple really.  As a member of the Lunenburg Royal Canadian Legion I was once asked what I did in the Military.  “Movements” I said, and that was that!

So, on the 11th of June this year I watched, sometimes with horror, sometimes with dread and with the almost certain knowledge that I was about to witness the dropping from height and the ultimate destruction into thousands of tiny pieces a little bit of history and somehow it would probably be my fault because I claimed to know how to move stuff.


The piece of the Wall located in Lunenburg, one of six in Canada, had been standing at the old Lunenburg foundry since the late 1990s. The Honourable J. James Kinley -  lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia from 1994 to 2000 and former long-time engineering executive who worked at the Lunenburg Industrial Foundry & Engineering Limited – was the force behind bringing this section of the Wall to his hometown. Kinley was also a veteran as he had served in Canada's Merchant Navy during the Second World War and continued onward with the Naval Reserve until his retirement in 1958.  He was also a former Branch President of the Lunenburg Legion and the Nova Scotia Command. 


After the town of Lunenburg received a UNESCO World Heritage designation in 1995, Kinley convinced a German businessman to donate this piece of the Wall to continue its deep-rooted ties with Germany as 1,400 German immigrants established the community of Lunenburg in 1753.


When the Legion found out that the wall had to be relocated from the Foundry, given the Legion background of Kinley and the obvious link for the veteran members to the cold war, positioning it in pride of place outside the Branch seemed the most logical solution.  It would also be in a more favourable location for the hundreds of thousands of tourist who visit the town every year.


As you can see from the pictures, it was an experience that required calm nerves and spare underwear nearby.  It was done by volunteers and achieved almost seamlessly but please don’t look too closely.  I was fetching the teas when it was actually lifted, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.  I have to say it does look good outside the Legion and we are having a plaque made to explain why it is there.  So, if you are ever in beautiful Lunenburg stop by the Legion and take a look.







Video - RCAF Operation GLOBE 20-02
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces, prepare COVID related humanitarian supplies for transport to Central and Latin America on behalf of The World Food Program (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO) during Operation GLOBE 20-02 from Panama Pacifico on 22 July, 2020.

Canadian Armed Forces

From: Harold Jones, Neston, Cheshire
Subject: Lockdown Special No. 4


One of my favourite foods is a Steak Pudding, the same as a steak and kidney, but without the kidney which I don't like.

I steam it for several hours, savouring the aroma and planning what to serve it with. In the interests of healthy eating, I generally serve it with a selection of vegetables with new potatoes and just a quarter of the pudding.  Unfortunately, I cannot resist trying another portion of the pud, as it tastes so good.

I have no idea what the shelf life of my Steak Pudding is as it never makes the refrigerator!

Many cheers to all and thanks to Tony for one of my favourite internet reads.

From: Mike Stepney, Stewarton, East Ayrshire 
Subject: Lockdown Special IV

Hi Tony,

Thanks for another great read, your publications are always welcome, especially so during this lockdown.  In response to your requests for ‘Lockdown Food’ articles, here is my contribution for what it’s worth!
Until a couple of years ago, I would have asked my better half for a contribution to the food debate as, apart from bar-b-q’s, I have never really been involved with cooking or food preparation, unless of course you count opening the wine! 

Unfortunately these days, due to illness, Avril is unable to coordinate cooking activities, so I very quickly realised that unless I manned-up to the task of preparing what food I had been providing, I was likely to end up answering multiple daily ding-dongs from the front door bell, to fast food delivery drivers!

Many of the initial recipes I tried were reasonably easy, provided of course you had all the correct ingredients… and I started my foray into food preparation with the readily available jars of base sauces including various curries, sweet & sour, chili, pasta etc.  Although many were reasonably palatable, I was getting bored with just heating the sauce and chucking in the chicken beef or mince… I needed a challenge! 


I soon discovered that there were a considerable variety of spices and seasonings out there on the supermarket shelves, and all appeared to come with exciting recipes printed on the product packaging.  I also found however, that even creating a meal from scratch, many of the recipes were missing something, and therefore I started to experiment with different additives, settling eventually on a few basic additions that really did make a difference to the taste of the dish.


I won’t go in to any depth here but will include a favourite dish of mine at the moment, which is the 4 ‘Cs’... Creamy Caribbean Curried Chicken.  It includes honey and cream cheese!  Don’t mock until you try it!  Contact Tony if you want the recipe







From: Paul Newman, Peterborough, Cambs 
Subject: Lockdown

Hi Tony,

So, my 2 week stint on Op RE:ACT (veterans help the nation defeat COVID-19) from 24 April is finally coming to an end. As of 31 July the NHS are mothballing the PPE hangar (I call it a hangar because it pisses the army off! ). We are busy trying to get down to zero stock, other than the 2 weeks' supply to be left for the next time! I have so enjoyed the camaraderie and the get-it-done attitude and am actually very proud of what a small team of veterans have acheived.

Lovely to see Chris 'Boss' Goss and beautiful Sally in the last issue. Great times at Brize, can't remember if it was you or Sally that had to climb out of the Officers' Mess accomodation window just after you got together to avoid embarrassing her dad? Also good times at NHT and yes I really did love Jane and not funny getting the RAFPOL to interview me for drink driving!

Be safe all

Paul Newman

From: Ian Berry, West Swindon

Hi Tony,

Don't know if you are aware but Britannia XM496 is in trouble thanks to Covid-19 and NO visitors.

If anyone would like to assist, an ex-RAF Wing Commander, Brian Weatherley, is going to do a sponsored walk to raise funds. https://www.gofundme.com/f/walk-the-squadron-99

I've also recently joined the Royal Navy Heritage Lottery. Unlike the Battle of Britain Flight at Coningsby, they get no financial help to maintain their vintage aircraft.  They have devised a lottery to raise funds (there's the remote chance of winning something!)

Video - A400M Atlas makes spectacular beach landing
An airbus A400M from RAF Brize Norton making a rare visit to Pembrey Sands [South Wales] to conduct natural surfaces operations. With the weather being wet prior to the aircraft arriving the pilot conducted some low approaches then some touch and go’s before the all clear to land the 76 tonne aircraft on the beach.
Video - Op COVID-19 Assist - Additional Support to Melbourne

Air Mobility Group doing what they do, giving our Australian Army mates from 1st Armoured Regiment - Australian Army - a lift from RAAF Base Edinburgh to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia as part of the ongoing support to Op COVID-19 Assist.



New members who have joined us recently:

Welcome to the OBA!

Jerry Edwards, Cwmbran

David Bernard, Bicester, Oxon

Paul Thornton, Blyth, Northumberland


The annual Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford


Here’s a little something to keep you engaged for 8 hours.  The annual Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford went virtual this year.  Be sure to make some airshow hot dogs! You can view it on YouTube (watch any time):


Saturday 18th July: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8gg1BTE_DQ


Sunday 19th July: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL1G4aL6ngc



This newsletter is dedicated

to the memories of:

Jon Ward (RAF)

Tam McDonald (RAF)

Colin Sammy Allen (RAF)

Warren "Buffa" Tindall (RNZAF)

If you wish to show your appreciation and help support the OBA:


In Canada, via bank e-mail transfer to



Overseas (including the UK), you may send a Cheque or Money Order to:


Tony Gale

602-60 Rue Cormier,

Gatineau, Quebec, J9H 6B4






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