Operation LENTUS - In response to a request for assistance by the province of Ontario, and in consultation with provincial and local authorities, the CAF has deployed assets to support local efforts in the emergency response to the wildfires threatening remote communities in Northwestern Ontario.
CAF members and aircraft are providing air transport of evacuees out of affected areas, and transporting support personnel and equipment into and out of the affected areas as necessary.Two teams of Canadian Rangers composed of between six and ten members, are on stand-by in Thunder Bay and are able to rapidly deploy and support other evacuations in Northwestern Ontario should the need arise.
The CAF began supporting the province of Ontario on July 10, 2021. Periodic reassessments of the situation will be conducted in order to continuously evaluate the needs of the province and to adjust support as necessary.
From: Andrew Downard, Ballarat, VIC Subject: Hazmat meets Murphy
So, I’m late again with some input for the newsletter, in my defence I did start putting this together weeks ago!
I have two stories regarding hazardous stuff; both involve ‘ducking’. The first was in the shed up at TFD at Lyneham; I recall the shed was an improvement over doing the work of palletising explosives out in the open. Anyway, we were up there palletising artillery shells for a later outbound when some clown driving the forks carrying a pallet of stuff that goes bang applied the brakes too hard. The ammo boxes were on a metal pallet, so not the usual friction of wood to keep the pallet on the forks. The forks were raised to put a second layer on the pallet, and we all saw the pallet slide forward and tip off the end of the forks and fall towards the floor. I immediately started to duck and as I did, my eyes caught the inscription on the boxes I was ducking behind, 155mm Artillery Shells! I realised that ducking was pointless at that moment and stood up again. I think I was the team leader as a SAC at the time and we all agreed that, “We will never speak of this again” (until now of course!). I’m sure the statute of limitations has cut in years ago, plus if all else fails I still remember the name of the forky!
The second incident involved a load of ‘warshot’ torpedos that we had unloaded from a Belfast at Brize. The warshot torpedo was apparently the highest NEC (nett explosive content) that we moved by air at the time. The double-palleted torpedo’s had to be taken to the bomb dump to await pick up and so we transferred them onto a trailer pulled by a aircraft tractor. Because everyone was a bit freaky about the task, I had the guys chain the load fore and aft and crossways (a few grumbles about overkill, I’m sure the pun was only slightly intended). Anyway, when we arrived at the bomb dump the MT driver miscalculated the turn and tried to reverse to make the gate. In doing so he made the rookie error of having the axle fore and aft the centre line of the trailer. The load then tilted over dramatically onto the cab of the tractor. Again I turned around and started to duck only to be brought up short by the sight of a fireman exiting the cab of the six wheel drive escorting fire truck horizontally, 10 feet in the air, with his hands over his head! Neither of us had made the connection with the amount of explosives and the chance that Brize Norton would have been wiped from the map had something gone bang! Luckly, the extra chains held everything tight and we spent the rest of the shift standing around while a succession of people turned up with their hands on their hips and muttering. The movers came out of it OK, the fireman lost some dignity (and some skin) and we never saw the MT driver again!
I can also remember Loadies getting upset about Hexamine tablets (cooking stoves – let's warm up some compo in the back of the Herc!), in a civvy role a few years ago I used to buy Hexamine by the pallet load for making friction materials. Trying to explain why the Dangerous Goods forklift should be used with the non-sparking tines was a constant challenge. They would try and pass it off because we stored the Hexamine with the Asbestos... it won’t catch fire Bro!).
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, Bucks Subject: Brief Interesting Encounters
Once upon a time, I was detached from F Team for a couple of months to New York (get out the sympathy kit!) to help set up the change over from trooping to North America by sea to air with the arrival of the VC10s.
I was staying in the New Yorker Hotel on 7th and 34th. One evening, after a day's blood sweat and tears working at JFK (mainly getting lost, walking into broom cupboards as I wandered about unchallenged in a funny uniform, red armband and a clip board) I dropped into the bar, as you do, for a drink. Here I got talking, as you do, to one of the most unusual characters that I ever crossed paths with.
After a bit of general chit chat, like why was I dressed up in that funny uniform and how a few drinks were needed as he had just had a row with his wife over curtains, we moved on to the 'what do you do?'. His response was, well, unique.
"I am the world's expert on sh!t", or he may have said "effluent". It was a long time ago.
Turned out he was right. He was not just responsible for New York City's effluent disposal (well, someone has to be!), but, he had travelled the world advising big cities, such as Sydney, Tokyo even little old London, on this problem.
I expressed an interest in his role, resulting in a most fascinating evening talking about sh!t, although my contribution was more limited to when I had been in it!
Then there was that time staying in Athens as the same hotel as the Miss World contestants were using. But that's another story for another day.
Take care, stay safe, stay sane!
From: Jacques Guay, Port Charlotte, FL Subject: Brief Interesting Encounters
The following happened circa 1975 at CFB Trenton at about 0200 hrs one morning. I noticed that the base CO was outside on the aircraft parking ramp in his best uniform nervously pacing back and forth.
Well, curiosity got the better of me and I approached him to see if I could be any service (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!). He proceeded to tell me that Prince Phillip was coming in on a RAF flight and that HRH was to proceed to CFB Goose Bay NL for an undisclosed visit.
A few minutes later, the RAF aircraft touched down and parked in front of Hangar 1, which at the time was our PAX terminal. I was detailed to position the stair truck, which I did with my usual skill. After the aircraft door opened, I was told to stand by at the bottom of the stairs at attention while the VIP deplaned.
At this point, the base CO waited for HRH to come down and then saluted him. Then to my horror, the prince mumbled a few angry words towards the CO. I was aghast to say the least! This was a memory that I will always carry with me. I knew that the man had a long flight... at this point, my respect for HRH changed forever. The RAF aircraft left and I went back to normal duties. OY!
From: Richard Lloyd, Dunfermline, Fife Subject: Brief Interesting Encounters
On August 12th 2005, I was one of 70,000 people stranded for many hours at Heathrow because of BA flight cancellations due to a strike by the Gate Gourmet organisation who provided in-flight catering to BA. I was in transit from Almaty in Kazakhstan to Edinburgh, and in those days was a Business Class flier and a smoker. I repaired to the smoking room of the Lounge, to find 2 other people in there, one of whom was Billy Connolly. He greeted me warmly, interrupting his flow of chat to the other occupant, an American, with a wave of his cigar and a big smile.
The American chap wanted to talk about American comedians, and this was food and drink to BC. ‘Don’t ever tell Steve Martin I told you this story’ he confided, ‘but he told me the worst on-stage experience he had ever had was in Boston. He was doing a one-man act at a theatre which was on the dockside and had a glass wall looking out over the pier. That morning a man in a wheelchair had fallen off the pier into the harbour and drowned. Steve said that he could feel he was losing the audience as they gradually started to watch the recovery of the body and the wheelchair, rather than his act!’
Sir Billy Connolly
As you might imagine, this story took 20 minutes to tell, with all of Billy’s interjected laughter, his amusement at Steve Martin’s discomfiture, and typical disregard for the feelings about death that we know and love.
BA kindly gave me 100,000 Air Miles, as recompense, which paid for flights to the USA for Sue and me to celebrate our Silver Wedding.
From: Tom Burrows, Sudbury, Suffolk Subject: Brief Encounters
In 1987, I was the Movements Officer on Ascension Island, when my boss informed me that we were expecting an American VIP in the early hours, and from a cast of thousands, I had been chosen to be the host as the CO had decided that the VIP was not that important enough to get up for as they were only stopping to get refuelled.
The VIP in question was Maureen Reagan, the US President's daughter, who was on her way back from representing her father at the marriage of the Zulu King (I think, the mind plays tricks as you get older). Pan Am did all the air traffic control so they were the ones in contact with with the aircraft not the RAF.
In due course the aircraft landed, and like any good Movements officer, I started out across the pan to meet it. Suddenly, a loud voice came from the aircraft telling me to stop where I was and who was I anyway? This was followed by two men with drawn pistols appearing from the aircraft to interrogate me!
Eventually it was decided I was harmless and the VIP passenger was safe in my hands where we then proceeded to the tiny VIP lounge for coffee and cakes. I had an interesting 20 minutes chat before they departed and I could go and have my breakfast.
From: Ian Stacey, Nashville, IN Subject: Brief Interesting Encounters
When I was leader of Delta team in the 1960’s, we were deployed to Tehran in support of a V-Bomber recovery. We went there in a Britannia together with that monstrosity called a BFLP (Britannia Freight Lift Platform) in order to change out two engines that had been damaged by a birdstrike.
We were there for about a week and were staying in the Commodore Hotel. This was when the Shah was still in power, and as a publicity goodwill exercise a British football team, Stirling Albion, were there to play a friendly match with the Tehran International team. They were also staying at the Commodore Hotel and being fellow Brits we had met up with them in the bar and struck up a friendly relationship.
As a result of this, the whole MAMS team were invited to the match – not only did we travel to the stadium in the coach with Stirling Albion but we were given seats in the VIP box for the match! Unfortunately I do not remember who won the game but credit must go to Christine Dunn (Brian Dunn’s widow) who reminded me of the name of the team.
Great days! – as usual, kudos to you Tony for the website and for keeping the memories alive – all the best to you and all our colleagues.
From: Mike Lefebvre, Burton, NB Subject: Brief Interesting Encounter; Trapped in a Jet Stream
It was 19 Oct '73, and we had been on a live para drop exercise with CDS and A7A. On our last YED (CFB Namao, Edmonton, AB) sortie to the drop zone at Bicycle Lake (a dry lake in the Mojave Desert of San Bernardino County, California), we had planned to go from YED to Bike, make a fuel stop in Winnipeg, and then return to Trenton.
After departure from Bike, ATC asked if we wanted the scenic route over Grand Canyon; the option was there. I'm not too sure of the response from our a/c captain, but I do know the results. We ended up in a very fast westerly jet-stream that carried us back and changed our simple plans. We ended up at an altitude of 33,000' and a TAS of well over 400 knots, only the navigator could tell what our ground speed was.
We had no problem bypassing Winnipeg (our half way point) but were delayed commencing our decent by Toronto Center to the point that we ended up doing a huge detour eastward only to return westward. We couldn't increase our rate of decent any more to reach our home base at CFB Trenton, home of 436 Tusker SQN, just a short distance east of Toronto.
Kind regards to present and past Loadmaster friends at 436 SQN!
Fern, Mike Lefebvre.
From: Gordon Gray, Powick, Malvern Subject: Brief Encounters - RAF Gan
There have been many encounters and some hair raising moments, but the one encounter that had stuck in my mind for a time was as a 21-year old J/T on Gan Movements in 1965 prior to UKMAMS postings, you might like it for this month’s topic.
One evening, going on night shift at dusk, my boss Flt Lt Filby, our SMovO, reminded all four of our shift of the VIP Comet staging en-route with the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Elworthy, but arriving within the hour, earlier than expected.
We, on shift that evening, were obviously expecting the movement; but when the boss told me at that moment of a change of plan that I had to drive the CO’s Zephyr Zodiac and take the CAS and Stn Cdr, Wg Cdr Moss, from the Comet to the Officers' Mess, I must have momentarily lost my sun tan. Having obtained a F1629 [RAF Driving Licence] only a couple of months earlier for use of the Section Land Rover and passed the UK driving test only months prior to my Gan posting in November 1964, with no car driving experience since, this was a baptism of fire!
Well, dressed in issue KD, now unusually with shirt tucked in to shortened shorts, socks pulled up and sandals, (no hats on the pan), seeing, but smartly at attention, nodding to the CAS in his tropical civilian suit did settle my nerves somewhat. Then changing staff car pennants and coping with a car which I had never been near, let alone sit in and drive, on reflection that was something of an early milestone.
A Corgi model of an RAF Zephyr Zodiac Staff Car
Anyway, no Trims for me to do for that A/C nor for the rest of a quiet night shift, just my turn for duty Movements clerk checking Transops and collecting signals.
From: David Bernard, Bicester, Oxon Subject: Brief Interesting Encounters
In 1972 I had the onerous and vital task of scrutinising vouchers in SCAF, at Lyneham, when I was asked, by Wg Cdr Basil D’Oliveira, OC 216 Sqn (operating DH Comet 4Cs), if I would like to join the Sqn as admin/imprest officer on several future tasks. To my amazement, my boss, Jack Hargreaves (later DMov), agreed since we had a number of supernumerary officers (one being Peter Birch) on the books to carry out the vital task of scrutinising vouchers during my absence. The longest trip was a 6-week long “proving flight” in advance of conveying HM The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Anne during their visits to the Far East. One of the many stops made was at Kota Kinabalu (KK), Borneo, the state capital of Sabah, Malaysia. I was asked to go to ops to collect the met and send a TRANSOP signal to Upavon to tell them where we were. To my amazement there, as part of a QANTAS crew, was my old, initial training, OCTU Sqn Cdr. He was running a QANTAS simulator back in Oz and was allowed to have one “live” trip each year – and his flight had been diverted to KK due to bad weather. A coincidence? Of course!
A Comet 4C of 216 Squadron RAF
During the same proving flight, aka “Jolly”, I was sitting outside the street-front bar of the New Stanley Hotel in Nairobi, enjoying an ice-cold Tusker when a voice called out “Hey Dave, what are you doing here?”. It was Pat Carter, an old flatmate from our time stationed in Malta in the 60s, and was in Kenya with a 13 Sqn detachment photographing the whole country from the air as part of a UK/Kenya agreement. Another coincidence? Yes of course.
Several years later, while serving as Mov Ops at BZZ, me and a Loadmaster, Ralph “Geordie” Dexter from 511Sqn, were co-opted to the Simplification Of Documentation (SOD) committee at the ATF Mecca - Upavon. We had, among other tasks, combined the exercise and operation manifests into one format as well as producing revised, simplified and common, A4 format (no herringbones), trim sheets for all the ATF aircraft; C130, VC10, Belfast, Comet, Britannia and Pembroke. Our reward was to travel the world at HM’s expense to train all the movers on using the new trim sheets. Ralph and I became good friends. In 1993 I was stationed in Cyprus, Episkopi and had decided to venture North to the Turkish occupied territory, specifically, Kyrenia, (Girne). During or walk around town I had a double take when there was Geordie walking towards me. He had retired from the Service and was living locally in a small village. Coincidence? Absolutely!
Fast forward to 1996 and I am now part of the Defence Clothing & Textiles Agency and invited with the rest of the high-priced help to Glasgow by our Contracts Division - prior to their move to Bicester where the rest of us were located. The contracts boss had arranged for us to visit the southernmost whisky distillery, Auchentoshan, just north of the city. Before embarking on a ‘golden throat charmer’ tasting-frenzy a voice called out, “Hey sir what are you doing here?”. It was the (Canadian) Army Vet who had looked after our cat while serving in Cyprus (and who’s name I cannot remember). He was working as a veterinary lecturer at Glasgow University and was showing relatives around the distillery. Another coincidence? Yes, of course it was!
From: Clive Price, Brecon Subject: Unusual Meetings While on the Job
Foxtrot team were on exercise in Denmark, and one day the CINC NATO Northern Flank, Air Marshal Sir George Augustas Walker, who was having a walk-around, passed by us. He picked on me to ask what we Air Force chaps were doing.
Having a hangover, I wasn't in the mood for chit-chat and replied, "We are all humping and dumping in the same way that they built the pyramids thousands of years ago. So much for progress, Sir!" He moved on pretty quickly after that.
I sometimes wonder if that was one of the reasons why it took 11 years for me to make corporal!
UKMAMS (animals), Abingdon
AM Sir George Augustas Walker
From: Len Bowen, Chisholm, ACT Subject: Brief Interesting Encounters – or – Brush with Fame x 2
This saga starts in April 1957. Harry (later Sir Harry) Secombe visiting Aden and the RAF Route Stations to Bahrain* and back, leading a Combined Services Entertainment (CSE) Group. My late father, Flt Lt Bill ‘Taffy’ Bowen, an Air Traffic Control Officer at RAF Khormaksar, being (a) Welsh and (b) having a great singing voice, was selected to be the Conducting Officer for the CSE troupe. (Photo 1. Harry boarding an RAF Pembroke at Khormaksar, en-route up country to Dhala).
Over a period of five days with the CSE Group, Dad was their tour guide, road manager, mentor – and medical adviser when any of Harry’s team, which included Eric Sykes, became dehydrated – or had any other stomach ailment. This earned Dad the nickname of ‘Dr Allsops’, then the bottled beer of choice throughout the British forces on the Arabian Peninsula.
At the end of the tour, Dad invited the whole party back to our house overlooking Crater for ‘morning coffee,’ which I served. Back then I was a wide-eyed thirteen-year-old and a confirmed Goon Show fan on the local Forces Broadcasting Service.
The coffee drinking lasted about 15 minutes, when, true to his form throughout the tour - and in keeping with Harry’s Goon Show character Neddy Seegoon, he turned to Dad: “Come on Taffy; where’s the old brandy then?” …..and that set the pattern for the remainder of the morning.
I did manage to get a unique autograph from ‘Mr Secombe’ at some stage in the morning, before the Allsops & the brandy kicked in (Photo 2) with him and the rest of the group.
Fast forward to February 1967. My FEAF MAMS Team at Leong Nok Tha, a SEATO airstrip built by the Royal Engineers in far North East Thailand, less than 50 km from the Mekong River – and hence North Vietnam. Joint Communications Exercise ‘FINO’, saw the Tactical Signal Sqn (I think that was the correct nomenclature) deployed from RAF Seletar to Leong Nok Tha for a month, mostly by 34 Sqn Beverleys. My team, as usual for MAMS, was ‘first in & last out’ to man the airhead.
Halfway through the deployment, we were told that to brighten up our boredom we would be visited by a CSE Group – led by Harry Secombe! He and the rest of the troupe duly arrived by Beverley, and as the MOVO on site I had to man the ladder to help deplane the passengers. This duty was highlighted not just by greeting Harry again (more of which later) but by assisting Miss Anita Harris, then a very new young UK pop singer, down the ladder too.
Without wishing to stray into non-PC territory, and remembering that this was - in UK at least – the Swinging Sixties, Miss Harris was dressed in true Carnaby Street fashion, a micro mini skirt. Truly an eye-opener for a young MOVO at the bottom of a steep enplanement ladder, then well into his second year away from Mother England, and suffering from severe ‘lakanooky’.
Feb '67 - Anita Harris and Harry Secombe at Heathrow
Having recovered my equilibrium, we all repaired to the Officer’s Mess, which, having been built by the Royal Engineers was rather a grand affair, a half tin and half canvas shanty – but it did have a bar. I therefor knew exactly where to find Harry and his side-kicks, and re-introduced myself through the press of senior Army & RAF officers. To my delight he did remember my father – Dr Allsops’ – and also his visit to our house…and immediately directed that I should “get the old brandy in” to celebrate the occasion.
Needless to say, the CSE show with Harry singing his heart out … between Goon Show impressions … and Anita Harris’s legs …I think she sang a bit, too… was a memorable evening. Then back to the All Ranks Mess Hall for Harry & company to meet his entire audience, including the rest of my MAMS boys. “More brandy then, young Taffy” to me (I’d collected Dad’s nickname from Harry somewhere along the way), and that set the tone for the rest of the evening.
It was a rather subdued MAMS Team, amongst others, that gathered to farewell the CSE troupe the following morning, but I made sure that like a good MOVO I was at the bottom of the enplanement ladder to help all aboard, including Miss Harris. The morning closed with the Bev doing a farewell beat-up (Photo 4). Impressive from the ground, but I’m not sure how Harry and his group up in the boom would have felt about that!
Brief encounter(s) or brushes with fame? I’ll let you decide. One thing I can tell you; Sir Harry Secombe was everything that his radio, stage and screen persona would have had you believe… and much, much more besides. Vale Sir Neddy Seegoon.
(*RAF Muharraq was still called Bahrain in the mid-1950s.)
Who remembers Operation Sheepskin? A time when we were forced to endure accommodation in places like Bermuda, Gander, Antigua and Anguilla. Bermuda had limited digs and the Princess Hotel had to do.
A friend arrived late and the only accommodation available was the Bridal suite in the Castle Harbour Hotel, It had a garden and a swimming pool, and a big revolving bed, an ideal spot for a party. We invited Pan Am and British Airways cabin staff, bought a lot of booze.
When the ladies arrived, we noted that no expenses were spared on dresses, makeup and hair do’s. The first lady to arrive asked for a beer; she was informed that all the beer was in the pool, she promptly dived in followed by everyone else.
A lot of fun was had and the party went on for quite some time!
(The Castle Harbour Hotel opened in 1931 and was situated in Tucker's Town. It closed in 1999 and was demolished in 2002. A new property, the Rosewood Tucker's Point, was built in its place and opened at the beginning of 2009.)
[NB: It is a tradition in The Royal Canadian Legion for members to refer to each other as "Comrade" and in no way is affiliated with communism.]
On July 13th, 2021 Comrade Brian Morris welcomed to the Royal Canadian Legion Devon Branch No. 247 Comrade Glen Falardeau and guests to the unveiling of a legacy project consisting of military memorabilia donated by retired Canadian Forces Airborne Veteran Glen Falardeau to the Devon Legion.
Comrade Brian Morris explained the background that has brought us to this day, and as Glen attested, this goes back a long time. On February 17th, 2003 Glen retired from the Canadian Armed Forces after serving since September of 1979. Just a week after his retirement the Devon Legion received a letter from him offering up his military uniform as a display piece for the Branch.
Things changed for Glen in a serious way after a motor vehicle accident in 2007 which left him paralyzed and wheelchair-bound
The historic display was finally unveiled in "honour" of veteran Glen Falardeau and “dedicated to all those who have served” on July 13th, 2021 in front of 25 invited guests of Comrade Glen Falardeau. With Comrade Brian Morris acting as the ceremony emcee, the Branch President Comrade Stanley Abma and the Branch 1st Vice President Gerald Skocdopole came forward to unveil this historical one-of-a-kind museum quality display in the presence of veteran Glen Falardeau and his invited guests.
How we were in the time before "Back in the Day"
The Passing Out Parade of the 39th Entry Boy Entrants at RAF Hereford on 28th July 1961. This is a stark reminder of just how we, as 16 and 17 year old teenagers, were so very fortunate to have had the life improving opportunities afforded by this training. (NB - 8mm - no audio)
From: David Bernard, Bicester, Oxon Subject: For movers who have served in the Far East
I’ve just finished watching this video, which may be of interest to those who have served in the Far East?
(This was originally shown in the OBA Briefs in August 2013 OBB #083013 )
Jungle Life-Line (1961)
The winners of last month's contest are as follows:
Marc Lapierre, Westlock, AB
Jacques Leclerc, St-Alexandre de Kamouraska, QC
Don Hatton, Liscomb, NS
Tony Street, Buffalo, NY
Your RCAF ensigns are winging their way to you - Congratulations!