Flimsy strap secured $50m jet engine which fell from a truck
A $20 strap was used to secure a multi-million dollar RAAF jet engine that literally fell off the back of a flatbed truck on a major Sydney road on Tuesday September 6th. 

The massive seven tonne engine fell onto the road when the driver braked suddenly and the strap holding it in place snapped on Forest Road in Arncliffe at about 9.30am.  It is believed the strap was only designed to carry cargo up to 900kg.

The  General Electric CF6 is worth $40-50 million new, and is used by the Air Force’s KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft, a military derivative of the Airbus A330-200.

The Department of Defence told The Daily Telegraph it had launched multiple investigations into the crash and the method of transport used to carry the CF6 engine.

The driver of the truck was charged with a number of offences for the overweight load and is due to appear in court in November.


Flimsy strap secured $50m jet engine which fell from a truck

From: John Leek, La Ronde
Subject: First Flight

Like Fred Martin, I did my square bashing at Bridgenorth, the basic Air Movements course at Kidbrooke, embarkation leave, then off to Khormaksar in Jan 1962 by British United Airways Britannia. Unlike Fred, my flight was 12 hours direct. Not having flown long haul, I didn't have a book or anything to pass the time and there was no in-flight entertainment back then!

However, my first flight was with the USAF. My stepfather was the RAF Liaison Officer at RAF Wethersfield [a USAF base] in Essex in 1954-55.  He wrangled me an "air experience flight" in a C47 when it flew to Mildenhall and back. Most of it was pretty boring but I landed with all my pockets stuffed with packets of chewing gum!


From: Phil Smith, Exmouth, Devon
Subject: Masirah - was it really 40 years ago?


I thought this might be of interest to the members as I`m sure quite a few were posted to Masirah in their time.
Movements guys were more fortunate than most as we did manage to get off the island now and again. The Pakistani workers had to be rotated requiring a flight to Karachi and there was also the Seeb shuttle each Wednesday giving us the opportunity to break the monotony and receive a few bob for being away from base for more than five hours.

I even managed a couple of flights to Cyprus to visit the medical facility there as a follow up to my vasectomy operation undertaken in the UK previously. Samples had to be given causing me to be the target of numerous jokes for weeks.

It can safely be said that RAF Masirah had one common effect on service blokes posted out there. It made everyone incredibly grumpy, most of all the Station Warrant Officer, Larry Higgins, who had to be avoided at all costs. I do recall he was  a Manchester United fan as he had a United rosette on his office wall. If United had lost, and that happened quite a lot during the 70s, woe betide any poor ERK who he came across. 
A CSE show came to entertain the troops during January 1977. The big guy pictured with me outside the Boat Club is Jimmy Marshall, one of the stars of the hit TV show, 'The Comedians.' He died in 1996 from a heart attack but very kindly bequeathed me his beer belly which I carry around with me to this very day.

All in all I can honestly say I hated RAF Masirah and wish I had never set foot in the place.  The main reason I hated the place was separation from my wife and two small children. At my own Age of 27 my character had been built in places like Aden in 1967.

Also, I had been on mobile from 1973 and didn`t want to "dip out" regarding all the exciting aspects and locations of mobile, i.e., Las Vegas, Hawaii, the Paris Air Show and the extra money.  Being an SAC with two kids the extra dosh came in very handy thank you very much.
The boredom got to me in Masirah. Workwise there was nothing new, no Education Section just the NAAFI Bar containing the same grumpy blokes spouting the same chat day in and day out. We all drank far too much as there was nothing else to do.

I remember we would finish work at about 13:00 have lunch and then pile into the NAAFI and purchase a massive lager “ carry out “ to tide us over to when the bar opened again at 19:00. We just sat in the sun and got pissed virtually every day.

It was a waste of six months of my life; fishing and sport kept me sane I believe.

One final thought. I knew both Babs Sugg (and her WO husband Taff ) and Battling Banzai Bob Henstock from my '81 to '84 Wildenrath tour. Bob was at FDC the same time as me and Babs was in Decimomannu, Sardinia.

In fact I will claim the credit of christening Bob with his nickname. He was a bit of a nutter when exercises came round and he could get his hands on a rifle. He should have been a Rock Ape. I recall his wife was a trained  Renal Nurse and they both lived just around the corner from me at Erkelenz in Germany. I am convinced Bob was younger than me.

Both gone, but not forgotten.

Phil Smith

I came across the turtle shell while "hacking the point". This involved walking over the desert in the general direction of the sea which, seeing as Masirah was an island, was not too difficult to find. The required dress was flip flops and underpants with the underpants pulled down at the back to reveal ones buttocks to obtain even more of a suntan.

The turtle shell was manhandled back to base to be "cured" and decorated by a Pakistani bloke who happened to be employed by Civil Labour and had the misfortune to be posted to RAF Masirah along with the rest of us.

I was lucky to only be there for six months as the base closed down 31 Mar 77. It was usually a nine months tour of duty.

UK MoD looks to transfer Army Defender and Islander aircraft to RAF
In a 13 September statement to IHS Jane's, an MoD spokesman confirmed the measures are being looked at, saying, "A study is looking into aspects of Fixed Wing Manned Aerial Surveillance (FWMAS), the outcome of this study will be considered and announced in due course".

A senior MoD source commented that the proposals are gaining traction, although many details - such as basing, unit structure, and whether existing army air and ground crews will transfer to the RAF - are still to be worked out. "Discussions are ongoing," said the source. "For efficiency, it is likely that the operation of FWMAS capability will be rationalised."

Due to the sensitivity of the missions flown by the Islanders and Defenders, many aspects of their operations are shrouded in high levels of secrecy. In its 2016 UK Armed Forces Equipment and Formations report published on 6 September, the ministry said it owned nine Defenders, three Islander AL1s, and three Islanders CC2s, with eight, three and one aircraft respectively in daily use.


Plans to transfer the British Army's fleet of Britten-Norman Islander and Defender aircraft to the Royal Air Force by 2018 are being developed by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The proposal is part of a series of economy measures required to free up £11 billion (US$14.6 billion) to be re-invested in new capabilities, as mandated by the November 2015 Strategic Defence & Security Review (SDSR).

The Army Air Corps' (AAC's) fleet of Islander AL1 and Defender AL2 aircraft are used to provide surveillance support to special forces operations overseas and counter-terrorist operations within the United Kingdom.

The Islander has served in the AAC since 1989, while the Defenders were purchased from 2004 onwards with Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) funding for the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns. Both aircraft have been fitted with a variety of sensors, including some with a WESCAM MX-15 electro-optical camera and downlink package, to fulfil their manned aerial surveillance role.
MoD to transfer Army Defender and Islander aircraft to RAF

From: Thomas Geoghegan, Folkestone, Kent 
Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #082616

Hello again Tony,

Amazing 082616 edition, very interesting especially the Aden movie.

Both Ian Berry and Richard Lloyd mentioned the number of different types of aircraft they had flown in . I recall when stationed at RAF Muharraq circa 1967 we had a Corporal Charlie Melville (initials CDM), a really nice chap. I know his hobby was flying in lots of military aircraft and there had been quite a few when we knew him, I wonder if he is contactable about same?
Getting to old mate Murdo Macleod's article about his first flight in the  Beverley aircraft from Wildenrath and the various incidents. Amazingly on the Air Movers course it seems that on all courses the Abingdon / Wildenrath  "Jolly boys outing" was routine and I know of similar stories to the one related by Murdo.

On our trip we had an engine fire almost immediately on take off. We were situated up in the boom and knew nothing about the fire until a Master Air Quartermaster (much better title than Load Master) came rushing up to alert us and told us to take the crash position. It was a safe landing (the skipper was Wing Commander Jeff Chandler).  We then offloaded the sick bird and reloaded another Beverley and carried on to Wildenrath. We headed down to the local hostelry to sample some German fare and a good time was had by all.

I did like that old aircraft which was unique to our air force and apart from getting an acid burn from overheated aircraft batteries above the "band stand" I had no other spectacular incidents.  I remember the squadron departing Muharraq for the final time bound for the UK and another episode concluded in the story of our great Royal Air Force.
Best regards  


From: David Stevens, Bangor
Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #082616

Hi Tony,

Firstly, thanks again for another fantastic edition  of the OBA newsletter - August edition.  The content is always so very interesting; as they say north of the border (Scotland not the Arctic) - lang mae yur lum reek (stay well) or words to that effect!

Now to the point; when I read Steve Tomlinson's article viz First Flight, and he mentioned at the end of his article his trip in a Lightning T5 it triggered a thought. I have decided to throw out a challenge.

1,000 mph Club: I am wondering how many of our members are also an 'official' member of the 1,000 Mile an Hour Club? I did the trip in a T4 Lightning of 19 Sqn. at RAF Guterslon in 1967; Flt Lt John Rigby was my pilot.

Parachute Water Jump Club: How many of our members are also members of the Water Parachute decent into Bridlington Bay Club?  This was in 1978 when I was OC Supply and Engineering at RAF Catterick. To jump voluntarily off a perfectly serviceable C130 seemed a bit insane at the time, but I took comfort from the fact that I had a vicar immediately to my front and a doctor immediately behind me on the static line and so I had all bases covered.

I duly punched the release buckle on the harness just before entering the water. However, as I plunged further and further into the murky depths of the sea with a huge soggy parachute canopy immediately above me I began to wonder who I might need first - the doctor or the vicar?  Maybe both?

If nothing else this might generate some discussion.

Best wishes, 


Indonesia acquires nine Australian used C-130H aircraft and full mission simulator
The Indonesian Air Force has recently taken delivery and accepted for training a CAE-built C-130H full-mission simulator that was previously in-service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The Indonesian Air Force has acquired nine ex-RAAF C-130H aircraft along with the CAE-built simulator as part of a government-to-government agreement established several years ago. Airbus Group Australia Pacific, the prime contractor responsible for delivery of five of the C-130H aircraft along with spares and simulator, subcontracted CAE Australia to relocate the C-130H simulator and to provide the training facility to house it, CAE said in a statement recently.

The CAE-built C-130H full-mission simulator is now installed and ready-for-training in the new facility, which is an extension of the Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angatan Udara (TNI-AU) C-130 training facility located at Halim Airbase near Jakarta.
"We are pleased to support the Government of Australia and Airbus in completing the transfer of the C-130H simulator to the Indonesian Air Force," said Peter Redman, Vice President and General Manager, CAE Asia/Pacific, Defence & Security.


Indonesia acquires nine Australian used
C-130H aircraft and full mission simulator

From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury
Subject: End of Empire

Hi Tony,

The video on last months Brief about our exit from my "most favorite" part of the world and which I have seen before is quite coincidental as for the last few months I have been reading the book "End of Empire" by Brian Lapping  which covers a host of countries we vacated in the 50's and 60's.  The first chapter on Aden opens describing that it was a punishment station!

However, the main part of interest to me is India in 1947 when Pakistan was created. The dividing border between the countries cut the state of Punjab in half which was the main part of India where the Sikhs lived so they had to vacate Pakistan and flee to India; but whilst doing this they slaughtered thousands of Muslims fleeing from India. Trains arriving at Lahore went straight into sidings; there would be hundreds of men women and children on them and all of them were dead as the trains had been intercepted and boarded by the Sikhs who slaughtered them.

Whilst I was stationed at Mauripur (now known as Masoor Airbase located 4 miles from Karachi city centre) a couple of us took a leave up country to Murree in the North West Frontier where we stayed with a retired major and his wife. The first few days the major showed us around the village where we saw burnt-out houses which he told us had belonged to Sikhs and after they fled the local Muslims destroyed them.

With hindsight I think it was the worst thing we did in creating Pakistan. It's estimated that over a million people lost their lives during this period

I've attached a copy of my trip to Murree in rich text format for anyone interested to enjoy.



RCAF CC-177 Globemaster III landing and taking off at CFS Alert
Canadian Air Force delivers cargo to CFS Alert in Nunavut Territory -- perhaps the farthest north any airplane can land. It appears the C-17 unloaded only one pallet of cargo.

From: Kevin Wright, Kilkee, Co Clare
Subject: Blackburn Beverley

I am hoping you might be able to help me with trying to find any of your Association members who were connected with the Blackburn Beverley in any way.
By way of introduction let me explain; in my spare-time I do some work as a freelance aviation writer/photographer. I am looking for information, contacts and/or images, for an article I have been asked to write on the history and operation of the Blackburn Beverley - for Key Publishing's magazine 'Aviation News'-  over the next few weeks.

I would very much like to talk with any of the men who flew or worked on the Beverly in any capacity, though appreciate very much that the passage of time may make this difficult. 

I am seeking to talk with them for a short while (will happily call at a time suitable to them, or we can exchange email's if they prefer) which I would then write up as part of the article - and they can check for accuracy.
Additionally any pictures, or information I could locate would be of great use too. Below is a private, password accessed, website address so you can see some brief details of my previous work, if that is helpful. Please let me know if you need any further information from me and please  feel free to forward this email to anyone you think may be prepared to help.

I hope very much to hear from you.

Kind Regards

Kevin Wright PhD, Rahaniska, Querrin, Kilkee, Co Clare, Ireland
Tel: 00353 65 9060929   (M) 00353 89 4316560
Email: KPWright@gmx.com
Web:    http://kpwright.wix.com/kevins-aero-images    
Enter password (no spaces): aircraftimages

From: Tony Gale, Gatineau, QC
To: Kevin Wright
Subject: Re: Blackburn Beverley

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for your enquiry.  I worked on the Beverley in the 1960’s, moreso in the Middle East than anywhere else.  I can recall loading her quite often whilst she was being refuelled (we normally had a one-hour turn around). The outside air temperature at mid-day was about 140ºF and the avgas would be dripping on our heads from the cross feed fuel lines running across the top of the cabin.

It was said that her engines never leaked oil; she was simply marking her territory.

I publish a monthly newsletter and the latest edition, which by coincidence does contain a story about the Beverley, can be found here:

I’ll be happy to publish your enquiry in September’s edition which is due out on Friday 30th September, and will let you have the link at that time.  Hopefully we’ll get some great leads for you.

(If you put Beverley into the OBA Site Search at the bottom of the home page you'll get oodles of information and stories: http://ukmamsoba.org)

Best regards

Tony Gale

From: David Anderson, Cambridge
Subject: Where are they now?

Hi Tony,

I think I mentioned a year or so ago that I was doing a "bird watching" trip to Oman.  This included 3 nights at Salalah which is now a huge thriving city, as is Reysut where our ships used to dock with aviation fuel, NAAFI supplies etc.

Unbelievable to think our time there was 50 years ago.  My recent visit was bit of an anticlimax, I couldnt even guess where the old base was.  It is all modern hotels and fast moving duel carriageways now.

Anyway,  "Where are they Now" I would like to make contact with George Stout and Dave Stanbury both of whom I was with in Decimomannu 1970-1972.  I would like to remind Dave of the incident when his car was wrecked by a slave pallet which was blown by reverse thrust of C130 which we were waiting to offload. I think Dave got the biggest bolicking of his life from the load master. One for parking his car where he did and the other for leaving pallet so close to the "pan".

Cheers for now

Dave A

From: Duncan Grant, Trentham Staffs
Subject: Where are they now?


Where are they now?

Ron McLeod

Last contacted during Gulf War 1 when he was working in the freight charter business out of Stansted.



Big bird set to touch down in court
The Cairns Post revealed in July the plane, nicknamed “Hector” by airport workers, has been the subject of an ongoing dispute between the airport, Flying Tiger and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and has been parked at the airport about four years.

It is “unregistered, uncertified and unairworthy”, according to CASA spokesman Peter Gibson, who said a notice had been issued to prevent it from flying until it passes testing.

The huge aircraft is regarded as the last of its kind in the world and aviation experts have said it would be nearly impossible to source spare parts or sell in its current state.

But the airport wants Hector gone and a letter penned by their solicitor to Flying Tiger warns they may be also seeking further compensation.  “Please note that in addition to the amount claimed in the demand, my client has suffered damages on account of the aircraft being left on its apron,” the letter said. “ ... my client intends to recover these from you.”

Attempts to contact Flying Tiger Cargo were unsuccessful. The application is due to be heard in the Cairns Supreme Court on October 21.


(I flew around the world in this very same aircraft March/April 1973.  - originally RAF Transport Command XR365, "Hector", sold as G-HLFT then as 9L-LDQ operating with HeavyLift Cargo Airlines, now RP-C8020 and finally Flying Tiger. There is an example,  - XR371, "Enceladus", preserved as an exhibit at RAF Museum Cosford in the UK in RAF Air Support Command colours - TG)

A dispute over an historic plane left parked at the Cairns Airport for several years is set to land in court.  The airport has lodged documents in the Cairns Supreme Court calling for the Sydney-based company, which owns the white Short Belfast cargo plane, to be wound up and for it to pay more than $100,000 in outstanding rental fees.

The application filed last week shows the airport’s solicitor wrote to the owner, Flying Tiger Oversize Cargo, in early August and issued a statutory demand warning they had 21 days to pay the debt.  “A failure to respond to a statutory demand can have very serious consequences for a company,” the letter said. “It may result in the company being placed in liquidation and control of the company passing to the liquidator ...”
Big bird set to touch down in court

From: Andrew Kay, Colorado Springs, CO
Subject: The Duty Free Run

Hi Tony,
When I was on the 3 month Aldergrove detachment from Brize Norton, we were always grateful to be on the receiving end of those rotation flights from Germany. We'd send an envelope of cash out to the Movements Section at the other end and they would kindly pick up a crate or two of beer (usually Warsteiner as I recall) and send it back to us on the return flight.

As you correctly point out, no HM Customs met those flights so the crates would get stowed away and as soon as the last flight went wheels up on Friday nights we'd crack them open in the Load Control office in the Movements hangar (which was always nicer than the Friday night NAAFI disco bops there).

All the best,

Andy Kay

From: David Moss, Sorbie, Dumfries and Galloway
Subject: "The Duty Free Run"

Hi Tony,

Shortly after I joined the squadron at Abingdon in 1972, my first daughter was born.  As you know there was quite a lengthy training period before we were allowed into the real world of UKMAMS where we used to travel the world and enjoy ourselves sometimes.

I was tasked on a missile exchange from Marham on one of those days where we would do two trips to Germany and back and then home in time for an early tea. Having done a couple of these previously, I had discovered that nice stand in for champers "Deutscher Sekt" which we were allowed to bring two bottles back each.

Having spoken to the team before we left, it was agreed that we would all bring back the permitted two bottles which I would pay for and that got me twelve. I spoke to the customs guy at Marham and asked how much duty I would have to pay on any extra bottles I brought back, explaining that it would be a nice drink for the people at our daughter's christening party. He said it would cost me thirty two pence per bottle which was the same as the price we paid per bottle in Germany.
He said he had an idea that might help, but would like to speak to the team about it. He said that having spoken to me, he realised why everybody had the same D.F's and if it was OK with them it was OK with him for us to do the same thing on the second run, as "after all we would be coming back from a different place next time wouldn't we?"

As all were in agreement, off we went to swap three more Bloodhounds at another site, and duly arrived back with another dozen bottles.

That was some christening party I can tell you. With two dozen bottles of a very nice sparkling wine that cost the princely sum of  £7.68 (plus a few glasses of a very nice single malt).  All thanks to a very kind HM Customs gentleman who hopefully should be long retired, as it was over forty years ago (that makes me feel even older!).

Ah, those were the days eh?

Cheers for now,

David Moss
ex Lima & Quebec teams

The Union Jack Club, London
The Union Jack Club is a Service Charity located in central London, next to Waterloo Station, providing all the facilities of a modern hotel to serving and former members of the Armed Forces and their families.

This 3 minute video informs you about the facilities the Union Jack Club.

The Union Jack Club, London

From: Arthur Rowland, St Ives, Cambs
Subject: The Duty Free Run

Hi Tony,

Duty free runs, those were the days when I was on MAMS... many times we came back to Abingdon with the Beverley stacked with fruit garnered from peach orchards and citrus groves in the Med, and always one for the local Customs man.

But your mention of Aldergrove reminds me of an incident when we were waiting to do the offload of a group of aircraft bringing back a battalion of Irish Rangers. The local HMC man (there was one that day) came to me and said,"Pick me any 3 cases from the cargo manifest". I thought the RSM's case should be safe, with 2 others at random. What a mistake to make!  When we opened all 3 they were stacked with cigarettes, spirits and other contraband. HMC were more than pleased, The Army less so, as the Customs men took the aircraft apart. Such is life.

Your work in producing this newsletter is very much appreciated. My, how Air Movements and MAMS has changed since those days!

Best wishes,


From: Ronald Medredith, Spalding, Lincs
Subject: The Duty Free Run

Maybe not quite in the same league as others, absolutely true, but an eye opener for me.  On 26th April, 1964, I returned from RAF Idris in Libya to the UK to get married; my wife to be would travel civil air to LHR the following day.

I returned courtesy of 242 OCU (Handley Page Hastings) and two crews and aircraft came out for my farewell party on the 25th. I would return with Jacko Jackson's crew to have a few more celebrations at Thorney Island, while my car, heavily laden with all my kit, would be flown back to Thorney overnight 26/27th.

The weather clamped in at Thorney overnight and the aircraft with my car and contents was diverted to Lyneham. As I had to be at LHR to meet and greet at about 1430, another Hastings was laid on to transport me to Lyneham, where I found that my car had been given a thorough going over by HM Customs & Excise.  Explaining my need to get to London asap, I asked when I might be able to depart.

I was shown into an office and a senior Customs chap advised me that they had found what looked like a new radio under the front passenger seat which was not on my contents list. I explained that it was a last minute purchase because I had dropped my old set when packing. OK says he, it was in the car, so I think that it would be in order to call it a car radio and forget about it. However, more seriously, we discovered a large caraffe of Cypriot sherry in the back. The quantity is over and above the pipe tobacco and bottle of Glen Morangie which you have declared, what do you have to say about that?

I apologised profusely about it not being declared, but explained that it had been given to me as a wedding present by the combined generosity of assorted friends and colleagues when I was at Movements handing over the car for later loading. I was in a rush to catch my departing flight and completely failed to even think about adding it to my Declaration.

Well, said he, in view of the circumstances and your urgency to get on the road I think that you can just add HM Customs & Excise to your donors of the gift. Now scram before I change my mind.

Methinks that the Swindon town football club must have been doing well of late!

Ron Meredith

From: David Stevens, Bangor
Subject: Mystery Photos?

Hi Tony.

Perhaps some of our readers can identify where these photos were taken?


From: Mark Attrill, Tallinn
Subject: The Duty Free Run & Burning Pianos

Hi Tony,

The Duty Free Run - Not so much about smuggling but an amusing incident all the same. If I recall correctly, I was not with my regular team (India) but with a composite team and we were tasked with completing a series of quick runs across  Germany (between Gutersloh and Laarbruch) over the course of three days. I know Paddy Power (who was on my team) was there together with the incorrigible Al Skarisbrick. We had a particularly bad ALM who had given us a hard time for a couple of days, which had culminated in a huge amount of aggravation about relative Duty Free allowances and the fact that we were each entitled to full rates when they (the crew) had to do with one allowance divided amongst the whole crew. In fact, the same ALM had coerced a junior member of another team to give up his allowance to the crew in questionable circumstances a day earlier so we were not in a conciliatory mood.

In my own team, we had, over the months, agreed to swop our own allowances around. I was a non-smoking wine drinker at the time so I happily swopped my 'Bottle and 200' for an extra 6 bottles of wine with other members of the team on a regular basis and Paddy had a good relationship with the HM Customs authorities at Lyneham who had grown used to our system and happily accepted team members going through the barriers on our return to base with each others allowance.

On this occasion, Al was the lucky recipient of the three bottles of spirit, openly displayed as we boarded the crew bus from the aircraft to the Air Terminal. The ALM continued to give him (and us) a hard time about DF allowances before scoffing at the fact that Al was likely to incur a heavy penalty for exceeding the limit, having failed to observe that we had all swopped about and that Paddy and I had secreted our respective allowances of wine and cigarettes in our baggage. We nonchalantly marched through HM Customs with a nod and a wink at which point the ALM tried to bring the alleged infringement to the attention of the Customs official. Quick off the mark and with a straight face, Al 'explained' that due to our 'special status' (a phrase the ALM had used frequently during his tirade on the trip) our DF entitlement was to a 'bottle and 200' for EACH day we were out of the country and that, in fact, on some of the Far East Rangers, it was not unheard of for teams to have to call up a forklift truck to haul away the teams consolidated haul of Duty Free allowances on their return to Lyneham or Brize.

Clearly briefed 'in' on the spoof, the HM Customs Officer merely shrugged his shoulders and walked away, which provided further authenticity. As you can imagine the ALM's face was a picture and I understand the subject of 'enhanced Duty Free Allowances' for UKMAMS personnel featured in a subsequent Station Executives Meeting. 
Piano Burning - In the mid-1980s, I was OC Mobility Flight at RAF Coltishall. Without doubt, one of the best jobs I have had in my 30+ year RAF career on one of the best Stations I have served on too.

Number 54(F) Sqn, one of the three squadrons that made up the Coltishall Jaguar Wing at the time, maintained the piano burning tradition to the full although in their case it was a rather more regular occurrence and (thankfully) not solely reserved for those occasions when they lost a member of the Squadron.

Such was the demand for pianos that the squadron had a weekly advertisement in the 'Wanted Section' of the Norwich Evening Chronicle for old pianos and the squadron OC was briefed during Handover/Takeover that he would be the only Wing Commander on the Officers Patch (I kid you not) that would frequently need to make alternative arrangements for the parking/security of his car because his garage was quite often full of old pianos.

For those that are unfamiliar with RAF Coltishall, the Officers Patch ran along the back of the Officers Mess, both of which were just outside the main perimeter fence. At the foot of the steps to the front entrance of the Mess was a permanently scarred and blackened patch of asphalt which was the 'burial' site of the vast majority of pianos, which had been un-ceremoniously dragged from the Wing Commander's garage to the Mess. One dark and gloomy night in 1984, at the culmination of a Dining In night the call went out for a suitable victim for the ritual piano burning. OC 54(F) was away and the Junior Pilot had failed to secure a key to the 'lock-up'. No matter, the Officers Mess has three pianos of its own... "We'll use one of those". Two were ready for the scrap heap anyway but the third was in quite a different category, very well maintained, recently tuned and had been gifted by our Station Commander to the newly arrived Station Commander of RAF Neatishead, with whom we shared the Mess. You got it, choice of three, the boys from '54' picked the one worth five grand!



From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury
Subject: The Duty Free Run

Hi Tony,

Most of us at Mauripur had cameras but they were quite expensive in Pakistan so as we were under Aden Command and had a weekly flight between there and Mauripur I took a weeks leave to go down there as Aden was a duty free port to buy a camera that I'd seen in a magazine.

When some of the lads heard that I was doing this I was loaded with a shopping list and was given all different currencies;  Pakitani and Indian rupees US dollars, Iraqi dinars, UK pounds and blank cheques to spend.

I duly arrived at Khormaksar,  made my way to Steamer Point and booked into the Crescent Hotel (which I found out later was for officers only). The main camera shop was the Colonial Stores and they had the camera which I wanted, a Voightlander Vitessa L F2 lens which cost me £36.  I bought everything the lads wanted and I had to buy a suitcase to put it all in.

I made my way back to Khormaksar only to find that the “Duty Pig” (Vicker’s Valetta) had left a day early so I checked into the orderly room and they organised a signal to Mauripur as I was now AWOL. I had to bed down in a grotty transit billet and worked in Air Movements for a week until the next Duty Pig.
The flight was normal; Ryan, Salalah and then Masirah. It was starting to get dark when we took off from Masirah which meant it would be dark landing at Mauripur so I would be able to sneak the loot past the customs, but no!  A short time after take off, somewhere over the Indian Ocean, the fire klaxon started to scream and I could see smoke coming from one of the engines. We turned back to Masirah and landed ok.  The problem was solved but it meant a night stop and continuing on the next morning. The meant landing at Mauripur in broad daylight with Pakistani Customs officers standing outside the Movements Section watching us taxying in. I had to leave the loot on the kite until it got dark and then get it off.

My time at Mauripur came to an end a few months later when I was posted to Aden and then after about six months I was tourex and returned to the UK landing at Lyneham.  I declared the camera to the waiting HMC officer and told him that it was now over a year old and that I had a receipt to prove it. He obviously didn't believe me and took me into his office, sat me down and commenced to quiz me on the date shown on the receipt.  I stuck it out with him and in the end he gave up and let me move on. Had he opened my case he would have had a field day with the contents!  Back in those days cameras, watches and other such items had a UK luxury tax on them and my camera would have cost over a hundred pounds which was quite a bit of a fortune in those days . He kept the receipt saying “You won't need this again.”

I then had about six week dis-embarkation leave and during that time notification of my posting arrived, Lyneham, where I was  to work with a Customs Officer along with a couple of other lads in the Unnacompanied Bagagge section.  We would open up suitcases and boxes for HMC’s inspection and find hundreds of cigarettes and liquor,  also dirty books and photos.  All would be confiscated and the cases and boxes would leave a lot lighter than when they arrived.

After demob one of my first trips on the continent was on my motorbike in 1959, but I wondered about taking the camera. Onene of the newspapers had a section where you could write to for advice and so I told them about the events at Lyneham. A few days later there was a knock on my front door and I was confronted by a chap in a trilby and raincoat.  “Mr Holloway?” he asked.  I responded and he announxced himself as being HM Customs and Excise.  He made a note of the lens and body serial numbers on my camera and told me it would be alright to take it on the trip.

My  motorbike had an electric starter which was quite quite novel all those years ago and I took a coke bottle filled with distilled water as was needed.  On my return to Dover the customs officer insisted on opening it to check the contents!  I don't know what he expected to find but I bet he was disappointed.

Since those days I've travelled all over the world and haven't had any more trouble with Customs .


p.s I still have that same camera after 60 years!

From: Clive Price, Brecon
Subject: A Booze Cruise

Hi, Tony,

Did a one day trip to Germany in a Beverley and for the return we loaded up to the roof with cases of champagne for various officers' messes (it was close to Xmas). The customs officer was sent up from the port of Southampton (ships only).

The Loadmaster showed him around and pointed to a case on the ramp saying that one is yours, and where is your car?

I carried the case to his car and we never saw him again.  And no, I didn't get a case!

Taff Price,
One time UKMAMS F Team.
Still upright and breathing.

From: Michael Craner, Yeovil, Somerset
Subject: Duty Free

Guday Tony,

I wonder if members remember a customs bloke at Lyneham named Pearce?  He was  very mean with both Pax and crew and took great delight in charging as much duty as possible.  He would not allow crew members to bring in a bottle unless a tot was removed.

One day as we were about to depart Akrotiri for Lyneham, the DAMO asked if we would take a Demijohn of wine belonging to Pearce. All crew members refused but I said I would take it.  On arrival at Lyneham I declared the wine. Pearce said that will be £3 duty to pay, donged it up on the till and handed me the receipt, I told him to keep the receipt and put £3 in the till as the wine was his; sour looks from Pearce and big grins from the crew.

On another occasion I was with a crew to fly two hours MCT, then two hours of circuits and bumps. Lyneham was very busy so our skipper decided to go to another airfield to complete the duty, he asked if anyone had a favourite station? I suggested that we go to Jersey as at that time the RAF did not have to pay landing fees due to the food aid flown in after the war.  We made contact with Jersey and asked if we could come and do some circuits, they said we were very welcome.  After a while I said, “As we are overseas we should be able to get some duty free” a quick collection was made, we made a brief stop to let me out, and they carried on with the training flight.  Later on they picked me up again with six bottles and 1200 fags.  Pearce would have had kittens!

Best wishes to everyone. 

Mick Craner

From: Paul Newman, Peterborough
Subject: Swift to Move!

Hi Tony,

Whilst having a cuppa with my mate Brian Spademan in Cyprus last week he proudly showed me his new UKMAMS car badge. He is going to mount it on his classic BMW 5 series when, as Tina his wife says he gets round to it.

Anyway, I thought it was a great idea so when I got home on Monday last I set about finding it on E-Bay and just to get one up on Brian I've already mounted mine.

I understand Brian Gibson has one in Cyprus also but has anyone else got one?

Perhaps we could have a parade with pics? And NO this isn't my wife's car as everyone at my gliding club reckons. I do a bit of hairdressing on the side! There are 225 horses under there and I am still "Swift to Move".

If you want one put in "military car badges air movements" in an E-Bay search and that takes you straight there. No I am not on commission.

Keep up the great work,

Paul Newman

This newsletter is dedicated
to the memory of
Lynton Mufford (RAF)
Tony Gale