From: Mark "Dutch" Holland, Market Drayton, Salop Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
I remember spotting the Queen being driven through Hyde Park. I always had my camera with me so my wife and I ran to get a good picture as no one else appeared to have spotted the car.
The car slowed and HRH allowed us to take a beautiful photo of her (sadly long lost), not because she might have thought I was a good photographer, more I feel that she couldn’t believe my 8½ months pregnant wife was running along behind me! A wonderful person.
Long Live The King!
From: Bruce “Doc” Holliday, Norwich, Norfolk Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
I was stationed at RAF Marham in Norfolk and as a Flt Sgt, I was running a rather large IT Dept with computers and laptops across the entire organisation and beyond. Obviously not alone in this mammoth task, I had around 20 other troops in support, everything from server technicians to field engineers.
HRH was a regular visitor to Marham, most often simply landing and then transiting on to Sandringham which was not far away by road.
On this occasion HRH was reviewing the station and as a part of this was to meet with a selection of the station’s personnel. We gathered in the ante-room of the WO’s and Sgt’s Mess. It was a large room and we were grouped into semi-circles of 6 or 8 along the length; from memory I'd say there were possibly 6 groups. HRH was introduced to each group in turn and spent 5 to 10 minutes chatting with each group and with each individual.
When it was my turn I was asked, “And what do you do here?” to which I replied that I was in charge of providing IT to the station.
“Not all on your own surely?” Was the response.
“No Mam” (Mam as in "Jam" as we had been instructed to say), “I have a band of merry men to help me.”
Two groups down was Cpl. Terry Jones who was one of my best server technicians. HRH was speaking with his group, possibly 15 to 20 minutes after speaking with me, I can only imagine it was the same type of conversation with Terry. At this point HRH stepped back from the semi-circle and looked down the room at me and said, “I’ve found one of your merry men!”
My RAF Ensign has been replaced with the Union Flag which is of course, at half mast.
Per Ardua Ad Astra, God save the King!
Doc Holliday (Ex-Radar Techie)
From: Chris Goss, Marlow, Bucks Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
I was posted to be SAMO Northolt in 1992 and was told I would rarely handle Royal Flights at LHR - wrong!
The VC10 was taking HRH and the Duke somewhere so I handled the outbound flight assisted by a recently arrived Plt Off Scott Rogers. I remember two things as HRH entered the Royal Lounge:
1) My mobile phone began ringing! I thought it must be urgent so I answered it only to hear Sqn Ldr Ops saying, "You are never alone with a mobile phone!"; he was trying it out! When I told him who was walking towards me, there was a "Jesus!" or something similar and he hung up.
2) By now HRH was approaching Scott and myself, so I saluted and out of the corner of my eye saw Scott had not (perhaps he had been overcome by the occasion?). "Salute! Salute!" I hissed and Scott remembered what he should be doing just in time.
Lots of stories, some good some bad from my time at NHT, including bumping into Salman Rushdie in one of the lounges together with Maggie. Then there was the time I had to charge a Senior Aircraftsman for running after Whitney Houston and asking for her autograph!
No. 40 Squadron was first tasked with flying national and international VIPs at the the end of World War II in the Douglas C-47 Dakotas. Following their retirement Andovers picked up the flights, then the Boeing 727 and most recently the Boeing 757 aircraft. The missions are no ordinary flying. The past two years have seen a dramatic decrease in VIP flights due to the Covid pandemic, however, as international travel reopens, these tasks are now returning.
Boeing Flight Commander Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Tom Tuke said passengers included prime ministers, royalty, government officials and other dignitaries. Media and business delegates also often accompany the flights. Most recently the crews have flown to Australia, Japan, Pacific islands, Singapore and the United States. A major trip with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and a contingent to the United States recently included extra crew in case anyone caught Covid and back-ups were needed. The aircraft, nicknamed Old Faithful Betty by media on board, was delayed leaving the country at the end of the trip with a maintenance fault on the final leg of the trip, SQNLDR Tuke said. “We nearly made it all the way. We got the Prime Minister to the meeting with the President of the United States, but we couldn’t depart on time out of Washington. We did all those legs without writing one thing in the maintenance log. There were 14 sectors for the trip, with the aircraft crossing the US twice – it was faultless for the first 10 sectors.”
Flight Steward Leader Warrant Officer (W/O) Lynda Garrod has worked on numerous VIP flights, starting in 1994 on the Boeing 727. “I was a chef originally so my first encounters with VIP flights was in the Base Auckland in-flight kitchen.” After remustering to the Flight Steward trade in 1994, many of W/O Garrod’s VIP trips were initially on board the Boeing 727. “At the time Jim Bolger was the prime minister so I had a number of flights during that time with him on board.”
She also helped to look after Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip when they visited Aotearoa New Zealand in 1996. “I love VIP flying. It’s very rewarding to be able to provide excellent customer service to the passengers, including silver service. “Logistically it makes sense the VIP flights are with the Air Force rather than a commercial airline due to our flexibility. We can adapt very quickly and that often does happen – the VIP on the day might need to make a meeting where the timing has changed by a number of hours. We can do that, whereas you can’t do that when you have plane full of members of the public. If a VIP needs to return to New Zealand quickly we can generally achieve that as well.”
W/O Garrod referred to a flight, that she was unfortunately not on with former Prime Minister John Key, who was visiting the Taj Mahal and invited all the crew to join him. The famous attraction was closed to the public for the visit, so the crew was able to enjoy the building without the usual crowds. “I love this job, it’s exciting and rewarding. One day we could be flying HM the Queen and two days later its back flying normal non-VIP operations to Australia. VIP flying is where my passion is.”
Boeing pilot Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Matt West said one of the main aspects of the job to deal with is the time management. “We try to make things really efficient so the aircraft is completely good to go when the VIPs arrive – the minute they’re on board, we’re starting the engines and on our way,” he said. “One of the biggest things we deal with on these tasks is working to hard times. We might be turning up somewhere with an official party meeting the aircraft and if we suddenly show up 20 minutes early, it can throw the whole plan into disarray.”
Over the past two years during the pandemic the team has had to deal more regularly with last minute changes, which can result in major upheavals to flights, FLTLT West said. “VIPs are usually fairly well set in terms of what they’re doing, but Covid has definitely added that extra element of change to things.”
Flying long-distance flights means the aircrew has time to show passengers around the cockpit. For about 18 months the pandemic put a pause to the visits to ensure the crew weren’t put at risk, however, the visits to the front of the aircraft are returning, FLTLT West said. “The most recent VIP flight I had was to Australia and [Minister of Economic Development] Stuart Nash came up to say gidday for a bit. It’s neat to have the opportunity to meet the people we are carrying and show them what we do.”
FLTLT West piloted the Boeing to the United States with Prime Minister Ardern and he said the task was one of the best in a long time. “Going back into places like Los Angeles International, flying into New York, Boston, Washington DC and San Francisco – these were places we haven’t been in a really long time. “We also had some junior crew members who joined the squadron during the pandemic and flying schedules have been quiet for a couple of years, so the opportunity to take the jet back to some of those big locations was really exciting.”
Sergeant Gaylene Ganrooy
Queen Elizabeth arriving by No. 42 Squadron Andover at RNZAF Base Wigram during her Royal Tour
Visit of Prince Charles and Princess Diana to Whenuapai, Base Auckland aboard No. 40 Squadron Boeing 727
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Base Auckland
Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive at Aotearoa
From: John Bell, Birmingham Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
On 16th of March 1993 I was awarded an MBE by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. We talked about my current posting; I was working in Saudi Arabia at the time. I was accompanied by my wife, Jean, and my mother. A day I will never forget.
I had met the Queen on two previous occasions. My station commander at Aldergrove nominated me to attend a Royal Garden Party at Hillsborough Castle. In case I did not get chosen he also nominated me for another Garden Party at Buckingham Palace as a back-up. As it turned out I was chosen for both!
From: Lorraine Hughes, Stourport on Severn, Worcs Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
My memory of seeing the Queen was within the quadrangle at Windsor Castle. I was there as a young 20-year-old Venture Scout to celebrate formally achieving the highest award in Scouting; The Queen's Scout Award. I had travelled to London and on to Windsor from Doncaster with my mother and a fellow Venture Scout who eventually, years later, became my husband.
There were a few hundred scouts there and we had marched onto the quadrangle and waited in anticipation for HRH. My overriding memory was feeling proud to be meeting the Queen and not realising how tiny she was in stature when she arrived.
She inspected the full four sides of the quadrangle filled with her own Queen's Scouts; she was smiling at us all. I felt very proud to be there and thrilled my own mother was in the crowd too. She stopped to talk to someone in front of me and I was shocked to see she had lipstick on her teeth and I thought at the very least a member of her staff should've told her! However, this memory has stayed with me over 37 or so years and made the day just a little different and one to remember.
Daniel Craig reflects on filming 007 comedy sketch with the Queen
James Bond star Daniel Craig described filming a scene with the Queen for London 2012 as "an incredible thing". The world saw a more spirited side to the monarch when she made a cameo appearance in Danny Boyle's opening ceremony for the Olympic Games.
In the comedy sketch, Craig, who played British spy 007, called at Buckingham Palace to summon the Queen to the event. The Queen, who was sitting at her writing desk, made him wait before greeting him with the words: "Good evening, Mr Bond."
They walked together, along with some of her corgis, towards a helicopter and set off, flying over London to the Olympic Stadium, concluding with a stunt double of the Queen parachuting into the arena. Seconds later, the real Queen, wearing the same peach dress as the stunt double, entered the stadium to rapturous applause.
11th September 2022 - The former James Bond actor, who is also an honorary Commander in the Royal Navy, said "we will not see the likes of her ever again".
From: Len “Woody” Wood, Pembroke, ON Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
My personal memory of Queen Elizabeth II was in August 1973, when I served with The 3rd Bn Royal Canadian Regiment at CFB Petawawa. I was a young Private assigned to 7-Coy. Most of the troops reassigned to 3 RCR served with The Canadian Guards, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada and The Black Watch troops. These units were removed from The Order of Battle by the Government of Canada in 1970.
During the summer of 1973, 3 RCR drilled on the parade square for five days a week during April - August, in preparation for The Trooping of The Colours to be held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. There were six guards with minimum 50 troops assigned to each Guard. 1, 2, 4 and 6 Guards were all the taller troops, while we short fellows were assigned to 3 and 4 Guards. I was in 3 Guard. The dress rehearsal was done on Friday for the Governor General, Saturday was the Trooping, which was overseen by HRH Prince Philip, Colonel of The Regiment.
Following the Trooping there was a reception in the Parliament Buildings, and I had the pleasure of having a beer and conversation with Prince Philip. It was just like talking to one of the other soldiers. During the Reception, our CO and RSM announced that 3 and 4 Guards would be the Guard of Honour for the Royal Family's departure flight out of Ottawa. Since Her Majesty The Queen was going to inspect the Guard of Honour, the two shortest guards were chosen. The Queen didn't speak to many of us during her inspection, but she acknowledged all of us by stopping in front of each soldier and making eye to eye contact.
That was a memory that has been etched in my mind throughout my 40-year career and beyond.
God Bless The Queen. Long Live The King. May he be half as good as HRH Queen Elizabeth II.
From: Stephen Davey, Tadcaster, North Yorks Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
Brize Norton circa 1973 I believe, Her Majesty's royal visit, we were representing a typical Air Movements team ('A' Shift Traffic), as we were considered to be the smartest!
L to R: Ian Kingston, Tony King (DAMO), Geordie Flanagan, Merv Philips, Steve Davey and Hugh Davey. The two shift sergeants are on the far right, Paddy Rowan is one and I forget the name of the other one.
If you're wondering why HM Queen Elizabeth II was conveyed in the C17, wonder no more
I never met HM The Queen, but when I was a staff officer in 2009 I was tasked with reviewing and rewriting the Operation OVERSTUDY plans, which detail how we would repatriate her body if she died overseas.
The existing plan was for her to be transported back in a BAe 146, a smart business jet operated by 32 The Royal Squadron. However, the repatriation of Princess Diana in 1997 had not gone smoothly due to difficulties in loading the coffin into the freight bay. Subsequent modifications to the aircraft had made access to the freight bay almost impossible.
With a requirement for the aircraft to be able to land at RAF Northolt, the only 2 options were to use a C130 or a C17. The C130 was noisy and would impact the ceremonial aspects of her arrival at RAF Northolt, whereas the C17 was, sadly, very familiar with the repatriation role from undertaking the repatriation of service personnel who had died in Afghanistan.
A dress rehearsal at RAF Northolt proved that it would work, but the impact of changing from a smart-looking business jet to a more utilitarian C17 was fairly significant and so approval from the Palace was sought.
The response that came back from HM The Queen was: "If it's good enough for my boys, then it's good enough for me"
An incredible person who I am proud to have served. RIP Ma'am.
(By Pete Morgan - found on Facebook)
From: Donald Milburn, Swindon, Wilts Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
Being a six year old in February 1952, I was living in Mombasa where my father was a stevedore for B.I. Lines and we saw the erection of the crossed elephant tusks for the visit of the then Princess Elizabeth.
She did not get to see them as her visit was cut short when George VI died and the Royal visit was terminated at Nairobi; my sister and I, with other school mates in Mombasa, unfortunately did not get to see her.
With the expansion in Mombasa, the crossed elephant tusks were joined by a second set when the original road became a dual carriageway. I last visited them in 2002 and they appear to be very weather worn now.
From: Ian Stacey, Nashville, IN Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
Although I have lived in the USA for over 30 years now I believe that I have retained most of my British accent. This has inevitably led to many casual conversations with Americans, who being a very friendly people and on hearing my accent will ask me where I am from and what am I doing here. Very often these conversations will lead to the question – “have you met the Queen?” and oh how I wish I could say yes – but I can’t – well not exactly anyway.
After serving on UKMAMS at Abingdon my last posting in the RAF was as Deputy SAMO at RAF Northolt. We had lots of VIP passengers coming through Northolt and in addition to my station duties we also had the responsibility of handling RAF VIP flights at Heathrow Airport. I got to meet all sorts of interesting people and when the Queen flew out of Heathrow on an RAF VC10 she used the VIP lounge and we did the ground handling for these flights. So, it was me standing at the foot of the steps when she came out to the aircraft and when I tried to give my best salute to her as she passed me she would always give me a lovely smile.
So, no, I can’t say that I have met The Queen – but I can say that I have stood within three feet of her on numerous occasions and I can say that she always smiled at me!
With best regards,
RNZAF Aircraft used by Queen Elizabeth during Coronation tour
From: Steve Tomlinson, Tenerife, QLD Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
Sad to see the passing of the great lady, Her Majesty the Queen, especially sad for me as it was on my 68th birthday! I used to see her quite a lot when in London, our flat was opposite Victoria Station and we used to cut-through St James or Green Park on foot when heading out for a night in the West End. Sometimes HRH would be exiting Buckingham Palace enroute to some engagement or other. I was also in Hong Kong when HRH visited the colony in '86 and when the Duke transited Hong Kong enroute to PR China as President of the WWF. Also, whilst serving as a Stn Ops Officer, RAF Marham, we had regular "visits" from the Royal Family while in transit to Sandringham, just down the road.
Small world, I may have seen Her Majesty, for the first time, on the same day as you, 26 Oct 1962 when I was 8 years old? My father was a Civil Engineer/Surveyor involved in the building of the RTB Spencer Steelworks in Llanwern. I remember him taking me and my sister to his workplace that day and lining up with my mum and all the other kids next to a special platform they had built near the works. I can't remember too much apart from the excitement of all the kids when Her Majesty and the Duke turned up to officially open the place!
From: David Jarvis, Lunenburg, NS Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
On being presented an MBE by the Queen - I don't remember a darn thing. I did notice that she was standing on a box on the stage to even up the height difference. When Ray Ralph went up for his turn she lent him the box!
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, Bucks Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
Well that really was the week that was, with a new Prime Minister on the Monday. We came back from a staycation in Scotland on the Wednesday, and had a new Sovereign on the Thursday. Anyway, you asked for stories about encounters with our late HM the Queen.
I only experienced the unique “Thank you, now shove off’ handshake once. That was on 3rd December 1991 when accompanied by Sue and our children we drove down the Mall in my high mileage VW Passat Estate (the one with the go-faster 5-cylinder engine block), and D8OO SBW sailed through the imposing Buckingham Palace gates thanks to the pass on the windscreen. That drive-through was the first of three long lasting memories of the day I met the Queen.
The occasion was to collect a souvenir of the first Gulf War (the legal one). This was a real ‘is this happening to me pinch yourself unforgettable experience’ albeit one shared with many thousands before and after. Apparently HM conferred some 12,000 honours and awards during her long reign. However, the third lasting memory of that day was probably unique. We nearly got locked in the Palace, well at least we had to be unlocked to be let out.
A bit of background: I had been tipped off that for relations attending an investiture there were no reserved seats and the large room had a flat floor and no stage. So the basic drill, especially if your personal entourage included children, was: make sure essential comfort stops are completed before approaching the Palace. Two, get there in the main quadrangle behind the familiar façade of the Palace just before the doors are opened at the published arrival time. Three, once through the doors, no long farewells as you peel off right and your supporters are ushered left to the main hall, to take their seats which are filled up from the front.
Success. Sue, Andrew and Kathryn got themselves seated in the front row in an ideal place to watch not only the main event but also the ceremonial preparations. Especially, as it will be some time before the actual event starts. Eventually, father appears stage left, is done (including the hand-shake) and departs stage right with his souvenir. At the end of the presentations, the hall clears and there is a general milling-about regrouping into respective families and supporters.
Now is the time to visit and enjoy at leisure the Royal facilities on the way to entrance we had used some hours earlier. Sue and the children disappeared to inspect the Royal Porcelain having arranged to regroup in the foyer where I would wait for them. And waited. And waited. And watched, as various Royal Yeomen and others clanked off the premises until I found myself alone.
Then one of the Palace staff, presumably the Royal Keeper of the Keys arrived and set about locking the main doors. Fortunately, as I was about to try to explain my domestic predicament, Sue, Andrew and Kathryn appeared giggling like naughty school children. I didn’t ask, and we quickly exited to join the photographing and happy hubbub in the main courtyard!
One personal postscript to the last few days was seeing close-ups of the Scottish Crown on the coffin at rest in the Edinburgh Cathedral. Sue’s extensive family tree, especially on her father’s side, goes back to the 1200s. In the 1600s, the line passed through one Sir George Ogilvie the Governor of Dunnottar Castle and his wife Elizabeth who at the time were in charge of much of the Scottish Royal Regalia deposited for safe keeping at the Castle, following some differences with Oliver Cromwell and ‘the English usurpers’. Secretly organised by Elizabeth Ogilvy, she and four other women and a maid collectively smuggled the regalia out of the Castle in various guises, under the noses of Cromwell’s men, while under siege by the Parliamentarians. The Scottish Crown Jewels were then hidden by the Rev. James Grainger and his wife, a friend of Elizabeth’s, under the Pulpit of the Kirk of Kinneff some 9 miles from the Castle before being handed over after being hidden for 9 years.
Much later the Scottish Parliament awarded 2000 Scottish merks to the saviours of the Regalia. A sum which was never paid. I wonder if Sue has a claim as I have just seen our latest gas and electricity bill. (Note, MERK is the correct name of these promised coins and not a typical DP typo.)
Finally, despite the cloud, aided by a real time radar map app while drafting these notes, at least I was able to anticipate and then go outside to hear the C17 flight KRF01R as it descended with its precious load just south of Princes Risborough on its sad approach to RAF Northolt.
David Powell F Team UKMAMS RAF Abingdon 1967-69 Long Live The King!
From: Tom Burrows, Sudbury, Suffolk Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
I never actually met the Queen but I was involved with her Silver Jubilee. I was stationed at London Movements Unit based in the Woolwich Garrison when we were tasked to go to Buckingham Palace to load and transport the baggage that she needed for overseas part of the of the Jubilee Celebrations around the Commonwealth.
We arrived at the Palace and were told where and what we needed to do, so we finished wandering around the Palace taking items from different rooms and loading them on to two pantechnicons. We were then given sandwiches and cups of tea whilst being briefed by the police.
The police told us we would be escorted by police motorcyclists all the way to RAF Northolt and we must keep the same speed as them, we were not to stop for any reason, even traffic lights, until we reach RAF Northolt. We averaged about 40 mph but the traffic just opened up like the Red Sea to let us through. It was a great ride and good fun waving at the public, who had no idea what was going on, as we went on our merry way. The journey back to Woolwich after we had unloaded took an awful lot longer but a fun day that I have never forgotten.
From: Barry Tappenden, Shortstown, Beds Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
Good afternoon Tony,
My meeting with HM the Queen was when she visited RAF Halton. I was in a group of other SNCOs in the Sgts Mess and I was detailed to introduce members of the group and their wives to Her Majesty. With all the do's and don'ts about the protocol of what to do when Her Majesty approached you, I seem to have had a total melt down on memory loss and I couldn’t for the life of me remember anyone's name. She smiled with that knowing look and saved my total embarrassment and just did what she did best.
Thank you Ma'am.
The French-Made Private Jets Flying Liz Truss and Boris Johnson to Scotland
September 6th, 2022 - Liz Truss and Boris Johnson flew to their appointments with the Queen in Scotland today on two French-made Dassault 900LX business jets, which replaced British-designed and manufactured BAe 146 aircraft when they were retired earlier this year.
At one point more than 20,000 people were monitoring the outgoing Prime Minster’s flight to Aberdeen on flight tracking website FlightRadar24.
Known as "Envoy IV," the two French-made aircraft were purchased by the Royal Air Force for £80 million to carry VIP passengers including members of the Royal Family and senior members of the government and military, and are based at RAF Northolt with the No 32 (The Royal) Squadron.
Dassault Aviation S.A. is currently the only major maker of business jets in Europe and its Falcon 900LX type has a trijet design that can carry up to 14 passengers in comfort over 4,750 nautical miles (8,800km), enough range to fly from London to Chicago or Mumbai without stopping.
The two Envoy IV aircraft are currently operating in a civilian specification with mixed RAF and civilian crew under contract with private jet charter company Centreline Aviation. The RAF plans to upgrade them with military modifications and communications within two years.
From: Arthur Rowland, St. Ives, Cambs Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
Your last letter reminds me of a similar event following not long after the late Queen's coronation. As your letter recalls she and Prince Phillip were making a tour of Wales and at the time I was a "little" Admin Apprentice at St Athan. Came a big surprise announcement, "Boys, we are to take part in lining the route in Cardiff".
I well remember the rehearsals on the airfield and, on the day, being bussed to our starting positions. As always on these occasions we had a long wait, but the crowd around me were very friendly, and I remember a kindly lady popping a mint into my mouth!! "Royal salute - present arms!" was ordered and HM drove past. I never forgot just how radiant and lovely she looked that day. A happy memory; she will be missed, but not forgotten.
All the best,
From: Peter Clayton, Wroughton, Wilts Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
I remember back in the mid 70's I drove my Cortina Mk 1 Estate up to the north of Scotland. We were camped near Thurso and in the morning I looked out to sea and saw the Royal Yacht Britannia anchored in the bay. Later that day while walking around Thurso we saw most of the Royal Family including the Queen in their limos being driven through the town.
It was a lovely surprise for my then young daughter who still remembers the event. The Royal Family was on their way to the Queen Mother's residence at the Castle of Mey in Caithness. It was quite an occasion for visitors but I had the feeling the local residents were quite used to the Royal activities.
From: Don Hatton, Liscomb, NS Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II (well, sort of)
My wife Fern and I motored to Prince Edward Island to attend the “Buddy Holly” show at the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown. After checking in at our hotel, we did a quick recce as to where the centre was and pick up our tickets. As it was, the clerk attending us at the box office recognized our address, she was a niece of my cousin. After freshening up, we went for dinner before attending the show.
We showed our tickets and were graciously ushered to our seats. Great seats, centre stage and loads of leg and elbow room. Other show goers would glance our way, give a polite nod with a warm smile. It was only later we discovered we were sitting in the seats normally reserved for the Queen and her guests or dignitaries of merit while attending a performance at the Confederation Centre, hence the attention we got. We weren’t royalty but I did have my Queen beside me. It pays to have connections in the right places!
From: Graham Allen, Nottingham, Notts Subject: HM The Queen
My memory of HM Queen Elizabeth II was when I was in the Army. I was stationed in Bielefeld as batman to the Corp Commander HQ 1(BR) Corps. The Queen and Prince Phillip were in Germany reviewing the troops and they stayed with the General and Lady Sharp. They stayed for 3 days. When the German house staff were told that they were coming they did not believe us until they virtually arrived. The police motorcade came up the long drive under the porch and back out the front gate before the royal car had arrived at the front door. I opened the door for her majesty and the ADC opened the door for Prince Phillip. Phillip got out and said, "It’s a great time to rob a bank as all the police are here!" HM the Queen turned and said to Phillip, “Trust you to think that!” Everybody is laughing and it broke the ice.
Later on the first evening, during the meal, the chef was supposed to carve a big ham but he had an accident and cut his hand quite badly opening a tin. Lady Sharp got in bit of a tizzy about what she was going to do now. I said it’s no problem as I’m a trained butcher and I could carve the ham. I cut it perfectly and the Queen asked how do I cut it when I get to the knuckle part. I explained it to her and she said to Phillip,"Now you have got no excuses when you do the next one!” Phillip asked if I could cut a thicker slice as he liked to taste his!
The General asked if they wanted to ride as he had his own horses. Yes! was the reply, so each morning we all went for a ride. The Queen asked where I learnt to ride and I explained it was with the Kings Troop, my previous posting. "They taught you well!" Getting a compliment coming from the Queen made my year.
I was lucky enough to see HRH twice more at Buckingham Palace during the investitures of two Lt Generals getting their knighthoods. These are great memories of a wonderful Commander-in-Chief.
All the best,
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, Bucks Subject: Farewell To Our Boss
Just a little bit sad and stiff today. Got off the tube at Bermondsey at 00.45 yesterday morning and didn't sit down again until 14.50 that afternoon when I got back on the tube at Westminster. A vertical night and a day spent on a memorable step, step, stand, shuffle, shuffle, keep to to the right in twos progression in the Thames's side queue to bid a final farewell and thank you to Her Majesty, lying in State in the Great Hall at Westminster. I did choose to wear my Movements Association dark tie on behalf those members and movements colleagues who couldn't be there.
Freely admit that I was sad when my father died, and even sadder when my mother passed through the veil, but I actually cried when I heard the fatal news broadcast on the 8th of September 2022.
As I walked up Parliament Bridge Street, I was approached to say a few words to NBC, but I was still choked up and just walked on. When we had arrived in the Victoria Tower Gardens for another half an hour of Disney style zig zag lines before the final wrist band check and airport style security (where I had my obviously very threatening half used tube of toothpaste confiscated) I saw that David Beckham had been following me all the way just a few hundred yards behind. He was wearing a dark navy blue Peaky Blinder Cap; how embarrassing.
Best wishes, David
From: David Forsyth, St Hilaire de Riez Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
Seeing the Queen: From run of the mill to unforgettable
Brought up in the grouse-shooting environment of the Angus Glens, we were well accustomed to seeing the Queen and the other members of the Royal Family when they came to Glamis Castle, Airlie Castle or Cortachy Castle, the first well known as the home of the Queen Mother and birthplace of Princess Margaret, the others being homes of the Ogilvies, members of the Royal Household for several generations and of course Angus Ogilvy married Princess Alexandra.
As was well described in recent media coverage, as for Balmoral, Braemar and Ballater, the Royals would come and go to the «wee red toun» of Kirriemuir (where I went to school) informally, without security, to do a little shopping. They were not ignored but simply allowed to get on with their shopping without an excess of deference; simply warm smiles of acknowledgement. The Highland Games at Glen Isla was a much lower-key affair than Braemar for the Royal Family.
The Queen occasionally brought the picnic lunch to shoots at Airlie Castle when Prince Philip was shooting, when we beaters would eat our lunches just a few yards from the «toffs».
Later, I was privileged to receive my MBE from the Queen and my wife and I were honoured to attend a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
All of the foregoing was fairly matter-of-fact and made me relatively unimpressed by the often over-the-top machinations which tended to surround Royal Family involvement with the RAF. Seeing the Royals in informal settings left me decidedly sceptical about the bull-shit and blanco which surrounded visits to RAF Stations. I include the detail above to create a stark contrast with what follows.
The following story describes an event which was to leave an indelible mark on my memory.
50th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings
Early in 1994, whilst Station Commander at RAF Quedgeley I saw correspondence about a team which was being put together to mark the 50th Anniversary of the D Day Landings. Overall responsibility was allocated to an Army Brigadier (Tim Cross) from 2 Division but a small team was created within the MOD to look after the arrangements for the Queen and other members of the Royal Family and VVIPs on the 6th June.
As a large part of my time in the RAF was in French-speaking jobs, I thought I could be useful to the team and would enjoy the experience. I let the team know about my interest and ability in French and was invited to join them for the 2 week lead-in to the D-Day anniversary. Telling a little white lie, that I had been approached to join the team, I sought the AOC’s agreement, which was forthcoming. I decided to drive my staff car complete with, and entirely misusing, my Station Commander’s pennant – which were together to come in very useful but that is another story. Indeed, the two weeks generated lots of tales which are not relevant here.
One of my tasks was to arrange drinks and lunch for about 80 VVIP guests being brought together in Ryes, just south of Arromanches, from five British Cemeteries across Normandy prior to going to Arromanches for a sunset ceremony in the presence of the Queen. The drinks went very well, al fresco on a very sunny day. Lunch also went well and the coaches took a replete, relaxed group up to Arromanches to find their VVIP seats for the ceremony.
The high point was to be a march past the Queen by D-Day Veterans, many of whom had walking sticks, zimmer frames or wheelchairs. They had formed an open square on the beach with the Queen’s dais, its back to the steps at Arromanches, surrounded by chairs for the VVIPs. Veterans in 2 or 3 ranks made up the other three sides of the square, those on the northern side with their backs to the remnants of the Mulberry Harbour and the English Channel.
I found myself sitting 3 metres behind the Queen’s dais beside Christopher Soames, Churchill’s Grandson and the Master of Lovat, grandson of Lord Lovat of Commando and Pegasus Bridge fame. I could drop many more names here but shall avoid the temptation.
President Mitterand had decided to show his self-importance, first by keeping President Clinton waiting at Omaha Beach which in turn delayed the Queen’s arrival at Arromanches on Gold Beach. The Ceremony there, the last of the afternoon, was delayed by about an hour, meaning the veterans on the northernmost line of the square found themselves in water up to their knees from the incoming tide. They were undaunted, determined to march past their Queen. One later told me, with a smile, he’d been in the water the first time he’d landed there and a bit now didn’t matter.
The Ceremony was most moving, watching determined old boys being helped by their mates as they struggled with walking sticks, zimmer frames, and even wheelchairs in the sand. It all culminated with a lone piper standing on the sea wall playing the melancholy Scottish air, “Flo’ers o’ the Forest”. Not a dry eye in the house. As the Queen turned to descend from the dais, she was visibly moved.
After the Queen talked with a number of them, the old boys retired to the many cafes and bistros in the town for beers. Still in my No 1 uniform, I had no shortage of “Come on Groupie, come an’ have a beer with us”. The old boys and their families and mates were unanimous that gathering to pay respects to their mates who did not make it and marching past to salute their Queen was what drove them on.
Even after all the years since 1994, I find it hard to tell the story without a gigantic lump in my throat. It has certainly left its imprint on my memory relating to Her Majesty the Queen. RIP.
Long Live the King!
From: Jim Nadin, Lincoln, Lincs Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
Several years ago, my late wife, Margaret, received an invitation from the Lord Chamberlain to attend a Buckingham Palace Garden Party because of her work with a Labrador Rescue and Rehoming Charity. We were ushered into a reception line up and were fortunate for our line to receive Her Majesty. She immediately spotted a Labrador brooch that Margaret was wearing and was soon in conversation with her about the Charity, her love of dogs very evident. HM even asked if we dealt with Corgis. Then, quite unlike Margaret, she told HM that she was there in our own right and I for a change was 'Husband of''.
It was clear that the Queen knew immediately what this was about and with a twinkle in her eye and that radiant smile turned to me and suggested that I do my duty well and that the cucumber sandwiches were particularly good that year. A remarkable Monarch and Lady who will be greatly missed.
From: Howard Firth, Winkleigh, North Devon Subject: Personal memories of HRH Queen Elizabeth II
During my Service career, I was fortunate to see and meet HM Queen Elizabeth II on numerous occasions. Most of these were whilst serving at RAF Northolt, firstly as SNCO i/c Shift and later as S Mov O. It was in 1970, having been posted to RAF Brize Norton from RAF Lyneham with the move of the Britannia fleet that I had my first meeting with her. I was a newly promoted Cpl on A Shift and was chosen for door opening duties for the Royal visit at the static Belfast.
My next and probably the most memorable event was during my second tour on RAF Gan in 1972. The Royal visit was part of a tour of the Indian Ocean countries. The visit to Gan started with the arrival of The Royal Yacht Britannia, as it made its way serenely into the Gan lagoon, through the Wilingilli Gap (ex Gannites will know that this was the location for the weekly nurse’s disco!). I was a Cpl i/c A Traffic shift and was chosen to meet the Queen along with 2 other Movers. The attached photo captures the event which was held in the Blue Lagoon Transit Hotel. The other Movers in the photo are Ken Morris and Glyn Jones.
As the Queen departed the following day by sea, I was part of a small Movements team who flew with all the excess baggage and members of the Royal Household to the Seychelles which was the next planned stop on the Tour.
Who could not be impressed with the part the RAF played in the recent events, especially the transfer of the coffin from Scotland to RAF Northolt. I feel hugely privileged to have been part of such a world class military organisation.
RIP Your Majesty.
From: Ian Envis, Crowborough, East Sussex Subject: HRH QEII – Sheridan, Wyoming 1984
A quick note about QEII's private visit to Sheridan Wyoming in October 1984 to visit her racing stable manager's ranch (Lord Porchester)
I deployed there on Monday 8th October and began meetings with the Airport Manager, Deputy Consul General from SFO, Town Mayor and numerous US Security personnel on Tuesday 9th plus the only decent florists for some table arrangements in the VC-10 and a 3-star hotel catering team to organise light snacks for her return journey via Offutt AFB on 15th October.
Our planning was going OK - including the Secret Service demanding no open weapons carrying in town. Going well that is until the morning of 12th October when the news of the Provisional Irish Republican Army's bomb at the Brighton Hotel reached us. A call to HRH in Lexington, Kentucky about cancelling the visit etc., was stopped as HRH advised she had already spoken to Margaret Thatcher and all was OK in the UK and her trip was to proceed.
We now all prepared for the VC-10 arrival near lunchtime when the Secret Service guys discovered just about every pickup truck at the airport car park had 4 rifles in their rear window racks and a private jet arrived with 55 rifles on board - panic! It transpired that Mon 15th was the start of the hunting season and nothing in Wyoming was going to stop that! We now had security from the Secret Service, The State Troopers, National Forest Rangers, The local Sheriff and his posse and all were armed to the teeth!
Lunchtime and the sight of a majestic VC-10, nose up using the airframe as a brake as the runway was just within limits for length and only had a LCN close to minimums!
A formal deplaning with HRH met by Senator Malcolm Wallop, Lord Porchester and it seemed like 25 others. They left the airport and over the next few days scared the security to death as she walked down the middle of Main Street and promptly veered left and went over to talk to some school children - even US Presidents did not do such unplanned crowd mixing!
HRH had semi-formal dinners, met all the local dignitares and enjoyed much private time until Monday 15th when an enormous entourage descended on the airport to say farewell. The aircraft captain was getting jittery due his stopwatch timing for doors closed. HRH turned to me and gave me a huge smile; one happy loyal servant.
An eerie silence was finally broken when HRH finally stepped up the stairs and entered the cabin. Suddenly the 2 starboard engines started and the airport manager in person appeared at the front of the aircraft - he was going to be marshaller. The DV window now open, the 2 port engines started and the captain gave thumbs up for marshalling - a screaming of engines but there was no forward movement. I realised the nose wheel chocks were still in place. I dropped my SD cap and sprinted over to discover the heavy VC-10 had ridden up onto the front chock and the rear chock was lying loose, hence no forward movement. With the marshaller dumb struck and who knows what the aircraft captain was doing, I used the loose chock to hammer away at the stuck unit.
It finally loosened and I ran back out to the port side and held up the chock ropes to show both the marshaller and the captain it was clear to proceed. More engine noise, much waving of batons and the VC-10 was off with the Royal Standard flying, a beautiful take off and on to Offutt to refuel (insufficient at Sheridan) I gave a sigh of relief!
At the subsequent debrief the o i/c Secret Service advised me he had just stopped one of his snipers from shooting me 'cos he thought I was a threat to the aircraft! Apparently being the only person on the ramp in No1 RAF uniform had convinced them I was a friendly!
That night I was stuck in Denver en-route to Las Vegas and Nellis AFB due to a snowstorm, but that's another story.
A new member who has joined us recently:
Welcome to the OBA!
Chris Barnes, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham
From: Syd Avery, Guardamar del Segura, Alicante Subject: AN225
Hi, Tony et al,
The video about the AN225 in OBB #083122 brought back many memories. I first saw the 225 in Gostomel, during the 10th Anniversary celebrations between Antonov and Air Foyle, before she was put back into service. Looking in need of a good wash and brush up and a puff or two of nitrogen in her tyres. In what was called “Main Territories” (the main factory the other side of Kyiv), was a second, incomplete airframe. There was talk of completing this one, but finances prevented it. The two extra motors tied on the wings gave a huge push in the back even at a MTOW of over 600 tonnes. Antonov, the crews and those of us fortunate enough to work and fly on the Maria, were extremely proud of the aeroplane. After having flown many hours worldwide in her, it is sad to see her in the condition she is now in. I hope she gets air under her wings in the future.
Picture taken in KBL, looks like I'm going to have my ear pierced!
From: Mike Green, Coventry, West Midlands Subject: Cheviot Wartime Memorial
Many thanks for all your excellent bulletins; they never fail to interest, and for someone like myself who goes back to the Abingdon hangar pre-squadron days they are a constant eye-opener of how the Movements world has expanded and changed over the years. It is a source of regret to me that, when I was first posted to MAMS, dear old Gordon Spiers told me to keep a flying log purely as support for an application for some degree of flying pay.
I therefore recorded only the basic details of each flight and no details at all of any task that didn’t involve flying. Now I read with envy all the good tales told by correspondents that have better memories and better records than I have. I know I had some cracking good experiences and got into some pretty hairy scrapes 1964-67 but the details that might make them interesting reading to anyone else are too dim in my memory to be recounted. Also, unlike my old mate Ian Stacey, I was never a keen photograph taker, so my pictorial contribution must be a very modern one.
When Pat and I were walking in the remote College Valley in the Cheviot Hills, close to the Scottish border, we came across this remarkable wartime memorial. It records the date and site of all crashes in the Cheviots during the Second World War, all 19 of them, British, German and American.
One of the aircraft, a B17 Flying Fortress, had 3 survivors from its 9 man crew who were rescued by local shepherds and a collie called Sheila who subsequently received the Dickin Medal for gallantry awarded to dogs. Apparently there is now a waymarked walking trail to all the crash sites.
All the very best,
From: Robert Pountney, Forres, Moray Subject: Nimrod Tail Fin
Repatriation of Nimrod XV239 Tail Fin from Lake Ontario to Scotland
On 2 September 1995, a Royal Air Force Hawker Siddeley Nimrod aircraft crashed into Lake Ontario during an air display, killing all seven crew members on board. The aircraft involved was XV239, a Nimrod MR.2 maritime patrol aircraft operated by 120 Squadron from RAF Kinloss.
The recovery effort was immediately set in motion; divers initially located the wreckage, which had broken into four main sections.
To help with the search, a boat from the Toronto Police Service made its way to the crash site and dropped a remotely operated underwater vehicle containing sonar and video cameras. This was able to display images of the wreckage clearly to allow the recovery team to recover the bodies of the crew and debris from the aircraft.
A significant amount of data was available, given the public nature of the accident, and the RAF inquiry was able to determine that all of the aircraft's systems had been functioning normally, making it possible to rule out any mechanical or structural failure of the Nimrod as a potential cause. This resulted in the inquiry focusing on the actions of the crew, and in particular the aircraft's captain.
It was determined that, at a previous display, he had made an error following the second dumb-bell turn that led to his crossing over the display line; this had not been reported as it should have been, which would have allowed analysis of the display manoeuvres before a scheduled practice run. Instead, on deploying to Canada, the captain amended the manoeuvre by tightening his turn to avoid crossing over the crowd through reducing engine power. This removed the safety margins for the aircraft in performing the display manoeuvres (primarily the dumb-bell) as it took it below the recommended speed and led to it stalling.
The tail fin of XV239 was salvaged and displayed at the Toronto Aerospace Museum.
The salvaged tail fin was initially displayed in the Toronto Aerospace Museum, but due to a recent major reorganisation was about to be scrapped. So, I set about trying to get it flown back to the UK.
The RAF weren't interested, in fact some ex-senior officers were totally against using part of an aircraft that involved loss of life in a memorial and it took two Wing Commanders to come up to Morayvia where we explained what we were planning to do. Eventually it went all the way up to the CAS who gave his blessing and wheels were set in motion to get it back.
The RAF couldn't provide airlift so I wrote to General Hood, the RCAF CAS who, in turn, delegated the task to Brigadier General Scott Howden. The fin was flown over in a RCAF CC177 Globemaster that was en-route to Germany to recover an exercise load. It was given an official send-off from Trenton and was met by my wife Maureen and myself at Prestwick. It was subsequently transported into store at Kinloss.
We know an artist called Andy Hay of Flying Art who draws illustrations for Flypast magazine and Andy took my written idea and came up with a picture which transformed into the memorial.
I raised £4,500 on Just Giving and met with Paul Henderson, a monumental business owner in Elgin and together we picked out the boulders and Paul and team set about carving the crew names of the three aircraft involved and fitting the marble plaques.
Work started on a suitable site at Morayvia and, thanks to a tremendous effort by Richard Murray of LAS Plant Hire, he turned a patch of grass into a splendid memorial in two days flat. We held an unveiling on the 26th August 2022 attended by the local great and good plus Col Ron Walker RCAF and Sqn Ldr Matt Sanders of the RAAF.
We had a Piper and also our very own Chaplain so it was a memorable occasion and even changed one or two opinions of those who had previously thought that it was a very bad idea. All in all Tony I'm really chuffed at what we have achieved and already wreaths have been laid by visitors.
January 2020 - Members of 8 Wing CFB Trenton were on hand for a short ceremony and words from the 8 Wing padre.
The Nimrod tail fin is loaded onto a RCAF CC177 Globemaster aircraft at CFB Trenton for delivery to Prestwick
26 August 2022 - the finished memorial in situ at Morayvia. The plaques also commemorate the crews of two other lost Nimrods; On 17 November 1980, Nimrod XV256 crashed into trees on take off from Kinloss after hitting a large flock of seabirds, two pilots were killed. On 2 September 2006, XV230 crashed in Afghanistan after mid-air refuelling, 14 were killed including a Royal Marine and a Para.
Col Ron Walker RCAF and Old Bod Robert (Bob) Pountney on the dedication day. Without the assistance of the RCAF this memorial would not have been possible. For more information about the Morayvia Aviation Museum visit: https://www.morayvia.org.uk/
From: Mark Attrill, Tallinn Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #083122
Sad to hear that WO Mick Day had passed away. I had met/briefly worked with Mick several times before he joined me as WO Movements, my Deputy, at RAF Coltishall in the mid-1980s. Initially, he was not happy to be 'out in the sticks' but very quickly grew to like the appointment. I spent a fair bit of time deployed away from home base as a Detachment Supply & Movements Officer and Mick could be thoroughly relied upon to look after the ranch whilst I was away. I think I'll have to pen something for your next edition on Mick.
Keep up the great work !
From: Richard Lloyd, Dunfermline, Fife Subject: Jock Drysdale RIP
Thanks as always for another stonking issue of the OBA! Jock Drysdale, Pete Kingwill and I shared a former MQ at RAF Khormaksar, following repatriation of families in June 1967.
Here’s picture of my wedding in 1969, Jock is second from right.
Jock at the Movers’ Reunion a couple of years ago. He appears a little blurred, but we all were by the end of the evening!
Jock was the most terrific fun, and and an accomplished musician. Duncan Grant, Nigel Coleman and I were the representatives of his and our era at his funeral. Interestingly, the Minister conducting the funeral was Craig Dobney, a former RAF Engineer.
Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston
Just a minor point regarding the fine narrative concerning Jock Drysdale. His lovely wife is actually known as Agnes - the same name as one of his two daughters. I worked with Jock in the late 1970s in S Pol 31 ( RAF) so heard much about his family. We were both educated in well known Edinburgh schools so there was a degree of one-upmanship in play!
Jock had settled in Comrie and was a pillar of the community (Church Elder etc). At his farewell, the church for the service was full. The congregation included a number of former colleagues including myself and Richard Lloyd.
The cortège was led by a piper. Not many of us will have drawn a whole town to a halt! Furthermore, the pipe tune was compiled for Jock under his name.
A good man gone
From: Wayne Harker, Edmonton, AB Subject: Shipping Pets
John Scott's item in the last issue of the newsletter regarding a pet from Europe reminded me of one going the other direction. When I was posted from 429 Sqn in Winnipeg to 5AMU Lahr the forces did not pay for the shipment of pets. I had prepaid to ship our family pet, a Cocker Spaniel via Air Canada and left our furry friend with a trusted friend, FE Glen Morgan, to be shipped after our arrival in Germany.
When Glen delivered the dog to Air Canada they had put an embargo on live animals so they would not accept him. Glen was coming over to Europe on a trainer the following week so "Sparkey" traveled by CC130. My understanding is that the Nav took the dog to his hotel room for their RON in Gander and he arrived the next day.
From: Alex Masson, Tunbridge Wells, Kent Subject: Re: Will Alex get a medal?
Come-come! Do you think that they would give a medal to those who mutinied on Christmas Island? No, no! That would never do! Oh! Hush my mouth! There was no mutiny on Christmas Island! The official facts say so! (but there was one!)
Some of the Sappers had served a full tour in Korea, and they were on the boat home, when they were diverted to Christmas Island to build the runways on Christmas and Maldon Islands. They were promised it would be only a few months, and when the hydrogen bomb tests were made, they could go home. It was planned that the bomb tests were made in three stages, the first one was 15 May 1957, the second (was an atomic bomb) 31 May 1957 and the third hydrogen bomb, 19 June 1957. By now in the middle of July 1957, we thought it was all over. But it wasn’t!
August came and went, and we were called to a parade, and we all formed up in our units, Navy, Army and Air Force. We were addressed by the Deputy Task Force Commander, Captain J.G.T. Western, Royal Navy. He went on about how good we were to have done the test, and then, he told us that they were planning another series of tests and that we were staying for another two …. I heard another two …. I thought he meant two years (but someone has pointed out to me that the tests only lasted two months)
Nevertheless, the Sappers surged forward and the Deputy Task Force Commander did a hasty withdrawal, and they flew him out on a Canberra to Hickham AFB, Honolulu, for they feared the mob would get him! The rest you are aware! They broke into the NAAFI tent and stole the beer, went on to the beach and refused to work, a few tents were set alight. This lasted for three days - If that is not mutiny what is?
Operation Grapple A poem by Alex Masson
You cannot reward them with a medal! - Some small-minded minion at the War Office has put the mockers upon that one, they have a long memory in that respect!
Perhaps Boris is unaware of the facts - somebody should tell him!
RAF Scampton Closure
From: Jane Short, Isle of Man Subject: Norrie’s Grandson and Gerry Keyworth
A Facebook Messenger exchange between myself and Jane Short, daughter of the late Norrie Radcliffe:
JS: Hi Tony, thought you might like to see how Norrie's grandson is becoming more like his Grandad every day!
TG: Oh wow - he sure is!
JS: Was Gerry Keyworth UKMAMS?
TG: Yes he was, but we lost contact a couple of years ago. Despite all of my efforts I cannot find him. Gerry was on MAMS the same time as your father (and me!).
JS: I am in touch with Ben his younger son - Gerry has moved into a Dementia Unit near to the family - he will not be returning to live at home, sad times for the Malta Gang, we loved Gerry dearly. I had a letter from Gerry late last year but I could tell he was deteriorating then. He managed to come over with both boys to Norrie's funeral [June, 2016] and presented me with the UKMAMS badge from his swimming trunks! He had kept it all those years and I will treasure it xx
TG: I will let his former colleagues know - thanks for sharing Jane.
Royal Air Force Return from Pitch Black
Royal Air Force personnel have returned from Pitch Black, the Royal Australian Air Force hosted exercise involving 17 nations from across the Indo-pacific region and NATO. The deployment of four Typhoons, a Voyager air-air refuelling tanker, 170 personnel and support equipment to Australia was a complex logistical challenge and involved personnel from across the RAF, from chefs to movements personnel, medics to intelligence specialists.
Royal Air Force
From: Syd Avery, Guardamar del Segura, Alicante Subject: Compo Rations
Hi, Tony et al,
Another great read with the August issue of the Old Bods Briefs. Thanks for your very hard work on our behalf.
Compo rations - how things have changed! Some few years ago, I had the privilege to take part in several years of the Semana Santa Parades in Torrevieja. (Easter Parades, and no, we did not have bonnets, attached piccie to prove it).
Quite a few of us who carried the Paso (it required 104 people to carry) were ex-forces. After one parade, a few of us got to quaffing a few beers, and the subject got on to Compo. Out of about 20 of us, only myself and another said our favourite items in the 10 man packs were the triangular sausages! Why did people not like them?
Take care and keep safe,
The Royal Air Force Bids Farewell to Her Majesty
Royal Air Force personnel are proud of the role they played in the ceremonial events following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This video looks back at some of the moments where our people helped the world bid farewell to Her Majesty.
Royal Air Force
Defence Minister announces enhancements to RCAF mobility capabilities to support global missions
Today, 26 September 2022, Defence Minister Anita Anand announced that the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is enhancing its air mobility operations based in Europe as it conducts ongoing missions there and around the world. Since late March 2022, RCAF members operating two CC-130J Hercules aircraft have been conducting operations from a hub based out of Prestwick, Scotland. The hub’s personnel have now delivered 4 million pounds of cargo – largely military aid in support of Ukraine.
To increase capacity and operational flexibility, Canada is adding a third CC-130J Hercules aircraft to the detachment, and deploying support personnel responsible for maintenance, cargo movements and administration. The Air Mobility Detachment in Prestwick will be made up of approximately 55 Canadian Armed Forces members with further augmentation based on operational tempo. When necessary, CC-177 Globemaster crews will continue to utilize the hub’s resources to increase mission efficiency and flexibility.
To reflect this change, the Prestwick Tactical Airlift Detachment will now be known as an Air Mobility Detachment. This name change is consistent with the increased frequency of flights and use of CC-177 air mobility aircraft. Bolstering the RCAF’s operations hub will increase Canada’s ability to carry out support missions throughout Europe, including the delivery of Ukraine-bound military aid. This augmentation will also increase Canada’s ability to carry out missions in the Middle East and Africa on a periodic or as-required basis. As Ukraine defends itself from Russia’s illegal and unjustifiable invasion, Canada will continue to provide Ukraine with comprehensive military assistance.
From: Alan Potts, Narbonne Subject: Encounters with HM Queen Elizabeth II
The day I could have lost my head!
Many years ago I was SAMO at RAF Northolt, taking over when the legend Brian Hughes retired. I expect, and hope, that things have changed now but, in the 1980’s, the SAMO had to attend every RAF VIP flight arriving/departing Heathrow with senior military officers, politicians and members of the Royal family. It was the Margaret Thatcher era and dedicated RAF VC10 aircraft were preferred over commercial flights for long haul travel.
At around 0300 hours one morning in the summer of 1989 I was due to meet an inbound VC10 bringing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II back from Kentucky, USA, after a horse-breeder's visit. The protocol for meeting such flights was for British Airways to drive in the front steps, allowing the dignitaries to descend to their waiting vehicle and be whisked away. The hand-pushed RAF steps would then be placed at the rear door to allow any other passengers or hangers-on to deplane.
I stood waiting for Her Majesty to appear but no one emerged for what seemed like several minutes. Eventually a figure appeared, an irate Air Commodore Equerry who came running towards me shouting, “Put the rear steps in!” So, I dutifully obliged whilst he berated me and wanted to know my name and said, “I hope you realise that you have kept Her Majesty waiting for 10 minutes!” (My claim to fame.)
Apparently, Her Majesty had wanted to personally thank the many cabin staff who had looked after her throughout the trip. The intention being for the crew to deplane the rear steps and line up at the bottom of the front steps to allow Her Majesty to say her thanks before departing. The Equerry had been on his first flight with Her Majesty and was unaware of our SOP.
I wanted to say to him that a little communication would have prevented this scenario and his obvious embarrassment; however, his blood pressure was already elevated and I thought it wise to stay silent!
Needless to say the Station Commander, RAF Northolt, had his ear bent and he, in turn, had a few words for me later that day. I sincerely hope that the terms of reference for the SAMO have been updated since my time in post.