Lac Castagnier, QC
November 10, 2000
We're making some wine at home right now - always making 10 gallons at a time - half red and half white. We'll get about 60 bottles out of it, at a cost of about £1.50 a bottle. The best part about it is that it tastes damn good (no chemicals added). Put a pretty label on it, and it's a perfect gift too!

New on the site this week is the article "Specialist Aircrew" which I extracted from the book of the same name - I do believe it makes for good reading.
John Holloway has had an interesting exchange as a result of his article on the web site...

Shrewsbury, Shropshire
28th October 2000

Dear Tony,

Just a line to let you know that I have lost my Internet access for the time being so here'e a bit of "snailmail".

Enclosed is a photo of the crests I had made in Karachi, they were made at a shop called the British Embroidery Works on Elphinston Street. [Editor's note: sorry, my scanner is not behaving. The photograph shows two embroidered crests; one of the Middle East Air Force 'Wings in the Sun' and the other of the old Transport Command dragon 'Ferio Ferendo' which was later adopted by UKMAMS in 1966 and subsequently replaced by the current 'Swift to Move' in 1972.]

In 1997 some of our members went back to Mauripur at the invite of the PAF; I was down to go but I only got as far as London, I'd stayed at the Victory Club and started my course of anti-malaria tablets, but they really knocked me about, so I thought I would probably spoil it for the others and ducked out. In fact I was really ill for at least two weeks afterwards. One of the lads said later that I shouldn't have washed the tablets down with draught Bass!!

However, whilst they were in Karachi they found the badge works still there, making crests and badges as usual. The ABC Chinese Restaurant was also still there, but now run by the son. They said he was really chuffed when they showed him a menu dating back from the 1950's they'd taken with them.

Now, how about this! The Mauripur article you have put on the website and the bit about the 617 Squadron Canberra crash - I have actually received an e-mail from the pilot! - enclosed copy, so I'm going to be a bit cheeky - I have drafted a letter in reply, do you think you could send it on e-mail to him?

I'll sort out some more photo's and get some reprints for you. I do have one of me at Mauripur so I'll send them soon.

Cheers for now,

John Holloway
From: TS Boyce<>
Date: 24 October 2000

From: Wing Commander Sam Boyce RAF (Retd)

I enjoyed your story about Mauripur which I found on the Internet. I was the captain of the 617 Squadron Canberra (WH 950) which returned to Mauripur after a very short trip and which, as you rightly say, was reduced to scrap!

I was in company with one other aircraft (not three - two more passed though about 10 days later) and was returning to Binbrook after a five month detachment to Butterworth where we were engaged in bombing operations against the communist terrorists in the Malay jungle.

I set off en route to Habbiniyah and at the top of the climb, some 160 miles out along the Baluchistan coast, I had an engine failure accompanied by a fire warning light. Unimpressed with the turn of events, I headed straight back to Mauripur and put it down on one engine and well over landing weight with startling results! The aircraft was catergorised Cat5 (scrap) but certain items had to be recovered from it for return to UK, and this was done by the RAF chaps at the staging post.

Unknown to me, they found a considerable amount of valuables hidden away in various crannies while they were doing this, and they were handed in to the Adjutant. My first encounter with all this was when he sent for my crew and I, and we were invited to give an explanation! We managed, quite truthfully, to persuade him that we knew absolutely nothing about this stuff, and it seemed clear that it had been secreted there by our groundcrew at Butterworth before my departure, who would liberate it back at Binbrook.

The Adjutant, having accepted this, asked me what I intended to do with this loot and I immediately saw the spectre of a huge can of worms being opened if this went any further. So I suggested that he arrange for it all to be sold locally and the proceeds given to the PSI fund at Mauripur. I assume that was done and shortly afterwards I left by Hastings en route for home.

Our Far East detachment was at an end and the Squadron was soon back to normal in much colder and rather less exotic Lincolnshire. But not a soul ever mentioned any of the loot, to my great relief, and I assume that quite a few of the wives and girlfriends of our groundcrew never received the expensive presents they were hoping to get!

Yours Aye,
Sam Boyce
Dear Wing Commander Boyce,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the Mauripur article. I assume you located it on the UKMAMS OBA website.

They found me only recently and asked me for something to enter on the web, so I sent them what you see, most of which is from an article that I had printed in the October 1996 issue of 'Flypast' magazine, and some from the Mauripur Association newsletter 'Sandscript'.

With regard to your unfortunate experience at Mauripur, I've always thought that there were four Canberra's. I have a photo that I took from the cockpit of the back-up Hastings over the top of the Mauripur based Anson. Nearest is WH956 then WH950, but I am unable to see the other two.

One of my jobs was to prepare the signal to all the other staging posts of our daily departures and arrivals, and I recall that I was halfway back to the Section from Signals when I saw you hit the deck. Of course that meant preparing a fresh signal!

The Mauripur Association was only created in 1996, and since then we have met each November at the Falcon Hotel in Stratford Upon Avon. This year it will be on the 16th, 17th and 18th November. There are usually about 80 of us turning up, with about a dozen from my era, one of whom was actually involved in the disposal of WH950. He wrote an article in Sandscript in which he included a memory of that event:

[quote] The Canberra was a write-off. It was stripped of all of its' equipment and then eventually the wings, fuselage etc., were cut up for scrap and sold to some Karachi scrap merchants. I can remember the tenders being received at EPAS and Flt.Lt. George Paine (Eqiup Officer) getting me to verify with him the highest tenders. The funniest part was when the camels and carts arrived to collect the metals. It took ages for them to load up and in the meantime the camels were p*****g and s*****g outside EPAS and everywhere else they went. George Paine's reaction: "Get that lot cleared up lads!" Funny indeed! [end quote]

I am glad you liked the article. In fact the UKMAMS website has been put together extremely well, and I have asked our editor, Tony Gale, if he would kindly send this on to you as I have lost my access to the internet for a while.

John Holloway
In response to my "Bill Nangle where are you?" in last weeks' OBB, I received an e-mail:

Victoria BC, Canada
2 Nov,2000

Hi Tony,

Alive and well on the "wet" coast! :-)

It's been a very busy month. The problem with being an Air Reserve Loadmaster is that you never know when you're going to be airborne. I've done several trips with 442 Sqn out of CFB Comox BC over the past few weeks on their Buffalo's flying Search and Rescue missions.

Not too much to do on those trips but keep the SAR Techs in line (not an easy job at the best of times!).

I noticed I'm slated for 2 Bosnia trips in January with 435 Sqn out of CFB Trenton, Ontario. At least this time we won't be doing tactical approaches and takeoffs in theatre and I won't have to carry a gun, Oh Joy!

I used to take the mickey out of the Regiment Wogs all the time ......but, they're a lovely sight manning gun pits when you really need them :-)

Apart from all that I've been busy bucking up 3 cords of wood for our winter fuel. Helps keep the electricity bill down to a barely manageable level :-)

A note to Willie Crossley: What was the name of the wee Irish lad on D shift in 1978/79, Patrick....? He ended up in Belize.

Regards to all,
I sent a reply to Bill questioning why, if he was on the Reserve, was he seemingly so busy? Here is his response:

3 Nov, 2000

Hi Tony,

Well, the reserve job is "supposed" to be "part time", however, the trade underwent a huge reduction a few years ago, under the Forces Reduction Program, and now they have "suddenly" realized that they are really short LM's.

What happened was that most of the youngsters pulled the pin and left all the old guys, and now the old guys are getting to the age where they are retiring and there ain't no youngsters to follow in their footsteps. Its called "piss poor planning" :-)

Those of us that are current on more than one airframe are really busy. Its almost like being punished for being too qualified :-)

Too much flying, who'd of ever thought!!

Dave Barton dropped me a letter...

King's Lynn
31 October, 2000

Dear Tony,

Sorry I have not moved into the 21st Century and still have to rely on daughter to transmit. I did make several attempts to get onto the net via an old PC and even our all singing all dancing TV but it was all just too hard - must be going senile!

Anyway it was good to hear from you albeit a short note and hope to catch up with all your latest before too long. As for me I am still doing the odd spot of sailing and traveling. A few trips to OZ and a couple of RTW - the last with Shirley showing her some of the places previously visited. We are off to Sri Lanka Jan/Feb for a month but will be staying well clear of the T.Tigers!

Will endeavour to do a short profile and find a couple of pictures but I think that the "then" ones would look better than the "now" ones. I still keep in touch with John Evans and Les Charlesworth direct. John Evans as of course you may know is now married to Don Wickham's widow.

Keep in touch and am now looking at the new Fax/Answer Machine/E-mail/Telephone now on the market. Perhaps I may eventually get "on line" In the meantime it will have to be through daughter.

Dave Barton
Talking of Dave Barton...

I believe it was in 1975 or '76, I was stationed at Kai Tak in Hong Kong at the time and Dave came to visit from the U.K. My wife and I entertained Dave with a dinner at our married quarters; Leung Chung Villa on Beacon Hill Road just below the Lion Rock.

Dave had a liking for Teachers fine scotch whiskey, so much so that he was able to wrap himself around a 26'er during the course of the evening, showing no effects at all as to its' potency. At 10:30 he crashed on the settee, and I figured he was good for the night, so I covered him with a blanket.

About an hour later he arose, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, announcing that he had to go to the market. I wasn't too sure that he was in any condition to go by himself, and so I cheerfully agreed to accompany him.

When we got to the market - I seem to remember it was off of Nathan Road - he proceeded to barter with the local vendors for 100 (one hundred) pairs of flip-flops of assorted sizes. I couldn't believe he was doing this - and thought it had to be the whiskey talking. He appeared to have reached a satisfactory negotiation with one chap, and a cardboard box was duly stuffed with the 100 pairs of flip flops!

Dave and I plus the cardboard box got into a taxi and returned to Leung Chung villa for the night. The following morning, over breakfast, I pointed out the cardboard box with these 100 pairs of assorted size flip-flops and asked him if we should return them to the market to see if he could get a refund - I forget how much he spent on them.

He told me that he had accepted an order from the chaps in Masirah when he was transiting through a few days earlier - they were in desperate need of them. (and here I thought it was the Teachers buying them!!)
Ian Stacey wrote from Chicago Illinois a month ago (better late than never!)
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000 14:39:08 EDT

Hi Tony,

This is Ian Stacey, Pete Underwood sent me info about your website sometime ago but somehow I never seem to get around to sending mail so this is a rather late submission. I served on UKMAMS at the same time as Peter although we were on different teams which, as you know, means that you did not get to see too much of each other as the other teams always seemed to be leaving just as you got back or vice versa.

We met up again at the 25th anniversary re-union at Lyneham and have stayed in touch ever since. I have been living here just outside Chicago for the last 17 years. I am still the proud possessor of a British passport but did agree to marry an American girl!! In fact my Wife, Wendy and I will be celebrating our tenth anniversary next month.

In addition to Peter, I still keep in (loose) touch with several of my UKMAMS contemporarys:- Mike Green, Nigel Healey and John Dunn. Of course most of my gen comes from the UKMAMS Association Magazine which I receive on a very regular basis about four times a year.

I was at Abingdon when the Squadron was first formed and we worked in that little old building over the other side of the airfield. We were just a Flight then and were run by Gordon Spiers. When we became a Squadron, Bill Jacobs was sent in to run the organization. ("Jack Obbs" we used to call him in deference to that famous cricketer of almost the same name). Bill Jacobs' son lives here in Chicago as well and I have met up with him a couple of times. On one occasion we even called his father who is living in Scotland and I talked to him for the first time in 30 years! - I must say he had a remarkable memory.

I briefly browsed around your website and was interested to see that you have a member living in Minneapolis which is not all that far (by US terms) from here. I had a bloody good laugh when I read his biography and his reference to Pete Wiblin who indeed was a total idiot, how he ever got commissioned is a total mystery to me. I think I will call Mike Green in the UK and get him to look up your website (I've forgotten his E Mail Address).

Things were pretty rotten when I first moved here 17 years ago and I had to return to the UK at least annually in order to get a decent pint of beer and a good curry. However things have improved quite a lot these days, we have a brew pub only ten minutes from here which serves a very passable pint, they even have casked ale served at cellar temperature, and my wife (following an instant love affair with curry upon her various trips to the UK with me) has learned to cook East Indian. Consequently my trips to the UK have dropped off in regularity.

Do you ever come to Chicago? If so stop by for a pint or three.

Cheers Ian Stacey
That's it for this week - don't forget to send in those pictures!

Have a nice weekend