I received a letter from Basil Hughes (Charlie Team, 63-65):
10th November 2000
Re: MAMS Flight, RAF Abingdon
I too have very fond memories of those days on the Mams Flight at RAF Abingdon. I had just come back from Christmas Island when I joined as a Corporal. I had also just got engaged and I remember the advice I had from some of the old hands including "Dan" Archer, Mitch and others about the wisdom of getting married. I didn't take their advice (do we ever take the advice of our elders?) and did get married. I've still got the steak knives and forks that the lads of the, by then Squadron, bought me. I remember the party in the pub down in Abingdon -- was it The Bull? I was too "under the weather" to remember. But why did they have to recall me off my honeymoon for a trip! The worst part was getting back from West Wales on a Sunday by train. My wife to this day cannot understand why I don't want to go back to places like Cyprus or Malta for a holiday!
I am now retired and work as a volunteer counsellor, a far cry from the MAMS days, but I still have the knife that I brought back from Benina. I am also Chairman of the Pembrokeshire U3A [Editors note: U3A is an abbreviation for University of the Third Age - an organisation which aims to provide educational stimulus and support for older people]- a far cry from the days in the RAF where I couldn't read out loud properly, (I am badly dsylexic but learned to hide it).
By the way does anyone know what happened to the unit box that got separated from us on our trip back from Nassau, which we had filled with fruit? I never saw it again, did anyone?
Jim Gallagher sent along a very interesting photograph taken in the back and beyond of Nottinghamshire recently.
Suffice to say the poor chap who ventured out of his car suffered with a snapped pucker string!
Davy Jones (TG18 Drafter) wrote to us from New Zealand recently:
Wellington, New Zealand
21 October 2000
Thanks for the e-mail. Sorry you didn't seem to have too much luck getting through to me. It seems that your latest attempt worked! I wasn't aware of the alternative site - I am now though and will be taking a look very shortly.
To bring you up to speed - after recovering from the after shocks of becoming a civvy and moving to NZ, we seemed to have settled very quickly. Eve, my wife and our 4 children head to South Island NZ for a week - to do the tourist bit first before returning to Wellington to start to process of house hunting, schools and job etc.
I'd booked a week in a motel just outside Wellington to use as a base. Within 3 days we had found a 4 B/Rm property in Northland - a good find below the market rate for rent and comprising of lounge; dinning' kitchen; laundry; walk-in pantry (for the freeze, fridge etc); shower rm, sep toilet, 2nd bathroom and loo; large hall; garage; workshop, 4beds and a large dressing room attatched all for $300 pw -about 85-90 pounds pw.
Our son, Mat (10yr) is at the local primary school and has settled in well and v quickly; to daughters - Stef (13) and Kerrie (15) are at the Wellington Girls College, again both have settled v quickly. Both are now in school choirs and the like; Kerrie was accepted yesterday for the Wellington Cathedral Choir which has pleased her (she was formally with the Gloucester Cathedral Youth Choir). Our eldest, Aimee is off to Victoria University Wellington to study for a double degree - BA in German and an LLB - Laws, that will be Feb next. In the interim period she is working for Tie Rack in the City. She is also looking forward to seeing her long standing boyfriend at Xmas, sad I know! Eve, the better half of the partnership is also off to Uni - she's studying for a BEd in Primary Education, again at Victoria.
As for me. Well, I eventually sent out 32 job applications during September (we moved into the house on 28 Aug) - I'd been short listed for 10 jobs - interviewed and declined 5; I accepted a job just over a week ago and am now the Human Resources Advisor to Quality Hotels and Resorts New Zealand - part of the CDL Group which cover Copthorne, Quality and Millennium hotels in (a total of 117 hotels) in 13 countries - they also have shares in the Plaza in New York and own Regal (USA). I have responsibility for the 17 Quality Hotels here in NZ - between 1,000 and 2,000 staff depending on the "seasonal trends". I cover everything from advising on policy, retention of staff, recruitment issues; IR/ER issues, contracts; all HR finance and budgets; succession planning; staff development and training - basically everything HR, Admin, Trg and Finance. I work directly for the Divisional Director and a link to the companies Chief Operating Officer in Auckland, in basic terms - senior management post with the National responsibility and the "perks" that go with that and new ones that come into play after 3 months in the job, if you get my drift? I am shortly to undertake a nation wide tour of all my hotels in order to assess needs and bring my General Managers back into line. Certainly not a job I would have secured in the UK, however, here if you are seen to have that ability and get up and go you can get that interview, well the sky is the limit.
I must admit however, that I do miss dealing with Movers, God knows why! But, I firmly believe that if you make that move and go through with it, that any ex-RAF NCO would get the "right" job, especially here in NZ.
Anyway I'm off to help out at school, we're doing car washing to raise funds for the kid's camp in the summer.
Best wishes from your truly, please pass on my regards to all - I'll drop a line to the formal UK MAMS Sec in due course.
[Editors note: Dave did supply his full address and telephone numbers etc., if anyone would like them please drop me an e-mail]
Ever since we published the article written by John Holloway reflecting his Air Movements experiences in Pakistan and Aden back in the mid 1950's, we've had quite a few letters going back and forth regarding a Canberra aircraft that crashed at Mauripur while John was there.
Wing Commander Sam Boyce RAF (Rtd.), the pilot of the 617 Squadron Canberra that crashed sent some photographs of the aircraft at Mauripur. He also sent me a follow-up letter:
11 Nov 2000
Thank you for forwarding John Holloway's reply to me. Since he has lost his access to the Internet, I'd be grateful if you would pass on my thanks to him. But do tell him that there were only two Dambusters aircraft on the day I departed Mauripur for Habbaniyah -mine and Fg Off Ken Dosset's. Some 10 days later, while I was hanging around at Mauripur with a very sore back, my CO and the A Flight commander came through with two more aircraft en route back to Binbrook. I remember being rather glad to see them as I was feeling a bit isolated !
By that time though, my aircraft was in no fit state for a photo call!! If he has 4 Canberras in his photograph (including mine not yet bent) then I think the other two who's tail numbers he can't see must have been from 12 Squadron which relieved us at Butterworth and were heading East. He may remember Martin Skirrow who was the MO at Mauripur.
With best wishes,
Well, that's it for this week. Don't forget to keep looking for those old photographs, and by all means send me an e-mail!
Have a nice weekened,
Lac Castagnier, QC
November 17, 2000
Not too much happening on the home front this week - apart from a few moments ago we got involved in a car accident. Nobody was hurt. We were stopped at a red light at the time. In London, Ontario, some of the intersections have regular traffic lights for the North-South traffic, and Stop signs for the East-West. It's an accident just waiting to happen!