Lac Castagnier, QC
24 November 2000
BBBBrrrrrr! It's snowing and cold here. I find it rather strange that people who live in Canada have to learn to drive again every year. As soon as the snow starts flying there are countless fender benders caused by folk who drive just too fast in icy conditions.
In remote areas of the country you are allowed to have tyres with metal studs that enable you to keep a firm grip on the surface when driving on hard packed snow and ice. But, alas, in the more populated regions these are strictly taboo as they would tend to tear up the road surfaces.
On to OBA biz...
This week we welcome Owen "Mitch" Miller from St. Austell, England.
I received a rather strange Application for Membership:
Years=1957 - 59
I noticed that the City was Kuala Lumpur, the e-mail originated in Cyprus and there was a UK phone number! I was very curious about this and so I sent a message to the originator requesting clarification. Here is the response:
My name is (SSgt) Stuart Mackenzie, currently serving in the SBA Dhekelia, Cyprus.
The application form was filled in by myself on behalf of my Father, Keith, who is on holiday with my family at present. Apologies for the confusion but my Father is resident in Darlington, UK, but carried out his National Service in KL, with the RAF. As with most people of his generation he is not IT literate, however if he could make contact with any of his old comrades through the website he would be speechless.
Hope I have clarified the confusion.
And so we welcome Keith Mackenzie from Darlington - I do trust that some of his old friends will get in touch with him.
Murdo Macleod has been caught, so he tells us in a letter dated 17 Nov...
Just to let you know that MOD in their usual unerring wisdom have finally figured out that I've been missing from the fold for the last five months, sharp as a pin that lot, and I have received an appointment to join RFA Sir Galahad on the 27th of this month at that old place in Soton, yes you've guessed it, Marchwood, that intrepid hub of rural army life in south Hampshire.
I suppose that there are worse places, and anyway I digress, and to get back to the subject in hand I shall mostly be unavailable until about March or April but I may be able to pick up my e-mails so keep sending them.
I still haven't gotten round to doing the photos that I said I would, but I will once I've sussed it all out and worked out how to make a jpeg file. Maybe I'll just send the lot to Willie and let him sort it out.
The Old Boys Briefs are very informative, just wish I knew who half of these guys are, and some of them go back even before my time.
Anyway cheers for now and I will be in touch.
A tale about Dave Barton buying 100 pairs of flip flops while 'feeling no pain' in Hong Kong was relayed in a recent newsletter - here is the rest of the story...
22, November 2000
In reply to the message in the OBB, from I don't know whom, to Dave Barton [Editors note: - I know whom - 'twas me, Tony Gale!], I should like to put a few matters in perspective.
I well remember my trip to HKG, which I hasten to add was a bit of a fiddle, but more of that later. Being stationed at Masirah on a nine month unaccompanied tour and recently seeing RAF bases between the UK and Far East closing down, we found ourselves rather cut off. Nothing between Cyprus and HK, Gan and Bahrain having been closed.
The PSI shop and NAAFI in Masirah stocked nothing of particular interest for the men to take home as gifts for their wives and girlfriends. One could buy cards for "Dear Husband" but I failed to find anyone who even took a second glance at them!
I was well aware that there was a monthly Hercules from RAF Lyneham which made an overnight stop
at Masirah on route from the UK to Hong Kong via Karachi for the purpose of changing over Pakistani personnel who were employed by the various parties on Masirah. Being trained on UKMAMS under the command of Mike Slade, who always advocated that one must use one's initiative when 'on the job', I used his philosophy to get in touch with another ex-UKMAMS guy, W.O. Alan Wincott who happened to be working at the then 38 Group HQ with a hand in authorizing supernumery crews.
I approached my boss, SAMO Martin Coombs (ex MAMS), and pointed out the need to stock the PSI shop with items which the lads could buy to take home to their loved ones. It just happened that the Whitsun holiday was due at the same time as the Hercules was about to pass through Masirah, and with juggling of figures etc., I convinced the Boss that if I could arrange a trip on this flight I would only miss about one and a half days of work despite being away for a week. I also convinced him of all the good that would come out of the trip for the chaps on the island!!
Martin was a great guy and he reluctantly agreed to take the matter up with the Commanding Officer. He did add "I know you too well Dave, and I can see that once you are away we shall not see you again for weeks!"
The C.O. agreed that I could go providing I could 'fix' a flight officially and authorized that I could also sign for £1,000 from the PSI funds.
Quick signal to Mr. Wincott, and Hey Presto! Flt. Sgt. Barton, Supernumery Crew MSH/HKG/MSH June 9th, 1976. Suitably equipped, I boarded the a/c for the short flight to Karachi where I was able to contact an old friend of mine. Next stop Kuala Lumpur where we strangely enough went sick for a week! I can't say how boring that week was and how worried I was about what would be said on my return! Eventually arrived in HKG on the 16th June, but at this point my memory fails me as to where I stayed, [Editors note: - I know - 'twas with me!], but only had about 48 hours on the ground and had much shopping to do.
I did meet up with a very old friend of mine from my MN days [Editors note: that would have been Hector Ross*, Dave, and you worked with him on the British-India Steamship Navigation Company - geez!], who directed me to the Chinese Communist shop for the purchase of a variety of trinkets etc., which I considered would be just the thing as gifts.
I well remember going into town looking for 100 pairs of 'flip-flops' but of course tried the price of one pair and began to bargain for 100. At that point the shop keeper was convinced that I was either mad or drunk! [Editors note: a 26'er of Teachers finest scotch will do that to you!]. I brought the goods and do remember having to get a taxi as it was too much to carry. Where I went I cannot remember [Editors note: I work my fingers to the bone and what thanks do I get! ..heh heh heh].
The next day we took off for Brunei, having been diverted to take some helicopter blades. For some reason we had a boring night stop in Singapore on our return journey! Then for a nice change we had a pleasant stop-over at Diego Garcia - when was this trip ever going to end?
We did eventually make Karachi and then Masirah, where I was greeted like a long-lost traveler and all my purchases were whisked away from under my nose. By the time I had made my way to Air Movements a queue had already started to form outside the PSI shop, while inside the invoices were being closely perused and prices fixed to the goods. By the time I got to the mess and was on my 'second' I learned that the PSI shop had sold out!! My boss saw the funny side of the event and my absence was soon forgotten (I don't think I had even been missed!).
I did arrange for another guy to make the trip to HKG which I gather went off well, but alas, I was to leave the island and the little 'perk' was discontinued. I am indebted to the person who evidently took me under his/her wing, provided ample libation and even the warmth of a blanket - come out wherever you are! [Editors note: I think you owe me a pint of whatever we're drinking Dave!]
[*Hector Ross, member of the Hong Kong Government, was awarded the MBE for cleaning up Hong Kong. He initiated the "Lap Sap Chung" Rubbish Worm Discredit Card that was given by citizens to any person seen to be littering. Using the Oriental "loss of face" philosophy really worked well and the city was cleaned up in less than one year.]
From: "Lloyd Ross/Doug Dearing" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000 05:24:56 +0300
My name is Doug Dearing Ret'd LM from the Canadian Air Force now working for Lockheed in Saudi Arabia. I'm trying to locate Stew Whitton Ret'd U.K. MAMS. I was wondering if any of your contacts out here might know his present location. I can be contacted at email@example.com
Thanks for any help,
ps Nice site!
21 Nov 2000
By copy of this e-mail I am passing on your message to John Belcher, who is Membership Secretary and also Webmaster of the UKMAMS Association at RAF Lyneham. There are over 900 names on the books there, with current contact addresses.
In addition, I will publish your letter in the weekly newsletter "Old Boys Briefs" which will also appear on the web site next Friday.
I feel sure that we will find out about Stew Whitton one way or another.
Subject: Ref Stu Whitton
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000 10:21:00 -0000
From: "John Belcher, Membership Sec "firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tony Gale passed your e-mail to me asking about Stu Whitton as I am the membership secretary for the UKMAMS Association.
Stu is now out of the RAF and after a spell working in Nairobi, Kenya, now works at RAF Lyneham as a driver for a civilian firm. The firm took over from the RAF drivers when they were civilianised.
By coincidence, I was on the same team as Stu back in the late 80's. He was the Corporal and I was one of the airmen.
I will pass your e-mail to him this week. Hope this helps.
Visit the UKMAMS web site at: http://www.ukmams-assoc.fsnet.co.uk
John Holloway sent me an e-mail telling me that he had sent his profile along with some photographs via snailmail. I noticed that letter post from the UK to Canada is really slow both ways. By contrast, my brother mailed a parcel to me by regular post from the UK last Saturday, and it was hand delivered at 9:30 am Tuesday!
Well that's it for this week, don't forget to send me those photographs.
Have a nice weekend