First delivery of Airbus C295W to RCAF could be delayed

Complications with the technical manuals of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CC-295 search and rescue aircraft could delay delivery of the first aircraft. Airbus will deliver 16 C295W aircraft to the RCAF to replace its fleet of de Havilland CC-115 Buffalo and Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules search and rescue aircraft.


Manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space unveiled the first C295W in its distinctive RCAF search and rescue (SAR) paint scheme in mid-October at its production facility in Seville, Spain, and was anticipating handover by the end of the year.


While members of the SAR test and evaluation flight of 434 Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron have been in Seville since early fall to assess the aircraft and complete various flight and technical manuals, the Air Force has yet to accept the aircraft.


“There have been challenges in the completion of the required technical manuals, which are required for all aspects of safe aircraft operation — from flying to maintenance,” the RCAF and assistant deputy minister (material), the military’s acquisition branch, said in a statement.



“Technical manuals are a critical component when it comes to the safe operation of any fleet. The safety of our aviators is simply not something we are willing to compromise on. We continue to collaborate with Airbus, prioritizing the work required in order to deliver the new search and rescue aircraft safely and effectively.”


In a statement to CTV News, an Airbus spokesperson said, “Work on operational technical publications is under review to ensure these are tailored to the customer’s requirements and additional time is required.”


Airbus will deliver 16 of the twin-propeller CC-295 aircraft to replace the de Havilland CC-115 Buffalo and Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules used in a search and rescue role. Despite the delay, the RCAF is still expecting to bring the first aircraft to 19 Wing Comox, BC, by April 2020.


“While it is not yet known if this will cause a delay in final delivery, we remain optimistic that the supplier can work towards an acceptable solution so that our on-site testing and evaluations can be done prior to flying the first aircraft to Canada next spring, as previously planned,” said a spokesperson.


In its statement to CTV, Airbus said it had been working tirelessly to meet the demanding delivery milestones of the Canadian FWSAR program and to date the company has successfully completed design, development, certification and manufacture of the aircraft, as well as the first stages establishing the program’s support operations in Canada.


Aircrew and maintainers with 418 Search and Rescue Operational Training Squadron, reactivated on July 11, 2019, began initial cadre training on the CC-295 at Airbus’ facility in Spain in September. The aircraft will be operating from four main bases in Comox, Winnipeg, Trenton, and Greenwood.



From: Peter King, Blenheim 
To: Jim Nadin, Lincoln
Cc: Tony Gale, Gatineau, QC
Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #103119

My Dear Jim,

Pete King here. I hope this reaches you OK; your email address looks decidedly dodgy!

Thanks to the good offices of Tony G (cc'd, great work mate, very much appreciated!), I just about fell off my computer chair laughing at your re-tell of our stitch-up in the latest OBA [].  I remember your visit well. It was great to have you on-board. An extra set of hands, we were full-on a lot of the time. Dulles was not the "jolly" that everyone else thought it was.

As CO Det, clearly, I have to take full responsibility.  But, the other miscreants were FGOFF Trev Patch (Top 2IC, if you could stop him chasing the local women!). I think he emigrated to the USA, but have completely lost contact with him. Then there was SGT Dougie Murray, fellow Scot and absolute top guy when it came to getting stuck in and sorting the crap out; also brilliant at organising the post-match "de-briefs". I still wonder how he put up with me and Trev. What a team.   No wonder you got stitched up!  As I mentioned, I lost touch with Trev but, remain in contact with Doug and Pam at Christmas - they are currently in Spain.

We emigrated to NZ in 2002 when I "retired" from the RAF.  Three years in civil aviation which did not suit then "headhunted" into the RNZAF where I had a blast for 14 years. They even let me me command the Movs Sqn and one of our three bases.  After 3 attempts they finally put me out to pasture (at age 63).


Currently volunteering at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre (pictured - you guys would know it's a Hudson). Boys with toys, brilliant!


With very best wishes to you Jim and Doug and, of course Tony (thanks again for keeping us all together).


Kia Ora, Pete


From: Gordon Gray, Allestree, Derby
Subject: October Newsletter Feedback

Hi Tony,

A really bumper edition in October; most interesting.

Regarding Dave Green and his Op Corporate instances at Brize. If only that S/Ldr Eng. escorting the Shrike parts had ‘kept his finger on the pulse’ as to the fact Brize shift had loaded them up the vent, yours truly, Gray, would not have ended up on the mat the morning after. Fancy that, news to me, 37 years later, I now feel exonerated! Our team spent time and effort causing an extended delay searching in the wrong holds.

Yep! Our team that day were incredulous about the removal of those flagged safety pins
["Remove Before Flight" on the missiles]; I can still see the face of Sgt (W) ALM [name withheld to protect the guilty!] when informed of her vigilant attention to detail! We all had a chuckle over that. It reverberated for a long time after, doubtless still does in some crew rooms!

In response to Mike Stepney's submission in the last newsletter which I found very interesting.  During my JSPU tour of duty in Cyprus 1978-81 much of our work in the Port of Limassol involved close association with our civilian contractor, Mr Kim Porakos. I am sure Mike would have known of him in Famagusta, as Mr Porakos was the link with Shipping Agents and Stevedore labour on behalf of the JSPU for all customs clearance and physical handling of HMG cargo except unaccompanied baggage.

With the loss of Famagusta Port to the Turks,, everything by way of equipment and handling aids, including that owned by Kim Porakos was abandoned, either dockside or in the cargo sheds; many civilian registered vehicles were also left in situ.

Regular officially authorised inspection of Famagusta Port by our Port Commandant (Lt Col RCT) was always accompanied by either Deputy Port Commandant JSPU (Flt Lt RAF) or myself (FS SNCO Sea Transport), and during those visits we were always on the lookout not only for service equipment left behind but for UK registered vehicles that had been abandoned in July 1974. Equally of concern and somewhat sadly, was Kim Porakos's persistence in asking us to look out for all of his handling aids and trailers which he would never see again.

Cheers Tony,

From: Andrew Kay, Colorado Springs, CO
Subject: Most Unusual Duty on Movements

Hi Tony,

Whoa! One more I can answer and I have to thank being at Northolt for both of these. I was "seconded" to Wimbledon for the tennis tournament in '77 which was the year Virginia Wade won the ladies championship for England. I was an usher on Center Court and got to see most of the big matches, and if I remember correctly we got a daily per diem for being there as well as free strawberries and cream!

The other weird secondment was to the Royal Tournament (the year is a blur I'm afraid) when it was held at Earls Court. The odd thing about that one was that we were actually billeted right there on the upper levels at Earl's Court in bunk beds behind plywood partition walls.  We also had to stand guard duty while we were there (in the days of the IRA bombing London) for obvious reasons. 

However, some of the sights you would see of squaddies bringing back girls they'd picked up in local pubs are probably not to be told here. Suffice to say the gun pit emplacement display behind the sandbags was a favorite spot. 

On the floor and section we were designated to (again ripping tickets), we were with some naval matelots and a couple of army pongos.  The sailors had to go out in uniform every night so the Shore Patrols could pick them out more easily in case of trouble, so we all used to hit the local pubs together every night in a big group in full uniform. Fun times. 

The other thing I clearly recall was our section on the upper floor was dead in line with the finish line for the Navy Field Gun Competition. We used to get old boys who had been on the gun team 20 years ago come and ask if they could sneak in without a ticket just to watch the race. We always let them in and that's all they stayed for. Each afternoon's and night's results of the race and the times of the winning teams were sent by flash signal to every ship and shore establishment in the fleet. That's how seriously they took it.

My memory is a bit dim on a lot of things these days, but the Royal Tournament stands out like a beacon. I must have had fun there!


All the best,


Andy Kay


From: Mike Lefebvre, Burton, NB   
Subject: Most Unusual Duty on Movements

When it comes to unusual duty, I have one that comes to mind. On the 15 Dec 1972, I was tasked to be the loadmaster on a Northern entertainment tour. The departure point was Toronto's Downsview airport. The passengers consisted of a six man band, dancing girls, a clown and magician, stand-up comedian, children’s entertainers, dancers; all very diverse talents for two shows a day - one children’s show and one adult show lasting one and a half hours each at every stop.

We, the C130E crew, were not only making the artists' flight a new experience, but were also learning to be the set-up crew for the traveling show.  We were working in very restricted spaces on and off the stage; there were no fancy halls in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Alert, Resolute Bay or Val-d’Or (Val-d’Or was an isolated base in the 70’s, now vacationers from the cities go to their summer camps in the area).

It was a very interesting voyage, but we were unable to return the group to Toronto due to the artificial horizon toppling (can’t tell up from down). We were subsequently informed to come straight home to Trenton; just hang a coke bottle to the roof in front of the pilot and we had a way of knowing the angle of our wings in relation to the ground, and we went home!

Mike Lefebvre
436 Sqn Loadmaster
Feb '70 to Jun' 78
From: Clive Price, Brecon, Powys
Subject: The Unusual Jobs

I recall a quiet week at Abingdon and someone suggesting we grab a Land Rover and tent, abscond to the Brecon Beacons and doss down in a quiet spot (I knew all the pubs in that area).

Fg/Off Dave Benson put the cat amongst the pigeons by saying he would contact the RAF Regiment for routes we could use while marching up and over the mountains.

We stayed in the crewroom playing cards and drinking coffee!

Your old mate,

Taff Price
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, Bucks    
Subject: Most Unusual Duty on Movements

Hi Tony, I think that you have had all my ‘unusual’ movement duties in previous ramblings from Risborough, describing things I hadn’t expected to do when I got up that morning; e.g. processing an inbound arrival into the USA of 25,000 live mosquitoes at JFK.  However, there are a couple of unusual situations which spring to mind during Service life after MAMS.

First – having just arrived at MoD in a staff job, I was called in to see the Group Captain: “Ah, Powell I see you have done some organizing in your last job”. (I had been involved in a Royal visit.). “The RAF has a problem, at least RAF Rugby has a problem”  (The boss, Welsh from the Valleys, was seriously into RAF Rugby).  “Normally the RAF Rugby Team Match Secretary is an Educating Officer, but we appear to have run out and the guy who was going to take over has been extended in Germany for 12 months. So, you are it!”

And so it came to pass that I joined the top table of RAF Rugby, having skipped the normal progression of Station team. Station Rep, Command Rep etc.  And, it was a fascinating secondary duty, rounding up the team and arranging transport etc., as well as going to the games at places I had only heard about like Twickenham and Pontypool!


During the interview I hadn’t the heart/guts to tell the GC that actually I rowed at school, was quite keen on croquet but was not even sure how many players were in a rugby team, except it was either 13 or 15?  So, the first action on being anointed RAF First 15 Rugby Match Secretary was to dash up to the nearest bookshop in the Strand and buy an ‘Idiots Guide to Rugby’ to find out the basics of the game!


The other was even more bizarre.  It occurred at a major NATO headquarters during a 10-day planning session for a major international war-game exercise, primarily simulated play to test the headquarters' staff.  I was representing UK air logistic support play aspects.  Anyway, along with my other NATO command and national logs reps, we soon got our Annex for the Exercise Instructions sorted, agreed and drafted. 


At this stage I was approached by the head of this planning session, a very imposing Brit Marine Colonel, who I had got to know quite well at meetings such as this with the ‘request’ that the Intelligence Exercise Play Group, while well provided with English Speakers, appeared to be lacking anyone who claimed to be able to write it!   Would I please take over as the Int'l Sub Group Secretary, now!  Did not expect to be doing that for the next few days when I had woken up that morning.


Stay safe


David Powell

F Team UK MAMS 1967-69


From: David Forsyth, 85270 St Hilaire de Riez

Subject: A Novel Movements Experience (aka Herding Cats)


In 1985 I was fortunate enough to be the first non- aircrew RAF officer to be selected to attend the French Air Force Staff College, known as the ESGA (Ecole Supérieure de Guerre Aérienne), located at the Ecole Militaire, much to the disgust of the then Air Attaché in Paris who welcomed me as one would a pork pie in a synagogue – but that is another story. This was to give rise to a novel Movements task.


The year-long course began in September. Every other year, the incoming ESGA student turned up a couple of months early to mastermind the RAF’s presence at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, and that task fell to me. The RAF had no real flying participation that year other than a Harrier and tasks were mainly about sorting out Security and Access Passes for various visitors from the MoD and the RAF more generally. A small MAMS team helped with the arrivals of RAF transport aircraft at Beauvais bringing in and taking back day-trippers from the UK.


Then arrived a signal to say that Duncan Hurd, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, wanted to attend and he wished to visit the Short Brothers' chalet. I was to be his escort. Turn your minds back to the mid- 80s and the height of the IRA terrorist activity in Northern Ireland and in mainland Britain. The message also alluded to an Intelligence assessment that the risk to Hurd was high to very high.


I was to meet up with a French Special Forces “bodyguard” at Le Bourget from where we were to be whisked in an Écureuil to Velizy-Villacoublay (the French Northolt) where Hurd was landing, meet and escort Hurd to the Écureuil for a quick trip back to Le Bourget and then guide him to the Short Brothers’ Chalet – no mean feat with hundreds of chalets arranged in lines and all looking much the same. Fortunately I had just enough notice to allow a recce and was reasonably confident I would find it despite my legendary inability to navigate (ask my wife!).


Up to then I had been under instruction to wear civilian clothes to lessen the risk to my personal security but for this task it was to be best No1 uniform. The bodyguard, the French nickname is “barbouze”, towered over my 6'3" in a suit whose tight fit struggled with his bulging muscles matched only by the large bulge betraying his shoulder holster and pistol. It all screamed “high-profile target here!”.


Round trip to Velizy without a hitch but I have never felt quite so conspicuous in RAF uniform striding alongside Hurd and the bodyguard up the lines of the chalets. But worse was to come. Shorts were very lavish in their hosting which included an hour of drinks on the roof terrace of their chalet to watch the air display. I could almost see the fickle finger of fate in the sky pointing out to any terrorist “He’s here, this is the man you are after!”.


Fortunately it all passed off without incident. I marveled at Hurd’s "sang-froid" (cold blood), having to live with that threat every minute. It was certainly, at least for me, a novel experience, Movements or otherwise. 


As a postscript, for the duration of the Air Show task, I was given an MG Maestro (remember them?) with CD plates (Corps Diplomatique). Very good acceleration. I quickly mastered a trick to beat the horrendous traffic jams around the Paris Périphérique and up to Le Bourget. I would wait for an official French motorcade with very effective motorcycle outriders who unceremoniously cleared a passage between traffic lanes to allow fast, unimpeded travel. I would latch onto the back of convoys and the CD plates gave me immunity from the French gendarmes who gave short shrift to others trying the same trick. Progress was as exciting as it was rapid. The yoyo effect meant that I tested the MG’s acceleration and brakes mercilessly – just glad it was not my car.



From: Stephen Bird, Chester, Cheshire  
Subject: Most Unusual Duty on Movements

Well for me it was being volunteered to go down en-mass to Base Hangar at Brize Norton, clambering onto the wings of VC-10's, taking our lives into our hands while polishing them for royal flights in the early 80's.

I don't think anything could top that for me; it did not feature in the recruitment brochure I looked at!
From: Neil Middleton, Ipswich, Suffolk
Subject: Most Unusual Duty on Movements

Hi Tony,

The only non-movements (MAMS) job that I can remember is sometime during my NEAF Mams tour 71–74. I was travelling back and fore down the M1 highway between Akrotiri and Episkopi for approximately a week to help build the dry ski slope at Episkopi. We did finish it and had a go as well. The slope was like thousands of scrubbing brushes turned upside down and painted white.


From: Michael Hunter, Portland,  ON  
Subject: Most Unusual Duty on Movements

In 1990, while serving at 3 AMU Ottawa, I was a member of a team sent to Eureka and then Alert for the annual battery resupply. The thing that made it worth recalling was, instead of a top-heavy rank crew, the AMU CO sent 3 corporals. We worked hard when we had to do so. The Sigs guys were very pleased because we worked without supervision and came up with techniques of slinging loads etc., when we had to improvise. We even had to hitch a ride back to Ottawa on our own. My next tasking was Honduras which was the best duty in my MAMS career.
From: Gordon Gray, Allestree, Derby
Subject: Most Unusual Duty on Movements

An important aspect of our remit in Joint Services Port Unit (JSPU) Limassol was to maintain very necessary and good relations with local shipping agents. We had greater rapport with some agents' personalities than others. In this particular instant the agent's chap, well known to us both, had invited my boss and me to accompany him to go to a vessel anchored out in the 'Roads' in Limassol Harbour to conduct the 'Pratique' with Customs [an invitation to Customs to inspect a vessel for dutiable goods or contraband]; my boss accepted and I was requested to go along.

On our return journey across the water, the Agent's chap said he had another 'Pratique' to do. As we approached the vessel, it did not take long identifing it as a Russian container ship. Asked if we wished to go aboard by the Agent, my Boss, not unresevedly agreed and we all four climbed up the accommodation ladder, not 'Jacob's' I hasten to add. We were all ushered into the Captain's cabin whereupon, after the Customs fellow completed his paperwork, we sat with a vodka shot in front of each of us.  Needless to say there was little dialogue from either of us two RAF in Khaki Drill (KD) uniform except pleasant nodding of heads in the presence of the Captain of the vessel. Suffice to say, I leave the ending open here.

A final point, we were often on quayside and dock areas either in blue uniform or KD, container serial checking on offloading, as well as overseeing RFA Bacchus occasionally, but there was always an opportunity eyeing up foreign-flagged vessels. Many of the Russian cruise liners, in beautiful white livery, had obvious bow opening doors; easily converted for other uses.  During my time in JSPU there was heavy involvement maintaining supply for UN Forces in Lebanon, with particular emphasis through local Shipping Agents.

That was my only Surface Movements posting but an extremely enjoyable one for my final two years of the tour.

From: Mike Stepney, Stewarton, East Ayrshire    

Subject: Most Unusual Duty on Movements


I was three months into my tour as a Movement Clerk at the Joint Services Port Unit in Famagusta, Cyprus (1971), when I was advised that I was ‘volunteered’ for a three-day trip on the unit Z-craft (Zed), an ex-RAF landing craft, and the last serviceable example in service with the British military.


It would be over a weekend but I would be given time off in lieu as it was a duty trip to Akrtotiri Mole; I would be listed as ‘crew under training’ for the duration.


The distance between Famagusta and Akrotiri by sea is 90 miles and a Zed when new, was capable of a maximum of 8 knots. 


Unfortunately, our Zed had been round the block a few times, and whilst it was still capable of a reasonable 7/8 knots, this could only be attained in short bursts with a following wind and going downhill!  Normal speed of around 6/7 knots was to be expected. It was going to be a long trip, about 14 hours each way.


Now the Zed was a reasonably stable craft in nice calm shallow waters, but I had heard from the crew (RCT chaps), that it was a pig anywhere away from close inshore. We were scheduled to be at Akrotiri Mole by late on the Friday and would be preparing the craft for a number of activities scheduled on the Saturday. After deck re-organizing, we would return to Famagusta on the Sunday.


The Skipper, a long in the tooth RCT Staff Sergeant, (I’m sure he had taken part in the D-Day landings), gave the briefing, and he enquired if I had sea legs!  I advised that I had a skipper’s ticket for our local park boating pond, but he didn’t appear to see the humorous side to my comment!


The trip had been organized by HQBF Cyprus, and was a mix of the HQ Cyprus Summer Ball and some form of RCT anniversary.  Guest of honour was Commander British Forces Cyprus (C-in-C NEAF), Air Marshall Derek Hodgkinson, and I guess that as the sole RAF ‘crewman’, I was expected to play a part. 


The Zed was to be used as a floating party boat and would cruise around Limassol bay from early on the Saturday evening until the 01:00 hrs on the Sunday. The ‘deck-hands’ were to act as bar stewards/waiters/crowd control/ tour guides etc., and to rescue anyone who fell overboard during the event. However, there were no lifeboats, only cork flotation vests!  On learning this, I was not too sure that I wanted to volunteer for this soiree but was advised that I would be on duty and it would be an enjoyable couple of days at sea including plenty of booze and food, all gratis. It sounded a bit too good to be true, and so it turned out! We were told to bring dark slacks and a white shirt with us so that we would be dressed in decent fashion. Being mid-summer, no ties were necessary but black cummerbunds would be supplied.


Finally, the day arrived and with the sun just appearing over the eastern horizon, we cast off from Famagusta.  As we motored south on a calm sea I sat on deck with a hot breakfast and a cup of coffee, I was beginning to enjoy myself.  About an hour later we turned west passing Cape Gkreko, and everything changed. The Zed headed into a westerly blow and started to wallow like a trawler in the Barents Sea in md-winter. The water was breaking over the bow ramp and flooding the deck and it didn’t take long for me to see my breakfast for a second time.


The skipper eventually turned the Zed north towards land as even he found the going a bit rough, though he had a chuckle at me, and I have to say, two or three others who were likewise, in some considerable discomfort.


Thankfully things got a little better as we headed into Larnaca Bay which gave us some respite from the waves, and we hugged the coast the rest of the way; by the time we arrived at Limassol/Akrotiri, I was feeling not too bad; a few sherbets that evening helped me get a decent night’s sleep.


Saturday dawned, and to be quite truthful, I did not feel very well however, our steely S/Sgt was having none of it, and I was put to work with the others swabbing the deck and hosing down all the sea salt that had been deposited the previous day. We then set about stringing lights around the boat and setting up large ice coolers, tables and chairs and a large canopy that was to cover the boat from stem to stern.


That afternoon saw large blocks of ice delivered that had to be chopped up and placed in the coolers. This was followed by boxes of spirits, crates of mixers and I lost count of how many crates of beer were put on board, certainly sufficient for us to have a few!  However, everything was being carefully counted by the mess manager from Episkopi, who I discovered was monitoring deliveries and advised that he would be back early on the Sunday morning when we discharged our ‘guests’ to take charge not only of the remaining booze, but all the empty spirit bottles as well!  As I knew the drinking habits of the rest of the crew, I thought that there was little chance of anything remaining on the Sunday!


The RCT Captain in charge of the event pitched up to inspect the readiness of the vessel. I could not believe that he wanted to inspect us as well to ensure that we were presentable!  He appeared quite amiable but was insistent that we were not to consume alcohol during the party… yeah, fat chance!  He was satisfied that everything was ship-shape and Bristol fashion, and passed the guest list to the skipper. 


We would take turns throughout the evening doing various tasks; security name checks at the boarding point, walking the deck safety wire to ensure no-one fell in, serving the drinks from the bar, preparing the food trays and offering the food to the guests, and having a quick half now and again, all whilst steaming around Akrotiri bay.


At 17:00 the first of the busses arrived and the walking freight boarded.  We cast off at 18:30 just as the sun was setting and commenced the cruise with approximately 100 guests on board. It did not take long for the party to get into full swing what with the amount of booze being swilled and as luck would have it, the sea state had calmed down considerably and the weather was perfect.


Drinks were obtained by a mess bar chit system, and it soon became clear that the guests were in a happy and generous mood.  Almost every order at the bar included a drink for the barman and as we all took a turn at each of the duties, we quickly amassed quite a lot of beer and spirit credits. We made sure that we would benefit from this bonanza by moving some crates of beer to the accommodation area for future consumption.



Next to arrive late afternoon were the trays of food. Now a landing craft with a large open deck, even though we had swabbed it well, fitted a canopy and put up several fold flat wooden tables, is not the best place to store food.  As much as possible was placed in the Zed’s small galley, but there were quite a few trays that had to be stored in the accommodation area.  That was quite handy for us, as apart from a compo breakfast, and a light lunch we would not have time for an evening meal.


RAF Akrotiri Mole

All was going well and we must have been quite a sight from the Limassol waterfront, a floating gin palace bedecked with lights and music playing, slowly motoring around the bay, when around 23:00hrs the Zed suddenly bucked up and down quite violently in an unseen swell which caused consternation among the guests.  A few screamed, drinks were spilled, and it took quite a time to calm everyone down. 


It appeared that a large cargo vessel that had departed Limassol docks, and passed the Zed about ten minutes previously had sent its bow wave in our direction. We had to have a head count to ensure that no one had gone overboard! The skipper had been on deck and one of the RCT corporal helmsmen had been at the wheel! He was invited for a ‘hats on’ interview on our return to JSPU!


We docked back at Akrotiri around 01:00hrs, where a line of waiting vehicles and the Episkopi mess manager awaited our arrival.  The guests disembarked and we commenced clearing up the debris. I did notice one of the motley crew taking several spirit bottles into the accommodation area, then shortly after he returned with the empties! Later I found a selection of glass fuel sample jars in the accommodation with letters on their lids.  It did not take a rocket scientist to decipher W, G, R, V, B. We then had an hour or so relaxing enjoying the fruits of our labours, and finally climbed into our green maggots around 03:00hrs.


Bright and early Sunday we had off-loaded all the paraphernalia from the nights cruise, leaving it by the dockside for collection by Episkopi, and then headed home. During the night the wind had once again freshened (a gale) from the west, so this time it was behind us all the way back to Famagusta.


I thought that the outbound trip was bad enough, the return was far worse.  Suffice to say that all I had heard about the Zed in bad weather came to fruition on the return leg.  It was not only going up and down, but also corkscrewing from side to side, and as each wave travelled underneath our flat bottom, it felt like a toboggan ride!  Another repeat of breakfast up-chuck ensued and worse still followed, as standing near the ramp trying to take in some clean fresh air, the exhaust from the engine and the cooking smell from the galley finished me off completely. 


The only plus point on the return leg was that the Zed was making almost 9 knots, so we arrived back at JSPU an hour or so earlier than was scheduled, thank goodness!


During my tour I enjoyed many short harbour trips on the Zed and RPL but I kept well away from further long Zed trips.   








From: Brian Hunt, Brighton, East Sussex
Subject: Most Unusual Duty on Movements

Charlie team from UKMAMS arrived at Springfield airstrip (a short tactical strip) in August 1974 (I cannot remember the date) and joined a team from NEAF MAMS, to rescue people wishing to get out of the area. The NEAF MAMS team had seen Turkish jets fly over the airfield the previous day and we were assured that the British Army has secured the Dhekelia sovereign base area. Allegedly, the RSM had been at the main entrance to the area when a Turkish tank rumbled up, but retired when he told them they were not welcome!

At the start, most of the evacuees were European tourists who looked as is they had just come up from the beach. Some were dressed only in swimming gear and one Swedish man gave the NEAF MAMS team leader his Volvo, which he had driven to the airfield and would not be able to use any more! I would be interested to know, what happened to the Volvo subsequently! 70 Sqn from Akrotiri flew the evacuees to Akrotiri where they were shipped out to the UK. Allegedly the first Hercules sortie, the day before we arrived, had taken a very large number of evacuees (some said 130!), sitting on the floor holding onto chains fixed across the floor! Not surprisingly, the authorities stepped in and that was stopped!

As the tourist numbers reduced, we moved an increasing number of Greeks. On one occasion, as the aircraft was about to depart, an old Greek lady about 4 foot tall and of similar girth arrived and didn’t have the strength to climb the rear steps of the Hercules. We didn’t have a fork lift so two of us put our shoulders under her backside and heaved her in. After a few days, everything subsided and we returned to Akrotiri where we stayed for the next few weeks, assisting Akrotiri movers.

Akrotiri was heaving. All those living off base had been brought on base for safety, husbands had to live in messes and wives and children were farmed out to live with lone wives in quarters. Husbands were not allowed to return to their quarters, so you can imagine the fraternising that went on in quiet corners after dark!  On top of that, various additional troops arrived, who I guess were for UN peacekeeping. There were certainly, Canadians and Gurkhas near our camp site.

Having been sent to Cyprus for a task scheduled to last a few days, we returned after three weeks.

From: Len Bowen, Chisholm, ACT

Subject: Most Unusual Duty on Movements


Probably the Movements & Transport Officer job for the RAAF Protocol Branch that I covered from 2003 to 2013 was the most unusual in my 50 years in the game. 


Alternate years were doing the ‘Meet & Greet’ in Melbourne for the overseas VVIPs (usually ‘Chief of Air Force’ (CAF) or their nation’s equivalent for up to twenty five invitees) arriving for ‘Airshows Down Under’, the Avalon Air Show; invited by our CAF; and then the next year as part of the RAAF team hosting the Overseas Observers Group for Exercise Pitch Black, the major bi-annual air defence exercise in Darwin.  Definitely two sides of the protocol coin, with Melbourne/Avalon requiring No 1 ‘Best Blue’ dress and best behaviour for all concerned, while Ex Pitch Black was cams & boots, dust & heat and “This is how it is in the Australian Top End.  Don’t like it? Toughen up – Sir!”. One hell of a contrast, but both tasks had their ‘moments’.



MELBOURNE & AVALON - For ‘Airshows Down Under’ the Avalon Air Show every second year, I’d get a suite in the Travelodge at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, just across the road from the Terminal Building. The idea was I had my own bedroom but the lounge part of the suite was my ops room, crew rest room and everything else, because I had a Flight Lieutenant 2IC to help me air-side, and an RAAF Movements Sergeant and four or five RAAF CPL/OR ‘baggage handlers & drivers’ to run things land-side. Always very hard graft for the first weekend, with 20+ hours each day meeting and greeting the overseas VVIPS.


With the generous help of the Australian Customs Service (thanks Chris!) fast-tracking them through arrivals, immigration, passport control, AQUIS (Australian Quarantine Inspection Service) baggage inspections and so on, but we did get to meet some really lovely people. Just a couple of tales from that time – the first of which I may already have recalled but is worth repeating.


Self with Chris from Australian Customs & Border Protection

FIFTEEN PIECES OF LUGGAGE - In 2007 was the famous incident with the Saudi Princess with the 15 pieces of matching luggage. 


We’d had the Saudi Chief of Air Force come through late on the Saturday afternoon. He seemed very tired, more tired than usual after just a twelve-hour First-Class flight from the Middle East. We were waiting for the baggage to come off the conveyor and I knew from past experience with visitors from the Middle East that he wanted to get outside for a smoke while his ADC and my FLTLT Off-Sider was running around sorting passports and AQUIS clearances.  I was talking to him while we waited and I said, “You’ll be very glad to get back down to the hotel, Sir. If I may say so, you’re looking a bit tired.”


He replied, “Yes, well I rather am. On top of everything else, we’d just had a family wedding.” 


I replied, “Oh, that’s very nice, Sir.” 


He said, “Yes, it was, but there were 2,500 guests and it was indeed a bit tiring.”


Anyway, we got him and his young ADC out to the vehicles and gun-runners – sorry, British Aerospace - were hosting him (what a surprise!) so we didn’t have to provide RAAF limos for him.  That, I thought was it, so I called my RAAF Protocol Branch boss, GPCAPT Graham Bond, who was handling the Melbourne City end of the operation, to tell him that they were on their way from the airport, and I went back to the hotel as the General was the last inward movement for that day.


I then got a phone call about seven o’clock in the evening from the British Aerospace head honcho.  He said, “The General was very impressed.  He thanks you and your team very much.  He says it was a lovely way to arrive in Australia and be greeted and have his arrival formalities handled in that manner”.  I replied, “Thanks, but it’s my job really. Just tell my boss Group Captain Bond it all went very well.”  He then said “Ah, but you see, the General’s son and new daughter-in-law are coming in tomorrow morning at five o’clock.  Do you think you could do the same treatment on arrival?”


I thought, Oh crap! We didn’t actually have an aircraft with ‘our’ VIPs aboard scheduled until 08:00 so I’d stood my team down until half seven, as we usually did. Anyway, “Oh, what the hell, all right, I’ll go across there”.  “Oh, and don’t worry” he added “We’ve got Brit Aerospace limos there and everything else. All we’re asking you to do is just get them through arrivals like you did for the General.”  Anyway, I agreed, went back across to the Terminal and saw the Duty Customs guy, because we worked with them to facilitate the VIP arrivals.  I said, “Look, you’ve got my list for tomorrow.  We weren’t due to start until 08:00, but could I add one Saudi prince and princess arriving on Emirate first flight at 05:00?”  “Okay, that’s fine, yeah, no worry.” The (Aussi Customs team was outstanding every time we worked with them).


The following morning, I wandered across in uniform, walked up to the airhead, cleared customs, got the customs officer with me, and made our way to the arrival gate.  And there was this lass in all the ‘Emirate Airways’ uniform, head scarf, the lot - with a Manchester accent that you could have cut with a knife.  She said, “Hey, yuu’ve cume t’a see prince and princess have ya?” 


I said, “Yes.” 


“Aye, that would be right.”  She added, “Yuu know she’s got 15 pieces of baggage, don’t ya?” 


I said, “Well, I didn’t know that until now actually but okay, that’s fair enough.” 


She says, “It’s all right, I’ve got a couple of people to give us a hand and I’ve told the Qantas Duty Manager, too.”


Anyway, of course they’re travelling First Class so they’re first off the aircraft.  And the princess, she is drop-dead gorgeous.  She is about five feet tall.  She’s wearing a lightweight gold lame tracksuit.  The prince – the princeling - is however, I think trying to be like his Dad but not quite making it. Scruffy beard, tatty old t-shirt, pair of jeans, didn’t really look the regal part. Nice young fellow, though.


Anyway, the Customs Officer and I introduced ourselves then I added, “On behalf of my Chief of Air Force… welcome to Australia.


Fast tracked them through customs and immigration and down to the Baggage Hall, where sure enough, there’s 15 matching pieces of luggage, each about three feet square.  Fortunately, by this time we’ve got the Emirati passenger handling crew and we’ve also got the Qantas Duty Manger. 


The latter is a big, hulking Aussie girl and we’re piling up all the suitcases onto trolleys and checking with quarantine and customs. At this point the Qantas lady looks down at this little Saudi princess and says, “You know, luv, we do have shops here in Australia.”  (QANTAS Australia - No respect for persons!) 


Well bless her heart, the little princess just looks back up at the QANTAS girl and says sweetly, “Yes, I know, and I’m going shopping tomorrow.”  Collapse of stout party!  


We got the pair land-side, met with the BAeS reps, got the group into the vehicles and away they went.  For every time we got somebody who was really grumpy and cranky, we’d get a couple of really, really nice people and it made the Protocol job all worthwhile – and I’ve got the Royal Saudi Air Force watch to prove it!


AN “UNUSUAL” RE-PACK - Outbound passengers returning home from ‘Air Shows Down Under’ often had trouble with their baggage being over-weight.  There were the inevitable gifts our Chief of Air Force to their Chief of Air Force [E], all the material they’d collected at the show from the gun runners and other defence contractors, and also, for several countries (no names here in the interest of International relations) the stacks of Australian clothing and food-stuffs not available at home at any price.  All that was usually necessary was a quick trip to the excess baggage area and the exchange of sums of money – their local Embassy rep’s problem, not mine!


Sometimes things got a little more complicated, however, as with the USAF General returning to his post as the senior US Air Commander in the Middle East Area of Operations (MEAO).  The problem here was that one of his suitcases was way over the maximum 32 kg weight that the Australian ground handlers would accept, and the case was firmly rejected at the check-in counter. 


A quick fix was necessary, so his Top Sergeant aide and I made a swift trip to ‘Strand Bags’ to get an extra suitcase, on the Generals AX Card.  No problem. 


The problem did come when ‘Top’ had to rearrange the contents of the bags. 


Despite his best efforts at surreptitious switching of contents, I couldn’t help noticing that (a) the reason that the original bag was well overweight was that there was a large quantity of what was obviously very complex – and most probably very highly classified – communications gear, which had obviously been necessary to keep in touch with the General’s HQ in the MEAO, and also that (b) there was a black box clearly marked ‘Beretta’ amongst all, the other gear.  Now my son and I are both keen pistol shooters, and at that time Callum was using a 9mm Beretta M92 in our competitions, military & police, so I recognised the black box immediately! OMG! 


Here we are in the middle of the Departure area at Tullamarine at peak evening flight period, surrounded by a stack of ‘secret squirrel’ comms gear and a box that I just knew had a 9mm pistol inside! Amazingly enough, 99.9% of the milling throng round us took no notice whatsoever of what we were doing, and the couple of people who did start to take an interest quickly moved on when two of my larger RAAF movements team members stood firmly between them and the Top Sgt & myself kneeling on the ground with the two suitcases and contents. “Nothing to see here, move along please”.


The re-pack actually only took about five minutes, then the General and his party were checked-in and on their way, but I’m not sure what documentation had to have changed hands to get the bags through the outbound Australian customs checks. Not my problem once the VVIPs had passed through the ‘Departures’ gate, thank heavens!



PITCH BLACK’ & THE TOP END - The first “Pitch Black’ [PB] – PB 2004 - that GPCAPT Graham Bond (hereafter ‘GB’ – we’ve known and worked together off and on for about three decades) and I handled, actually started out in Sydney.  It seemed like a good idea at the time. All the Overseas Observers – usually WGCDR/LTCOL [E] rank – would RV in Sydney off their international flights, visit HQ Air Command (HQAC) at RAAF Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains, then a Herc flight to Darwin for the main part of the task. Easy?  Wrong! By the time that 90% of the Overseas Observers arrived in Sydney, they were already jet-lagged and tired, and even after a welcome dinner in a top Sydney Chinese restaurant and a night in a good hotel, a further two-hour bus trip to Glenbrook and then a 6-hour C130J flight to Darwin the following day was not a good way to start a successful and productive visit.


Overseas Observers and Staff. Exercise Pitch Black 04 - Darwin - 29 July 2010

What didn’t help was that as it was our first run, we had not factored in the number of smoke breaks needed, mainly for our Middle East and Indian Sub-Continent guests.  As is the norm, all Australian public buildings, RAAF facilities and civilian hired coaches are ‘No Smoking’, so… coach to the hotel for an 08:00 departure for HQAC... 10-minute smoke break before departure.  Arrive HQAC… 5-minute smoke break before entering the building. Move to the RAAF Glenbrook Officers Mess for lunch… after a 5 minute smoke break… and so it went on.  By the time we reached Air Movements at RAAF Base Richmond we were already almost an hour behind schedule, so with the 6-hour flight to Darwin it was well after midnight before we got our charges bedded down in our hotel. Never again!


From PB06, we started the task in Darwin, and while this had some problems, as the number of international flights into Darwin is very limited, at least it was our guests’ problem to meet our program times (which now also included a firm 5-minute smoke break between each activity), not ours. Some ‘happenings’ are worth recording here:


“RACIST AUSTRALIAN BASTARD!” - I have never ever been called a racist until early in PB04, in front of the entire Overseas Observers Group, the RAAF Visit Support Team and the population of the 75 SQN Hornet crew room at RAAF Tindal a (Middle East Country not named here for obvious reasons) Colonel shouted this at me because I would not (could not) change his outbound international flight ticket for him.


I had tried to explain to him that under Australian Air Services law – and IATA regulations – only the person or the agency making the original booking can change or try to re-schedule an international flight.  Tried to explain this several times, and said that as soon as we got back to Darwin, I would personally drive him and his 2IC LTCOL to the QANTAS Office in Darwin City to make the necessary changes he wanted. Oh no!  Obviously in his country SQNLDR[E]s do what they are told, and to hell, with rules & regs.  Fortunately, I had the good sense to just walk out of the Crew Room and GB stepped in, took the COL aside and suggested that if he wished to continue with the Group, he moderate his language, respect Australian norms and generally get with the program. 


We did eventually change his and his 2IC’s tickets when we got back to Darwin, but I never got an apology – or a t-shirt at the ENDEX exchange of gifts!  Oh well, not all our guests are nice guys.


‘THE GAFA’ - Worth at this point mentioning that we always tried to get the Observers Group down to the Hornet base at RAAF Tindal – some 50 – 90 minutes by C130, 2 hours 40 by Caribou or 5 – 6 hours by coach south of Darwin. While this got home to our overseas guests the sheer size of our country and a good introduction to the Northern Territory (NT) and the GAFA – the Great Australian F**k All – between major population centres once you leave the SE seaboard, it was a major factor in scheduling the program within the limited 4/5 day time scale allotted to us.


WHAT COUNTRY IS THAT?” - The lack of understanding of the scale of things over here compared with some of our guests’ home nations or states was brought home to GB and I early on PB 06, when we took our Overseas Observers out on an Royal Australian Navy (RAN) Fremantle Class Patrol Boat (FCPB) out of  the navy base onto Darwin Harbour to show how the RAN handled the interception and arrest of illegal fishing boats and illegal immigrant craft in our northern waters. 


We had barely cleared the breakwater at Larakia when one of our Middle East guests pointed across Darwin Harbour and asked “What country is that over there?”  He was pointing across to the Cox Peninsula (where the non-existent mountain suddenly appears in the movie ‘Australia’ during the bombing of Darwin sequence. As an aside, that movie is three wasted hours of my life I’ll never get back again.) and Mandora township which has a beaut little motel there just a 20 minute ferry ride from Darwin, where my wife and I spent a week after one of my PB sojourns in the Top End, but that’s another story. 


I paused for thought.  Not a time for a smart-a**e retort after being called a racist to my face in PB04, I simply responded “Australia, Sir.  Still Australia, Sir…. and for another 1,000 km west of that, too”.



“THEY STOP!” - Later, on the same FCPB trip, when we were notionally intercepting an illegal fishing vessel, played by a Darwin Harbour Pilot Boat, the Royal Australian Navy crew were demonstrating the ‘Rules of Engagement’ Green & Red Cards used if the suspect vessel failed to stop.  IIRC it goes: ‘Show the STEYR AUG rifle above the head and call for the vessel to hove to / Aim the rifle at the vessel and call for it etc., / Fire one aimed shot across the bow away from the vessel and call etc., / Fire a burst across the bow etc.,/ Uncover the .50 Cal MG and call etc., / Aim the .50 etc., / Fire one round of .50 Cal across the bow etc.’ .


At this point I saw the Omani Wing Commander with whom GB and I had been drinking in the hotel bar the night before shaking his head. “Is there a problem, Sir? We are strictly complying with the International Rules of Engagement for the interception of suspect vessels in territorial waters.”  “Oh Len, Len”, he responded. “Back home we start with the first burst on .50 Cal through the wheelhouse.  They stop!” “Horses for courses, Sir” I responded, “And perhaps a different local media outlook as well”.   I’ve got an Oman Air Force watch, too.


B707 AAR SORTIES - On PB08 We got the chance to fly our guests on one of the last couple of air-to-air refueling sorties flown by our B707 AAR tankers.  After all my years with the RAF & the RAAF I’d never been down the back watching fighters ‘tank’. I was 64 years old at the time, and with 35 years in RAF/RAAF uniform, but I still climbed down out of the B707 on an all-time high.



FLEXIBILITY IS THE KEYNOTE, SIR” - Just to show that not all problems – delete that – challenges – came from our guests. PB10.  I was already at the airport to meet the incoming Peoples’ Republic Of China Air Force (PRCAF) group, when I got a phone call from another ‘International Protocol Branch’ of RAAF HQ who had also somehow got into the act with ‘meeting & greeting’ our Overseas Observers. There had already been some issues which GB and I knew, from past experience, would cause problems later, but we had been overruled by higher authority – after all what would we know; we’d only been doing it for six years. 


A young Flight Lieutenant insisted that he had to be there to meet the PRCAF delegation and that it was imperative that I come back and pick him up.  I raced back to the hotel (fortunately I know Darwin very well and also know where and when an ‘80 KM’ speed limit is only a guideline not a rule*).  Having picked him up and en-route back to the airport at about twice the legal NT speed limit to be there when the aircraft landed (did you know that a Kia Carnival 8-seater can do 140 kph with ease in the right places?). I asked “Why the imperative that you are there when they arrive?  Do you know our PRCAF guests who are arriving?”


“No Sir”. 


“Have you seen the Security Directive regarding what and when we show the PRCAF all the kit on the airfield?”


“No Sir?” 


“Are you a Mandarin or Cantonese speaker?”


“No Sir”. 


“Have you ever done any RAAF Protocol work before?”


“No Sir”. 


By this time, I was just about to lose my cool.  “You know, son, you’re not filling me with a lot of confidence that you really know what’s going on here!” 


“Well Sir, you’ve just got to be flexible in these situations”. 




“Yes, Sir”.

All-in-all, I loved my time with the RAAF Protocol Branch, mainly because I always had a great team to work and lots of equally (usually) great people of all ranks from overseas to meet and with whom to interact. I particularly liked working for and with GPCAPT Bond, as he trusted me and my team implicitly to get on with what we did best, and didn’t try to micro-manage us, no matter how senior the VVIPS we were handling. 

Trust & respect works up and down, especially in the Movements game... however, here is an extract from the ‘Comments’ column in my (informal) Flight Log Book:

“RTU ex-PB10.  Upgrade to Business Class using my own Frequent Flyer points because I could!  I'm really getting too old for this PB Overseas Observers shit!”

Len Bowen
Chisholm, ACT.
28th November 2019.

*Thank you, Sir Terry Pratchett of ‘Diskworld’ fame.

[More pictures in the following frames --->]

Ex Pitch Black - a RAAF Caribou taxiing at Tindal - 2 hours 40 minutes flying time from Darwin

Exercise Pitch Black 08 - Self (at left) herding some foreign observers

Exercise Pitch Black 08 - Darwin - yours truly is just about to board the RAAF 33 Squadron B707 tanker aircraft for an air-to-air refueling sortie. 

Exercise Pitch Black 08 - feeding time for the RAAF F18 Super Hornets

Folklore would have us believe the cabin in a tanker housed a big smelly tank of Avtur - not so!

A new member who has joined us recently:

Welcome to the OBA!

Don Hatton, Liscomb, NS

From: Tony Street, Buffalo, NY
Subject: Evil Spirits

Evil Spirits*


In 1965, I was flying as a Yukon Loadmaster on 437(T) Squadron out of RCAF Station Trenton.


Our mission was to fly to Ottawa and pick up 125 Air Cadets and fly them to Jamaica and bring 125 Jamaican cadets back to Ottawa on a Cadet exchange program.


We arrived in Ottawa and loaded the kids on board and were introduced to the escorting officer, an officious army Captain who immediately irritated everyone by his overbearing boorishness and penchant for telling everyone how to do their job. 


He was well turned out with a ramrod spine, knifelike creases in his uniform, short haircut, jutting chin etc. He affected the British Army’s long and pointy waxed mustache (A thing of ridiculous beauty), along with a bad and assumed English accent. A Sandhurst wannabe.


He was also a graduate of “Swagger Stick School,” and punctuated all his words with rhythmic waving of his penile extension. 


The female flight attendants immediately dubbed him “Captain Dipstick” which quickly morphed into “Captain Dip Shit,” And then to “CDS” (Chef of Defense Staff). He went on to tell the troops how to load the baggage, questioned the A/C Commander re the validity of his flight plan and asked if we could, “Swing by Niagara Falls, so the boys can have a look.”  He got the “Sit-down-shut-up-and keep your feet off the seats” look from the flight attendants.


Upon arrival in Jamaica it was as dark as the inside of a cow with a temperature of 85 degrees and high humidity.  The Air Canada handlers marshaled us into a parking area and hooked up the ground power.  CDS was first ashore and was met by the third secretary of the High Commission. They chatted as the large air conditioned busses arrived to pickup the kids. CDS took command.  “OK boys,” he whinged, “everybody off the plane and onto the busses while I see to your baggage, hurry up lads as I have just been invited by the third secretary to an exclusive "Jump Up" at the hotel!”  Dutifully, the boys boarded the busses, allowing the CDS to now rivet his full attention to the baggage. 


Two of the locals who worked for Air Canada had crawled up into the front belly and were slowly but methodically passing out the bags one by one.  “Can’t you work faster, men, we’ll be here all night!” cried the Captain.


The reply came in the familiar Caribbean lilt, “We gonna be here all night anyway, Mon, it make no difference to us.” was the reply.


“Let’s get more workers out here then.” suggested CDS.


“We de only workers on de shif, you want more workers you go into town an gettem, Mon, take you about two hours der an' back,” was their response.


Just then, the ground power unit ran out of fuel and all the aircraft lights went out and the hydraulics purred to a stop.  The only light available was provided by the headlights of the busses parked by the terminal awaiting the baggage.  The baggage handlers quit.  They moved to the belly door where they could sit upright and swing their legs.  Then in strict breach of safety regs, lit up what appeared to be cigarettes but certainly didn’t smell like them.  “What are you doing?” shouted the Captain “Get back in the belly and unload the baggage by feel!”


One of the gentleman replied, “Mon, widout de lights in de belly, the belly be full a evil spirits!”


“By God!” roared the now, nearly apoplectic CDS, “This is 1965, there are NO evil spirits in the damned belly.  “There’s nothing in the dark that isn’t there in the light, ergo, there are no evil spirits!” he reasoned, “Now, damn it, chaps, crawl into the belly and start passing out the bags!”


Casually sitting in the belly door swinging their legs and grinning from ear to ear, thoroughly enjoying CDS’s discomfort, the Jamaican worker replied, “Mon, widout lights in de belly, da belly sure is fulla dem evil spirits.  We have de smash head evil spirit, de smash kneecap evil spirit an de smash elbow evil spirit! Beside dat,” he concluded, “De safety Mon say, no light in de belly, no work in de belly!”


With at least two or more hours to get the GPU fueled and the bags loaded into the busses, we buttoned up the rest of the aircraft and left the problem in the capable hands of Air Canada and headed to our hotel.


Upon checking in, each crewmember was handed an invitation to a “Poolside Jump-Up” hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner who seldom showed for these shindigs.  They were held to let the embassy staff visit with folks from home and enjoy catching up. In Africa, these parties were called Sundowners. I have been to several and all are very informal.


By the sounds from the pool, the Jump-up was well underway.  We hurriedly showered and changed into appropriate dress and beetled of to the pool area to a rather nice looking party with cool music from a steel band and local finger food in abundance.


There were many peeps from the Canadian High Commission as well as the Deputy Commissioner and some lesser lights.  All were dressed casually and drinking rum stuff out of pineapples, as was the Deputy Commissioner’s very attractive daughter.  We were all getting acquainted and passing along the latest hockey scores when a hush came over the happy group and all eyes turned to the hotel door. 


Turning around, everyone was stunned to see CDS in full dress uniform, complete with medals, stroking across the dance floor twirling his swagger stick with one hand and his pointy ‘stash with the other. I guess he had no idea of what a Jump Up was.


This incredible entrance caused the steel band to break into “Off We Go into the Wild Blue Yonder,” having been told earlier that there was an RCAF heavy transport crew in residence. Observing this grand entrance, who could blame them for thinking that he was, in fact, the real Chief of Defense Staff?


By this time, all our VIP pleasantries had been satisfied and the crew gravitated towards the tables nearest the bar. The Jump Up was moving right along.  CDS was sitting with the VIPs, who (having recovered from their initial shock”) were being regaled by his tale of derring-do of how he single-handedly won the “Battle of the Belly Baggage,” without having to call in covering air support and heavy mortar fire.


The band struck up again and CDS leapt to his feet, his toadying duties fulfilled.  He ponced around the table and asked the daughter to dance.  As she smiled away her look of terror she  was swept away in the arms of CDS, whos interpretation of the dance sequence in the movie, “The King and I,” left a lot to be desired.


"Enough of this nonsense." snorted, “Tom Twinkle Toes,” our dancing flight engineer of international fame. (He claims to have danced on all seven continents and both poles) He rose from his seat and cut in on CDS. The poor fellow was last seen twirling both his mustache and swagger stick while glaring hatred toward Twinkle Toes as he walked off the dance floor in high dudgeon into the night.


In short order, Twinkle beguiled the young lady and brought her back to our table where she remained for the rest of the evening, adding class to our act.


We departed the next morning for an all-day flight back to Canada with 125 Jamaican cadets on board, only to find out halfway that the flight steward, in his haste to get to the party, had neglected to order in-flight-meals… which provides us another story for another time.




From: Hayden Gouman, Burnham

Subject: Dozer Heading South


Took a few photos on November 12 of a D8 dozer load heading south from Christchurch to the Antarctic for the season. 100,215 lb max ACL.


The Dozer was a Cat D8 Bulldozer weighing a total of 75,000lbs. In preparation for loading the bucket has to be removed and built onto the T2 pallet train which weighed 14,000lbs leaving us with 11,000lbs remaining ACL which we filled up with 7 x PAX, baggage, mail, rolling shoring kit and gennos freight.


When loading the dozer we have to use rolling shoring blocks which weigh 230lbs each and make a track the whole way up the aircraft until its stowed position. When restraining the dozer we get very limited with tie down points as we only get one row of tiedown points down the centre of the A/C so most of the chains have to come off the sides. We used many 25,000 lb chains.


RAAF Air Mobility Getting the Firefighters to the Fires

Our Air Mobility crews have carried firefighters from all over Australia to help combat bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland.


Royal Australian Air Force


From: Don Hatton, Liscomb, NS
Subject: Joseph Henry Reid (RCAF)

Hi Tony,

Thought I would pass this on in hopes that it would catch the eye of some of our old timers.

"The family of Joseph Henry Reid, veteran of the Second World War, The Korean War and peace-keeping (Germany), regret to announce his passing in Camp Hill Veterans' Memorial Building, QEII, Halifax, on November 18, 2019 at age 93."

Joe Reid was my Flt/Sgt i/c 2AMU Pax terminal in the early 60’s. I also worked for his brother Frank, Sgt i/c 8AMU Moncton. These two brothers were part of the original forerunners of the Air Movements trade.

A story I recall with Frank, is we were short handed and needed an extra hand and called upon Frank, rarely did he step out of his office. We were on the button with an APU loaded on a flatbed truck trying to load into a boxcar but couldn’t manhandle it. Frank took a nylon rope, ran it from the APU thru the a/c snatch block and back to the forklift truck. When the rope reached its maximum stretch, zoom went the APU like an arrow, whizzing by us right to the bulkhead. Frank jumped off the forklift and said to us, “That lads, is how you load an APU” and disappeared back to the hangar. Had the APU struck any of us we would be dead - literally!  Needless to say, whenever we were short-handed, we struggled along, without the sarge.






The obituary for Joe:



Brize Norton - On November 4 Group Captain Bev Peart handed command of 4624 (County of Oxford) Movements Squadron to Wing Commander Rich Evans.  Wing Commander Evans has served on the Squadron for 6 years, latterly as the Chief of Staff, recently promoted to Wing Commander, he will now take command of this busy and diverse Reserve Squadron

On Remembrance Sunday, members of the RAF MAMS and Movements Squadrons Association

gathered in London prior to marching past the Cenotaph on Whitehall at the wreath laying ceremony

Charlie Marlow laid a wreath at a ceremony on the Isle of Wight

Box Dixon just returned from the Armistice Remembrance in Royal Wootton Bassett with granddaughter Dulcie who was fascinated by it all.

Karen and David Jarvis all scrubbed up and ready to go in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

Ex-RCAF Loadmaster Andy Jack along with Andrea Strang at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

Bruce and Shirley Oram celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary recently

A Classic Tick-Tock Man - First Day of Boot Camp


More Relevant Stuff
This newsletter is dedicated
to the memory of:
Joseph Reid (RCAF)

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Tony Gale