From: Mike and Avril Stepney, Stewarton, Ayrshire
Subject: Re: Ian Berry’s Aden Memories

Hi Tony,

Ian Berry’s Aden memories article triggered a spark that reminded me of some actual hands-on ‘Movements’ memories from Aden, which were long ago lost in the deep canyons of my mind!  Given that in its time, Khormaksar was the largest overseas operational RAF base in existence, with what appeared to be hundreds of Movers operating there,  I was surprised that you drew so few responses to your request for input, anyway...
Although not a trained ‘Mover’ at the time, I did enjoy the diversion when called on to reinforce the Movements staff in loading tasks, which I seem to recall included ‘bumping’ two vehicles (a Merc and a Mini) onto a DC3 from a ramp that did not line up with the slope of the aircraft. These cars were ‘indulgence’ freight to Akrotiri for (I believe) one AVM Humphrey.  I think this was a move of the Aden Command HQ to Episkopi. I would have put money on the Merc not getting through the doors, but it did, after much bumping the front and back ends up and down and loading inch by inch we initially could not get it on.  So, enterprising as always, someone came up with the idea of removing the front bumper (which was huge) then re-attaching it once loaded.  This worked a treat.  After the Merc, the mini was a piece of cake, just about carried on by ten Movers!  If any readers were movers at Akrotiri in mid-1967 I would be interested in how you managed to get the Merc off!

Another movements task I recall was in support of the never ending re-supply to RAF Majunga during Ian Smith’s UDI in Southern Rhodesia.  Although UDI was declared in late '65, the RAF Majunga detachment (a base for Shackleton aircraft patrolling the Malagasy Straits to stop any oil supplies reaching Smiths Rhodesia), required a regular re-supply of fuel for the Shackletons, which was ferried by a number of different aircraft from Khormaksar. It appeared that although some fuel was available for the Shack’s at Majunga, it was of suspect quality, and mid 1966 saw many of us working shifts over a number of weeks loading 45 gallon metal drums flat floor on Britannia’s – loading hot heavy drums in 40ºC made for very tiring shifts, and a number of crates of 24 chilled stubby Amstel in the Camel Club would disappear pretty rapidly each evening! 

Anyway, enough on Aden for now.

Tony, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your dedicated work during the year in producing such an excellent newsletter for us Movers.  I would also like to wish all your readers, Movers, and anyone else reading your newsletter,  a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2018.

Avril & Mike Stepney
From: John Furney, Al Manamah
Subject: Crest Collection

Hi Tony,

I am a collector of printed or embossed military crests. I have noticed in all the newsletters there is usually  a proliferation of crests. Question 1) Where do these crests come from? and Question 2) Is there any way I can put a request in the next newsletter if anyone has such crests either from the past or ones perhaps received on this year's Christmas cards that if they don’t want them then perhaps they can forward them to me?  I can have a friend in Canada who could act as a collection point and then I have an address in Bahrain, Spain, and England. I am afraid that I have not got a single address in the Antipodeans as yet.  I would be grateful for a steer as how I should best approach making such a request.

John Furney
UKMAMS 66/69
From: Tony Gale, Gatineau, QC

Hi John,

I am not a collector per se, but I do happen to have a large collection of station and squadron crests in either .jpg or .png format that I only use in the OBA website.  These images are not very big and I doubt that they could be printed out in the same detail that an avid collector would value.

Many years ago my source was same having a vast website of information about the RAF, including badges from stations and squadrons.  These were "getatable" back then, in that I could download each individual badge and then clean up the background so that they became presentable.  In my naivety, when I first started out a couple of decades ago, it was literally a long process for each badge as I cleaned them up pixel by pixel.  Nowadays I use graphics software and can get the job done in seconds rather than hours.

Having said all that, nowadays those images that I downloaded are no longer available on the rafweb website.  He is still displaying badges, but they have a watermark on them from the RAF Heraldry Trust.  If you wander over to the Trust website and click on "Badge Register" link at the top of the page, you will arrive at the badge display index (click on the badge below the title to get to the badges).  I believe if you want to obtain a good copy of those badges, then coin of the realm must change hands.  I'm far too poor to engage in such transactions personally.

From: Richard Lloyd, Dalgety Bay, Fife
Subject: Aden Veterans' Association 50th Anniversary

Dear Tony,

Many thanks for the great work you do to put the newsletter to bed every month, and you may be sure we all look forward to the next issue. I thought I’d tell you about the event to mark the 50th anniversary of the withdrawal from Aden which took place on the 29th November at York Minster.

Martin Henderson and I teamed up for this event which consisted of a short march past and a Service in York Minster. The event was organised by the Aden Veterans’ Association of which Martin and I are members. The forecast for the day was pretty accurate - around 6ºC with occasional showers.

Around 200 of us formed up in rows of 6, and were drilled by the York Garrison Sergeant Major, Brian Kiernan, who reminded us of how to do an ‘eyes right’ and who was amusingly sarky about the unfamiliarity of ex-RAF chaps to recall stuff we did on the parade square. Predictably, a shower of rain arrived just as we set off to march to the Cathedral while paying our respects to those on the saluting dais who included the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, Barry Dodd. I found the drill bit amazingly easy, something you don’t forget, like riding a bike I guess.

The march past was led by a pipe band and by no fewer than 11 standard bearers. The Drumhead Service itself was attended (my estimate) by about 1000 people veterans and their families and civilians too.

At the end of the Service Martin and I and our companions beat a hasty retreat to the Coach and Horses in Harrogate where we toasted ourselves and everyone else with excellent Yorkshire beer.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to extend sesonal greetings of Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to our Movements' family worldwide!

Richard (Dick) Lloyd

The link to the photographs and mini-videos is here
From: Tony Last, Huntingdon, Cambs
Subject: I came across my Flying Log Book...

I was looking through my MAMS Log Book, which suddenly appeared while I was clearing out some clutter in a bedroom cupboard, and couldn’t help smiling while remembering a trip down to Singapore Dec 83/Jan 84 with Bob Dixon, Hammy Thompson, Rod McBoyle, Martin Brown and Hoss Wall, meaning we all had to be away for New Year’s Eve.

I can’t remember why we went ‘officially’ but we eventually arrived at the Marco Polo Hotel, Singapore, via Bahrain and Colombo, for a 3 night stay. Having checked in they decided we were eligible for a load of New Year’s freebies so gave each of us a big handful of Singapore Dollars to use in the hotel which we had no trouble in spending (leaving our rates in our pockets).

Unfortunately, during the lead up to the big night, Bob D developed a bout of "traveller's tummy’’ and decided against the evening's celebrations on New Year’s Eve, but agreed to join us for a Black Tie champagne breakfast in the chosen room the following morning. Dress code was underpants, and yes .. black tie. It must have been a sight to behold, especially by the serving staff who wheeled trollies of English breakfasts up to the room.  How many toasts in how many time zones can one do for breakfast?  It was brilliant!

On our return trip we went back into Colombo and stayed at Brown's Beach Hotel for the night. Late in the evening ‘’the royal we’’ decided that the very nice directions sign, in the middle of the gardens concourse, would look good in our crew room back at Lyneham. So, avoiding the ‘’armed’’ guard doing his patrols with his .303,  it was duly removed and despite the sheer size and number of pieces, stowed for departure next day.

However, some time before dawn, an alert member of the staff noticed that it was missing; two and two were put together and Bob was duly summoned.  Despite our protestations, I mean we just wouldn’t do that sort of thing, a directive was then issued to us: If it magically found its way back to its former place in the grounds, no more would be said. Otherwise, the brown stuff was going to hit the fan. Well it’s one thing removing something under their noses but have you ever tried to put something back? Hey ho! Nothing ventured. Peace and harmony being restored we beat a hasty retreat into the skies ‘sign less’ with a much relieved Bob D. 
How did your New Years Eve and trip go dear? Oh usual stuff, another airport and another hotel. Glad to be home really!

Season’s greetings

From: Michael V. O'Brien, Corinda, QLD
Subject: Trip down Memory Alley

Hi Tony,

Hope all enjoy the Festering Season, and that some of our warmth gets to the Antipodes, and not too many Brass Monkeys are in evidence.

SWMBO-Major and I have just returned from celebrating our 40th Anniversary in Penang, and whilst perambulating, as one does, (re)found Ned Kelly’s Clothing Emporium in one of the alleys off Penang Road.

I’m sure some of the readers will recognize his shingle, which had suffered from “Sun being over the Yard”, as he’s been selling high fashion to visiting military personnel for as long as I remember.  Altho’ his Lacoste Polos now cost 25 Malay Ringgit each, or 4 for a Hundred.

Anyway, Guinness, Fruit Mince Pies and all the best for the joyous times ahead, to all

Cop Ya, OBie
From: Ian Berry, West Swindon 
Subject: Santa's Checkride

Hi Tony,

Santa Claus, like all pilots, gets regular visits from the Federal Aviation Administration, and the FAA examiner arrived last week for the pre-Christmas flight check.

In preparation, Santa had the elves wash the sled and bathe all the reindeer. Santa got his log book out and made sure all his paperwork was in order. He knew they would examine all his equipment and truly put Santa's flying skills to the test.

The examiner walked slowly around the sled. He checked the reindeer harnesses, the landing gear, and even Rudolph's nose. He painstakingly reviewed Santa's weight and balance calculations for the sled's enormous payload.

Finally, they were ready for the check ride. Santa got in and fastened his seat belt and shoulder harness and checked the compass. Then the examiner hopped in carrying, to Santa's surprise, a shotgun. "What's that for?" asked Santa incredulously.

The examiner winked and said, "I'm not supposed to tell you this ahead of time," as he leaned over to whisper in Santa's ear, "but you're gonna lose an engine on takeoff."
From: Michael Green, Coventry, West Midlands  
Subject: Christmas Wishes and Early MAMS Memories

Hi Tony and Christmas greetings to Movers everywhere (both ancient and modern).

I just thought I'd take the opportunity to share with you some memories of one of the more plum tasks that came my way back in the Abingdon days. C team, comprising myself, Sgts Derek Clayton and Pete Underwood, Cpl Bill Robb, and SAC's Jock McCrory and Gordon MacAdie were tasked with recovering a wartime Beaufighter, a gift from the Portuguese Air Force, from Lisbon.

It was July 65 and the weather was beautiful. The technical team who came with us had a whole week to take the item apart while our heroes were working hard watching bullfights, taking trips to Estoril, rescuing McCrory from a Portuguese jail (these were the Salazar days, remember - anyway, that's another story).
We said our farewells to Lisbon the night before the tasked Bev was due with an extended and memorable bout of conviviality somewhere in the Latin Quarter.

Derek is fairly well struck in years now, and I know he won't mind me saying that he has hardly recovered yet! 

Anyway, I revisited these memories earlier on this year with a visit to Lisbon and then giving the personal once-over to 'our' Beaufighter at Hendon.

The photos show Pete, Derek and myself at our favoured watering hole in Edward VII park, myself in the same place this year, and Pat & me at Hendon with the fruits of 'C' teams labours all those years ago.

Thanks, Tony, for the good work you do and a Happy Christmas to you all.

Mike Green
Charlie Team, 1964-67
From: John Gardiner, Carterton, Oxon

Hi Tony,

Just to say a big thank you for the great job you continue to do with us Old Bods.  I was amused to see a very youthful JG in the photos provided by Ian Berry in the Memories of Oman section in the November issue. They were taken during my farewell (held in the Crazy Horse Saloon (Feb 1972)). The reason I was wearing two ties was because it was common practice to receive two ties (photo attached) on departure.  They are of course the Yimkin Airways and 9-months-no-female-company ties.

May I take this opportunity in wishing you and all movers and their families a very Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and  Prosperous 2018. 

John Gardiner
From: Murray & Kathy Smith, Blenheim 

Hi Tony,

Greeting from Down Under for the Festive Season, all the best to those still serving in various theatres who are away from family. May the feel the comfort of knowing that others are thinking of them.
A blast from the past No1, 1979 Senior Air Movement Course RNZAF.

I’ll have to find the original photo to name them all.

Front Row Stu Bailey, ?, Wayne Pihema (Pieman), Dennis Searle, ? ,?

Back Row ? John Gratton?, Paul Radovich, Murray Smith, Mike Cullimore, ?, ?.

Best wishes

From: Ingrid Trautrim, Pembroke, ON
Subject: Christmas Greetings

From my house in the Ottawa Valley, Canada, to all Movers and families far and wide, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a very happy and healthy 2018!

Extra special wishes to all those deployed during the Holiday season.  Stay safe and God bless you all ❤

Ingrid Trautrim
From: Steve Tomlinson, Tenerife, QLD 

Hi Tony

My best wishes to all for a Merry, Happy and Safe Festive Season.

I have recently moved from Enlog Pacific, after 17+ years, to work with some old colleagues, again with DG's, at a company called Alara Logistics, hence little time to scratch myself, especially with Christmas coming up.

I've attached a photo of my last Christmas celebration with my old Company, last Saturday.

Also attached is the Movers (and Catering section, always good guys to know) Alternative Christmas Party (Jun 1984), in Port Stanley. Was it over 33 years ago?

As always, if anyone finds themselves in the Colonies at any time, please call, I'm still up for sharing a cold beer or two! Weather forecast for Christmas Day Brisbane:  Max. 33°C Min. 22°C with possible storms, don't you just love it?

Happy Holidays!

From: Gordon Gray, Allestree, Derby 
Subject: 'Gaydon Incident 1963'

Hi Tony,

'Best Wishes for Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours personally for all your commitment to this OBA web and all Movers across the Globe'

Not a 'Movements' topic but thought this Christmas card would stir memories as it reminded me of Christmas '62, aged 19 at the time when I was stuck in a snowdrift on Salisbury Plain, desperate to get back home in Calne. I just managed to turn back to relatives in Salisbury for a couple of days.

Due to arrive on my first Airman service posting to Valley, Anglesey on 31 December, I eventually got there two days late in '63 but to get to Chippenham rail station my only source of transport was by way of a cattle rail wagon, standing room only, fully kitted out in Best Blue, greatcoat etc. with bulging kitbag and blue striped sea kitbag. What a journey across Wales! Perhaps PMC Innsworth felt compassionate sending me to Gan eighteen months later.  Anyhow, Happy Days!

Cheers everyone!

From: Sam Mold, Brighton & Hove

Hi Tony,

My early Christmas preparations, including e-greetings, were set in motion in early December.

Being quick off the mark, I was about to tell you that I only knew two of your OBA members, Bill Girdwood and Jimmy Durkin -  both remembered from the late Fifties: Bill from Kidbrooke (we were on No 31 Senior Movements Course (7.1.59 - 19.2.59) and Jim from Abingdon (1958). For that reason alone, I guessed my seasonal greetings wouldn't have much impact.

Coincidently those preparations coincided with your email reporting on the demise of Bill Girdwood, whom I first met when he was a F/Off.

Despite my limited Air Movements experience, and now, only knowing one of your members (though I must admit I feel I now know your good self), is no excuse for me not to pass on to all UKMAMS OBA members my very best wishes in the hope they all have a very happy and merry Christmas, and that the New Year finds them enjoying good health; at least, sufficient enough for them to enjoy the good life.

Yam Seng!

Sam Mold - 87th Birthday Portrait
From: Nev & Alison Whitham, Preston, Lancs
A very Merry Chrimbo goes out to all the 'Mover's Family,' past and present, near and far, not forgetting those families who have lost loved ones in 2017. All the very best for the New Year too.
Al & Catherine Mitchley
Owners of the Bexley Guest House
Arthur Rowland meeting Prince Edward
at Buckingham Palace
Barrie (Tug) Wilson
Finger Pickin' Good!
Bas Hughes with Bam-Bam Lomnack
My step grandchild - 78 years age difference!
Bev & Kevin Laing
All dressed up in Redcar
Sue and Bob Dixon
Sending greetings from Royal Wootton Bassett
Brian & Liudmila Gibson
Enjoying all that Cyprus has to offer.
Tina & Brian Spademan
Hoping you all stay safe and healthy in 2018
Bruce Oram
Pushing out the toons at FM-96.7
Mike Slade (d) and Bryan Morgan
Bryan is taking over the reins of UKMAMS 1971
From: Al & Catherine Mitchley, Rhyl, Denbighshire
Sadly we have lost many of our good Movers this year. We would like to wish all Movers, past and present, a Very Happy Christmas and a very wet (pint) New Year.  Hoping we will be able to meet up with some of the ex-mover's next year.
From: Arthur Rowland, St Ives, Cambs
Please pass on my Christmas greetings to fellow Movers and former Movers worldwide. It has always been a privilege to have been a member of this clan. In the photograph, the occasion was an invitation from "The Not Forgotten Association" to attend a smallish garden party at Buckingham Palace. I had done some charity work for them. The prince was charming, as most Royals are. The chap to my left was most interesting, and I noticed he was wearing a caterpillar pin. He told me the story of baling out over Germany, fascinating stuff!
From: Basil & Neeanne Hughes, Pattaya
Neeane and I wish all our Mover friends and my old comrades every blessing for a Happy Christmas and New Year -- here we will be celebrating the New Year with all of Neeanne's family, including the grandchildren; they will be joining us.  I shall be thinking of you all -- Christmas Island where I spent Christmas day a long time ago is now a tourist destination and the chapel where so many of our old comrades were remembered is now sadly in ruins.
From: Kevin & Bev Laing, Redcar, North Yorks
Bev and I would like to send Christmas Greetings to our extended family both near and far, and will join you all in raising a glass for those friends and colleagues who have left us far too soon.
From: Bob & Sue Dixon, Royal Wootton Bassett, Wilts
Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and successful New Year
From: Brian & Liudmila Gibson, Paralimni
Christmas Greetings from sunny Cyprus to all Movers and their families wherever you are in the world. This year has seemed to fly past as it doesn't seem that long since I was try to compose another message to share with you all.  Looking back we have had to bid farewell to far too many colleagues and family members who have gone to join the Sky Squadron. Both Liudmila and I want to take this opportunity to offer our sincere heartfelt thoughts to all the loved ones left behind.  To you who are serving away from your families; our thoughts extend to you at this time and hope you keep safe and are soon returning home to your loved ones.  Unfortunately this past year has been full of sadness throughout the world and we both hope that 2018 will be a more happier and safer world for us all.  Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
From: Brian & Tina Spademan, Lanarca
Wishing everyone, both past and present, a Very Merry Christmas and hope that in 2018 you all stay safe and healthy.
From: Bruce & Shirley Oram, San Fulgencio, Alicante
Shirley and I would love to wish all movers past and present a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous and Happy New Year. To everyone on deployment overseas we hope you are back with your loved ones safe and sound very soon.
From: Bryan Morgan, Abingdon, Oxon
I would like to send Christmas Greetings to all Mover friends and colleagues whom I served with at RAF Changi 1964-67, RAF Gan 1970-71, UKMAMS 1971-74, HQ 38 Gp 1984-86 and the RAF Movements School 1986-88.
From: Mick and Sharyn Hughes, Ipswich, QLD
To all Movers and ex-Movers - have a cool (family) Yule and a celebratory New Year. As always have a thought for those that are away from their family serving their country.
From: Christine Dunn, Upwood, Cambs
Please extend good wishes for the festive season to all "Movers" especially those at Abingdon from 1964-1969.  Thank you for the lovely newsletter which I receive regularly. Christine (Widow of Brian Dunn).
From: Colin Easdon-Smith, Ingham QLD
Another year falls by the wayside. Where have all the years gone?  The passage of time is so swift, that in the twinkling of any eye we are in the VINTAGE YEARS. All good wishes to you and yours, and all the RAF BODS still kicking around. Have a great festive season. Cheers!
From: Dave "Wishy" Wash, Eastern Passage, NS
To all the Movers far and wide/deployed, may you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and may you come home safe and sound.
From: James Cunningham, Fareham, Hants
Please give my best wishes for Christmas and the new year to all OBA members and to all Movers worldwide. A special thanks to you for all your great work.
From: Mike Perks, Lutterworth, Leics 
I would like to wish all of the Movers around the world, those who know me and those who don't, a happy family Christmas and all the very best of fortune for the New Year.
From: Clive Hall, Swindon, Wilts
Ho Ho Ho!  May I wish all past and present Muppets who are domiciled far and wide a very Merry Christmas and associated liquid New Year - don't overdo it!  Highworth is still active with my hairy mush - if you spot me any time give me a kick and we will partake of the brown stuff.
From: Ian & April Place, Meanwood, West Yorks
Happy Christmas and a Good New Year to all my old friends present and past. May the spirit of Christmas be with you always.
From: Don & Judy Lloyd, Calgary, AB
To you and your family plus all Movers and their families wherever they may be in Canada and around the world. My wife Judy and I want to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and the Happiest New Year possible.  With heartfelt thoughts of this Joyous Season.
From: Tom Burrows, Sudbury, Suffolk
Wishing all OBA members a great Christmas and a Prosperous New Year from Sudbury Suffolk. Have a good one!
Alan Potts living the dream
on the French Riviera
Allan Walker
Refusing to show his hairy knees!
Andy Kay
Toasting all of us from Colorado
Bernie Hurdsfield with Great Grand-
daughters Charlotte and Elizabeth
Paul "Arfur" English - a toast
from a wet 'n' windy Swindon
Bob & Maureen Pountney
...a summertime libation
Brian Stein
Asking the obvious!
Chas Gibson
Looking Resplendent!
Chas & Pam Cormack
Back to the future
Clare Turner with Grandson
Alexander Iain Embrey, 2yrs
From: Alan Potts, 11100 Narbonne
So once again our thoughts turn to the past year and to those service personnel all around the world who will be unable to be with their families this Christmas.  My good wishes go to all and especially to those who have lost loved ones in this past year.  Merry Christmas and may the next year be better for us all.
From: Allan Walker, Burnley, Lancs
Wishing all Past and Present UKMAMS Movers a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year, wherever you may be.
From: Andrew Kay, Colorado Springs, CO
Christmas greetings to all Movers past and present in all corners of the world. I'll raise a glass of beer from some fine Colorado small brewery as I do every year and toast all my old friends and remember those that we have lost this year. We should also have a special toast for Tony and thank him for the fine work he does on the OBA website - thanks Tony it is appreciated even if we don't say it much!
From: Bernie Hurdsfield, Corby, Northants
To all Movers wherever you are in the world, whether active or retired have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year. Most of all if you are on active service please stay safe.
From: Paul English, Swindon, Wilts
May I take this opportunity to thank Tony Gale for his outstanding work again on producing the Newsletter over the last 12 months.  As the festive season draws near, can we all just spare a thought for the "Empty Seat" at the dinner table/bar and hope that 2018 will be kinder to the Movements Family. We have lost so many colleagues this year that St Peter is amassing a hell of a team. Also, some have lost members of their own family.  I'm sure we will all try and enjoy ourselves as best we can, as that is what we do as Movers, pick ourselves up and crack on. From a wet and windy Swindon, I wish everyone well for the holidays and stay safe out there.
From: Robert & Maureen Pountney, Forres, Moray
Wishing all ex-Movers and their families, wherever they may be, a very Merry Christmas and a healthy, wealthy but above all a very Happy New Year!
From: Brian & Judy Stein, Stonewall, MB 
Judy and I hope all have a great holiday and a safe and healthy 2018!
From: Charles Gibson, Dundee
Greetings from " Bonnie Dundee" and hopefully you ALL have a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year.
From: Chas & Pam Cormack, Lyneham Village
Wishing all movers past and present a Very merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New year from one of the Originals.
From: Clare Turner, Swindon, Wilts
Remembering friends at home and those in far off places at this most special time of the year. Very best wishes for a happy, healthy and most of all peaceful 2018.
Operation Christmas Drop 17
For Operation Christmas Drop 17, the RAAF has sent a C-130J Hercules from RAAF Base Richmond to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Hercules crews train for airdrop missions throughout the year in Australia.
Each day begins with a mission briefing for all pilots supporting Operation Christmas Drop 17. The briefing shows which aircraft will deliver to islands that day, along with weather information and other useful tips for Operation Christmas Drop missions.
United States Air Force Aerial Porters deliver bundle loads to the Hercules on the flightline. Each bundle is a cardboard container filled with up to 180 kilograms of items to make Christmas happier for island communities in the West Pacific.
With the bundle loads on board, a U.S. Pacific Air Forces loadmaster checks the loads with a RAAF counterpart.
After the morning brief, the C-130J pilots will go through their plan for the mission that day, including any specific details, weather conditions, and other information necessary to deliver to to drop zone that day.
Aircraft don't fix, refuel, and clean themselves - dedicated technicians are required to ensure the Hercules is ready to meet the demands of that mission that day. Operation Christmas Drop 17 missions require a significant amount of flying at low level over the ocean with the cargo ramp open - sometimes more than 1800 kilometres from Guam - making the 'TLC" provided by technicians all the more essential. That even includes cleaning the windscreen to make sure the pilots can clearly see each drop zone!
Operation Christmas Drop 17 missions will launch from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. The 36th Airlift Squadron from Yokota Air Base, Japan has brought three C-130J Hercules to Operation Christmas Drop 17, marking the first time it has used this version of the Hercules in this event.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force has brought a C-130H Hercules to Operation Christmas Drop 17. Like Australia, this is the third year that Japan has participated in Operation Christmas Drop.
The crews at Operation Christmas Drop 17 get into the spirit of the event, donning Santa hats and decorating the cockpit with tinsel. Flying up to 1800 kilometres from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam to the destination islands, the crews fly the Hercules in a high-level cruise which conserves fuel and makes for a smoother ride.
For the last 40 years, 'Brother' Bruce Best, University of Guam researcher, has been a key part of Operation Christmas Drop. Using UHF radio, Bruce communicates with aircrew conducting missions, and with the island communities. This allows crews to receive up-to-the-minute information about the drop zones they're delivering to, and updates communities on when to expect to see an aircraft.
Nearing the islands, the Loadmasters will move the bundle loads into position in a process called 'load drifting'. They untie each load and carefully move it along floor rollers into position on the cargo ramp, and attach a restraint cord.
Each drop requires the Hercules crew to conduct at least one survey pass, allowing the pilots to positively identify the drop zone, rehearse the approach route that they'll take, and ensure the drop zone is clear of people. During the final approach, the pilots give a one minute warning, five second warning, and then give the 'green light' to drop.
Load gone! The Loadmaster cuts restraints holding the bundle inside the aircraft, and with a push, it exits the Hercules' cargo bay at more than 220 kilometres per hour. A static-line in the cargo bay automatically pulls the parachute cord, and the bundle descends to the drop zone.
Not all drop zones are on dry land. Some go into the water, either a lagoon or reef, where they can be safely retreived by island communities in their boat. Inside each cardboard bundle, a giant plastic bag helps ensure the contents stay dry!
With the mission done and the aircraft returned to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, there's opportunity for a group photo. Seen here are observers from the Philippines Air Force; Japan Air Self-Defense Force; U.S. Pacific Air Forces; and our very own RAAF No. 37 Squadron.
From: Barrie (Tug) Wilson, Chickerell, Dorset
Wishing all Movers past and present a very Happy Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year. Well done to all those who took part in the Remembrance Day Parade at The Cenotaph. Thanks Tony for another great year of memories.
From: Chris Briggs & Jane Hall, Coventry
To all the Movers I worked with over the years - Jane and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a propsperous New Year.
From: Chris & Helen Owen, Andover, Hants
Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy New Year to all movers, old and new.... Sent with our very best wishes, Chris and Helen Owen.
From: Dennis Wood, Swindon, Wilts
People on Movements have a wonderful sense of humour as the photograph taken at RAF Gan shows. Merry Christmas to all!
From: Dom Magenty, Bridgend
All the best to the movers out there especially those away from friends and loved ones over the Christmas period.  ACHTUNG!
From: Duane & Shirley Bach, Carrying Place, ON
We would like to extend a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year to all the Movers out there.. we are a "Unique Bunch"...  The picture was taken at Vimy Ridge when we visited for the 100th anniversary in April.
From: Edward Stout, Aylesbury, Bucks
Merry Christmas everyone and may your year ahead be full of happiness, good health and prosperity.
Chris Briggs & Jane Hall
sharing a moment
Chris & Helen Owen
Proud parents checking up on son Luke
Signage outside Movements on RAF Gan,
a staging post in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
Musical Greetings from ♫
Dom Magenty, Stu Gregory and Langers!
Duane & Shirley Bach visited Vimy Ridge in April
Vimy Ridge 100th Anniversary
Yup - that's our Ed!
Sending greetings from Aylesbury
Eddie Mottram
Was tempted with the lump of coal!
Carol and Fritz von Kaitz
Christmas in Canada's Wonderland
George Readman & Pete Price
Remembering the boys of G Team
George Wood
Enjoying the African sun and grapes!
From: Eddie Motram, Reading, Berks
Thanks for the warning re the lump of coal - although I must say I was very tempted to receive a lump to cut down on my energy bills!!  I would just like to wish all movers everywhere a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.
From: Fritz & Carol von Kaitz, Edmonton, AB
We would like to wish all the movers and their families, whether at home or deployed, a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018.
From: George Readman & Pete Price, Yate, South Glos.
Merry Christmas to all MAMS Worldwide and any G Team boys who remember us. Pete & me have come up with a few names: Nigel Saunders, John Beadman, Bill Robb, Stan Brown, Eddie Grace and all the rest of the lads which we cannot remember today.
From: George Wood, Johannesburg
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all fellow Movers and their families wherever they are in the world, especially those deployed over the festive season. All the best for a wonderful 2018 from Woody, Kate and Tipper!
From: Graham Fitzgerald, Newport, Mon
To all members of the ‘Movers’ family – no matter where you are located over the festive period , enjoy the experience, enjoy the company of those you are with and enjoy life!
From: Alex Angus, Leeds
Alex and Linda Angus wish a happy and Merry Christmas (though with a thought for your livers), to the entire world of Air Movers. A special thought for the survivors of Khormaksar Air Movements 1966/67.
From: Dave and Rosemary Abrams, Weymouth, Dorset
Dave and Rosemary would like to send Christmas greetings to all and wish good health and fortune for the coming year.
From: Steve Harpum, York
Many thanks for another great year's work with the OBA, and for this opportunity to send my warmest Christmas wishes to Movers young and old around the world.  I hope everyone has a peaceful, safe and relaxing holiday, and that 2018 brings them all whatever they wish for.
From: Daniel Fraser, LIverpool
Me Maddy and Ben would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Stay safe out there peeps!
From: Howard Farrow
Have a great time lads and lasses, especially if serving overseas. And to you and your family Tony thanks for this excellent service over the years!
From: Peter and Rose Herring, Gosport, Hants
Happy Christmas to one and all - especially those who served on NEAF MAMS, and remembering with love and affection those Movers and family members who have passed away during 2017. May they rest in peace. Every good health and happiness in the New Year.
From: Tony Freeman, Thornhill, Dumfries 
Please convey my best wishes for a Happy Christmas and New Year to all members.
From: Gisela & John Guy, Northampton, Northants
To Tony and all Movers worldwide, wishing you a Jolly Christmas, & all the best for 2018.
From: Alan & Lorraine Irving, Royal Wootton Bassett, Wilts
To all Movers wherever you are, all the very best for Xmas and the New Year. May you and your families stay healthy and happy. From our house to your house, Happy Xmas!
From: Dave (Pinky) Salmon, Springfield, OR
I would like to wish all Movers a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Springfield, Oregon.
From: Dougie & Jackie Betambeau, Swindon, Wilts
To the “Movers Family” across the globe, both on & off duty... Have a great festive season & Warmest Wishes for 2018. To all Families & Friends who have lost loved ones...  may your memories bring you all Peace & Love, now & in the future
From: Dougie Russell, Carlisle, Cumbria
Merry Christmas to all! Hope you have a good Xmas and Happy New Year. All the best for 2018!
From: Dave (Dutch) & Tansy Holland, Ringwood, Hants
To all Movers and MAMS Engineers, Past and Present. Have a Super Christmas and a very Happy New Year wherever you may be!  And a special hello to all my ex-colleagues of UK MAMS and MAMS Eng's of RAF Lyneham circa 1975 to 1980, I trust all is well with you all and look forward to any possible meet up at Wroughton in April. Tansy and I are off to warmer climes in Sri Lanka over the festive season now the responsibilities of kids and employment are behind us, well in the main anyway.  Yes, I just love being retired!   Have a super time, Love to all.
From: Frank Holmes, Stratford-upon-Avon 
May I wish all Movers and their families every happiness and best wishes for Christmas 2017 and, for all of us, a healthy and exciting 2018. My especial best wishes go to the team members and their families of D Team (UKMAMS – 1969 -1971) and Blue and Red Teams (NEAFMAMS – 1971 -1974) - isn’t about time for a reunion chaps, somewhere down here before we all have to meet up there somewhere?
From: Fred Hebb, Gold River, NS
To all of the Movers of the world, wishing you all a Very Merry and Blessed Christmas no matter where you are, deployed or at home. Happy New Year and all the best in 2018.
From: Gaetan Chasles, Gatineau (sec Aylmer), QC
I would like to send best wishes for the holidays to all Movers and their families around the world, with special thoughts for those currently on mission and deployed.
From: Gary & Christine Ferguson, Ilkley, West Yorks
Merry Christmas to all of our Movements family around the world. Particular thanks to the current serving members who are apart from their families at this time; be sure that you are thought of and appreciated.  Christine and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
From: Jack Cross, Moralet, Alicante
A VERY Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Movers around the world.  May 2018 be your best year ever.  Best wishes from the house on windy hill.
From: Jack & Margaret Dunlop, Aberdeen
To all Movers I served with in the 60's, sending you all Season's Greetings, long may your lum reek and we wish you well for 2018.
From: James (Paddy) Gallagher, Sandford St Martin, Oxon
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to the worldwide Movements family, young and old.  Also, a big thank you to you for all you do to keep us together.
Dave "Pinky" Salmon
Greetings from Springfield
Dougie Betambeau being seasonal
Golfing in shorts on 11th December!
Tansy & Dutch Holland
Off to Sri Lanka for the Holidays
Dougie (Jock/JR/Russ/Jack) Russell
June 1978 - June 2002
Frank Holmes
D Team UK - Blue and Red Teams NEAF
Fred Hebb
Santa "suits" him!
Gaetan Chasles
Greetings from Outaouis
Gary & Christine Ferguson
Enjoying a brew on the slopes
Jack Cross
from the house on Windy Hill
Margaret and Jack Dunlop
Lang may your lum reek!
James (Paddy) Gallagher
UKMAMS Kilo Team 1970-74
RAF Mover's Ladybird Book Collection
(Warning - some content will not be suitable for children)
From: Gerry & Joan Muffett, Cirencester, Glos 
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our friends and acquaintances.
From: Graham (Scouse) Leman, Poole, Dorset
A Happy Christmas to all Movers around the world. Have a peaceful time with friends, family and of course plenty of Christmas cheer (bottled). 
From: Hugh Thompson, Swindon, Wilts
To Movers all over the world have a wonderful Festive Season and Prosperous New Year. If you’re stuck somewhere where you can’t be with your families, above all stay safe; husbands, wives, sweethearts and children will have you in their hearts and minds on the big day!
From: Jacques & Sofie Leclerc, St-Alexandre de Kamouraska, QC
To all the Movers serving around the world, me and Sophie would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Joyeux Noel et Bonne et heureuse année.
From: Pete & Jacquie Morrison, Stafford, Staffs
A very Merry Christmas and a Happy Prosperous and Safe New Year to all Movers and their Families around the world.  Love Pete and Jacquie Morrison.
From: John & Lynne Leek, 79380 La Ronde, Deux-Serves 
Wishing all Movers, past and present, and their families a peaceful Christmas and happy and prosperous 2018.
From: Keith & Daphne Parker, Bowerhill, Wilts
Wishing all Movers both Past and Present and their Families "A Fully Fueled and Happy Christmas and a Safe New Year"
From: Keith Smith, Swindon, Wilts
I want to wish all Movers past and present a very peaceful and happy Christmas and those who still serve Queen and Country best wishes for the future.
From: Mark Attrill, Tallinn
Greetings from Snowy Tallinn where we are enjoying a balmy -2ºC right now. I wish all the Movers, young and old, Serving and Retired all the Best for the Christmas Season and the New Year of 2018. I'm particularly delighted to be allowed to serve in what will be our Centenary Year for the Service and I have been lucky enough to have a fascinating and hugely satisfying appointment on the outer fringes of NATO. To those in the RAF, RAAF, RCAF and RNZAF that will be serving over the holiday season and therefore separated from their families - Stay safe and I hope you are reunited with your loved ones soon. Finally, a thought too for those formerly among us who have in 2017 joined their comrades in that most heavenly of crewrooms. You will be missed this holiday season.
From: Mark Bird, Moncton, NB
Season’s greetings to all around the world,  prayers for our lost members’ families at this time, God bless.
Gerry & Joan Muffett
With Granddaughters Laura and Caitlin
Graham (Scouse) Leman
They serve the best apple pie in the Himalayas!
Hugh Thompson
Taking one for the team!
Jacques Leclerc
I wouldn't want to meet one of these in the wild!
Sophie Leclerc
Jacques is a good Dad!
Mark Attrill
(India Team 1983-84)
John & Lynne Leek
(Lynne is recovering from recent major surgery)
Keith Parker
Waiting 'patiently' to see Santa
Keith Smith
Chillaxin' in a big comfy chair
Jacquie, George and Pete Morrison
A life-milestone for George!
Mark (Turk) Bird
The wind rushing through my... ah, never mind!
From: Tod Geoghegan, Folkestone, Kent
To all Air Movers everywhere, wishing You a Very Merry Christmas and a really great 2018.
From: Mark Brierley, York
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all fellow Old Bods around the World.  I trust that your presents are evenly distributed and arrive on schedule.
From: Brian Cock, Hailsham, East Sussex
To all the Old Bods who know of me and those that don’t - Merry Christmas and a Happy, Wealthy and a positively Healthy New Year!
From: John Evans, Wantage, Oxon
Hello Tony, wishing you and your family and all Movers a happy, healthy and prosperous Christmas and New Year!
From: George & Eileen Graves, Carlisle, Cumbria
I'd like to wish all movers around the world a very happy Christmas and a prosperous 2018 - George Graves ex-FEAF MAMS.
From: Joe & Jacquie Gillis, Grand Mira South, NS 
To all Movers, wherever you may be throughout the world, you are and forever have been the wonderful, unsung heroes who continue to aid troops, families and your governments in achieving their aims; be it simply to get folks from A to B or to deliver hope, health and happiness by way of the “other Angels in the skies who also have wings”. Merry Christmas and a Wonderful 2018 to all.
From: Steve Munday, Lincoln
Can I wish all Movers, wherever they are, a most enjoyable festive season and all best wishes for the coming year.
From: Rod Elliott, Brinkworth, Wilts
Season’s greetings to fellow Movers wherever they may be.
From: Gary & Tannis Horobin, St Albert, AB
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all movers, MAMS teams and Loadies.
From: Brian & Maureen Kent, Carterton, Oxon
Best wishes for Christmas and a healthy New Year to all Movers I had the pleasure to meet up with from '57 to '89.  Happy Christmas to you all.
From: Bill & Mary Nangle, Kingston, ON
Mary and I send Season’s greetings to all Muppets, near and far, and all the best to everyone for a prosperous New Year.  Swift to Move!
From: Bob Whitworth, Masirah Island
I would like to wish all Movers, serving or out, a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Cheers all!
From: David Taylor, York
Best of seasonal wishes to all ex Movers, from ex-members of Transport Command Mobile Servicing Flight, Lyneham.
Nigel McCann
Thoughts for those away from home
Nige Robinson
At home in Wiltshire
Peter Clayton
Paying his respects
Jim & Mary Marchant
Hogmanay in the Highlands
John McGrath
"Shiver me timbers!"
Jon Felton
Peace, from Down Under
Kevin "Geordie" Stanger
Remembering those no longer with us
Len (Woody) and Diane Wood
Blessings to those serving
Mick Cocker (Kuwait '97)
Rediscovering old friends thru' the OBA
Mike Stepney
Enjoying Ayrshire
From: Jim and Mary Marchant, Cupar, Fife
Christmas and New Year greetings to Movers, old and new, wherever you are in the world.  Look after yourselves and enjoy the festive season.
From: John McGrath, Blackpool, Lancs
A very happy Christmas to all Movers, past and present. I hope you all enjoy good health and wealth throughout the next year. Also my thoughts go out to the families of those that are no longer here with us.
From: Jon Felton, Gladstone, QLD
Greetings all Movers and Old Bods Members!  Best wishes to you and yours for the upcoming Christmas Holiday Season! Fly Safe! Drive Safe! Cheers and Beers!
From: Kevin (Geordie) Stanger, Calgary, AB
As 2017 draws to a close we have said a final farewell to more Movers than I feel we should. Some have had a short time here however, those I know who have gone were part of my Movements family. We are a strange bunch, we don’t always agree, like or even meet but there is one thing that is undeniable, we will always help another Mover. Kudos to those who attend and proudly represent the best trade in the RAF at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday. Raise a glass this year in memory of those who have gone, I send my condolences to their families. They may be gone but not forgotten. I have one Christmas wish: That the Mover's crewroom in the sky has empty seats in 2018. So if you are retired, serving/deployed may you and your families a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year.
From: Len & Diane Wood, Pembroke, ON
Di & I would like to wish all Movers, retired, serving at home and abroad and their families a Very Merry Christmas and Safe,  Prosperous New Year.  For those serving in faraway lands, may God keep you all safe and sound for a speedy return to your families. May God Bless.
From: Mick Cocker, Swindon, Wilts
I would like to take this opportunity to wish Movers around the world a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. It's fantastic the way we can stay connected from all corners of the globe and its great to maintain contact with Movers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, some of which I met in the 80's and 90's who I have recently "rediscovered" and contacted with the help of the OBA network and Facebook. Best wishes to you all.
From: Mike and Avril Stepney, Stewarton, Ayrshire
We would like to wish all your readers, Movers, and anyone else reading your newsletter, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2018.
From: Nigel McCann, Armadale, Falkirk
Please pass on my best seasons wishes to all Movers past and present, with a special thought for those working away at this time.
From: Nige Robinson, Chippenham, Wilts
Wishing everybody a very Happy Christmas, and a peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year. Raise a glass for absent friends and their families at this time.
From: Peter Clayton, Wroughton, Wilts
I would like to wish All Movers everywhere a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Best wishes to all those that might be away from home over the festive season, stay safe and enjoy if you can.  I attach a photo of self laying the Royal British Legion wreath at this year's remembrance parade in Wroughton. I am proudly wearing my Father's medals, the late Len (Flit) Clayton who as many will know retired in Hong Kong as a Master Pilot; sadly he passed away in 1984 while still working in Hong Kong at the young age of 61.  I also send my condolences to the families and friends of those movers that left us this year for the crew room in the sky, may they rest in peace.
Toys Head to the North
A child’s smile is a magical thing, especially at Christmas.  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP Veterans Association and the Canadian Toy Association realize this and for the past eight years they have teamed up with 8 Wing Trenton and corporate and external partners to bring smiles to thousands of children living in isolated communities in northern Ontario, Manitoba, Nunavut and Newfoundland and Labrador.

A hand-over ceremony was held at 8 Wing’s 2 Air Movement Squardon Passenger Terminal between RCMP and 8 Wing personnel where a Thomson Terminals Limited transport carrying more than 5,000 toys was delivered to be transported north aboard a CC-130 Hercules.  Thomson Terminals warehouses toys collected throughout the year, processes and then ships them by truck to 8 Wing Trenton where the toys begin their journey north by being flown to Thunder Bay and Goose Bay where North Star Air transports them to remote communities.

Since 2010 the Canadian Toy Association has spearheaded Toys for the North with help from the RCMP who identify communities most in need; coordinate shipment to the far north and gift wrapping of all the toys; and then hand deliver the toys... sometimes even by snowmobile and sled.  

The RCMP Veterans’ Association works to promote the Toys for the North campaign and provides support in sorting and distributing the toys.  To date they have made the holidays a little brighter by distributing more than $500,000 worth of toys to children in Canada’s north. 

“We are grateful for the hundreds of volunteers who contribute toys, gift wrap, transportation services, planning and distribution from the member companies of the Canadian Toy Association, Hallmark Canada, Thomson Terminals, Canadian Forces, RCMP Veterans Association, RCMP detachments and policing partners as well as the private businesses, and the caring public who help to put smiles on the faces of the children,” said RCMP Inspector Chris McBryan, national coordinator for the 2017 Toys for the North program. “This is just my second year of involvement with the program and this year we nearly doubled the number of toys donated,” McBryan said. “Generally we were filling 20 to 22 pallets with toys and this year we had 39 pallets donated, so it just keeps growing.”

McBryan has never gone north to see the toys actually delivered, “but I have seen the pictures of children receiving their toys and the smiles on their faces are priceless. Together we can help grow this great program and let the children of Canada’s north know that people care about them.”

The Trentonian
Dee and Martin Gledhill
All dressed up for a wedding (not theirs!)
Mike Hagarty
Holding up his end
Mike McCann sent in a picture taken on
Masirah back in 1972/3.  We were young...
Susan & Mike Stoddard
Visiting Oz and the land of the long white cloud
Nev and Alison Whitham
Enjoying their English country garden
Alan (Paddy) Power
Greetings from the Fab Five!
Pete & Shirley Ingham
Cruising the Norwegian Fjords
Pete & Sue Orton
Touring again...
Katie Harris and Pete Swallow
An engaging couple
Peter Chappell
(The fishmonger is just around the corner)
From: Martin & Dee Gledhill, Selby, North Yorks
This is to wish all movers past and present, wherever you may be, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and hope to see some of you in May 2018.
Mike Hagarty, Mesa, AZ
Would just like to wish all past and present Movers a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year, and especially those who are on assignment and unable to be home with their loved ones.
From: Mike McCann, Beckwithshaw, North Yorks
Please pass by best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Movers, wherever they are!  I have attached a pic of some of us on Masirah in 72/3.  Left to right, Colin Pay, Mike McCann, Les Bowl and John Illsley. Incidentally, I am in touch with John again. He’s not into social media, but I can pass any messages.
From: Mike & Susan Stoddard, Carrying Place, ON
May all the Movers have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year . The picture is from our trip to Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Tahiti that we took in the spring.
From: Alan (Paddy) Power, Lyneham
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! [A man of few words...]
From: Pete & Shirley Ingham, Carterton, Oxon
Thank you Tony for putting together such a good newsletter over the past year and I wish you and all in the Mover's clan a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
From: Pete & Sue Orton, Camberley, Surrey
Best wishes to the past and present family of Movers. Happy Christmas and New Year to you all.
From: Peter Swallow, RAF Det Cape Verde
Merry Christmas to one and all from the RAF Detachment, Cape Verde
From: Peter Chappell, Honiton, Devon
Happy Christmas to all Movers past and present. I have finally retired from working with the Met Office research aircraft and moved from Northamptonshire to Honiton in Devon. I am keeping my hand in by working weekends at Capital Air Ambulance at Exeter Airport. Hope you all have a great Xmas and a prosperous New year.
From: Murdo Macleod, Newport-on-Tay, Fife
Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to movers everywhere at home and abroad, and to all old companions still this side of the daisies, we've lost a few this past year, and the only one I hear from irregularly is John Cockayne so have a good one John, and Derek Baron, Fred Cornwall, Paddy Power, and of course your good self Tony, and all you guys out there too many to mention, that I had the honour to serve with all these years ago.
From: Brian Jenkins, Portland, Dorset
To all past and present members of the squadron - have a great Xmas and a happy New Year.  Will be thinking of the good times had whilst sitting on a beach in Costa RIca on Xmas day before cruising onto Mexico.
From: Colin Pay, Isle of Wight
My wife Linda died 3 months ago so my Christmas spirit is somewhat lacking. But l would like to wish a Happy Christmas and New Year to all movers past and present.
From: Dennis (Dean) Martin, Woking, Surrey
Please send my regards and best wishes to all  those overseas and away from home.  Now 83 years old, life has become not as rosy as I expected. The wife has developed Parkinson, so I am now her carer. Her symptoms are not the 'shakes' but the brains response to commands, like signaling from one part to the other that 'I want to walk'.  sometimes a few seconds to communicate. Up until recently she was able to drive, but one of the 'registrars' put something in  his report that the DVLA didn't like. On top of that my personal mobility is walking with a 'stick' but still ok driving. So it is keep taking the tablets and keep well fed! And not forgetting our Tony who must spend hours on the newsletter, Great Job snd Thanks.
From: Marc Lapierre, Westlock, AB
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all Movers and their families.
From: Colin Foster, Swindon, Wilts
To all Movers of all nations, wishing you a peaceful Christmas and may the New Year bring all your wishes to fruition.
From: Harold & Val Jones, Neston, Cheshire
It's amazing how time flies, though this year's early snowfall (it is the UK after all) has made Christmas seem nearer, not forgetting Tony's threat [a lump of coal] if I did not get a move on and send something in.  So, Christmas Greetings to all Movers everywhere, may 2018 be a peaceful and prosperous year for all.  And if I may just add a gentle reminder for those of us who may not be in good health or are struggling on their own, that there are many ex-service associations available to provide help and support. All it takes is a 'phone call.
From: Mick Craner, Yeovil, Somerset
To all Movers, retired and active a Very Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2018.
From: Rick Siddons, Ottawa, ON
Subject: Christmas greetings to all the Older - Old and Young Movers I hope you enjoy the travel, sights and experience that comes with the job. Because I know you will enjoy the memories for years to come as we do today.
From: Robbie Taylor, Doncaster, South Yorks
Here’s wishing you all the very best for the festivities. Have a good one and stay safe.
Shawn Larson
Back in the day
Stephen Bird
(Looks like his team just lost!)
Steve Cross
Somewhere warm judging by the shirt
Steve and Karen Perry
A day at the races
Steve Perry in 1970
With Great Dane Mona - Soft as Muck!
Steve Sparkes
Whoops - where did that come from?
Tony Mullen
Careers in 2 Air Forces
Vic Smith
Keeping busy at the museum
Whaty Campbell
(We can't see his kilt...)
Gary Farndale
Took an "Elfie" of himself!
From: Shawn Larson, Edmonton, AB
Merry Christmas to Movers and their families around the world.  If you are fortunate enough to be close to loved ones this Christmas, may your days be filled with peace and joy.  For those that are deployed, may Christmas bring joy and glad tidings to you and your troops as well as your families. We are grateful for your bravery and courage to keep us safe from harm. You are the reason why we have a peaceful and joyful holiday. Kindness is bravery’s little brother, and you have both of them in your heart.  Thank you for everything that you do for your country.  I wish you a safe and peaceful Christmas.
From: Stephen Bird, Chester
All the best and season's greetings  to all the Members of the Movements Family both serving and retired, and also a thought to remember the families and friends of those Movers who have passed away in the last 12 months... 
From: Steve Cross, Doncaster, South Yorks
It has been a very sad 2017 for the Mover family with the passing of so many friends & colleagues. I raise a glass to honour them and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happy New Year. Cheers!
From: Steve & Karen Perry, Royal Wootton Bassett, Wilts
Best wishes to all Movers worldwide,  have a great time, stay healthy and have a terrific 2018.  The picture of me, taken in 1970, was 3 years before I joined up. The dog is Mona, a Great Dane, pedigree name Charlotte of Clunay. Soft as muck!
From: Steve Sparkes, Lyminge, Kent 
A Very Merry Christmas to all Movers and a Happy New Year with best wishes for good health in 2018.  (304th Entry Hereford ‘65/ 66; Abingdon Movs Course; Marham - 41 Sqdn Bloodhound exchange Lancer Boss driver ‘69; West Raynham ‘66/‘71 apart from a UAE “holiday” Sharjah ‘69-‘70 on Air Movs)
From: Tony Mullen, Toowoomba, QLD
To all ex-Movers have a great Christmas and more importantly a Healthy and Happy 2018.
From: Vic Smith, Brassall, QLD
Please pass on my wishes to all Movers for a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. For those who may be deployed in various exotic places, stay safe.
From: Whaty Cambell, Akrotiri/Limassol
A very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year to all Movers past and present, far and wide. Please join me in raising a glass to those who we have lost this year and to those who will forever remain in our memories.
Special delivery from Santa and RAF Benson
Father Christmas abandoned his traditional sleigh in favour of a Puma HC2 helicopter last week as he dropped off presents to ill children. Santa, his elf and helpers from RAF Benson visited children, families and staff at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Headington to spread festive joy.

During the flying visit, Santa and co brought smiles to the faces of children who will be spending Christmas on the wards by delivering gifts donated by the south Oxfordshire base’s personnel and families.  The man in red touched down in style on the helipad at the hospital, which also serves the Children’s Hospital, as part of an annual RAF Benson training exercise.

Oxfordshire Guardian
Ray Ralph
Been into the carrot juice!
Rob Williams
"Ready to Move"
Bob Whitaker
In the work's Dash-7 over the Great Lakes
Steve and Jodie Boucher
In the drink with Flipper
Neil Middleton
Favourite Grandad
Steve Broadhurst & Family
Taking a break from being upside down
Syd Avery
"Now, think man! Where was I last night?"
Tony Last
He's been stringed!
Mary Ellen & Wade Seymour
(The picture was taken c.1995)
Don Milburn
Soaking up the sun in Farawayland
From: Ray Ralph, Bremen
May I wish all members of the Movements Family, especially those parted from their families over the holiday period wherever that may be in the world, a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous and safe New Year.
From: Rob Williams, Brize Norton
Wishing all fellow Movers a Merry Christmas and a truly happy New Year.
From: Bob Whitaker, Victoria, BC
A very Merry Christmas and Peaceful New Year to Movers past and present as well as their families.
From: Steve & Jodie Boucher, Bridlington, Yorks
I’d like to wish a Merry Christmas and Prosperous New Year to all my fellow ex-Movers.
From: Neil & Barbara Middleton, Ipswich, Suffolk
Here is wishing everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year
From: Steve Broadhurst & Family, Brighton East, VIC 
Through your good offices may I extend to the whole of our Movements Family my best wishes for the season and the hope that we can all enjoy a happy, healthy & safe 2018.  To those in our service who are called away from home; know you remain in our thoughts for your safe return at tour's end.
From: Syd Avery, Guardamar del Segura, Alicante
To all Movers... and Shakers... Worldwide, and your families and friends. I hope that you all have a great and enjoyable time together over this Christmas period, and that the Fat Man in Red didn't get stuck in your chimney. I hope 2018, for all of you, will be prosperous and bring much happiness. For those of us who will be apart, may you soon be re-united. Keep safe, go well, and may your landings equal your take-offs. 
From: Pat & Tony Last, Huntingdon, Cambs
Many thanks for another year of your excellent service to the ukmamsoba. May I take this opportunity to wish you and yours and all fellow movers, both active and retired, season's greetings and all the very best for 2018. Safe travelling all.
From: Mary Ellen and Wade Seymour, Kingston, NS
We would like to wish all Movers throughout the world a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and prosperous New Year. We especially remember those who are deployed and will not be home for Christmas. We thank you for your continued dedication and service to our great country.
From: Gary “Gaz” Farndale, Torpoint, Cornwall
I will be raising a glass to all current and ex-Movers around the world. I'm also thinking of those many Movers who have moved on to the next crewroom.  Stay safe to all and hope you will be with your families over the Xmas period; if not hopefully soon will be!
From: Don Milburn, Swindon Wilts
Much greetings for coming festivities over Xmas and New Year, to all serving and ex-Movers around the world, may you all have too much enjoyment with many hangovers. May the force be with you!
From: Sandy Bunn, Cobourg, ON
Merry Christmas and Happy New year to all Movers Worldwide.
From: Stan Seggar, Sheffield
Best wishes to all Movers serving around the World. Not forgetting all the ex- Boy Entrant, u/t Supplier General, C Flight, 3 Squadron, 50th Entry, RAF Credenhill (Hereford) 1963/65.
From: Doc Mackenzie, Pictou Landing, NS
To all the Movers around the globe Good Health and Happiness for the up and coming New Year. Keep Safe.
From: Derek Grayson, Holbeach, Lincs
To all Movers and families at Christmas; proud to have been a member of this Band of Brothers. Wishing all that remember me a fantastic Xmas and a great New Year, also not to forget all those who have been taken from us they will not be forgotten over this festive period, their names will live on.  I have retired now to Holbeach, Lincolnshire, to the quiet life. My Facebook name is Trigger Trotter... but to all that know me I'm Derek Grayson and wish you all a Merry Christmas and Great New Year! 
From: Russ Carter, Caldercruix, North Lanark
I would like to take the opportunity to wish all Movers currently serving, wherever they are in the world, and those that have served over the years, a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
From: Ian Envis, Crowborough, East Sussex
To all Movers; Active duty, Reserves and like me, retired! Wishing you, your families and comrades a wonderful Festive Season (Christmas for some) and may 2018 be one of continued good health, wealth and happiness.  Travel safely, stay warm and dry where possible.  Finally - to absent friends, thanks for building the bond that exists among Movers worldwide.  Of course we all owe a special thanks to Tony Gale - your efforts throughout the year help us all stay in touch. Have a great one with your family Tony!
From: Jean-Pierre Pichette, Plainfield, ON
To all Movers, I wish you a very merry and warm Christmas with family and friends - enjoy and relax and share war stories.  Health and peace for 2018.  "Jeep" Pichette, LCol (retired), Mover and former CO of 1 Air Movements Unit Edmonton (1991-1994).
From: Paul Newman, Peterborough, Cambs
I would just like to wish all past and present Movers, wherever you are, a Very Merry Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.
From: Clive "Taff" Price, Brecon
Xmas Greetings to all Humpers and Dumpers worldwide, the old and bold and the new boys and girls.
From: Jeff Thomas, Llandrindod Wells, Powys
My best wishes to the guys and dolls of MAMS. I served on Movements at Lyneham 1961/3, then Gutersloh 1963/66. After that a career change to PTI and PJI  followed by a Biggin Hill selection to Aicrew (ALM). I finished my career at A & AEE Boscobe Down. The Movements crew were always in touch and I left the RAF in 1992. I will not bore you with what followed except to say I went into the computer world as  a contractor - Great. I have been retired, officially since 2007. Happy and Merry Christmas to one and all, especially those who remember me as an RAF/Combined Services rugby player - Fantastic time all around!
From: Ron Corrie, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbright
Wishing all Movers, wherever, all the very best for 2018. Lang may your lums reek!
From: Ron Meredith, Spalding, Lincs
I send New Year Greetings to all of my many former friends and colleagues. Lost so much data over the years, but happy to correspond with any recipients of my Ken.
From: Rae and Susan Sault, St Saviour, Jersey
Susan and I send our very best wishes to the International Movements' Family for Christmas and New Year.
From: Tony Hall, Northam, Devon 
I send greetings to all members of the Mover’s family, have a Happy Christmas and New Year, hope everyone is in a state of good health.
From: Ian & Christine Berry, West Swindon, Wilts
Season's greetings to all Movers wherever you are in the world. I'm still travelling the globe whilst fit and able but sadly now the Queen isn't paying for it! I may also have to invest in a sea log to compliment my flying one... We wish everyone a successful and prosperous 2018 and through organised gatherings hope to meet as many old friends as I can throughout the year.
From: David & Sue Powell, Princes Risborough
Another good year (well we are still here!) drawing to a close. We even managed to find the sun in New York in September.  Sue and I wish all Movers and their nearest and dearest a very happy Christmas and an excellent and safe 2018. A big thank you to you, Tony, for another year of informative and entertaining OBA Newsletters. Also to John Belcher for his 3rd well organized RAF Movers London Street Ramble (aka the 2017 Remembrance Parade).
From: Gordon & Ann Black, Swindon, Wilts
Wishing all movers past and present all the best for Christmas and the New Year. Special wishes to all those parted from their families at this time. A mention to all those who have lost a loved one over the last 12 months.
From: Peter “Hammy” and Eileen Thompson, Swindon, Wilts
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all who know us and to all Movers around the globe.
From: John and Allana Gillis, Hanwell, NB
Allana and I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, especially the Movers who are away from their families at this time of year. May God bless you and your families and keep you safe.
From: Mick & Myra Maybery, 23660 Alcaudete
Here's wishing everyone in the "Movers" community a safe and Happy Christmas and New Year.
From: David Stevens, Bangor
Season's Greetings to Echo Team UKMAMS circa 1963-66. We had some really tough assignments as shown in the attached photo!
From: Wayne & Susan Flaherty, Winnipeg, MB
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to Movers everywhere from Winnipeg, Canada.
From: Dave Elliott, Skelmersdale, West Lancs
I’d just like to wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the Movers out there (current and former) from a displaced Antipodean.
From: Budgie Baigent, Takaka, Tasman
We've just arrived back from a wee trip around the South Island in our Motorhome, towing little 'Jimny' behind! Now waiting for an influx of holiday visitors to our place by the beach in Golden Bay. Merry Xmas and good tidings to the Movers and Shakers around the globe.
From: Keri & Mary Eynon, Thatcham Berks 
Once again thanks for the news letter throughout the year especially keeping us so well informed even when it meant reporting sad news about the loss of old comrades while at the same time bringing back so many fond memories of times shared and places visited. So once again the year draws to a close and we prepare to look forward to what 2018 will bring so now is the chance along with a couple of photos of Mary my wife and one of me on holiday in Portimao in the Algarve at the end of September to wish all movers everywhere and in particular those who remember me a Merry Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year. Best wishes to you all
From: Rob Davies, Woodchurch, Kent
To all Movers, Old and New! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
From: Karl Hibbert, Sabang  Dasmariñas City
Have a Happy Xmas and best wishes to us all in 2018.
From: Graham & Emma Allen, Cropwell Butler, Nottingham
Wishing all Movers, friends and families a very Happy Christmas and a great New Year.  Wherever you are in the world,  our thoughts are with you all.  Have a good un!
From: Philip “Nobby” and Babs Clarke, Swaffam, Norfolk
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Movers past and present.
From: John & Jean Bell, Desborough, Northants
Attached picture is yours truly with wife Jean standing by a Ferret. Brings back memories of Abingdon and JATE trials. The JATE Ferret must have been the most underslung Ferret ever. Happy days!  We are off to the Canary Islands for a Christmas cruise. To all current and retired movers and their nearest and dearest wherever they are and wherever they spend Christmas we wish you a Happy and safe Christmas and New Year.
From: Tony Street, Buffalo, NY
As the Christmas Season rolls around again, I think about Christmases past and present.  As I write this, I recall some of the best were spent with those no longer with us and the memories they left; I know that we all have them. It's these recollections that allow us to appreciate the present to the degree we do.  So, to Movers and their families worldwide, have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year! Also, many, many thanks to "Tee Gee" for his outstanding efforts on our newsletter that unites us across continents.
From: Gerry Davis, Bedminster
The good thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory. Now all you Movers form three ranks and march out to the pan and load Santa's sleigh, then  have a realy good day.  Be careful trimming it and don't overload it and spread the load evenly. Don't forget he will need 8 carrots, a bucket and shovel.
From: Paul (Stretch) & Diane Weir, Leighton Buzzard, Beds
On behalf of my wife Di and myself, I would like to wish every Mover throughout the world a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Tony, thank you so much for your endless dedication and enthusiasm by keeping this unique and special web site going. It's a priceless way of receiving Movers news and memories good or sad.  Let's raise a glass (or two) to those dear friends who have departed and gone to pastures new, they are sorely missed. As you can see from the attached pictures I am, thankfully, still going strong and very much enjoying basketmaking and antique furniture restoration.  Take care, we are not getting any younger but lets all enjoy life while we still can.
Ian & Christine Berry
Navigating the ocean
David & Sue Powell
Bryant Park at 6th and 42nd, New York City
Gordon and Ann Black
At the Notell Hotel
Peter and Eileen Thompson
Visiting relatives
Allana and John Gillis
Trippin' The Light Fantastic at the local gym
Myra and Mick Maybery
Enjoying life on the Iberian Peninsula
David Stevens
With Echo Team, UKMAMS, 1966
Susan and Wayne Flaherty
Wishing it was Santa-Time already!
Dave Elliott
You can run - but you can't hide!
Budgie Baigent
"I have no idea where I am going!"
Budgie Baigent
Towing Little Jimmy Behind
Mary & Keri Eynon
Holidaying in Portugal
Rob Davies
Former enemy aircraft flying in peacetime
Rob Davies
Tally Ho!
Karl Hibbert
Merry Christmas from the Philippines
Daughter Emma & Graham Allen
They've been framed!
Babs & Nobby (#18) Clarke
Wandering around Rome earlier this year
John & Jean Bell
Cruising down to the Canary Islands for Xmas
Tony Street
Remembering Christmases in the past
Gerry Davis
Author: Flying on the Ground
Basketmaking by: Paul (Stretch) Weir
19th Century Bath Chair
Basketmaking by: Paul (Stretch) Weir
1912 Phelan Moore Bike with Sidecar
Basketmaking by: Paul (Stretch) Weir
1910 Stanley Steam Car Model 60
Letters to the Editor
(Click on the arrows to advance the pages)
Group Captain William Scott Girdwood RAF (Rtd)
From: Amy Girdwood, Ealing, London
Sent: Monday, December 04, 2017 5:40 AM
Subject: Dad

Dear Tony,

This is Amy Girdwood writing, Bill Girdwood’s daughter.

I’m sorry to have to share that my Dad died last night after a four month hospitalisation.  His wife Eileen and my sister Mary Jane and I are very grateful for the comfort you gave to Dad, keeping him connected to his friends and memories of a major and very important part of his life.

Thank you,  Sincerely

From: David Forsyth, 85370 Le Langon    

Hello Tony,

Thank you for sharing this with me. The best boss I ever had and I am very sad to read that he has died. We had rekindled a periodic e-mail exchange over the last couple of years and my last from him was in August which must have been just before he went into hospital.

I shall certainly write to Eileen and the girls.

From: George Graves, Carlisle, Cumbria

That's awfully sad news about Bill, but thanks for letting me know. I served with him on MAMS in Singapore in 1967 then met him again when he was CO at 14 MU. He always addressed me as George - he was a super, super bloke.

From: Ian Envis, Crowborough, East Sussex

Thanks for the very sad news Tony. I will email Amy.

I will always remember Bill Girdwood as a larger than life character, who had time for each and every member of his various subordinates and peers throughout his career.

Good evening Amy,

While we have never met, I had the good fortune to meet your father when he was OC Supply at RAF Lyneham in 1975 and I was a sprog Fg Off on UKMAMS. From that day onward I found him to be a larger than life character who was a natural leader, a gifted team player and a true friend to his subordinates and peers alike. It was always a pleasure to meet him - most often at RAF Movements Officers' Reunions, where his presence and personality helped make a great evening outstanding.

To you, your mother Eileen and sister Mary Jane, my deepest condolences on the passing of a husband, father and a wonderful comrade in arms. Bill will be missed by me and many in the RAF and I'm sure equally missed in the civilian establishments he graced on retirement from RAF Carlisle.  May he rest in peace.
From: Len Bowen¸ Chisholm ACT

Dear Amy, 

I was greatly saddened to learn of Bill's death.  Bill was my guiding light when I first joined the RAF Far East Air Force Mobile Air Movements Squadron (FEAF MAMS) in August 1966.  Together we closed the RAF Station at Kuantan in Malaya, and I learned a lot from Bill about how to run a MAMS Team in an unusual location and under difficult circumstances during that time.  We also sank a couple of 'Tiger' beers or three together during that task. 

I greatly regret that time and distance precludes my attendance at Bill's 'final deployment' service.
"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

We will remember them.

Len Bowen
(RAF/RAAF Retired)
From: Amy Girdwood, Ealing, London

Hi Tony, I am in the process of planning my Dads funeral which will be a small affair as I think I mentioned. Mum would like there to be a reading and wondered if you had any copies of articles Dad might have written for your publication?  She said it might be nice to read something that Dad wrote, given how much he loved his time in the Air Force. (Discussing mentors) (FEAFMAMS Close down task: RAF Kuantan August/September 1966) (Early morning Hastings loading using Vanguard pick-up) (Discussing Len Bowen and Tony Mullen) (Operation Hillclimb - building a radar station atop a mountain on Penang Island) (Christmas greetings and memories of Movements training) (Bill Girdwood - meet Bill Girdwood) (Christmas greetings) (Tony Mullen mentions Bill's tales from Kuantan and Len Bowen also writes in mentioning Bill)
From: Tony Mullen, Toowoomba QLD

Thanks so much Tony for advising me. Bill was a good friend and I was with him in Penang on MAMS duties when he met his wife. I have emailed her.
From: Gerry Pengelly, St Neots, Cambs

Hi Tony,

I was shocked and saddened to hear about Bill Girdwood.  I didn’t even know he had been in hospital for such a long time.   I wondered why he was not at the Movements  Reunion last month; he didn’t usually miss it.   Bill and I go back a long way.  We were both in the same Squadron at OCTU at RAF Jurby in 1955, and later, after he had transferred from the RAF Regiment, we served and drank beer together in the 1960s at RAF Lyneham and in the Far East.  He also took over from me as C Mov O in RAFG in 1976.  We have not seen a lot of each other in recent years but we were still firm friends and whenever we did meet up, it was like old times again. He was a larger than life character in more ways than one, and I shall miss him.   I have written to Eileen expressing my condolences.

From: Amy Girdwood, Ealing, London

Thank you Tony

I have had so many lovely emails following your communique to your subscribers/members. I have shared them with Mum and my sister and we all have been incredibly comforted by them. The stories have given me completely different and new insight into my Dad. The only sadness is that I can’t ask him the hundreds of questions the stories have created. Please know that some of the stories have contributed to the tribute I will give at Dads funeral service on Monday on behalf of our whole family.

Thank you. I thought I was proud of him before. It is a hundred fold now.

Warm regards

MY TIME IN THE R.A.F., 1943-1947
An Air Mover's Story in Eight Parts
Norman Victor Quinnell, 1925-2008
Part Two - Canada - Jun 1944 - Jan 1945
It was in the afternoon of the 1st. that we disembarked, having been told we were going to St. John, New Brunswick, on the East coast of Canada, and from there would be sent to a RCAF station at Dafoe, in Saskatchewan, across three quarters of Canada.  There was still no sign of the Germans.

From Pier 90 we were taken to a railway station. Apart from it being very hot, I don’t remember how we got there, and if was Grand Central we didn’t go through the main concourse to get to our platform. Once there, however, we were plied with snacks, soft drinks, and ice creams, by ladies of an American charity, maybe the Red Cross. In the sweltering heat, these gifts were marvellous; our introduction to a land of plenty!

Late afternoon we boarded a reserved coach of a train bound for Moncton, New Brunswick, a distance of some 600 miles. It went via Boston, and stopped several times, but we had no idea where. It was a sleeper coach, and, after an evening meal, an attendant demonstrated the bed system. Shortly, with nightfall, most of us were asleep. Wakened around 6 or 7, we were ready to dismount as the train entered Moncton station. A RCAF Sergeant boarded; we were ushered off, lined up, and marched to a barracks and a welcome breakfast.

Once more a few days waiting, but restrictions were minimal, provided one signed when going out, after the few daytime lectures, which often dealt with Canada, its laws, customs, and people, though little was said about the native tribes, except the Inuit.

The “city” of Moncton was not large, probably 40 to 50,000. A minor claim to fame was its river, which had a twice daily bore, originating in the Bay of Fundy, well to the south. The primary industry was the processing of wood, with pulp and paper mills based on the vast forests nearby.
Many of the houses were of clapboard construction, completely new to us, but the shopping streets were quite modern and stocked with items not seen for years, and abundant food and chocolate.

Ray and I made a few excursions to town but we were shortly to be parted for good, with news that 20 of us would go to Dafoe, Saskatchewan, and the others, including Ray, would be sent elsewhere.

Some went to the Toronto area, for I later had a photo of Ray at Niagara Falls. So, after no more than a week in Moncton, a score of us got into a Trans Canada train of the Canadian Pacific Railway for the 2,000 miles trip to Dafoe.
The journey, which lasted three days and two nights, was an education in itself. We had a sleeper coach to ourselves but took meals with other passengers in the dining cars, though at specified times when most had finished. The route went via Quebec then North of the Great Lakes and to Winnipeg, with stops at other small places, usually two or three a day. As a steam locomotive, it required coal and water, especially, it seemed, to maintain the unforgettable, eerie, almost wolflike howl of its whistle. A lonely, haunting sound, which, in memory, has always represented Canada and its great tracts of utter wilderness. Days of nothing but pine forest, and then of open prairie, were a revelation (in spite of geography lessons). At some stops there might be a few tribal Indians, though they never boarded the train.

It was too comfortable to last; the neat fold down bunk beds, the fine food - though I always found maple syrup on breakfast bacon and pancake a bit excessive - and the leisure: playing cards, reading, just staring from the window.

Late afternoon on, probably, August the 11th. we alighted beside the rails at Dafoe. The settlement was at a road junction, and consisted of a dozen houses in separate plots near four enormous, towering grain silos, which must have been the origin of the place.
The sides were painted with the name “Dafoe” in huge letters. I later found that most silos were painted in similar fashion and often also on the roofs so the name would be visible from the air as well as from some miles away on the ground. Around us, flat, wheat-covered prairie stretched to the horizon. Two trucks awaited us and our kit and, after driving northwards for about fifteen miles we came to the big, isolated, Air Force Station, RCAF Dafoe, No. 5 Bombing & Gunnery School.

There were at least six blocks of double huts, each pair linked to a building with washrooms, etc. which together must have accommodated three or four hundred pupils.

Then there were admin. blocks, a hospital, PT and games halls, housing for Officers, instructors, servicing staff, transport buildings, and six very large aircraft hangars. There may have been well over 1000 personnel living there. Accordingly, apart from numerous classrooms, attention had been paid to off duty facilities. A cinema, bowling alleys, an evening canteen and covered courts for hockey, basket ball, squash, and an indoor swimming pool.

A limited number of women, the Canadian equivalent of WAAF’s, did clerical work and parachute packing, but were rarely in evidence.
The training system was like a continuous production line, with staff and students from various parts of the Commonwealth, and at different stages of the courses. Course groups seemed to be of 20 to 25; ours was of 22, billeted in one quarter of a double block. I think there was a Corporal or Sergeant in charge of each block or half block, who had his own room. Certainly someone maintained order and discipline, eg. beds had to be properly made up each morning, sheets and blankets folded, bedside lockers tidy, and before breakfast everyone was assembled for daily orders.

There is now a dearth of memories of individuals. Everyone and everything was transient and no attempt was made to form any particular friendships. Warren was older than most of us, always smart, mixed very little, and was clearly determined to get a Commission at the end of his training. I believe he was married.

There was Pickering, notable for spending his evenings on his bed and endeavouring to learn the meanings of a dozen words every night on a page of a Shorter Oxford dictionary. I never tested him or found out how far into the dictionary he had gone, but he was still at it in Winnipeg and when he left Canada.

The first fortnight was spent in classrooms dealing with navigation: the Mark 9 bombsight, wind drift, meteorology, and the multiple Browning gun turret. In the latter classes we dissembled guns, put them together, and learnt how to clear stoppages; more intensive than the initial instruction at Torquay. On one day we were taken to the Ranges to do live ground firing using twin Browning guns. These were but 2 miles north of the Dafoe grain silos, and at the southern tip of the larger of the two Quill Lakes, into which fire was directed at targets at the edge of the water. This lake was about 10 miles wide and 20 miles long, stretching north beyond Dafoe airfield. It was used as a bombing range as well as for gunnery.

Then flying started, interspersed with the ground classes, sometimes before, at others later. The aircraft were Avro Ansons, the standard plane used in the UK and elsewhere for training, though Dafoe also had some Bristol Beauforts. (Both Ansons and Beauforts were also produced in Canada under licence). An Anson could be fitted out for a “crew” of half a dozen but normally consisted of pilot, navigator, bombaimer, and rarely a wireless operator. Oddly, I cannot remember any wireless operators, but, like the pilots, they would have been part of the base staff (and only used, perhaps, on particular flights). The pilots used constant radio links, but were in any case completely familiar with the landscape and reference points.
Before any flying, everyone assembled in a classroom for a briefing on the times of the flights, the routes and perhaps some information on turning points as well as a weather forecast. The pilot’s name and the aircraft’s registration letters were given out, any questions answered, and out we went to collect our parachutes and find our plane at the dispersal area.

Of the first flights, two were used for “wind finding”, ascertaining its direction and speed, by working out the angle of an aircraft’s drift from a direct course and the difference between the speed indicated by the instruments and the actual airspeed relative to the force and direction of the wind. Both were necessary requirements in bombing as well as navigation. Other flights concentrated upon map reading, and non-instrumental navigation. Since the whole course was primarily concerned with bombing only about three quarters of the time dealt with navigation as an airborne activity, though it was pursued in the classroom.

The aircraft, not very large but twin engined, had a bomb bay which could hold maybe six or eight practice bombs, each of about 10 pounds. In a rather primitive fashion the bay was opened by turning a handle on the starboard side of the plane, almost at floor level and 3 feet to the right of the pilot. It was in this space that the bomb aimer’s legs stretched out, a few minutes before reaching the target, his head and shoulders forward in the nose of the plane, which had a clear perspex floor with the bombsight fixed on it. He then adjusted the sight to take account of height, the wind speed and its direction, and, via a microphone attached to his helmet, in the run-up to the target, he instructed the pilot to turn left or right until the target was seen to be moving along between the guide wires of the bombsight towards a critical point. Then the aimer pressed a button and a bomb dropped. Any error beforehand, such as an unpredictable lurch by the aircraft, was acceptable for going round again, but if it was the aimer’s fault such as a misdirection, the pilot announced his displeasure. There was low level and high level bombing perhaps at 2,000 and 8,000 feet, I don’t remember the figures.

The targets were set out on the largest Quill Lake, and spread over a few square miles, though I no longer recall what they looked like or how the range of hits were recorded. Obviously, when two or more pupils were taken on a flight, separate targets were used. Being close to the airfield, flights took little more than an hour to complete so sometimes there were two in one day.

Longer trips of three hours or so only happened when one was navigator, barely 20% of the flying time. These usually covered three or four hundred miles, taking a triangular course from base, and always avoiding any town of size. They were made in daylight and logged as “map reading with simulated bombing “...going through the actions on a predetermined site without bombs". This included photographic bombing using an air camera, and I have the negatives and two photos of railway bridges over what I now assume to be the South Saskatchewan River, perhaps in the Moose Jaw area, but I can’t remember any details. One flight that did not include any form of bombing was a low level map reading exercise, needing considerable concentration.

One of the curious things about Canada was that, unlike the southern neighbour, it had developed with an obsession about Cardinal Points. Provincial boundaries were aligned North/South, and roads were mostly North/South or East/West. No meandering across country, and when they were sparse they were a superb aid to visual navigation.

In both bombing and the rather non-instrumental navigation I usually obtained marks of around 70%, which I suppose was a reasonable figure.

I have not mentioned personal flying equipment issued soon after arrival. Bulky but simple; an all in one suit over which was a harness, fur lined boots, gloves, (not much used initially), and a leather helmet with earphones and microphone all very similar to the Winkfield kit. A parachute had to be collected from the store and returned after a flight. It was tightly packed in a rectilinear canvas bag which had a webbing handle and a very obvious, big, rectangular metal pull. Inevitably someone would pick it up by the pull whereupon the whole bag opened and the parachute would spread out along the floor. The penalty was a fine of, I think, a half day’s pay, of which half went to charity and half to the packer. They took a long while to pack properly and each one had a code number traceable to the woman packer.
Flying started at 8am and finished at midnight, but by late September occasional fog would cause cancellations, and it could gather quickly. Around 10 pm, on a night when a group of us were playing bowls, we heard that a plane had crashed on landing in fog. The bowling alley had an open corridor across the bowling end and suddenly, amid shouting, orderlies rushed through bearing loaded stretchers, on a short cut route to the nearby hospital. It hardly lasted twenty seconds, yet I clearly recognised the eyes of one person - a Chinese Canadian named Ling, whom I had previously noticed but never spoken to (each course kept to itself, though it might play another in sports). He died that night, having lost his lower jaw. There was a second fatality, and four or five injured, none from our course. It appeared that an Anson had landed but not left the runway for a dispersal point when a larger Beaufort came in, and in the fog did not see the Anson or take avoiding action, but crashed into it. In retrospect it would seem to have resulted from a failure in communication between the control tower and the pilots. The Station was much subdued for a few days. I never knew why, but Ling was buried in a cemetery at Humboldt, a very small town 45 miles NW of Dafoe, and it is most unlikely he came from there.

Throughout my couple of months at Dafoe, only once did I venture out. Sunday was the only full day that was free, save perhaps for an early morning church parade, though that doesn’t figure at all in the memory - certainly there was not the requirement to attend church that existed in the UK. Permission to go out was obtainable but where to go? The only two cities were Saskatoon, 200 miles to the West and Regina, the Provincial capital, 200 miles South. The latter even had over 100,000 population. It was said that, with a late pass and going by rail, one could have 2 hours or so in Saskatoon, but the cost wasn’t worth the effort. There was only a road link to Regina and hitching was an uncertain exercise.

Less ambitious, I remembered that when I was thirteen I got a pen-friend through some scheme at school, had a couple of years of decreasing correspondence, then it ceased. He had a French name, like Michel, and though the surname had been forgotten, I knew the name of the farm where he lived, near a town called Wynyard. And Wynyard was only 30 miles away, near the far corner of Quill Lake. On a Sunday I hitched lifts, was told where it was and walked a mile to it on a track from the main road. A normal dairy farm rather as at home; not a great ranch, or one of the seemingly endless wheat farms. Again, I don’t recall any names but think the family were, in part, French Canadian. The son I had corresponded with was away, beyond the Rockies. The parents were polite, and gave me a drink and some food, but had little to say, so after a short while I left and hitched back.

Not a successful outing.
We left Dafoe at the end of October. The course had been good, due in large part to the staff, who made sure that discipline was not burdensome, and encouragement prevailed. A great experience geographically. To the North we had flown over forest with hundreds of lakes; to the South, East and West mostly wheatland prairie and this only broken by roads admirably aligned N/S or E/W, and assisting map reading! Fairly useful were the two railways Canadian Pacific and Canadian National, but their lines meandered generally E/W and 100 miles apart. The grain silos adjacent to the rail lines almost always had the local name painted on their roofs which was very helpful in confirming or correcting one’s position during daytime flights.
Throughout the time at Dafoe the weather had mostly been like a very warm English summer, the few locals one had met had been very pleasant, and the training occasionally arduous but congenial. Nevertheless it seemed a strange and empty country

Contact with the people was, up to then, minimal, apart from the military there were a few civilians at Dafoe, and they kept their distance. There was, perhaps, an inevitable sense of detachment from a war far away - nothing had changed daily life - and comprehension of wartime situations seemed remote. There were occasional criticisms of Britain but usually they were mild. An armaments Sergeant bemoaned British stupidity whereby a shipment of dozens of aircraft was made useless by putting all the fuselages and wings in one boat and the engines in another, and the engine vessel was sunk. More thought and at least 50% of complete aircraft would have arrived.

Nevertheless, conditions on, and especially off duty were really good. We had all done around 70 hours day and 10 hours night flying and, I believe, nobody had failed. Our course finished officially in the first week of November, and shortly after, a train journey of only 400 miles took us to No. 5 Air Observers School at Winnipeg, Manitoba. I was armed with an Air Bomber Armament certificate and now it was to be a concentration on navigation. (I was also in possession of a Canadian Post Office Savings book which I’d opened with a deposit of 10 dollars. 9 dollars were later withdrawn, but I still have the book. What is the interest on a dollar over 60+ years?)
The airfield was partly civilian, and adjacent to the city. Winnipeg was the Provincial capital, built around the junction of two rivers, the Assiniboine and the Red, and was really “large”, with a population approaching 200,000. Yet it was bustling, with fine shops and monumental Victorian type civic buildings, bridges, trams and buses, cinemas, etc. There was, somewhere, a summer recreational area known as Winnipeg Beach. A complete change to the remoteness of Dafoe.

The Station was more compact than Dafoe but with a similar layout of runways. The barrack blocks were longer, and may have held 70 or more. They were also built on stilts, some 4 feet off the ground, with stairs up to the doors. The reason would soon be apparent. The accommodation would have been good, but we shared it with three dozen Australians and a number of New Zealand trainees. The latter were fine; it was the Aussies who were a boisterous menace and decided that Poms were fair game for irritation.

A favourite prank was to wait until after “lights out” and we were dozing or asleep, then throw missiles in the dark at our beds, usually gym shoes or similar kit. Naturally there would be retribution in kind until someone put the lights on and order was restored. A wild bunch, a couple of whom got into trouble for upending a young “WAAF” in the games room, after some banter and argument as to whether she was wearing regulation or fancy knickers.

For the first three weeks it was classroom work, mostly navigation, using a sextant, which involved astronomy for star “shots”, compass plotting on charts etc. and some meteorology. There were the PT classes, swimming, and Stick Hockey. It may have had another name, but was a very fast version of hockey on a small indoor pitch (a concrete floor). Instead of a ball there was a fairly heavy circular felt pad, 6 inches across and 1 inch thick with a 2 inch hole in the centre, a bit like an ice hockey puck. The stick was quite straight and, though one could hit the pad, to control a shot it needed to be in the central hole, which gave it considerable speed. I disliked many team ball games, but Stick Hockey was fast fun.

When off duty there were no problems about going into the city, after signing at the Guard Room. The centre was only 3 miles, by frequent buses, but the attractions were rather limited to window shopping in the main street, Portage Avenue, cinemas, and the minimal sightseeing...
Well wrapped up I could happily spend a quarter hour on a bridge watching the wide and fast flowing Red River tumbling beneath. There were numerous fairly cheap snack bars, which we used as meeting places. Canadian Provinces were rather like American States and created some of their own laws. Alcohol was discouraged in Manitoba by a rationing system. We, like the rest of the population, could get a card with coupons allowing one or perhaps two half pint bottles of beer a day (wines may have been a bottle a week and spirits a bottle a month), purchasable in a “pub” - a dreary little one room shop with a counter and a few stools. No adverts, pictures, music, or comfort. This did not apply in camp however, where, as I recall, consumption was restrained by price and probably a limited time when the bar was open. It was outside a town bar that I met a young French Canadian and his girlfriend one evening and accepted an offer to go to their nearby flat for a drink. After some coffee and general conversation, talk turned to the local hospital, where they were making a visit, and thought I might like to come along. It was all rather odd and it took me a few minutes to realise that their “hospital” was a house where they got drugs or injections of drugs. Perhaps they got a free dose for every new customer they introduced, but once outside on the street where I could merge with other pedestrians I made quick excuses and disappeared into the night.

Winnipeg was a pleasant city to walk round, with parks, some fine municipal buildings, and the one bridge in particular, from which you could see the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red rivers. The latter originated in the States, and both rivers flowed North into Lake Winnipeg, 30 miles North of the city, and which then extended 300 miles northwards.

It became progressively colder from our first day with temperatures dropping to below freezing, and within a fortnight snow fell heavily to a depth of 2 to 3 feet. It was cleared on streets and on the camp roads. The raised barrack blocks were easily accessed by their steps, and snow was pushed under the buildings by the clearing machines. Soon the daytime temperatures dropped to minus 20 F., and lower at night. For most of us this dry cold was a new experience and not unpleasant when wrapped up, though I stupidly took a glove off when posting a letter and got a blister on my thumb when it pressed against the metal box. Snow was a novelty to the Australians who revelled in snowball ambushes, even to the extent of introducing one into our hut, much to everyone’s fury. Winnipeg’s aircraft were again Ansons, but a later Mark V version with a small perspex dome in the roof from which to take star “shots”. No doubt there were other modifications. I cannot recall how a crew was made up, but all the pilots were civilians, not RCAF, and it seemed quite exceptional.  Again there may occasionally have been a Wireless Operator hidden in a niche, and one, or usually two, trainee navigator/air bombers. The heating was a crude and inefficient hot air system which, when it was up to minus 35F outside, maintained a temperature a little above freezing inside. It was not unknown for a flight to be curtailed at half time when a temperature became so low it impeded work even though one wore woollen mitts and a padded flying suit.
Every flight involved navigation and some bombing at “high level”, ie. near 8 or 9,000 feet I think. Bombing targets were 50 miles NW of Winnipeg and 100 and 200 miles to the West. Generally flights covered 400 to 500 miles and lasted 3 hours or more.

On my first flying day I did two flights totalling over 6 hours, one early morning, the other at night. Routes were planned to avoid trespassing into North Dakota, 40 miles South, and not to go into Saskatchewan to the west, which was in a different time zone. A great help to navigation at night were some small towns, where a local radio mast would have a light transmitting the initial letter of the place name in Morse code. I guess it was primarily to assist civilian flyers but was invaluable - even if an unfortunate surprise on the odd occasion.

All flying maps were based on the nationally available sheets at a scale of 8 inches to one mile (approx. 1/ 500,000), colour contoured at 1000 ft. intervals, and fairly detailed. Each covered an area of 175 X 150 miles and most had been revised in the last 3 -5 years, though one or two were thirty years old.  For military use they were overprinted with all RCAF airfields and their details, civil air corridors, and long distance radio range beacons, their call signs and weather report stations. There were a surprising number of airfields, eg. 12 on the Brandon-Winnipeg sheet, though on that to the east there were only 2 civil ones.

Only twice did I fly across that eastern area, Kenora-Hudson; thousands of square miles of wilderness comprising pine forest with hundreds and hundreds of lakes, ranging from a quarter mile to 50 miles long. An even longer lake, “Lake of the Woods” (Ph.10 :2), went South into Minnesota. This snow and ice covered desolation was astonishing, and happily left behind on each trip, remembering pilots discussing an accident a couple of years earlier when an aircraft crashed on a lake and went through the ice, never to be recovered.

On the easterly flights bombs were usually dropped on the first leg, at the ranges on Lake Manitoba, 60 miles NW of Winnipeg, or Dauphin Lake, another 100 miles on. At night the targets were lit and there must have been some ground system for recording the accuracy of strikes, relayed to base or the pilot but not, I think, to the air bomber, who learned the results later.

Day flights were somewhat routine. Much of central Canada is relatively flat at an altitude of 1000 to 1500 ft. with a few areas of “mountains” rising to 2500 ft. and hardly hazardous. Useful navigationally, as were small towns (often more like hamlets) on crossroads. Others appeared identical, especially since all hedges, fences etc. seemed to follow the N/S and E/W rules.

Night flying could be difficult, establishing one’s position by sextant shots on stars. Now I have no idea now how it was done with the aid of star tables, but I remember that vision of stars was always impaired when the common Aurora Borealis was intense, however beautiful it might appear from the ground. It also had a curious effect upon the propellers of the plane, as showers of “sparks” clung to the tips forming a sort of halo round each engine. I believe it also interfered with wireless communication.

One night, with no Aurora active, a first leg to Brandon had been completed, and a short second one was to take us to within 20 miles of the Saskatchewan and North Dakota border, when the port engine started sprouting some bluish flames, intensifying and turning yellow.

When they got larger, after the pilot had switched the engine off, we were told to put our parachutes on, await an order to open the door, and jump. There were three of us, including the pilot, who was reducing height a bit, from the common eight to ten thousand feet, and thankfully there were no lakes below. Fully kitted, and standing by the door, we saw the flames shorten, gradually turn to sparks and then die away. With relief, the pilot, who was in radio contact with some ground station, told us to sit down and produce a course to Winnipeg - though I suppose he knew the way well enough - and we returned using only one engine. Yet I’ve always been a little bit disappointed that I didn’t have the experience of a jump, though a daytime one would be more sensible and pleasurable.
During time at Winnipeg it was a common practice for citizens to invite trainees to their homes on Sundays for afternoon tea, and it was done by giving a name and telephone number that was put on a notice board in the Welfare Officer’s room. Usually the invitations came from first generation immigrants of the 1920’s or early 30’s, many of whom seemed to be Scots. I went to two houses, the first on my own. They were second generation, with a small boy, and very Canadian, though a father had been English. I think it was because of that most of the conversation dealt with conditions in Britain and comparisons with Canada. I can’t remember the meal, but having expressed curiosity about the central heating system was given a tour. A fairly new solidly built house (not clapboard), the sole heating was by hot air ducts from an oil fired boiler in a small ventilated basement. The hot air was pumped from a grill high in the wall of each room and returned via a low level grill, unlike anything I had seen before. As everywhere, including our barrack blocks, the temperature was kept to at least 70 degrees F. and, while it was in the minuses outside, it always seemed excessively hot within.

On the second occasion two of us accepted an invitation to the house of an elderly couple. I think my companion was a Scot; certainly the hosts were Scots who had, as always, retained unaltered homeland accents although they had emigrated decades before, when the husband had qualified as a doctor. Now retired, he was involved with the Canadian Red Cross or something similar.

I recall the invitation was to afternoon tea, and we had some difficulty in getting to the place, a detached house in a suburb reached by buses and walking. Consequently we were a little late but soon settled into the usual conversation about Britain/Scotland. (Now I cannot understand why we didn’t ask questions about Canada. Perhaps it was a   reluctance to display ignorance, or to enter into any social or political territory). Anyway the afternoon passed pleasantly, with sandwiches, tea, and cakes, and finished unexpectedly with a further invitation, to visit them for Christmas Day dinner. This would be in a week’s time, and we both, without thinking ahead, accepted. 

We left about 5.30 to walk for a bus, while it snowed lightly, and got dark

Disgracefully, on the 22nd, we sent a message with some excuse as to why we could not be with them on Christmas Day, though it was simply that it seemed it would be more fun in the camp. An act of stupid selfishness which has haunted me down the years ever since. Even though long dead… perhaps their ghosts remember.

A half dozen more flights and the course finished. The last two were night bombing trips on which I was air bomber and, according to the Log Book, also did “contact navigation and S/R”. I don’t now know what these mean or entailed. The final flight was on the night of the 23rd. Dec.

In all there had been about 30 hours of day and 6 hours of night flying, half as first navigator and half as second, with an additional 7 hours of night bombing. Altogether there were 15 flights, each with a different pilot and a different Anson, for a pilot kept to one aircraft. So, with almost 100 hours of day and 23 hours of night flying Canadian training was coming to an end. During the non-flying time of the 7 weeks at Winnipeg we had been kept fully occupied. There were classes on navigation - theory and practical - on meteorology, aircraft recognition, on the Mk. 9 bombsight, and signalling. The latter was primarily keying Morse, and some Aldis lamp work. Towards the end there were examinations and it was the results of these, plus marks obtained for navigation and bombing during flying, that determined the issue of the coveted “Wing”.

On the recreational side there had been the usual PT, some running, which was not particularly pleasant in the wintry conditions, and I opted for swimming and, surprisingly, for stick (or floor) hockey. An ice rink was also available for the adventurous.

Off duty there were the usual cards, darts, bowling, and other more boisterous team games for those so inclined. One could be assigned to a guard duty or similar but, because of the numbers it was a rarity. I don’t think it was weekly but occasionally a dance was held on a Saturday night.
A church Service was held on Christmas Eve, but as always in Canada, church attendance was not compulsory - unlike the UK. The Australians ensured an early and noisy start to Christmas Day yet otherwise must have been remarkably unobjectionable since I remember nothing else about them over the period.

I had received letters from home and friends fairly regularly while in Canada and two or three arrived for Christmas, though I don’t recall cards. (Presents would have been hopeless but I had shopped already to take some back to the UK). Nothing special happened on Christmas morning except the muted excitement and anticipation about the Dinner and afternoon entertainments. Nobody was disappointed. An enormous meal, with soup, the traditional turkey etc. pudding and fruit, accompanied by beer, and all served by Officers. It was, of course, not just for trainees but included all the lower rank staff, men and women, on the Station. I think NCO’s had their own mess room, as did the Officers, who would have eaten later. Dinner had been preceded by an address by the CO, making a rare appearance, and outlining the afternoon events. No doubt they were fine, including sketches, songs etc. with people from town, but it’s now a haze - perhaps the beer!

Immediately after Christmas the Course results were announced, and on the 27th  the CO presented us with the “B” Wings and Sergeant stripes, the culmination of a year of work. Also a new beginning - no longer the lowly “erk” but someone with a title and an astonishing jump in pay to 13 shillings and 6 pence a day.

Around midday we returned to the billet, sewed our stripes and brevets on working and best uniforms, and waited for the afternoon group photograph. In this there are 22 of us and 2 navigator instructors, P/O Howarth and F/O Moore. Of the 22, I think 3 were recommended for Commissions, of whom I only recall Warren, the older, serious person. I do remember that on my pass certificate Howarth had written “Untidy and unconventional - not recommended for a Commission.” 
Looking at the photo now, Pickering still comes to mind with his curious habit of lying on his bunk each evening  and learning a half dozen new words and their meanings. I was friendly with Threadgold, but not O’Donnell, a brash Irish oddity who (I was told much later), died in North Africa, after falling down the steps of an air raid shelter.
We had been told that our next stop would be Halifax, Nova Scotia, to await a ship back to the UK. Halifax was some 1,700 miles away and we had to be there by January 4th or 5th, something like that. Meanwhile we could stay and wait for the 2 day train journey, or have leave to go beforehand, individually, with a special train ticket allowing breaks in the journey. An enticing idea, and we would be paid in advance, but hardly anyone took it up. Ray Parslow had sent me a photo of himself at Niagara Falls. They looked as impressive as the tales I’d heard so Niagara was my prime port of call. Ray had by now returned to the UK so no chance of seeing him.

It may have been something to do with the ticketing or the railway routes, or simply lack of knowledge on my part, but the route taken wasted a lot of time.

The first leg was Winnipeg to Montreal, a distance of 1,300 miles. I must have left early on the 28th to book into a small hotel on the afternoon of the following day. I dumped my kitbag, and wandered into town. I did not like it. After the friendliness of Winnipeg, the people of Montreal seemed almost hostile. I was unmistakably British, with limited school French, but they would only speak French though virtually all were bilingual. After two or three hours, and a meal I went back to the hotel, shortly to be accosted by a short middle aged man in a smart dark suit. This was in the hotel lobby, and he had come down the stairs with a young dark haired girl. In English he made a proposal concerning the girl which clearly indicated that she was a prostitute and he her minder. Escaping their clutches I retreated to my room and next morning set off for Toronto, a mere 300 miles but retracing my footsteps westward.
Toronto was fine, and again I found a small place to stay overnight, and go to the waterfront of Lake Ontario, find the bus station, and get a ticket for next morning to Niagara. That journey took over two hours, but I’d reached my goal.

There was no difficulty in getting a fairly cheap room in a hotel beside the Falls; or very near them, and the ease in getting accommodation everywhere indicated, I suppose, that Canadians did not move from home over the Christmas period.

The boundary between the USA and Canada crosses the Falls at a tiny island which separate them into the American and the (Canadian) Horseshoe Falls. Spectacular they were, in width, and the roaring volume of water, though in my mind I had always pictured them as being higher than their 50 metres, more like Victoria Falls I suppose. I don’t remember the river steamer being in operation below the Falls - perhaps it stopped over New Year.
The town of Niagara was very small, the shops mostly cafes and souvenir places, not particularly interesting. Among the few people around I got into conversation with a local girl and walked along the river bank with her until dusk. Then supper in one of the cafes, back to the hotel , where I wrote a number of postcards to put in the hotel post box. For a New Year’s Eve the place was pretty unexciting and after a couple of beers (Ontario had a different licensing system I think) I went to bed, to be awoken in the small hours by a pair celebrating on a bed in the next room!

January 1st. 1945. After breakfast, but before leaving the hotel for good, I thought I would walk to the States via the bridge across the Falls. I got to the Customs Post at the island but couldn’t persuade the Officer to let me even put foot on American soil, or bridge. I might have visited Buffalo, on the far side of the bridge. Defeated in that I collected my kit paid my bill, and bused back to Toronto.
To be continued...
By then I had wandered enough and took the next train that would get me to Halifax, the end of the line, and 1,000 miles - by way of Montreal. All trains had pull-down bunks and provision for meals, so journeys were never arduous, but I cannot recall anything of the trip to Halifax, although it must have taken over 24 hours. Once there I reported in at the camp to be allotted space in a hut with a number of strangers from other stations in Canada. Other Winnipeg personnel arrived a day or so later. We were on the edge of the city well away from the port but with shops nearby to complete our purchases for home.  In my case they were the heavy items, mostly pounds of various forms of chocolate, and for myself a green zip-up leather jacket. By the time I could really use it, in 1947, it was rather too small, (and not fashionable), yet it was stored away - for 35 years in a tin trunk - and only disinterred in poor condition and thrown away in the summer of 2005. I had bought a lot of stuff, clothes, nylons etc. in Winnipeg, and now I wonder how I managed to pack it into a side pack and a kitbag, also cart it across half of Canada.

About the 9th of January sailing orders arrived, after 19 weeks in Canada, though it had seemed much longer. What were the lasting impressions? The vastness of the landscapes, whether the wheat lands of South Saskatchewan or the wilderness forests in the North. The lakes of Manitoba and Ontario, and always the isolation of hundreds of tiny settlements, best appreciated from the air. The oddity of, so far as possible, all land boundaries and roads being E/W or N/S, though some help in navigation.  The regularity of the weather was strange, as were the extremes of temperature between August and December, and yet the arrival of snow could be predicted to within a couple of days by locals well before the time.

Canadians in the provinces of Saskatchewan and Ontario were always friendly and it was said that the further West one went the better it was. Yet I found them very conservative, if not somewhat dull, and without the vibrancy that epitomised their neighbours to the South in the US. There was no sign of the “class” system that obtained in the UK, but what I now know as racial discrimination, affecting the indigenous tribes, Sioux, Iroquios, etc. They appeared to be poor, occasionally begging at railway halts, and not at all integrated into society. One of the flying maps, which originated in the 1920’s, and covered a vast emptiness of southern Manitoba, depicted Indian Reserves. There were two near Oak Lake, each of less than 2 square miles in area, and one of almost 3 square miles at Turtle Mountain, adjacent to the U.S. border. Tiny bits of useless land for unloved people. Perhaps it is much better now.

So, about the 9th of January, two or three hundred of RAF personnel were taken in buses to the port and transferred to the “Mauritania”. This was a liner launched c.1940/1 to replace an earlier “Mauritania”, and immediately converted to a troopship so probably not ready until 1942/3. Smaller and sleeker than the “Elizabeth”, with twin funnels, she was probably faster. We were assigned an area on the second deck, complete with hammocks, and issued with instructions on times and place for meals. We heard that a large number of Canadian troops would be embarking in the afternoon, so went up to the top or main deck to watch.  They were part of a French Canadian regiment who clearly weren’t enamoured with the prospect of a trip to Europe. We were fascinated to see the first half dozen walk up a gangway towards the third deck, and, while they did so, throw their kit and rifles overboard into the water. With the prospect of an unarmed regiment, and a dock full of kit, embarkation was brought to a temporary halt, and was completed after dark. We were told there was some sort of prison accommodation on the ship, where the miscreants spent their transatlantic voyage. Segregated, we saw and heard nothing else of the soldiers, so presumably there were no further problems. If they ever came up on deck it was not one visible to us.

The crossing was unpleasant. I believe, to increase speed, the vessel did not have stabilisers, consequently she rolled, and it was both rough and cold. One could go up on deck at any time but, if it was not snowing or raining, there was a compulsory two hours each day after lunch. Incidentally, food was reasonably good, and plentiful, since a good number of people were seasick. Fortunately I have never been prone to sea sickness. Most of us sat or lay on the promenade deck, keeping well back from the rails. Well wrapped up smoking, reading, or dozing. An eye was kept on those who, from exhaustion, fell asleep with a lighted cigarette, and one was aware that every ten minutes a low wave of water would sweep across part of the area, depending on the degree of roll. Cold added to the discomfort, and during one day the sea was full of ice floes. Later things improved, so by the time we docked in Liverpool on the 12th it was, of course, raining.
New members who have joined us recently:
Mark Stedman, Swindon, Wilts
Paddy Hirst, East Grinstead, West Sussex
Welcome to the OBA!
More Relevant Stuff
Australia agrees to sell 18 used Hornets to Canada
The decision has been made after Canada expressed its interest in September for purchasing the aircraft and associated spares.  The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is expected to retire its fleet of F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets by 2022. 
Australia selected a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant of F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter to replace its classic Hornet fighter fleet.

Commenting on the sale, Australia Minister for Defence Marise Payne said: “Australia greatly values our longstanding and broad bilateral defence relationship with Canada, and this decision is another example of our close and strong partnership. “The aircraft will supplement Canada’s existing fleet as it develops and implements its plan to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) fighter jet fleet.” 

The first two Hornets will be delivered to Canada in 2019, while the first two Joint Strike Fighters are expected to arrive in Australia by the end of 2018.

Canada originally planned to purchase new F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft from Boeing.  The deal was, however, cancelled due to a trade dispute between Boeing and Canadian company Bombardier.
Smiles as Fat Albert flies
Disposable lighters. "Millions" of them piled up at airports around Australia - a legacy of the pilots' strike. "Hand them in now," the RAAF guy said.  "There's plenty at the other end.  You can pick one up there."  The 30 or so passengers waiting to board the massive Hercules on the runway at Canberra Airport yesterday, did as they were told, a safety precaution should the no-frills aircraft "decompress" which, the impromptu spokesman added hurriedly, "it won't".  The passengers handed in their lighters and picked up their ear plugs.  "Hearing protection," he called it.  "And... umm, the toilet facilties are fairly primitive.  You'd better make use of the ones here.  It's not really comfortable on board."

Australian Airlines special flight 176 to Sydney was ready to go.  Out they filed. Up the step. Mind the head. And remember what he said about the seatbelts' locking system.  Seventy-nine red canvas seats in an aircraft the pilot, Flight Lieutenant David Lynch of Richmond described as basic, but comfortable.  The passengers settled in their windowless cabin, cardboard boxes of food waiting for them. "It's as much a novelty for us as it is for them,"  Flight Lieutenant Lynch said. "we were asked to do it... and it's a pleasure to be able to help people out."  He smiled, he meant it. "Come, and I'll show you around."

Fat Albert, the aircraft was called.  An Ansett person plastered an "Ansett Starship Crew" sticker on its side - right under his eyes. "Not a lot of room."  He smiled again.  The be-suited gentlemen struggled to hide the child-like gleam of excitement in their eyes as they struggled with the rudimentary seatbelts.  It was exciting.

Not everybody gets to fly in a military aircraft.  But they'd paid their dough and booked their seats, and got in on a first-come, first-served basis.  While the manicured and coiffured stewardesses were nowhere to be seen, the RAAF boys were doing a pretty good PR job. A pair of legs appeared out the back - open - door as the huge machine prepared to reverse out, past the Australian Airlines aircraft, abandoned on the runway, its engines and openings taped over to keep out the local birdlife. The khaki-clad engineer did his stuff, a navy blue Ansett umbrella protecting him from the drizzle. A bit close to those propellers isn't he?"  The Hercules thundered to life.  The legs wiggled and it edged backward.  Once clear  of potential collisions the legs disappeared, the door shut.  The awesome creature sped down the runway.  The few security people in the departure lounge beamed. 

"We'll never get over it," the assistant manager of  the Advanced Food Systems kiosk, gift shop and bar, Lee Mates, lamented. "Never... "

Canberra, Monday October 9th, 1989
What life does to you on Air Movements
Rob Davies is featured flying the Spitfire on the cover of Air Classics magazine due out this coming February.

He tells me he will let us have the full article as soon as it becomes available.

Nice one Rob!
Lossiemouth Air Movements 1982
Christmas 1949
Clive Gale
David Gale
Tony Gale
This newsletter is dedicated
to the memories of
Bill Girdwood (RAF)
Chas Collier (RAF)
Steve "Biffo" Chadwick (RAF)
Patsy, wife of Charlie Marlow (RAF)
Tony Gale