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MT Tales

Tell us your favourite prang story, about the time you drove away from a Vulcan with your hose still connected or the time the snow was so deep you didn't notice the runway markers till they flew out of the T54's chute.


A tale from Goose Bay 68/69

At Goose Bay when a Victor came into land one of us 3 drivers would get a coach and the rag packer plus an extra body, sit at the end of perri track by the main runway and wait. Victor landed, shute comes out.

Radio in hand, "Beetle 5 Tower" "Tower Beetle 5" "Permission to retrieve shute" "Permission granted".

So off down 27 I go, but this Pilot did not want to drop his shute and 27 was a long runway, the American B52's had to use it for landing and take off, anyway he decided to loose it nearly at the end so I turned, backed up to the shute the 2 lads jump out bundled it in the back I called "Beetle 5 Tower" "Tower Beetle 5" "Beetle 5 permission down 27 to dispersal" "Tower Beetle 5 Permission granted".

So off I go with the Victor right up my rear, the lads in the back getting a bit worried, the faster I went the faster the Victor went. The tower must have been watching, by this time the old Dodge was flat out around 60--70 mph.......

the radio burst into life "Tower Beetle 5" "Beetle 5 Tower"  Beetle 5 you are clear for take off".

A tale from RAF Sopley

RAF Sopley, a lovely camp, a 24hr unit, I think I'm correct it was 227 Signals unit and a Radar site. To be honest it was more a branch of Butlins approximately 6 miles from Christchurch on the edge of the New Forest.

The Armoury was looked after by FAF Old Sarum usually a Sergeant and Erk would visit in 2 or 3 week intervals to check out the rifles etc and the Armoury was right opposite headquarters and the SWO's office was looking straight out towards the Armoury and lunch time was upon us. The discip Cpl comes out of H.Q. in the form of Tom Chant who is not the brightest bulb on the tree, in fact Tom has been that long at SOPLEY he works for the local farmer herding the cows in at milking time.

Anyway Tom comes out, the Erk comes out of the Armoury and runs across the grass in front of Tom (In 1960's it was suicide even to look at the grass) "Airman" yells Tom "come here, just what do you think you are doing", "Sorry Corporal" "Sorry, you will be I'll see you after dinner" out comes his little notebook "Name" "Enfield" "Last three" "303" (penny did not drop) "Right I'll speak to you at 14.00 in the SWOs office" unknown to Tom the lad was leaving straight after lunch the Sergeant he was with gave him a long weekend.

So 14.00 14.30 15.00 no airman appears Tom is getting really upset, picks up the phone "Is that the Armoury" "Yes" came the reply "Do you have a 303 Enfield in there" "Yes dozens how many you want?" Tom put the phone down muttering what he was going to do to *astard and where he would like to stick his 303. Tom never did live it down and the airman never came to Sopley again.

Brian Freeth

Highlight of my Crane Course, 4 S of TT, RAF St Athan (East Camp) mid '70's.

For those people who remember the Airmen's Messes at St Athan, they will instantly picture "Eglis Brewis JRM" for Trainees and "Beggars Pound JRM" for Permanent Staff.

For those who never had the pleasure, let me paint a visual picture of the scene on East Camp.

The Parade Square (Stn Car Park), dominates the center of the camp with, at that time, Trainees accommodated in barrack blocks to the left of the Square and Permanent Staff accommodated to the the right.

However, the "Eglis Brewis" is on the right, at the top of and beyond the Square and - as you may have already guessed - "Beggars Pound" is on the left, at the top of, and beyond the Square!

(Oh! How convenient and well thought out those heady days of organised chaos were!)

Before breakfast, half the camp crossed from one side of the camp to their mess, whilst the other half did likewise!

Lunchtime was just as fraught, but with the "joy" of having to pass the SWO, who made it his daily ritual to stand on the roadside at the top of the Square - right where EVERYONE had to pass, either on their way to or from their relevant messes and barrack blocks.

I really don't think anyone Permanent Staff or Trainees found the arrangement of criss crossing between mess and block a very efficient way of using their "valuable time", especially after queuing for your meal and then wanting to snatch a couple of quick zzzz's before going back to work.

Including "running-the-gauntlet" pass the SWO.....!.

Except, one day I'd had lunch; I'd passed the SWO unscathed; and was within 50 yards of "Beggars Pound", when bold as brass, two SAC trainees from a Post Graduate Course - who quite obviously (to me) had removed their Green (4 S of TT) epaulette slides and decided to use the permanent staff mess - nonchalantly strolled out, with their berets under their epaulettes, jackets undone and just sauntered across the grass to their block...!!!!

The SWO saw them, pointed straight at them and "roared" - in the manner that I imagine we can all still hear now ( and sometimes dream of....) - "AIRMAN...!!!"

I don't know about you, but I always used to think SWO's were meaning me!

Well, so did the rest of the airmen (and women) who were heading for their blocks.

Everyone Stopped; Braced up and turned to see if it was them!

To my amazement both the perpetrators Stopped; Looked in the SWO's direction; and making a split second assessment of the situation, realised they may be just too far away for SWO to recognise them, one of them mimicked the SWO 's pointed posture, and shouted back.... "SWO!" - and ran off between the barrack blocks!

Panic set in with everyone else, - like the documentary films about African wildlife when a lion gets amongst a herd of zebra!! - I leave you to picture who were the zebra and who was the lion, at the top of that parade square!

Airmen (and women) were disappearing down side roads or suddenly remembering they'd left something back in their mess or block - anything that avoided passing the SWO...!!!

I'm just glad I'd passed him a minute and a half earlier and was heading toward the relative safety of my billet.

I never did find out who those two were, but if they should read this at any time, I'd like to congratulate them on their audacity, quick thinking and sense of humour... 'cos it has always brought a smile to my face, whenever I think of it.... especially now that after all these years I finally put it down in writing.

Good Luck to them... and to anyone who cares to admit to remembering me during my RAF days!

Bill George (F4276465 - MTD 1972-90.)

Bill* and I had been tasked to take a 4-tonner full of what I think was blank ammo or flares (it was a long time ago!) from Brize Norton (where we were based at the time) to R.A.F. Lyneham...

We parked up outside of the compound and were escorted on foot through the security gate into the office. The door opened to a long counter, sat behind this was a very nervous looking young Corporal with a rather stern looking Sergeant and Warrant Officer stood behind. The Sergeant whispered something into the Corporal's ear making him even more nervous, he turned slightly red and developed a shake in one hand. Suddenly he looked up at the pair of us and blurted out, "Driving licences, ADR's and ID's". How Bill and I managed to avoid soiling our pants at that point is beyond me and I'll tell you why.

Two hours previously, Bill and I had been lounging in our smoke filled crew room supping tea and doing crude impressions of certain Corporals. When Annie (our shift Sergeant) came in. "Des, Bill. Have you got your ADR licences on you? You're off to Lyneham." The opportunity to go on the road with Bill was not to be missed; it was a guaranteed 'laugh-a-thon', if indeed there is such a word! I collected the keys and paperwork from control, (I was driving, Bill was to act as escort). A quick DI then we jumped in the wagon and fired it up. That was when Bill turned to me and said; "Des, I've got a problem." I sat with a grin on my face, waiting for the punch line that never came.

Bill went on to explain that he had lost his ADR licence sometime ago and had not reported it or requested a new one. He had not admitted this to Annie, as he was worried of the consequences. So we drove up to Bill's barrack block to make one final search. I waited outside. A few moments later Bill appeared and shook his head. 

Now it turns out, when I last renewed my ADR, for some obscure reason they had sent me two copies and I had kept both! I handed one to Bill "There you go mate!" I said with a grin, "You're sorted!". Bill wasn't convinced, "Won't they check?" I was still smiling at this point having completed many ADR runs to Lyneham in the past. "Nah, you just wave it at them. They never check properly.".. could have heard a pin drop in that office as Bill and I slowly but dutifully gathered the required documents from our pockets and handed them to the Corporal. Slowly he checked each document against the other, checking dates, checking names. He looked up at me, "SAC Roberts?" my mouth was dry, "Yes Corporal!" I replied. He then looked at Bill's documents, at Bill, and then repeated the process. He had a look of confusion on his face he paused. Then looked at Bill again. "SAC Joseph?" (Joseph is my middle name) Bill didn't miss a beat " Yes Corporal!"

I don't remember completing the rest of the paperwork, I just wanted to get the hell out of there and back to the safety of my cab as quickly as possible! As we left, we could hear the W.O. congratulating the Sergeant on what a good job his "trainee" had done!

The vehicle was loaded; paperwork complete, plates on and we were gone, laughing hysterically as we drove off towards Swindon. Then we started to get paranoid. What if they rang ahead with our names? The extra licence was hurriedly shredded by Bill and dispersed somewhere near the M4. We were waved straight through the gates at Lyneham, (the guards must have assumed it was one of Lyneham's vehicles). Air Movements were running behind schedule, so no time for checks. They grabbed our paperwork, ushered us into their crew room. Ten minutes later, we were back in the wagon and on the road.

We vowed that if there should be any comeback (there never was) we would just deny all knowledge. Bill reported his loss and applied for a new ADR when he got back!

I would like to thank all of those involved, if it weren't for their lack of attention and the poor Corporal's nervous state, Bill and I would have been on quite a serious a charge! Not forgetting of course we were a right pair of jammy ba****ds!

Bill*- I can't remember Bill's surname, nor his real first name; I can't even remember the reason we called him Bill! He was a bloody good laugh though and a good mate and I miss him, come to think of it, I miss them all!

Des Roberts

In the mid 70's they decided to re-open Wattisham and to cope with the influx of Lightnings to the flight line brought a load of drivers in from various units to man the Refuellers. On duty one morning was me from Wyton, Tony Scales, and Mick Absolume from Honington. Over the Tannoy came a message stating that there would be numerous VIP's on station that day and that all respects must be duly made etc, etc.

As there was no flying that morning we were tasked to move the Refuellers out of their bays and repaint the lines. As some of you Wattisham guys would know tanker pool was situated in the old control tower on the end of the flight line where everyone can see what's going on. Unbeknown to me Tony and Mick were in their last few month before being demobbed and couldn't give a monkeys and were always acting the goat.  We put on our coveralls collected the paint and brushes and off we went.  Tony started at one end of a line working backwards while Mick started at the other end facing forwards, yes you can guess what coming. When they reached one another Mick painted straight up the back of Tony's coveralls to his head, they then changed places and Tony painted from Mick's head down to the floor carried on along the line.  Neither of them smiled at one another or said a word until they had finished the line. But what they hadn't seen was the coach load of VIP's that had stopped to look at something else, but these two characters had also caught their eyes.  Needles to say they were asked to see the MTO later that day.

John Cone

Hello Ian, 

I was stationed at HQAAFCE, driving a coach back to the section one evening, found a civilian car blocking my route, so had to mount the pavement to get by. Out comes this Yank officer, he took the bus number, jumped in the car and stormed off. I did the same with his car number, reported it to the Main Gate Police, and went home. In the morning, I was called up in front of the RAF Contingent Commander, and questioned about the incident. He told me I should go and see the Base Commander to explain myself. So, of course, it turns out the Base Commander was my Yank from the night before. I explained why I was there to see him, and pointed out that it was one of HIS regulations that civilian cars were not allowed to park on camp roads. He was a bit lost for words, so my apology was a bit hollow!

I was at RAF 'Secret Location' for about a year. We were mostly employed on convoy work, with a disguised fire engine, and RAF police escorts. Sometimes we were allowed out on our own, if the load wasn't too secret. I was on a trip with a Hippo, had to call in at another station with some spares for one of our vehicles that had broken down, and had been dragged there.The Chiefy in the MT Office said, "You will have to stay and help with the repairs". I explained that I couldn't do that, if I didn't arrive at my destination by a certain time, search parties were organised. "Where are you from" says Chiefy, "Sorry, I can't tell you" says I. Well of course he hit the roof, demanding to see my 658, 1250, etc. He got nowhere with the 658, as it had a unit stamp not from my unit, and the most ambiguous wording imaginable. ( If the unit that supplied the stamp was phoned, they always denied all knowledge of us !!). I let him burn for a while, then asked to see the Station Security Officer. Two RAF Policemen turned up to escort me to his office. He turned out to be the Station Adj. and I told him the same story. We had been given a phone number to pass on in dire cases of embarrassment, so I gave him this. Soon, all was sweetness and light, and my two escorts took me back to my Hippo, then on to the Camp gates, where they waved me goodbye.

A similar thing happened to another of our drivers, he broke down and was dragged into Farnborough. Being broad Irish didn't help, so finally he gave them the magic phone number. I was coming back from somewhere down south, and was told at my last port of call to collect Paddy. When I got to Farnborough, I was directed to the RAF site there, and found Paddy in some Wing Commanders office drinking tea and munching on Rich Tea biscuits. The WC explained that Paddy had done all the right things, and they still didn't know where we were from, but he wished us well and sent us on our way.

For the convoys, we used AEC 6 wheelers, cannot remember the type. They were pretty ancient, flat out at about 30 mph. On the dual carriageways, we used to knock them out of cog, and coast down hills until the convoy commander called for a reduction in speed! One old sweat used to dip the clutch, rather than selecting neutral, and the noise this made at 40 plus was truly incredible. We never could get him to see the light, and change his ways.

We weren't allowed to stay overnight on RAF camps, had to stay in civvy digs. We got a Rate One for this. One such place was an old pub, where we got B&B plus evening meal for about ten bob, in old money. We slept on a row of cots in the bar, a bit like being back in the billet! This left another 11 shillings for beer money!! Another place, we slept five in a normal front bedroom. After a night out, on beer and curry, the gazzunder was usually full to overflowing, so a hasty trip, down the stairs and out the back to the privy was often called for. One old sweat used to sleep in his cab, across the engine, so he could spend all his Rate One on ale.

Civvy Drivers

Bill Briggs, Bill was an ex MTD, he was at Marham whilst I was there. He lived in a little touring caravan just off the airfield. His diet was beer and boiled eggs. The eggs were prepared in the Civvy Drivers' restroom kettle, much to the disgust of his mates! He did mostly Aircraft Towing with the Tugmasters. I never knew him to use the low reduction gear box, always at top speed! He used to put the fear of God into the poor old Flight Line Chiefies. The civvies were called to MT Control with a buzzer, Bill had three buzzes, his mates used to chant, Come, On, Bill, (get it?) when his call came .

Zeb Holt, Mr Holt was a firebrand, always up in arms about something. He was banned from watching the local boys football because he swore at the officials so much. There was a system to supposedly stop pull-offs on the fuel installations. The Leyland tankers had a master switch on the back of the cab, behind the drivers' seat. The switch had a T handle that came off and fitted into the installation works. The T had to be in place before the hose could be removed from the pump equipment, and could only be removed when the hose was replaced. Zeb was the only man I knew who managed to circumvent the system! We had an AEC tanker, (Mammoth Major?), the pumping gear was at the side, just behind the drivers door. The cover for the gear hinged upwards and outwards. When driving, the cover had to be securely closed, or a warning hooter sounded continuously when the hand-brake was released. Idiot-proof, you might say? Poor old Zeb managed it though. The road off the Perry track was narrow, and on one side was a stack of jet engine cases. I was going out with a loaded tanker one night, Zeb coming back empty. I saw a glow of light from the side of his tanker, the pump gear illumination, but not the door, as it was edge on. I couldn't get off the road anyway, for the engine cases. He hit the corner of my windscreen, tore the door right off his pump compartment. Luckily the Leyland had a pretty strong cab, the screen was bust, but I wasn't injured, shaken not stirred! Most of the civvies were great blokes, I was on my last tour of duty, and corporals were supposed to be good examples to the erks, by keeping busy when not actually driving. I used to hide in the civvies rest-room, so got to know them well. Mr Mcquitty was peeling pickling onions in there one day, so I gave him a hand, you can imagine what his weeping mates thought of that caper. Mr Mackintosh was a great friend. He took me pigeon shooting on several occasions, on land owned by a farmer friend. Mac used to come to work on a scooter, collecting "road kill" on the way, to feed his dogs. We daren't look in his bag to see what he had collected.

Ken Elliott

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