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Memories of RAF Brize Norton by G.R. Fraser


The early days of 10 Squadron at RAF Brize Norton as recalled by G.R. Fraser, ex-RAF Loadmaster and in-flight poet.

1966 - 10 Sqns first Headquarters (before we had any aircraft!) was in wooden huts, on the other side of the airfield  from todays premises.  With no VC10s to play with, we made ourselves useful (and kept out of the way of “station duties” etc.) by making the place habitable, I painted a signboard to show we existed, and led a quiet peaceful life….

We even had an Ops Room up and running before the first VC10 arrived, complete with wall map to show the position of route aircraft round the globe. Navigators drew it, I painted it – then kept the job going and out of being grabbed for Station Duty NCO, parades and other pains in the butt, by painting almost 100 little cartoons all over it to keep the future Ops Officers amused.

…and after all that the whole place burned down and we got brand new premises on the “operational” side of the airfield.  OK – it wasn’t like Michaelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, but the fire crew could have at least saved the wall….!  And I never took photos of the little cartoons all over it – what a loss to posterity (or even longer)

Training of Air Loadmasters on VC10 cabin crew work was partly carried out with BOAC at their Cranebank facility at Heathrow – all had to wear civilian clothes not to upset the local BOAC staff having to associate with the “brutal and licentious soldiery”.

All other “operational” training of Loadmasters was done at Brize Norton, followed up after “check flights” as a supernumerary, and then at frequent intervals thereafter one of the Transport Command Examining Team would suddenly board the aircraft at some unexpected spot and do the next leg of the flight behaving like Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition (without the thumbscrews).  These gentlemen were known as “The Trappers” (amongst other things!) especially when they gave you a list of your misdeeds afterwards marked  “3/10 Try Harder”  This on top of 6 monthly examinations.  (Left – Trapper gives 2 Loadies a hard time en route)

Base Hangar Brize Norton

Shiny Ten undergoing maintenance

Naming Ceremony XR810 “David Lord VC” (Click to read the VC citation, use the 'Back' button to return here)

“RAFAIR 1001” (New flight numbers) First scheduled VC10 trooping flight to Hong Kong – XV103

 

Note: This does not agree with Scott Hendersons book “Silent, Swift, Superb” page 172 quoting XR808 making 1st scheduled route on 4.4.67.  My logbook shows XR808 Lyneham-Nairobi-Gan-S’pre-HK and back via Bahrain 16-22/12/66, and Fairford-Changi-Fairford 27-31/1/67, XV101 Lyneham-Changi-Lyneham 18-21/3/67 (amongst others)

RAFAIR 1001 refuelling stop RAF Muharraq, Bahrain

RAFAIR 1001 at RAF Kai Tak, Hong Kong heading homeward

Representative Air Support Command types at RAF Abingdon for Queens visit at RAF 50th Anniversary Celebrations, 1968

Some of the cartoons I did which were hung on the walls of 10 Squadrons Crew Room 1967 – wonder if any are still in existence? (If you know where they are: Send an E-mail)

“Clampers” at Brize again…..but the “sweeper” aircraft that picks up all the crews along the routes to get them home for Christmas always gets in!

We got tanked up before they even thought of VC10 tankers!

All photos provided by G.R. Fraser. Crown copyright may apply to some images

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