Tag: RAF

War Crimes Part 12 – Moira’s Story

Blown Periphery, Going Postal
This is fiction. Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental. The events outlined have never to my knowledge occurred. Some of the locations are real.

Like most of the important milestones in Edge’s life his marriage was in the autumn, October 14th of 2000 is St John the Baptist Church Instow. It was and is a beautiful church, nestled into the gentle folds of the hills above the estuary of the Rivers Taw and Torridge. Moira Tremain and Mark Edge were married at 13:00 under a glowering sky and predictably it rained all afternoon. He was smart in his No 2s, a Sergeant now with a Military Cross adding to his impressive tally of medals. Nobody asked him and he felt no need to publicise it. Moira knew and she also knew the toll on his mental health being awarded that medal had cost him.
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Operation Black Buck – The Swansong of the British Nuclear Bomber

Blown Periphery, Going Postal
The last gasp before the attack. Victor tanker refuels Victor tanker in an electrical storm. Vulcan 607, BLACK BUCK One stands off waiting her turn.

At 0400 Local on 1st May 1982, the population under curfew of a now filthy and stinking Port Stanley, were roused from their beds by the visceral thumps of just over nine tons of high explosives from the direction of the town’s airport. After the explosions came the roar of four Olympus turbojet engines, that shook the Capital’s wooden buildings and random gunfire was heard all over the town and surrounding area. To the occupied citizens of Port Stanley it meant one thing. The war to free them and oust the Argentine invaders had begun. To the Royal Air Force it was the culmination of an incredibly complex engineering and logistics plan. Thirteen Victor tanker aircraft had flown south with two Vulcan bombers, to attack the airfield at Port Stanley. To the aeronautical experts it meant that an aircraft designed in the 1940s, which had first entered service in 1956 and was due to be retired, had just carried out the longest bombing raid in history to that date.

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War Crimes Part 11 – Moira’s Story

This is fiction. Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental. The events outlined have never to my knowledge occurred. Some of the locations are real.

When Angela found Moira it was obvious that Moira had been crying. Her dark mascara had run from her eyes in blue streaks and those eyes were puffy and reddened. Even her hair looked slightly dull and listless, as though the spark had gone to be replaced with self-indulgent misery. She was sitting on the loading bay, pretending to smoke a cigarette. Moira was drawing in with a huge suck, the cigarette end glowing like the tip of an inquisitor’s poker, then she let out the smoke in gentle puffs, because it was obviously too hot for her oral membranes. Inhaling was out of the question.
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Operation Paraquet The Recapture of South Georgia 25th April 1982

Blown Periphery, Going Postal

Despite the ongoing diplomatic talks brokered by the Americans, it was important that the British were seen to be resolute in providing a military response to back up diplomacy. Very few within the British War Cabinet were hopeful that diplomatic talks in the United Nations would remove the Argentine forces from the Falkland Islands, so as well as talking softly, there was a requirement to wield a big stick. It seemed as though the recapture of South Georgia would send a suitable message to the Argentine leadership, and prove to the military Junta that the Task Force sailing south meant business.
Admiral John Fieldhouse in Northwood Headquarters and staff officers from 3 Commando Brigade planned the operation, which would involve elements of 42 Commando, having recently completed Arctic warfare training in Norway. Major Guy Sheridan, an experienced mountaineer would lead the operation and M Company plus medical and support staff would provide the bayonet strength of 132 men. Sheridan requested support from the Royal Marines’ Arctic and Mountain Warfare Cadre, but instead was given support from 19 (Mountain) Troop from D Squadron Special Air Service (SAS) then based on Ascension Island. As it happened the whole of D Squadron comprising not only the Mountain Troop, but also 16 (Mobility) Troop, 18 (Air) Troop and 17 (Boat) Troop along with the Squadron HQ all joined the force at Ascension. Finally, 2 Troop, Special Boat Squadron (2 SBS) and, as requested by Sheridan, two Naval Gunfire Forward Observation Parties (NGFOs) also joined the task group.
The assault teams were distributed among the ships of Task Force 317, which sailed from Ascension on 11th April 1982. The ships were the Frigate HMS Plymouth, The Destroyer HMS Antrim, the Tanker RFA Tidespring the submarine SSN Conqueror, which also carried the team from the SBS. The task force rendezvoused with HMS Endurance on 14th April, while the Conqueror raced ahead silently and submerged.
The submarine arrived off South Georgia on 17th April and set about its patrol and information gathering. The Conqueror was to prevent any ships from reinforcing the Argentine garrison, by any means the captain deemed appropriate. The gloves were off. On 20th April a Handley Page Victor tanker aircraft took off from Ascension Island and headed south on a lonely 7,000 mile round trip to South Georgia. Once on station, the aircraft conducted a reconnaissance and confirmed the Conqueror’s report that there were no ships within the vicinity of the island.

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War Crimes Part 10 – SERE and the RAF Loadmaster’s Story

Blown Periperphy, Going Postal
This is fiction.  Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental.  The events outlined have never to my knowledge occurred.  Some of the locations are real. 

The Nimrod MR4A had been replaced by a USAF Rivet Joint flying out of Incirlik in Turkey.  The updated Boeing 707 was in a gentle holding pattern, 35,000 feet above Falluja.  It was monitoring cell phone traffic and tens of thousands of bytes of data could be processed every few seconds, the sensors’ electronic brains programmed to detect certain key words and phrases.  CIA trained interpreters would listen in to calls of interest.

Three consoles down towards the less glamorous rear of the aircraft, signals from two Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) suddenly appeared and were beamed back to the aircraft from a geostationary satellite over the Persian Gulf, one of many.  The USAF Master Sergeant zoomed in her console to show Basra City and the surrounding waterways.  She notified her supervisor.

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The Opening Shots of the Falklands War – The Invasion of Port Stanley 2nd April 1982

Blown Periphery, Going Postal

The shaming of a Nation

The Governor of the Falkland Islands and dependent territories Rex Hunt, received a telegram from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 1st April 1982. In blunt language it warned of a possible invasion of the Falkland Islands by the Armed Forces of Argentina. It offered the Governor no advice or external help:
We have apparently reliable evidence that an Argentine task force could be assembling off Stanley at dawn tomorrow. You will wish to make your dispositions accordingly.
Hunt summoned the two senior officers of Naval Party 8901 to Government House in Port Stanley, outlined the situation and observed somewhat dryly: “Sounds like the buggers mean it!”
Because of his seniority, Major Mike Norman was given overall command of all defence forces and Major Gary Noott was appointed Military Advisor to Governor Hunt. The Royal Marines Naval Party was larger than normal due to this being a hand-over, take-over or a Relief in Place. Major Norman had under his command fifty-seven marines, eleven RN sailors and around thirty members of the Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF), a volunteer force under the command of Captain Phil Summers FIDF. The actual numbers of FIDF is difficult to quantify as differing accounts give differing numbers. I have chosen to quote the median. Twenty-two marines had been dispatched under the command of Lt Mills RM to South Georgia and they were having their own problems to deal with.
Phil Summers tasked the members of the FIDF, which included his son, with guarding key installations such as the telephone exchange, power station and radio station. The civilian coastal ship Forrest operated as an ad-hoc radar warning off Port Stanley. Major Norman concentrated his main force in and around Port Stanley, while smaller units were pushed out to cover the approaches to the capital from the airport isthmus with observation posts overlooking Port William and Port Harriet to the south.

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War Crimes Part 9 – The RAF Loadmaster’s Story

Blown Periphery, Going Postal
This is fiction. Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental. The events outlined have never to my knowledge occurred. Some of the locations are real.

The aircraft movements woke him again, specifically a Nimrod MR4A blasting off at 10:00 hrs to commence its eighteen hour patrol, hoovering up electronic intelligence with its 90 antennae. The Nimrod turned north and began the long, cyclic patrol above Iraq, data pouring in from the sensors like Wiltshire Police’s monitoring of 16-year-olds’ Twitter accounts.

Gilmore knew that further sleep was impossible, so he chugged half a bottle of water and headed for the Gym. It was a large, well-appointed and air conditioned luxury and one of the few benefits of being on Ops along with the food. He plugged himself into an MP3 player and listened to the Lightning Seeds’ upbeat and cheerful ditties. He had run five miles and was halfway through a forty minute stint on the cross-trainer, when he became aware someone was lurking just behind his right shoulder, so he paused and turned round. It was his little friend, the MT driver.

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The Opening Shots of the Falklands War- South Georgia 3rd April 1982

HMS Endurance prior to her hurried new paint job and a flying Supermarket Trolley (Wasp)

Part One

On 19th March 1982, the Argentine Navy’s Fleet Auxiliary the ARA Bahía Buen Suceso sailed into Leith Harbour on the Island of South Georgia and put ashore a party of Argentine scrap metal workers. Once ashore, the workers raised the Argentine flag; the so-called scrap metal workers had been infiltrated by Argentine Marines who were posing as civilian scientists. The reason for the Argentine workers’ landing on South Georgia was a contract between Constantino Davidoff and the British company Christian Salversen, for the scrapping of the abandoned whaling factories and facilities on the island. Aware of the contract, the Argentine Navy used Davidoff’s front to establish a covert base on the disputed territory. The plan was given the code name Operation ALPHA.

The only British personnel at Leith were a small contingent of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) headed up by Trefor Edwards. He handed the captain of the Bahía Buen Suceso a message from London that the Argentine flag was to be struck immediately and demanded that the party should leave the island. They were to report to the main party of the BAS at Grytviken before returning to the Argentine mainland. The scrap metal workers removed the flag but refused to either leave South Georgia or report to the BAS leader in Grytviken. A message was sent to the Governor of the Falkland Isles, Rex Hunt, who consulted with the FCO in London. The Governor was ordered to dispatch HMS Endurance to South Georgia with a detachment of twenty-two Royal Marines, in order to evict the Argentine workers.

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War Crimes Part 8 – The RAF Loadmaster’s Story

Blown Periphery, Going Postal
This is fiction. Any resemblance to any persons living or dead is coincidental. The events outlined have never to my knowledge occurred. Some of the locations are real. The BBC is of course a national treasure because of the unique way it is funded.

Gilmore woke up around 12:00 because he was too hot and the continual aircraft movements made sleep impossible. He went to the ablutions corimec and pampered himself with an enormous piss followed by a Basra shower. Water was a premium in this part of the world, expensive and time consuming to desalinate, then ship into the base by tanker. So the British military had a standard operating procedure for taking a shower:

  1. Enter shower cubicle and turn on the water. The water will run for no more than 20 seconds. During this time you must ensure all bodily parts are thoroughly wet. Do not ingest water.
  2. Turn off the water. Select shower gel, soap or myrrh scented oils of choice and thoroughly lather the entire body. Avoid contact with the eyes.
  3. Turn on the water and rinse off cleansing agents for a maximum of 40 seconds ensuring all residues are removed, to prevent chemical irritation.
  4. At this point Male personnel are to shave. This stage is optional for female personnel.
  5. Ensure all sensitive body areas are well moisturised because the highly chlorinated water is likely to irritate sensitive skin to buggery.

The combined messing facility was getting busy when he piled his body armour and helmet by the door. If the rocket and mortar alarm were to go off, a stampede of around 200 people would rush to find their kit among the piles of identically camouflaged personal protective equipment. Some tube had made a decree that body armour was not to be worn in the combined messing facility, so that was it. Gilmore elected to have a freshly cooked ham and tomato omelette with French beans and found a quiet corner of the mess hall to sit. There was no sign of Flight Lieutenant Mount or Flying Officer Skelton.

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RAF Halton – Ghosts Unlimited

Blown Periphery, Going Postal
Princess Mary’s RAF Hospital

In 1986, RAF Halton was the No 1 School of Technical Training responsible for training the RAF’s Apprentices, with the sister School at RAF Cosford. It was also the site of Princess Mary’s RAF Hospital. These military hospitals up and down the country also treated NHS patients, in fact as the military shrank, the numbers of NHS patients increased. The Military Hospitals were closed during the Government of John Major. The Tories have never been friends of the Armed Forces of our country. And don’t forget Saint Maggie was due to mothball or sell off large swathes of the Fleet before the Falklands War broke out.

The base nestles into the Chiltern Hills is about five miles southeast of Aylesbury, which in the 1980s was still a reasonably, un-enriched market town. RAF Halton was spread over five sites, the Apprentice Training Wing, Further Trainee Wing, Workshops, Halton Airfield and the Hospital site. It is a strange place with a long history in RAF terms. Over the years it’s had its share of unexplained deaths, murders, suicides, tragedies and several manifestations that were unexplained. Before the founding of the RAF it was a military training camp and traces of trenches can still be found in the beech woods.

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