View Single Post
Old 10th Feb 2014, 21:55
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Wiltshire
Age: 67
Posts: 2,062

Sheikh Yahwad

I was one of the two GEs on that aircraft and could name every member of the crew, but won't in this forum. It began as a joke, and the arrival base was Akrotiri. We had been sweeper for a Tornado deployment return home, and had ended up doing a quick (if Albert could do anything quick) trip from Bahrain to Akrotiri to collect a hydraulic rig, to fix the downed swing winged electric jet for its next leg. On arriving at Akrotiri, the movers and VASS were their usual, brilliant support and we were soon heading back to Bahrain. We had acquired a passenger, who it turned out was a movements officer from AKR who had asked if he could get a quick trip out to Bahrain.

Our Nav, a young fellow with only one stripe on his shoulder, who for brevity we will call Simon, had said to the movements man "no problems mate, jump aboard". It was only a four hour flight back to Bahrain, so quick, as advertised. Unfortunately, it took three days for the Tornado Groundcrew to fix their jet. The movements lad from Akrotiri had arrived in Bahrain believing he would be back at Akrotiri that evening. KD shorts, shirts and Bondu boots were his only apparel, added to which his lack of passport was equally a problem. We managed to get him off base, and Simon shared his room with him. As we had two days awaiting the fast jet boys we went shopping. We had all done GW1 pretty well as a crew, no excitement, but that "all for one" attitude was there. We went shopping in the souk on one of the days and all bought "local" attire. No messing, the full kit, headdress, and nightdress, and didn't we all look a sight!

Come the day, we saw the Tonka head north and duly followed. The flight back to Akrotiri was a laugh, and somewhere along the way it was suggested that we have a laugh with movements at Akrotiri. It was suggested that we call Akrotiri movements (HF) and inform them of the arrival on our aircraft of "Shiekh Yahwad" courtesy of the British Embassy Bahrain. To make it more convincing, the, by now, our compliant movements officer from Akrotiri was asked to confirm the call.

Military precision was called for so, on approach we had a plan. All crew had changed into their Arab garb, and the Captain was to play the part of Sheikh Yahwad. The plan was, Loadie led off and shut down the aircraft. Two GEs follow in Arab dress and stand at attention either side of the crew door. The captain then leads the rest of the crew from the Aircraft down the crew steps, and we all have a laugh. Oh, how the mighty fall. On arrival at Akrotiri, around 1530 local time, we found a reception committee consisting of OC admin, Eng and Ops (thankfully no Staish) all lined up in their finest best Khaki, at the end of a rather nice red carpet, aligned with the crew door of Albert. Now, a few things to note, to my knowledge, nobody above the rank of Sergeant ever worked, outside, at Akrotiri after 1300 hours local, and, Having done a 3 year tour there previously, I had never seen so many Wing Commanders lined up at one time.

The brakes went on, and discussion abounded on intercom. Our Captain bottled out (if you read PPRuNe boss I respect your decision) but as a crew we would continue the fun. Simon (the Nav) was now elected "Sheikh Yahwad" so we duly opened the crew door and got on with it. Following the Loady down the crew door, dressed in full gear, myself and fellow GE position ourselves either side of the crew door and proffer the full Roman Centurion, across the chest fist pump. At which all three Wing Co's throw one up and await the arrival. Now, Simon had probably been a bit short changed in the souk, his nightgown was a bit short, and as he led the Co pilot down the crew door his flying boots were spotted by OC Ops I believe. He dropped the salute and said something along the lines of "what the bloody hell ?". Young Simon, bless him, decided in for a penny, waved his right arm and shouted " kneel infidels" in a very poor Arab/Anglo accent. We were actually taken in to RAFP custody for around 30 minutes until the grown ups saw the funny side of it.

Thankfully, as a mere SNCO, I was not involved in the three Wing Commander "debrief". I did enjoy that evenings night at a local Kebab house, and rounding off the night in the 'O's' mess. Next day we headed north for the 8 hour slog to Lyneham, I realised the consequence of our "joke" about an hour out when I asked the Loady about breakfast. "How would you like your water Smudge" says he. Realising that it was Ramadan, the Wing Commanders of Akrotiri had ordered our rations back home were to be just the standard water flasks. I can't ever complain, the whole trip was great fun, a real team effort where all of us got stuck in to doing our bit. Sheikh Yahwad will always be a happy memory for me


PS Ken, we were sweeping a Tornado Det back to UK from Malaysia, post GW1.
smujsmith is offline