View Full Version : Air Quartermasters

Tommy Tipee
26th Apr 2012, 22:15
Are there any old Transport Command hands out there who could tell me when the first Air Quatermasters were appointed?

Ferio Ferendo.

Dave Clarke Fife
26th Apr 2012, 22:57
If no 'old sweats' are forthcoming then it may be worth contacting the Air Loadmasters Association, but as far as I know the earliest AQM's flew in 1944.

Standing by for the more knowledgable amongst us to expand on or correct the above statement.

Brian 48nav
27th Apr 2012, 08:46
Jefford's book 'Observers and Navigators and other non-pilot aircrew etc' has a bit on the subject.
From 1945 onwards Transport Command had been trying to persuade the Air Ministry to award aircrew status to air quartermasters, but it was not until May 1962 that the QM badge (in 1970 changed to LM badge) was awarded. Incidentally it was the first RAF flying badge awarded to the fairer sex, as there were 10 women QMs in 1962.

Do you remember that on our Herc course, the newer Flt Engs and AQMs did not get their flying badge until successfully completing the OCU? There was then a small parade and 'tea and stickies' were served in our crewroom.

The book does not appear to give the date the despatchers (as they were then known) were first used, but I think they were in place by D-Day and maybe earlier in the Burma campaign.

Cheers Brian W

Cornish Jack
27th Apr 2012, 21:07
When I started on Beverleys, the Qs were all (IIRC) misemployed Stores guys who received Crew pay. Towards the end of my tour, (again, IIRC) they became established and were sent on 'sandwich courses' and the like. A wide mix of characters, including 'Manny' Mercer whose 40-a-day Woodbine habit made delivering eats and drinks to the Bev flight deck something of a trial! I'm reasonably sure he was the oldest AQM to retire and had the distinction of holding his wedding reception in a Beverley freight bay with the band playing on (where else?) the 'bandstand'.:ok:

28th Apr 2012, 09:47
AQMs stared appearing on helicopters around 1965. Up to then the crewman was a redundant or detailed Signaller; many from the kipper fleet. Occasionally, but not often, we had one of the squadron groundcrew who had done a local crewman course. He received a lttle flying pay for his troubles.

28th Apr 2012, 11:00
I got to the Argosy in the middle of 1962 and I have a recollection that the loadmasters were all volunteers and came from various trades. They didn't have a proper brevet but were given flying pay.

I can distinctly remember that two of them on 267 Squadron were still wearing their wartime AG brevets and I think one of them had a DFM.

I have an idea that the QM brevet came along in 1963?

28th Apr 2012, 11:21
Yes Jock. My records show receipt of AQM brevet on April 29th 1963 at Benson.
I also recall that one QM retained his pilot wings of which he was justly proud but a bit miffed that the Horsa had gone out of service.

28th Apr 2012, 17:11
And some of the volunteers were pretty amazing characters. One of my first trips as a sprog co-pilot was with the dreaded Paddy Wheelan. We all gave Paddy 5 each the day before the trip. I can remember getting to the aircraft next morning to see several metal milk churns and God knows how many crates of eggs being loaded into the back.

It went like this; we got to Gibraltar and Paddy rang the Catering Officer and asked him if he would like some fresh milk and eggs. The answer was always in the affirmative. This lot was exchanged for tins of crab and fresh fish and who knows what because Paddy knew that the Officers Mess at Idris were going to have a dining-in night and then, they had something that the chaps in El Adem hadn't seen in months and so it went on.

By the time we got to Khartoum, we had got our 5 each back and we were eating like kings!

When the QM brevet came along, everything became regulated and such deals were forbidden (except for taking prawns from Bahrain to Masirah and crayfish from Masirah to Bahrain - etc etc)!

Brian 48nav
29th Apr 2012, 10:36
Your story reminds me off the regular trips 48 did to RAAF Edinburgh Field. The AQMs always managed to collect a huge churn of chilled fresh milk which was placed on the ramp at the back of the Herc for the flight back to Changi.

Squadron wives who were pregnant, including Mrs B48N, were in raptures when the cold fresh milk arrived. I can't remember how we all got it from the churn to home, but no doubt the Elf & Safety Police wouldn't allow that now!

29th Apr 2012, 10:45
The milk churn trip was tried in a Valiant going non stop from Honington to Khormaksa. The bomb bay heating failed and when they arrived there was this milk churn with a big lollipop sticking out of the top.
They wrapped green greaseproof paper around it and let it thaw back in again.

29th Apr 2012, 13:41
I'm almost certain we had AQM's on 99 sqn Hastings in 1957.
Paddy Whelan was the AQM in my crew on 105 in Aden. I remember him going home to Cork on compassionate leave to visit his sick father. He was back at work two weeks later with a large bag of Irish onions and sporting a magnificent black eye. He collected his black eye in a fight with his father over a young Coleen and the onions were destined for the crew sandwiches!

1st Oct 2020, 16:53
Are there any old Transport Command hands out there who could tell me when the first Air Quatermasters were appointed?

Ferio Ferendo.
If you are still interested...
I can tell you I was one of the first in August 1963 after passing aircrew selection at Biggin. Prior to that it was usually a tour for MAMS
After 6 weeks basic training at Innsworth I was posted to Abingdon for para dispatch training, put up three tapes and sewed on my AQM brevet

2nd Oct 2020, 10:22
AQMs stared appearing on helicopters around 1965. A bit before my time, but I understand the idea was known as the "Quartermaster Experiment".

[You have to be a certain age to get the reference.......]

2nd Oct 2020, 22:29
My Flying Log Book shows I qualified as an AQM on 30th July 1959 at 242 OCU (Dishforth), but never received an AQM brevet - they came later ISTR. I served with 99 Sqn until I left the RAF in July 1963.