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Can you help me? RAF 1960s.

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Can you help me? RAF 1960s.

Old 15th Dec 2018, 15:56
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James. IIRC there were no plans for the R.A.F.to drop the U.S. Daisy Cutter weapon in the 60's. There was a trial to carry 6 x 1000lb bombs on pylons on the exterior of the Argosy fuselage but that never happened either. Hypothetically a "gas bomb" could have been mounted on an SSP platform which would have been loaded onto roller conveyor tracks in the freight bay. This would be restrained by chocks and chains until the pre drop checks. The Nav would have control of the drop using a release handle mounted at the supply aimer's position in the nose window. I doubt that there would be ground impact point markers in view of what was on its way. Then the sequence would go as ICM explained. Merry Christmas Ian.

Last edited by Dougie M; 15th Dec 2018 at 16:06. Reason: omit
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 15:59
  #22 (permalink)  
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Some happy hour coloured bar chits were used. At the appointed hour these were removed and replaced with the normal white ones.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 16:33
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all drinks were added to his bar book account which was subsequently written off.
That's because he wasn't officially dead until midnight.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 20:59
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Happy Hour in the 60's
The concept of Happy Hour in the 60's was to encourage all the officers to mingle and not just stay in their own specialist groups, Aircrew, Engineers etc, with the use of "Twofers"(Two for the price of One). This meant half price drinks for an hour on Friday night, usually between 1700 and 1800. In most messes a coloured bar chit ( Green?) was used for orders placed within that hour, with a scramble to get a Green chit before the bar staff removed them. Then back to the normal full priced white chits. If the mess used Bar Books as their normal control measure, then the chits would be transferred to the Bar Books on Monday. You could then find out that you had bought 100 cigarettes, despite not being a smoker. The Mess Admin always sorted this out as they well knew any persistent culprits.

Normal Mess Dress Rules were that Mon, Tues and Thurs nights, after 1900, the dress was either No 1 Uniform or lounge suits ties etc. On Weds, Fri and weekends you were allowed to wear Sports Jackets or Blazers. Ladies were not permitted in the mess on Mon, Tues or Thurs evenings, but were permitted (if appropriately dressed) on other evenings or for Sunday Lunch. Saturday Evenings the dress could also be DJ/Cocktail Dress or Fancy Dress as the occasion required. Friday nights Ladies were allowed in the mess, but it was not encouraged (and at risk). Messes had their own rules as decreed by the Stn Cdr/PMC so others may have different experiences.

At Tengah in 63-64, on my squadron, it was not unusual to have an all-ranks "Barrell" at 1600 after which some of the Junior Officers would be invited to the Sgts And WOs mess by the SNCOs. On arrival at the mess, you sought the PMCs permission to accept the invitation to enjoy their hospitality ( this was, of course, at our expense). After a couple (or 8) Tigers, you left to join the festivities in the Offs Mess. This changed with the arrival of a new Stn Cdr. Happy Hour, by then, was a major event following the arrival of several squadrons from UK, Cyprus and NZ to reinforce for the Confrontasi. A major feature of Happy Hour was the singing of Rugby Songs. On one famous occasion a choir of at least 200 was conducted by the late Manx Kelly in a rendition of " One Black One, One White One and One etc" which elucidated a noise complaint from the Javelin squadron situated a mile away across the airfield, and all the quarters kids humming the tune at school on the Monday. The main bar also frequently contained the Stn Cdrs, and OC Admins Staff Cars as well as the 2 Japanese WW2 cannon that were normally placed outside the mess. The later charged with strings of Chinese Crackers. Dress Regulations were not always applied!

At Marham, from the mid 60s, the Dress Regs were as I have described earlier, but even though flying suits were not worn away from the squadron, some working dress might have been evident later in the evening. It was also a time when a certain degree of relaxation of the normal rank structure was permitted and one could "Tease" ones Flt Cdr, Sqn Cdr,or even Stn Cdr. If overdone it was required to present yourself on Monday morning to be told (with undertones!) that you were "Forgiven". Or so I am told.
Of course, in those days, the majority of officers lived on base. In 68, on 214 Squadron, we had 53 officers, 3 married lived off-base as they were under 25yo and were not entitled to apply for a MQ, one had a family locally and the rest were in the mess or MQ.

The introduction of the Breathalyser (in 69?) changed things for the livers-out, and as more people moved to live out in the 70s Happy Hour has declined.

The tradition of drinking on a dead man's Bar Bill did occur, but my only experience of losing Sqn members was the Victor/Canberra accident in 68 which happened at night. After landing we were met in Ops by Stn Cdr, Sqn Cdr and OC Ops who told us to go straight home and not to talk to anybody. But the officers Mess Bills were cancelled.
The other(previous occasion ) was when I was at Hullavington in 62 when a Valetta crashed. IIRC the bar was open in the evening on "Mess Guests"( ie free) for the wake for the departed. I assume the Sgts and WOs Mess did the same for their own.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 21:10
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Lightning/Phantom 60's and 70's. Remember Happy Hour/2fors but don't remember drinking on a deceased's bar bill.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 22:01
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TT mentioned women in the mess. In some messes this was verboten apart from functions. At one mess wives were not even permitted to check the mail rack.

The reasoning was she might see mail addressed to another officer who might not have wanted knowledge of such correspondence to spread.

At Lindholme telephones were not generally available. One wife-of used to have to walk passed the mess to the guardroom to then ring the mess to find out if her husband was there.
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Old 15th Dec 2018, 22:09
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One wife-of used to have to walk passed the mess to the guardroom to then ring the mess to find out if her husband was there
As it should be!
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Old 16th Dec 2018, 12:49
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The combination of Boscombe and the Argosy triggers memories of the one which crashed into the bomb dump. We picked up the Staff TP and took him to the Mil Hospital where he made a subsequent remarkable recovery. Not sure that that episode would have much relevance to your intended novel.
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Old 16th Dec 2018, 19:58
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Originally Posted by Dougie M
There was a trial to carry 6 x 1000lb bombs on pylons on the exterior of the Argosy fuselage but that never happened either.
We had Argosy 'bomb aimers's' on a course at Lindholme when I did my visual bombing course. I think the plan was to use them in Aden.
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Old 16th Dec 2018, 20:25
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PN: Now that's interesting, as I'd never heard of anything being done that suggested we might ever have used the spigot in the nose that I understood to be a bombsight mounting, and I don't know of anyone who did such a Course. In the event, nothing of the kind was ever done by 105 Sqn at Khormaksar. I did fly a Hunter-assisted leaflet dropping sortie upcountry one afternoon, but I suspect that the days of "Air Control" had been left way behind in the 20s/30s.

And Doug: Seasons greetings duly reciprocated - and I'm glad to see that my recollection of how it all went was not too far off course!
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Old 16th Dec 2018, 21:10
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ICM, several of my nav course went to Argosy and I have vague memory of who a couple might have been. They would have been starting 2nd tours, they were Tim Hankey and Bill Hamilton-Irving aka Bill H-I.
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Old 16th Dec 2018, 21:10
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Khormaksar.

ICM, going a bit off thread with this reply, but ref the bombing capability at Khormaksar I remember that 37 Sqn (Shackletons) had the bombing facility and used it I believe when there was incoming from the Yemen into Dhala. On 21 Sqn (Twin Pioneer) we trained up on dropping bombs on the range (AD3) with 25lbs bombs. The bombsight was quite a large bit of kit and would have been a bit of a problem in the Argosy drop position if used there. The accuracy was good (straight and level approach) and at that time the recipients didn't have anything in the way of air defence. If they did it would have been a one way trip.
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Old 16th Dec 2018, 22:14
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At one mess wives were not even permitted to check the mail rack.
In two messes that I recall, the mail rack was inside the men's cloakroom.
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Old 17th Dec 2018, 11:23
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PN

Tim Hankey was on Andovers, 52 Sqn, Seletar then Changi in 68/9 and lived in the same apartment block as us - the 'Under 25 " Ghetto in downtown ( almost ! ) Singapore. Since demolished.

At Temple Hill OM the mail rack used to be at one end of the mess verandah - I can remember some folk getting quite uptight when wives drove up to collect their mail. I couldn't see the problem until years later, and now a civvie, when at an ex-Herc' mate's house for supper his sister-in-law ( a BA trolley dolly ) arrived and exclaimed " XXX, I checked the mail rack for you when I arrived back from en-route, nothing there". XXX now a pilot with BA went crimson and told her " You never collect someone else's mail! ". I knew his reason why!
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Old 17th Dec 2018, 19:46
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Following Argosy conversion at Thorney Island in mid-63, those pilots and navigators on my course destined for 105 Sqn undertook a short bombing course at RAF Lindholme followed by an air photography course at RAF Bassingbourn. The plan was indeed to carry six bombs externally and to run a camera on an athwartships rail out of the rear (side) passenger door. The bombing course included a live exercise dropping small practice bombs from a Varsity at Theddlethorpe range but there was no practical aerial photography involved. In the event, my posting was changed to 267 Sqn at RAF Benson but I understand my colleagues who went to RAF Khormaksar never did get a chance to put their training into practice.
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Old 17th Dec 2018, 22:29
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Brian, thank you, it was 50 years ago.

Archie, good to get corroboration. It might have been at my initial Lindholme course and not my later visual course.
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Old 18th Dec 2018, 17:18
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Well, after a 'life event' intervened last week, I have finally had a chance to come back to this thread and it is a veritable gold mine! Thank you all so much.

The little asides (Mrs X wonders why it was called 'hour') are gold to me in injecting more than a whiff of authenticity into the novel.

The feedback on the drop timing and method for the Argosy is brilliant, thank you so much @ICM.

One of my get-outs is that this is a trials unit and therefore not everything was done as it would have been on a squadron. The Argosy gas bombs are based on a real event, however. My father recalls the trial - they built a mock village at Porton Down and then dropped them with mannequins dressed as civilians with patches recording the spread of the gas (tear gas my father thinks). At some point I will visit the National Archive and read up about this and other trials in more detail.

I have a couple of follow ups and one new question to post below. Thoroughly enjoying the gen, thank you all very much:

@Pontius Navigator
@ARCHIE1
@Brian 48nav
@tlightb
@oxenos
@ICM
@Cornish Jack
@fareastdriver
@charliejuliet
@Tengah Type
@Dougie M
@Timelord
@Retreating Blade
@spekesoftly
@rlsbutler
@alwayslookingup
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Old 18th Dec 2018, 17:21
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FOLLOW UP: The dead man's bar bill appears to have been patchy in its tradition. But would there have been a gathering in the bar that night (regardless of this tradition)? Or would people have gone home to their wives/families?
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Old 18th Dec 2018, 17:22
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Q5: Odd one this...would airman and officers have worn their uniform to church on Sunday?
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Old 18th Dec 2018, 21:31
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It picked up in the 70's and peaked late 80's.

Cant post images but will get back in 5 more posts
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