Aircraft spotters almost greased

200px-Seal_of_the_Turkish_Air_Force.svgA low level approach by the ‘Solo Türk’ F 16 from the aerobatics display team of the Turkish Air Force (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri) at RAF Waddington Air Show 2014.

Low level approach by an F-16 of the ‘Solo Türk,’ aerobatics display team…

Last pic below; the ‘Solo Türk’ F 16 from the aerobatics display team of the Turkish Air Force when he isn’t being naughty!             Yours Aye.RAF WADDINGTON 2wave-1024x683

And the call was answered, by hundreds…

article-2673227-1F37121500000578-80_636x463Heartwarming moment hundreds of mourners turned out to funeral of RAF gunner who died aged 90 with no close family.

This is the moment hundreds of mourners turned out to pay their respects to a war hero after it was feared no one would attend his funeral when he died aged 90 with no close relatives.article-2681173-1F6364D800000578-204_634x443

article-2681173-1F63649300000578-572_634x320Sidney Marshall, was an RAF Sgt ‘Air Gunner’ on a Lancaster bomber and flew 28 missions including a bombing raid on D-Day, died at his home in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire on June 16. However, as his wife Elizabeth died last year and no other relatives were living nearby, his undertaker feared no one would to attend his funeral prompting him to launch an emotional appeal. Heartwarming moment hundreds of mourners turned out to funeral of Sydney Marshall 

‘They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.’                                                                          Yours Aye.

XM607 Vulcan B2 V bomber-Chariot of fire

DibbsOn 30 April 1982, the RAF launched a secret mission: to fly a Vulcan bomber to the Falkland Islands and bomb Port Stanley’s runway, putting it out of action for Argentine fighter jets. The safety of the British Task Force depended on its success. However, the RAF could only get a single plane – a crumbling, Cold War-era Vulcan – 8000 miles south to the Falklands, because just one bomber needed an aerial fleet of 13 Victor tanker planes to refuel it throughout the 16-hour round-trip. At the time it was the longest-range bombing mission in history.

From start to finish, the seemingly impossible mission was a comedy of errors, held together by pluck and ingenuity. On the brink of being scrapped, only three of the ageing nuclear bombers could be fitted out for war, one to fly the mission and two in reserve. Crucial spare parts were scavenged from museums and scrap yards – one vital component had been serving as an ashtray in the Officers’ Mess. In just three weeks, the Vulcan crews had to learn air-to-air refuelling, which they hadn’t done for 20 years, and conventional bombing, which they hadn’t done for 10 years either.

The RAF scoured the country for Second World War iron bombs, and complex refuelling calculations were done the night before on a £5 pocket calculator. With a plan stretched to the limit and the RAF’s hopes riding on just one Vulcan, the mission was flown on a knife-edge: fraught with mechanical failures, unreliable navigation, electrical storms and lack of fuel.  Astonishingly, this great feat has been downplayed into near obscurity by history, but this documentary brings it back to life, providing a thrilling and uncharacteristically upbeat account from the Falklands War: the Dambusters for the 1980s generation.March 1982 Vulcan Bomber On 30 April 1982, the RAF launched a secret mission: to fly a Vulcan bomber to the Falkland Islands and bomb Port Stanley’s runway, putting it out of action for Argentine fighter jets.

If you have 47 minutes to spare I would urge you to view this very accurate documentary, which has original film events covering the operation. OPERATION BLACK BUCK. ‘Bacon sandwiches, pipe tobacco and a stiff British upper lip.’      Yours Aye.

Rally to the RAF Colours…

‘Please honour this hero’: Appeal for mourners to attend funeral of RAF veteran, 90, who flew in one of the most daring raids of WW2 but has died alonearticle-2673227-1F37121500000578-80_636x463Sidney Marshall (left and right), who died aged 90 at his home in Lytham St Annes, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for shooting down German fighters over Bergan. He also piloted a Lancaster bomber and flew in the sortie that destroyed Nazi battleship Tirpitz (inset). But he is facing a funeral with no mourners, as he had no children and his wife died 18 months ago. ‘Please honour this hero’: Appeal for mourners to attend funeral of RAF veteran A Service of Thanksgiving for Sydney Joseph Marshall ‘Ex-Royal Air Force.’ 4th July 2014 at 13:30 hrs. Lytham Park Crematorium, Regent Avenue, Lytham, Lancashire, FY8 4AB.

The call has rang out far and wide, many have heard it and those that are able are rallying to the Colours. Sydney Joseph Marshall will be laid to rest with Colours flying, accompanied by those who remember and appreciate the sacrifice of the brave men and women who served through WWII.             Yours Aye.

Royal Air Force Motto: “Per Ardua ad Astra” ~ “Through Adversity to the Stars”

Speaking of deceitful doctrines…

The following 7 minute clip is well worth watching in my humble opinion. Those that voted for Obama (twice?) may well consider watching it, as it may well sway your mind from voting for him or his like ever again. Ex-Senior Airman Brian Kolfage created this powerful clip, and in doing so exposes Obama and his fraudulent socialist spinning lies…we the people 2008Forget Obama and his socialist doctrine; We Have The Winning Argument; Brian Kolfage

599287_520493104679478_778054268_nAt the 5 minute mark my spirit was lifted by a great American speaking from the grave, I believe those of you watching the clip will feel the same way…                              Yours Aye.

WARRIOR INTEL: Brian Kolfage 

‘Death 11′ ~ ‘Death 12′

With call-signs “Death 11″ and “Death 12″, we suspect the deployment by the US Air Force of 2 B-2 Stealth Bombers to the UK’s RAF base in Fairford is for anything but simple sight-seeing. As The Aviationist notes, B-2s don’t move from Whiteman AFB, in Missouri, too often as they are trained to conduct very long round-trip missions from their homebase; which is why the deployment of two Spirit bombers with the 509th Bomb Wing to the UK is, at least, noteworthy. The question is… what will Putin’s retaliatory sabre-rattle be? The Aviationist; B-2 Stealth Bombers deployed to the UKB-2-to-FairfordAn awesome sight to behold. They remind me of the WWII German HORTON HO-229 (life size model below) which was a late WWII prototype flying wing fighter bomber, powered by a turbojet. Perhaps the first jet powered aircraft to use stealth technology.Horton-HO-229-Replica-of-actual-flying-aircraft (Estimated speed was 636 mph, with an estimated ceiling of 49,213 feet. First flight was march 1, 1944.) With German production underway, a simulated “dog fight” between a HO-229 and a ME 262 showed the HO-229 outperformed the ME-262.HortonHo229bFlyingWingWWIIera-1 The only surviving HORTON HO-229 the V3, is being restored at the Smithsonian facility. Towards the end of WWII, five completed aircraft found by U.S. soldiers were destroyed to prevent their capture by the Russians. Mean while back to Gloucestershire in jolly old Blighty, and the following link showing  B-2 Stealth Bombers ‘Death 11′ ~ ‘Death 12′ arriving at RAF Fairford on 8th June 2014   B-2 RAF FAIRFORD I can well imagine the security nightmare attached to such an event, especially when the Queens Highway runs within spitting distance of the ‘outer’ perimeter fence. For any pilot attempting their first landing at RAF Fairford I guarantee their bemusement is only matched by the ‘gooners’ enthusiasm who turn out in all weather to film and photograph the same.Queens Highway RAF FairfordNot to worry, the outer fence carry’s a Health & Safety hazard sign as well as a Ministry Of Defence Security sign that prohibits every thing prohibit-able (click the pic to enlarge!) Move along there; nothing to see here chaps – spiffing jets, what…   Yours Aye.

A Higher Calling of Gallantry and Honour

Tom Stoppard, widely regarded as one of Britains’s greatest living playwrights, is to produce a £50 million pounds film based on one of the most extraordinary stories of heroism and compassion during the Second World War. A Higher Callingarticle-2370933-1ADC0D47000005DC-49_634x367The lone US B17 bomber was a sitting duck. Holed all over by flak and bullets and down to a single good engine, it struggled simply to stay in the air over Germany, let alone make it the 300 miles back to England. The rear gunner’s body hung lifeless in his shattered turret, another gunner was unconscious and bleeding heavily, the rest of the ten-man crew battered, wounded and in shock. The nose cone had been blown out and a 200mph gale hurtled through the fuselage. Somehow the pilot, 20-year-old Lt Charlie Brown, still clung to the controls — and the last vestiges of hope. 

He had already performed miracles. Returning from a daylight bombing run to Bremen, he had manoeuvred the plane magnificently through a pack of Messerschmitt fighters, taken hit after hit, then spiralled five miles down through the air, belching smoke and flames, in an apparent death dive before somehow levelling her out less than 2,000ft from the ground. If common sense prevailed, he would order everyone to bail out and leave the B-17 Flying Fortress to its fate. He and the crew would parachute to safety, prisoners of war but alive. But that would mean leaving an unconscious man behind to die alone, and Brown refused to do thatBrown+7-1024x383Mercifully, though, he realised as he coaxed the massive plane along at 135mph, barely above its stalling speed, the German fighters had disappeared. They must have seen the bomber — part of the U.S. Air Force based in eastern England — plummeting to earth that day in December, 1943, and ticked off another kill before returning to base. There was a faint chance, then, they might make it home after all, even though, as his flight engineer now reported after an inspection of the plane’s blood-spattered interior, ‘we’re chewed to pieces, the hydraulics are bleeding, the left stabiliser is all but gone and there are holes in the fuselage big enough to climb through’. In the distance, agonisingly close, Brown could see the German coastline, and ahead of that the North Sea and open skies back to England. Spirits rose — until a glance behind revealed a fast-moving speck, a lone Me109, getting bigger and bigger by the second, closing in. The crew of the B 17 Bomber ‘Ye Olde Pub’ saved by the gallantry and honour of Franz Stigler article-2245472-167128F4000005DC-902_634x468  In the cockpit of the German fighter, his guns primed, was Lt Franz Stigler, a Luftwaffe ace who needed one more kill to reach the 30 that would qualify him for a Knight’s Cross, the second highest of Germany’s Iron Cross awards for bravery. Stigler, aged 28 and a veteran airman who had been flying since the start of the war, had been refuelling and reloading his guns on the ground when the lone B-17 had lumbered slowly overhead. Within minutes, he was fast-taxiing to the runway and up in the air to give chase, the precious Knight’s Cross now just a leather-gloved trigger-finger away.

91Hp56q7VDL._SL1500_

What happened next was extraordinary in the annals of World War II — and told in a new book that offers a gleam of humanitarian light in the dark tragedy of that conflict. As Stigler came up behind the bomber he could not believe its condition. How was it still flying? Nor, strangely, was there any gunfire from the stricken plane to try to ward him off. That was explained as, inching closer, he saw the slumped body of the rear gunner.

Veering alongside, he could see the other guns were out of action too, the radio room had been blown apart and the nose had gone. Even more startlingly, through the lattice-work of bullet holes, he glimpsed members of the crew, huddled together, helping their wounded. He could make out their ashen faces, their fear and their courage. His finger eased from the trigger. He just couldn’t do it, he realised. He was an experienced fighter pilot. He’d fought the Allies in the skies over North Africa, Italy and now Germany. This bomber he was cruising alongside was just one plane out of the countless air armada that had been pulverising his homeland night and day for three years, wiping out factories and cities, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. And yet . . . Higher-Call-A-stricken-Allied-bomber-German-ace-sent-shoot-truly-awe-inspiring-story-wartime-chivalryStigler was struggling with a dilemma. He was not content just to ease back and let the bomber escape. He was now determined to save it and the men on board. 

I hope the film maintains the integrity of the story as detailed in the book, as there is an inborn gallantry that runs through the generation who fought in WWII. This short film was taken when Bf-109 ace Franz Stigler met B-17 pilot Charlie Brown for the first time since their encounter during WWII! The book is a good read, and I believe at the time of its release the US Air Force Chief of Staff added it to the USAF official reading list. Great Britain and Europe owes a debt of gratitude to the men and woman of America who stepped for ward when asked.                Yours Aye.

An RAF Commander & rank stupidity

Air force memorial to famous ‘Memphis Belle’ bomber crew fenced off ‘to avoid offending Libyans!’ Bungling military officials erected a 10ft fence around a US Air Force memorial in case it ‘offended Libyan soldiers’. The ‘Memphis Belle’ monument was erected at RAF Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, to honour the USFA’s Eighth Air Force – who were based there during the Second World War. Memphis Bell was the nickname given to the Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress bombers flown by the 91st Bomb Group (Heavy) – which suffered huge losses of men between 1942 and 1945.article-2619482-1D8B870F00000578-974_636x412But the structure was fenced off when it was announced that 2,000 Libyan soldiers were to be trained at the base. The Libyans will spend two months training at the base as part of efforts to help disarm the country’s government after the removal of despot Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. After an uproar from enthusiasts and locals alike, officials have now removed the 10ft fence. General Davers shakes hands with pilot Captain Robert Morgan as the crew prepare to return to the US from an 8th Amy Air Station in England.article-2619482-00CD51DD000004B0-396_634x461‘The commander responsible for erecting it will be investigated in a Ministry of Defence probe.’ A ministry source said the official was ‘some bloke with a clipboard’ who oversaw an extraordinary ‘error of judgement’. No official comment has been made as to why the fence was put around the monument… Air force memorial for famous Memphis Belle bomber crew fenced off.          Memphis Belle aircrew USAF WWIIMemphis Belle CrewMethinks an RAF Commander has just ‘volunteered’ for a long-term posting to Unst,  where an ultra remote weather monitoring station requires company. The RAF as well as the Royal Air Force Association are an unforgiving lot when it comes to such a slur (as are all serving and ex serving members of HM Armed Forces.)  Five years counting rain drops on Unst may be sufficient penance~just!                     Yours Aye.

The luck of the draw

article-2607895-1D2E869700000578-840_636x382Incredible story of the Lancaster bomber pilot who bailed out over Germany whose life was saved when a searchlight helped him find his parachute that wasn’t strapped on correctly! Squadron Leader Barry Douetil plunged out of his blazing Lancaster bomber at 20,000 ft and was horrified when he realised his parachute wasn’t strapped to his body. It was only when he hurtled for a split second through the bright beam of the German searchlight that he spotted it was on the end of a strap 10 ft above him. While still falling through the air in the dark, the 21-year-old managed to rein the cord in until he was able to put the parachute on and pull the release cord in the nick of time.article-2607895-1D2CBA8200000578-98_634x448 

He landed heavily ten seconds later in a frozen field but escaped the 1944 near-death experience with just a dislocated shoulder. He was picked up by the Germans and taken to the infamous Stalag Luft III camp just six weeks before the ‘Great Escape’ attempt by nearly 100 Allied POW’s. 

An incredible story of a 21-year-old pilot who was on his 14th bombing mission, matched by his bravery and that of all of the Allied Bomber Command who faced the inevitable when flying into occupied Europe and Germany. A generation of selfless people who we all  owe a debt of gratitude.            Yours Aye.

Ensuring Freedom’s Future

article_img

The US Air Force is continuing to work with police and UK military authorities at the scene of last night’s Pave-Hawk helicopter crash. In a statement Col. Kyle Robinson, 48th Fighter Wing commander said: “The loss of our Liberty Wing brethren is felt deeply across RAF Lakenheath. I can only imagine the hurt and sorrow felt by the family and friends of these Airmen. You are in our hearts and minds. We’re already feeling a great sense of support from across the Air Force and from our UK neighbors as we go through this difficult period. Thank you for keeping our Airmen and their families in your thoughts and prayers.”british-american_flag

Lakenheath, and Mildenhall is a tight-knit community, the tragedy will effect every member within it, both military and civilian. Like so many people from Great Britain my condolences are with the families and comrades of the Airmen killed in the USAF Lakenheath helicopter crash. They have been named as Captain Christopher S. Stover, Captain Sean M. Ruane, Technical Sergeant Dale E. Mathews and Staff Sergeant Afton M. Ponce. Their bravery in training and in action, is a reminder of what is required for the defence of our freedom. Yours Aye.

Heavy Metal providing hard rain…

ac-130u-gunship-hrThe AC-130H ‘Spectre’ Gunship is one of the most versatile, and oldest aircraft to be used in Afghanistan. Its career spans over 40 years, and it has seen plenty of action from Vietnam, through to modern day.      Click both pics to enlargespooky-920-7

ac130The United Sates Air Force is moving forward and looking to bring in its upgraded version once the ‘Spectre’ draw-down is completeAC-130H Spectre Gunship: ‘Heavy Metal,’ The Final Chapter U.S. Airmen assigned to the 16th Expeditionary Special Operations Squadron share their thoughts on this proverbial ‘changing of the guard,’ and reminisce on good times with their own AC-130H affectionately named “Heavy Metal,” as they enjoy their final combat deployment with her.     AC-130 gun camera pouring down hard rain on the bad guys AC130 Heavy MetalAir Force Special Operations Command will begin flight tests later this year on a new gunship that will replace its aging fleet of AC-130s. An ‘MC-130J Commando II’ arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., last month, where it will be converted into a new variant called the ‘AC-130J Ghost-rider.’ The AC-130J will be a combination of the advanced avionics, targeting systems and engines of the MC-130J and the cannons and bombs of legacy AC-130s, which have been in high demand for providing close-air support and armed reconnaissance in Afghanistan. The new gunship will have dual electro-optical infrared sensors and all-weather synthetic aperture radar to help deliver AGM-176 Griffin missiles, small-diameter bombs and blasts from a 30mm cannon.    ‘MC-130J Commando II’bilde“Major enhancements will include extended sensor capabilities, more precise fire control and stand-off precision guided weapons capabilities,” said Capt. Belena Marquez, spokeswoman for Air Force Special Operations Command. It is estimated 2014-2016 will see the draw-down and replacement program complete.

Chapettes and Chaps, that is my act of contrition complete for the ‘alleged’ slur placed against the Chaps of the Air Force, through my post of ‘Fifty Shady Ways of Dress.’ ;-) But what a pleasure reading up on the history of the AC 130 SPECTRE…      Yours Aye.

China kisses B-52 undercarriage…

AIR_B-52_Ordnance_Display_lgTwo unarmed U.S. B-52 bombers on a training mission flew over disputed islands in the East China Sea without informing Beijing, Pentagon officials said Tuesday. The controversial action defies China’s declaration of a new airspace defense zone in the region. The Pentagon said the flight on Monday night did not prompt a response from China, and the White House urged Beijing to resolve its dispute with Japan over the islands diplomatically, without resorting to ‘threats or inflammatory language.’U.S. B-52s flew over China’s newly declared air zone after Beijing vowed to take ‘defensive’ action against unidentified aircraft

China published coordinates for an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone over the weekend and warned it would take ‘defensive emergency measures’ against aircraft that failed to identify themselves properly in the airspace. The zone covers most of that sea and includes the skies over islands at the heart of a territorial dispute with Japan. ‘The policy announced by the Chinese over the weekend is unnecessarily inflammatory,’ White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters in California, where President Barack Obama is traveling. ‘These are the kinds of differences that should not be addressed with threats or inflammatory language, but rather can and should be resolved diplomatically,’ he said. Two U.S. B-52 bombers carried out the flight, part of a long-planned exercise, on Monday night EST, a U.S. military official said.

The lumbering bombers appeared to send a message that the United States was not trying to hide its intentions and showed that China, so far at least, was unable or unwilling to defend the zone. imagesThe B-52s, which have been part of the Air Force fleet for more than half a century, are relatively slow compared with today’s more advanced fighter jets and far easier to spot than stealth aircraft. The dispute flared before a trip to the region by Vice President Joe Biden, who is scheduled to travel to Japan early next week and also has stops in China and South Korea. The White House announced the trip in early November. The East China Sea territorial dispute will figure prominently on Biden’s agenda.

After telling China to ‘kiss my undercarriage’ in an act of total defiance over their self imposed fly zone, you go an blow it by sending across the Vice Bumbling-Buffoon? (Or could it be a double bluff, showing utter contempt by sending him instead of some one of importance)     Yours Aye.

Armistice Day. 11:00 hrs 11th November 2013.

article-2500051-1959049900000578-502_964x414Harold Jellicoe Percival (inset), who helped with the Dam-Busters raid during the Second World War, died last month in a nursing home aged 99. He was laid to rest today, Armistice Day, at exactly 11-am, when Britain fell silent to remember those killed in war. More than 300 people attended the ceremony at the Lytham Park Crematorium in Lancashire, nearly all of whom had never met Mr Percival. Many of those in attendance were dressed in military uniforms. “It’s just staggering,” his nephew, Andre Collyer-Worsell, said after attending the service. “It just shows how great the British public are”.  We WILL remember him: Hundreds of strangers attend Armistice Day funeral of Bomber Command veteran who died alone aged 99 The great majority of strangers took unpaid leave from their place of work to do so, some of whom even travelled from the far-flung corners of the earth. From young children with their parents, to the old and bold, they all showed the true meaning of respect, and decency as they allowed a Veteran to be buried with dignity…poppy-headerFrance6nhalfinchWEBMy faith in humanity was restored from what I witnessed today at 11:00 hrs, as time stood still in my little market town for two minutes. Even more so as the whole country stood and surrendered two minutes, deep in their own thoughts of those who made the ultimate sacrifice so that others may live free.   The scene in Lloyd’s of London at 11-am, with thousands of brokers joining in the two-minute silence      (click to enlarge)article-2500051-195893B800000578-173_964x980

 “When you go home, tell them of us and say: For your tomorrow we gave our today.”

Mind boggling technology

article-0-192803F400000578-206_634x608New helmets ‘force RAF top guns to fly blind at 1,000-mph’: A technical fault left RAF pilots unable to see where they were flying the £100 million JSF aircraft. Headgear was meant to give ‘top guns’ all-around vision and awareness. Instead pilots are left disorientated by radar pictures and a mass of multiple images.       Blind green eyed RAF ‘top gun’ article-0-192802AC00000578-79_634x583A state of the art leather flying ‘helmet’ circa 1941, and the amazing story of 23-year-old Pilot Officer Roland “Bud”Wolfe.._53710596_topmont_various_464. RAF officer from 133 “Eagle” Squadron, a unit entirely composed of American volunteers

It is a fact that military technology brings about a plethora of changes to  tactics in warfare. The change in modern-day technology within one decade has been mind-blowing. Pity the poor sods who spend as much time on courses continually upgrading from the old to the new; as they spend in their various roles within Air, Land, and Sea operations.            Yours Aye.

Fast jet Friday/Chopper thrashing Thursday

For a variety of reasons I’ve had one of those weeks where the clock has barely moved its hands, then when its does it leaps forward through a wormhole in space taking me along with it. Working around irregular international hours is not recommended, occasionally I turn in at sunrise, more often not at all, as it is easier to crash in my reclining ‘eeeeasy’ chair (joined eventually by Nipper who squeezes in at the side comfortably). Yesterday having finished at 05:00 hrs, I patrolled the dogs, and then ablutioned ‘as a gentleman should’ after which I performed the ceremony of… ‘Friday morning breakfast’; scrambled eggs, grilled bacon, toasted bread, and a scalding hot pot of tea.

And there lay the error for the weekend. I had unwittingly prepared the ceremony on Thursday morning, my body clock was shot to bits. I had that great ‘Thank God its Friday’ feeling a full day early. For almost eight hours I was living a blissful lie. As the lie continued, so I lived through it, as I attended to the tedious chores required around the house (there is no Mrs. Ex Bootneck to assist, and as yet Nipper & Hannah can’t quite get to grips with the Dyson, or load the washer, etc, etc). Chores complete it was 10:00 hrs, the official hour for a mid-morning ‘stand-easy’.

Settling down with my cup of tea and biscuits I listened to the news in the background, and perused my Pad for the morning mail. The dogs were dozing on their couch-at the time of morning when the sun pops through the large glazed doors to cover them in a golden blanket of rays. The three amigos slowly blinked their eyes as they started to sink, Nipper yawned, Hannah yawned Joss yawned, which triggered my yawn as I stretched my limbs. Out of the blue a ‘weary’ hit me, the ‘eeeeasy’ chair was whispering my name like a siren from the shore calling a ship on to its rocks; the ship heard the call and responded. Off I went to steal a pair of hours in the near horizontal position; just as I started to sink into the abyss I heard the pitter patter of tiny feet, Nipper had followed and jumped up effortlessly to lay across my chest. My late morning snooze was soon to end, rudely.royal-marines-lynx-zd277_pics181-18163

After a long seven day patrol we reached the Lie Up Position close to the Landing Zone, it was still as black as pitch, dawn would start breaking within the hour. The LUP was perfect, it was on a high feature covered in large boulders, thick bush and scattered pine trees. It offered cover from view, as well as winters elements; it would be easy to defend if required. We could also watch and cover the relief patrol as they de-bussed onto the LZ, who in turn would role reverse and watch us en-buss. I loved this part, as it offered a chance few minutes to hurl abusive banter as we passed each other fleetingly. 400px-Slieve_Gullion,_Western_Slope_-_geograph.org.uk_-_255264(Below) LUP on Slieve Gullion’s western slope, looking towards the village of Forkhill, South Armagh  The evolution would have to happen twice to complete the change-over, the Lynx (above pic) could only bring in nine Marines with their heavy bergan’s to effect the switch. 

Eight hours to push on Slieve Gullion before the first flight arrived. After first light broke I stood fifty percent of the patrol down for breakfast. My headset crackled as a metallic voice used my call sign; it was the Op’s room asking for a radio check-as well as asking a question I didn’t want to hear “what is your visibility to my location“? I could see straight across the valleyed landscape, to the little dot ten miles away that was our Security Base in the village of Forkhill (where mail, hot showers, hot food and clean bedding awaited).j-olley-castles-tz-21 I have you clear and visual“? Said I, firmly. Once again the reply was not what I wanted to hear “Buzzard reports his location as being heavily clagged in-with no foreseeable change for the next twenty-four hours; Sun-ray at my location has ordered you to go firm for a further twenty-four“! Such is life in a green beret, another night out under the moon and stars. The message was quickly passed throughout the patrol; each Marine went through their time practiced admin routine, with minimum movement, and no one breaking cover.

My relief stood-to as I settled into a small grassy hollow where I started to doze, my rifle lay across my chest, and with my belly full of boil in the bag breakfast, I was absolutely content with life. In the far distance I thought I could faintly hear chopper blades beating the air, then silence, then another faint beat, followed by silence, then a steady beat that grew louder, and louder; oh bugger… The buzzards were obviously clear and flying!DSC_0119Buzzard flight Op’s had a long history of canceling flight programs due to thick swirling fog, only to reappoint it when it cleared, without informing anyone. I tightened my grip on my rifle ready to call the whole patrol to stand-to-and prepare to move. Nipper growled? What was Nipper doing on this patrol? My rifle wasn’t a rifle? It was Nipper laying across my chest; I had my left hand under his chin with my right hand on the outside of his right hip, which meant my trigger finger was under the small of his belly, which meant there wasn’t a trigger guard, which meant my trigger finger was on ‘his’ trigger; Owahhhh!!! He continued to growl at some thing, and I could definitely hear the beat of of heavy military chopper blades. I looked outside of my office window from the comfort of my recliner, to see two Merlin choppers heading straight for me at tree top level. At two hundred metres they split, port & starboard of my home, the down wash from their rotors (supplied by six powerful Rolls-Royce Turbomeca RTM 322 turbines) rippled the inch thick pan-tiles on the roof, making them plink and tinkle like the ivories on an old pub piano.DSC_0189 Fortunately for each Merlin and its crew the office windows were closed, as Nipper would have launched himself out and brought at least one of them down… The aerial display went on for at least twenty minutes, contour flying through the valley, one low, one high giving top cover, each time using my place as a marker point for turning.  Grrrrrrrr…!DSC_0195 I was totally confused? Why have the military changed their flying routines, it has always been; Mixture Monday (Fast jets morning, Trainer turbo afternoon) – Trainer turbo Tuesday – Wish list Wednesday (variety of every thing, including C-130K SF Herc’s) – Chopper thrashing Thursday – Fast jet Friday! So why on earth was the military flying its choppers on a Fast jet Friday… The solution was to make a pot of tea (having washed my hands first), then let the dogs out to stretch their legs.

Having once again checked my Pad for mail, I realised my error… It was Thursday! ‘Chopper thrashing Thursday’. Which means we are now reading this on ‘Fast jet Friday’, which also means I have had that great ‘Thank God its Friday’ feeling for two days running, as well as performed the ceremony of Friday morning breakfast, again. Even better news; there was no need for the tedious chores, as I cracked them all yesterday.                            Yours Aye.

The fallen. 21st September 2013

A misnomer in one sense, but a tribute none the less, as this year, 2013, the International Day of Peace fell on Saturday, 21st September. To commemorate the day a pair of British artists created a stunning installation of 9,000 silhouettes on a D-Day Landings beach The project, named, ‘The Fallen’ was a tribute to the Allies, civilians, and German forces who lost their lives during the ‘Operation Neptune’ landing on June 6, 1944. The design was the brainchild of British Artists Jamie Wardley, 33, & Andy Moss, 50. Together with a team of hundreds of volunteers the pair travelled to Arromanches beach, Normandy, to create the silhouettes, which were individually drawn into the sand. The shapes were then left to the mercy of the tide which washed away the ‘fallen’ after around four and a half hours.                       article-2429903-18314F7700000578-966_634x475article-2429903-183153EA00000578-818_634x474To understand the true scale of the task ahead of the Allies on the morning of 6th June 1944, you have to visit and put yourself in their place, and walk the various beaches taken by them. Raw courage, and pure determination won the day, at a terrible cost.  Yours Aye.