THE ROYAL AIR FORCE SERVICING COMMANDO
and
TACTICAL SUPPLY WING ASSOCIATION

Representing a Common Heritage


NEWS ARCHIVE 2007

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THE ARMED FORCES MEMORIAL AT THE NATIONAL MEMORIAL ARBORETUM

The need for greater recognition of members of the Armed Forces killed since the end of the Second World War has been with us for many years.

The culmination of the project to provide such recognition took place at the National Memorial Arboretum on the 12th October 2007 in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. 

The Association Chairman, Duncan Grant, was fortunate to be able to represent the Association at the opening ceremony for what is a most appropriate memorial.  As can be seen from the accompanying photograph, below, it provides an ideal backdrop to the Servicing Commando Plaque at the Arboretum.

Do Visit.

Servicing Commando Plaque at the National Arboretum
RAF Servicing Commando Plaque and Armed Forces Memorial at the
National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Staffordshire

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Association Annual General Meeting and Reunion - June 2007

The Association held a very successful and enjoyable AGM and Reunion at Stafford on 8th and 9th June 2007; some 37 ex Servicing Commando and family members, in addition to 50 TSW members, attended. The occasion started with a ‘meet and greet’ at the Tillington Hall Hotel on the Friday evening. The AGM was held on the Saturday morning, which preceded the TSW Families Day at Beacon Barracks, MoD Stafford. On Saturday evening, the Association Annual Dinner was held, again at the Tillington Hall Hotel.

The main points arising from the AGM were as follows:

Duncan Grant, Tim Newstead and Gabriel Sexton Des Peters, Bob McBey and Steve "Tigger" McTigue

Duncan Grant, Tim Newstead and Gabriel Sexton
with David Orr in the background

Des Peters, Bob McBey and Steve "Tigger" McTigue


The Association Tent at the Families Day

The Association Tent at the Families Day


Griffin HT1 (Bell 412 EP) helicopter from the Defence Helicopter Flying School Children view the cab of an Oshkosh vehicle

Griffin HT1 (Bell 412 EP) helicopter from the Defence Helicopter Flying School

Children view the cab of an Oshkosh vehicle

The TSW Families Day was a great success, judging by the many happy smiling faces that were seen. The Association tent depicted a brief history of the Servicing Commandos and TSW and included a section on Operation Corporate; June 2007 being the 25th Anniversary of victory in the Falkland Islands conflict.  The Families Day was a great opportunity for Association members – old and new – to catch up with old friends and to see the equipment and methods by which the modern-day Tactical Supply wing operates.   The sunny weather ensured a good attendance and our thanks go to all the folk at TSW who worked so hard to make the occasion such a success.

 

Reunion Dinner

The annual Reunion Dinner was a fitting end to the day’s activities and was attended by our guest of honour – the Association President – Air Chief Marshal Sir Joe French.  Sir Joe brought with him a letter of congratulations and best wishes signed by His Royal Highness Prince Philip - click here to see the letter.   During the dinner the “dynamic duo” of Steve ‘Tigger’ McTigue and Des Peters organised a raffle of gifts to swell the Association’s bank balance. Tales were swapped well into the night and, for those of us more recent members, it was a delight and a privilege to meet the Servicing Commandos and their families who contributed so much in the service of our country during the Second World War.

Sir Joe French, Barbara Craven-Griffiths and Alan Robinson
Don Thorogood and Roy Goodyear

Sir Joe French, Barbara Craven-Griffiths and Alan Robinson

Don Thorogood and Roy Goodyear


Peter Berry, Johnny Andrews, Alicia and Nick Atkinson Ex TSW Wing WOs Adam Byers and Joe Ronan

Peter Berry, Johnny Andrews, Alicia and Nick Atkinson

Ex TSW Wing WOs Adam Byers and Joe Ronan


We look forward with relish to expanding the Association’s membership and to meeting up again with so many friends at the 2008 AGM and Reunion.

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TSW Hand-over in Bosnia

After 13 years, TSW has recently handed over the helicopter refuelling activity in Bosnia to 661 Sqn, 1 Regt Army Air Corps.

TSW was the longest continuous serving unit in Bosnia, having been in theatre since April 1993, and was involved in all phases of the mission over the years, ranging from UNPROFOR to IFOR (1995), and SFOR (1997) then latterly EUFOR.  The initial deployment in 1993 involved 9 personnel as part of Operation GRAPPLE - the UN mission to provide humanitarian support to the refugees in Bosnia.  Their task was to provide rotors turning refuelling for the RN 845 Sqn Sea King and the French Army Puma helicopters that were deployed as part of the Operation. Force protection for the TSW fuel resupply convoys was provided by the Danish Army, and site accommodation was run by the Croatian Army. 

Blackhawk at Split, Croatia

Rotors-turning refuel of a Blackhawk at Split

Initial TSW locations included Split in Croatia and a forward refuelling base in Bosnia at the UN HQ in Kiseljak, which was run by the Danish Army.  TSW was the only formed unit in the early days of the Operation when it was a truly multinational effort.  TSW was tasked to refuel all UN, NATO and EU helicopters.

As the Operation transitioned and expanded from a UN mission to IFOR, SFOR and EUFOR, so did the TSW task.  At the height of operations, the TSW detachment expanded to 25 personnel spread across 6 sites.  Living conditions were basic in the early days, working out of tents, then moving to pre-fabricated buildings when the sites became better equipped.  Throughout the Operation, the biggest challenge was the weather.  The heavy snowfall and ice in winter hampered the supply of aviation fuel to the 4 sites in Bosnia; the long resupply journeys, with a 30-ton truck full of aviation fuel, having to navigate through heavily iced mountain passes, which at times were little more than dirt tracks.

Fuel resupply tanker travelling along treacherous passes

Long resupply journeys, with a 30-ton truck full of aviation fuel, having to navigate through heavily iced mountain passes...

Throughout the mission, TSW supported all helicopter operations and was often tasked to provide fuel for forward operations and, latterly, during exercises.  At times the Operation was demanding and dangerous due to the high threat levels and the arduous nature of the task.  This latter aspect was typified by the award of the Queen's Commendation for Bravery to SAC Chris Hopkin in September 1997 when he prevented an aircraft fire when a refuelling hose failed during a Rotors Turning Refuel.

Canadian Huey
 
Swiss Super Puma/Cougar

Rotors-turning refuel of Canadian Huey at Banja Luka

 

Rotors-turning refuel of Swiss Super Puma/Cougar

The Army Air Corps have taken over helicopter refuelling activity in Bosnia as the increasing stability in the country has resulted in a reduction in the number and variety of aircraft requesting rotors-turning refuel support in theatre.  There was also a need to free up TSW manpower for Op TELIC in Iraq and Op HERRICK in Afghanistan.

Final TSW Detachment at Banja Luka
 
Hand-over from TSW to 1 AAC

The final TSW Detachment at Banja Luka
Top L-R: Cpl Jimmy Rimmer, WO Bob McBey, Cpl Bob Barnes
Bottom L-R: SAC Lewis Watts, SAC Paul McCarthy, SAC Ryan LaBorde

 

WO Bob McBey TSW hands over to Capt Bob Backhouse and Sgt Alex Faulds

After 2 weeks of training with the fuels equipment in situ, the final TSW detachment at Banja Luka handed over their responsibilities to Capt Backhouse of 661 Sqn, 1 Regt AAC on 1st November 2006.

A similar article first appeared in the newspaper 'RAF NEWS' dated 2 February 2007.

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STAFFORD AND TACTICAL SUPPLY WING

Although RAF Stafford and 16MU have closed and the MoD Estate is now developing as a “Garrison” commanded by a Royal Signals Colonel, TSW remains at its spiritual home.   Clive Watson, the present OC TSW has been directed by MoD to continue flying the flag! As can be seen from the photo below this is being proudly undertaken.  The flagpole itself was procured and installed-needless to say- by Wing personnel.

TSW HQ

TSW HQ November 2006- The RAF Ensign Still Flies at Stafford

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WING KEEPS THE FUEL FLOWING ON DESERT OPS

For the men and women of Tactical Supply Wing (TSW), detachments to Iraq are second nature.  After a significant contribution to the successful entry of coalition forces into Iraq in 2003, the Stafford-based Wing has, ever since, provided fuel to all types of coalition helicopters in southern Iraq.

Oshkosh fuel tanker

The Oshkosh off-road tanker provides a new capability.
[Picture: RAF NEWS]

Working mainly out of the established bases at Basrah, As Sammawah and Al Amarah, the TSW refuelling crews are at a moment's notice to provide its specialist skill of 'rotors turning refuelling' to a variety of coalition helicopters.   However, being on TSW, which celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2006, is not just about refuelling helicopters.  Wg Cdr Clive Watson, the Wing's Commanding Officer, said: "Out in any theatre, personnel from TSW provide a range of aviation fuel support capabilities to support battlefield helicopter operations; from aircraft marshalling to quality checks of fuel and the movement of aviation fuel throughout the area of operation.  In the current environment of southern Iraq, all TSW operators, not withstanding their trade, have a part to play in the whole mission."


In addition to its core task of providing fuel, TSW prides itself on the other fuels-related skills that all ranks on the wing are capable of.  Whether it is basic fuels equipment maintenance or rigging fuels-related underslung loads all nine trades which are represented are trained to offer the same level of service.

American Cobra helicopter

An American Cobra helicopter gunship is the next 'customer' for Tactical Supply Wing.
[Picture: RAF NEWS]

A recent arrival in Iraq was the new Oshkosh off-road refuelling tanker.  The new vehicle offers a huge step up in off-road fuels capability.  The 445-horsepower tankers bristle with new technology including the ability to decrease tyre pressures while on the move when more grip is needed, locking differentials, air conditioning and automatic drive systems for different surfaces such as mud and sand.  It was a procurement project where drivers and suppliers on the Wing had their say in ensuring that their suggestions were included in the final production vehicles.  When all tankers have been delivered, the Wing will be the biggest single user of this vehicle.


This article first appeared in the newspaper 'RAF NEWS' issue no. 1,143

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