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The following is an extract from the Squadron Historical record from 1970.

1970

April

During the absence of the squadron on Exercise Flying Fish, the rear party under the direction of the Staff Officer and Sergeant Major, moved into our new location on 7th April 1970. The squadron is now situated in HMS SIMBANG within a stones throw of the control tower. Our Scouts and some working spaces are in the main hangar, which we share with 847 Naval Air Squadron. The Sioux and other working/office spaces are in the Brigade hangar to which our motor transport park is adjacent. The Squadron Commander is now able to exercise visual and audio control over the entire squadron for the first time in many months! The advantages of our new location are numerous. We are at last on hand and have ready access to the control tower, 847 sqn, 11 flight and the Brigade HQ. The pilots, officers and SNCOs share an air-conditioned crewroom with full catering facilities, whilst the remainder of the squadron enjoy a similar service in the clamp hut in the dispersal area. Perhaps the greatest benefit of the move goes to Air Traffic Control who can at last see Sioux lifting off without the necessity of scanning the far airfield perimeter for possible aircraft activity.

EXERCISE FLYING FISH

After preliminary briefings at Dieppe, 6 Sioux and 3 Scouts embarked in HMS Fearless in the Jahore Straits to participate in Exercise Flying Fish. This was a 2 sided Brigade exercise in the Marang area of West Malaysia with 40 Commando RM and 1/2 Gurkha Rifles commanded by HQ 3 Commando Brigade and opposed by 2 Royal Australian Regiment.

40 Commando embarked in HMS Bulwark, Brigade HQ and the squadron in HMS Fearless and ½ Gurkha Rifles in HMS Triumph and LSL Sir Lancelot. The force sailed on 4 th April and being the first Squadron exercise since the arrival of the Scouts in February, pilots were kept busy with DLPs, ship-to-ship SDS and liaison sorties. Our first exercise tasks were pre-dawn searches for enemy fast patrol boats on the morning of the assault landings on 6 th April. These consisted of radar contacts by Bulwark, the helicopter control ship, being followed up by visual confirmation by Scout having been vectored on to the suspected target by Bulwark. The Scout having a blind flying capability proved the ideal aircraft for this task and many contacts were confirmed. Squadron policy for the exercise was to allocate 2 Sioux and 1 Scout each to 40 Commando, 1/2 Gurkha Rifles and Brigade HQ. 2 Sioux were deployed 1 each to 40 Commando and 1/2 Gurkha Rifles on OPCOM basis, returning daily to Fearless at last light. The remainder of the squadron remained embarked and fulfilled sorties as required as far as possible for their respective units.

Assault landings were made by both units at first light on 6 th April; airborne by 40 Commando to secure Penerak airstrip and sea borne by 1/2 Gurkha Rifles to secure a beach head some 5 miles south of Marang. Subsequent follow up operations took place in units respective TAORs leading to Commando and Battalion attacks, 1/2 Ghurkhas then withdrawing to Penerak airstrip and the entire force withdrawing to seaward the following evening.

Sioux pilots completed a variety of tasks including Eagle Flights, FAC sorties with Tebwans of the RMAF, convoy control and simulated gunfire. The introduction of the Scout has increased our capability immensely. As an impromptu gunship and troop lift aircraft for the Eagle flights, e.g. recce troop, OP parties etc, it has a great deal of potential and this we hope to develop.

Captain Daintry IG, QHI from the FIE Kluang joined the squadron for the exercise. As a newcomer to squadron amphibious exercises and flight deck operations we feel a lot of useful liaison was achieved and the FIE are now very much aware of the problems of operating at sea with the Sioux power restriction of the moment.

The squadron disembarked at first light on 11 th April and flew into its new location within the FAFB (FE).

MAY back to top

FAC Continuation Training

With the withdrawal of the Hunter and Canberra squadrons from RAF Tengah the FAC area at Kulai has virtually remained inactive for the past 3 months. This has caused many headaches in keeping our FAC pilots current, the nearest available aircraft being the Mirages at RAAF Butterworth, some 6 ½ Sioux hours away. However, Lt Willowghby and CSgt Mackie made the long trek north at the beginning of the month and completed a successful week of 9 Mirage and Tebwan strikes.

Sioux Airportability

To save the valuable 6 ½ hour ferry time returning the Sioux from Butterworth, the opportunity was used of exercising their move to Sembawang by Hercules. This was the first time we had loaded Sioux using shortened skids instead of removing the rotor head assembly. The former is approved by FEAF and saves an immense amount of time in rigging and unrigging.

Detachment To Asahan

Major McGregor and Captain Hazel joined 95 Commando Light Regiment RA for 4 days on their first live firing practise camp at Asahan. Emphasis was laid on Sioux control of Wessex gun moves rather than actual AOP work and met with a high degree of success.

Pilot and Observer Training

This has been restricted due to the worldwide grounding of Army and RM Sioux for internal corrosion checks. A visit from the Non-Destructive Treatment Team confirmed our fears, but by changing a number of component parts, only 1 aircraft has remained unserviceable for corrosion.

Exercise Eagle Eye III

This was a 2 day squadron deployment in the Gunong Pulai area 20 miles north west of Singapore. The exercise was directed by Lt Cameron and controlled by the Squadron HQ and Kangaw Flight. Dieppe and Brunei were opposing flights with a mutual ground enemy provided by elements of K Company 42 Commando RM. The aims of the exercise were to revise and exercise flight operating procedures with particular emphasis on deployment drills, HLS recce and occupation, air sentry routines, camouflage and CP operation. Both flights completed a number of location moves with control feeding in a variety of taskings. These included Wessex gunship, observation, convoy control, HLS recce and Eagle Flight sorties. The Eagle Flights, using 2 Scouts for troop lifts controlled by a Sioux, were very successful, moving 8 men per lift. These are not intended as a substitute for Wessex moves, but to complement them and could well prove invaluable in a 2 Scout 2 Sioux flight under unit command where reaction time would be relatively swift. The exercise was extremely worthwhile and enabled flights to shake out prior to the major exercise Bersatu Padu.

JUNE back to top

Training

There has been little flying training carried out this month owing to exercises.

Exercises

The squadron had to assume a split personality for Bersatu Padu, as during the preparatory phase Dieppe Flight were part of 40 Commando Group. They were part of the friendly forces, while the rest of the squadron were in support of the enemy forces.

Enemy Force Preparation Phase

Several sorties were carried out from FAFB(FE) for reconnaissance of the area of operations by members of Brigade Headquarters, who were to direct the enemy reaction to the friendly forces.

1/2 Gurkha Preparation

 Brunei Flight, under the command of Lt Frost, deployed to Dungun on 19 th May to provide air reconnaissance for the Battalion. This enabled the platoon commanders to see the ground over which they would have to move, and the likely approaches that could be used by friendly forces. The Scout aircraft were also used to move the Brigade Signals Squadron re-broadcast team to the site on Bt Serava and also carried out several small stores lifts to the Ghurkha’s positions. The lack of a winch caused difficulties in the lowering of stores to positions below a canopy of trees 200 ft above the ground. Various combinations of ropes and pulleys were tried, but it still left a high load of work to Gnr Rose, the crewman, and the necessity of remaining in the hover for long periods.

42 Commando Preparation

On 23 rd May Lt Cameron and most of Kangaw Flight joined Brunei Flight at Dungun, and this was to be the squadron base for the exercise period. 42 Commando also used the aircraft to conduct air reconnaissance, sometimes down to section commander level.

Grenada

This was the main land phase of the Bersatu Padu exercise. The squadron commander arrived in Dungun with the balance of the squadron on 6 th June, and the next week was spent in final recce and liaison for the Brigade Directing Staff and enemy units. Apart from the ADS, the routine reconnaissance for the Brigadier and the liaison flights to bring the commanding officers in for the evening meeting, there were many unscheduled tasks. These included stores resupply, resupply of rebro sites, casevac, intelligence, reconnaissance and FAC. The intelligence recces were conducted by the Brigade Intelligence Staff and squadron observers to keep track of the friendly forces dispositions. This provided much valuable training as some of the camouflage of fire bases, helicopter sites and headquarters were very good. The FAC was an opportunity event, as there was a great deal of offensive support available for the friendly forces, which was not being used. The enemy therefore had 2 days of strikes. The squadron controllers had an orgy of controlling Mirages, Canberras and Tebwans onto planned and opportunity targets. There were over 50 sorties of OS on each day, so everyone is now up to date on controlling.

Report By Dieppe Flight

The exercise was interesting in that it was the first time that the squadron has mounted a mixed flight in support of a Commando Group on the LPH. The Scouts had of course been operated on a squadron basis from the LPD during Flying Fish in April. 40 Commando Group took part in both phases of the exercise using heliborne assault techniques in both cases.

Phase 1 (13 th – 18 th June)

The mission for 40 Commando was to secure the Penerak airstrip for the fly in of 19 Brigade by SRT and MRT aircraft of Transport Command. The composition of the flight was 2 Scout and 2 Sioux for the initial assault as follows:

1 Sioux – Co

1 Sioux – FAC and Gunship control

1 Scout – A Coy Cdr and FOO(with responsibility for control of pre-
planned Wessex low level run-ins

1 Scout – B Company Commander and FOO (back up responsibility for
Wessex control and NGFS control on opportunity targets if
necessary)

During the subsequent 4 days, aircraft were ship based at night and a first to last light OPCON of 1 Scout and 1 Sioux maintained by day. Tasks during this phase included Casevac, radio relay, recce pilot and pax, troop lift of recce sections and Wessex gunship control.

QUEEN’S COMMENDATION FOR VALUABLE SERVICE IN THE AIR

RM19083 COLOUR SERGEANT J E SUMMERS AND RM19578 SERGEANT S WATSON

On 1 st June 1970 in Trengganu, Malaysia, seven Gurkha soldiers were injured in a traffic accident whilst taking part in an accident. All seven required urgent medical attention. Three were stretcher cases, including one with a cracked vertebra and the other four were walking cases, although all were suffering from shock.

Helicopter assistance was called for from the Air Squadron of 3 Commando Brigade at 1530hrs. A Sioux helicopter, piloted by Sergeant J E Summers and a Scout helicopter piloted by Sergeant S Watson arrived to carry out the task. The flying conditions at the time were appalling. It was raining at the time of the accident and the rain continued for the next three hours. The torrential tropical rain did not let up for the whole of this period, causing a heavy mist; visibility was extremely low. The turn-around time between the unit and the nearest medical assistance was quite considerable and the weather conditions made it necessary to fly very low along the line of the road.

The tasks were completed at approximately 1830 hours. The two pilots showed a great deal of flying skill, courage and devotion to duty throughout.

AIR FORCE CROSS

LIEUTENANT JOHN BOYES FROST RM

On 5 th June 1970 at 1745 hrs a soldier of 1 st Battalion 2nd KEO Gurkha Rifles was seriously injured whilst taking part in an exercise in Trengganu, Malaysia. The injury occurred in deep jungle some 2 hours march from the jungle edge. There was only 1 hour of daylight remaining and the injured man was unconscious and bleeding profusely from a scalp wound and through the nose.

A helicopter was requested for CASEVAC at 1755 hrs and a start was made on improving an existing winching hole in the jungle. At 1830 hrs a Scout helicopter, piloted by Lieutenant J B Frost RM arrived overhead and attempted to land. The pilot said that if 2 more trees were felled he would attempt to land. The trees were felled and the pilot descended slowly into the winching point. He managed to get within 15 feet of the ground but then had to ascend again to re-establish communications with the ground troops. Using the standby headset he was able to relay that he wanted some scrub to be cleared where his tail rotor was to be positioned if he was to land.

At approximately 1850 hrs Lieutenant Frost made a second attempt to land and on this occasion he managed to hover with the skids of the helicopter one foot above a large fallen tree which it had not been possible to move. By this time it was getting dark.

The injured man was then loaded into the helicopter. This involved one man inside and three men supporting themselves on the right hand skid in order to get sufficient leverage to slide the injured man onto the back seat.

Having loaded the injured soldier, Lieutenant Frost ordered the medical assistant out as he needed all the available power to attempt a vertical ascent. By this time it was quite dark with no moon and a light rain had started to fall.

By fixing the landing light in a forward position and aligning onto a nearby tree, Lieutenant Frost took his helicopter up vertically and successfully evacuated the injured soldier.

The area cleared for the landing was only 40 feet by 30 feet and tree top level and not more than 20 yards across between the trees at ground level. The trees were in excess of 100 feet high. This is considerably below the requirements for a landing site. Although relatively inexperienced in the Scout helicopter, having logged only 170 hours flying on this aircraft at the time, Lieutenant Frost displayed an extremely high degree of flying skill. The soldier’s life was undoubtedly saved by Lieutenant Frost’s coolness, skill and courage.

REMARKS MADE BY BRIGADIER P J F WHITELY, COMMANDER 3 COMMANDO BRIGADE ROYAL MARINES, ON THE AWARD OF THE AIR FORCE CROSS TO LIEUTENANT J B FROST RM

Lieutenant Frost achieved a remarkable feat of skilful piloting. It appeared essential that the wounded man should be evacuated in order to save his life. I have since flown into the clearing which was made for the evacuation, and though it had been considerably developed, it was still a hair raising business. I consider that Frost acted from the highest motives, regardless of the very high risk to his own safety in the increasing darkness. Only through his own coolness, skill and courage have both of them survived.
10th July 1970

Interim Period (18 th – 23 rd June)

The amphibious task force with the Commando Group embarked was at anchor off Pulaw Tioman during this period. Maintenance and 1 long photo recce for phase 2 were carried out

JULY back to top

Training

This was a good month for flying training which accounted for 75% of the total flying hours for the month. Sessions of engine off landings, clearing work and some excellent night flying sorties were carried out by most pilots. We are grateful to Major HOLTOM and Lt HORSEY for their assistance given in this training.

Observers were included in some of the pilots training sorties and their training included navigation to and from the Kluang jungle clearings, map reading and conning work.

Farewell to Brigadier P J F Whitely OBE

The Squadron give Brig Whitely a last look at Singapore in an impressive vic formation of 1 Scout and 4 Sioux from Dover Road to Changi via Sembawang. The Scout flown by Captain Storrie took the lead with the Brigadier embarked and the 4 chicks were flown by Lts Cameron and Helme to the left and Capts Hazel and Meggy to the right of the line.

HMS Sembawang Families Day

The squadron produced a Sioux static display and 1 Sioux and 2 Scouts for the air display for the Sembawang families’ day on 30 th. A flight command post was also shown. The squadron flying programme also included the control of a Wessex gunship by a Sioux, and resupply, casevac and free-fall parachuting by Scout. It was a very pleasant forenoons entertainment for the squadron and Sembawang’s families.

AUGUST back to top

Training

This was a very good month for operational flying training. The squadron ran a tactical work up period whereby Eagle Flight, Wessex gunship, Scout troop and mortar lifts and AOP tactics were discussed and revised in the classroom before pilots put most of these skills into practise, culminating in an AOP and GPMG practice camp at Asahan.

Dieppe Flight In Hong Kong

The 4 th of the month saw the departure of Dieppe Flight embarked in LSL Sir Lancelot for a 7 week detachment in support of 40 Commando. The flight, commanded by Lt R HELME RM consisted of 4 Sioux and 18 rank and file. As Sioux are forbidden to land on the flight decks of LSLs, the initial problem was to load the 4 aircraft below decks. This was the alternative to lifting them onto the flight deck, fitting aircraft covers and maintaining them during the 4 day sea passage. Although rather more tedious, the former seemed far more satisfactory. Blades had to be removed before the aircraft could be lowered into the hold, but once below, very little maintenance was required. It is hoped that Sioux flight deck restrictions may be relaxed now that LSLs are wearing battleship grey.

Unloading at Hong Kong proved relatively easy, the aircraft being wheeled down the forward ramp onto the jetty, assembled on a nearby sports field and flown to Sek Kong, the new location for 40 Commando. On arrival in location the pilots spent a 1 week area familiarisation with Captain DIANTRY, the QHI of 656 Sqn, including border flying, mountain flying and emergencies. Much of the subsequent flying has inevitably been liaison. Victoria is 1 ½ hours away by road / ferry or 12 minutes by Sioux. Pilot and observer continuation training has been carried out including detailed navex and mountain flying, and Sgts Wiles and Cowe completed airborne mortar shoots. With 100% backing from 40 Commando, the flight has opposed the intention of the Tasking Cell to include our helicopters in the overall helicopter tasking system for the colony. This includes 656 Sqn and RAF Whirlwinds from Kai Tak, the cell acting as a clearing house for all helicopter sorties. An amicable solution was reached whereby all unit tasks had priority and were completed by flight aircraft, and any remaining Sioux were offered to the cell for use as required. The flight was indebted to the tasking organisation for some very varied and interesting flying, including an escaped prisoner search on Lantaw Island, recces for the Ghurkhas and visits for the Royal Engineer Road Building Project.

The flight is due to be relieved by Brunei Flight in mid-September. Although one is very soon aware of the restrictions of the area (40 minutes is the furthest one can fly in a straight line) the opportunities for good flying training are unlimited and the pilots should remain the better for the wealth of newly acquired flying skills and experience.

Cameron Highlands (5 th – 12 th August)

The detachment was in support of B Squadron 22 SAS based at Brinchang Camp. Over the period 1 Sioux (Lt WILLOUGHBY) and 1 Scout (Sgt Watson) flew 20 hours inserting and lifting out patrols and carrying out recce and re-supply runs. The SAS had been let down by continued restrictions on RAF Whirlwind flying and were very grateful for every minute of flying they could have; maximum aircraft utilisation was the result. As always the Camerons provided an excellent refresher in mountain flying techniques with some valuable pad and clearing work.

42 Commando Company Training – Mersing

With the future helicopter amphibious exercises in mind, the Commando conducted a symposium on helicopter assault and Eagle Flights followed by a very useful week of helicopter training at Mersang with 2 Wessex of 847 Naval Air Squadron and a Sioux of the Brigade Air Squadron. The Sioux remained on location with Lt C P CAMERON and a small detachment of Kangaw Flight, and the Scout changed over pilots on a daily basis from Sembawang. Numerous drills were practised and including Scout tactical mortar and troop lifts from which have resulted a number of proposed changes to SOPs for the Brigade. Most of the Squadron pilots managed to take an active part in this constructive week of helicopter training. A summary of SOPs and drills practised are as follows:

  1. Eagle Flights down to Troop Commander and Troop Sergeant Level.
  2. Troop and Company helicopter assaults with coordinated fire plans controlled by a FOO/MFC from the air.
  3. Tactical moves of troops by Scout.
  4. Tactical move of a mortar section by Scout (particularly useful to cover a subsequent Eagle Flight or helicopter assault operation).
  5. Thorough familiarisation of Company Officers and SNCOs in air recce techniques, homing, fixing, casevac, emplaning and deplaning drills, and the use of radios in both the Sioux and Scout.
  6. Night familiarisation of all Company Officers in Sioux.

Half Squadron Gunnery Camp – Asahan (23 rd – 26 th August)

 AOP Shooting

Background. It has been felt over the past eighteen months that pilot’s AOP refresher shooting was tending to be on an ad hoc basis whilst in support of one of the regiments or one of its batteries. It was therefore decided to claim the full 70 rounds per annum per pilot and run 2 short camps specifically for AOP shooting – the second is programmed for October. Pre-training consisted of one days lecture room and puff range work under the Theatre Instructor Of Gunnery Major Bateman RA.

The Camp. This was at Asahan and was run jointly by the squadron and 7 Battery 95 Commando Light Regiment RA. Administratively the arrangement was a success. Pilots carried out two ground shoots and four air shoots each covering the following types of shoot.

a. Immediate neutralisation with HE Quick, VT and HE time.

b. Smoke shoots.

c. Linear shoots.

d. FOO fire plans.

There is no doubt that this concentrated training in AOP shooting was excellent value and raised pilot’s standards a great deal.

GPMG Firing. GPMG door gun firing was carried out by all pilots and observers (the emphasis being on the latter) who attended the camp. The firing was carried out from both Sioux and Scout and the following points arose:

a. The Scout door gun position is uncomfortable for the gunner unless a
makeshift seat is provided i.e 2 seat cushions.

b. One in three as opposed to one in five tracer would provide quicker fall of shot
corrections and easier control of fire. This has already been pointed out by
other units who have carried out this kind of firing.

c. It is possible to produce a reasonably tight fall of shot from 2000’ in straight
autorotation, and from a low level pull up – the sort of tactical flying methods
most likely to be used.

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER back to top

Pilots. The normal continuation and QHI training were carried out. The highlight of the period was the AOP practice camp at Asahan.

Observers. Two ranks have successfully completed the squadron aptitude for observer training. These are Gunner Reynolds and Marine Brittain and training should commence shortly. As a result of numerous sorties completed with the left hand seat of the Scout facing backwards, observers are to be given practice at map reading and navigation in this configuration as they are not up to standard.

AOP Practice Camp, Asahan. The SP and three pilots of the squadron, together with 5 pilots from other flights / air troops in FARELF took part in this three day practice camp. In addition to practicing AOP, all pilots and observers were given the opportunity, the first in most cases, to fire the GPMG from both Scout and Sioux aircraft. The Commander Army Aviation (FARELF) arrived on the first day and observed the AOP and GPMG shoots. From both the pilot’s and observer’s points of view, it would appear that this was a particularly invaluable and successful camp which was well run and supervised throughout. The Brigade Commander and the CO of 95 Cdo Lt Regt RA visited the camp on the 3 rd day.

Detachments.

Hong Kong . A flight of three Sioux accompanied 40 Commando to Hong Kong for the period of their deployment, returning to this location on 23 rd October. The aircraft were located on the parade ground of Sek Kong Camp, so quite a lot of effort was expended in keeping the aircraft at a high standard to prevent corrosion. There were not many tasks for the unit apart from reconnaissance of the area, CASEVAC standby and transportation from Sek Kong to Hong Kong Island. The opportunity for mountain flying practice was taken and all the pilots of Brunei and Dieppe Flights were re-familiarised with the problems of landing on bare, wind swept hills. All in all a welcome change from jungle flying and a good opportunity to brush up on tactical flying skills.

Mediterranean. Kangaw Flight, consisting of three Sioux, left this location by air on 6th September in support of 42 Commando RM for exercises in the Mediterranean. A full report will be forthecoming on their return.

Exercises.

Far Fling 13 - 15 October. This was a unit/ship exercise in the Sai Kong peninsula of Hong Kong with 40 Commando Group in HMS Intrepid. The concept of the exercise was that 40 Commando Group would discover the location of Companies of a guerilla insurgent enemy among the bare hills of the peinsula. This gave hreat scope to the three Sioux of Brunei Flight that were in support.

The exercise was cut short by the appearance of Typhoon Joan which made it necessary for the ship to go to sea and the aircraft of 847 Squadron and the Flight returning to Kai Tak for shelter. However, during the three days of the exercise, many interesting flights were carried out, and the reconnaissance resulted in the capture of an enemy OP and an arms cache. The area offered great scope for the Eagle Flights, radio relay, Casevac and good contour flying. A refreshing change form the jungles of Malaya.

It was a great pity that the exercise did not continue as the action was being generated nicely and the stage was set for some good flying and useful application of the roles of the Squadron.

Exercise Autumn Playtime 19 - 22 October. This was a Brigade Headquarters CP Exercise, designed to take the HQ into the field and to exercise their flexibility. It was also the Brigade Commander's Inspection so all sub-units were involved, but not in the same locations. The Squadron provided a tasking cell in the BASOC of two pilots and a signaller, whilst the Headquarters Flight consisted of 2 Scout aircraft, 3 pilots (one of which was Duty Pilot as he was not Scout trained) 1 Flight NCO, 1 signaller, 2 observers and 3 mechanics. We had to 'borrow' Captain J Morgan of 11 Flight AAC to fly one of our aeroplanes and he very kindly lent us his AVTUR bowser and driver to help us along.

Unfortunately, the bowser not being designed for field operations presented a few interesting problems, which included the provision of two wheels and twenty drums of AVTUR from Simbang during the first night. It was just fortunate that the Squadron Staff Officer was duty and the OC of TCT was also in, conducting a local exercise so the necessary items were produced in extremely quick time. So much in fact that the Brigade HQ requested that no action be taken to forward the stores until the following morning. The Headquarters Flight worked hard and well. They were attacked on no less than three occasions by a determined enemy who very nearly wrote of both Scouts and the bowser.

Visits.

16 September: A Parliamentary visit by ten Members of Parliament.
17 September: Farewell visit of the Army Commander Lieutenant General Sir Peter Hunt KCB. DSO. OBE.
12 October: Brigadier Bremner, Inspector of Intelligence.
14 October: The Chief of The General Staff Lieutenant General Sir Cecil Blacker KCB. OBE. MC.

 

Report on Kangaw Flight's Activities in the Mediterranean.

Four pilots , four mechanics, four signallers / handlers, one FFR and trailer and three Sioux left Singapore at the end of September in support of 42 Commando RM for their Mediterranean exercises. The three Sioux were flown to Cyprus in an RAF Belfast with only the main blades and a tail rotor guard removed. The vehicles went by Hercules and the personnel by Brittannia.

Cyprus. The aircraft were assembled in Akrotiri and operated from Dhekelia, obtaining enormous support from 10 Air Platoon and 48 Command Workshops. Most of the flying was liaison because the unit was live firing and the work-up exercise was cancelled. It was regretted that there was not enough time to take advantage of the excellent mountain flying. Kangaw Flight and 29 Commando Lt Regiment's Air Troop combined to come under command of HQ UK Commando Forces. Together with 42 Commando and 79 (Kirkee) Commando Lt Battery RA we embarked in HMS Albion at Dhekelia.

Greece. After a few sessions of deck landing practice we arrived in Athens. Owing to the build up of the NATO fleet and the enormous preparation for Exercise Deep Express, Athens became a cultural visit and flying was very much discouraged. En-route for Deep Express DLPs were prevented because of rapid manoeuvering by the fleet to avoid submarines. However a Sioux was the first of a large variety of helicopters to spot an enemy submarine, though the Flight was not so fortunate in the the anti-FPB role.

After a short rehearsal of the landing, Exercise Deep Express got underway. In the interest of tactical safety the Flight remained embarked, operating on the OPCON Principle. Two aircraft were detached to the unit, one remained on board and two were sent to the Brigade HQ, with the additional task of being on call to the American Brigade Commander who was on our left flank. The American assault ship had been taken off the exercise which left the US Marine Corps without helicopters. However the Siouz were only noted to support the Americans twice.

All normal exercise sorties were practised, FAC, Eagle Flight, Gunship Control, AOP, Airborne CP etc. At last light the Sioux were recovered by the ship and normal maintenance was carried out in the hangar.

Malta. On completion of Deep Express the unit was re-embarked for Malta. This two week stay was used by the unit for its annual classification and various other items of routine training. This became a Care and Maintenance period to remove the effects of salination from the aircraft. We also flew several liaison sorties for the resident infantary battalion. In company with 845 Naval Air Squadron we were the only helicopters on the island and many useful recce sorties were flown.

Corsica. The Commando Group re-embarked for Exercise Corsica 70. An extremely realistic enemy were deployed and the aircraft were used to the utmost. All major movement in the mountainous regions had to be done by helicopter and the Wessex squadron leaned on the Flight heavily. The only departure from normal sorties was to hand over FAC to the Wasp. Excessive turbulence prevented the carriage of two passengers in the Sioux and whilst in Corsica it was essential to carry an interpreter from the French Air Force. This system was particularly satisfactory.

Corsica offered the most difficult flying with excessive turbulence in the mountainous peaks and the constant necessity for pinnacle landings on the rock strewn foothills. The danger from wire strikes was unnaturally high because most high tension cables were strung across valleys and as high as 300 feet ASL.

On re-embarkation Albion returned to Malta. The Commando Group were flown off whilst the ship were still underway, en-route for the UK, retaining the Battery and Gunner Air Troop. Kangaw Flight flew direct to RAF Luqua to commence dismantling for the return flight to Singapore.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER

OPERATION BURLAP. Brunei Flight under the command of Lieutenant J.B Frost AFC RM took part in Operation Burlap in support of HQ 3 CDO BDE (Tac) from 20th November until the witdrawal of UK forces on 10th December 1970. The Flight consisted of one Scout and tow Sioux helicopters, four pilots, six REME personnel and seven 'general duty' ranks.

Arrival and Deployment. At approximately 1000hrs on 19th November the Flight was warned to be ready to fly to East Pakistan in support of the disaster relief operations. By 1800 hrs on the same day the Flight's complete equipment including the two Sioux and rations for 10 days, were at RAF Changi available for loading. The two Sioux were loaded into the second C130 of the Bde Tac HQ airlift together with sufficient AVGAS for four days operation, and ten ranks of the Flight. The balance, including one vehicle, flew in the third C130.

Arriving at Dacca about midday on 20th, both Sioux were off loaded, assembled and test flown, and were available for tasking from late afternoon. At 2000hrs the Flight received orders to move by river boat from Dacca to Patwakhali. The vehicle was to reamin at Dacca and all stores were to be loose loaded. The two Sioux were to fly to Patwakhali the following morning taking the Brigade Commander and CSO. The loading of the boat was completed by about 0100hrs and it sailed for Patwakhali. The two Sioux took off at midday and refuelled at Barisaw. As HF communications were not operating correctly, one Sioux was tasked to return to Dacca to collect a C11 radio set whilst the other carrying the Brigade Commander and Flight Commander flew on to Pakwakhali to commence the initial reconnaissannce. By last light a preliminary recce has been carried out, contact had been made with the civil administration at Pakwakhali and it was established that Bde Tac HQ would operate from the Circuit House.

For security reasons the Flight then operated from within the compound at Circuit House until the FAB was established on 26th. The Scout Helicopter arrived aboard Intrepid on 24th and was then made available for tasking the same morning.

Operations. Throughout the operation, tasking was done by the BAVO and the daily flying programme controlled by the Flight CP in the normal manner. The majority of the missions flown were of a reconnaissance nature. Initially recce missions were flown to assess the extent of the damage, which areas were worst hit and in most need of relief and to determine which parts were most suitable for the setting up of main craft bases and distribution centres. A large number of engineer recces were carried out to find sites for well drilling, school rebuilding and bridge repairing and these continued throughout the period of operations.

By the time the task force arrived on 24th, all four pilots were thoroughly familiar with the whole area. For the next few days one of the most important tasks was assisting the crews of the various types of landing craft in their difficult job of navigating from the ships to the forward bases. In addition to verbally 'conning' the craft by radio through the channels and around the sand bars, several were flown with the craft coxswains on board the aircraft, when they were flown along the routes at low level.

Assistance was also given to the two local coasters on the several occasions on which they ran aground. Each vessel had a British Midshipman on board with a radio and the light helicopters were able to pass Sitreps and position reports back to Britforce control whilst at the same time requesting assistance from landing craft in the vicinity. Numerous sorties were flown for the Pakistani Army and also the several VIPs were flown around the area. Representatives from such organisations as Save The Children's Fund and Oxfam were also flown on recces of the offshore islands. A few sorties were also flown in support of medical teams on the islands together with a small amount of resupply tasks.

Withdrawal. It was decided that the whole Flight would return to Singapore aboard Intrepid and that the two Sioux were to embark on W+1. The Scout was to remain at Force HQ with a small refuelling party and would embark on W+3. The embarkation was carried out as planned except that the Scout embarked on W+2. CK had been the first British helicopter to fly into the disaster area and was the last helicopter to fly out.

Serviceablity. Throughout the entire operation serviceability was excellent with an overall rate of 92% being achieved. This reflects the superb effort of the five REME ranks under the direction of WO2 Walker. In addition to normal servicing and flexi-ops, a turbo-supercharger was changed, and for this particular job the aircraft was off the line for less than a day. There were no major causes of unserviceablity and the only problems were the failure of a retaining clip on the heater pipe on the Scout, sheared bolts on a Sioux gearbox and vibrations on CD caused by the dismantling of the main rotor system for the air move from Singapore. HMS Hydra supplied the retaining clip, Pakistan International Airways supplied the gearbox bolts and nemerous tracking runs solved the vibrations.

Pilots. Of the four pilots, Lt Frost and CSgt Lawrence were dual trained on Scout and Sioux. The Squadron policy of maintaining Scout pilots current on the Sioux enabled a great degree of flexibility to be exercised and overall each pilot averaged 2.7 flying hours per day. The highest overall totals for Lt Frost and Sgt Gilbert are due to CSgt Lawrence being nominated as the Embarked Force Sergeant Major and being withdrawn to the ship on 7th December and Lt Helme being grounded for a short period due to sickness.

Pilot Hours:
Lieutenant Frost - 55.4 Hours
Lieutenant Helme - 48.3 Hours
CSgt Lawrence - 44.7 Hours
Sergeant Gilbert - 50.2 Hours

Communications. This operation once again highlighted the appalling inefficiency of the B47 Radio Set in the Scout. Maximum range obtained to the CP's C42 Set was about 6 miles and all position reporting and control of aircraft had to be done via 'Oboe' on the UHF net. The tactical information had also to be relayed to Britforce HQ either through Oboe or one of the Sioux. In addition, the need to change frequency several times during each sortie in order to talk to landing craft, coasters, forward operating bases, forward control nets and the BLAN, proved this set to be completely unacceptable for our amphibious role. The Sioux had no communication problem with the AN ARC 44 and it is time that this set was installed in our Scouts.

 

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