Aircraft Life Support Fitter,
Safety Equipment Worker & Fabric Worker

The Fitters 2008 Grapevine: No 2

Vol: 2

Date: 1 Nov 2008

Responses from October Newsletter

We’ve received some early responses from our first revamped October ALSF Grapevine and you can read the stories later in this issue. There is a note from the Webmaster and Merv Kroll has suggested a Brisbane reunion. Who’s interested in a Brissie reunion? Please email in your responses so we can pass them on ……

regards, Robert (Bob) Bartlett.

Deceased Members

Recently Al Kendall (Webmaster) was advised by a family member that a person by the name of Lawrence Mark Harford, who was listed in the deceased section of the ALSFITT website some years ago, was still living. Mick, as he was known, joined the RAAF Fabric Workers in 1949 and rose to the rank of sergeant before leaving the RAAF around 1969. Lesley, Mick’s daughter, only found the ALSFITT site recently and when she discovered the error advised Al Kendall accordingly.

But there was a sad end to the story when Lesley also advised that Mick had actually pass away on the 6th October 2008. We need to remember that the original death notification, received some years ago by Al Kendall, was published on the site in good faith on information he’d received from another person. See photos of Mick on the job in other pages of newsletter.

NB: Considering what happened, we will have to ensure that in future if we receive any communications of this sort that the source of the information will have to be quoted and verified - perhaps by a newspaper death notice.

In memory of Mick Harford - Photos supplied by his daughter Lesley.

Mick Harford Mick Harford Mick Harford Mick Harford

Word from the Webmaster

Once upon a time……we Fabric Workers, Safety Equipment Workers and Life Support Fitters received regular newsletters. Unfortunately, I have been restricted by various issues (work, home, personal & old age) that resulted in no newsletters for 2 years. We have now rectified the situation and you’ll find the latest newsletter kindly put together by one of our own – Robert Bartlett.

But we need more information, pictures and stories to keep the newsletters flowing, so please take the time to forward any info to .

I have tidbits of other info. that I will forward to Robert for inclusion in future newsletters. Also, in the near future, I’m intending to update the website with new information. Cheers – The ALSFITT Webmaster.

Where is it?

Last month’s answer: The Forth Rail Bridge over the Firth of Forth east of Edinburgh, Scotland. Kenneth Moore stared in the 1959 movie ‘The 39 Steps’, part of which was shot on the bridge.

Perhaps last month’s was a little easy, so try the one below.
In many towns around Australia there always seems to be a pub called ‘The Royal Hotel’, but what is this town called? Clue – Many years ago, in its heyday, prospectors swarmed to this area.

What is this Town called?

Air Travel Agro

I think we can all relate stories of some unpleasant air flight experience that we encountered while travelling with some airline that prided itself on customer satisfaction. But when I heard the following tale it made me feel that I’d been lucky, and any discomforts that I’d endured paled into insignificance when compared to this man’s plight.

The man was travelling on a United Airlines 747 flight from the US to Australia and while approaching Sydney, after the 13.5 hour trip, they were advised that due to weather conditions the flight was to be diverted to Brisbane. After landing in Brisbane, they sat in the plane for over 3 hours before the flight was cleared to return to the original destination. However, there was another hitch.

The captain came over the intercom and announced that due to certain union rules the current pilots could not complete the flight to Sydney and another pilot would have to fly the aircraft on the next leg. But the captain added, that because the aircraft was a 747 aircraft another pilot would have to be flown up from Sydney.

Unfortunately everyone had to remain on the aircraft as the custom officials didn’t have the facilities to process the foreign passengers. Finally after a further 3 hours wait on the tarmac, with food supplies exhausted and water running low, the new pilot arrived and they took off – landing in Sydney some 22.5 hours since boarding in the US.

Gunnies 2008 Reunions

Al Kendall has included some Gunnies reunion details for those who are interested in attending.

  • 28th November ’08 – Victoria – Duke of Kent Hotel, 293 La Trobe Street, Melbourne. Contact Graeme Monkhouse.
  • 29th November ’08 – Canberra – AAF AGM at RSL Club (City). Contact Rod Smith.
  • 5th December ’08 – NSW – Penrith RSL Club.
  • 6th December ’08 – Perth – Annual St. Barbara’s Day Reunion – Moon & Sixpence Hotel, 300 Murry Street.
  • 6th December ’08 – South Australia – Contact Russ King.

For more details -

George Lives Life with Gusto

George Morgan, an ex-SEW WOff, now living in Townsville, has sent in an email to let us know that he’s still very much alive and kicking the years back with his wife Thelma, who he married 57 years ago.

George told us that after enlisting in 1949 he then completed the following courses: rookies at Richmond; 14 week Fabric Workers course at GST Wagga; Parachute course at 2AD Richmond and finally a Dingy course at 1SD in Tottenham. After training, he was posted to: 3Sqn Canberra; 3AD Amberley; 10Sqn Townsville; 2AD; AMTDU; HQSUPCOM Melbourne.

After retiring in 1977, he followed other private employment opportunities including: security escort for Armaguard, full-time musician and a self-employed businessman. At the moment he entertains residents in different aged facilities. During his interesting life, George has managed to have two children, five grandchildren and one great-grandson.

He mentions, with a laugh, that one of his ambitions these days is to live long enough so he can send the DFRB Board broke by collecting his pension every fortnight.

George asked that if there are any of his old RAAF mates still out there to contact him on his email.

RB (Bob) Note: Thanks for sending in the email George and telling us about yourself. It looks like you’ve adjusted well to civvy street and it reminds us all that there is life after the RAAF.

Tough Times at RAAF Butterworth

Noel Carter sent in an email mentioning that he’d be interested in attending a Sydney reunion in 2009, and thought he’d take the opportunity to tell us of his navel exploits while stationed at RAAF Butterworth.

Noel informed us that way back in the early days of RAAF Butterworth, new arrivals and changeovers were often carried out by ship. On one occasion a group of well salted members of the Butterworth Boat Club (the Boatie) thought they’d go and give the newcomers a rousing welcome to their new home, and intent on getting their message across they borrowed a boat and loud-hailer before cruising down the channel.

Reaching the ship full of new arrivals, they circled them a few times at high speed while bellowing out their greetings, but unfortunately the intrepid small craft went ‘shiny side up’ from other vessels’ wash and dumped the crew in the drink. The embarrassed crew, including at least two SEWs, were plucked from the Penang Harbour and appeared to sober up very quickly once they tasted the ingested polluted waters.

The boat was recovered but there was a $50 Malay bill for the lost loud-hailer, not to mention the laundry bill for their dirty clothes.

That era came to an end in 1960, when the Dutch ship Johan van Oldenbarnevelt sailed with some departing members bound for Australia, and it was made even more memorable when a large emotional group of Ozzies, singing Waltzing Matilda, massed at the wharf to say the final farewells.

RB (Bob) Note: Thanks for sending in the email Noel and I’d think there’d still be some members out there that would feel some nostalgia for those days long ago.

The Kroll Kollection

Merv Kroll

Some blokes usually have a quite place where they can escape from the usual grind of life, and it could be a garage, a room somewhere in the house or a small shed out in the backyard.

Merv Kroll, from Morayfield Qld, has found the right place for pursuing his interests of collecting old cars and motorcycles. But when you view his website and see the huge number of collectables on display - the mind boggles, and one can only imagine what sort of shed Merv would have to house his treasures - it’d have to be the size of an aircraft hanger.

He has carefully restored veteran cars and motorbikes manufactured prior to 1918; vintage cars (1919-1930) and post vintage vehicles - 1931 or later. The website informs us that Merv’s collection represents real examples of early advances in motoring and includes: petrol; electric or steam. The vehicle’s steering can be either a steering wheel, a centre tiller or post steering.

But his main interests are early one and two cylinder cars, and he takes pride in showing them off at various shows in Australia and overseas. You can find Merv’s unique collection of cars on - it’s well worth the visit.

Are there any other members out there with similar interests?

Article supplied by the RAAF Association

DVA Allowances

Last Post

The following member has past away.

  • Lawrence Mark Harford (Mick), Passed away on 6th Oct 2008. *See article in newsletter.
Editors Say!

Quote of the Month - Minds are like parachutes, they only function when they’re open. - Sir James Dewar

Wot’s in a name? Drogué - The word drogué has been used to describe sea anchors, small chutes, cone-shaped devices on spacecraft, etc. The word was derived from the French word drogué meaning drug or chemical substance.

Another use for a drogue.

Another use for a drogue.