UK — Last RAF convoy comes home following Libya operations

The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Mar­shal Sir Stephen Dal­ton, has wel­comed home the final RAF vehi­cle con­voy from Italy fol­low­ing the end of UK oper­a­tions over Libya.

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2 Mechan­i­cal Trans­port Squadron’s 12 vehi­cle con­voy recov­ered mil­i­tary vehi­cles, jet parts, and unused sup­plies from Gioia del Colle [Pic­ture: Senior Air­craft­man Adam Fletch­er, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

Sir Stephen met per­son­nel from No 2 Mechan­i­cal Trans­port Squadron (2 MTS) as they arrived back at their base in RAF Wit­ter­ing, Cam­bridgeshire. He chat­ted with the dri­vers and got a first-hand account of the chal­lenges they faced.

Dur­ing the two-hour vis­it, Sir Stephen took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to dri­ve an Oshkosh Close Sup­port Tanker (adorned with a 4-star plate), before vis­it­ing the 2 MTS Oper­a­tions Room, No 5001 Squadron’s Sta­tion Engi­neer­ing Flight and No 3 Mobile Cater­ing Squadron.

Dur­ing Op ELLAMY, the UK oper­a­tion over Libya, 2 MTS’s vehi­cles drove 1,169,986 miles (1,882,910km); which is equiv­a­lent to trav­el­ling around the equa­tor more than 47 times, and car­ried 8,540 tonnes of freight — the equiv­a­lent of 813 Her­cules air­craft loads.

2 MTS suf­fered the only oper­a­tional fatal­i­ty of the Oper­a­tion, with the sad loss of Senior Air­craft­man James Smart, who was involved in a Road Traf­fic Acci­dent as his con­voy was tran­sit­ing through south­ern Italy.

Address­ing per­son­nel, Sir Stephen said:

“I think there’s no ques­tion that, with­out the sup­port units here, whether it be 2 MT, the hangar erec­tors, the peo­ple who keep every­thing going, and those who keep us fed in var­i­ous parts of the world recent­ly, we would not have been able to be as effec­tive as we have been.”

For Sergeant Wayne Mer­rix, this con­voy was his last before leav­ing the RAF. His final trip retraced the steps of his first jour­ney with the Squadron more than a decade ago:

“My first encounter with the Squadron was 12 years ago when I trav­elled down with them to Gioia del Colle, and my last trip with 2 MT was to the same des­ti­na­tion,” he said.

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Air Chief Mar­shal Sir Stephen Dal­ton, Chief of the Air Staff, talk­ing to Sergeant Wayne Mer­rix RAF of No 2 Mechan­i­cal Trans­port Squadron [Pic­ture: Senior Air­craft­man Adam Fletch­er, Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The jour­neys to and from south­ern Italy fer­ried car­goes vary­ing from to explo­sive ord­nance to air­craft wheels:

“It’s quite a lone­ly trip, four days there, four days back,” said Sgt Mer­rix. “It’s a chal­lenge to do 4,000 miles [6,437km] on your own and main­tain the lev­el of con­cen­tra­tions you have to apply. We do stop reg­u­lar­ly, but on the con­ti­nent it can be dif­fi­cult some­times to find some­where to park 10 trucks overnight.”

Group Cap­tain Richard Hill, Sta­tion Com­man­der at RAF Wit­ter­ing, sum­marised the per­for­mance of his per­son­nel:

“Op ELLAMY rep­re­sent­ed the first time for many years that the RAF has under­tak­en an expe­di­tionary oper­a­tion. The role played by units and per­son­nel from the sta­tion was cru­cial in deliv­er­ing, at pace and over extend­ed lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, many of the logis­tics and sup­port­ing ser­vices nec­es­sary to enable the oper­a­tion.

“I am extreme­ly proud of the con­tri­bu­tion that these per­son­nel have made, and delight­ed that the Chief of the Air Staff took the time and trou­ble to vis­it RAF Wit­ter­ing and pass on his per­son­al appre­ci­a­tion to a cross-sec­tion of the per­son­nel who had been involved.

“Op ELLAMY has again high­light­ed the impor­tance of logis­tic sup­port and under­lined the role of the RAF’s logis­tics per­son­nel on deployed oper­a­tions.

“We will con­tin­ue to refine the lev­el and types of sup­port we pro­vide, and con­tin­ue to develop/enhance the work­ing rela­tion­ship we have with Head­quar­ters Air Com­mand, and the Expe­di­tionary Air Wings, such that we are able to meet what­ev­er chal­lenges may arise in the future.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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