Archive for January, 2013

The Other Side of 1963

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

The London RAF Museum yesterday helped launch author Roger Annett’s new book “Borneo Boys”…

Early in 1963 a British-backed military campaign got under way, fighting to save three future South East Asian Tiger Economies from Indonesian expansionist aggression. For nearly four years, British and Commonwealth armed forces were embroiled in conflict on the island of Borneo. For the large part, this remarkable example of British military success was kept in low profile by the governments involved, however Singapore, Brunei Darussalam and Malaysia are three Commonwealth countries that the Borneo Boys’ exploits helped save in the 60’s.

Borneo’s difficult terrain and lack of adequate road networks proved to be one of the biggest challenges from a military perspective, a challenge met in great part by the mobility of the helicopter.

The helicopters worked in close support of Claret Raids – cross-border clandestine operations carried out by SAS, Paras and Gurkhas. These proved a key to success and the Malaysian Federation came into being 15 September 1963 (though the conflict lasted until 17 August 1966).

What makes this story even more remarkable is that the RAF helicopter pilots were in their early 20’s and low in number. There were 16,000 British & Commonwealth troops at the peak, serviced by no more than 75 helicopters (by comparison, in Vietnam the Americans and their Allies had close on 3,000).


This unique part of British military history is now uncovered in a new book written by one of its Veterans and featuring contributions from a range of participants. Published by Pen & Sword Books Limited at £25 rrp, it has 300 pages and over 110 illustrations, most in colour.

The book is focused on the new breed of RAF helicopter pilots, recruited straight from the sixth form to officer and pilot training, and sent on their first flying-tour to the action in Borneo – called upon to fly over the confusion of jungle warfare, far away from home. The reader will share their daily adventures, learning trajectories and camaraderie and how, thrown in at the deep end, the ‘Borneo Boys’ quickly became men.

All the excitement of the aviator’s adrenaline ride is translated into elegant prose, strengthened by the kind of confident delivery achievable only by a man who was himself involved in the action. A fascinating book for those with a passion for helicopter flying and general aviation alike.

When asked about his motivation for writing the book, Roger told Airscene “In the summer of 2010 I was giving a presentation to the helicopter crews of RAF Benson on the Borneo Campaign, based on my 2006 book on the air-supply.

As I usually do, I asked whether anyone in the room had heard of the campaign, Indonesian Confrontation having been such a low-profile, clandestine affair. To my surprise, two chaps of about my age in the front row raised their hands – they not only knew about it but also served in it, as very youthful Whirlwind pilots.

It turned out that they were currently holding down jobs as instructors on the rotary simulators at Benson. That made close on 50 years in rotary aviation, and counting! With that angle, the book just had to be written. They, and their ‘Old Rotor’ colleagues came forward with all the material an author could ask for.”

Roger Annett served in the RAF between 1959 – 1967, including two and a half years on supply-dropping action in Borneo. Borneo Boys is available now at Pen & Sword Books: (priced at £20)

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The Royal Air Force Museum 2013

Monday, January 14th, 2013

In 2013 the FREE to enter Museum will be unveiling an exciting range of new exhibitions and events, some of which include:

Airfix Birthday Parties:

The Museum has introduced an exciting new Airfix themed birthday party package for children. Each booking will include model kit for each child to take and make at home; lunch or afternoon tea in Wings restaurant; storage availability for birthday cake; goody bag for each child with activity trail and extra gift for the birthday boy or girl

For more details contact: / 020 8358 4849

Fresh Air – a new perspective on aviation art: January to May

Over the last decade David Bent’s modern and distinctive style of aviation art has won a plethora of devoted fans including the Red Arrows, with whom he has collaborated as Artist in Residence. Big, bold and captivating – whether wittily subverting the destructive power of nuclear arms race, celebrating the sheer joy of pilots in flight or enticing the viewer to work out the hidden imagery contained within his works – David Bent’s style is considered by many to be a breath of fresh air for aviation art.

RAF Photographer Exhibition: 13 Jan-30 April

In conjunction with RAF and Ministry of Defence, this is an exciting display of winning photos from currently serving men and women in the RAF. The exhibition as a dynamic birds eye view from inside the RAF.

The Royal Air Force in ‘RAF in Oman’ Exhibition: 1 May-30 September

Celebrating and highlighting the RAF’s achievements in Oman. The exhibition will include first-hand accounts, documents, uniforms and equipment detailing the long standing relationship.

Airfix exhibition: From June 2013:

The Royal Air Force Museum London will be launching in summer 2013, a signature exhibition commemorating and celebrating the national institution that is Airfix. This exhibition will chart the history of this Great British Institution by displaying original Box Art as well as Airfix’s most popular models from the 50s, 60s and 70s in the Museum’s Art Gallery.

Dambusters 70th Anniversary Exhibition: From May

The Museum has a dedicated exhibition area featuring a specially made film, a recreation of the Barnes Wallis office and a life size bouncing bomb. It will also be displaying items from its archives such as Guy Gibson’s DFC and log book. Other commemorative events will include a concert underneath the Lancaster, a 4D Dambuster experience, special podcasts and a model show (see website for full listing).

Family weekend: 13-14 July

An outdoor weekend of fun packed activity and entertainment. One for all the family, the weekend will include outdoor re-enactments, bouncy castle and fairground rides for kids, dance lessons, gym drill, face painting, DJ skills, nail painting and much more. Outdoor activities will include bouncy castle, fairground rides, American Civil War battle re-enactors, Bollywood dance classes,

World War I in 100 Objects: Vote now online for the exhibition in September

Curators from the Royal Air Force Museum have selected 100 artefacts from its rich and diverse First World War collection. Each object is specifically selected to tell a story about the experiences of those men and women, at home and overseas, who lived, fought, worked & died during this cataclysmic period. You are invited to tell us which objects and their stories you find the most inspiring.

Battle of Britain Weekend: 14-15 September

The Museum celebrates our finest hour with film screenings, outdoor re-enactments, temporary exhibitions, special tours and military vehicles.

Black History Month: 1st -31 Oct

The Museum celebrates the Afro-Caribbean contribution to the RAF – the first service to instigate an equal ops policy. Beginning with WWI through to WWII and The Cold War to currently serving members, the exhibition will include personal recollections, photos and more.

Call 020 8205 2266 or visit

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