Whilst serving at RAF Kuching in 1964 - one of my duties was to receive, store and distribute parachutes to No 3AASO RCT detachment based adjacent to me. Their direct advice on the handling of these items was necessary to ensure their correct function in use. As a result of this I was invited to take part in an operation to deliver food and supplies to Gurkha patrols operating in the interior of Sarawak. My introduction to this trip was to observe a number of live chickens awaiting airlift - attached to the makeshift air terminal by parachute cord and painted different colours by unit for which they were destined.
When the departure time came, they were put in crates for loading. On arrival at the dz, the Hastings aircraft had to fly at low level to avoid ground fire, help the accuracy of the drop and avoid the supplies being lost or delivered to the other side!. The parachutes used were water soluble if dropped into a river. Both myself and the young army men taking part - were secured in the aircraft by a single waist strap each. It is at this point that I must express my admiration for the flying skills of the RAF crew, sometimes flying so close to the ground almost on a wing tip - to allow the army dispatcher to launch himself (cool as you like and with the help of his oppos holding his ankles) halfway out of the aircraft to talk down the drop to the pilot with the rest of us holding on for life. At the same time the Ghurkas on the ground had to recover their supplies and vacate the area quickly. I was very pleased to have met some of the air despatch men very briefly on Swindon station a year. I hope that this gives some idea of the shared experience that binds us together.