a visit to yast, software management, searched for ncftp and it brought ncftp right to the fore, installed it for me, and i've been happily learning features since -- imagine commandline recall that works in ftp! bookmarks!
And I just figured out that it comes with an utility called ncftpget: So ncftpget ftp.vim.org . '/pub/editors/vim/patches/7.1/7.1.*' fetches all patches to the local directory in one go.
And it does it in a smart way, see the second try: ncftpget ftp.vim.org . '/pub/editors/vim/patches/7.1/7.1.*' ncftpget /pub/editors/vim/patches/7.1/7.1.*: local file appears to be the same as the remote file, download is not necessary. Perfect for running from a build script. That is what I have been looking for. One more big plus: besides for almost all sorts of Un*x, ncftp is available for Windows as well. Rgds, Stephan.