Memorial to station’s past

Pictured at the unveiling are (from left) Ron Harper, formerly of RAF V Bomber Force; Gordon Millar, formerly of the Royal Observer Corps, Heritage trust chairman Alan Doe, Kenneth Bannerman, heritage centre treasurer Bob Sutherland and Rev Ian McLean.'Contributed photo
Pictured at the unveiling are (from left) Ron Harper, formerly of RAF V Bomber Force; Gordon Millar, formerly of the Royal Observer Corps, Heritage trust chairman Alan Doe, Kenneth Bannerman, heritage centre treasurer Bob Sutherland and Rev Ian McLean.'Contributed photo

A MEMORIAL commemorating the part RAF Montrose and its personnel played in two world wars was unveiled at the former air station on Saturday.

The granite monument was placed there by the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust (ABCT) to ensure the significance of the base, and the people who served there, is never forgotten.

One of Britain’s most historic and best preserved disused airfields, the station was established in 1913 and in 1915 became a major First World War airfield for flying instruction. Used initially by No. 2 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), it later housed a number of other squadrons, including some bound for Canada and was the base for such aircraft as the Avro 504, Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a and the Sopwith Camel.

The station was vacated in 1920, but reopened for further military duties in 1936 and was again used as a flying training school and later, from 1942, a flying instructors’ school. Because of its strategic position, various Fighter Command Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire squadron detachments were based there in the first half of World War Two and Montrose suffered considerable fatalities and damage during the Battle of Britain.

After the war the base finally passed out of RAF to War Office control. Many airfield buildings, including exceptionally rare pre World War One hangars, remain extremely prominent and now form part of Broomfield Industrial Estate.

Its remaining buildings are now cared for by the Montrose Air Station Heritage Trust and house a comprehensive collection relating to the RFC, RAF and the development of the base itself.

The memorial was unveiled by ABCT founder Kenneth Bannerman, who delivered a detailed talk about the airfield’s history from 1913 to when it was finally closed in 1952, and dedicated by Rev Ian McLean, minister of Montrose Old and St Andrew’s Church.

Mr Bannerman said: “Former wartime airfields are every bit as part of our heritage as castles and stately homes. The airmen and women stationed there were crucial in securing the freedom we have today.

“We are delighted, therefore, to be providing a lasting tribute at Montrose Airfield for present and future generations.”

A precisely timed fly-past by Tayside Aviation rounded off the occasion.

Heritage Trust member Graham Philip said: “The work that has gone into the granite monument to commemorate the airfield and all units and personnel that served at Montrose is quite remarkable.

“This exercise today brings into the public domain the importance that our airfields have had in the past and in fact even now providing employment for local people.”