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Wings Over Wick Index

Wings Over Wick
1939 - 1945
Airfield And Aircraft Defence

Colin Campbell, Haywards Heath, West Sussex
I joined the Royal Air Force on May 10, 1940 at Uxbridge in Middlesex. After training at Uxbridge and Shropshire, I was posted to Wick arriving at about six o'clock on a damp foggy evening.  My first memory of Wick was hearing the Noss Head foghorn. I was put into a civilian billet as our huts on the aerodrome were not quite ready. I went to Mr and Mrs Milne at 8 Breadalbane Crescent. It was now June 1940.

The aerodrome was in its infancy. The big hangers had been built. It was not long before our huts were ready, so I had to move out of my comfortable bed and move into Hut 15 on the aerodrome. I was put, with others, on aerodrome defence, manning Lewis guns, and Browning guns, as at that time things were rather serious, I think they were expecting the Germans to invade from Norway. As it happens they didn't come, so I am still alive to tell the tale. I used to be on a gun post, which stood on the corner of the old road to Noss Head and the road down to Staxigoe.

We had one or two crashes on the drome.  A Beaufort pilot who had probably sunk a vessel was going around the drome with his port wing only a dozen or so feet from the ground when suddenly the aircraft side slipped and over and over he went. I was watching. Anyway it smashed the aircraft to pieces, but luckily the crew all stepped out shaken, but unhurt.

We had a few air attacks. Mainly hit and run raiders. One raid came one evening. Two mates and myself had been to the cinema (The Pavilion). We heard the aircraft coming, looked around, saw these three large aeroplanes coming up behind us, with navigation lights on. "The Beauforts are back", said my pal. I said, "They're not Beauforts".  Just then this string of little lights left the aircraft. It wasn't until the bullets hit the wall of one of the bungalows that we realised what was going on. Luckily they didn't hit us. They were three Heinkel III's. They bombed the torpedo dump, but luckily none went off. They hit the Sergeant's mess hall but I don't think anyone was hurt.

As airmen we used to go to the cinema, at either the Pavilion or the Breadalbane cinema.  The Boys Brigade hut, up behind the Pavilion was always open to us for a cup of tea and a bun. We also used to use the Mission to Seaman's hut down by the harbour, for a welcome cup of tea and a nice friendly atmosphere. We also used to use Houston's pie and chip shop, which was at the bottom of a flight of steps, leading to the drome. There were no public houses in Wick then. The only beer on sale was in our NAAFI on the camp. NAAFI stands for "Navy, Army and Air Force Institute". There was a photographer in the little square by the post office.  His name was Johnstone. I think that most of the lads had their photo taken in his studio, as cameras were quite scarce then. I still have the one of me, taken in his studio. At the beginning of 1942, I was posted away from Wick and eventually ended up in Burma for four years.