I am interested in finding out about an old Airbase I live close to, but cannot seem to find very much information about. It is RAF Wigtown in South West Scotland, and I was hoping that someone might be able to either tell me where I could find out more information, be it photos etc. or if someone even has some of their own I could see (photocopies etc.). I am particularly interested in photos from the 40s when it was actually in operation. The airfield opened in 1941 as a training school, and hosted No 1 Air Observers School from September 13, 1941, to February 1, 1942. Apparently there were Lancaster Bombers there on August 27th 1944, who were running out of fuel with only 45mins left and Wigtown was the only place they could land. If anyone has more info about this event it would be great to hear the stories!
raf wigton as you probably know was used for mainly training bombing /gunners / observers .It was also unfortunetly an airfield known for it being accident prone at least 23 airmen from australia canada east europe as well as british pilots are buried in the graveyard at nearby kirkinner . the incident you mentioned happened on the 27 aug 1944 when ten of 13 lancasters from 463 royal australian air force who had left waddington to bomb konigsberg [east prussia] 3 had returned right away with mechanical problems . their target had been lit up by a pathfinder . due to weather conditions the lancasters were diverted to wigton . the only aircraft that did not return was sadly the pathfinder who was shot down over denmark with only 2 survivors .
Thank you very much killiefc for the information, I didn't know that so will have to follow it up. Wasn't sure if I'd get any response so am very pleased with what you've told me. I know the airfield really well, still a few buildings left to explore but most are long gone. The control tower, decomtamination unit and headquarters bunker is still there i have been told that was it was
RAF Wigtown as my parents knew it in 1941 was a young new station. Dad arrived there from Canada the hard way. Wanting to get into the RCAF officer program and become a pilot, he could not without a university degree in 1939. Instead, he joined the Non Permanent Active Militia, an organization of volunteer soldiers where he road a motorcycle as a dispatch rider prewar. When war was declared, the NPAM was mobilized into the Signal Corps of the Canadian Army and Dad was shipped overseas to Camp Aldershot in England, via Scotland, by ship in January, 1940 as part of the first contingent of the Canadian Armed Service Force. He was driving a company supply lorry, doing some dispatch riding and still trying to get a transfer into the RCAF. The RAF needed pilots urgently by the end of 1940 and eventually came to accept that they needed to go outside of the British Isles to find pilot material. Dad's letters to the RCAF were turned over to the RCAF and the next thing you knew was that he was a pilot arriving at RAF Wigtown in August 1941 before his planes even got there.
The first WAAF at RAF Wigtown was Paddy Leonard, a veteran of the bombings of RAF Biggin Hill during the Battle of Britain. Cited for her bravery under conditions that literally destroyed every building on site at RAF Biggin Hill and killed many on the ground, she was recommended for special duties as an officer in late 1940 and trained as a cipher officer. Her first day on the job at RAF Wigtown was her first day as the only WAAF on the station. It was also the day she met the pilot, John McKinley Carswell, her husband to be for some 63 years. Born in London she did not expect to meet the love of her life in Scotland and end up having two sons in England during 1943 and 1944 then moving to Canada in 1945 but it all happened. A veteran of WWII she was in the WAAF as an AC2 working the plotting tables at RAF Biggin Hill after she joined up in April 1940 and she was the officer in charge of a 250-WAAF contingent at RAF Wigtown upon her resignation at the end of November 1942 after 2-1/2 years of service.
John Carswell was a pilot of Lysanders and Ansons at RAF Wigtown, a flight commander at one point, a qualified navigator and a navigations instructor. At one point he also ran the parachute folding operations as part of his jobs. He also helped the mountain rescue teams at time by riding a motorcycle in search of downed pilots. Dad went on to become part of the navigator selection board in Harrogate, volunteered for short active duty as a copilot on a Lancaster bomber out of Woodhall Spa in Lincolnshire, dropped mines over Poland into Gdansk Harbour and bombs at 1500 feet into a ballbearing factory or assembly plant in the heart of Germany while under heavy flak. Returning to Harrogate, he was assigned to the RAF pilot selection board until the RCAF came calling and requested his services.
Resigning his commission as Flight Lieutenant in the RAF he accepted a commission as a pilot officer in the RCAF, only to be promoted to the rank of Flight Lieutenant in the RCAF the very same day. Sent back to Canada in June 1944, he went on a brief assignment to Nova Scotia and then to RAF Trenton, Ontario. His final assignment was as Station Adjutant (commanding) of No. 10 Early Flying Training School at Pendleton, Ontario for the duration of the war. It was my first though brief home in Canada. After one month shy of 6 years of war service, Dad resigned from the RCAF completing a most unique tour of duty during the war.
His goal of flying for the RCAF never happened as he was grounded on return to Canada due to his eyesight. For that reason he could not be returned to England and his young family. I was 5 months old when we finally arrived in Canada in 1945. By 1946 we were settled in Montreal and a new life had begun.
My mother was stationed there in the WAAF during the war, working in the stores and packing parachutes. She did have some photos but I don't know what happened to them when she died. One thing I remember her saying was that they used tom moan that Italian prisoners from a nearby POW camp had more freedom than they had, being allowed to come and go as they pleased.
G'day. Some interesting reading here. I have been scouring the net trying to find information on RAF Wigtown and also Jerby, Isle of Man. My Grandfather and Grandmother were stationed there during the war. She was WAAF and he was RNZAF. He trained in Canada (like alot of Kiwi's and Aussies). They met then eloped in Scotland and she moved back to NZ with him after the war. He died when I was very young and I have been trying to piece together his war time exploits. I was wondering if anyone had any info on him, Flight Sergeant John (Jack) Bedingfield, RNZAF.