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RAF Findo Gask

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Control tower, 2009, AllanKnaik
Control tower
© AllanKnaik

George stated RAF Findo Gask was a World War II airfield located at Claythorne, about six miles (10 km) west of Perth, and in use from June 14, 1941, to September 12, 1948. Following the end of the war, the accommodation was used to house German PoWs, when it was designated Camp 223.

The airfield was commissioned in 1941 and has been described as originally being intended to be a satellite to RAF Edzell - 25 Satellite Landing Ground for 44 Maintenance Unit based at Edzell in Tayside. Further reports have described Findo Gask as a Satellite Landing Ground (SLG) intended to store surplus aircraft, however this is probably a misuse of the term. True SLGs were intended to be secret and hidden, with even windsocks being forbidden in case they betrayed the position of the site. A survey of the Findo Gask site found that it contained some 66 identifiable features, including a large T2 aircraft hangar, a three storey control tower, numerous blast shelters, various huts, pyrotechnics store, electrical sub-station, radio broadcasting house, numerous hard standings, a perimeter track, and an accommodation camp to the south in Mayfield Wood. These features could not practically have been hidden from enemy aerial surveillance, so it seems fair to assume the airfield operated not as an SLG, but simply as a satellite airfield, providing a planned alternative to other sites when they were busy.

The airfield has also been found to have been provided with a Battle HQ, which would have provided control of forces and defences intended to deny the use of the airfield to an invader, a further sign the Findo Gask was an operational airfield rather than an SLG.

RAF aerial photographs taken in 1943 showed the airfield with three grass runways, T2 and blister hangars, technical area, dispersal areas, and accommodation camp visible. Later reports identify the remains of a pumping station to the southeast, on the north shore of Pitcarnie Loch. Described as a brick building with an asbestos roof, with a concrete floor and metal framed windows, containing machinery plinths. There is a possible electricity substation nearby, and the records are unsure as to whether or this installation was associated with the loch, or was used to supply water to the airfield and camp.

The airfield was used for training by Polish squadrons. From June 14, 1941, to March 6, 1943, 309 Squadron (Polish) operated there with Lysanders. Then, from March 28, 1943, to September 12, 1944, the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) operated the field as a satellite to No 9 Pilot Advanced Flying Unit (PAFU) at RAF Errol flying the Master.

In 1944, all training functions moved to Tealing airfield, and the site was utilised for a period by the Polish Army. After the war ended, the accommodation was used to house German PoWs who were working on the surrounding land, and thereafter by a maintenance unit, 260 MU, for storage until 1948.

One consistent comment recorded in reports regarding the field was that it suffered poor draining, with the runways becoming waterlogged and muddy. The grass runways were constructed using Sommerfeld steel tracking, which used steel mesh pinned to the ground and reinforced with steel bars, but continued flooding led to the eventual abandonment of the airfield, which was proved to be too short for the Mustang.

The fate of the airfield was covered in a question recorded in Hansard, from July 1946:

FINDO-GASK AIRFIELD.

THE EARL OF MANSFIELD

asked His Majesty's Government, if they are now in a position to state the future of the aerodrome at Findo-Gask, Perthshire, both as regards the buildings, and the arable land.

LORD WESTWOOD

This airfield is no longer required by the Royal Air Force. The final disposal of the land has not yet been decided but meanwhile it has been made available for unrestricted agricultural use. The buildings will be needed for some time for housing German prisoners who will be working on the land.

- Page retrieved: HL Deb 31 July 1946 vol 142 c1234WA 1234WA[1]

Development

Although various buildings associated with the field were once visible, over 60 features were recorded on the site, these were largely lost to development of the land during the early 2000s, leaving only the control tower and battle HQ, which were reported as the only remains seen during a visit made to the site in October 2003.

The former area of the airfield building is now occupied by luxury villas, and reports have circulated through various web sites that the tower had been demolished in 2006, however these have proven to be in error, and the tower still stood when checked in 2009.

In July 2011, refurbishment of the tower was reported, prior to its reuse as a domestic dwelling.[2]

When the site was visited in August 2012 the Battle HQ was still present but had been sealed off to prevent entry. The tower is in the process of conversion to a private dwelling but shows no signs of progress since previous visit in March.

References

1 Page retrieved: HL Deb 31 July 1946 vol 142 c1234WA 1234WA

2 Perth and Kinross, planning applications, April 2006. Retrieved August 07, 2011.

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