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East Fortune Personnel 1.4.1918

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I change passwords, usernames, computers, locations, jobs and still problems - maybe I need 5 stars ?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jun 2015 at 09:54
8.1916      East Fortune opened as an airship station (also used as a base for Home Defence detachments)

1.1917      F Squadron RNAS (Sopwith 1 ½ Strutters) based at East Fortune from HMS Furious. This was while Furious was in dock at Newcastle being fitted with an aft landing deck. Aircraft were temporarily stationed at East Fortune as there was no room to accommodate them at Grain. Pups may have been based at East Fortune also. WG Moore flew an aircraft, presumably a Pup, through one of the airship hangars while he was there.

6.1918      208 TDS formed at East Fortune
1.7.1918      HQ No 22 (Operations) Group formed at East Fortune, controlling 78 (Operations) Wing and stations at Auldbar, Chathill (airships), Dundee, East Fortune, Kirkwall/Orkney, Longside (airships), Luce Bay, Machrihanish, Peterhead, Strathberg
3.7.1918      Torpedo Aeroplane School opened at East Fortune
19.7.1918      Grand Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery formed from 208 TDS at East Fortune
7.1918      HQ No 22 (Operations) Group moved to Station Hotel, Stirling
7.1918      208 TDS left East Fortune for Leuchars
14.8.1918      Torpedo Aeroplane School renamed 201 TDS
21.8.1918      185 Squadron RAF formed at East Fortune from 31 Training Depot Station, 33 TDS, 39 TDS and 49 TDS for service on HMS Argus
10.11.1918      Grand Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery left East Fortune for Leuchars
11.1918      185 Squadron RAF, at East Fortune, equipped with Sopwith Cuckoo

9.4.1919      185 Squadron RAF reduced to cadre, losing aircraft
14.4.1919      185 Squadron RAF disbanded.
30.4.1919      201 TDS renamed Torpedo Training Squadron
5.1919      No 22 (Operations) Group disbanded

1920           Torpedo Training Squadron disbanded
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208 (Temporary) Training Depot Station was formed at East Fortune in June 1918 as the Fleet Torpedo Pilot Finishing School.

On 19 July 1918 208 TDS was divided to form the Fleet Aerial Gunnery School and No.1 Torpedo Training School. The Grand Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery was formed at the same time.   
The Grand Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery absorbed the Fleet Aerial Gunnery School and was moved to Leuchars on 10/19 November 1918. The ‘Grand’ was dropped from the title some afterwards and the unit reformed on 18 March 1920 to become RAF Base, Leuchars.
Unit     Aircraft     Serial     Notes
     Sopwith Pup     9917     Beardmore built
     Sopwith Pup     9918     Beardmore built
     Sopwith Pup     9919     Beardmore built
     Sopwith Pup     9920     Beardmore built
     Sopwith Pup     N6448     
     Sopwith Pup     N6449     
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     AirCo DH4          
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     AirCo DH5          
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     RAF SE 5a          
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     Sopwith Dolphin           
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     Sopwith Pup      B2211     
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter      B2597     
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     Sopwith Pup     C283     
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery      Avro 504A      D1616     
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     Avro 504K      E3001     
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     Sopwith Camel     E4415     
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     Sopwith Snipe     E6864     
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     AirCo DH9a      E8941     
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     Sopwith Camel     F4211     
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     Bristol F2B Fighter      F4322     
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     Avro 504K      H2296     
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     Bristol Scout D      N5400     
(Grand) Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery     Sopwith Snipe     E6896     
1 Torpedo Training Squadron     Bristol F2B Fighter     F8937     
1 Torpedo Training Squadron     Short Shirl     N111     
1 Torpedo Training Squadron     Sopwith Cuckoo      N7001     
185 Squadron     Sopwith Cuckoo 11     N6997     
185 Squadron     Sopwith Cuckoo 1      N7152     
186 (Development) Squadron     Sopwith Cuckoo 1      N6927     
186 (Development) Squadron     Sopwith Cuckoo     N8011     
201 Training Depot Station     Bristol F2B Fighter
     B8942     
201 Training Depot Station     Sopwith Cuckoo
     N6930     
208 (Temporary) Training Depot Station     Sopwith Camel      B7177     
208 (Temporary) Training Depot Station     Bristol M1C Monoplane      C4964     
208 (Temporary) Training Depot Station     Avro 504J      D163     
208 (Temporary) Training Depot Station     Sopwith Pup     D4028     
208 (Temporary) Training Depot Station     Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter      N5612     
208 (Temporary) Training Depot Station     Beardmore WBIII      N6688     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     9946     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     B1825     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     B2211     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     C211     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     C220     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     C223     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     C226     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     C239     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     C283     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     C286     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     C289     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     C292     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     D4034     
208 TDS     Sopwith SB.3D     N6103     
208 TDS     Sopwith SB.3D     N6122     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     N6205     
208 TDS     Sopwith Pup     N6443     
208 TDS     Sopwith SB.3D     N6688     
208 TDS     Sopwith SB.3D     N6699     
Grand Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery (Leuchars)     Sopwith Pup     D4027     
Grand Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery (Leuchars)     Sopwith Pup     D4028     
Grand Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery (Leuchars)     Sopwith Pup     D4034     
HMS Manxman (via East Fortune)     Sopwith Pup     9913     
HMS Manxman (via East Fortune)     Sopwith Pup     9914     
HMS Manxman (via East Fortune)     Sopwith Pup     9943     
HMS Manxman (via East Fortune)     Sopwith Pup     9944     
HMS Manxman (via East Fortune)     Sopwith Pup     9945     
HMS Manxman (via East Fortune)     Sopwith Pup     N6430     
HMS Manxman (via East Fortune)     Sopwith Pup     N6431     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     9915     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     9940     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     9943     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     9946     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     9948     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     B1822     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     B1823     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     C211     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     C214     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     C217     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     C220     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     C223     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     C226     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     C283     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     C286     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     C289     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     C292     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith SB.3D     H6122     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     N6025     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith SB.3D     N6103     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith SB.3D     N6127     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     N6451     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     N6453     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith Pup     N6478     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith SB.3D     N6688     
Naval Flying School     Sopwith SB.3D     N6699     
No1 Torpedo Training School/ 201TDS     Short Shirl          
No1 Torpedo Training School/ 201TDS     Bristol F2B Fighter      B8937     
No1 Torpedo Training School/ 201TDS     Sopwith Cuckoo      N7001     
Torpedo Aeroplane School     Short 184           
Torpedo Aeroplane School     Short Shirl     N111     
Torpedo Aeroplane School     Sopwith Cuckoo     N74     
Torpedo Training School     Bristol F2B Fighter     B8942     
Torpedo Training School     Avro 504K     F7089     
Torpedo Training School     Sopwith Cuckoo     N6958     

208 Training Depot Station provided the cadre for No1 Torpedo Training School also. This was founded at East Fortune on 19 July 1918 and redesignated 201 TDS on 14 August 1918.

On 30 April 1919 201 TDS was designated as the Torpedo Training School.

185 Squadron was formed 21 October 1918 at East Fortune from elements of 31, 33, 39 and 49 TDS. Disbanded 14 April 1919 at East Fortune.

In late 1918 (cSeptember) AH Sandwell took a seaplane Flight from Dundee to Loch Strathberg near Peterhead. A couple of months later he was posted to East Fortune to take over a Flight of Sopwith Cuckoos. The Armistice stopped all torpedo trials and so Sandwell was unofficially attached to the mess of the airship officers at East Fortune who, he recalled, remained part of the Navy.

Torpedo Aeroplane School formed 3 July 1918 at East Fortune. Disbanded on 14 August 1918 at East Fortune and merged with 1 Torpedo Training School to form 201 TDS.

1 Torpedo Training Squadron had been formed at Leuchars by redesignating 208 (Temporary) TDS on 19 July 1918. Disbanded 14 August 1918 at Leuchars to be merged with the Torpedo Training School to form 201 TDS. 201 TDS disbanded 30 April 1919 at East Fortune to become the Torpedo Training School.

186 (Development) Squadron, later renamed 186 Squadron, was formed on 31 December 1918 aboard HMS Argus by merging the Development Squadron Gosport with elements of 185 Squadron. Disbanded 1 February 1920 at Gosport, renumbered to become 210 Squadron.

Development Squadron Gosport had been formed on 17 August 1918.
Aircraft :
Blackburd N115
Cuckoo 1 N6996
Cuckoo 11 N6926
Bristol F2B Fighter C820
DH4
DH9 E888
504J B3155
504K E3808
   
Argus Flight formed 7 October 1918 at Turnhouse before embarking on Argus on 19 October 1918. Aircraft :
Camel N58130
Panther N7452
Fairey IIIB N2257
Fairey IIID N9456
Also involved in trails with Argus :
Strutter
Pup
DH9 H3451
Seagull
Nighthawk H8535
Puffin
Fairey IIIB N2259
Viking
Walrus
Sparrowhawk
Nightjar H8540
Cuckoo N6977
Bison
Snipe E6611
Flycatcher N163
Plover N160
Dart N9540
Blackburn N9590
504N J8539
Disbanded 1 April 1923 aboard Argus

The Naval Flying School was set up in July 1917 to instruct in carrier landing techniques for pilots. One of the units attached to this school was ‘F’ Squadron, intended for embrakation on HMS Furious.

208 TDS was formed by June 1918 (possibly on 1 April 1918) from the Naval Flying School at East Fortune, equipped with Sopwith Pups. On 19 July 1918 208 TDS was redesignated the Grand Fleet School of Aerial Fighting and Gunnery. On 10 November 1918 the latter uinit moved to Leuchars, where it used Sopwith Pups until at least July 1919.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Jun 2015 at 09:59
The outbreak of war in August 1914 found the Royal Navy largely unprepared to protect merchant shipping from German U-boats. The problem was exacerbated in February 1915 when the Kaiser ordered that every merchant ship encountered in the war zone around the British Isles should be sunk on sight. This was in contravention of the International Maritime Laws which decreed that merchant ships should be boarded, their cargo confirmed as being prohibited and destined for an enemy, and the safety of the crew of the merchant ship was the responsibility of the warship. These rules mitigated against U-boat commanders as they demanded that the submarines were on the surface for a considerable period in an area patrolled by Royal Navy surface vessels, and the physical size of the U-boats prevented the safe accommodation of merchant crews. Although operating only a small number of U-boats, the Kaiser’s decision to initiate ‘unrestricted submarine warfare’ resulted in the loss of over one hundred thousand tons of merchant shipping per month from May 1915. Such losses were unacceptable for Britain, a nation dependent on sea trade.

One way to limit the effectiveness of the U-boats was to use their main strength against them. Being submerged provides useful protection but it also severely limits the ability of the submarine commander to locate potential targets. Furthermore, the early submarines were actually submersibles: ships that were capable of operating submerged for a finite length of time only. Such ships have to return to the surface regularly to replenish the air inside the submarine and to recharge the batteries necessary for powering the electric motors used while submerged. Furthermore, a submerged U-boat is restricted to using torpedoes to sink ships. The small number of torpedoes carried limits the U-boats’ effectiveness. The ability to surface and use a deck gun to sink merchantmen is much more cost effective.

The use of aircraft can be significant in three ways. Firstly, aircraft provide a useful platform for observers, which can both warn merchant shipping of approaching U-boats and direct Royal Navy warships towards the threat. Secondly, aircraft can be armed to attack he U-boats themselves. Thirdly, aircraft are visible to observers on surfaced U-boats at a considerable distance. Thus aircraft have a definite deterrent value as the U-boat commander is forced to chose between submerging or risk attack by both the aircraft and surface warships.

The problem was that in early 1915 the Royal Naval Air Service had a mere three airships suitable for undertaking anti-submarine work. All available seaplanes had limited endurance, limited load carrying ability, were unreliable, and were unable to operate from anything other than a flat calm sea. The reality of the escort carrier was still many years in the future.

The First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Fisher, put forward an outline specification for a suitable aircraft for anti-submarine patrols. Such an aircraft had to be land based, have a speed of around 50 mph, an endurance of approximately eight hours, a crew of two, and be capable of carrying both a wireless transmitter/receiver and a useful bomb load. Given the then current ability of aeroplanes the most suitable aircraft had to be a non-rigid airship. The prototype of these SS (Submarine Scout) airships, constructed from the envelope of an obsolescent airship and the fuselage of a BE 2c aeroplane, was ready to begin trials in March 1915. Production followed shortly afterwards. Contracts were issued to companies with no previous experience of aviation work as part of an Admiralty policy to expand the manufacturing base. In this case the envelopes were made by the raincoat manufacturer (Mackintosh ?) and the BE 2c fuselage cars by a furniture company (?).

During the summer of 1915 a number of new bases were set up to accommodate the SS airships. The first of these were sited to protect the main shipping areas off the south coast and the Irish Sea. Gradually a total of nineteen new bases, and twelve camps for handling crews, were opened to protect approaches around the British Isles. One of these was the RNAS station at East Fortune.

There had been an RNAS presence at East Fortune since late 1915 when a landing ground had been marked out as a substation for RNAS Dundee. Dundee was essentially a seaplane station at this time but its aircraft had limited performance and so East Fortune was identified as an ideal location for land based aircraft capable of undertaking coastal patrols across the Firth of Forth. In early 1916 an Avro 504 was based at East Fortune on a semi-permanent basis and a marquee was hired to hangar it. Unfortunately the high winds blowing across the landing ground made this temporary structure impractical and the Avro was moved to outbuildings adjoining a large house which already accommodated the Officers’ Mess and quarters.

East Fortune was formally commissioned as an RNAS station on 23 August 1916. The specific task of the airships based there was to protect the Battle Cruiser Squadron and escorts based at Rosyth, presumably from submarine attack, and to patrol the approaches to the Forth and Tay. This work was to be undertaken in conjunction with the seaplanes based at Dundee.

In 1915 the chief function of an airship was the detection of U-boats rather than their attempted destruction. Efficiency thus depended on communication between the airship observer and the local senior naval officer, and the accurate plotting of the airship’s position. To aid this a scheme was approved in August 1915 for Marconi to build a chain of Wireless Direction Finding Stations. The airship captains were to be required to report by wireless hourly so that their exact position could be calculated by triangulation from two receivers. Some of the WDF Stations had transmitters that could report the exact position of the airship back to its captain. Sites for the initial stations to be set up on the East Coast were agreed as Peterhead, Berwick, Flamborough Head and Lowestoft. The schedule for the erection of the stations was speeded up specifically to ensure that they were operable in time for the Coastal airships to enter service.
    
Two Coastal airships arrived at East Fortune by air from Kingsnorth in August 1916. One was wrecked soon after arrival, and was replaced on 22 September. Two others arrived by rail in December.

Beatty wanted to provide the Grand Fleet with long range reconnaissance aircraft. It was possible that Coastal airships could be used in this role, particularly if towing the airships and refueling at sea could extend their range. Trials were carried out with Coastal C20 from east Fortune on 30 September 1916. These included the direction of C20 to undertake anti-submarine duties by conforming to visual signals from the Battle Cruiser Fleet flagship (Lion?). Although it was concluded that the Coastals had their limitations, it was hoped that they could be used for training and to help develop procedures that could be used when the superior North Sea and rigid airships entered service. Beatty hoped that the latter would be able to perform some of the duties then performed by light cruisers, but with less risk. It was believed that the Germans used Zeppelins in this way extensively.
See War In the Air Vol 2 P385 for Beatty quote on C20 trials.
(Previously towing trials had been carried out with Astra Torres No 3 and the steamship Princess Victoria in November 1914 and with an SSZ and the monitor Sir John Moore in September 1916. A Coastal had been used for dry land trials at Kingsnorth in March 1916, and sea trails were carried out between the Coastal C1 and the cruiser HMS Carysfort off Harwich in May. Refuelling trils had been successfully carried out at Kingsnorth, and then at sea using the light cruiser HMS Canterbury in September 1916).

The Coastals C5 and C14, both from Longside, were involved in exercises with the Light Cruiser Squadron and two destroyers from the Grand Fleet on 7 October 1916.

On 3 May 1917 C15 began towing trials with HMS Phaeton. These trails were successful at speeds up to 23 knots with the Coastal at an altitude between 200 and 300 feet. After being hauled down to 100 feet some 35 gallons of fuel were taken were on board C15 from Phaeton. The trials lasted some two and a half-hours, after which C15 slipped its tow and flew back to East Fortune. Trials were repeated on 5 June 1917 at a minimum speed of 20 knots.

Austin Bradford Hill was posted to East Fortune in the spring of 1917. He recalled that there were two aircraft pilots based there at the time. Their main task was to escort battleships down the Forth and to attack U-boats that tried to sink merchant ships off St Abb’s Head, some 20 miles from East Fortune. Hill never spotted a U-boat during his time at East Fortune. He left in June 1917.

In October 1915 three rigid airships were ordered, However, first the sheds in which to build them had to be constructed. The Government agreed to fund this, and among the sheds built was one for the Beardmore company at Innchinnan. This was to house the R24 which was not to be ready to begin flight trials until September 1917. Meanwhile, on 24 September 1916, the German Zeppelin L33 had been damaged by anti-aircraft fire and forced to land at Little Wigborough in Essex. Captured largely intact, L33 provided a great deal of information on the advanced state of airship building in Germany which indicated that airships such as R24 would be obsolete by the time it entered service. Thus a decision was made to copy the L33 to create a more up to date class of British rigid. Only two of these were built, R33 and R34. The latter was constructed by Beardmores and arrived at East Fortune after the Armistice. Nevertheless R34 was to prove itself as the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic non-stop, and the first to fly back again.

In August 1917 R9 visited and was hangared in the new shed which had been completed in April 1917. R9 had first flown on 27 November 1916, but its outdated design restricted its use to being a training airship with the specially created Rigid Airship Trial Flight based at Barrow-on-Furness. On 28 October 1917 R24 arrived direct from its makers, Beardmore’s, at Innchinnan. R24 was used for training and testing primarily. On 29 June 1918 R29 arrived from Howden.

Three airship sheds were built at East Fortune.
700’ x 80’ x 110’
320’ x 120’ x 80’
320’ x 120’ x 80’

A further six, of 175’ x 50’ x 66’, was proposed but not built.

Airship      Date     Notes
R29     1918     
SSZ     1918     
SSz     1918     
SSZ     1918     
North Sea NS     1918     
North Sea NS     1918     
Coastal Star C*      1918     
Coastal Star C*     1918     
R33     1919     
R34     1919     
SST     1919     
SST     1919     
SST     1919     
SST     1919     
North Sea NS     1919     
North Sea NS     1919     
SSZ     1919     Moored out at Chathill
SSZ     1919     Moored out at Chathill
SST     1919     Chathill
SST     1919     Chathill
          
          
          

A substation at Chathill was intended to have two sheds each of 175’x 50’ x 55’
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dealboy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Jun 2015 at 09:54
Hello
I am new to this forum and was attracted by this post on East Fortune and the list of
personnel. Does the list include other ranks? My grandfather Francis Parker No
F202358 served in the RNAS in No 1 Wing/No 1 Sqdn as an Air Mechanic from
1915 to 1917 on the Western Front. The Squadron returned to England for a rest
in December 1917 and he was then transferred to Cranwell.
When he got married in December 1918 he gave his address as East Fortune
Air Station.
I am interested to find out which section he was in while there and when he was
 posted there
Regards Geoff
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 2015 at 09:45
Unfortunately, the posted information came from the Navy List which is confined to officers and warrant officers and does not list ratings.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 2015 at 09:52
4 Scottish District
From St Abbs Head to Tors Point, including the Orkney and Shetland Islands, and the Hebrides
Borne in HMS President

At the beginning of January 1918 the post of Rear Admiral for Air (with HMS Furious as flagship) was given to Rear Admiral RF Phillimore, formerly comanding the 1st battlecruiser Squadron (flagship : HMS Repulse). Phillimore was thus responsible for all Fleet carriers and for the shore air bases at Donibristle, Rosyth, Smoogroo, Scapa Flow and (later) Turnhouse.

April 1918
Name     Rank     Notes
Hill, Marcus R     Captain     
De Sausmarez, Philip D’A     Commander     
Henslowe, Ernest     Commander (Acting Captain)     
Irvin, William D     Lieutenant Commander (Acting Commander)     
Tennyson, Sydney H     Lieutenant Commander (Acting Commander)     
Foord, Henry DG     Lieutenant Commander (Acting Commander)     
Way, Leopold GD     Lieutenant Commander     
Moore, Aubrey ED     Lieutenant Commander     
Beedle, Frank S     (Honorary) Lieutenant (Retired)     
Greenham, George H     (Honorary) Lieutenant (Retired)     
Onslow, Thomas     (Honorary) Lieutenant (Retired)     
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dealboy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 2015 at 11:28
Thanks for the prompt reply. My grandfather left a few brief notes written probably
in the 1950's and 1960's when his memory was not so good and these have
proved to be sometimes inaccurate but he wrote that he was stationed at Drem
too. Was Drem involved in similar operations as East Fortune?
Regards Geoff
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 2015 at 11:53
What became Drem in WW2 was West Fenton/Gullane, Lothian
Although claims have been made of use prior to this date, the first aircraft landing ground in the Gullane area was designated in 1916. This was intended for use by 77 (Home Defence) Squadron and was situated between Gullane and Drem. The landing ground was known originally as West Fenton, after a small hamlet spread out along the main road nearby.

77 Squadron had been formed at Thetford, in Norfolk, on 1 October 1916, from an element of 51 Squadron. On 16 October 1916 77 Squadron moved its headquarters to Edinburgh and flights were detached to Turnhouse, New Hagerston and Penston. West Fenton was probably an emergency landing ground only. As such

77 Squadron was equipped with a mixture of aircraft including the RAF BE 2c, 2d and 2e, together with the RAF BE 12, 12B and RE 8, and the AMC DH6.
In September 1918 the squadron was equipped with the Avro 504K nightfighter.

The future of home defence units was questioned in early 1917 as the risk of Zeppelin attack was felt to have greatly diminished by that time and night trained pilots were needed for service with the BEF. On 6 February 1917 General Henderson wrote to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Robertson, suggesting that the 36 night–trained pilots needed for two new BEF RAF FE 2b night bomber units, together with nine additional replacement pilots each month, should come from Home Defence units. The War Office agreed and considered disbanding two Home Defence squadrons, which did not seem to be necessary to counter an existing threat. The low level of Zeppelin activity over the west coast of Scotland meant that one of the units identified was 77 Squadron. In the event, however, only a single FE 2b nightbomber unit was sent to the BEF, and this was created by converting 100 Squadron.

The creation of the Royal Air Force in April 1918 encompassed a review of existing Home Defence and training units. 77 Squadron moved its headquarters to Penston in May 1918 and a single flight was detached to Whiteburn. Meanwhile the Emergency Landing Ground at West Fenton was developed as a new aerodrome to house a Training Depot Squadron and became known as RAF Gullane. The secondary use for Gullane was as a 1st Class Landing Ground for 6 Brigade aircraft.

The site of RAF Gullane was confirmed as being seven miles north of Haddington, 4 miles south-west of North Berwick and five miles south-east of the exisiting airship station at East Fortune. Road access was provided by the North Berwick to Prestonpans road, and the North British Railway had stations at Gullane and Drem. A narrow gauge railway (two feet) ran from Gullane station to West Fenton. Supposedly this railway was built in mid-1915 to allow building materials to be taken to the airfield site. There is a record that a loading bank to the south of the passenger platform at Gullane station was specially extended in May 1915, at a cost of £245, for this purpose. However it seems unlikely that this degree of investment was warranted even for the creation of an Emergency Landing Ground in 1916, so it must be presumed that the loading bank had another purpose, at least originally. The railway was built and operated by F D Cowieson and Company, a Glasgow-based firm, which gained the contract for constructing the aerodrome as well as for other work in the local area. The narrow gauge line ran along the ground, following the contours, with minimal earthworks as needed. The line ran eastwards for about 200 yards before reaching the Fenton road close to Muirfield Farm Cottages. The line then ran paralllel to the western side of the road for ¾ mile southwards, crossing the road on the level and then along the north bank of the Peffer or Mill Burn. The line then crossed the Burn over a wooden trestle bridge and continued south across the road close to Craighead Cottage to end at the aerodrome. Both level crossings were ungated and not controlled, in the manner of French rural railways.

Originally the line was run by a combination of horse power and gravity; horses pulled the wagons to the Fenton Road where they were unhitched and the wagons were allowed to run freely down the slope. This proved to be a far from satisfactory mehod as there was a slight kink in the track which often caused derailments. A 0-4-0 saddle tank engine, the William Bagnall-built No 2046, replaced the horses and continued in use until the line was closed in 1920. The engine was transferred to Staffordshire and the track was removed soon afterwards. The only building material not transported by the light railway was brick. This was unloaded by hand at Gullane station and transported by road using a showman’s engine.

The aerodrome was to occupy 186 acres (approximatley 1100 x 900 yards), of which the Technical Buildings covered 33 acres. The main buildings were to be six 170’ x 100’ aeroplane sheds, and a similarly sized Aircraft Repair Shed (ARS) with two Plane Stores. Building work was nearing completion at the time of an audit on 1 August 1918, although the aeropane sheds were then only 50% complete. It was then estimated that all outstanding work would be finished by 15 August but there is evidence that some buildings, such as the Officers’ Mess, were not built until 1919.

2 Training Depot Squadron was reformed at Gullane on 15 April 1918, and formed part of 30 Wing. 2 TDS was equipped with aircraft including Sopwith Camel E1447, Sopwith Pup D4027, RAF SE5a E3932, Bristol Scout D 5598, Avro 504A A527, Avro 504J B4026, Avro 504K D4461, Bristol F2B Fighter C4658. Between April and July 1918 2 TDS operated a number of Sopwith Pups including B4135, B5260, B5349, B5350, B5379, B7486, B7496, D4027, D4028, D4031, D4032, and D4135. Lt HD Arkell, posted to Gullane to instruct on Avro 504 trainers, recalled that both a two-seater Camel and a two-seater SE5a were on strength. It appears to have been common for 30 Wing aircraft to move from station to station, possibly following repair work. At the beginning of August 1918 the ‘establishment strength’ of 2TDS was 36 SE5 scouts and 36 Avro 504 trainers.

A “Captain Corchoran” was 'in charge' of training. He had been invalided home from the Western Front after having been wounded. He flew an Avro first thing in the morning before training was allowed to begin. (No one of this name found among those WIA)

Lt Henry Denham Arkell, known as ’Harry’, was posted to Gullane on 15 August 1918, following a period with 41 Squadron in France. Arkell’s competence as an instructor was tested by the so-called ‘Ayr Circus’, which was the North Western Area Flying Instructors School at Ayr. Lt Manning tested Arkell over seven days, completing some five hours of flying time in Avro 504J B3165. The other aircraft Arkell flew at 2TDS were : Avro B3165, D198, D4413, D4462, D5853, D5950, D5887, E336, E1610, E1640, E1641, E1643, E1644 and H229; together with SE5a C9044, C9051, E4044, E5784 and E5848.

By the end of the War 2 TDS had become part of 20 (Training) Group, which had its headquarters in Edinburgh. Other parts of the Group were 26 TDS at Edzell, 27 TDS at Crail and 32 TDS at Montrose.

Ground personnel of the American 41st Aero Squadron was based at Montrose and Gullane from late March 1918. The unit had been formed at Kelly Field in Texas on 9 July 1917 and arrived oin Britain on 4 March. In August the unit departed Gullane for further training at Camp de Meucon, near Morbihan, in France. 1/Lt Henry Clay was appointed as commanding officer on 27 November 1918. Clay had previously flown with the British, as had his flight commanders, and the ground personnel had worked with rotary engine aircraft mostly. Thus Clay was not too pleased when the 41st Aero was allocated SPAD VII scouts. He wrote to the commanding officer of the 5th Pursut Group suggesting that the SPADS should be exchanged for Sopwith Camels allocated to the 138th Aero. This was duly approved on 29 November 1918. The 41st Aero became operational during the last week of October and was assigned to the Army of Occupation at Koblenz. Only one pilot of the 41st Aero flew an operational sortie prior to the Armistice, which was at 11 o’clock, and that was Lt Henry Clay, the commanding officer. Clay later contracted influenza and did not survive to see the unit demobilize in April 1919.

Supporting training operations was 30 Wing Aircraft Repair Section. This was formed at Gullane at the same time as 2 TDS, but seems also to have had a presence at Montrose. By the end of the war 30 Wing ARS was based at Montrose in its entirety.

151 and 152 Squadron RAF arrived at Gullane as cadres from Liettes on 21 February 1919. Both squadrons were disbanded there, on 10 September and 30 June 1919, respectively. 2 TDS was the last service unit based at Gullane and did not disband until 21 November 1919. RAF Gullane closed soon afterwards.

ROLL OF HONOUR
NAME     RANK     UNIT     NOTES
Beer, Alfred Henry     Air Mechanic 2nd Class, 113855     RAF     Died of heart failure 16.10.1918.
Buried St Thomas-a-Becket Churchyard, Dodbrooke.
Cheers, Donald Heriot Anson     2nd Lieutenant     3rd battalion, The East Surrey Regiment attached RAF     Killed while flying Avro 504J B4206 on 17.4.1918, aged 17. Son of Mrs H Anson Cheers of Pine Moor, Cornwall Road, Harrogate and the late Mr H Anson Cheers. Born at Waldergrave Park, Twickenham, Middlesex. Buried at Comley Bank Cemetery, Edinburgh.
Dando, William Charles Redvers     Flight Cadet     4th battalion, King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)     Killed while flying 22.10.1918 (Dando is recorded on the Loos Memorial as 38249 Private WCR Dando, 1/4th King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) missing in action on 20 October 1918).
Glanville, Hugh Fanshawe     Captain     1st battalion, BWI Regiment
     Died of injuries on 24.5.1918 sustained while flying Avro 504 D44 on 23.5.1918, aged 33. Buried in Dirleton Parish Cemetery. Passenger was Private NS Grant, who was unhurt.
Glanville had received a Mention in Despatches.
Hunter, William Alexander     2nd Lieutenant     RAF     Killed while flying Sopwith Camel D6680 on 3.7.1918, aged 21. Aircraft landed in sea after aerial firing practice and the pilot drowned. Son of Elizabeth Hunter of St Ronand, Lanark, and the late David Hunter. Buried in Pettinain Parish Churchyard.
MacAllister, George Wesley      2nd Lieutenant          Killed while flying Sopwith Camel C8329 on 12.8.1918, aged 20. Son of Mr. and Mrs. George MacAllister, of Brownsburg, P.Q., Canada. Canadian. Buried in Edinburgh Comely Bank Cemetery.
McKiel, Rolfe E     2nd Lieutenant     RAF     Killed while flying Avro 504 D5851 on 6.9.1918, aged 21.
Son of George R. and Eva M. McKiel, of 51, Lyon Avenue, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Born at Gananoque, Ontario. Canadian. Buried in Edinburgh Comely Bank Cemetery. 2Lt HA Murton was also flying in the aircraft at the time but escaped unhurt.
Parr, Donald Albert     Flight Cadet          Killed while flying Avro 504 D4464 on 13.8.1918, aged 20. Son of Mr CH Parr of The Rossendale Hotel, Ansdell Lytham, Lancashire. Buried in Comley Bank Cemetery, Edinburgh.
Wilkinson, Lewis     2nd Lieutenant     RAF     Killed while flying Sopwith Camel D6670 which crashed out of control from 2000 feet on to North Berwick Railway, 18.6.1918, aged 18. Buried in Luddenden Cemetery, Sowerby Bridge.
Wright, William Milne     2nd Lieutenant     5th battalion, The Kings Royal Rifles Corps attached RAF     Killed while flying RAF SE5a D3497 on 1.10.1918, aged 29. Starboard wings of aircraft folded back at 1000 feet while diving steeply. Son of Annie Milne Wright of Myrtlebank, 15 Henry Bell Street, Helensburgh and the late Thomas Wright. Buried in Helensburgh Cemetery.

It is interesting to note that Captain Glanville was the only 2TDS fatality to be buried near the airfield. Most of the pilots, whose bodies were not returned to their families, were buried at Comley Bank Cemetery in Edinburgh.

In the Autumn of 1923 the Disposal Board offered the of the nearby Fenton Barns farm owner (Douglas Chalmers-Watson) all 17 acres of the airfield and its buildings. One of the hangars was used for food storage, one for cows and one for storage and steam threshing. Six blocks of buildings (including the Officers' sleeping quarters) were converted in to pigstys, an Angora Rabbitry was installed in the Officers Mess and other buildings were adapted for poultry, guinea pigs and medical research.

In September 1933 the airfield was used by 602 & 603 Squadrons as a refueling point during coastal defence exercises.

In the Autumn of 1938 Rupert Chalmers-Watson was given 5 months notice to
quit all the buildings and 250 acres of farmland for the re-establishment of
the airfield. In compensation a new dairy facility was built at Fenton Barns. The re-established airfield was called ‘RAF Drem’, probably derived from the nearest railway station, which was at Drem on the LNER line from Edinburgh to Dunbar.

WW2
RAF Drem was opened in early 1939, initially as a base for 13 Flying Training School. It seems that some of the old WW1 era RAF Gullane buildings were renovated and reused, notably the Officer’s Mess which still survives and displays a stone marked ‘1919’. The new airfield was a grass field, as it had been during the Great War.

In October Spitfires of 79, 609 and 602 Squadrons moved in. On 16 October 1939 two Spitfires from 602 Squadron at Drem shot down the first two Luftwaffe bombers over mainland Britain. 13 FTS disbanded on 27 October 1939 and Drem became a fighter station. A lighting system to aid pilots during poor weather was developed at Drem during the war.

At least two of the hangars still survive, now with agricultural/industrial
use. A group of buildings, which includes the Officers' Mess, seems to form part of the same complex. The Officers’ Mess, believed to have been built in 1919, still contains a painted 'blackboard' design on one of its walls. This has visible writing mentioning "GOC NW Area 1918 Maj. Gen. Cayley CB" and "OC 20th Group 1918 Col. Mitchell DSO MC". Major General George C Cayley served in the Royal Navy until being appointed as a Temporary Major General in the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918 and taking command of No 5 Area. On 8 May 1918 he assumed command of the North-Western Area and received his ‘CB’ on 28 August 1918. William Gore Sutherland Mitchell was born on 8 March 1888. Commissioned in to the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, Mitchell transferred to the Highland Light Infantry and received Flying Certificate 483 in 1909. After completing a course at the Central Flying School in 1913, Mitchell served with 4 Squadron before becoming a Flight Commander in 10 Squadron in January 1915. He took over command of 10 Squadron in June 1916 and was promoted to command 12th (Corps) Wing RFC in December. Mitchell assumed command of 20 Group, which including 2TDS at Gullane, on 9 July 1918. Air Chief Marshal Sir William Mitchell KCB CBE DSO MC AFC retired from the RAF in 1941.

Site 4 WAAF Communal now houses Fenton Barns Retail & Leisure Village. The main hall of the Arts and Crafts gallery is the former WAAFs’ dining hall.

If you can give me your grandfather's name and service number I'll look at his service record for you.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NickForder Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jun 2015 at 11:54
The moderator has blocked my response - but if you can give me your grandfather's name and service number I can look at his service record for you.
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