Back to Trail Three – Dumfries to Kirkcudbright

RAF Dumfries

This was the biggest airfield in south west Scotland, and served many functions during the war. Construction began in 1938 and it was opened in 1940. It was home to three maintenance units, preparing and repairing aircraft for the war effort and also had repair facilities for Scottish Aviation and Blackburn Aircraft who had contracts to repair and modify aircraft on site. These activities meant that this was an extremely busy airfield, its runways echoing to the sound of aircraft being delivered and collected by the Air Transport Auxiliary several times a day.

However the other role of Dumfries was as a training base. Throughout the war bomb aimers, gunners and navigators trained here, with most of the men then being posted to Bomber Command. The main training unit here was 10 Bombing and Gunnery School, which became 10 Air Observers School and finally 10 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit. The airfield controlled satellite landing grounds from Stranraer to Haddington and Cumbria, all used to store aircraft for the maintenance units. The airfield also controlled several bombing and gunnery ranges in the area.

After the war the airfield was used for scrapping aircraft with hundreds meeting their fate here. It eventually became a training centre for National Service recruits into the Royal Air Force Regiment in the 1950s before closing for good in 1957.

Today, much of the airfield remains. Though the runways are largely lost to housing, the vast majority of the buildings remain as Heathhall and Catherinefield Industrial Estates. Most of the hangars still stand, and if you have entered Dumfries from Moffat you will pass several of these which are still in use by engineering and haulage companies.

The unique three storey control tower has been home to Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum since the 1970s, and is the next stop on the trail.

Visit the Museums Website


Image credit – Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum collection

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