Back to Trail Four – Wigtown to Stranraer

RAF Wigtown

RAF Wigtown was built less than a mile south of Wigtown, and east of Bladnoch. It was opened in 1941 as No.1 Air Observers School, specifically to acclimatise observers who had trained abroad to the weather and terrain in Britain. The Empire Air Training Plan had been established with the aim of training large numbers of aircrew in safer skies than those in Europe. Crews trained primarily in Canada and South Africa, and so were used to good weather, empty skies and a flat landscape – conditions they were unlikely to experience in Britain.

The aerodrome started as a grass airfield but was very prone to flooding, and so concrete runways were laid in 1942. Aircraft used here included Fairey Battles, Blackburn Bothas, Bristol Blenheims and Avro Ansons amongst others.

Occasionally Hawker Typhoon squadrons would arrive on detachment to use the ranges at nearby RAF West Freugh. After the war ended, the Bombing Trials Unit operated from here until the station closed in 1948. The site reverted to agriculture, with the deteriorating runways occasionally home to light aircraft.

Today, some of the buildings remain as a small industrial estate and the runways can still be seen amongst the crops – please don’t explore beyond the public road here.

Image credit – Ian Robinson

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