Sandyhills Bombing Range
During World War 2 the airfield at Dumfries trained bomb aimers and air gunners, preparing them for their future role in Bomber Command. There were a few bombing ranges in the area which generally consisted of a wooden target situated away from towns and villages.
The bombing range at Mersehead Sands was a typical example of this, with a target built out on the sands and spotting cabins built on the top of the cliffs at the side of the coast road where the accuracy of the bombing run would be observed by staff from the training school. The target was never destroyed as all the bombs dropped here were small practice bombs which broke open and emitted smoke when they struck – there were no explosions.
Today, this is our most scenic spot on this trail, as the best place to see the target is from the popular sandy beach at Sandyhills. Stop the car, buy an ice cream and have a walk on the beach here, and try to imagine the skies overhead during the war. It would be a crowded place, with Blackburn Bothas, Vickers Wellingtons, Avro Ansons and Armstrong-Whitworth Whitleys all circling round waiting for their chance to have a crack at the target.
The target is further out on the sands than it looks, and the tide runs fast here so please don’t try to walk out to it.
Image credit – Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum collection
Close up – Walter Baxter