cold war Soviet ships, mainly Trawlers and AGIs (Electronic Surveillance Ships
or AGI (Auxiliary General Intelligence) showed great interest in our defence
installations. RAF Saxa Vord, with its Naval Building, seemed to come in for
more that it's fair share of attention. I hope to cover more of this aspect of
operations at Saxa at a later date. However, one
incident lives in the memories of those who were involved. On 4th March 1967,
in fairly rough seas, a Russian Trawler ran aground at the point of Skaw,
fortunately the crew survived. A number of the Russian sailors had made it to
the shore and some others were rescued by the Unst Coast Rescue Unit using a
breeches buoy. Although the RAF Saxa Vord Medical Centre had been prepared to
look after the crew they were taken off to other Russian craft which had been
standing by.Over the next few days a number
of brave (maybe foolhardy) individuals took it upon themselves to "
liberate" as much from the wreck as they could. Items which were salvaged included
the ships log, various items of paperwork, the ships wheel etc.At the time
of the incident one of the officers on the base, Mike Hope, happened to be a Russian
linguist and I believe that a certain amount of translation occurred before
documentation was shipped south to higher authority. I know that a request for
the return of all items was made by the Soviet Embassy but I don't know how
much was returned and how much was retained in the hands of the liberators. I
do know that the ships wheel still hangs in the Methodist Kirk in Haroldswick,
very close to the old Domestic Site.
The next 2
photos came from the collection of my late father-in-law, Hughie McMeechan
The next 2
pictures were taken by my wife:
I am grateful to Neil Henderson for allowing me to reproduce these four excellent photos of the incident, which were taken by his father, Henry Henderson. Left click on the images to enlarge:
A cutting from
the Shetland Times of 17 Mar 67 follows:
The aim of this site is to preserve memories of RAF Saxa Vord for service personnel and local civilians. I spent 22 years in the RAF as a Fighter Controller and was at RAF Saxa Vord from November 1967 until March 1969. In 1988 I left the RAF and settled in Shetland and have lived here ever since.
I am always on the lookout for suitable material and would appreciate it if anyone can help out with photos and/or printable anecdotes. I am also anxious to ensure that the material on the site is accurate and would be grateful if anyone who notices mistakes, or believes that photos have been incorrectly credited, would contact me.
My email address is - gordon.carleAtgmail.com (replace the AT with the normal symbol)
A Contents List for the Blog is here: http://ahistoryofrafsaxavord.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/contents-list.html