A few RAF personnel, under the command of Flt Lt CA Davison DFM, had been on site in 1955 & 56 during the construction phase of Saxa Vord. However, the first large contingent of 66 airmen, who were to become part of the strength of 91SU, arrived on 20 Sep 57. A few days later a second party of 50 airmen arrived at Baltasound. This group included an MT Driver named Ray “Dickie” Dawson. It had not been a good trip from Lerwick and most of the lads had been very seasick. Unst must have seemed to be the end of the world. Ray stayed at 91 SU until late 1959, subsequently marrying an Unst girl. Fortunately he took a number of photos during his tour and has kindly allowed me to reproduce them.
The first Christmas must have been a bit of a make do affair – NAAFI didn’t arrive on Unst until 25 Jan 58. It is interesting to note that, even this early in the Units history, a party was laid on for local children. On 20 Dec 57 52 children were treated to a film show, games, food and a visit from Santa (complete with presents). With few cars and no public transport on Unst MT would have had to provide a taxi service.
The lads themselves entered into the festive spirit as can be seen in some of the photos taken inside one of the billet blocks over that first Christmas. (Left click on pictures to enlarge).