Wednesday 29 September 2010

Queen’s Jubilee Celebrations 1st to 4th June 2002

Major celebrations were held throughout the UK to recognise the 50th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the throne. A chain of over 2000 beacons were lit from the north of UK right to the south of England. The first beacon to be lit was at Saxa Vord. Both the RAF and the community of Unst were very actively involved in the festivities and because of the islands significance at the start of the chain of beacons there was much coverage in the media.
On the RAF side, planning for the occasion started very early. Support from outside sources was forthcoming and frequent meetings held. Below are the Minutes of the last meeting before the event. (Left click on pictures to enlarge).
In the lead up to the day there was plenty of advertising.  At this stage in the Stations life the total strength was less than 70 and it was important that everyone got involved. A copy of one of the adverts is below
The following pictures are copies of some of the articles which appeared in the press. (Left click on pictures to enlarge).

National Press
Daily Mail 4 Jun 02 
The Daily Record 4 Jun 02
The Sun 4 Jun 02

Local Press
The Shetland Times 7 Jun 02

RAF Coverage
Buchan Bronco
RAF Buchan Station Magazine (Buchan parented Saxa at this stage)
Letter to the RAF News
RAF News 21 Jun 02

Sunday 26 September 2010

AOSNI May 1998

On 18 May 1998 the Unit was paid an “informal” visit by Air Commodore JH Haines OBE ADC RAF. Air Cdre Haines was at the time Air Officer for Scotland and Northern Ireland, usually abbreviated to AOSNI. The Station Commamnder was Sqn Ldr Jones. The Air Cdre toured the station, re-opened the Viking Club and distributed a number of awards and Medals.
A number of photos taken during the visit are attached below. (Left click on photos to enlarge).


Wednesday 22 September 2010

Seeking Information

Whilst I am always seeking interesting information and pictures relating to RAF Saxa Vord there are 3 particular areas I am researching at the moment and would welcome any assistance which you can provide. The subjects concerned are:
1. The CO from Feb 68 to Jan 70 – Sqn Ldr/ Wg Cdr Jerrold Le Cheminant
2. The purpose of “Building” 21
3. Saxa Golf Courses

My email:

Sqn Ldr/Wg Cdr Le Cheminant
“Chem” as he was known by practically everyone in the RAF who knew him, was an ex Battle of Britain Pilot who spent many years in the Fighter Control Branch. He was promoted during his tour at Saxa. He and his wife, Eileen, donated the “Le Cheminant Cup” before leaving Unst – this trophy was competed for annually by the Saxa soccer team and an Unst “select” side. I know that he served at Bawdsey, Saxa, Bukit Gombak and many other air defence units. He was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and I would very much like to gather any information or photos of him & his family from any of the places where he served.
Building 21
I believe that an accurate picture of the buildings and main equipment at the radar heads is almost complete. I now know the site of the Type 14 radar and purpose of most of the buildings. At some stage in the future I intend to draw up an annotated plan of the radar site. One area which is eluding classification is “Building” 21. I put building in inverted commas because, as far as I am aware, there never was a building there! The location consists of just 4 concrete pads, each about 2ft square, close to the Trig Point on top of the hill.
The concrete pads appear to have been in situ since the main site was built in 1955-57. The only purpose I have seen them used for is as an anchorage point for the anemometer. I believe that it is most probable that they were laid as the base for a plinth, cabin or gantry which was never installed. It should be noticed that there are a couple of similar features north of building 21 – these were for theType 13 & Type 14 gantries. However, for these gantries the pads seem slightly further apart and set at a different angle.
Once again I would appreciate it if anyone can shed light on this feature.
Saxa Golf Courses
As from next year it is hoped that groups enthusiastic golfers will be offered trips to Unst to tour Shetland golf courses. There are 3 active courses on Shetland - one on Whalsay and 2 on the mainland. One of the main attractions is hoped to be a reconstruction of one or both of the UKs most northerly courses – the one on Skaw (Lamba Ness) and the one at Burrafirth. Obviously the RAF courses were maintained by volunteer labour and run on a shoestring so little information remains on Unst. Unfortunately I have little data other than that which I put out earlier:-
Whilst there is a commercial interest to this venture I am happy to do what I can because I feel that the MOD/RAF still has a contribution it can make to the economy of Unst and because part of any proceeds raised will be donated to fundraisers for the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance Service

If anyone has plans of the 2 courses, photos or any other significant information, please get in touch.

Whilst any suitable photos/data about Saxa would be welcome, I am particularly short of material from the period 1971 to 1977 when Woolston, Boddy, Daniels and Glasspool were the COs. If anyone has material  they are prepared to share I have repeated my email below:- (replace the AT with the usual symbol)


Sunday 19 September 2010

Arrival of Radar Equipment on Unst in 1955 Part 2

I am extremely grateful to George Bett who sent me all the photographs taken at Baltasound which were used in this section. George visited Unst twice in 1955, on both occasions when Landing Craft were delivering equipment for the building of RAF Saxa Vord. The Landing Craft shown in these pictures was the L403 but another, the L1204, was also used to land material. One of the major problems with a blog is being limited for space and I have had to reduce the resolution of these pictures far more than I wanted to.
The pictures are particularly interesting to me from two aspects. Firstly, they show some of the equipment in great detail, including the best photo I have seen to date of the Type 14 Radar which was the back-up search radar at the top site until Sep 1964. Secondly; the background in the photos is important to the history of Unst – not only for the trawler the Roerwater and the buildings by the pier, but for the people who can be recognised. What alerted me to this is the fact that my wife (long before I met her – she was 9 yrs old!) had taken photos of the same event – those pictures were included in one of the earliest sections of the blog:-

She, her father and numerous neighbours can be seen in some of the photos. At this stage I know the names of most of the locals involved and expect to have them all identified soon. I will be passing high quality copies of these photos to the Unst Heritage Centre should anyone be visiting Shetland and wish to see the pictures in greater detail.

I am also grateful to Bob Jenner who has helped identify the equipment and vehicles involved. He has also provided a copy of a now declassified document which gives more information regarding a couple of the vehicles involved.

Arrival of Equipment – 1955

The following pictures show the arrival of the LS403 at Baltasound and the equipment which was brought ashore. (Left click on pictures to enlarge).

Local Bystanders
The photos of the landings are of such good quality that parts of them can be enlarged and it is possible to identify some of the people who were there. Five such enlargements are below. If you think that I have mis-identified anyone or can help Identify any of the other people in the pictures I would be pleased to hear from you:- (replace the AT with the usual symbol).

I would appreciate it should any reader have material about the life of RAF Saxa Vord, which they are prepared to share, would get in touch.