Tuesday, 27 December 2011

AOC’s Inspection 1971 – AVM IG Broom CBE DSO DFC

The AOC’s inspection in 1971 took place on  10 Jun whilst Sqn Ldr AP  Melbourne was the CO. The Inspecting Officer was AVM IG Broom, AOC 11 Gp, who must have visited Saxa on at least half-a-dozen occasions during his appointment. The first picture is a copy of a clipping from the Shetland Times. (Left click on pictures to enlarge).
A better quality version of the photo from the newspaper is below:
The next photo is of the AOC at the saluting base in front of the Power House:
During the visit the AOC presented a Long Service & Good Conduct Medal to Cpl Horton:
Whilst at Saxa he AVM also performed the official opening of the first version of the Penguin Club – an event which has been covered elsewhere on the blog.

The final l photo shows the AOC & his wife at the Unst Airstrip alongside an RAF Percival Pembroke C1:


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas Parties for Children & Senior Citizens

Saxa (as 91 SU) became operational in Oct 57 and very soon thereafter planning for the first Children’s Christmas Party began. Ninety-two children attended the party in December and this was just the first of many. In the early 60’s it was decided that it would be better to have 2 parties, splitting the children into different age groups. The parties proved to be extremely popular - for around 40 yrs somewhere between 70 and 110 children attended the annual festivities each year. At the beginning most of the children were from local families but, as the number of married service personnel increased and quarters were built, the percentage of Service children attending increased.

The parties were arranged by a number of different sections, clubs and organisations. The Catering Section, Corporals; Club, Airmens’ Social Club, Sergeants' Mess and Wives' Club were amongst those helping out. The RAOB was even involved with at least one party.
The 1962 Children’s party was mentioned in the Shetland News:
The Invitation and photo below relate to the party in Dec 1963:

The 1964 party was covered in a short article which appeared in the Shetland Times of 18 Dec 64, which is copied below:
The event in 1965 was also mentioned in the Shetland Times:

I’m not sure when the first “Senior Citizens” Christmas Party was – the first record I have is the early 70’s. In those days it was the OAPs or Pensioners Party - most people wouldn’t have had a clue what qualifications were needed to become a “Senior Citizen”. These parties became very popular and, unlike the Children's Parties, a small amount of alcohol was sampled. In fact I’ve heard stories about families being slightly hacked off when Dad or Granddad was returned to them slightly the worse for wear – but it was Christmas!

The next two pictures are of Pensioners Parties in the 70’s:
The following 2 photos are from 1982:
The next picture is from 1984:
These events were frequently reported in the Shetland times:
The popularity of these events was evident. Every year there were plenty of children and senior citizens looking forward to them and more than happy to attend. On a number of occasions letters of appreciation were received by the Unit or published in the Shetland Times. An example from the Shetland Times in 1982 is reproduced in the final picture below:

Children’s parties continued for many years after that but I believe that eventually the invitations to local children had to cease due to the increasing number of married RAF couples with children – the logistics just became too complicated and it was found too difficult to cater for the numbers involved.


Monday, 12 December 2011

Article in the Shetland Times 1990

The following article is copied from a 1990 copy of the Shetland Times. The optimistic tone about the future of the Unit is perhaps forgivable considering the Domestic Site was nearing the end of a complete rebuild and a new Quarters patch at Nordabrake was being built. Plans were in being for the installation of the Type 93 radar and most of SHE was to be rebuilt in the early 90’s. One has to feel sorry for the Stn Cdrs over the next dozen years who were expecting the Station to stay open for a long time and indeed were being briefed accordingly by MOD. In retrospect, with advances in technology and the ability to supply secure data links over long distances, it is perhaps surprising that Saxa lasted as long as it did. The eventual closure, when it did come, was not well handled as far as the local community were concerned. Whilst the servicemen on Unst did their best to ease the blow, the overall aim of politicians and the MOD was to save money.           In an attempt to make the article easier to read I have split into 3 parts. (left click on each part to enlarge).

Monday, 5 December 2011

Functions in the Sergeants’ Mess – Again

Most of the following photos are undated. Some will have been taken in the “Old” Mess and Some in the “New.” Whilst I could make a reasonable guess as to which is which I’ll leave it to the experts. Apart from the 5 photos which haven credited the collection comes from a photo album which was left in the Mess when it closed. I’m happy to credit photos to the photographers if they let me know who they are. (Left click on pictures to enlarge).

I anyone has other photos of Saxa Vord and is prepared have them published, I would be pleased to hear from them. gordon.carle@gmail.com