Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Critical Foundations...




If you live here on the east coast of Scotland you will live not far from concrete objects built during WW2.
You will find these objects all around the UK coastline as well as inland around the countryside.
They may be coastal defences like the thousands of concrete cubes that formed tank traps against a foreseen German invasion...

Aberlady Bay...



Tyninghame...




Machine Gun Pill boxes...

North Berwick...


Tyninghame...





Anti aircraft batteries...

Macmerry...


Aberlady Bay...




Chain Home radar bases...

Berwickshire...



Chain Home Radar Coldingham Moor Berwickshire in 1943...



Searchlight stations...

Yellowcraig...





If you know where to look, bunkers once used by Churchill's secret army - The Aux units...

Somewhere in Berwickshire...





But most obvious to most people are old airfields...
Here in East Lothian Were 4 Airfields;
RAF Drem; mostly a fighter station base.
RAF East Fortune; mostly Coastal Command and Air Fleet.
RAF Macmerry; Aircraft repair
RAF Lennoxlove; camouflaged airfield storage airfield.

Many are abandoned and returned to the former land owners and some buildings now used for agricultural use, many have fallen into disuse and dereliction...
The thin green grass strips growing bewteen the large concrete runway slabs and old windowless brick buildings, air raid shelters and defences are often all that is left of what was once front line stations that defended our skies and took the fight to Germany by brave young men in dark days...
I look on all this stuff as kind of memorials to those involved. Sadly not many are being preserved as this stuff is part of our heritage and should be kept safe and maintained and signed with information for the public young and old to see...

RAF East Fortune, now home to the Scottish National Museum of Flight...









RAF Drem 2012...

Former billets, now Fenton Barnes Retail Village...




Perimeter (Peri) track...




Night fighter training building...

One of 3 remaining hangers,  there was 6 during WW2...



Anti invasion defences pointing onto what was then grass runways...

Ammunition store...

Dispersal Pen with defences and air raid shelters...





RAF Drem East Lothian WW2...







Nazi occupied surrender of Norway at Drem, East Lothian 1945...




Pics above are from the former RAF Drem which i made a film of;
RAF Drem Now and Then...

There was only 52 RAF airfields as Great Britain entered the war in 1939.
After victory in the Battle of Britain by fighter stations based at these previous WW1 airfields it became priority to construct bomber airfields for the forth coming Allied bombing offensives on Nazi occupied Europe...

What is not commonly known is this project is still to date the biggest ever construction operation in Great Britain.
Starting in April 1941 special construction squadrons of  60,000 men and woman who were known as the Critical Foundations built the Airfields and infrastructure.
Thousands of tons of concrete was poured and bricks layed for the runways, perimeter tracks, buildings and defences. By the end of WW2 in 1945 684 Airfields were built and operational.
Fly into Edinburgh Airport today and you land on top of the former runways of RAF Turnhouse, home to the 603 (City of Edinburgh) Fighter Squadron during WW2.
These WW2 airfields can easily be seen today on Google Earth or an OS map with the familiar `A shape` layout which enabled planes to take off and land in any wind direction...

East Fortune Google Earth...



This great film i found on Vimeo captures some of the  construction work, there must have been millions of tons of concrete, bricks and reinforcing used in the project!

RAF East Fortune, beside where i live is featured...



These sites that were constructed would become known as  to be constructed by what became in 1943 the Ministry of Works who continued to construct the Cold War era of Bunkers and defences...

10 comments:

  1. Excellent & interesting post. Thanks for taking time to do this.

    Dave.

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  2. I love all this stuff, as you know Dave!, to visit it by bike combines two favourite hobbies,

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  3. A colleague at work asked what the big blocks were at Tyninghame. I suggested checking out your site. I wish I'd looked at the photos first. I'll be back on the 'weirdo in the woods' list at work again! Maybe not far from the truth!

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  4. No one has done a count of how many blocks (still visable) are along our coast Ped. a good progect for someone!

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  5. Hey Coastkid. How much do you know about the 'fake' airstrip on whitekirk hill and associated works in the village? Is there still any sign of the lighting rigs around the golf course? I understand local kids used to play around some of the works before the golf course was constructed. Would be interested to hear any info you have on this subject.

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  6. Working at Whitekirk i know the air raid shelter was pulled down before the Golf Course was built as declared unsafe to enter, all cable etc had been removed/plundered for scrap years ago so there is no evidence today. There was a home gaurd firing range beside the village, The Mechanic here grew up in the village and indeed said they played in the shelter and used to find spent cases as kids.I have a pic of the Whitkirk home gaurd on top of the hill!, i have several from around the county and plan to do a Home Gaurd post soon with some of their defences that can still be seen today.

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    1. Where was the range in relation to the village? Would love to see pics of the home guard on the hill. We have an air raid shelter in our back garden which we believe is the last one standing. Apparently all the houses had one built when the fake airstrip was put in, but all the rest have since been demolished. You wouldn't happen to have any dates for the works?

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  7. I have no dates for the works but will try to find out, the range was in the field behind the school. Probably they fired at targerts in the small quarry on the side of the hill oppisitte the Tythe Barn for safety.

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  8. Interesting photos, I was born in 63 and brought up at Whitekirk. The fake airstrip was just lights on the hill, they were turned on at night if the radars at North Berwick detected any German aircraft heading in to bomb East Fortune runway. There were quickly removed after the war and the only thing left was the air raid shelter. If you go to the old school there is the home guard hall which was built in the entrance to the paddock where the tithe barn is situated right next to the school. After the war the hall was handed to the school to be used for what ever they wanted, they used it as a dinner hall.. When I was first married we lived at West Fenton for a while, right next to the aerodrome, I also worked on the farm there for a bit, we were always pulling up amunition from the fields. On the West Fenton Rd to fenton Barns road as Bo,ber missed the runway and crashed into a field, the crew were killed, there is a few photos on the net showing it... Also the two German bombers shot down, one was at Lime Grove in north Berwick... All great stuff but alass I live in Australia now but keep a keen interest.. I used to drive buses from North Berwick depot untill 2008 when we moved away.

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  9. Thanks for leaving a comment on your knowlage of around these places in East Lothian. It is peoples memories and pictures, diaries etc that keep this history documented online for interested people and the future generations who will show an interest...

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