Alloway and Southern Ayrshire FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Robert Burns Cottage, Alloway, Ayr
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Monday, 23 November 2009

19 Nov 2009 - "History of Turnberry Airfield, and associated Airmen"

Our talk this month was a ‘History of Turnberry Airfield, and associated Airmen’ given by Margaret Morrell. She described to us the First World War grass airfield, with its steel and canvas hangars, and the Second World War airfield with the triangle of three tarmac runways, hangars and other buildings, constructed on the site of the Turnberry golf courses.

In both wars, the airfield was used for training purposes. In the first, initial pilot training was rudimentary and survival rates for pilots were measured in days, so successful pilots were brought back from the front to train the new pilots in the techniques of aerial warfare - they considered the trainees more dangerous than the enemy! In the second, Turnberry was used to train torpedo bomber crews, a particularly hazardous duty that required flying at very low levels under conditions that often made it difficult to see the difference between sea and sky.

Margaret illustrated her talk with some excellent photos of views, planes and characters from both wars, and gave a poignant account of some of the many crashes that occurred. A memorial was erected on Turnberry by the local populace in a tribute to those that died flying from the airfield, but Margaret’s researches have shown that the names on this memorial are a small fraction of those who died, and she hopes in due course to publish her research and raise a memorial to all who volunteered for air crew and died while training at Turnberry.

Andrew Dinwoodie

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