Robbie Reid

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Introduction

Much has been written about air warfare during the 20th century, from the early skirmishes during WW1, the advance of fighter and bomber strength in WW2, jet advances seen adopted as strategic strength in Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War, through to air warfare as a total dominant force in more recent campaigns from the Falklands conflict up to more recent conflicts in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq.

Air dominance, and indeed air travel, is a service we take for granted in the 21st century; during WW2 such dominance was not the case. The stories of the RAF during the Battle of Britain, the 8th American Air force campaign against Germany and the Luftwaffe defence, Japan and Allied combat in the far East together with many more, all conflicts of bravery and sacrifice.

During the last years of WW2, whilst the well documented battles were being raged above the skies of Germany and Japan, a small but still important war was taking place; Coastal Command Banff Wing strikes against German shipping / Luftwaffe / U boats in Norway & North Sea area.

The Norwegian Campaign, lasting from 9 April to 10 June 1940, led to the first direct land confrontation between the military forces of the Allies - United Kingdom and France - against Nazi Germany in World War II.

The primary reason for Germany seeking the occupation of Norway was Germany's dependence on Swedish iron ore shipped from the Norwegian port of Narvik. By securing access to Norwegian ports, Germany could obtain the iron ore supply it needed for war production in spite of the British naval blockade of Germany. Additionally, it allowed both the German and Allied forces to confront each other without large-scale trench warfare which both sides dreaded. Of particular importance as the Battle of the Atlantic escalated were Norwegian airbases, allowing German reconnaissance aircraft to operate far out over the North Atlantic, without having to fly over, or near to, Britain.

Norway was also rich in other natural and manufactured resources, such as nickel and aluminium, all vital to the German war machine.

Action against this potentially war-winning supply line was given to RAF Coastal Command and from 1940 to 1943 air attacks against German shipping were carried out, but with limited success.

However, the disruption of these supply lines were deemed vital to the Allied war effort, and with a consolidation of tactics and the incorporation of the
Bristol Beaufighter & De Havilland Mosquito into "ops", the battle continued with renewed success at the end of 1943. A bespoke aerodrome at Boyndie near Banff, Scotland, commenced construction in 1942 from which more concentrated attacks against the enemy could take place, and would be continued until the very end of the war in Europe in May 1945.

This vital but largely unknown part of the war against Germany only came to my attention whilst researching my grandfather, Squadron Leader Robbie Reid, who lost his life in the cold depths of a Norwegian Fjord on the 23rd March 1945,and is dedicated to his memory and the memories that still live on in Norway.

It is also dedicated to the memory of other air crew who would think nothing of flying a powerful fully laden twin engine Beaufighter or Mosquito for 500 miles at wave height over the North Sea, salt crusting on the windshield, before lifting and diving onto shipping, into a barrage of heavy flak.

It also serves as a forum for anyone who has a story to tell or pictures to show of the Banff wing strikes 1943 - 1945. 
Profiles of Banff Wing pilots are included (only 2 at present, any others welcome - please contact us) plus a "diary" extract of their operations with the Banff Wing and other photos.

The site of the former aerodrome is currently home to a large turbine wind far and together with activities such as go-karting, have ensured the site remains undeveloped.  Much evidence of its wartime past remains including the control tower surviving relatively intact.

 

Banff Drome             Banff Drome

Banff Now            Banff Now

Banff Now

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  Robbie Reid  2010