Wings Over Wick
1939 - 1945
I was a schoolboy during this very exciting period and lived at
the top end of Henrietta Street, opposite what were then policemen's
houses. My earliest recollection is being taken for a walk in my pram up
to the aerodrome, this must have been about 1937/38. The aerodrome was
just being built by a construction company called Wimpey and I can
remember all the hustle and bustle of men, lorries and excavators. The
aerodrome, or as we called it 'the drome', was always kept secure behind
barbed-wire and perimeter fences with guards always on duty at the
main-gate guard room.
There were several raids on and around Wick, the main targets I believe
were the aerodrome itself and the harbour area. The most spectacular as
far as I was concerned, occurred at the top end of our (Henrietta)
street in what was commonly known as Rosebery Terrace (private houses).
The bomb, which did not explode, fell into the garden of the house at
the very top of Rosebery Terrace, next to the aerodrome gymnasium, now
the Claymore Dairy Garage. The main part of the bomb caused a big crater
in the garden and the blast caused severe damage to the house. The tail
of the bomb came off and knocked a hole in the end wall of the council
house across the street (you can see the repair today). Adam Bruce
(Gardener) had an aviary of birds in what is now known as Baron's Well
and many of the birds were killed by the blast of the bomb hitting the
ground. Windows and some doors of nearby houses were blown in, but the
only injury was cuts from flying glass sustained by a teenage boy.
This unexploded bomb had to be defused by the bomb-disposal service
before it could be removed from the garden. This meant that on the
Sunday following the raid, everyone who lived in the houses in the
surrounding area, Henrietta and Girnigoe Street and Baron's Well had to
leave their homes in case the bomb exploded whilst it was being defused.
Great! My parents took us all up to visit an auntie in Dunbeath for the
day, which meant a great treat in those days; a sail in a Highland Bus.
There was never enough accommodation on the aerodrome for the RAF
personnel, therefore most households had to accept some lodgers.
Although there were seven of us in a three bedroomed house, we had to
give up one room to two RAF lodgers. Although we had several different
lodgers over the period, I recall two in particular - Sid (Sydney) and
Den (Dennis or Desmond). Both were English (Sid came from Sheffield)
and were both great guys and fun to be with. We used to play
hide-and-seek in the house and they would hang us up in their service
trousers with their greatcoats over the top, to hide. One of them came
back from home leave and brought back a toy crane, a real toy for my
brother and me to share. It was one of these mecanno type cranes
complete with rope hook and handle. I wonder where it has gone? Sid and
Den eventually left us as they were both posted to Iceland as the war
continued. I have not heard of them since, sad to say!