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Wings Over Wick
A Connelly, Blairgowrie, Perthshire
I was stationed at Castletown in 1940/41 (not in Wick) and although we spent most of our time off in Wick the fact that there were no licensed premises in the town did not make the town widely popular. There was a NAAFI in town where servicemen could get a drink but my memory was that it opened only in the evening. Local legend had it that drink was served in practically every shop in town. I never had the opportunity to test the truth of the legend.
Castletown was a small village with a shop where tea could be obtained. It also had a Church of Scotland Canteen run by volunteer ladies and was a very popular place.
Here the RAF was reforming fighter squadrons, which had been severely mauled in the Battle of Britain in the south. When I was there, Numbers 1 and 3 squadrons were reforming with new pilots on Hurricanes and Spitfires.
At Castletown I was employed as a base wireless operator and our headquarters were in what had previously been the local Masonic Lodge. The building had no electricity but we had our own generation equipment for the operations room and radio services. Incidentally the call-sign which identified the station was "SINCLAIR-SINCLAIR". This was the name of the Sinclair family on whose land we were. Sir Archibald Sinclair was Secretary of State for Air and MP for Caithness at that time. The pilots who were under training were housed in a Sinclair residence - the "White House".
Wick was mainly a Coastal Command Station and flying aircraft such as Hampdens. Later, however,Lockheed Hudsons took over the role of anti-submarine work and strikes against enemy shipping to the north and east of Wick. By this time I was flying in Hudsons with 500 squadron from Stornoway and our sister squadron No 48 was operating very successfully from Wick.
My main memories are of the long summer days, which made up for anything winter brought.