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Wings Over Wick
|Gordon Anderson, Aberdeen
The 612 squadron (AAF) Royal Air Force, County of Aberdeen, attached to Coastal Command was stationed at Wick between 1940 and 1943. During that period quite a number of Flight Sections (ie a flight consisted of up to six aircraft) were seconded to other aerodromes around our coast, to patrol the sea and detect submarines or surface vessels belonging to the enemy. The main echelon of our squadron was naturally stationed at Wick.
I was an original member of the 612 squadron and was called up to serve, two weeks prior to the commencing of World War Two. I was only seventeen and a half then.
The Breadalbane Cinema we visited often, on the other side of the town, but it was quite a walk from the aerodrome. Dancing in Staxigoe was a popular venue, also locally at the Distillery, which was a barn type upper floor area, and access was gained via an open timber stair.
During my time at Wick everything that could happen did happen. We were bombed and pushed burning planes from the hangars, one of our own aircraft crashed into the Hospital and killed two nurses.
One of my more pleasant and happy memories is of the dancing classes at Wick High School. Many of the teachers, local ladies and businessmen used to meet on a Wednesday and practise Scottish Country Dancing. Alas no one was proficient enough to teach Modern Ballroom Dancing at the Club. Having been taught by Cpl Walsh at Dyce Aerodrome and after all, he was a Daily Record Scottish Champion (along with his wife), the job fell to my friend Jim Fowlie and I.
At that particular time a great band leader/dancer/impresario called Victor Sylvestor was very popular and so was Ballroom Dancing. Every week in the newspaper he published the various steps of the different dances and where you placed your feet on the floor, and the timing. Victor used to be and still is referred to as "Slow Slow Ouick Ouick Slow". On the radio on a Wednesday night, Victor broadcast the method giving the appropriate music to the dance and we met in the hall in Wick by invitation to help the teacher and dancers to follow and emulate Victor's steps following him on the radio fixed up by the staff. You may wonder if two men danced together why eyebrows were not raised? Well there was a great shortage of girls or ladies to dance with and as Jim Fowlie and I were being taught, I seemingly was pretty good at acting the ladies part. So when we were asked to teach the Dancing Club at Wick it was only natural that I assumed the ladies part and demonstrated how it should be done. The teachers in turn taught Jim and I the Scottish Dances.