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Wings Over Wick Index

Wings Over Wick
1939 - 1945

Frank Manson, Wolverhampton
I was at Wick for nearly two years from early 1940 and remember it with affection. Two trains a day, to and from Inverness, and I was very surprised when I first arrived, to see a big notice at the station saying that because there was a war on, the train could not be kept waiting for anyone! I had come with a group to open two radar stations. The first was in Orkney on the side of Scapa Flow and Hitler - who seemed to want to get me personally - mistakenly bombed Wick when I was in Orkney and then Scapa when I had moved back to Wick. That wasn't his only attempt. One morning I came out of the cookhouse with my breakfast. I had a plate of porridge balanced on top of a mug of tea and a rasher of bacon under a slice of bread held down by my thumb on the plate with my other hand. I was heading for the dining hut when a plane came over.  I didn't even look up, I was watching my plates, and planes often came in after patrol over the North Sea.  I assumed it was the usual Hudson until the bullets banged into the hut just behind me. He went on to shoot up the airfield. We had plotted him in for forty miles but Inverness, who should have identified him correctly, had made the same mistake that I did, I didn't even spill any tea. That was at our Radar Station at Ulbster, which dealt with low flying aircraft.  We moved there from our first station, which was at Tannach, near Hempriggs and we had another station, Thrumster, which recorded high flying aircraft.

Working eight hours on and eight hours off we were able to spend some time in the town. The tennis courts were popular and snacks at the Boys Brigade Hut and Deep Sea Fishermen's establishment helped a lot.  We used the Breadalbane Cinema and in my case the Public Library.  Few have experienced the sorts of winds you get, which reminds me of one occasion when we were struggling through the snow from the living quarters to the operations site - about a quarter of a mile away - the wind took one chap's glasses off and they disappeared in a snow drift. He was out of action for about a month until they could get him a new pair from Inverness.  A week’s supply of provisions had to be kept at the operations site, for the times when it was completely cut off.