Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum
This excellent museum is located two miles north-east of the centre of Dumfries, on part of what once was RAF Dumfries, an extremely busy base during the Second World War and beyond. Prior to my latest visit in April 2021, I had only been once and that was back in April 2012. Although occupying just a small fraction of the former airfield site, there`s a lot to see including some rare and unusual aircraft, some of which have a connection with the area.
The museum is entirely staffed and maintained by volunteers who are more than happy to answer any questions and provide detailed background information on the collection. The main ancillary exhibits are housed within the preserved control tower. Another local military airbase at that time which also gets a mention is RAF Annan, now the site of Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station.
The three-storey control tower is packed with items and shows how the air ops room would have looked when the airfield was active during wartime.
RAF Dumfries was operational from June 1940 until 1957, when it down closed altogether.
During the summer of 1940, No.10 Bombing and Gunnery School moved to RAF Dumfries from Dorset and set about training Bomb-aimers and Gunners, initially in Handley Page Harrow and Fairey Battle aircraft, before passing the qualified crews on to Operational Training Units. (Above photo © www.solwaymilitarytrail.co.uk).
RAF Dumfries also acted as a ferry airfield with numerous planes arriving from factories to await allocation. Many of these ended up overseas. It`s estimated that around 5,000 aircraft were prepared and dispatched from here to units during the course of the war. Whitley bombers were introduced by September 1940 and their Navigators were also trained here. Other based aircraft types included the Blackburn Botha and Avro Anson. The blackboard depicts actual events that took place at RAF Dumfries during WW2.
Many of the other buildings, including several hangars, survive and most are in use as industrial or small business units close to the museum site.
Unsurprisingly, many of the aircraft on display have moved position since my last visit, with others having undergone extensive makeovers and repaints.
I`ve included a number of `then and now` shots for comparison including the above. The Saab Draken seems to be basically untouched, but the Wessex is now in an allover green scheme and as of July 2021, the Meteor and Bristol Sycamore were being restored, the latter in one of the hangars.
The control tower is packed with exhibits including a large collection of model aircraft, aero-engines and ejector seats on the ground floor.
Various pieces of aircraft wreckage, some fairly substantial are dotted around the site.
Above: This is a tailfin from Lockheed Hudson Mk.III, serial number AE489, which crashed into a peat bog on Glenouther Moor, North Ayrshire, on 6 January 1942, The aircraft was almost new, and was visiting maintenance units to complete the fitting of armaments and other equipment. The fin and other pieces of wreckage were recovered in 1983.
Substantial remains of another Hudson Mk.III bomber, serial Number T9432 (ZS-B), (above) of 233 Sqn Royal Air Force, lie high up on the flanks of Ben Lui near Tyndrum in the Scottish Highlands. This Hudson was based with Coastal Command at Aldergrove, Northern Ireland, and was lost on 15 April 1941, sadly killing all four crew members on board. The aircraft struck the southeast side of the mountain in poor weather, close to the snow-covered summit then ploughed its way into a narrow gully and simultaneously disintegrated. Pilot Douglas Eric Green, his Co-pilot Fredrick Victor Norman Lown, and crew of Leonard Alfred Aylott and Wilfred Alan Rooks all perished. A dedicated page including detailed information and photos relating to this crash, and the Lockheed Hudson in general, can be found here.
The wheel strut, above left in the foregoing gallery, belonged to Bristol Beaufort N1180, `S` for Sugar, which crashed on the Mull of Kintyre on 2 September 1942. The aircraft, which had taken off from Abbotsinch, crashed into Tor Mhor killing all on board.
Please bear in mind that all my images are subject to copyright. They are not free to use and have been embedded with a digital watermark.
The Loch Doon Spitfire
The highlight for many visitors is the museum`s immaculately restored Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IIa P7540 which went down into Loch Doon, East Ayrshire, on the 25th October 1941 during a training sortie, killing the Czech pilot, František Hekl. The founders of Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum first commissioned the salvage project way back in 1977 having obtained permission from the Ministry of Defence. However, visibility was far worse than anyone imagined, and below three metres the water was a dark, muddy soup with a thick layer of silt on the bottom. Only a fingertip search of the loch floor had any chance of locating the wreck and several groups of divers helped over the years. It wasn’t until May 1982, just before the decision was made to finally abandon the search altogether, that a diver literally bumped into the fuselage. It was raised with airbags and taken ashore, leaving just the engine to be found. Having broken free from the cartwheeling Spitfire on impact with the water, the engine was eventually found by diver Peter Howieson who is now a volunteer at the museum. It had taken six years, 109 individual sub-aqua divers and 567 separate dives to locate the Spitfire, though no trace of the pilot was ever found.
(Cockpit photos © Dumfries & Galloway Aviation Museum)
Restoring such an iconic and fragile aircraft is not a task normally undertaken by small aviation museums, and several individuals and groups were involved in the project. The bulk of the final restoration work was carried out by the Aircraft Restoration Group, allowing the plane to be revealed to the public in July 2017. The engine has been restored and is displayed alongside the aircraft.
Visitors can explore the interior of Trident G-AWZJ. It made its first flight on 9 September 1971 and served its entire career with BA, operating short haul flights. The last revenue flight before retirement was on 9 December 1985 between Zurich and London Heathrow. This was the last UK-based Trident to fly fee paying flights.
G-AWZJ left Heathrow for Prestwick on 28 February 1986 to become a non-destructive trainer with the airport`s Fire and Rescue Service and remained there until acquired by the museum in 1999. Due to space and transport constraints, only the front 60 feet of the fuselage was able to be saved.
Interestingly, the aircraft has had a second career as a film and TV star both at Prestwick and at the museum, where it remains in demand. It has featured in around fifteen productions, including Rab C. Nesbitt, The High Life, and an Irn-Bru advert.
This English Electric Lightning F.53 ZF584 is an ex Saudi Air Force example. After returning from the Middle East in 1986 it was placed in storage until it was presented to the Ferranti company in Edinburgh who placed it on a plinth outside their complex. It remained on display there for almost a decade until the factory was demolished in 2000. It was then that the aircraft was acquired by the museum. Unlike most of the aircraft on display, the condition of the Lightning has actually deteriorated over years.
Fairey Gannet AEW.3 XL497 is displayed near the entrance. The Gannet was an anti-submarine warfare aircraft designed for use by the Royal Navy. It first flew in 1949 and entered service with the Fleet Air Arm in 1953. Initially used as a carrier borne anti-submarine and strike aircraft, it was able to find submerged submarines and attack them. Later versions were used as AEW (airborne early warning) platforms, carrying a radar scanner in a radome beneath the aircraft. As this radar was carried several thousand feet above the carrier group, it could see further and detect threats earlier.
In common with most other carrier-borne aircraft, the Gannet had folding wings enabling it to be stored below decks, but the Gannet, had a distinctive Z-fold due to its size. Also unusual was the Armstrong-Siddeley Double Mamba engine. This was actually two turboprop engines mounted side-by-side, driving one propeller each on a common shaft. Both engines were used for take-off, after which one was shut down for economical cruising. Half way through the mission, the other engine was started and the first shut down, mainly to keep engine hours equal. For landing, both engines were used.
The museum`s AEW Gannet made its maiden flight in November 1960 and was assigned to 849 HQ Flt. Culdrose. In January 1966 it was shipped to Changi in the far east and served aboard HMS Ark Royal and then with HMS Eagle, but was back in the UK by August 1968. XL497 has always been assigned to one of the 849 Flts and in addition to Culdrose has been based at Brawdy, Yeovilton and Lossiemouth. Its last sea posting was with HMS Ark Royal. The aircraft was struck off charge and became the gate guardian at HMS Gannet at Prestwick Airport in December 1978. The MOD put the aircraft up for tender in January 2006 and the museum acquired the aircraft. XL497`s old carrier HMS Ark Royal was scrapped in 1979-80 at Cairnryan near Stranraer, and parts of the ship are displayed on either side of the aircraft.
Hawker Hunter F4, WT746 has received a sleek glossy black paint scheme since my last visit in 2012. This famous Cold War era jet was intended as a replacement for the Gloster Meteor, early examples of which saw action during the latter stages of the Second World War. Although the first version of the Hunter, the Hawker P1067, first flew in July 1951, Hunters did not enter frontline service with the RAF until 1954. The type flew in all theatres of operation including the British Isles, Germany and the Far East, with some aircraft taking part in the Suez Crisis. Hunters were flown by 20 countries worldwide with the last military Hunters retired in 2014 when the Lebanese Air Force finally disposed of their fleet.
The museum’s Hunter first took to the skies in March 1955 but did not see Squadron service, moving from 5MU (Maintenance Unit) to the Air Fighting Development Squadron (AFDS) for trials work at West Raynham. It was then used as a ground instructional airframe at RAF St Athan and RAF Halton, before being retired and acquired by the museum in 1999. Two Squadrons set up famous display teams: 92 Squadron, the Blue Diamonds, who flew 16 royal blue coloured aircraft, and 111 Squadron, the Black Arrows, who flew all black aircraft and once looped 22 aircraft in unison. The display example at Dumfries is being repainted to represent one of the latter team`s mounts and will no doubt look superb once the appropriate markings have been applied.
Below: North American F-100D Super Sabre 54-2163 (HA) is parked beside the tower. Although displayed in US Air Force colours, this aircraft spent much of its career with the French Air Force. The F-100 was the first of the Century series of fighters developed by America during the Cold War, taking to the air for the first time in May 1953. It had a fairly short life as a fighter, but went on to serve as a fighter bomber, tactical nuclear bomber, defence suppression aircraft (also known as Wild Weasel) and, finally, as a target tug with the last flight in 2001. One of the type`s more glamorous roles was as a chosen mount for the United States Air Force Thunderbirds display team. Super Sabres saw a great deal of action during the Vietnam War and they were also used by the air forces of Denmark, France, Nationalist China and Turkey. Approximately 2,300 of all marks were built.
The museum’s aircraft, 54-2163, was built in 1954 as a ‘D’ model. It was used by the Americans before being delivered as a lend-lease aircraft to France during 1958. During this time it was assigned to NATO’s 4th Tactical Air Force in Germany as a nuclear strike aircraft. When France left NATO in 1967, it returned to France for use as a conventional fighter bomber. Ten years later, it was returned to American control and flown into RAF Sculthorpe which, at that time, was a USAF base. This also turned out to be its last flight. It was passed to the Museum in 1978 and was repainted in the markings it wears today to represent an aircraft that actually flew in Vietnam.
I believe the above cockpit is from an HS 748 propliner.
RAF Jet Provost T.4 XP557 first flew in 1962. From 1962-1971 it was used by RAF College, Cranwell for basic pilot training and from 1971-1975 by No 6 F.T.S for navigator training. Between 1975 and 1991 it was used by No 1 School of Technical Training at RAF Halton for engineer training and did not fly again. From 1991-2005 it was held in various museum collections, including Bruntingthorpe, Firbeck and Helmswell. In March 2005, it came to our collection. In July 2015 it gained its dazzle finish courtesy of the Guild of Aviation Artists.
This is an ex-Royal Air Force Bedford Pyrene MK 8 Fire & Rescue appliance photographed in 2012. The Mk 8 was introduced to the RAF in 1972 and carried a crew of three. In terms of design it was different to previous postwar RAF crash trucks in that it had an auxiliary engine to drive the fire pump instead of using the prime mover via a power take off (PTO). It was not a major foam vehicle and classed as a Primary 2 truck for use on smaller airfields or on larger airfield augmenting the major foam trucks. The engine was also capable of water production for use in the domestic fire fighting role. The last ones were taken out of service in 1992.
The museum`s Gloster Meteor T7 (mod) WL375, was currently undergoing restoration when I visited in 2021, having been dismantled with the rear fuselage and wings being worked on in a hangar. This aircraft is a hybrid built for test and evaluation work. It has a trainer (T) cockpit and centre section, a fighter reconnaissance (FR) nose with a camera mount, and the tail, wings and larger engines of the fighter (F) variant. It spent all of its life with the Royal Aircraft Establishment, latterly at West Freugh near Stranraer. The story goes that whilst in service here it was flown by a now world famous USAF pilot on an exchange posting – namely Buzz Aldrin, who became the first person to walk on the moon. The Meteor, which was in a very poor state of repair, was rescued from the West Freugh fire dump by the museum in the early 1980s.
The Gloster Meteor was developed as Britain’s first jet powered fighter with it maiden flight on 5 March 1943 at the height of the Second World War. No. 616 Squadron became the first unit to operate the type in July 1944. The aircraft was developed over a number of years, originally with Rolls-Royce Welland engines developed by Sir Frank Whittle, and eventually with the Rolls-Royce Derwent engines. As a first-generation jet fighter the design was not aerodynamically advanced, and the Meteor was not always easy to fly. However, almost four thousand were built and they also flew with many foreign air forces. The final RAF aircraft were retired from their role as target tugs in the 1980s. An unforeseen advantage of the Meteor’s design was that the engines were spaced well apart from the robust fuselage, and this made the aircraft perfect for developing and test-firing ejection seats. Martin-Baker still use two Meteors to this day for this demanding and important task.
The museum`s Saab 35 Draken is an ex-Swedish Air Force example, serial number 35073 (16/40). Drakens entered service with frontline squadrons of the Swedish Air Force on 8 March 1960. This particular aircraft, which operated from the country`s Uppsala Airbase, was gifted to the Duxford Aviation Society by the Swedes in 1977 but was subsequently gifted to the Imperial War Museum in exchange for a de-Havilland Dove. This Draken has been on long term loan from the IWM since 2005.
ex Belgian Air Force Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star 5-3047 was also in far better condition when I last visited...
The T-33 is based on the P/F-80 Shooting Star which was the first jet fighter in United States Air Force service. Although its origins go back to 1944, it saw no action during that conflict, but it performed well from 1950 onwards during the Korean War. Modifications to the design soon led to the T-33A. Commonly referred to as the T-Bird, the T-33 was produced in larger quantities than any other F-80. Eventually, given an even more efficient engine, the T-33 served as the USAF`s standard jet trainer for almost two decades. The T-33 was so popular it became the chosen jet trainer for many foreign air forces, the last aircraft being retired by the Bolivian Air Force in 2017. The aircraft on display at Dumfries was acquired by the museum in the early 1980s.
The Dassault Mystere was a 1950’s French fighter developed from the Ouragon jet fighter bomber. The Mystere 2C was the first production version and it first flew in February 1951. A total of 150 were built and used by the French Armee de l’Aire throughout the 1950’s and then relegated to a training role. The model was finally retired in 1963.
They were replaced by the IVa version, which first flew in September 1952. Just over 410 of these were built, including 110 for India and 61 for Israel. The first 50 aircraft were built with Rolls Royce Tay engines and the balance with a licence-built version of the Tay engine, the Hispano-Suiza Verdon.
The French aircraft were ordered and paid for by the United States under offshore contracts, into whose custody they were returned upon retirement during the 1980’s.
The French had 6 Squadrons of Mystere IVs and they saw action during the Suez Crisis. Three Squadrons were give the title `La Patrouille de France`, the official display team of France, between 1956 and 1963, and displayed using Mystere IV’s. The Museum’s example is a Mark IVA, serial number 8-NY 318.
British Aerospace Jetstream T2 XX483 (562) cockpit section. This particular aircraft began its military career in the Royal Air Force (RAF) at the Central Flying School before transferring to 750 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm at Culdrose. It last flew on 2 April 1996 and was acquired by the Dumfries Museum in 2002.
(Above right photos: Wikipedia / Printerest / Public domain)
These shots show the escape capsule from a USAF General Dynamics F-111E, serial number 68-060, which crashed off the Lincolnshire coast on 5 November 1975. An Upper Heyford-based example is pictured above. Unlike most military aircraft which utilise ejection seats, this swing-wing bomber`s whole cockpit section was designed to detach in the event of an emergency. F-111E 68-060 was brought down as a result of a bird strike. The crew survived and were plucked from the sea by RAF Woodbridge-based USAF helicopters but the Captain sustained severe head injuries as a result of the impact.
The museum`s cockpit section from Blackburn Buccaneer S.2B XT280 has since been repainted, losing its 2012 `half Royal Navy / half RAF` colour scheme and now looks immaculate. The aircraft was built by Hawker Siddeley at Brough in 1965 to an S.2A standard and delivered to the Royal Navy in November of that year, being allocated to 809 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) at Yeovilton. XT280 formed part of the unit`s formation display team at the 1966 and 1968 Farnborough air shows. It later served on the aircraft carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Ark Royal and was one of the last dozen Buccaneers to sail with the latter ship before it was decommissioned in December 1978.
The aircraft was the assigned to the Royal Air Force in 1981 and served with 16 Squadron at RAF Laarbruch in what was then West Germany. It went on to operate with 12 Squadron and 208 Squadron at Lossiemouth and was upgraded to S.2B standard in 1988. XT280 did not see action in the Gulf War and in February 1994 was tendered as scrap. By March, this nose section was all that was left.
Pre-COVID, visitors could clamber into the cockpits of several military aircraft including the English Electric Canberra nose section shown above.
It`s all that remains of serial number WJ880. This aircraft entered service with the RAF in March 1955 with 15 MU, then in August of that year it was assigned to 104 Squadron, 2nd Tactical Air Force in Germany, initially based at RAF Gutersloh. WJ880 spent the majority of its service life serving in Germany after which it was put up for disposal in 1968. The aircraft was eventually scrapped in 1982, and the cockpit was acquired by the museum in the early nineties.
The nose section above belongs to a Twin Pioneer. The `Twin Pin` was built by Scottish Aviation at Prestwick as a STOL (short take off / landing) transport aircraft for the RAF. Designed to fly from short runways with poor surfaces it featured a large high-lift wing, twin Alvis Leonides radial engines, a sturdy undercarriage and triple fins and rudders. First flown in 1955, it entered service the following year. Including civilian versions, 89 Twin Pioneers were built, and as well as the RAF, the type saw service with the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Nepalese Royal Flight. Retired by the RAF in 1968 after doing sterling service in the middle east and in the jungles of Borneo, the Twin Pioneer was used by numerous civilian companies operating in areas of the world where only very basic airstrips existed. The Dumfries museum`s cockpit on display came from XM285 which became G-AYFA in civilian guise. Last used on survey work by Flight One Ltd, the aircraft was scrapped in 1992.
The museum`s Westland Wessex, XT486, is a HU.5 variant, designed to carry 16 troops in the Commando role. It first flew in 1966 and was issued to 847 Sqn, Royal Navy. In May 1982 it went to take part in the Falklands conflict, arriving on June 6th, however, on 15th June, it suffered storm damage while aboard HMS Glamorgan and was returned home in July 1982 for repairs. In 1987 it became a ground instructional airframe at RAF Brize Norton, then in 1996 it was assigned to the Altcar Range in Merseyside, surviving to be purchased by the museum in 2007.
The Wessex was developed from the American Sikorsky S-58 by replacing the original piston engine with a British-developed turboshaft version. The type`s first flight was in June 1958, after which approximately 380 were built. They were used in the anti-submarine role, using dipping sonar and torpedoes or depth charges. They also served as commando and assault transport, VIP transport and, probably their most visible use, as a search-and-rescue helicopter. In the VIP role, two helicopters were converted, and painted bright red, for use by the Royal Flight. They were sometimes flown by Prince Philip or Prince Charles (as both had qualified as Wessex pilots) when on royal trips. In addition to those operated by the RAF and Royal Navy, the Wessex was also flown by the Australian Navy, Iraq and Uruguay. Civilian operator Bristow Helicopters flew the type over many years in support of the North Sea oil industry. There are over 30 preserved Wessex’s worldwide including one which has been restored to fly, making its first post-restoration flight in 2019.
Bristol Sycamore 3 serial number WA576 (pictured below in April 2012) was being worked on in the restoration hangar during my latest visit. This helicopter was acquired by the museum in June 1987 after it had spent 6 years in the open air, suffering from the effects of exposure to the elements and vandalism. The rotor blades, since removed, are of plywood construction and were in very poor condition. WA576 first flew in 1950 and was one of four Mk.111 pre-production models that were the first British designed helicopters to enter RAF service. WA576 was initially attached to the Joint Experimental Helicopter Unit and took part in military trials. The Sycamores which entered service had several modifications compared with this example. These included hinged rather than sliding doors and a hydraulic winch for search and rescue operations.
RAF Dumfries and the Bomber War Exhibition
This exhibition outlines the history of RAF Dumfries, including why it was built and the role it would play in WW2. The people who worked here, both servicemen and women from all over the country, as well as civilians working in the repair depots on site are also recognised, as are the men and women of the Air Transport Auxiliary.
In addition, there is a wealth of information on the local maintenance and training units, and the instructors and pupils who passed through. Navigation, gunnery and bomb-aiming were the principal courses delivered by experienced staff, often on a break from front-line service. The pupils who completed their training most likely went on to serve in Bomber Command.
Particularly noteworthy is the Halifax cockpit replica (above left) and a restored Frazer Nash gun turret. Also covered is the history of not only RAF Annan but also the other main airfields in the Dumfries & Galloway region, outlining some of the activities carried out at each one, from training and bombing trials through to anti-submarine patrols over the Atlantic Ocean.
This aerial view of RAF Dumfries shows the vast amount of aircraft that could be found here on a typical day during wartime. The shot is courtesy of the excellent Solway Military Trail website which has a wealth of information on numerous facilities in the Dumfries and Galloway Region and those in Cumbria on the south side of the Firth including the Solway Aviation Museum at Carlisle Airport. A dedicated page on www.clydesideimages.co.uk covering my visit to this museum can be found here.
Below: One of two Rolls Royce Merlin 38 engines from Lancaster III, serial number PB456, of 101 Squadron, which crashed in the hills above Loch Lomond on 13 September 1944 during a training sortie. Unfortunately all 7 aircrew were killed and the exact cause of the crash was never determined. The engines were recovered from the crash site in 2006.
Airborne Forces Exhibition
The Airborne Forces exhibition in one of the outbuildings is a work in progress but has been greatly expanded since my last visit and is centred around a WACO CG-4A glider. This type was the standard US Airborne Forces assault glider in World War Two, named Hadrian by the British. It was a metal and wood framed, fabric covered aircraft, as opposed to the British all-wood method of construction. Following the first flight in May 1942, approximately 13,900 were built. They had a crew of two and could carry 13 troops, or a Jeep and crew, or a 75mm gun and crew. Loading was done via an upward hinged nose.
They were used by both the Americans and British in Sicily in June 1943 (the only time the British used them), and by the Americans alone for the D-Day Landings in June 1944, Arnhem in September 1944 and the Rhine Crossing in March 1945. They were also used in the China, Burma and Indian theatres. The last usage was in the early 1950’s in the Arctic, taking scientific research personnel to and from the ice, using a hook and line method of grabbing the glider which was developed during World War Two. An RAF Hadrian made aviation history in the spring of 1943 by being the first glider towed across the Atlantic.
The museum`s CG-4A, serial `241079`, was rebuilt by the Assault Glider Trust between 2005 and 2014. It`s based on an unknown original frame supplied by the Silent Wings Museum in Texas, with all other parts being made exactly to the original drawings. The aircraft, which arrived at Dumfries in November 2018, is displayed as complete on one side. Interestingly, the other side has not been covered in fabric, allowing an uninterrupted view of the glider`s interior.
There is an impressive variety of exhibits including this full-scale glider nose entrance complete with jeep, aircraft models, uniforms and equipment.
The display tells the story of the use of airborne troops from their inception in World War Two to the present day. Included are an extensive range of artefacts telling the stories of the Glider Pilot Regiment and those who were transported to battle in gliders, including the local regiment the Kings Own Scottish Borderers.
The Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum`s Hotspur cockpit section (below) is the last remaining original section of a Hotspur in existence. Even the Museum of Army Flying at Middle Wallop, Hampshire, only has a replica. When Winston Churchill ordered the creation of an airborne fighting force in June 1940, the RAF and Army had no gliders at their disposal. The Air Ministry issued the specification for an eight-man assault glider in late July, and General Aircraft Limited flew the prototype Hotspur in November – just four months from starting the design.
Over a thousand all-wooden Hotspurs were built, but early in the glider`s career it became apparent that it was really too small to carry an effective fighting force. Therefore the larger Horsa became the mainstay of the British glider fleet. Never used on operations, the Hotspur became the main training aircraft used by the Glider Pilot Regiment.
There is a impressive model of the attack on the Pegasus Bridge during the early hours on D-Day, but the glass case makes it difficult to photograph properly, especially without a polarising filter. Navigating at night with a stop watch and a compass, the pilots of six Horsa gliders containing D Company of the 2nd Battalion, Oxford & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry under the command of Major John Howard, landed their aircraft within metres of Benouville bridge, now immortalised as Pegasus. The Allied air commander, Air Chief Marshall Leigh-Mallory, commented that the operation was one of the most outstanding feats of precision flying of the war. Within 15 minutes, Howard`s men had stormed and neutralised the enemy defences and moved out to establish a defensive perimeter, bracing themselves for the inevitable counter-attack.
I compiled an extensive section on the D-Day Landings and the battles that followed on this website after a visit to Normandy several years ago. This painting of Howard``s attack can be found in the foyer of the Memorial Pegasus Museum, next to the bridge. Click here for my main D-Day page. Further information on British and US Airborne operations can be accessed from there.
The Dumfries Museum`s Airborne section also has a small display on the German Invasion of Crete. Although the island was eventually captured after bitter fighting, German casualties were so high that Adolf Hitler decreed that from then on, gliders would never be used in a large-scale offensive capacity.
There are various small memorial plaques and information sheets honouring the airmen who were lost dotted around the museum, as well as this purpose built memorial garden. The memorials here relate to the Parachute Regiment and the many aircrew who died while flying from airfields, specifically in the Dumfries and Galloway region during the Second World War.
A NAAFI catering van stands outside a recreated WW2 era shop and kitchen.
A cafe, shop, an Airborne Forces display, a recreated WW2 grocer`s and an art gallery are among those housed in ground-level outbuildings.
The Anderson shelter was designed in 1938 by William Paterson and Oscar Carl (Karl) Kerrison in response to a request from the Home Office. It was named after Sir John Anderson, then Lord Privy Seal with special responsibility for preparing air-raid precautions immediately prior to the outbreak of World War II. The shelters were designed to accommodate up to six people, but this number was often exceeded during raids.
Anderson shelters were issued free to all householders who earned less than £5 a week while those with a higher income were charged £7. One and a half million shelters of this type were distributed between February 1939 and the outbreak of war. During the conflict a further 2.1 million were erected.