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Operations Block, Banff (Boyndie) Airfield

A Category B Listed Building in Boyndie, Aberdeenshire

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Latitude: 57.6586 / 57°39'30"N

Longitude: -2.6323 / 2°37'56"W

OS Eastings: 362365

OS Northings: 863360

OS Grid: NJ623633

Mapcode National: GBR M8VH.4TG

Mapcode Global: WH8LT.JRQR

Plus Code: 9C9VM959+C3

Entry Name: Operations Block, Banff (Boyndie) Airfield

Listing Name: Boyndie Airfield, Operations Block

Listing Date: 27 April 2004

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 397463

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49836

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Boyndie

County: Aberdeenshire

Electoral Ward: Banff and District

Parish: Boyndie

Traditional County: Banffshire

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1942, Wimpey Construction. Low, horizontal, single storey, disused Second World War operations block with stepped flat roof, and rare survival of interior detail. Brick and some dry-dash, with 6" reinforced concrete roofs.

S ELEVATION: blank elevation of briefing rooms with taller blank elevation of operations room set back at centre.

E (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: doorway to centre of low blast wall leading to briefing room at left, slightly taller HVAC rooms projecting at right with altered openings.

N ELEVATION: altered openings to HVAC room at left, dominant vertically-emphasised stack with ventilator behind at centre, and operations room to right.

INTERIOR: operations room with remains of hand painted wartime data including detail of fallen aircraft and crews, and raised viewing cubicles also with hand painted data on walls (see Notes).

Statement of Interest

Group with Boyndie Airfield Control Tower. Additional buildings adjacent to the Administrative and Operational Control Centre included staff quarters and offices to the N (remains of pitch-roofed structure can still be seen) and Nissen huts to the W. Jeffrey describes the Operations Block as "the main nerve centre of the airfield, controlling and directing every shipping operation that took place, briefings, meteorological reports, intelligence information and general station life were all run from this building". The hand painted wall charts were started by Canadian War Artist Don Anderson, they originally detailed all vessels sunk by the Banff RAF Strike Wing.

Banff Aerodrome, known as Boyndie Drome, operated as a World War II military airfield from 1944 - 1946. The site rivalled Lossiemouth and Kinloss in terms of scale, and is (uniquely) built on a slope, with some 6000' of concrete runway. It was built for Coastal Command as a two-squadron General Reconnaissance station with a satellite at Dallachy. RAF Banff was transferred to the control of 21 Group Flying Training Command on 5th April, 1943, and the newly completed airfield was opened on 21st April, 1943. During the first year a substantial number of flying hours were spent on twin-engined pilot training, and in early September 1944 the training aircraft were replaced by a mixed Strike Wing consisting of Beaufighters and Mosquitoes.

On 1st September, 1944, RAF Banff was taken over by 18 Group Coastal Command under the command of Group Captain Max Aitken, DSO, son of the then Lord Beaverbrook. Operating as a six squadron multi-national unit, the Strike Wing consisted of the 333 Squadron Royal Norwegian Air Force, 143 Sqn, 248 Sqn, 404 Sqn, 144 Sqn and 235 Sqn Royal Air Force. Strikes from Boyndie largely included concentrated attacks on German surface vessels and U-boats in the North Sea and along the Norwegian coastline. Coastal Command continued operating after VE Day due to fear of enemy submarines, with the Mosquitoes flying convoy escort sorties until May 25, 1945. The airfield closed in the middle of 1946 and subsequently became a target for simulated bombing attacks by Royal Navy aircraft from Lossiemouth units.

After the war, but during rationing, the hangars were used as an egg store and distribution centre for the supply of eggs to the whole of Scotland; and as part of the 1953 Coronation celebrations, every child in Banffshire was invited to a party in No 1 hangar. Max Aitken returned to Boyndie in 1976 to open the Banff Amateur Flying Club.

On 28th September, 1989 The RAF Banff Strike Wing Memorial Trust unveiled a granite memorial at a site near to the airfield on the A95, four miles west of Banff. The stone was unveiled by Group Captain Bill Sise, former CO 248 Squadron, RAF Banff.

A further operations block from this period is listed at Tain across the Firth.

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