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West Mainland airield in use
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West Mainland airield in use

Photo by helicopter pilot Cyril Burke, a New Zealander serving at Twatt airfield (HMS Tern). The farmhouse of Lochside (my aunt & uncle's place) is where he was billeted, with his wife, for a year.
Captions added by me. The original remains unsullied.

[Date originally estimated at 1946]
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Picture added on 05 October 2009 at 16:10
The year was 1944. Sorry if I omitted it from my original submission. I don't think service people were billeted on civilians after the war's end.

[Fair enough- I was operating on the assumption that taking photos during wartime would be frowned on. - Steven]
Added by Ian Hourston on 05 October 2009
Taking unofficial photos may well have been frowned on, but Cyril was a wild colonial boy who no doubt wanted a record of the places where he served and lived in Orkney (and wanted his temporary local hosts to have one too).
Added by Ian Hourston on 07 October 2009
An interesting photo. Could it be earlier than 1944?
The airfield is not finished, not all the hangers are there, the ends of the runways are not complete.
Compare with photo in Sky over Scapa page 21
Added by Sandy Scarth on 10 October 2009
Hello Sandy,
I'm going by what the photo's late owner wrote on the back. A positive lady, she wouldn't often be wrong about a thing like this. But it's possible the photo dates from before Cyril Burke stayed at Lochside. Maybe he didn't even take it himself, but 'liberated' it from the official files when he saw it included his temporary home.
Added by Ian Hourston on 12 October 2009
Having now examined the Sky over Scapa photo I have to agree that Burke's photo shows the airfield in a far from fully developed state.
Added by Ian Hourston on 14 October 2009
Just think this could have been Orkneys main airport if Hatston or Grimsetter hadn't existed so near to Kirkwall!!
Added by Jack on 25 October 2009
It should be with great relief that it wasn't developed. Imagine the problems of jet travel so close at hand.
I think you can just make out Hall Cottage and the Drill Hall at the junction to the left of the Loch. Enjoyed our stay there in the 70's
Added by Dennis Manson on 06 April 2011
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