THE Edinburgh, Lothian and Borders Branch of the RAF Association along with some members of No.603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron Association visited the Richard Hillary Memorial at Charterhall recently.
Branch Chaplain, Rev (Wing Commander) William Mounsey RAF (Retd), conducted a short Service of Remembrance and a wreath was laid by the chairman of the Branch, Flt Lt James D. Scott RAF(VR) (Retd).
Wandering around the airfield site now it is difficult to believe that, once upon a wartime, there were 1,392 airmen and 464 airwomen based here in this nice quiet part of the Borders.
Following an exploration of the former airfield and its wartime buildings the party retired to the Royal British Legion in Duns where good food, a little drink and a lot of reminiscing was enjoyed. A slight detour was then made at the start of the homeward journey to visit the cemetery at Fogo where respects were paid at the graves of 16, mainly Commonwealth, airmen who died while serving at RAF Charterhall.
Richard Hillary was serving with No.603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron when, during the Battle of Britain, he was shot down and seriously burnt. He became one of Archie McIndoe’s ‘guinea pigs’ for reconstructive surgery and, while convalescing, wrote a book ‘The Last Enemy’ which told of his experiences. In early January of 1943 he was based at RAF Charterhall training as a night Ffghter pilot but died along with his radio/observer Sgt K.W. Fison when their Blenheim crashed on nearby Crunklaw Farm.