The World War II airbase, RAF Lossiemouth, in Scotland, is facing closure in light of the recent Strategic Defence Security Review.
Built between 1938 and 1939, No 15 Flying Training School began operating from Lossiemouth in April 1939. Originally housing Oxfords and Harvards, these made way to accommodate Bomber Command in April 1940, when No 20 Operational Training Unit was created. Many bomber crews began their active service at Lossiemouth.
The base was used largely for flight training, although it was occasionally a launch pad for bombing sorties. Perhaps the most significant of these was the successful November 1944 raid on the Bismarck’s sister battleship, Tirpitz, by No. 617 Squadron, better known as ‘The Dambusters’.
Now the home of Tornado bombers, thousands of Lossiemouth locals took to the streets in a bid to save the base from closure, following the suggestion that the Tornadoes may be moved to an English base. A stalwart of the local economy, thousands of jobs could be lost if the move happens. Together with RAF Kinloss, which is also threatened by closure, a combined 4,500 jobs could be axed.
The campaign has found backing from Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, whose older brother flew Tornadoes from Lossiemouth. He argues, “The closure of both Kinloss and Lossiemouth would be devastating to this close-knit community and the effects would be far-reaching.”
The RAF has been told it needs to cut £200 million in order to finance the war in Afghanistan. According to the Ministry of Defence, the final decision concerning the future of both bases is yet to be made.
See Sean Rayment’s article on the SDSR here: Strategic Defence Review: A Strategic Shock?