Wayfarer Column- Remembering Turnberry’s role in World Wars

We are approaching Remembrance Day when we will remember all those who gave their lives and suffered injury in two world wars and all the conflicts since. A very sad thought that so many should suffer but we should not forget them or the freedom they fought for.

Turnberry did its share in both world wars with an aerial gunnery school established in 1917 with an A shaped dome and three runways of various lengths. The First World War aerial fighting was in its infancy and unfortunately a lot of lives were lost in training. A war memorial was unveiled in 1923 by Lord Ailsa which states; ‘To the officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the Royal Flying Corps, The Royal Air Force, and Australian and United States Air Services who gave their lives for their country while serving in the School of Aerial Gunnery at Turnberry MCMXVII-MCMXVIII. Their names liveth for evermore’

Some 39 names are listed below this commemoration to be followed by those who died during the Second World War when it was used by Coastal Command as an operational training unit. There were over two thousand three hundred RAF personnel and over four hundred WAAF personnel stationed there in the Second World War, so it was a substantial presence in both world wars. The runways are still in evidence having been built to withstand the heavier aircraft used in the Second World War.

The castle is now a ruin and is unfortunately being allowed to disintegrate year by year. However when you appreciate the age of this ruin you can appreciate the skill of the builders who erected it in the first place, strong enough to withstand the storms which ravage this area plus any attacking force.

Whilst history does throw up some unpleasant facts, it also reflects on the courage of a lot of people who brought us through those terrible times.. However it also gives us some amusing incidents which can be very entertaining. Humour will always present itself even in the most unpleasant of circumstances. Alexander Fleming of Stirling, offered to enlist in the Seventy-ninth (Cameron) Highlanders in1794 on condition he was given the rank of sergeant. Very surprisingly this was accepted and after training Private Drummond was promoted to the rank of sergeant. He served with distinction throughout the world and on retiring returned to Stirling where lived to the ripe old age of 96 ‘fighting his wars all over again’ to an appreciative audience.