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Memorial to be unveiled

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MAEEAS A result of co-operation between Helensburgh Heritage Trust and the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust, a memorial will be unveiled at Kidston Park at 11am on Saturday July 1 to commemorate RAF Helensburgh Airfield and the work carried out during the Second World War by the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment.

This experimental unit was located in and around the hangars at Rhu and surrounding area of mainly requisitioned housing, which officially comprised what became known as RAF Helensburgh.

MAEE carried out work on all aspects of maritime air operations during World War Two for the Royal Air Force. It even played a role in developing the Dambusters bouncing bomb and its smaller relative Highball, which was designed for attacking ships such as Germany’s Tirpitz pocket battleship.

One system tested by MAEE was the Lindholme Gear air-dropped liferaft system, which is still used in search and rescue missions to this day. Sadly, because of the experimental nature of its work, some personnel were killed in local accidents.

An unusual event for MAEE was when a German-built Heinkel 115 seaplane of the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service’ was flown to Rhu, an event witnessed by former provost Billy Petrie, then a schoolboy.

The unveiling of the memorial overlooking the Gareloch and the remaining Rhu hangar will be primarily carried out by retired Merseyside newspaper editor Robin Bird, who has written two books on the subject of MAEE. His father, Bob, was the official photographer there for two years.

The memorial itself is the main standardised design already widely utilised by the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust, and its objective is to eventually commemorate each known disused airfield site in Britain with one of two forms of standardised granite memorial.

ABCT is the world’s first national airfield charity and making a real and revolutionary difference to the advancement of everyday society. The Trust website is http://www.abct.org.uk.


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