RAF Kirknewton

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RAF Kirknewton
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Near Kirknewton, West Lothian in Scotland
Kirknewton Airfield - geograph.org.uk - 46984.jpg
Kirknewton Airfield
RAF Kirknewton badge.jpg
Ut Aquilae Volent
(That Eagles May Fly)
RAF Kirknewton is located in Edinburgh
RAF Kirknewton
RAF Kirknewton
Shown within Edinburgh
Coordinates55°52′31″N 003°23′51″W / 55.87528°N 3.39750°W / 55.87528; -3.39750Coordinates: 55°52′31″N 003°23′51″W / 55.87528°N 3.39750°W / 55.87528; -3.39750
TypeRoyal Air Force station
Area95 hectares
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Air Force
Controlled byNo. 22 Group (Training)
Site history
Built1941 (1941)
In use1941–present
FateRetained by the MOD and used for gliding.
Garrison information
OccupantsNo. 661 Volunteer Gliding Squadron
Airfield information
IdentifiersICAO: EGKT
Elevation201 metres (659 ft) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
00/00  Concrete
00/00  Concrete

Royal Air Force Kirknewton, otherwise known as RAF Kirknewton, is a Royal Air Force station at Whitemoss, a mile south east of Kirknewton, West Lothian, Scotland. It is retained by the Ministry of Defence and is home to 661 Volunteer Gliding Squadron.[1]


Primarily an RAF radar station, RAF Kirknewton was home to a variety of units during the Second World War. No. 289 Squadron RAF was formed there as an anti-aircraft co-operation unit on 20 November 1941. In June 1943, RAF Kirknewton was the site of an outstanding act of bravery when Sqn Ldr Peter Guy Ottewill rescued two airmen from a burning Bristol Beaufighter, earning a George Medal.[2]

RAF Kirknewton was also used as a temporary prisoner of war Camp for German officers during the War, while they were awaiting transfer to the USA.[3] During the War the area in trees to the west of the airfield (which has now been redeveloped for housing) was used for additional accommodation and was known as Ritchie Camp.[4]

From 1952 to 1966, Kirknewton was home to several small United States Air Force units tasked with providing mobile radio facilities in Britain.[5] These units included 6952nd Security Group, formerly the 6952nd Radio Squadron Mobile, United States Air Force Security Service (USAFSS). Around 500 American service personnel were tasked with the interception of voice and Morse signals, including military and commercial naval traffic, with priority being given to signals involving Soviet radar and air operations.[4] The airfield returned to UK control during the late 1960s.[6]

Between 1968 and 1986, some of the airfield buildings were used by the battalions resident in Ritchie Camp as mechanical transport workshops and garaging. The airfield was used for driver training and for low level tactical training.

As part of the Future Force 2020 budgetary announcement in July 2011, Kirknewton was to have been developed into a major British Army base to host a Multi-Role Brigade and both Dreghorn Barracks and Redford Barracks were earmarked for disposal.[7] However plans to develop Kirknewton as an army barracks were scrapped in March 2013.[8]

Current use[edit]

Kirknewton houses No. 661 Volunteer Gliding Squadron, flying a fleet of three Grob Viking T1 gliders and providing flying experience and training to members of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets.

There are also a few private recreational planes based at the airfield.


Current units based at Kirknewton Airfield.

No. 22 Group (Training) RAF


  1. ^ "Defence Estates Development Plan (DEDP) 2009 – Annex A" (PDF). GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. 3 July 2009. p. 2. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Obituary: Group Captain Peter Ottewill". The Daily Telegraph. 13 February 2003. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  3. ^ David Hitt. "Kirknewton 1952–1966". Scott Mcintosh (East of Scotland Aviation Research). Retrieved 22 August 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Secret Scotland". Retrieved 14 May 2011.
  5. ^ Chorlton, Martyn (2008). Scottish Airfields in the Second World War: The Lothians. Scottish Airfields in the Second World War. 1. Countryside Books. ISBN 9781846741067.
  6. ^ "Kirknewton Airfield". Canmore. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  7. ^ Taylor, Claire (15 November 2011). "Defence Basing Review (Standard Note SN06038)" (PDF). House of Commons. House of Commons Library. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  8. ^ "BBC News – Army bases: Fewer than expected troops to return to Scotland". Bbc.co.uk. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2014.

External links[edit]

  • Photo Archive An Edinburgh-based reminiscence group's collection of people's photo albums. This links shows USAF personnel on the base and the neighbouring Inn.
  • "RAF Kirknewton" (wiki). Secret Scotland. Retrieved 28 August 2017.