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Raf Radar At Inverbervie - a Memory of Inverbervie.

I was based in Inverbervie from March 1957 till March 1958 with 977 Signals Unit of the Royal Air Force. 977 SU operated radar from an underground site on the hill a couple of miles north of the village. Height finding and azimuth aerials were mounted on plinths on the surface. Coming up to the surface to work on the aerials or just for a change of scene was always pleasant, with curlews calling and plenty of sea air. Once while checking the equipment in the radar head, which wasn't rotating at the time, I noticed smoke pouring out and grabbed a CO2 extinguisher to deal with it. Holding the large black plastic horn out of which shot the gas, I found that when I removed my hand most of the skin of my palm was left frozen onto it. However the fire was put out and the nation saved.

The unit's domestic site was in the village, but I believe has now been replaced by housing. There were 27 of us based there during my period there and it was a comfortable time, certainly compared with my earlier technical training at Locking in Somerset. Each morning we were driven up to the technical site in Land Rovers, but usually stopped off en route at a baker's on the lefthand side of the road; this sold sensational rhubarb tarts, with lots of overflowing filling that had turned to toffee, and quite a few of these enhanced our elevenses underground.

Night duty involved sleeping in the guardroom on the tech. site, accompanied by one of the RAF police and his alsatian, but was made far more enjoyable by listening to the marvellous jazz programmes introduced by Willis Conover and broadcast every night by the Voice of America.

Our radar was mainly used to monitor the fishing boats in the North Sea and ensure that they didn't get shot up by Javelins and Meteors from Leuchars using the sea firing areas, though it was doubtless also seen as protecting the nation from the Red hordes; having met several of the same Red horde in later life we had a good laugh about it all.

We would sometimes supplement the RAF diet with visits to Delanzio's fish and chip shop in the village, which did excellent black and white puddings; it also had a juke box, which I as a modern jazz fan endured rather than enjoyed as the mindless noise produced by Bill Haley and the Comets poured out of it.

In the winter I remember seeing the aurora on several nights and thinking how eerie it seemed that all that display of energy wasn't accompanied by some sort of sound.

During the summer I walked along the cliff tops, either north towards Stonehaven or more often south to Gourdon, which was then quite an active fishing port. Inverbervie then had a crab freezing operation and I used to buy a quarter of a pound of crab meat from the cold store for 1/3d (that's about 6p) and eat it with floury baps and butter.

There were far worse places to spend one's National Service than Bervie and on the whole I enjoyed my time there and my introduction to Scotland.


A memory shared by Martin Dilly on Nov 2nd, 2009.
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