Couple celebrate links with Norway

David and Jan Winch at the 70th anniversary dinner of the Norwegian 333 Squadron
David and Jan Winch at the 70th anniversary dinner of the Norwegian 333 Squadron

THE enduring relationship between a north east Fife community and a Norwegian air squadron has been re-inforced following a special visit to the squadron’s homeland by Wormit couple David and Jan Winch.

Mr and Mrs Winch travelled to the Andoya air base at Andenes, near the Arctic Circle, after being invited to take part in 70th anniversary celebrations of the 333 Squadron, which was formed in Woodhaven in 1942 to fly Catalina aircraft on clandestine missions to Norway.

In the intervening years squadron members and their families have maintained links with the community in Wormit, with regular visits taking place on both an official and unofficial basis.

On this occasion, Mr and Mrs Winch were guests at the spectacular Centennial of Norwegian Airpower air show and at a dinner to mark the 70th anniversary.

GIFTS

They took with them a special copy of the Gospels handwritten by members of Wormit Parish Church and a magnificent laburnum bowl turned by David Beatt as gifts from the Church, Wormit Boating Club and the community. The wood came from one of two trees laburnum trees planted in 1944 to commemorate the visit of King Haakon of Norway to 333 Squadron at Woodhaven.

In return, the commanding officer of 333 Squadron, Lt Col. Haarvard Berg-Olsen, presented the couple with a specially produced medallion to be taken to Wormit Boating Club.

Said Mr Winch: “We are proud to represent Wormit Boating Club, Wormit Parish Church and the community which 333 Squadron RNoAF still consider an important part of their history. There are still many people in the area with memories of contacts and shared events during the war. The Norwegian link is still surprisingly strong 70 years on.

“Squadron members know that whenever they come to visit Woodhaven they will get a welcome,” he continued.

“It has become our custom to show squadron visitors round places which their predecessors will have known. In particular Wormit Boating Club has hosted many visits and Wormit Parish Church, where they worshipped, now houses the Royal Air Force Standard flown by the squadron at Woodhaven throughout their operations there.

TRADITION

“A tradition started by William B.Rankine, whose workshop was taken over as the quartermaster’s store and workshop, is carried on today by John Don who raises the Norwegian flag at Wormit Boating Club on May 17, Norwegian Independence Day, and on the King of Norway’s birthday each year.”

Sadly the number of surviving Norwegians who served at Woodhaven is dwindling, with just three veterans able to make the journey to attend the anniversary celebrations.

The next visit of the squadron to Fife is likely to be in September, when it’s hoped one of the P3 Orion aircraft they now use will make an appearance at Leuchars Air Show.

n Anyone who has memories of the Norwegians at Woodhaven in during the war and would like to meet up with the visitors is asked to contact David Winch on 01382 541315