Fifers help mark Royal Norwegian Air Force’s 75th anniversary

The ceremony was held at the commemorative stone in Woodhaven.
The ceremony was held at the commemorative stone in Woodhaven.

A special ceremony has been held in Woodhaven to mark the 75th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Norwegian Air Force.

Representatives from the RNORAF were joined by dozens of locals at the commemorative stone down at the harbour for the ceremony.

Mona Rhøne, Norwegian consul from Edinburgh, Brigadier Åge Longva , Staff Chief of RNORAF, and David Winch, community liaison with the 333 Squadron, which was formed in the village, gave speeches, talking about the connection between the village and Norway, and the history of the 333 Squadron and Royal Norwegian Air Force, before a wreathe was laid at the commemorative stone.

Pictures and information boards were put up in the Wormit Boating Club clubhouse, covering the history of the 333 Squadron and its links to the area.

Another ceremony was held at Leuchars Station later in the day.

“One of the reasons they chose to hold the ceremony here is because it is well kept,” explained Mr Winch.

“We get visits from the 333 Squadron, which was formed here during World War II, on a regular basis. This is one of the reasons we continue to maintain the links with Norway.

“It sprang out of all the friendships made during the war.

“They like to come to see the birth place of their squadron. When they do a joint exercise over here, if they get some free time they’ll come across and we’ll show them Sandford House and the officers’ mess.

“They enjoy coming and we enjoy the connection.”

Among those attending the ceremony were Evelyn Hardie and Ralph Webster, co-owners of Sandford House, which was used as a rest home for Norwegians during the war.

Rev Dr Jim Connolly, minister at Wormit Parish Church, where the 333 Squadron worshipped during the war, also spoke at the ceremony.

The Royal Norwegian Air Force was formed in November 1944, but their links with Woodhaven began a couple of years before that.

333 Squadron Royal Norwegian Air Force was formed when the Norwegian flag was first raised at Woodhaven on February 8, 1942.

Ten days later the first Catalina PBY aircraft, designated W8424 and called Vingtor after the old Norse War God, landed in the bay. They were based at Woodhaven, flying clandestine missions, carrying agents to and from Norway and carrying out anti submarine and reconnaissance missions, until June 1945.

Lasting friendships were forged during the war and revived when 333 Squadron veteran Lt Col Egil Johansen and Wormit Boating Club treasurer David Owen worked with others to re-establish the links which have continued to be maintained over the years. 333 is the only Norwegian squadron to have been in continuous service since its formation and is now based at Andenes on the island of Andoya at the northern end of the Lofoten Islands.

Since then, squadron members and their families have maintained links with the community in Wormit, with regular visits.