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Sullom Voe (Garths Voe)

Major
Also known as: RAF Sullom Voe
County: Shetland
Current Status: Oil terminal
Date: August 1939 - 1957
Current Use: Disused
Used By: RAF / RAF (Norwegian) / FAA / RCAF
Landing Surface Types: Water
Prominent People: John Cruickshank VC

Remote Sullom Voe in Shetland was an important flying boat base during the Second World War. The site had good take off and landing runs and a large number of moorings, with aircraft being dispersed in Garths Voe and Voxter Voe. Saunders-Roe A.27 Londons of No 201 Squadron became the first aircraft to arrive in August 1939. This unit, followed by No 240 Squadron, flying the same biplane type, carried out maritime patrols, escort duties and air-sea rescue missions from Sullom Voe. Their home subsequently saw several units appear over the next few years with more advanced Short Sunderlands and Consolidated PBY Catalinas carrying out similar missions.

After Norway fell in the spring of 1940, a number of Norwegian pilots brought their German-built He 115 floatplanes to Sullom Voe. This Norwegian connection continued with the arrival of No 330 Squadron in mid-1943, while detachments of No 333 Squadron arrived from Woodhaven. A Victoria Cross was awarded to a member of No 210 Squadron. This unit later joined the Norwegians in January 1944, after having previously stayed on occasion at Sullom Voe, and remained until disbandment in June 1945. John Cruickshank received the medal after sinking a U-boat on 17 July 1944, one of several sunk by resident aircraft. Despite suffering 72 serious injuries caused by anti-aircraft fire, he managed to safely landed his damaged Catalina. Flight Sergeant Jack Garnett also received the Distinguished Flying Medal for his part in this extraordinary flight.

The flying boat station received enemy air attacks during the war, the first of which occurred on 29 January 1940. Although avoiding damage that time, subsequent attacks did cause some harm but at least one enemy aircraft was shot down.

Both Sullom Voe and nearby associated landplane airfield Scatsta were put under Care and Maintenance in August 1945, although Sullom Voe was used one more time in September 1952 for a NATO exercise by the name of Mainbrace that involved RAF and US Navy flying boats. After the land was sold later on in that decade, oil industry development began in the early 1970s before the famous terminal that has economically helped Shetland and further afield so much opened in 1978. Little remains of the site today with the area being massively involved in this business, apart from one or two items such as a slipway.

 

The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/09/2011):

  • BP Exploration Operating Company Ltd
  • Delting Community Council
  • Sullom Voe Harbour Authority

Main unit(s) present:

  • No 190 Sqn

  • No 201 Sqn

  • No 202 Sqn

  • No 204 Sqn

  • No 209 Sqn

  • No 210 Sqn

  • No 240 Sqn

  • No 330 Sqn

  • No 333 Sqn

  • No 413 Sqn

  • No 701 Sqn

  • No 2733 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2751 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2766 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2778 Sqn RAF Regiment
  • No 2782 Sqn RAF Regiment
Parent(s)/HQ Airfields(s):

Hatston

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