The Royal Air Force
satellite at Forres was constructed at Balnageith in 1940. The Whitleys of No. 19
Operational Training Unit, Royal Air Force Kinloss used this site until late 1944 and during that
period trained thousands of aircrew for Bomber Command. A Memorial
Cairn was erected in
memory of the airmen and airwomen who served here and especially those who gave their
lives while flying from Forres. The cairn also
commemorates the presence of the Polish Army forces who were billeted on the site between
1945 and 1947.
"We were but warriors
of the working day"
The memorial, a stone cairn, 2
metres high, was unveiled on Thursday the 29th of May 1997, by the Lord Lieutenant, Air
Vice Marshal George Chesworth.
raising was helped by a joint venture between Paul Warrener a Forres resident with an
interest in local aviation history and Gavin Ellis of the Knockomie Hotel, Forres. The
hotel lies very close to the former airfield. It was with Gavin's help that a fund raising
dinner was organised and which took place on March 5th 1997.
Guest speaker was David Shepherd, the well known
Aviation and Wildlife artist. David was delighted to attend the dinner as he has
connections with the OTU, his Father-in-Law flew as a student with the Unit in 1940.
The Dinner was followed by an auction, with Gavin
presiding, as well as coercing! That said, the combination of the dinner, auction and
donations from those unable to attend raised two thirds of the final available funds of
David Shepherd and many members of his wife's
family attended the memorial unveiling. It was a glorious hot May day, punctuated with a
Nimrod flypast, but stealing the whole show was the flying tribute done by a lone Tiger
Moth Bi-plane. The Nimrod representing today's Royal Air Force, the Yellow Tiger the
faithful trainer of many years ago.
To find the memorial, follow the Inverness/Nairn
route A96 west out of Forres, and about 200 yards before the bridge over the River
Findhorn park in the car park of the former "Little Chef"
restaurant now occupied by the "Blervie Chipper". The cairn is
easily accessible from the car park.
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