RAF Kinloss – The End Of An Era
At RAF Kinloss on Thursday 26 July 2012, at 1200 hrs, the RAF ensign was lowered for the very last time, bringing to an end the 73 – year history of one of the Royal Air Force’s most well known, operationally active and well loved Stations.
In front of eight former Station Commanders, the Lord Lieutenant of Moray, invited guests, and RAF and 39 Engineer Regiment staff, the last Station Commander, Group Captain JJ Johnston was handed the ensign by Flying Officer Helen Foote during a bitter-sweet ceremony.
RAF Kinloss was established in 1939 as part of the RAF expansion programme, just before the start of the Second World War – its first aircraft arriving at the base on 9 May 1939. During the War, RAF Kinloss was home to an Operational Training Unit, as well as being the base for several Bomber Command missions. It was only at the end of the War that Kinloss started its long relationship with the maritime role, spending many years as a Coastal Command Unit.
The main stay of the post-war maritime fleet, the Shackleton was replaced from 1969 by the Nimrod Mark 1, and that earmarked the start of over 40 years of loyal and dedicated service from the Nimrods – Mark 1 and Mk 2.
The Nimrod Mk 2 fleet was retired in March 2010, and following the SDSR announcement in October 2010, the Nimrod MRA4 project was cancelled, leading to the decision to close RAF Kinloss. The three remaining Squadrons at RAF Kinloss were disbanded at a ceremony, attended by the Station’s Honorary Air Commodore, The Prince Phillip on 26 May 2011.
Finally after over 73 years of Royal Air Force connection, the estate was formally handed over to 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support), to maintain the military history of the Kinloss estate.
Group Captain JJ Johnston, the last Station Commander of RAF Kinloss said: “I am very proud to have been the last Station Commander to command this fine Unit as an RAF Main Operating Base. Its personnel are second to none and have delivered for Defence the ‘undeliverable’; we have executed a change programme and transition to 39 Engineer Regiment that is the envy of UK Business and Industry, let alone Defence. Whilst acknowledging that this is a sad day in terms of RAF history, my personnel should feel rightly proud of the wonderful legacy they leave to our Army colleagues and we all wish 39 Engineer Regiment well in their new home – we know they will be very happy.”
RAF UK MoD press release