Spey Bay a wander a chat to the B.A.L.L Group and a forgotten airfield where 70 airmen lost their lives

My local area never seems to amaze me, yesterday was a superb day after a few days of storms but I missed my weekly gold to give a chat at Spey Bay about 20 miles away. I was speaking to the B.A.L,L. Group at 1030. I arrived early and had a spare hour so went for a wander down to the Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay. The noise of the sea was incredible as the waves broke on the shore and the spray was misting up along the shore line. This is where the the Spey meets the sea and there were huge trees on the shoreline showing the power of the sea and nature. It is a haven for wild life birds including Ospreys and salmon but I did not see any Dolphins but  so many birds a Heron flew of as I wandered along the river, what a great place to be.

It was very quiet as the summer crowds have gone but the Dolphin Centre was open and the cafe but I could not hang about as I had a wee chat with the  Spey Bay BALL Group – Category Over 60s. It was a lovely chat and the ladies gave me a donation to Outfitmoray which was a lovely gesture thank you. Spey Bay is a wonderful place to be and I must come back and have a longer walk and a cup of tea in the cafe in the winter. I must bring the Grand kids up next time they are up, what a stunning place of wildness and beauty.

The noise and power of the sea breathtaking at Spey Bay.

 Aims and Activities –Be Active Life Long (B.A.L.L) Groups

Promoting Health & Well-being for Over 60s

BALL groups have proven popular in Moray and there are currently 20 groups operating in towns and villages across the area.

BALL groups are part of a network of community groups supporting older people in Moray to live healthier, sustainable and independent lives in their own communities.

Older people want to remain active in their communities and the benefits are:

  • Being part of the community.
  • Company
  • Choice
  • Being valued
  • Advice & information

The BALL projects objectives are:

  • To provide opportunities and choice for older adults in Moray.
  • Improve confidence, self-esteem and mental health.
  • To engage older people in the planning and running of their groups.
  • To improve quality of life by increased mobility, lessening the risk of falling.
  • Improve physical health in general.
  • To foster companionship.
  • To develop sustainable programmes by supporting people to become self sufficient.

Dallrachy Memorial

The chat went well and on the way back in the sun I stopped at the Dallachay Memorial just down he road from the hall which has  Beaufighter model in the hall. There is a tragic story to those who lost their lives.

Description

STONE CAIRN, APPARENTLY IN THE SHAPE OF A BEAUFIGHTER RUDDER, WITH INSET TEXT PLAQUE, TITLE PLAQUE AT BASE AND FIVE SQUADRON INSIGNIAS AND GROUP PLAQUES AT TOP

Inscription

THE RAF DALLACHY STRIKE WING / THIS MEMORIAL COMMEMORATES ALL WHO SERVED WITH THE FOUR RAF / AND COMMONWEALTH SQUADRONS OF THE DALLACHY STRIKE WING HERE / AT RAF DALLACHY BETWEEN OCTOBER 1944 AND MAY 1945. THE UNIT’S / BEAUFIGHTERS MOUNTED CONCENTRATED ATTACKS ON GERMAN VESSELS / IN THE NORTH SEA AND ALONG THE NORWEGIAN COAST IN THE CLOSING / MONTHS OF WORLD WAR II. SKILFULLY AND COURAGEOUSLY ATTACKING / USING ROCKETS, CANNON, AND TORPEDO THEY SANK OR HEAVILY DAMAGED / ENEMY SHIPPPING AND SO DEPRIVED GERMAN FORCES OF THOUSANDS OF / TONS OF VITAL IRON ORE AND OTHER SUPPLIES, AND MADE A MAJOR / CONTRIBUTION TO FINAL ALLIED VICTORY. LOSSES AMONG THE RAF / AND COMMONWEALTH SQUADRONS WERE HIGH, ON 9TH FEBRUARY 1945 / (BLACK FRIDAY) 9 DALLACHY AIRCRAFT WERE LOST ON ONE SHIPPING / ATTACK AT FORDE FJORD, NORWAY, THE HEAVIEST LOSS IN THE HISTORY OF THE STRIKE WINGS. / ESPECIALLY REMEMBERED ARE OVER 70 AIRCREW WHO / GAVE THEIR LIVES FLYING WITH THE RAF DALLACHY / STRIKE WING. / “HISTORY FLEW BESIDE THEM AND BRIGHT FAME / ARCHES HER WINGS ABOVE THE CLOUDY WARS.” / (C DAY LEWIS)

Dallachy airfield (Also known as RAF Dallachy) was an airfield 190 kilometers North of Edinburgh, Scotland.
The airfield was built during 1942 into early 1943 and opened in March 1943 as 14 Pilot Advanced Flying Unit, flying Airspeed Oxfords. From September 1943 it got an operational role in 18 Group Coastal Command. 144 Sqn RAF, No. 404 Sqn RCAF and No. 455 Sqn RAAF began using the base, flying Bristol Beaufighters with distinction.

The Spey Bay model in the Hall

In October 1944 they were joined by 489Sqn RNZAF, attacking enemy shipping on the west coast of Norway. On 9 February 1945 31 or 32 Beaufighters from Dallachy took part in a mission that became known as ‘Black Friday’. They were to attack the last German destroyer (a naval vessel) hidden in a fjord in Norway. When their attack run began, they and their accompanying Mustangs were jumped on by a dozen of FW-190s. The aerial battle that followed was the largest ever fought over Norway and resulted in the loss of 9 Beaufighters (6 from 404 Sqn) and one Mustang on the Allied side, and 4 or 5 FW-190s on the Luftwaffe side. 14 Allied aircrew were killed and another four taken prisoner of war.

The surviving Beaufighters, many of which were damaged, struggled to return to Dallachy. The losses suffered by the Dallachy Wing on 9 February were the highest any of Coastal Command’s strike wings sustained in a single operation during the war.

One can only imagine losing 9 aircraft in one day and the loss of life, yet I would imagine few know this story.

In all a lovely morning and a reminder how special Moray is and how many stories there are.

 

About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Aircraft incidents, Articles, Enviroment, Equipment, Lectures, Local area and events to see, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

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