In 1912, the British
government planned twelve "Air Stations" operated by the Royal
Flying Corps. Under the instructions of the First Lord of the
Admiralty Winston Churchill, the first of these was at Montrose,
allowing aircraft the ability to protect the Royal Navy bases at
Rosyth, Cromarty and Scapa Flow.
On 13 February 1913 five aircraft of No. 2 Squadron of the Royal
Flying Corps took off from RAE Farnborough under the command of
Major C J Burke. The 450 miles (720 km) journey north was completed
in a series of stages over the following 13 days. The aircraft
landing at Upper Dysart Farm on 26 February, 3 miles (4.8 km) south
of Montrose, thus making it the first operational military airfield
to be established in the United Kingdom.
Not considering the site ideal, after surveying the area Major Burke
gained agreement to move the base to Broomfield Farm, 1 mile (1.6
km) north of the town. At the end of 1913 Army Engineers erected
three hangars of Indian Army Shed design on the site (known as the
"Major Burkes sheds"), enabling the squadron to move there in New
Photograph by Neil Werninck, Montrose.
Hair and make-up by the Barbers Shop (Ladies Hairdresser) Montrose
World War I started on 28 July 1914 and in August of that year No.2
squadron moved to France. The first pilot to land in France after
the declaration of war was Lieutenant H.D. Harvey-Kelly of No.2
Squadron RFC. Another of the squadrons’ pilots, 2nd Lt. W B Rhodes-Moorhouse
became the first pilot to be awarded the Victoria Cross.
Unfortunately it was awarded posthumously on 26 April 1915.
No.2 squadron never returned to Montrose but as the war progressed
several new ones were stationed there.
Montrose airfield 1917