EVERY picture tells a story. A faded family photograph taken at 128 West Princes Street, Helensburgh, during World War Two was a happy moment during an unfolding story of action, death and drama.

Retired Merseyside newspaper editor Robin Bird, who sourced this material during his ongoing search for the history of the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, said that it is also a story of a secret army force within a secret air force at Helensburgh.

PHOTOGRAPHER Bob Bird hated doing Home Guard duties at RAF Helensburgh during World War Two. He was not alone.

As a secret establishment RAF Helensburgh provided its own security with RAF personnel supported by all trades.

A COLOURFUL young man who died from wounds received on the Western Front at Ypres is named on the Garelochhead War Memorial.

Second Lieutenant Ronald George Brooman-White was born in the exclusive then Roxburghe Hotel in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square on August 10 1892.

A CHAPLAIN who was born in Helensburgh is thought to have drowned when the hospital ship Glenart Castle was torpedoed in the Bristol Channel on February 26 1918.

Captain the Rev John B.McIlvaine, who was 39, was the Roman Catholic chaplain on the ship, and his Church of England colleague also died.

AN INFANTRY sergeant from Garelochead won two gallantry medals before he was killed in action on September 4 1917.

Born in Garelochhead on June 7 1896, Sergeant Norman Connor, of the 17th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry (3rd Glasgow), had the unusual distinction of winning the Military Medal for bravery in the field twice in Flanders.

THE GREAT grandson of the founder of Teachers Whisky, a young Army officer from Cove, was killed in action in the Flanders trenches on May 14 1916.

Second Lieutenant William George Teacher, who was 22, lost his life while in command of his company at Thiepval, a few weeks before the start of the Somme campaign.

HAND-WRITTEN notes and sketches by Lieutenant Commander Leo Lane RNVR discovered in 2019 have confirmed RAF Helensburgh’s role in organising the Barnes Wallis Highball bouncing bomb trials on Loch Striven.

These trials took place in September and October 1944, but at the end of World War Two RAF Helensburgh went into mothballs.

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