MAEE author researches in district

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Robin-Bird-Billy-Petrie-25.08.10-wRETIRED local newspaper editor Robin Bird, who is writing his second book about the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment at Helensburgh, Rhu and Glen Fruin, visited the district in August 2010.

Robin, whose late father Bob was a photographer at the MAEE, also known as RAF Helensburgh, when it was in the district during World War Two, is the man who has lifted the veil of secrecy about the establishment in recent years.

He has done this through his first book about it and by supplying information for articles in the Military section of the Helensburgh Heritage Trust website.

He and his wife Carla stayed in Rhu as he did further research for the second book. He also presented Provost Billy Petrie and Helensburgh Heritage Trust with certificates commemorating the role of this secret wing of the RAF which tested prototype seaplanes, flying boats, bombs and anti-submarine weapons and made a major contribution towards defeating the U-Boat menace.

Robin said: “Like dad during the war, I found the people of Helensburgh and Rhu friendly and hospitable. My wife and I had a drink in the Rhu pub, where dad says in his diary for 1943 'Had a few pints in the Rhu!'”

He and Heritage Trust website editor Donald Fullarton have been pursuing a campaign to have a memorial to the MAEE and its aircrew, both RAF and civilian, who lost their lives during trials, erected in the area. Provost Petrie has now suggested that it might be placed on the wall behind the Rhu village war memorial on the village green.

  • Robin (right) is pictured presenting the certificate to the Provost. Photo by Donald Fullarton.