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V-Force Dispersal/QRA Caravans/Buildings

Old 6th Jun 2022, 12:55
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V-Force Dispersal/QRA Caravans/Buildings

As a new subscriber, sensitive to the likely views of those who endured occupying them, I am seeking information on the types of 'accommodation' (to use the term loosely) provided for those lucky enough to be sitting V-Force QRA in the various outposts so designated. I have been unable to obtain information from the usual research sources, which probably supports my suspicion that nobody is much interested in this element of Cold War history. I have the impression that many sites had 'caravans' but I am also aware that Lossie had some wooden sheds while Bedford boasted its own little village of temporary buildings, except for the heating station and power house which were brick. Do any of the 'caravans' survive? Does anyone have photographs etc.of either mobile or fixed installations.Thanks in advance for anything you recall.
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Old 7th Jun 2022, 16:14
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I can't help much, but caravans were the form of accomodation at Finningley where they were located (IIRC) on a hardstanding to the north of the 02 end of the runway. The dispersal ops hut was co-located. At Wyton too caravans were used, located close to the station operations block on the main site. However, the dispersal ops and crewroom site was on the north side of the runway, north of the taxiway at about the midpoint. I recall being dispersed to Coningsby in the early 1970s. The ops room and aircraft were on the south side, probably where one of the HAS complexes is now. I can't remember where we were accomodated at Coningsby, but supect it was caravans close to the aircraft. Kinloss has the Strike Force Dispersal (SFD), the large hardstanding on the north side. Just to the east of the SFD was a collection of tatty wooden huts that served as the ops and domestic area for the dispersal. In the early 1980s, they were used to accomodate the Nimrod OCU during its sojourn at Kinloss. Going even futher back in time, the site to the south of the 26 threshold at Cranwell was designated as a Valiant dispersal and for a while as an operating base for USAFE F4s. Gaydon retained a dispersal committment whilst the Nav School was there, although I never saw it exercised. The ops room and "Dingley Dell" switchboard was behind the Nav School buildings, there may have been some caravans there as well.
Happy days!
YS
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Old 7th Jun 2022, 16:41
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Thanks Yellow Sun. Even the vaguest description of what these 'caravans' looked like, were made of and/or whether there were different layouts. How many were provided? All much apprecaited.
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Old 7th Jun 2022, 21:27
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Hi Brookesy
Here is a link to an old QRA/ORP thread - I am not sure if you will gain anything useful from it but it does have some input from the likes of Pontius Navigator and possibly Tankertrashnav,hope they are both still well as I have not noticed them posting recently.
Post #4 does have a little detail for one of the QRA sites.

V-Force dispersal query
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Old 7th Jun 2022, 22:32
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Caravans were used as transit accommodation at RAF Lossiemeouth when I arrived there in early '79. Being just one rank above Air Dog, (I think the up to date title is Air Specialist 2nd Class), I was not entitled to move directly into Fulmar block and had to spend a probationary period in one of the caravans. I can't quite remember where the caravans were positioned, I think somewhere near the VASF pan. The caravans were the ubiquitous infra red reflective green and I think accommodated 12 lowly erks in three four bunk cabins. The central cabin was entered from one side whilst the two outer cabins were accessed from the opposite side. There were no ablutions in the caravan, the occupants having to trek to Fulmar block for the daily sh*t, shower and shave ritual. My tenure lasted about two weeks before I was deemed a suitable risk to inhabit a transit bunk in Fulmar block. It took another three months before I finally moved into a six man squadron bunk.
Hope this helps Brookesy

Akro
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Old 8th Jun 2022, 07:47
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Thankfully I was never part of the V-force, but did spend some time at Filton, which had a dispersal site some way to the N of the ATC tower. Being on a civvy field, the V-force facility was purpose-built. My recollection (from some 50 years ago) is that all the buildings were Seco huts and at the time seemed to be (from the outside only) in a good state of repair.
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Old 8th Jun 2022, 09:52
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Bedford dispersal site had caravans for sleeping in. Three rooms of 4 bunks. Damp and smelly. A short walk away across daddy long legs infested grass was the ablutions block with its chemical khazi's which were emptied by the honey wagon once a week. The brick buildings used for stores, admin, and general stuff. Advance party would go down and light all the stoves to get some heat into the buildings.
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Old 8th Jun 2022, 11:30
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Originally Posted by ZH875 View Post
Bedford dispersal site had caravans for sleeping in. Three rooms of 4 bunks. Damp and smelly. A short walk away across daddy long legs infested grass was the ablutions block with its chemical khazi's which were emptied by the honey wagon once a week. The brick buildings used for stores, admin, and general stuff. Advance party would go down and light all the stoves to get some heat into the buildings.
I did an Exercise Minion to Bedford in November 1972. The accommodation can't have been too bad as I managed to sleep through a 05. My captain, whom I still see from time to time if only to exchange information about our meds, said " I saw no good reason to wake you up". Bedford was socked in with very thick fog - you couldn't see one set of lights, let alone three. We got off the next day and three days later we were at El Toro USMC Air Base in very sunny California. The AOC was on a round-the-world the world farewell jolly and had stopped off in California to see his daughter who lived in La Jolla. He managed to cock up the engine start (599), thus needing a new engine. We had arrived at Offutt the day before and so he requisitioned our perfectly serviceable bomber (605). I had foreseen something like this happening and so had with me mapping as far as Hickham. Luckily the replacement engine was sent to Montevideo before it arrived in LA. While collecting it we were vouchsafed a sighting of Hugh Heffner, who had flown in in the Big Bunny and who looked so raddled then that I am surprised he lived as long as he did.

As YS said - Happy days!
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Old 8th Jun 2022, 12:22
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I have a book on the Cold War which has a small scale plan of the V dispersal that used to be at RAF Carnaby. This shows a number of buildings opposite a Type B hardstanding including a fly-away pack store, technical accommodation, Ops HQ wirh Officers, NCO's and airmen's quarters.
Not sure why RAF Carnaby had these and other dispersals just had caravans. The plan is Air Ministry Drg No 622/60K dated March 1960.
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Old 8th Jun 2022, 20:27
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Thanks longer ron - an interesting thread for a variety of reasons
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Old 8th Jun 2022, 21:01
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V-Force Dispersal?QRA Caravans/Buildings

Thanks to all respondents for all the useful information. This is clearly an area that, apart from your personal recollections, seems to have very little on the record. It would be good if we could help fill the gap. I noted ZH875's reference to caravans at Bedford with interest. I have visited and photographed this site (with permission). There were the remains of two rows of prefabricated single storey buildings facing each other, Seco type with some blockwork although in their collapsed state it was difficult to be certain. There were also the remains of a building of similar construction which could maybe have provided cooking and dining facilities. There were two brick buildings comprising a heating station and sub-station/power house. Slightly separated from the other buildings was an ablutions block with toilets, urinals, wash basins, showers and a small number of baths in individual cubicles. Were caravans perhaps the sleeping accommodation and the rest for daytime use? Or did the buildings replace the caravans at some point? I have tried to upload some images but so far without success. Please keep the info coming.
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Old 9th Jun 2022, 06:48
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Brookesy,

You can't upload images until you have a certain number of posts, I think it is 10.
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Old 9th Jun 2022, 08:57
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Ken Parry.

Guess you did not play rugger.have a mess kit and go to church?? So unsuitable for the V Force.
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Old 9th Jun 2022, 10:09
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Originally Posted by Brookesy175 View Post
Slightly separated from the other buildings was an ablutions block with toilets, urinals, wash basins, showers and a small number of baths in individual cubicles. Were caravans perhaps the sleeping accommodation and the rest for daytime use? Or did the buildings replace the caravans at some point? I have tried to upload some images but so far without success. Please keep the info coming.
The caravans were a bit smaller than a shipping container and divided into 5 separate compartments, doors all on the same side. IIRC there windows on the door and to the rear with external covers that hinged at the bottom. Internally they were sparse with a single fitted bunk and small doorless alcove for hanging clothes and storing kit. They may have had a wash basin but I can't remember, but as you correctly surmise there were normally showers and other facilities in the huts or close by. They did have an electric heater that was of sufficient power to set alight to an immersion suit. We found that out one night at Finningley. The alerting sytem varied from hooters, the dispersal ops crew banging on the door, or at Wyton, large electric bells with rotating hammers that vibrated the whole structure when they were activated.

Meals could be prepared on site at some locations or in the normal aircrew feeder at others. I also recall going to the mess on some occaisons.

They were basic, but adequate for a couple of nights or so. I think the novelty might have worn of after 28 days in winter.

YS
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Old 10th Jun 2022, 06:47
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St. Mawgan had a purpose built V dispersal, A number of buildings including a full fitted out kitchen area, all kept in good condition. When the Nimrod entered service this whole complex became the operating base for the aircraft. We found the kitchen area complete with a non-working large freezer. Once we got this working it (and most other the equipment) were promptly commandeered by the station catering officer!
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Old 10th Jun 2022, 09:18
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pmills575
Thanks for that. Was that the site visible on Google Earth at the South East end of the runway, now used by the airport fire service? It appears to still have a large building in situ. Just outside the fence was, I think, the former specila storage area for nuclear depth charges for the Nimrods? Cheers.
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Old 10th Jun 2022, 15:20
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Originally Posted by Brookesy175 View Post
pmills575
Thanks for that. Was that the site visible on Google Earth at the South East end of the runway, now used by the airport fire service? It appears to still have a large building in situ. Just outside the fence was, I think, the former specila storage area for nuclear depth charges for the Nimrods? Cheers.
The SSA was at the north west end:




YS



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Old 10th Jun 2022, 16:54
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That's Trebelzue not St Mawgan
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Old 10th Jun 2022, 17:20
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Originally Posted by chevvron View Post
That's Trebelzue not St Mawgan
It may well have originally been "Trebelzue big field" but the USNAWF was located at RAF St Mawgan.

YS
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Old 10th Jun 2022, 22:50
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I served on Vulcan sqns from 74 to 79 and dispersed to Bedford, Wyton and Wittering that I can remember. The sleeping accommodation was in the caravans that Yellow Sun describes, one of which was visible, until very recently at least, from the public road near the Stn Cdrs house at Lossiemouth. A quick look at Google earth shows the remnants of the site at Bedford adjacent to the ORP by the 26 threshold. The brick buildings housed Ops, eng, cooking and eating, ablutions, mt etc. The aircrew slept in the caravans but, to my shame, I can’t remember where the engineers and other supporters slept. All in all, it wasn’t too uncomfortable for us, we took Officers mess cooks and stewards and lived pretty well. The book said that we could maintain a dispersed posture for 30 days but I only ever did it for a week. I heard a story that some senior officer decided to test the 30 day capability once before my time. That did not go so well apparently!


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