The RAF flag is lowered to make way for the army`s flags.
MORE than 70 years of proud Royal Air Force tradition ended yesterday as the RAF ensign was lowered for the final time at the former frontline base at Kinloss in Moray.
The station, established 73 years ago as a pilot training school before becoming a key base for Coastal Command and then a maritime spy plane centre, passed into the history books in a simple but poignant ceremony at the heart of the 1,826 acre airfield.
As the colours of the RAF were lowered for the last time over the base they were replaced by the flag of the 39 Engineer Regiment, marking its new beginnings as Kinloss Barracks.
The fate of the station - one of two RAF bases in Moray - was sealed two years ago with the UK government’s decision to scrap the replacement fleet of Nimrod MRA4 aircraft as part of the strategic defence review.
At its height the base for the “Mighty Hunter” had supported almost 2,000 service and civilian jobs, bringing more than £60 million year to the Moray economy.
But the airfield officially ceased to operate as a frontline base last July when the three flying squadrons - 42 (Reserve), CXX and 201 (Guernsey’s Own) - were disbanded at a ceremony attended by the Duke of Edinburgh.
As the barracks for 39 Engineer Regiment - formerly based at Waterbeach, near Cambridge – Kinloss will become the new home to total of 716 Army personnel by the end of October.
Group Captain JJ Johnston, the station commander of RAF Kinloss, said yesterday that it had been an “incredibly poignant occasion”.
“There is clearly a tinge of sadness in what we’ve done but what it represents is an unbelievable effort by some 1,500 people to draw down this enormous estate and prepare it for transition to what I am pleased to say are new owners and indeed a future within Moray for defence from the Army,” he said.
“The RAF at Kinloss has played a significant role in Moray throughout the last 73 years, and I know that 39 Engineer Regiment will forge the same warm links with the local community.
“This is the start of a new military era in Moray but we know that the future is bright with the arrival of 39 Engineer Regiment.”
Richard Lochhead, the SNP MSP for Moray, said the lowering of the ensign marked the end of a “long and successful chapter in Moray’s story”.