Site Records


Site Name: Site Name: Area Combined HQ Pitreavie Castle (Flag Officer, Rosyth, RN & AOC No 18 Group, RAF Coastal Command)

Castle Drive
Pitreavie
Fife
OS Grid Ref: NT117848

Sub Brit site visit: 26th June 2005

[Source: Bob Jenner]

On 30 April 1968 RAF Strike Command was created from Fighter and Bomber Commands at High Wycombe with Coastal Command becoming No 18 (Maritime) Group headquartered at Northwood outside London.  The old No 18(R) Group now became the Northern Maritime Air Region; still at Pitreavie (the Southern Maritime Air Region was located at Mount Batten in Plymouth)


Computer room in October 1995

During this period the underground bunker underwent modernisation, but details of the extent of the improvements and whether it entailed any structural alterations are unknown.

By 1984, the RAF commitments at Pitreavie were reduced to housing the Rescue Co-ordination Centre a function at the HQ since WW 2, support for the AOSNI who was still located there, running the NATO Integrated Communications System Terminal and Relay Equipment (NICS TARE) The Navy continued to fulfill FOSNI’s commitments and

was resonsible for all Naval activities in the north of the country whilst Flag Officer Plymouth was responsible for the south, both being answerable to C in C Fleet at Northwood.

In 1993 a NATO review relieved the AOSNI of his NATO hat, whilst in June it was announced that the two RCC’s, North at Pitreavie and South at Mount Wise/Mount Batten were to be combined at Pitreavie. In the event a new Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Centre (ARCC) was opened in 1994 at RAF Kinloss from where it is still currently operating.

WW2 Plan of the lower floor of the underground headquarters
Drawn by Nick Catford

The Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Service is currently a commitment of HM Coast Guard. with centres around the coast of the UK working in conjunction with the RNLI.

1994 saw FOSNI transfer his Flag to the Naval Base at Faslane and in December AOSNI moved to RAF Leuchars, with the closure of NICS TARE, now surplus to requirements, the end was inevitable, closing on the 1st February 1996 after 55 years of continuous service.

Photo:The operations room with a map of the north Atlantic and shipping display boards. The map is standing in the original well and the control cabins were up the stairs.
Photo by Jim Crockett

After being cleared, the site was sold, with the bunker having all entrances completely sealed and all surface traces (apart from a footprint) obliterated.  The Castle had all of the RAF additions removed and has now been converted into several luxury apartments as has the adjacent Stable Block. Most of the HQ site has been given over to private housing (MacLean Gate) and the Carnegie Campus business park and an ornamental lake has been dug to the east of the bunker.

The site has apparently only the two buildings mentioned remaining although the road layout is still intact, assisting in locating the bunker, which with great regret was not entered.

Photo:The main entrance to the bunker in April 1995, shortly after closure.
Photo by Jim Crockett

A descriptive tour of the bunker is not possible because although we have an original layout plan, virtually no contemporary photographs are available to describe the contents and equipment in each room.  Likewise, we know what some of the rooms looked like and were used for at the latest stages but we have no plan of the layout or of the modifications that have occurred during the life of the bunker.

By the time Pitreavie had closed, it had changed out of all recognition to the original layout (see plan). What was the RN Signals Distribution office on the upper floor had become a Galley (Kitchen).  The corridors were lined with folding bunks. Along the east upper corridor was now the Admirals sleeping cabin and the Main Signals Office with adjacent Comcen and Ships Radio Room. The main entrance lead to the Air Handling Plant Room, Emergency Generator Room (with three Lister Blackstone generators) and a Decontamination Suite on the upper level.


Photo:Pitreavie Castle in June 2005
Photo by Nick Catford

In the upper Ops room were booths for the Senior Officers and desks for the duty RN/RAF Staff Officers (Note there is no later Army presence).  Also on this level was a Medical Centre complete with Dental facilities.

Some of the remaining offices on the top floor included an Intelligence Cell, Mine Counter Measures Cell, Submarine Liaison Cell, Logistics Cell, Submarine Cell with submarine emergency facilities and a Search and Rescue Cell.

All we know of the lower floor was the BT Frame Room, RN Systems Room, the RAF NICS TARE facilities, wash rooms and toilets and the emergency exit.

Sources:

  • PRO files: ADM/1119, ADM1/15756, Air 2/3582 Drawing 6214
  • Jim Crockett
  • Defence Estimates 1996
  • The Navy List HMSO (Various)
  • The RAF List HMSO (Various)
  • Defence of the UK HMSO
  • www.rafweb.org/Grp02,htm

Click here for more pictures of Area Combined HQ Pitreavie Castle

[Source: Bob Jenner]

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