History of the USAF at RAF Station Kirknewton

The abandoned RAF Station Kirknewton located a few miles from Edingurgh, Scotland was first evaluated by the USAF in January 1952.  In the words of Colonel Russell T. French in his now declassified (but at the time Top Secret) oral history interview as follows. 

"…it was about 6 o'clock in the morning.  It was probably the most dreary picture I ever had in my life--cold, overcast, and everything.  I finally managed to find  out where (redacted) was and managed to get hold of a cab, and after several wrong turns, we arrived at a desolate bunch of buildings which had formerly been used as a PW camp for Italian prisoners.  They were basically concrete block buildings and not very many of them.  Also, a big old hangar which had originally been used by the (redacted) to use as storage for their aircraft because it had been built originally for a fighter field.  But there was a big hill located at one end of the airfield, and I guess after (redacted) lost several aircraft into the hill, they discontinued all operation.  Then it became an Italian PW camp, and then subsequently a possible location for (redacted).  …. a wider part of the base,  was an opportunity for housing to be put into that area…...the other part which is the airfield site is where the antenna field would go…….nothing there except an old hangar and no water or anything there.  It was sort of a dreary picture.  I remember returning from the so called site survey and my recommendation basically was that although it appeared from a geographical standpoint and looking at the map an ideal location, ….it was not a very practical place to move…...but that was sort of glossed over in a hurry by the powers-to-be to advise me that not only were we going to send (redacted) but I also was probably going to be the commander of it.  So we kind of rolled with the punches.  When I returned we had a cadre I believe of about 30 enlisted people and I think six officers.  And we departed on or about July 1952…….arriving at (redacted).  When we first got there we stayed in various places--I know that the six officers with me arranged to stay in a boarding house (redacted) …..stayed there for I guess approximately three months, and in the meantime were able to get some support (redacted) to get some tents put up and get some camp stoves and make the place habitable for the small cadre.  Then we built some more tents to handle the people--the typical WWII type thing of putting down a wood base and putting the tent over it and had the old diesel camp stove which used fuel oil to heat with.  So the situation was quite primitive for the first year, and then managed to get some construction…...as we continued to build up the base from the six officers and 30 men until we got up to I guess 3-400 men who were living in tents and we were operational.  In fact we were operational from the very beginning.  I think we had one or two positions that we got going in a matter of three or four weeks after we were there". 

The following is the history as published in the final issue of the base newspaper, the Scotsman,  dated December 23, 1965.

  • The 37th RSM was actually born at Brooks AFB, Texas, in August 1951 with plans to occupy RAF Station Kirknewton, Scotland. 

  • 6952nd Security Group activated in June 1952 as the 37th Radio Squadron Mobile (RSM) with 6 officers and 39 airmen.

  • August 1952 the 37th RSM began operations as a functioning unit and by September had 17 officers and 155 airmen.

  • On May 8, 1955 the 37th RSM was re-designated the 6952nd RSM.

  • July 1, 1963 the 6952nd RSM became the 6952nd Security Group.

  • July 1966 unit becomes inactive.

History of RAF Station Kirknewton before and after the USAF
(Click on the following)

Secret Scotland