836 squadron transfers from Macrihanish to CRAIL and ARBROATH


GMA comments:  The distance between Crail and Arbroath as the crow (or Swordfish) flies is a little  over 20 miles – just a hop by air. I deduce from my Log Book that we were stationed during all of this period at Crail, but made frequent trips to Arbroath. I believe this was to take advantage of the different training facilities, such as bombing ranges, at the two stations.

 This was GMA's second session at CRAIL having been there from August to September 1941

More details of 836 squadron at Crail can be found at:


 September 25th 1942 

 Sub.Lt. Neville Macve joined 836 Squadron and became GMA's "Observer" (Navigator) until August 1944.

First reference to GMA in the 836 Squadron line Book:

The Squadron Line Book was prepared by Jim Palmer from the inception of the squadron in 1942. The full text is included with the history of 836 squadron . The "snippets" which refer to GMA (with any GMA comments) are included in the main text.


Line Book : as in "shooting a line" (GMA)

GMA comments:

Close formation was rather a “thing” in the FAA, so this could have been a matter of inches – quite safe in Swordfish, where a slight bump was not unknown. Although V-formation was normal, a really tight formation would put the wing of the second aircraft almost into the leading pilot’s cockpit. This was reasonably  safe, but became a little more dicey if there was another aircraft in tight formation on the side. These exercises were not advisable in turbulent weather. Excellent piloting was necessary. 

P/O Robertson joined 836 squadron in August 1942 as a TAG (Telegraphist, Air Gunner) He predominantly flew with 

Lt  Slater but occasionally with GMA. Swordfish DK777 could be called "Robbie Robertson's aircraft " (see photo in 
Friends  section). The items from his log book have been kindly supplied by his daughter Jenny McFall 
(from Australia).

GMA comments:

This may have been advance practice for the acoustic homing devices, like small torpedoes, we later acquired from the US for anti-submarine work – very hush- hush at the time. These required great precision as to speed and height at launch, and timing of the launch, versus the situation of the U-Boat, hopefully starting to dive, as these devices, whose name I cannot remember, ran at a certain depth below the surface.

P/O Robertson appears to have missed the flight with GMA on 23 October.

His logbook is very useful giving the exact time of day that the flights took place.