Peter Allan/ An Iodhlann
Tiree became a pivotal RAF base during the Second World War, changing the island profoundly in the process. More than 2000 servicemen and women were stationed there, and a major airbase was built, along with several smaller outposts including radar stations. Runways and roads were built on what had been crofting land. It became a Restricted Area for the duration of the war with only those who could prove they lived there allowed to travel to the island.
The RAF presence can still be seen across the island, with outbuildings now used as crofting sheds, debris in the dunes that was buried when the military left, and the appearance of the odd unexploded ordnance. The airfield still functions as the modern airport. It is even rumoured that there is a secret tunnel which goes from the airport to an underground base for the use of the queen should she ever need to evacuate London!
The full story is told in ‘The Wind that Shook the Barley’, an exhibition by An Iodhlann, the historical centre on Tiree.
More information on visiting the area can be found here.