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RAF Benbecula fuel supplies

Title: RAF Benbecula fuel supplies
Posted by: Martin Briscoe on 12-04-2013

Discussion: Another question that someone local might be able to answer. There is a discussion on an airfield site about where the fuel tanks were at the WWII RAF Benbecula airfield and how the fuel got there. There does not appear to be anywhere suitable for a small coastal tanker near there so presumably it was brought up in road tankers from Lochboisdale though it must have been a long and difficult journey with the roads of that period.

I wonder is anyone has any information?

Martin Briscoe
Fort William

Replies to this post

Posted by: Don MacPhee on 11-06-2013


I was having a blether with an old boy - Calum Fife - from Gerenish yesterday and he could recall the Army lorries loaded with fuel drums coming in through Gerinsh and travelling along the machair to Iochdar, then heading across the beach at Carnan to Cregorry at low tide. Apparently in the early 1940's the road between LochBee and Iochdar was not capable of taking the weight of a loaded lorry.
It was a combination of LochCarnan, and Lochboisdale, which was used to bring supplies to the island. Once the bridge opened in '42 the fuel pipeline coming from LochCarnan was slung underneath.

He also talked of the pipeline being dismantled and of the quantity of fuel which still remained in pipe and how it was salvaged by an enterprising chap from Iochdar, Ewan Dubh, who ran a very large Buick which he had bought from one of the American servicemen stationed on the rocket range. Apparently the vehicle sounded completely different from anything else around at the time. The use of aviaiton fuel - not it having a huge V8 engine - being the only possible explanation that satisfied the locals.


Posted by: Fred Godden on 11-06-2013

Re; wartime pipeline from Lochcarnan to Greagorry there were storeage tanks at what is known as ford Terrace and at Lochcarnan pier, the ones at Lochcarnan are still in use today by the fuel supplier based there, I can still remember when a fair bit of the pipeline was visable along the roadside.

Posted by: Michael Kristiansen on 28-04-2013

Hi Don.
Thanks for the link to the film. Reminds me of my childhood, when,as a small lad, I used to look forward in eager anticipation to the LCs arriving in the south ford, so that i could record their numbers in my little red book. I could see most of them from our front door.

Kind regards

Posted by: Don MacPhee on 25-04-2013


Have a look at the short film on
Amongst Corporal firings it shows a couple of the LCL's waiting for the tide to go out at Carnan.


Posted by: Martin Briscoe on 23-04-2013

Thanks, any information would be useful. Trying to work out whether the pipe from Loch Carnan and tanks at Creagorry were WWII or later.

The fuel for the Corporal missile sounds nasty!

"I think your corresspondent is unaware that the Corporal missile used a liquid fuel engine powered with RFNI (Red Fuming Nitric Acid) as the oxydant and Monoethylamine as fuel. RFNI (also used in the later RAF Skybolt) is toxic, corrosive and requires special storage and transportation. It may well have been shipped in by LCL/LCT but would, I expect, have been in special tanks craned ashore onto road trucks. "


Posted by: Martin Briscoe on 21-04-2013

Thanks again, will pass it all on to the airfield 'experts'!


Posted by: Mairi MacLeod on 21-04-2013

Hi Martin

I was involved in a project collecting the history of WW2. Certainly most supplies for the military bases came in to Lochboisdale - hence the construction of the bridge that preceded the causeway. I have not heard specifically of aviation fuel being brought in by this route, but I have one source that I can check out if you still need further info.

Posted by: Don MacPhee on 18-04-2013

It turns out that my earlier post was only partially correct. The LCL and LCT's did indeed use the south ford as a beaching point for fuel transfer - only it was the fuel for the Corporal missiles which were being fired during the 60's. The American would fly their personnel in from Germany for a three month stint in Uist.

Fuel was brought to the jetty at Loch Carnan and was then pumped through a pipeline which ran from the jetty to Creagorry where the fuel tanks were sited. The actual site is where the houses at Ford Terrace now are. The tanks were taken down in the early 60's and the site was eventually bought by the Hydro Board to build houses for their employees. Apparently the pipeline was laid on small sleepers and part of a goose neck can still be seen beside the road near the schoolhouse in LochCarnan.

There were apparently six tanks of a size roughly that of the largest tank in Loch Carnan.

It is a bit unclear whether the fuel was then pumped to the airfield or whether it went by road tanker. The reason, apparently, for the depot being this distance away was to reduce the risk to the airfield itself.

The Askernish strip apparently did receive a few aircraft that were unable to make it to Benbecula but was not active in any sense of the word.

Posted by: Martin Briscoe on 16-04-2013

Thanks for the information on the airstrip. MB

Posted by: Michael Kristiansen on 16-04-2013

Hi Martin,
I seem to have read somewhere, that the area around old Tom Morris's golf course at Askernish, was commandeered during the war as an airstrip.

Michael Kristiansen

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