Getting to RAF Drem - Map
From Edinburgh, the west and north
From the south
Renowned originally for its vast expanses of arable farmland, East Lothian is better known nowadays for its golf courses, some of which have held world-class championships. Lying immediately to the east of Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh, the county has a wealth of history to its merit. Traprain Law is a lump in the landscape upon which ancient settlements and fortifications were built. Likewise, North Berwick Law on the coast which has been a lookout point throughout the centuries, with substantial remains of a Napoleonic period outpost as well as a World War Two bunker. Three early castles remain near the east coast of the county - Tantallon, Dirleton and Hailes, all rich with atmosphere, each preserved and open to the public.
During World War Two, the coast of East Lothian was heavily used for training. In the work-up prior to the D-Day Landings, the beaches and dunes were practice areas for Combined Operations work. Certain parts were target areas for Mosquitos, Beaufighters and other ground-attack aircraft, flying from RAF East Fortune and RAF Leuchars (across the Firth of Forth, in the county of Fife).
Dirleton - Gullane Area
The nearest villages to RAF Drem are those of Gullane and Dirleton, both of which have grown slightly in size from their World War Two days, but still manage to retain something of their original identity and atmosphere. There is a growing indication however, that new inhabitants are coming from outside the area - a trend caused by the age of the "city commuter". Edinburgh is less than one hour away by car. Fortunately, many individuals and groups have realised that East Lothian's "living memory" will not be living forever, and have taken steps to note down and preserve it. Such is the case with RAF Drem and the surrounding area. Those who lived through Drem's wartime years are few now, and therefore it is so important to secure the memories for the future. The author of these lines learned from a previous inhabitant of his cottage in Dirleton, that it was almost burned to the ground by a German incendiary bomb which blazed at the back door. He has also found spent .303 cases in the garden, with rusty remains of links attached - relics of overhead aerial battles.
A top secret radar station was located near Dirleton, just a mile north of the airfield. The old buildings remain, now converted to a dwelling house. Few looking at it would realise that this was a highly restricted establishment sixty-odd years ago. The only hints to its original purpose are the dispersed air raid shelters.
The RAF station took its last name from the small village to the south, the main feature being its railway station and junction. This was a "request stop" on the east coast mainline and would have been the entry and exit point for airmen and women posted to RAF Drem throughout the war.
Getting to RAF Drem