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Pilot Officer Iain Ramsay

Pilot Officer Iain Ramsay of Kildalton on the isle of Islay and was the son of Captain Iain Ramsay of Kildalton.   He was a civilian pilot in the 1930s, flying with Imperial Airways and automatically an RAF reservist. At the outbreak of war he was enlisted as Sergeant Pilot , he was commissioned on 17th May 1941 to P/O on probation.

Pilot Officer Iain Ramsay of Kildalton 1942 Pilot Officer Iain Ramsay of Kildalton 1942

Between March and November, 1941 he flew 330 hours as pilot in Wellingtons of No.221 Squadron, being assessed as “Above the average” both as G.R. pilot and as a navigator.  No. 221 Squadron was part of Coastal Command and it flew the Vickers Wellingtons Mark I C on reconnaissance and anti-submarine patrols in the Atlantic, first out of Bircham Newton, Norfolk, then Limavady in Northern Ireland and during the last quarter of 1941, Reykjavik in Iceland.  Whilst in Reykjavik  A HISTORY OF No.221 SQUADRON“,  remembers that “P/O. Ramsay and his crew spent many hours reading all the books on local marine life in the town library, since he contended that he could tell his whereabouts by the type of fish he saw if he got lost and all other methods failed”.

In November 1941 he was posted to No24 (Communications) Squadron, where he had several months intensive practice on cross-country flights in various multi-engine types.  He had recently flown such important people as Prince Bernhard, Lord Sherwood, Sir Archibald Sinclair and Lord Louis Mountbatten.  P/O Iain Ramsay was a very experienced pilot of “Ferry Command” and at the time of his death he had over 3700 hours flying to his name.

The Ramsays were a wealthy and important family in Scotland. Iain’s grandfather John Ramsay owned (amongst other estates) the southern part of Islay including Port Ellen Distillery.  and  Laphroaig Distillery  leased the ground it stood on from the Ramsays till the late 1920s.

Pilot Officer Iain Ramsay was buried at Kilnaughton, near Port Ellen, Isle of Islay.  His family also dedicated a stained glass window to him at St John’s church, Port Ellen.


Many thanks to Iain’s daughters Janna & Eila and Whiskey collector Marcel van Gils for giving us the information and photographs of Iain.