Support for PRU memorial

Lanark and Hamilton East MP Angela Crawley is backing the campaign to commemorate the brave pilots and navigators of the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit (PRU) during the Second World War.

The PRU was formed on 24th September 1939 and throughout the Second World War it operated highly dangerous, clandestine photographic reconnaissance operations over all theatres of operation and captured more than 26 million images of enemy operations and installations during the war.

Two Lanarkshire men – Flying Officer Alastair Maclay from Hamilton and Pilot Officer Alexander Dick from Carluke – undertook missions as part of the PRU.

Due to the clandestine nature of their operations – they flew solo operations, unarmed and unarmoured – the death rate was nearly 50 per cent. However, despite having one of the lowest survival rates of the war – life expectancy in the PRU was around two and a half months – there is no national memorial.

Ms Crawley is backing the campaign by the Spitfire AA810 Project to establish a memorial to the pilots and navigators of the PRU.

Commenting, Lanark and Hamilton East MP Angela Crawley said:

“I am delighted to support this fantastic campaign to commemorate those who served in the Photographic Reconnaissance Unit.

“This includes Alastair Maclay and Alexander Dick from my constituency, who both served admirably under exceptionally difficult conditions, while Maclay sadly lost his life during service.

“I look forward to working with the Spitfire AA810 Project to establish this memorial and I look forward to being able to pay my respects there once it is completed.”

The purpose of the PRU was to provide up-to-date intelligence to strategically plan the Allied actions in the war. Flying Spitfires and Mosquitos, the intelligence it gathered was used by all the armed forces, giving same day intelligence on enemy activity.

The intelligence provided by the PRU was used in the Cabinet War Rooms – now the ‘Churchill War Rooms’ located underneath the Treasury – and was instrumental in the planning of major operations including D-Day and the Dambusters Raid, the monitoring of major shipping movements such as the Bismarck and Tirpitz, and the locating the launch site of the V1 and V2 rockets at Peenemünde.

Flying Officer Alastair Mowat Maclay

F/O Alastair Mowat Maclay was born in Union Street, Hamilton and trained as a pilot flying with both 140 and 16 Photographic Reconnaissance Squadrons.

Flying from RAF Weston Zoyland in Somerset, he took off on a reconnaissance mission to France in an RAF Mustang aircraft on the 29th November 1942.

The 28-year-old failed to return and both he and his aircraft remain missing to this day.

Pilot Officer Alexander Dick

P/O Alexander Weir McDonald Dick was born in Carluke. He trained as a reconnaissance pilot, serving with 681 and 684 Photographic Reconnaissance Squadrons based in the Far East theatre of operations.

He survived the war but little else is known of both his service and personal life.

The Spitfire AA810 Project are keen to hear from anyone related to Alastair Maclay or Alexander Dick, or anyone who knows of anyone else who served in the PRU during the war. For more information, visit the project website or get in touch with Tony Hoskins directly at