RAF Ballykelly opened in June 1941 as a base for RAF Coastal Command. In 1943 the main runway was extended and acquired an unusual characteristic in that it crosses an active railway line. Rules were put in place giving trains the right of way over landing aircraft. The base was used to carry out anti-submarine patrols and escort convoys over the Atlantic Ocean. At various times B-24 Liberator aircraft flew from Ballykelly in the fight against the U-boats, ranging from the Bay of Biscay to northern Norway. By the end of the war, Ballykelly-based squadrons had been responsible for sinking twelve U-boats, sharing with other aircraft and surface ships in the destruction of several others, and damaging many more.
During World War II an RAF bomber on a training run clipped a telephone line behind a church in Ballykelly and crashed, claiming the lives of the crew.
Memories of RAF Ballykelly
(Memories written by members of Forces Reunited)
RAF Ballykelly, in 1957
Written by Philip Kavanagh
A long way from Sussex in those days. Very lucky to get a flight to England, as I wasn’t on a Squadron. Took nearly 24 hours to get home to Bexhill. Always seemed to be raining. I worked in the Parachute section, which was a nice cushy job. Guard duty was always a pain every 3 weeks, but the RAF Regiment chaps were a splendid bunch, and always very smartly dressed. They hated Mr. Coley, the station W.O. who was always looking for trouble. I visited Ballykelly in 2003, and will be back again for the last time at the end of August 2010 on my motorcycle.2 years National Service was long enough for me.