Unit History: RAF Dunkeswell

RAF Dunkeswell
The construction began in 1941. George Wimpey was the main contractor. RAF Dunkeswell came under the command of 19 Group Coastal Command from approx May 1942.
All major construction work had been completed by June 1943 and on the 26th June, Group Captain E.C. Kidd moved in becoming the first Commanding Officer, RAF Station Dunkeswell.
Anti - Submarine Patrols
The weather was often unfavorable, take-offs of heavily loaded Liberator aircraft in instrument conditions and in darkness were routine.
479 Anti - Submarine Group U.S. Army Air Force
The 479th Anti-Submarine Group was activated in July 1943 in Cornwall, consisting of the 4th and 19th Anti-Submarine Squadrons. The group operated under the control of No 19 Group RAF Coastal Command. The 479th had some success when based in St Eval, sinking two U-boats and sharing another with an RAF Squadron. The 479th ASG moved to Dunkeswell on the 6th August 1943. The first operational missions were flown from this base on the 7th. The next day Dunkeswell lost its first Liberator when Captain R.L Thomas and his crew failed to return from their anti-submarine patrol. On the 21st August two more squadrons, the 6th and 22nd, joined the group. Due to the proposed takeover of all anti-submarine duties by the United States Navy the 6th only remained for one month, moving out to make room for Navy Squadron VB-103. The 479th ASG lost four Liberators while based in Dunkeswell and twenty nine men had been killed in action by the time the group ceased operation on 31st December 1943.
Fleet Air Wing Seven U.S Navy
On the 24th September 1943 Patrol Bombing Squadron, (VB-103) moved to Dunkeswell from St Eval, Cornwall where squadron personnel trained in RAF operational procedure. In October VB-105 and VB-110 arrived from St. Eval. These three squadrons, equipped with PB4Y-1 Liberators, remained in Dunkeswell until the war ended. In June 1944 a detachment from VB-114 with searchlight equipped PB4Y-1s arrived to fly  night patrols. The United States Navy took over the base on 23rd March 1943. RAF Station Dunkeswell then became the  United States Naval Air Facility Dunkeswell and the squadrons became known collectively as Patrol Air Group One, United States Atlantic Fleet Commander Thomas Durfee relieved Group Captain E.C. Kidd as base commander. When Fleet Wing Seven ceased operations from Dunkeswell, the squadrons had flown a total of 6,464 missions, sunk five submarines and assisted in sinking at least four others. The Wing lost 183 officers and men, a further 49 were killed in connection with the FAW-7 operation.
No 16 Ferry Unit Royal Air Force
No 16 Ferry Unit was formed by the merger of No 11  Ferry Unit and No 3 Aircraft Preparation Unit. The task for No 16 FU was to prepare various types of aircraft for overseas services.
The unit moved to Dunkeswell on 9th August 1945.
Aircraft prepared by No 16  FU included Anson, Stirling, Vengence, Mosquito, Lancaster Spitfire and Warwick. In December 1945 twenty four Lancasters were dispatched overseas. No 16 Ferry Unit moved out in May 1946.
Dunkeswell then became a storage depot for various Maintenance Units  until February 1949 when the RAF vacated the airfield.

Search for a name in our archive

Please enter a surname
Small Medium Large Landscape Portrait