photograph taken in 1944

About Dunkeswell Airfield


The construction of Dunkeswell
airfield began in 1941. George Wimpey being the main contractor. During May 1942
Dunkeswell was transferred to 19 Group Coastal Command.

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.Long patrols at low altitude usually in conditions of reduced visibility demanded constant vigilance in the search for enemy submarines and against the ever present threat from enemy fighters. Landings often in darkness with minimum ceilings and visibility required expert airmanship on the part of tired pilots and navigators.

Photograph of B-3 (C) Sadly this plane was lost with all her crew in the Bay of Biscay.
The crews and what they did

479 Anti - Submarine Group
U.S. Army Air Force
The 479th Anti-Submarine Group was
activated in July 1943 in St Eval, 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 it's 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-1's 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 February1949 when the RAF vacated the airfield.