RAF Harrowbeer.

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RAF Harrowbeer, Devon.

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Set on moorland on the edge of Dartmoor just above Plymouth, this three runway fighter station was placed here to protect the ports of Southern Devon. This is one of the best ex RAF airfields of a wartime period to walk and discover what was and is there, take a plan and spend many hours wondering the lovely Devon moorland and discovering the 12 fighter pens, the MT section, bomb store, where the watch office was and many other details, they are all there to find. Imagination will also help a lot. This is where Spitfires, Typhoons, Hurricanes, By-plane Walruses, twin engined Anson's and even an American President landed here.

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Spitfire.

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Typhoon.

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Hurricane.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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RAF Harrowbeer, Devon.

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''The museum in our Tearooms is open on our RAF Harrowbeer Archive Weekends two or three times a year BUT if the Tearooms is open and I am around I will always open up the museum.''
Kind regards
Micheal & Lucy (owners of the Tea Rooms)


RAF Harrowbeer.

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RAF Harrowbeer, Devon opened 1941.

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Fighter Station.
1 x 518/40 Watch Office with Met. section.
2 x Bellman hangars.
8 x Over Blister hangars.
12 x Fighter Pens.
18 x Aircraft dispersals.
69 x Officers.
139 x SNCO's.
1260 x Other ranks.
230 x WAAF's.
Runway 1 - 3900ft x 150ft QDM 11/29.
Runway 2 - 3300ft x 150ft QDM 17/35.
Runway 3 - 6000ft x 150ft QDM 05/23.

Harrowbeer was built for 10 Gp, Fighter Command, and opened on August 15th 1941. It was a satellite for Exeter, and was one of the first fighter airfields with 3 hard runways. Some of the squadrons based there included 302 (Polish - Spitfires), 312 (Czech - Spitfires), 175 (Hurricanes), 263 (Whirlwinds), 183, 193, 263 and 266 (Typhoons), 838 Sqn RN (Swordfish), 1, 126, 610 and 611 (Spitfires).

Towards the end of the war, Harrowbeer parented Bolt Head airfield and Exminster and Hope Cove GCI sites. The operations moved to ASR and 'anti-aircraft' roles, with the Walrus of 275 Sqn and the Oxfords, Defiants, Barracudas, Blenheim's and Hurricanes of 691 Sqn. After flying operations ceased in August 1945 the airfield became a storage site for 229 MU, closing (temporarily, at least) in May 1946.

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Walrus.

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Lysander.

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Whirlwind.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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20 Sept 2014

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RAF Harrowbeer, Devon.

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On the left the is Knightstone tea shop which was the original watch office. The main RAF watch office/control tower was built in the middle of the airfield.
On the right 'Ravens Croft' was the Station HQ and Officers Mess, there was also an annexed Officers Mess in a house in Axtown behind.

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Pilots talking over a flight over France.

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Re arming a Hurricane.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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20 Sept 2014

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Knight Stone tea shop.

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The original Watch Office was a three story, square tower built alongside the existing house ( known as 'Knightstone House') and thought to be built early in 1939. It was used for the duration of Harrowbeer's operational life and after the second Watch Office (a 514/80) was built and opened in early 1942 close to the Technical Site operated as a Plotting Room.
The ground floor of Knightstone House comprised five rooms and a staircase to the first floor.
The five rooms were: -
A Flight Office,
2 Crew Rooms,
2 Workshops ( one of which was used for repairing wireless transmitters and radios ).
On the first floor of Knightstone House were a number of rooms used by Squadron Officers and Intelligence Rooms ( and debriefing was carried out within the building ). (RAF Harrowbeer Archive)

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Later watch office a 518/40 built on the airfield.

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WAAF aircraft controller.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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20 Sept 2014

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'Ravens Croft' was the Station HQ and Officers Mess.

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Now a rest home.

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Officers mess dining.

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A station HQ office.

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Flight office with pilots taking tea

RAF Harrowbeer.

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20 Sept 2014

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Dispersal Pen for Fighters type BFCW4513

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What is a Fighter Pen: -
Dispersal Pen for Fighters type BFCW4513 with a shelter for 25 personnel. There were two sizes, one was for a Blenheim sized aircraft and the other a Hurricane type. An open E type shape with earth traverse where an aircraft could be reversed in and parked on an asphalt area with a stronger floor area for the aircraft to park and an even stronger area where the wheels were going to stand. Built into the rear is an air-raid shelter for 25 personnel in the event of an aerial attack. There were three entrances, one in each pen and one at the rear.

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Dispersal Pen for Fighters type B FCW4513 with a shelter for 25 personnel.

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They were of the oblong design.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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20 Sept 2014

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Dispersal Pen for Fighters type BFCW4513

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You can see the concrete base for the aircraft to stand.

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Typhoon in a pen.

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Spitfire re-arming.

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The dog is Bonnie.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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20 Sept 2014

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Squadron of Flight offices.

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A mangle of different buildings

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The layout from above.

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Walrus of the Air-Sea-Rescue flight.

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Tents would have been used until the huts had been built.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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20 Sept 2014

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Squadron of Flight offices.

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Flight hut at RAF Culmhead.

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Flight hut at RAF Culmhead inside.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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20 Sept 2014

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Squadron of Flight offices.

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The drains for the urinals.

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The building may have looked like this one showing a row of small windows for toilets.

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Another picture of a flight hut at Harrowbeer.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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02 Sept 2004

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Third pen along.

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Third pen along and this one has a defence position in one wing.

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No. 276 Squadron Air-Sea-Rescue.

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Walrus.

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Crew needing to be rescued. No.276 Squadron was stationed here for many years.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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02 Sept 2004

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Anti aircraft position.

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With these early airfields they were paranoid about an attach by German paratroops, so defences were put up all over the place. After 1942 the war changed and the Allies were more on the offensive and ground defence took a back foot to air defence..

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Home Guard.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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02 Sept 2004

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A twin bay machine gun position.

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It is just like the ones below.

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Some information here

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This one looks the same type.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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02 Sept 2004

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Fighter pen.

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A Rocket firing Hawker Typhoon.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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02 Sept 2004

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Whistley Down.

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This road was the perimeter track down to two Over Blister hangars and a fusing point to fuse bombs for the fighter bombers that used RAF Harrowbeer.

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Plan.

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Some information here

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Fuzing point at another airfield.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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02 Sept 2004

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Where a Blister hangar stood.

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Two Blister hangars, five dispersals and a fusing point.

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Fuzing point at another airfield.

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Over Blister hangar.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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02 Sept 2004

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Site No4. Sick Quarters.

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This building looks to be the centre section of three section sick quarters and annex. There was also an ambulance garage and mortuary, picket post, orderlies quarters and annex.

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Plan.

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Site plan of site No4. sick quarters.

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Morris ambulance,

RAF Harrowbeer.

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02 Sept 2004

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Trimal House.

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How a hospital ward may have looked here.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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02 Sept 2004

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Village war memorial.

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Crapstone War Memorial. 64 names from both world wars.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Air-raid shelter.

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There were a lot of quarters along this hedge line and for every 26 men/women an air-raid shelter was built.

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All along on the right side of the road are defence unit quarters.

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Possibly a Stanton air-raid shelter.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Air-raid shelter escape hatch.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Delivery road on the bomb store type C variant of AM Drawing 3164/42.

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A two bay bomb store, this was a later construction. As the war progressed the airfield turned from defence to offensive operations and fighter bombing became part of their duties.

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Plan of the bomb store.

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Loading bay.

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Fusing point at a heavy bomber station.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Loading bay trammel rings.

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Bombs were off loaded from lorries onto the ramp and trammeled down the slope.

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Trammel ropes tied to ring looped around the bomb and rolled down.

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Trammeling WW1 style.

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Bomb train with small bombs.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Unloading ramp.

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Delivery road on the bomb store type C variant of AM Drawing 3164/42.

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Bomb trains would run around the other side and load up the bombs that were to be used that day and run around to the fusing point on the south side of the airfield along the road and then out onto the perimeter and dropping the bombs off to each aeroplane.

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Bombing up a Typhoon.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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This is the return side of the store.

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Bombs rolled down the opposite ramp and were stored in the space in the middle. Then the bomb trains would collect them from this side.

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WAAF driving a bomb train.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Unknown building.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Motor Transport yard.

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MT office on the right and then parking bays both sides of the road. 30 vehicle MT garage.

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MT garage from the air.

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Plan of a 30bay MT yard.

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MT yard how it would have looked.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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MT yard.

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The two buildings were open fronted with concrete pads for the lorries to park on and the rest of the floor would have been filled in with coke ash and there would have been in one bay a pit for lorry servicing.

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AEC Matador.

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Pick up.

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Staff car.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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MT yard.

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One of the bays.

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A three bay MT garage.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Pill box.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Inside the pill box.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Another defence position.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Rifle defence pit.

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A lined trench roofed over with rifle slits down each side. First it may have been Home Guard or a local army unit and later the RAF Regiment.

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Home guard.

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RAF Regiment.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Entrance to the Trench.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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A second covered rifle trench.

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The side entrance, what a place to be caught in a fire fight with a very mobile attacking airborne force.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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A second covered rifle trench.

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Inside. No chance of escape from a hand grenade.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Part of a Pill Box embrasure.

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This is an armoured shutter for a pillbox and bellow are two images of pill boxes at RAF Culmhead showing how they were used.

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A shutter for a pillbox embrasure.

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A shutter for a pillbox embrasure.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Bulk petrol instillation - aviation type 'C'.

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This is where the aviation petrol was stored for the airfield. Possibly 24,000 gallons. The pump house stood under the tree where bowser's filled up with petrol and the oblong piece of concrete set into the road is where the petrol tankers from MOS (Ministry of Supply) delivered and being level so their tanks could be dipped before delivery and then again after and the amounts recorded. Everything had to be written down.

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A 15425/40 early pump house.

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Or a 13083/41 later pump house.

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MOS delivery tanker.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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21 Aug 2010

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Bulk petrol instillation - aviation.

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The pump house was under the bush on the right and the concrete level slab for a bowser to park on and fill up with fuel.

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A Bedford QL 950gal re-fulling Hurricanes.

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How it may have looked fueling the bowser..

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Another method used was a bowser trailer.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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21 May 2004

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REF-KREET.

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Still going as a company they produce fire backs for open fires and may have come from one of the huts when it was dismantled.

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Officers Mess fire place and two leather armchairs.

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REF-KREET fire backs.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Nissen hut frames.

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Nissen hut showing the skeletal bones of the frame work

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Nissen hut flat pack.

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Another view of a Nissen hut.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Runway 11/29.

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Plan.

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Spitfires waddling out to take off.

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Takeoff.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Bellman Aeroplane Sheds (Hangar).

Details

There were two Bellman hangars here designed in 1936 by N.S.Bellman. Built as a transportable hangar able to be assembled, dismantled and moved to another site easily. There were 400 erected at home and abroad. Used extensively on fighter and training stations. Here two were placed either side of the control tower and were used for repair and main servicing.

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Front face of a Bellman hangar.

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Inside a Bellman at RAF Clyff Pypard.

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One of the Bellman hangars close to the control tower..

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Bellman Aeroplane Sheds (Hangar).

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Although a very good hangar. Later on the T2 shed (hangar) came in and was stronger and bigger so Bellman's were gradually fazed out.

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Plan

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Main Store.

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A store was very important to an air station, it needed aircraft, motor, office, equipment, paper, and the list goes on. A main store that was here was the first type after the expansion period and used temporary brick (half brick) construction and a corrugated asbestos roofing sheets with steel A frame purlins In three parts and a receiving room where all stores entered and signed off.

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I am not too sure how the internal storage was laid out except that the centre section sticking out was the fabric store to hang lengths of aircraft fabric covering.

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Looking into a fabric store at RAF Riccall showing the high roof and the doors were bi-fold wooden doors almost to full height.

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Cutting aircraft fabric.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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Main Workshops.

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In here all repairs that cannot be completed on the aircraft would be brought in here, not only aircraft repairs but also most items on the camp.

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Main Workshop plan

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Main workshop inside.

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A picture by Cecil Beaton of an officer in a main workshops.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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30 May 2004

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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21 May 2004

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Watch Office/Control Tower base.

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Watch Office with Met Section 518/40.

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Watch Office with Met Section 518/40.

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RAF Ibsley's 518/40 Watch Office

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The view from the top floor.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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21 Aug 2010

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Watch Office base.

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The control tower here..

RAF Harrowbeer.

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21 Aug 2010

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Signal Mortar.

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A flair signal mortar was placed in the device and by pulling a wire attached to the base it fired the flair.

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You can just see a small ring where the cable passed through.

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RAF Harrowbeer.

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21 Aug 2010

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Signal Mortar.

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When its cloudy and a plane is circling above the cloud. Firing a flair which th pilot would see coming up through the cloud and know where he was.

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There is a date of 1943 and a War Office arrow.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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Signal Square from the air.

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An aid to show pilots the landing conditions on the airfield. QB is RAF Harrowbeer's pundit code, a radio code for the airfield. Usually they used the letters of the airfield but as there are several airfields beginning with H another code had to be found QB.

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Signal square.

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Beaulieu BL

RAF Harrowbeer.

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02 Aug 2004

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Compass platform.

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Aircraft compass need to be set to due north. This piece of concrete has no iron or steel in its construction so that an aircraft placed on it and pointed due north and the compass would then be adjusted.

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Adjusting the compass.

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Spitfire having its compass swung..

RAF Harrowbeer.

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02 Sept 2004

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Memorial stone at Yelverton.

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Placed here on the 40th anniversary of the airfield.

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Some information here

RAF Harrowbeer.

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02 Sept 2004

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Fighter pens.

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There are six more fighter pens on the south side.

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Plan.

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Plan of the fighter pen.

RAF Harrowbeer.

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02 Sept 2004

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Fighter pens.

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Plan.

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RAF Harrowbeer..

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20 Sept 2014

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The Rock.

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Behind this fighter pen is the Rock , a huge lump of stone sticking out of the ground and could cause a flying hazard. There were plans to remove it but actually no body ever hit in and it be came a landmark for pilots landing here, also a good defence position.

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Plan.

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RAF Harrowbeer..

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The Rock.

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You can see it behind this pen where may generations of children have climbed its dizzy heights.

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Plan.

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RAF Harrowbeer..

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02 Aug 2004

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Alan Williams Turret.

Details

There were two defence AW turrets near here and can be found easily.

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Allen Williams turret on the Isle of Wight. A round gun pit with an armoured turret that could hold a machine gun.

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RAF Harrowbeer..

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02 Aug 2004

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Another defence position just over from the AW turret.

Details

There would have been many defence positions from Pill boxes that we have seen, turrets, defended fighter pens to just trenches. The trenches were a hazard to everybody. At night they were unseen and became a hazard and also some as a casual toilet. So later on most were filled in under (a very little known at the time) Health and Safety.

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Inside a pill box.

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RAF Harrowbeer..

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02 Aug 2004

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The Rock.

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Looking onto the airfield.

RAF Harrowbeer..

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02 Aug 2004

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A track passing the Rock.

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Between the Rock and the Fighter Pen was a Blister hangar.

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A Blister hangar had no doors so heavy canvas curtains were used that could close off the two openings. Still a cold and drafty place.

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Spitfire outside a Blister with curtains.

RAF Harrowbeer..

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02 Aug 2004

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Battle Head Quarters.

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By 1941 the threat was imminent of invasion and many structures were designed and built. One was the BHQ 11008/41. Dated 1941 the plan was for a three roomed under ground shelter with a heavy domed viewing cupola on the top. It had to dominate the whole airfield and so it was placed in the best position to do this. Its aim was to control the airfield defence and a senior officer, several airmen/soldiers would occupy the BHQ and via a telephone network and runners unify the defence from a safe place. Here on RAF Harrowbeer we have two BHQ which is very rare, this one (smaller model) and another by the Watch Office, now dismantled and filled in. This was not used as a fighting post.

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A plan of a BHQ 11008/41. An entrance stairway, runners shelter, PBX (telephone exchange), office & cupola and also lets not forget the Elsan toilet.

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To the side of the cupolas was aways an escape man hole cover and that can just be seen in the main picture to the left of the cupola.

RAF Harrowbeer..

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02 Aug 2004

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View into the Cupola.

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The same view in another cupola.

RAF Harrowbeer..

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02 Aug 2004

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The view.

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This is the view down towards the airfield and remember the trees would have been kept shorter and they would have had a much better view.

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Plan.

RAF Harrowbeer..

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20 Sept 2014

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An Alan Williams Turret.

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Found somewhere in the Plymouth area and used as a night watchman's shelter I think. Now in the Cafe car park.
Links: -
RAF HARROWBEER YELVERTON "This website is dedicated to all those who lived, worked, or gave their lives, whilst serving at RAF Harrowbeer, Yelverton, Devon"
RAF Harrowbeer archive.
RAF Harrowbeer 1940s Weekend. 17th/18th August.

RAF Harrowbeer..

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20 Sept 2014

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Anderson air-raid shelter.

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The Cafe has I a small museum dedicated to the airfield, every time I seem to visit I am too late and its closed.

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The bombing of Plymouth.

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Navy Bomb Disposal ratings at work.

RAF Harrowbeer..

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