Carew Airfield History

 In Airfield, History

It was in April 1938 that the first steps were taken to acquire 600 acres of land to the south of Sageston and the A477 and the east of Carew Cheriton for the construction of a new airfield A number of local farms and businesses were affected by this acquisition by the Air Ministry.

The site of the new airfield was on the same land occupied by the First World War royal naval airship station known as Pembroke or sometimes Milton. The airship station used the same prime farming land, but only 298 acres and operated between 1916 and 1920.

The reason for the name change from that of the First World War was because Pembroke was easily confused with the R.A.F. flying boat base in Pembroke Dock. And the second name used – Milton was the same name as that of the radar station in Oxfordshire.

Operational flying commenced in April 1939 with the arrival of the target towing flight with their Hawker Henleys. They were followed in the summer of that year with the first of many Coastal Command squadrons that were to use Carew Cheriton – 217 equipped with the Avro Anson

During the first year of operational use take-off and landings were by means of a grass strip. This proved problematic during periods of wet weather, and a number of aircraft came to grief as a result of these conditions. Accommodation for the ground crew was under canvas while the air crew were billeted out to the seaside resort of Tenby.

Construction of three concrete runways commenced in the summer of 1940 and it was early 1941 before these were completed with their taxiways.

Runway sizes are as follows:

12/30……..

1040m x 50m

06/24……..

965m x 50m

16/24……..

765m x 50m

Many local building firms were employed in the construction of the camp complex and billets.

During its time as a Coastal Command airfield Carew Cheriton came under the control of 15 group based at Plymouth. A transfer to Technical Training Command took place in October 1942. The airfield finally closed in November 1945.

Today the airfield has been returned to agricultural and light industrial use with the main building complex area being cleared in the mid sixties. However, many reminders of life as a wartime airfield can still be found today and the landscape holds a wealth of interesting structures in this period of history or architecture.

In 2007 – 62 years since the end of the war the runways and their taxiways still remain and have been put to many uses. The secondary runway and intersection are in constant use for the Sunday market and other public events using the Carew Pavillion building situated on the intersection.

Some of the remaining buildings are:

  • Main Stores

  • Workshops

  • Bomb Fusing Bay

  • Bomb Stores

  • Gymnasium

  • Turret Trainer

  • Various Air Raid Shelters

  • Hanger Bases

  • Ablutions Block

  • Battle HQ

One of Carew Cheriton’s features can still be seen today. The ring of gun emplacements that circled the airfield on the overlooking high ground clearly show the defences put in place to counter an airborne invasion.

The centerpiece of the remaining buildings must be the control tower built to a “local design” and now subject to a community restoration project and the main theme of this website.

Important Notice: Please bear in mind that many of the remaining buildings are situated on private land.

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