When Western Telegraph staffer, Penny Compton, chose pink coloured sheep in a light hearted attempt to grab the attention of potential advertisers in the paper she may not have realised the very idea of painting sheep a different colour had actually saved lives in Pembrokeshire.
During World War Two the Station Commander at RAF Carew Cheriton ordered that sheep grazing near the wartime airfield must be painted bright yellow so that they would stand out should they manage to stray onto the concrete runway.
John Brock M.B.E., President of Carew Cheriton Control Tower Trust, was a young teenager in the summer of 1940 and remembers when it was decided to concrete over the original grass runways because of the increasing number and heavier warplanes using the airfield. He said, “The fleeces of sheep stood out against grass but RAF pilots returning from sorties had difficulty seeing sheep on the concrete runway. Visitors to the Control Tower think I’m joking when I tell them the sheep were painted yellow, but it’s true.”
Mr Brock said, “I lived in Milton, not far from the end of the main runway, and the village was always in danger of crashes as planes took off and landed. As it was, there were three accidents involving aircraft during the war years. On October 25th, 1940 a Polish pilot was killed when his Hurricane crashed. The following year a Whitley bomber crashed on Milton Farm after failing to gain height after take-off. Luckily, the pilot escaped with minor injuries but sadly that wasn’t the case when another Whitley crashed into Radford Quarry in 1942 killing its pilot Sgt. Brian Tidman.”
“I can see the funny side of the attempt to grab attention with pink sheep but it brings back sad memories”.