Which local airfield played a major role in winning World War 2? This month’s Tavistock Probus Club meeting was held on Remembrance Day and Stephen Fryer gave an enthusiastic and most interesting talk on the history of RAF Harrowbeer near Yelverton.
When Plymouth came in range of German bombers, a new airfield became an urgent priority and Harrowbeer was chosen as it afforded a level site. It was officially opened as a fighter base in Autumn 1941. Yelverton itself underwent many changes. The Parade was reduced to a single storey for the safety of aircraft and Udal Torre sanitorium and the Moor House Hotel were demolished. Knightstone, now a tea-room, was converted into a watch office or control tower for the new airfield and new roads were built and old ones diverted.
Stephen recounted tales of daring by the Spitfire and Typhoon pilots including one, complete with photograph, in which the pilot successfully brought his aircraft home with a huge hole in its wing. He also recounted how the pilots of Walrus aircraft, (used in air-sea rescue) were sometimes unable to take off in the rough seas and would be forced to ‘taxi’ their aircraft back across the Channel to safety.
Ray Hurle, on behalf of members, thanked Stephen for bringing history to life and for providing such extraordinary photographs. The subject of the December meeting of the Tavistock Probus Club is “The Geology of Dartmoor” and this will be followed by a Christmas lunch at Tavistock Golf Club
Anyone interested in joining the Tavistock Probus Club may contact the secretary on 01822 615669.