RAF Harrowbeer AirfieldYelverton
Devon PL20 6BT
The decision in 1941 to build the airfield on the outskirts of Yelverton shattered the rural calm of this Devonshire village.
Some village shops and houses were reduced to single storey buildings to lessen the risk to low flying aircraft taking off from, or approaching, the runways. St Paul’s church tower had a red warning light put on top but that didn’t stop a plane crashing into it during a morning service. The tower was repaired to a lower height.
Three tarmac runways in an ‘A’ formation were constructed. Rubble from the Plymouth blitz formed the foundation of the runways. Local houses and buildings were requisitioned including ‘Revenscroft’ for the fighter station HQ (now a nursing home) and ‘Knightstone’ for the control tower (now a tea-room and restaurant).
Home to many Allied Squadrons
RAF Harrowbeer became home to many Allied squadrons – Czech, Polish, Free French, Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and US crews were based there. Following the success of ‘Operation Overlord’, fighter activity at Harrowbeer declined.
In the post-war years the airfield was decommissioned and now hardly anything is left. Vestiges remain of runways and hangar bases, but the most prominent feature is the blast pens on the perimeter of the airfield.
War Memorial
In 1981 a granite memorial was erected at Harrowbeer, near the Leg of Mutton corner, as a tribute to all who served there. It reads:
RAF Harrowbeer Operational 1941-1949
From this station flew pilots of many Commonwealth and Allied Countries, including Britain, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Poland and the United States of America, with the support of their ground crews and Airfield Defence units.
This stone is in memory of all who served here and especially of those who gave their lives.
Many local residents helped build and maintain this airfield. Unveiled by the first Station Commander, Group Captain the Honourable E.F.Ward, on the 15th, August 1981, the fortieth anniversary of the opening of the Station.
Our thanks go to the RAF Harrowbeer Interest Group website where I have gleaned the information for this web page. Go to RAF Harrowbeer Interest Group website for more fascinating information and photographs.
RAF Harrowbeer Interest Group
Should you be interested in an informative walk around the airfield, check out the ‘Walks’ section of RAF Harrowbeer Interest Group website and then email the group at the address listed in their ‘Contacts’ page. Even if you do not want to be part of the walking group around the airfield, you can still see where the runways and the dispersal bays were.
Photos on RAF Harrowbeer website
Do not forget to look at the photographs on the Group’s website – they have an ingenious photo system with photos of the war period overlaid on the current day location.
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Contact & Further Information
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Getting There
The remains of RAF Harrowbeer are at the Yelverton roundabout on the left hand side of the A386 from Plymouth to Tavistock. The A386 forms a ‘Y’ at this point. We suggest that you look up Yelverton on Google Earth to see where the airfield was located.
Google Map - RAF Harrowbeer Airfield