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Stop 17a: (430 m) Dale airfield – SM 798 062
Dale was one of eight airfields that were built in Pembrokeshire during the Second World War.
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They have a typical pattern of three intersecting runways in a triangle. Dale was a satellite to nearby Talbenny airfield, about 6 kilometres to the north-east.
It opened in June 1942 and for a year operated Wellington bombers of No 304 (Polish) squadron. They flew on convoy protection missions as well as bombing raids on ports in occupied France. As well as the dangers experienced on these missions, crews suffered fatalities caused by the difficulties involved in landing the bombers from the sea. At least one plane crashed into the cliffs as it attempted to land in poor visibility. In Marloes Church there is a roll of honour to the Polish aircrew that served at Dale.
A number of other types of aircraft operated from Dale, including Beauforts, Beaufighters and Mosquitoes.
In September 1943 Dale was passed to the Royal Navy, and became RNAS Dale (HMS Goldcrest 1) supporting the flight training carried out at Kete (HMS Goldcrest 2). It remained in this role until it closed in 1947.
Dale was an excellent example of a ‘dispersed site’ airfield. As well as dispersal areas all around the airfield for the aircraft, buildings such as accommodation blocks were sited on farms and other areas well away from the airfield. This offered better protection from enemy action. You can come across derelict wartime RAF buildings all over this part of Pembrokeshire.
Most of the airfield buildings have been demolished, but a skeleton of one hangar still stands, along with several workshops and accommodation buildings on private land to the north-west of the site. One of the huts contains paintings of aircraft and other ‘barrack room art’, and is a Grade II listed building. It can be visited by arrangement with the landowner and Coastlands Local History Group.
Take the path back down the hill to West Dale Bay (Stop 17). Cross the stile and take the path along the bottom of the valley towards Dale Castle, visible in the distance.