Although some 366 miles from the centre of the Bay of Biscay, Dunkeswell airfield owes its origins to the urgent need to tackle the threat created by the German U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic; a campaign which was the longest in World War II, and one of the most costly.
The Battle, although overshadowed by the Battle of Britain and D Day, pitted U-boats as well as other warships of the Kriegsmarine (German navy) and aircraft of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) against the Royal Navy, Royal Airforce, Royal Canadian Navy, and the United States Army Airforce & Navy over the vital need to protect Allied shipping and ran the entire length of the war and threatened Britain’s very survival.
When France fell in June 1940, the Germans improved their prospects even more, as they took possession of French naval bases along the Atlantic coast converting them in to Impenetrable U boat bases
See Map below.
The first French U-boat base was established in July 1940 at Lorient on the Bay of Biscay, and was quickly followed by bases at Brest, St Nazaire and La Palice in Brittany. Use of these bases not only gave the U-boats direct access to the Atlantic, but also shortened their journey to the operational area by over 1,000 miles.
This also created a serious problem for the RAF’s Coastal Command, for not only did they lack the Aircraft and weapons capable of attacking Submarines. They also lacked Airfields in the South West of England from which they could operate to intercept U boats operating from these new bases.
As a result the Kriegsmarine or German navy began to operate with virtual impunity to the extent by the Autumn of 1941 the U boat or Submarine threat had become so serious to Britain’s survival that it was decided to urgently construct special advanced bases in the South West of England .
The memorial at Dunkeswell commemorates those who lost their lives and also those who served at this base both in the US Navy and USAAF during WWII including Joe Kenedy the brother of US President JFK who died whilst flying a secret mission in 1944.
The memorial to those who served features a propeller blade from a VPB 110
Night time photograph of memorial courtsey of Issac Ogden (Heartradio) who was the FTF
If you have time the museum along-side the memorial is well worth a visit
The Heritage centre is open from:
Good Friday to the last Sunday of October (unless otherwise stated)
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays 11am - 4pm
This memorial is opposite the cache site
***** PLEASE NOTE IMPORTANT *****
CACHES ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE PLACED ON ACTUAL MEMORIALS OR WITHIN THE BOUNDARY OF SUCH
AT ALL TIMES PLEASE TREAT LOCATIONS OF MEMORIALS WITH RESPECT