Memorial service for lost pilots at Winkleigh

A Memorial Service to pay homage to the fallen aviators of the former RAF Winkleigh Airfield will be held on Saturday, November 7. A total of 33 airmen flew from the Second World War fighter station, never to return and each year the Winkleigh branch of

A Memorial Service to pay homage to the fallen aviators of the former RAF Winkleigh Airfield will be held on Saturday, November 7.

A total of 33 airmen flew from the Second World War fighter station, never to return and each year the Winkleigh branch of the Royal British Legion and local people gather to remember the men of many nations who flew from the North Devon base during history's greatest airborne conflict.

The now disused airfield was a fighter station during the war and home to various squadrons of British, Canadian, American and even Norwegian and Polish air crews. Among them was the famous "Black Squadron" which dropped secret agents into occupied Europe.

RAF Winkleigh air base was in fact home to many international combatants and support units, including the IX USAF Service Command 74th Service Group, the 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron USAAF, the crack RAF 161 Black Squadron, RAF 286 Squadron.

From the beginning there were men and women of the Royal Canadian Air Force including RCAF 415 Maritime Patrol - Swordfish Squadron, RCAF 406 Lynx Squadron, RCAF 408 Goose Squadron and not forgetting the Polish fighter pilots who were a law unto themselves and with a score to settle with Germany

A war memorial was erected at the airfield in 1995 at a ceremony attended by local people and former comrades. Since then it has served as a focus for the annual service.

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Organiser Desmond Cockram said all were invited to the November 7 service, at 10.30 for 11am. It will be led by the Vicar of Winkleigh, the Reverend Peter Norman and followed by refreshments afterwards at D and S Supplies in Winkleigh for all who wished to attend.

During World War II the Government denied Winkleigh even existed, to protect the secret missions, but some evidence of the war years can still be seen including the former control tower, runway and bunkers.

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