Dale Airfield – Pembroke Dock
Built on a peninsula and with several of the runway approaches over cliffs, Dale opened in June 1942 as a satellite for the nearby RAF Talbenny. The frontline No 304 (Polish) Squadron immediately moved in and the squadron’s Vickers Wellington aircraft carried out missions including convoy protection, anti-submarine patrols and bombing raids in Occupied France. In April 1943 the Coastal Command Development Unit (CCDU) took control of the airfield. This unit carried out important work evaluating new equipment as well as teaching and developing new tactics. The unit therefore operated a very diverse range of aircraft types. September 1943 saw the airfield transfer from the RAF to the Royal Navy and Dale was used by various Royal Navy training units until its closure to flying in 1948.
During World War II Pembroke Dock became one of the most important stations in waging the Battle of the Atlantic and the ceaseless war against the German U-Boat. At one time in 1943 no less than 99 flying-boats – Sunderland’s and Catalinas – were at Pembroke Dock, making this the largest operational station in the world. From Pembroke Dock many RAF and Allied squadrons operated at various times and men of many nations flew from the Haven, their patrols taking them far out into the Atlantic, deep into the Bay of Biscay, above the Western Approaches and, as part of the D-Day operations, protecting the sea lanes leading to the Normandy Invasion beachheads.