LOCAL HISTORY GROUP HEAR OF APPEAL TO REBUILD A WORLD WAR TWO BOMBER

Crewkerne & District U3A’s Local History group heard of an appeal to rebuild a World War Two dive bomber when they welcomed David Morris at their monthly meeting. David who is the Curator of Aircraft in the Fleet Air Arm Museum at RNAS Yeovilton said: “I want to appeal to local people who may have worked at Westlands or Yeovilton to search your sheds and garages, to see if you can find any nuts and bolts pertaining to a Fairey Barracuda. The museum are involved in a long-term project to reassemble and restore a Fairey Barracuda, using parts from four separate crash sites. It is like searching for a needle in a haystack, hence the appeal.”

Although more than 2,500 Fairey Barracuda were manufactured during the war, more than any other aircraft that saw service in the Fleet Air Arm, not one complete example survives today. One of its most famous roles was the attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in 1944. David Morris also told the group of the role played by film star Kenneth More while he was based at Yeovilton during the Second World War. Kenneth helped to develop a system to train the Wrens in the vital role of plotting aircraft in the sky, using the old ‘stop me and buy one’ tricycles. David said: “From these beginnings the air traffic control system we have today was developed.”

The Local History group also heard about the work that was done to fool the German air force when work started on the construction of Yeovilton in 1939. To camouflage the airbase tons of painted wood chips were used to build dummy hedges and to make the fields look as if they were planted with crops. In an unpopulated area a couple of miles to the north west, there was a rhyne that was lit up at night and made to look like a runway. The ruse proved successful and a large flooded crater where a bomb landed, can still be seen today. U3A Local History group leader Eileen Mills said: “It was a fascinating talk on the history of RNAS Yeovilton. Wouldn’t it be great if something they need, turns up in a shed in Crewkerne.”

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