History of RAF Winkleigh Airfield, Airbase, Devon, England. World War II | Winkleigh a Devon Village part 1V | Jackie Freeman Photography

RAF Winkleigh

The story of a WW II Air Base in Devon - Part VII





Part VII

Written by David Freeman

Adapted from his TV Series Secret Britain

Photographs by Devon Photographer - Jackie Freeman

Content: Winkleigh Airfield Today - Businesses on the Airfield - Closure - Memorial Stone


Winkleigh Airfield today:

Has the Glory Gone?

Former Air Traffic Control Tower - Winkleigh

 Sited to the south east of the main runway at RAF Winkleigh and northwest of Seckington Cross, is a former WW II concrete structure which is about all that remains recognisable of the disused world war two airbase at Winkleigh.

 Built in 1943, the fortified concrete structure once housed a metrological office, the watch office, a duty pilots restroom and switch room and on the first floor, a signals room and a balcony which overlooked the western runways.

The air traffic control tower was the mainstay of the air base at one time and is about all that is left the RAF base today.

There are several other buildings which are left however and have been modified over the years but many have since been dismantled or demolished.

The now derelict, former air traffic control tower - RAF Winkleigh.

© Jackie Freeman Photography 2008


 Some of the former RAF blister hangar sites   have been put to good use since the airfield was sold off and are now the home of Reynolds Boughton Ltd.. with part of the disused Winkleigh airfield now used as their fabrication and assembly plant.

 The company produces specialised waste handling equipment alongside building highly specialised military logistics equipment and aviation, rescue and fire fighting vehicles.


 Adjoining the Reynolds site is the privately owned, West of England Transport Collection which houses a fantastic collection and array of vintage commercial vehicles and really needs serious  consideration for Lottery Funding which would make the Museum a landmark attraction of the county and a beeline for tourists.

Bunker entrance today along the northern perimeter track.

© Jackie Freeman Photography 2008

© Jackie Freeman Photography 2008


One of the many bunker entrances still on the old airfield site.  The arrow on the blue print below indicates the position of the entrance.

RAF Winkleigh Airfield Blueprint - Plans.


Main Dispersal Site now used for industrial purposes   

© Jackie Freeman Photography 2008

Southern Dispersal Block

© Jackie Freeman Photography 2008




Below: Main north south Runway RAF Winkleigh today.

So many Stories.

© Jackie Freeman Photography 2008





Regeneration: Businesses now operating on the old Winkleigh Airfield include:


D & S Supplies:

Operated by Steve & Shirley Leahy who have take over the role of the Old Winkleigh Corner shop:

"An Emporium that sells everything from babies bottles to nails."

Reynolds Boughton Ltd Main East West Runway Site
Bedwells Removals & Storage           "
Taw Mix Timber products           "
L&M Agriculture           " 
Devon Plant Services  
Rangemoors - Stoves South West Wood Burning Centre
Surf Bay Leisure Mobile Home sales
Airfield Plant Services
Zukis Restaurant
On the site of the original mess hall
Freebird South West Conversions  
Winkleigh Car Sales  
Winkleigh Pine Furniture  
Winkleigh Timber  
Forthglade Ltd Animal Foods
Everbuild Building Supplies  
Acrofast-Roofing and Cladding  



Final note: The closure of Winkleigh Airfield:

 Following the end of the war and the disappearance of the Norwegians, the Winkleigh airbase was run down and held in care and maintenance  before being declared a 'Greenfield' site by the Air Ministry with no servicemen to be stationed there again.

 The now empty military base, housed displaced individuals for a while, many of whom came from the Eastern bloc, all with the dream of a new life and having lost everything in their own struggle for freedom.


 By 1958, much of the airfield had been sold off to private individuals who converted some of the military site and its buildings to industrial usage. This included a poultry farm, Ashton and Wonham's saw mills, a caravan site, with part of the aerodrome runways supporting a flourishing Go Cart track. many of the other buildings were dismantled or demolished

 For a while between 1975 and 1978, the airfield reverted to minor military usage again, with the Army Air Corps using it for Lynx and Gazelle helicopter training. All in all, some 40 choppers were in service there for a period of time.


 Sadly, little remains of the aerodrome and its buildings today, just the ghostly shadows of the once proud and strategically important station and a few rapidly deteriorating buildings.


 But when you stand alone at the end of one of the deserted runways of Winkleigh airbase on a foggy Devon morning, just as the sun finally appears over the distant Dartmoor hills. Listen to the wind.

I am sure that you can hear the drone of aircraft engines as they pull away hard into the expectant sky in defence of a nation.






RAF Winkleigh Memorial Stone

 On May 12th. 1995 on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary, a monument dedicated to all of the fine representatives of the countries who were based at RAF Winkleigh during its operational years was unveiled in the presence of old comrades,

local councilors and villagers alike.

Through the graciousness of Ron Cottey who donated the land upon which the monument is erected

& the Torridge District Council who financed the monument and interpretation board, the memory of all those who served

at Winkleigh in the war years and beyond will always remain.



                                                                            Herr Johan Lovik & John Hall DFC






The War Years - 10 Group  Fighter  Command at Winkleigh 1942 - 1945

 IX USAF Serv. Comd.

   74th Serv Group

"Above All"

12th Tactical Reconnaissance

Squadron USAAF

"Know your Enemy"

          RAF 161

    Black Squadron

        " Liberate"

  RAF 286 Squadron

   "We exercise our


Free Polish Airmen

303 Squadron

RCAF 415
Swordfish Squadron

"To the mark"

RCAF 406 

Lynx Squadron

"We kill by night"

RCAF 408
Goose Squadron
"For Freedom"


A History of the Borough Town of Winkleigh, Devon


Sponsored by Jackie Freeman Photography.

RAF WINKLEIGH Roll of Honour

Go to Page 8 >



The writer thanks and acknowledges the help of Steve & Shirley Leahy


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Copyright:/ 2008 | David Freeman & Jackie Freeman Photography - Grays Cross - Winkleigh - Devon - England. All rights reserved
Unauthorized use of the text and images illustrated is prohibited and protected under international laws of copyright.

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