Royal Air Force, Pembroke Dock
John Evans.
 

The Royal Air Force’s arrival in 1930 brought hope to a community still reeling from the closure of the Royal Dockyard four years earlier. The sheltered Haven waters were ideal for the operation of flying-boats and the newly formed No 210 Squadron flew here in June, 1931. Their Supermarine Southampton's – and later Short Rangoon's and Singapore IIIs - were an ever-present part of Pembroke Dock’s daily life in the 1930s.

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. 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.

Known simply as ‘PD’ to all involved with flying-boats, the Pembroke Dock community took the airmen to their hearts and a second posting to the air station was always welcomed.

Backing up the ‘front line’ activity of the squadrons was a substantial maintenance base, a large Marine Craft Section with many and varied craft and a sizeable WAAF contingent, the first of which arrived at the end of 1939.

 Post-war, ‘PD’ continued as an RAF station (201 and 230 Squadrons) until the Sunderland's were retired from home waters in 1957.

 Today, the two unique flying-boat hangars still dominate the former RAF station but the slipway used to bring flying-boats ashore was demolished to make way for the new port facilities. The fine 1930s-style Officers’ Mess was knocked down in the 1980s but the former Sergeants’ Mess – located just inside the main gate – was converted into a hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Short Sunderland of 201 Squadron, by courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.
Short Sunderland V of 201 Squadron. For allied merchant ships, patrolling Sunderland's were friendly, protective giants. Against enemy submarines,
they were formidable adversaries. (Imperial War Museum CH 18020 * )

Badge of Royal Air Force Station, Pembroke Dock. Photograph by Creative Looks, by courtesy of Pembroke Dock Museum Trust.

The Welsh text expresses the purpose of RAF Pembroke Dock- 
"Watching the west from the air."

Empire Air Day,photograph by courtesy of Mr R. Ridley.

Empire Air Days attracted thousands of spectators to the Dockyard in the 1930s. Like earlier ship launchings, they offered a chance to view the wonders of military technology at close quarters. Here, visitors step aboard a
Singapore III flying boat.

Note: "The RAF Pembroke Dock homepage", at http://www.geocities.com/aj_p_joyce/ includes "RAF marine craft homepage", and material on 1109 MCU. Mr John Joyce was stationed in PD from 1955,  and maintains "service pals", "memories" and "roll call" sections. These offer recollections of the RAF station and town at that time.

Pictures  by courtesy of : Sunderland, Imperial War Museum ( * please note: this image may not be copied without the permission of the Imperial War Museum) - badge: Pembroke Dock Museum Trust (photograph: Creative Looks) - Empire Air Day, Mr R. Ridley.