St Eval Church
St Eval Church

History of St Eval

RAF St Eval played an important part in the Second World War as a strategic Royal Air Force station for the RAF Coastal Command

Work on the expansion of the site started in 1938. A number of outlying cottages, houses and parts of two farms were compulsorily purchased and the village of St Eval itself was totally demolished for the building of the airfield. During the levelling process many Cornish dry stone walls and three ancient tumuli were destroyed. The only remaining building from the village is the Parish Church of St Eval. RAF St Eval opened on 2 October 1939.

St Eval's main role was to provide anti-submarine and anti-shipping patrols off the south west coast. Aircraft from the airfield also flew photographic reconnaissance missions, meteorological flights, convoy patrols, air-sea rescue missions and protection of the air field from the Luftwaffe.

As early as autumn 1940, St Eval was being used for offensive operations which targeted the the German occupied port of Brest and other French ports on the Bay of Biscay coast. The harbour at Brest was regularly used by ships such as the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and during 1941 and 1942 a series of raids were mounted against this and other ports.

Fighter aircraft flew from RAF St Eval and during the Battle of Britain it was home to the following Squadrons:

No 222 Squadron from 18 June 1940
No 236 Squadron from 8 August 1940
No 238 Squadron from 14 August 1940
No 222 Squadron from 11 September 1940

St Eval was the main centre of anti-submarine operations in the South West. Between March 1941 and the end of 1943 these operations formed part of one of the most critical battles of the war – the Battle of the Atlantic. Britain’s war economy was threatened by severe losses to merchant shipping. A crucial factor in the eventual winning of this battle was the deployment of long-range Liberator bombers which were used to attack the U-boat pens and supply bases in mainland Europe.

In 1941, RAF St Eval was badly attacked by German bombers. All the aircrews were dispersed to commandeered accommodation within an 8 mile radius.



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St Eval Church
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