The Wartime Memories Project - USN Dunkeswell Station 173



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World War 2 Two II WW2 WWII

Information.

USN Dunkeswell was originally planned as a Fighter Command, then a Coastal Command airfield, but transferred for use by American units, and became Station 173. In mid 1943 the site as home to the 4th, 6th, 19th and 22nd Anti Submarine Sqns of the 479th Anti Submarine Group. Between 24th September 1943 and July 1945 the base was home to VB-103, Fleet Air Wing 7, of the United States Navy. This was the first USN unit to train with the RAF, later followed by VB-105 and VB-110. Equipped with Liberators then PB4Y-1 Privateers on anti-submarine patrols. During the war there was also a hospital on the site, Navy Hospital NAF Dunkeswell.

In the months after the end of hositilites the site was handed back to the RAF and became home to 16 Ferry Unit, RAF Transport Command, ferrying aircraft to the Middle East. Between September 1946 and December 1948 the base was used by 265 and 267 Maintenance Units RAF.

The military airfield closed in 1949 and today the site is a private airfield with many planes permently based there and is often visited by historic aircraft as it has become a refuiling airfield. There is also a museum on site



Squadrons stationed at

  • 4th Anti Submarine Sqadron. 479th Anti Submarine Group. August to September 1943
  • 6th Anti Submarine Sqadron. 479th Anti Submarine Group. August to September 1943
  • 19th Anti Submarine Sqadron. 479th Anti Submarine Group. August to September 1943
  • 22nd Anti Submarine Sqadron. 479th Anti Submarine Group. August to September 1943
  • VB-103. Fleet Air Wing 7. United States Navy. September 1943 to July 1943
  • VB-105. Fleet Air Wing 7. United States Navy. September 1943 to July 1943
  • VB-110. Fleet Air Wing 7. United States Navy. September 1943 to July 1943
  • 16 Ferry Unit. RAF Transport Command. Aug 1945 to April 1946


List of those who served at Dunkeswell during The Second World War



Virginia "Ginny" Quaife

Only recently, have my sister and I discovered this site. Our mother was Virginia "Ginny" Quaife, the Red Cross Director, assigned to Dunkeswell Navy Base during the last years of the war. She, like many women, wanted to serve her country in anyway she could and became an army hostess at Fort Crook, Nebraska before joining the Red Cross for a tour overseas. Virginia was assigned to Dunkeswell sometime in 1944 through 1945. According to an excerpt from the local hometown newspaper, one of her fondest projects was furnishing hot coffee and doughnuts to weary crews coming "home" from their missions. Other duties included providing recreational activities and support services for personnel stationed at the base. After VE day, she was briefly assigned to Germany, before closing out her Red Cross career in the Philippines. There are a great many pictures that we have included here. All of these pictures and clippings are taken from her many scrapbooks that she assembled while overseas. Also much of our knowledge of Dunkeswell is based on our mother’s recollections and stories that we have heard so many times while growing up. Some of the individuals shown in the photos are known and so identified. Many are not. We hope that any of the gallant men and women who served here or the children of those who have passed on, would make it known to the site if they recognize any of these people and can provide their names or any anecdotal information about them. As we looked at and assembled these photos for this project, we could not but feel humbled and saddened that, if it were not for this web site and others like it, the exploits of the men and women who served during the war in theatres and campaigns all over the world, would be lost to future generations forever. We look upon this particular project as a legacy to our mother and the fine men and women who served with her at Dunkeswell. Our only regret is that we did not find your site sooner. Sadly, our mother passed away in 1991 at the age of 74. Many of the men and women who would have enjoyed seeing pictures of their fellow comrades during this time are gone as well. As you and I view these pictures, I know they are smiling at the pictures too. The first group of pictures is of the men and women who staffed and ran the Fleet Aero Club at the base and American Red Cross friends. In this set, the first picture is of Helen Fries, the outgoing ARC Director. The 4th picture if of the English staff that helped run the club. There are too many to name on the photo, but luckily our mother wrote some of their names on the back. Her writing is hard to discern, but they appear to be in no particular order: Bessie, Muriel, Wynne, Mrs. Pike, Mrs. Holbert, Peggy, and Mrs. Firzey. Lillian, another English staffer, seemed to be a close friend of Virginia and is shown in several more photos both alone and with someone who perhaps was her boyfriend.

In group two, are included some clippings from the base newspaper and miscellaneous recreational activities.

The third major category contains pictures of the men and crews who were stationed at the base.

From left to right on the back row: George Haddad, “Red” O’Conner, “Chuck” Pillow, “J.P.” Rosen, and on the front row from left to right- “Red” Perysian, “Junior” Pope, and “Happy” Wake.

We have inserted one picture of a novice pilot- Virginia Quaife- behind the controls of a Liberator.

Here are some more crew photos:

The fourth and final category contains some pictures taken off the base in the vicinity. Our mother lived in the country in a large house owned by a Mrs. Nichols. We have included pictures of it and people who may have either lived there or frequented it often.

It was a pleasurable activity to assemble this collection of memories. Anyone who wishes contact us about our mother or the photos in general please get in touch.



Dave L. Trostle

This photo is part of my Mother's collection it was taken at Dunkeswell in 1944. My Mother Virginia Quaife served there with the Red Cross.



AMM 3/C Charles H. Stoudt

Charles Stoudt and Skipper

Charles Stoudt, pictured with his pet owl, was a friend of Virginnia Quaife; and when our mother would visit him, the owl would sit on her shoulder. Charles was somewhat of an artist and we have included a sketch of his that appeared in the base newspaper.



"Red" O'Conner 105 Sqd. Fleet Air Wing 7

This photo is from Virginnia Quaifs's collection, my Mother was the Red Cross Director, assigned to Dunkeswell Navy Base during the last years of the war.



Paul Bruggeman 103 Sqd. Fleet Air Wing 7

Paul Bruggeman served at Dunkeswell with the US Navy 7th Fleet Air Wing.



Roy Fralick 103 Sqd. Fleet Air Wing 7

Roy Fralick served at Dunkeswell with the 7th Fleet Air Wing



Jack Herman Fleet Air Wing 7

Jack Herman served at Dunkeswell with the 7th Fleet Air Wing



Gordon "Flash" Milbraith 103 Sqd. Fleet Air Wing 7

Gordon Milbraith was a Co-pilot with 103 Squadron, 7th Fleet Air Wing at Dunkeswell.



Helen Fries

Helen Fries was the Director of the Fleet Aero Club at Dunkeswell.



"Fireball" Greer Fleet Air Wing 7

"Fireball" Greer was stationed at Dukeswell in 1944/5



Paul "Porky" Pokrifki Fleet Air Wing 7

Paul Pokrifki was stationed at Dunkeswell in 1944/5



Ed "Mac" McNeil 103 Sqd. Fleet Air Wing 7

Ed McNeil flew with crew 20 from Dunkeswell in 1944/5



Bill Benlen driver

Bill Benlen was a driver with the US Red Cross at Dunkeswell 1944/5



AMM3C Matt Wilson Fleet Air Wing 7

I was stationed at Dunkeswell, (we called it Mudville) in Devon England. I believe it was April 45 we went to New Havenford West with our B-24 for special Air Work. Three of us were ground crew to service the plane. We made a deal with the pilot to put enough gas in for the afternoon flight and the morning flight so we could go to town. ( I dont remember the name of the airfield but it was aprox 7 or 17 miles to town. We get to town and found a pub then found the Cafe. We went in for a bite and finally managed to get a private room, it was in the storage area and we had to clean it out ,but it was great. We met two girls that was stationed at the Hostel. We had a nice week taking them to the Cafe and dancing. The girl I teamed up with was Ivy Emberton. She was a lovely girl. We found the Welsh people wonderful, we stayed with a private family and took the one cab back to the Base. A few weeks we were back again, doing the same things except we had two Motorcycles to get around with.( the 1st class Hendren had bought them and he sold them before we went back to England) So we had another great week. A few weeks later I returned with another crew. The Hostel was closed, and I did not have Ivy's Address. So I lost contact and I hoped she went on to have a happy life.

This time it wasn't so great. There was a fight started in the Cafe and we ended up getting involved by chance not on purpose. So that was my last trip to Wales. We sensed the war was winding down when we saw the Hostel was closed.

I remember that while the runways surfaced VB-103 also used the airfield at Upottery, what they did was send a small crew to Upottery and we loaded the planes with armement and a light load of fuel they landed at Upottery and took on a full load of fuel and took off from there then landed at Dunks. after the mission.

I returned to the U.S.A. at the end of the war on the Queen Mary. But went from Bombers to Fighters and Air Craft Carrier, discharged in 1948.

Winter 1944

Winter 1944

Matt Wilson AMM3C, checking gas.

Dean Elliott AMM2C. PATSU 7-A.

E.I. Ross AMM1C and Matt Wilson (Front) outside our lovely hut.

Tommy (last name unkown) declares war on the hut deck.

F.F. Ward AMM2C, in deep thought about the next liberty

Winter 1945

Winter 1945

Winter 1945

Sidmouth at low tide.

Mr. Martin AMM3C, based at USAAF Dunkeswell, at play at Sidmouth, the scafolding is part of the beach defences. It was intended to slow down enemy landings by preventing tanks from climbing the low seafront walls.

Mr. Martin AMM3C and I. Nebel AMM2C, based at USAAF Dunkeswell, on the beach at Sidmouth.

Matt Wilson AMM3C. based at USAAF Dunkeswell. Like a good "scotch on the rocks" at Sidmouth.

Matt Wilson AMM3C + Mr. Martin, based at USAAF Dunkeswell, at Sidmouth Beach 1944. The scafolding is part of the anti-landing beach defence.



Daniel J Toohey VB103 Sqd Fleet Air Wing 7

My Dad, Daniel J. Toohey, was stationed at Dunkeswell during the war.



Pilot Lawrence "Pete" Petersen VP-103, B-24 Fleet Air Wing 7

I was a US Navy Pilot, Fleet Air Wing 7, VP-103, B-24. Stationed at Dunkeswell, 1943-45. Shot down February 14, 1944, credited with one JU-88. Two crew members perished in crash, one more in life raft, awaiting rescue. In a dog fight Sept. 12th, 1943, off the north coast of Spain (Bay of Biscay) we crashed as well, this was not entered in any record book. Credited with 2 JU-88's.



Glenn Raymond Mummert

My father was stationed in Dunkeswell sometime during WWII. My husband and I recently visited friends in Bristol and had the opportunity to visit Dunkeswell and the museum. My father was 6 years older than my mother and I know very little about his time in the Navy and Dunkeswell. I really only know that he was stationed there and he was a medics assistant. If anyone would have more information, or could direct me to where to find more information please email.



Lt. Armin Newton Schaper DFC, CSC.

My father, Armin Schaper, was a submarine bomber pilot during WWII, based for the longest time in Dunkeswell, England. His duties involved the first night searchlight missions, hunting down German submarines at night, in an effort to make them rise above water during the day, hence making it easier to shoot them.

He had quite a few good and close friends from that squadron, two of whom I have had the pleasure to get to know recently: C.J. Fitze and Virgil Dudey, two wonderful men. I also got to know, through emails, only, however, the wonderful John Weber. All were pilots and all stationed with my father in Dunkeswell.

My brother and I are traveling to Dunkeswell, thanks to CJ Fitze's information, to view where he was based during WWII and to see the little museum created in honor of these brave and humble men. We will be visiting on September 24th, 2009, on what would have been our father's 91st birthday. What an honor and what memories. Our father received two Distinguished Flying Cross medals for his WWII service, Eleven Air Medals and the Conspicuous Service Cross, for his service to our country. How proud we are of him and his memories remain forever embedded in my head and my heart.



Carpenters Mate. Everett W. Stone 584 CBMU

My Dad Everett Stone was a SeaBee at Dunkswell between 43 & 45. He claimed to have met Joseph P. Kennedy, older brother of President JFK.



Lt. Commander Edward Joseph Reynolds

Edward J Reynolds, my father, a physician practicing in Malden Massachusetts, joined the US Navy as a flight surgeon shortly after Pearl Harbor. He became a flight surgeon stationed at Dunkeswell and greatly admired all members of the aircrews speaking often about their proficiency and courage. He loved to " get flight time " in the Catalina, PBY. No wonder I became a US Marine aviator.



CPO3. Raymond Francis "Butch" Corcoran DFS, BSw/V VB-110 Fleet Air Wing 7

My Father, Ray Corcoran was stationed at Dunkeswell with VB-110 as Plane Captain and Top Turret Gunner. He flew 26 missions over the Bay of Biscay with Joe Kennedy as his Pilot. My Father joined the Navy in 1936 and was discharged in 1940 after serving on the Aircraft Carrier Interprise. Shortly after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor he re-enlisted and went into aviation. I can only remember the names of Cook and Kennedy as members of the crew. I am hoping that I can gain more information by posting this. My Father has been gone since 1989. Unfortunately, I can't remember his stories and most anyone that would have experienced these times are of advanced age. I am also adding this because, aside from Hank Seale' book, "The Lost Prince", Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., there is little or no information concerning the crew members and what became of them.



Joseph, based at Dunkeswell, during WWII possibly with the 479th antisubmarine group.
Does anyone know this American GI known only as Joseph. Was based at Dunkeswell, England during WWII possibly with the 479th antisubmarine group. Any information appreciated.










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Can you help us to add to our records?

The names and stories on this website have been submitted by their relatives and friends. If your relations are not listed please add their names so that others can read about them


Did you or your relatives live through the Second World War? Do you have any photos, newspaper clippings, postcards or letters from that period? Have you researched the names on your local or war memorial? Were you or your relative evacuated? Did an air raid affect your area?

If so please let us know.

Help us to build a database of information on those who served both at home and abroad so that future generations may learn of their sacrifice.




Celebrate your own Family History

Celebrate by honouring members of your family who served in the Secomd World War both in the forces and at home. We love to hear about the soldiers, but also remember the many who served in support roles, nurses, doctors, land army, muntions workers etc.

Please use our Family History resources to find out more about your relatives. Then please send in a short article, with a photo if possible, so that they can be remembered on these pages.











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