The on set of war in 1939 brought with it many changes
to the area. This western part of the UK was ideal for stationing
aircraft engaged in the Battle of the Atlantic - the protection of
Britain's maritime trade. The St Davids Airfield was built just north of Nine Wells
between Vachelich and Whitchurch and opened in the autumn of 1943
under Royal Air Force Coastal Command. Unfortunately the building of
the airfield resulted in the destruction of the two hamlets Llechell and Trelodan.
Originally it was intended to operate US Navy
Liberator bombers, but a change of plan led to RAF squadrons moving
in. Just after the war ended a Liberator plane and its four-man crew
crashed near Emlych Farm, on the Whitesands road. The site is now
marked by a slate memorial, unveiled in July 1995 on the 50th
anniversary of the accident, the commemoration organised by the
Pembrokeshire Aviation Group.
Unlike most of the other Pembrokeshire
airfields, St Davids airfield remained in use after the war and was
operated by the Airwork company in a fleet support role for the Royal
Navy and in particular the air directional school at HMS Harrier on
the Dale peninsula. This ended in 1960 after which as the RAF operated
its Tactical Weapons Unit at RAF Brawdy (1974 - 1992), the runway was
used as a relief landing area. When this came to an end in 1992,
the land was sold off to local farmers and businesses.
The St Davids
Airfield with the mile long runway in 1990
War time Installations
Along with an airfield came all the other necessary
war time installations:
A Hospital needed a flat field which is not easy to
find in the area but was sited in the field opposite the entrance to
A Prisoner of War camp sited in the field opposite the entrance to
Barracks were located in various places throughout Nine Wells in
particular above the east valley side of Porth-y-Rhaw. Soldiers
undertook target practice across the valley floor.
A Sewage works was located just up from Porth-y-Rhaw.
An underground command centre located between the POW camp and the
On the way down to Porth-y-Rhaw, a pipe mounted on
pillars crosses the valley and there are several manhole covers on the
track. This was all taking waste water from the installations down to
the sewage works at Porth-y-Rhaw.
To cope with drainage from the airfield, drainage
pipes were laid across the fields of Croftufty and Pen Pant Farm which
piped the water down to Porth-y-Rhaw.
At the end of the war, most installations were
Some foundations remain from a
war time camp at Nine Wells.