SWAT Lands at Church Rooms

Out Of Dunkeswell Cover

Out Of Dunkeswell Front Cover

The HH&AA welcomed Claude Caple to the Church Rooms, last night. Claude has a deep interest in historical military vehicles and restoring old telephones. He was also part of the team that helped bring an old Tiger Tank back to life, over at the Bovington Tank Museum, in Dorset.

However, it was in his role as Chairman of the South West Airfield Trust (SWAT), that he delivered his address.

The full house listened to Claude explaining the part played by the three airfields in the area: Dunkeswell, Smeatharpe (Upottery) and Culmhead.

The talk was accompanied by a selection of photos showing both past and present states of some of the buildings and views of the historical sites.

Claude spoke of the fairly muddy Dunkeswell site, christened Mudville Heights, by the US Naval Wing stationed there, in the Second World War years. The famous Kennedy tragedy was also touched upon.

Local historian and author Brian Clist, recalled how as a youth, together with his chums, he used to cycle to the crash sites of some of the planes. The mission was to salvage the odd souvenir or two.

Brian also recalled, rather movingly, how from his bedroom widow, he witnessed the swarms of planes departing for D-Day, on the night of 5th June, 1944.

On the subject of seeing planes: Claude asks if anyone has a copy of a photograph he saw many years ago; the image is an aerial shot of a Spitfire flying over Hemyock. Do you know of a copy? Please let us know.

It was interesting to learn that Claude and SWAT have been active in trying to get many of the remaining buildings listed and restored. As part of their efforts to raise funds to maintain and restore these sites, Claude offered their book


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