Giant RAF arrow, near Llanbedrog

Giant RAF arrow, near Llanbedrog

In a field alongside this part of the Wales Coast Path lies a giant concrete arrow, installed by the RAF. There is no public access to the field – please do not enter it. Use the map below for an aerial view of the arrow.

The arrow points out to sea in the direction of the flight path taken by planes from nearby RAF Penrhos to get to a firing range near Abersoch. The range was south west of here but the flight path was over the sea rather than land.

RAF Penrhos opened in 1937 on farmland on the other side of the A499 (north of here). Airmen there were taught the principles of bombing and gunnery. After weeks of practical instruction, students put the theory into practice at the live weapons range at RAF Hell’s Mouth, Porth Neigwl.

Although a long way from mainland Europe, RAF Penrhos did not escape the attentions of the German air force. Luftwaffe bombers attacked on a number of occasions in summer and autumn 1940, destroying aircraft, damaging infrastructure and killing RAF personnel.

The Air Ministry’s announcement in the 1930s that it intended building an airfield at Penrhos was welcomed by some as an opportunity for employment but was an affront to others, particularly pacifist Welsh Nationalists. In 1936, during the aerodrome’s construction, three of Plaid Cymru’s founding members – Saunders Lewis, Lewis Valentine and DJ Roberts – broke in and set fire to some of the buildings. They then drove to Pwllheli and surrendered to the police. A controversial trial followed, and each was jailed.

RAF Penrhos closed in 1946 and some of the buildings were used as a resettlement camp for Polish servicemen who could not, or did not want to, go back to their homeland. People from Poland, or of Polish ancestry, still live there. The rest of the former airfield is now a caravan park and a golf course.

With thanks to Adrian Hughes, of the Home Front Museum, Llandudno