Site of RAF airfield, Tywyn

theme page link buttonSite of RAF airfield, Tywyn

The Air Ministry acquired land here during the Second World War for an airfield. The land had been reclaimed from the sea in Victorian times and provided a rare expanse of flat ground in this mountainous region.

RAF Towyn opened in 1940 and consisted of a large grass landing area, a number of hangars to store and service aircraft, a control tower and ancillary buildings for billeting troops. A few of these, along with some of the airfield defences, can still be seen today.

There is also a circular compass platform with an arrow pointing north. This was used for aircraft orientation. Nearby is a tall metal pole from which the airfield’s windsock fluttered, indicating wind direction.

Principally the airfield was a base for aircraft capable of towing targets that soldiers of the Royal Artillery, based at the nearby Tonfanau camp, could fire at. Some of these planes were twin winged Tiger Moth bi-planes which were flown remotely by radio control. They were known as ‘Queen Bees’.

The other type of plane flown from here was the Hawker Henley. These were piloted and towed a long drogue for the gunners to fire at with their anti-aircraft guns.

In July 1944, a large four engine American bomber tried to make an emergency landing at the airfield after becoming lost in poor weather and running low on fuel. The Flying Fortress was too big for RAF Towyn and overshot the airfield. Although it crashed and caught fire, the airmen escaped without injury.

RAF Towyn closed in 1945 and the army took over the site. It remained as a military base, in various guises, until 1999. Some of the land subsequently became a solar farm.

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

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