RAF Harrowbeer has/had twelve Dispersal Bays. These were used to park aircraft in between sorties (or missions). Any aircraft on the ground was always kept fully fuelled and fully armed. This was because it’s no good getting the call to ‘Scramble!’ and finding you need fuel or ammunition. Thus, any aircraft on the ground was a target for enemy aircraft, so they were dispersed around the airfield and protected by earth banks. If an aircraft caught fire, it would be unlikely to affect any nearby aircraft because of the banking. Each dispersal bay has an air raid shelter for up to 25 personnel. They were never used to store bombs or similar!
The entrances to the shelters were sealed up in the 60s and have remained so since. Once or twice, erosion has allowed the inquisitive to get inside but they are all the same internally. One Bay was completely removed (we don’t know when) so that only the footprint of it remains.
In 2011, the RAF Harrowbeer Interest Group (HIG) were given permission to clear and re-open the air raid shelter near to Knightstone/Ravenscroft for the 70th Anniversary Weekend in August. It continues to be maintained by the HIG, who keep it clear of weeds, rubbish and, sadly, human excrement, (not a pleasant job). We open it during our 1940s Weekend so people can see inside. However, thanks to the team from Birmingham University, we can now let you have a 3D walk through of the Dispersal Bay Air Raid Shelter. The full tour is not quite complete as one ‘bay’ still has to be scanned but please do take a look and have fun wandering, virtually’ through the shelter!
3D Dispersal Bay Tour, click here: Air Raid Shelter 3D tour
Please do come and see the shelter at one of our 1940s weekends too.
Plan of RAF Dispersal Bays. Harrowbeer’s are all Blenheim sized.
RAF Harrowbeer Interest Group.