Armed Forces Day 2017 – RMB Chivenor

It’s always nice to get out of the office and take a little of what we do along to an event and last Friday and Saturday saw us do just that. We joined forces with the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon again this year and took a display to the Armed Forces Day exhibition. Last year we were at the event run by the North Devon Veteran’s Association at Pilton College. This year the event was held at a slightly bigger venue – RMB Chivenor!

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Armed Forces Day 2017

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Armed Forces Day 2017

The Marines opened up the airfield, once part of the RAF base which was in use until the mid-nineties, to exhibitors and the public in aid of Armed Forces Day on the 24th June. The event itself was held over two days with school children visiting on the Friday and families of the serving marines having a private viewing on the Saturday morning before the gates opened to the general public.

 

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Adam and Sam from the Museum showing some of the students a victory bell made from a piece of a WWII German aircraft

We were set up in a large marquee just off the main runway alongside the North Devon Veteran’s Association and other local organisations including Torrington Museum. We were just inside the marquee which meant we had a spectacular view over the airfield and Taw estuary towards Fremington – when it wasn’t shrouded in mist!

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View from the Marquee

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Part of the display we put together with the Museum

Since we were at Chivenor we decided to take items from our Chivenor Collections. The Museum took along several items from the Pat Knight Collection which was once housed at Chivenor when it was home to the RAF. These included several bits of crashed aircraft, a piece of shrapnel from a WWII German bomb which came down in the parish of Beaford, an RAF jacket and items from one of the many Air Days the RAF put on during their time at Chivenor.

 

We took along one of the seven RAF Chivenor Albums which chart the history of Chivenor as a base together with other items including copies of WWII crash reports and accounts of the night a German JU88 mistakenly landed there in 1941 thinking they were in occupied France.

Perhaps one of the biggest highlights of the event was seeing the new search and rescue Coastguard helicopter which spent most of Saturday on the airfield – when it wasn’t called into action.

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We had a lovely few days meeting lots of people, many of whom had either served or are currently serving at Chivenor as well as seeing lots of families (many of whom had brought their dog along). But perhaps one of the best parts of the event was getting the opportunity to see the airfield and driving along the runways to get to and from the display area.

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You can find more about what we and the Museum got up to over the two days on our Facebook page and Twitter feeds.

For more information about our RAF Chivenor Collection and to read some of the stories and memories of Chivenor as an RAF base click on the Chivenor category or follow the links to the posts below;

The RAF Chivenor Collection

An Unusual Landing

Chivenor & the Torrey Canyon

Rescuing the Rescuers!

…Barum Athena

The RAF Chivenor Collection

One of the most popular collections in our care is the RAF Chivenor Collection. The military base next to the river Taw has been a part of North Devon life for over 70 years and many locals have fond memories of the base.

Our collection covers the history of Chivenor as an aerodrome and airport for North Devon before becoming an RAF base during the Second World War and up to the RAF’s handover of the base to the Royal Marines in 1995.

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The gems of the collection are the 7 large photo albums covering Chivenor’s time as a local aerodrome and RAF base. The albums are full of fascinating images and stories including the night a German war plane landed on the runway thinking it had reached occupied France in 1940, the night one of the Search and Rescue helicopters collided with an overhead power cable and ended up in the River Torridge and the Hawker Jets’ involvement with the Torrey Canyon disaster.

The collections also contain histories of some of the various squadrons which were based there over the years, the planes they used and accounts of some of the events the base was involved with over the years. It also includes reminiscences of former personnel who were stationed there.

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Another gem from the document collection is the visitor book which dates from 1941 to 1972 and includes signatures of Clement Atlee, Gracie Fields, foreign dignitaries and important locals.

Outside the Chivenor collection we have items about the base and it’s place within North Devon in our Document Collections. Our North Devon Journal Archive contains lots of stories about Chivenor and includes several images in the negative collection – including the helicopter crash, the preparation for the Torrey Canyon run and the official handover of the base to the Royal Marines in 1995. We also have images of the Chivenor and the SAR’s work in a new collection of images we received from the Beaford Archive earlier this year.

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You can also discover more about Chivenor on our shelves as we have a selections of books about Chivenor and other Devon aerodromes on our shelves. We also have books on World War Two and original pamphlets from the War including the work of Coastal Command.

For more information visit our website and search our catalogues.