The Airfield

The Royal Air Force Airfield, Stormy Down

Established in 1939, the Royal Air Force aerodrome on Stormy Down played a vital role in the training of air and ground crew during the 1939-45 war. Seven thousand air gunners were trained at Stormy Down on courses averaging five weeks. At least ten percent of these trainees did not survive the war.

Four hundred air observers also trained at Stormy Down, along with two thousand flight engineers. In total, an estimated ten thousand aircrew received instruction at the aerodrome, along with eighteen hundred RAF and WAAF armourers. Below, an aerial view of Stormy Down.

RAF Stormy Down 1946

As the plan below shows, RAF Stormy Down was a self-contained village with WAAF quarters, married quarters, a church, a cinema and more. It was also a mulit-cultural place with trainees from India, Canada, Newfoundland, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia, France, Poland, and many other Allied countries.

RAF Stormy Down Plan

Below, two of the aeroplanes based at Stormy Down, an Avro Anson and a Westland Lysander. The short, grass-covered airfield, just over a thousand yards long, witnessed many accidents, including on 15th August 1939 the first recorded incident when Sgt W.A. Doherty overshot on landing. His brakes failed on the wet grass and his plane collided with a hedge.

Arguably, the most tragic accident occurred away from the airfield when, on 5th April 1942, a Whitley bomber flew across the seafront at Porthcawl. Before reaching Porthcawl, the Whitley had been involved in training when its gun jammed. In an attempt to clear the faulty mechanism, a Royal Canadian Air Force sergeant fired a short burst of tracer bullets. Unfortunately, those bullets struck an ATS woman as she emerged from a cookhouse, killing her instantly.


After the war, the airfield at Stormy Down reverted to civilian use. This picture, taken on 11th June 1948, shows the demilitarized camp, which became a hostel for contractors building the Steel Company of Wales Abbey Works at Port Talbot.

Stormy Down