Latitude 1°41'30"N  Longitude  5°10'50"W

   
ACQUISITION Purpose built facility

 

OPENED 01 January 1945 on 'books of HMS GOLDCREST'

 

COMMISSIONED 01 February 1948 as HARRIER

 

PAID OFF 02 January 1961

 

CLOSED  

 

O.I.C. Commander T.G.P. Crick O.B.E., D.S.C. Dec 1944

Captain J. Jefferis D.S.C. RN. 05.1945 (04.1946)

COMMANDING OFFICER Captrain (G) R.L.H. Marsh RN ?? 1950
Captain P.J. Wyatt D.S.C. RN. 01.10.1955
   
FUNCTION R.N. School of Aircraft Direction

R.N. School of Meteorology

R.N. Radar Plotter Training School  

 

ADDRESS R.N. Aircraft Direction Centre,

Kete,

Haverfordwest,

Pembrokeshire,

Wales

 

LOCALITY The centre lies 1 mile S. of RNAS Dale.

The centre lies on the coast ½ mile S.E. of of the village of Dale and ¼ miles N. of St. Anne's Head, the W. entrance point if Milford Haven. 

The town of Milford Haven lies 5 miles E. (By road 8 miles.)

Haverfordwest lies 11 miles N.E. (By road 13 miles.)

Pembroke Dock lies 10 miles E. by S.

 

LANDMARKS St. Anne's Head and Milford Haven.

Skomer and Skokholm islands lying 4 miles W.N.W. and 2 miles W. respectively.

 

ROAD AND RAIL ACCESS Access to the main Dale - Haverfordwest road passing ½ mile W. of the RNAS Dale.

Station at Haverfordwest on G.W.R. line to Cardiff;.

   

 

Not known

 

ACCOMMODATION

Capacity:

Officers: 7
Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings: Unknown.
W.R.N.S. Officers: Unknown.
W.R.N.S.  Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings; Unknown.

 

 

In the autumn of 1944 work began on a new purpose built Fighter Direction School for the Royal Naval at Kete, ½ mile down the coast from R.N.A.S. Dale (H.M.S. GOLDCREST) on the Pembrokeshire coast. A Fighter Direction School had been operating at R.N.A.S. Yeovilton (H.M.S. HERON) since 1942 but demand for Air Direction Officers could not be met by the existing school which was a lodger at an already crowded station. The site at Kete was chosen for its good radar characteristics with a wide sector over the sea, suitable conditions for air interception exercises and freedom from enemy interference during war-time.

Early days - the 'D course'

On completion the establishment was known as the RN Aircraft Direction Centre (RNADC) and it was under the control of H.M.S. GOLDCREST. It is not clear when the establishment was opened for business but on August 30th 1945 No. 790 Fighter Direction Training Unit, moved into R.N.A.S. Dale from R.N.A.S. Zeals (H.M.S. HUMMINGBIRD) to provide live interception flights for the Air Direction School. This squadron operated a variety of aircraft types including Anson, Dominie, Firefly I, Mosquito FB.6 & B.25, Sea Mosquito TR.3, Oxford, Seafire (various Mks), and Wildcats.

Ground instruction for trainee Direction Officers was a fairly primitive form of synthetic training but very effective; the equipment used where tricycles (adapted from the Wall’s mobile Ice-cream tricycle) outfitted with a metronome, radio receiver, and compass and had a very restricted field of view, their visibility reduced to a couple of yards by screens. One tricycle, manned by a Wren, represented a ‘Bomber’ or enemy aircraft and was pedalled in time with the metronome across the training area; her course was triangulated and reported to a dummy Fighter Direction Office. A second tricycle, the ‘Fighter’, was manned by the trainee Fighter Direction Offer who was in turn controlled by a fellow trainee in the ‘Fighter Direction Office’ and vectored to the ‘Bomber’ by radio. The system had been developed early in the war at R.N.A.S. Yeovilton and was utilised to train RNVR officer cadets in maritime navigation at H.M.S. King Alfred, and it continued in use until it was replaced by one using controllable synthetic radar echoes in the 1950s.

Expansion

Initially training was for Air Direction Officers only, referred to as the ‘D course’, but Kete was soon to expand to house two other ‘schools’, the RN School of Meteorology and the RN Radar Plotter Training School.

The first part of the expansion was the arrival in October 1946 of the RN School of Meteorology. Like the ADC this school was initially for officer training only, the task had been relocated from the RN College at Greenwich were all RN Met officers had been trained during the war years. This school was very small when it opened, with only three members of staff; the Officer in Charge was Instructor Commander A R Edwards, assisted by PO Wren Elizabeth Baldwin and AB (Met) B L Morris. The first forecasters course (M0) lasted for three months and was the last course to train midshipman. Training of other ranks began in 1947 when the WRNS and rating (Met) courses moved here from R.N.A.S. Lee-on-Solent. It was also during this year that the Naval Airman (Met) branch as formed part of the Fleet Air Arm.

Commissioned

The Fighter Direction Centre was commissioned as an independent command as H.M.S. HARRIER, on February 1st 1948; both Dale and it's satellite, Brawdy were to be reduced to Care & Maintenance Status on March 31st 1948, 790 squadron, Fighter Direction Training Unit, had already relocated to R.N.A.S. Culdrose on December 13th 1947, when Dale was closed to flying, but continued its interception operations. The next school to arrive was the Radar Plotter Training School which transferred to Kete from H.M.S. WILDFIRE in Sheerness in September 1949.
790 squadron disbanded at R.N.A.S. Culdrose on November 15th 1949 and the task of providing live intercept flights was given to a civilian contractor, Airwork Services, in January 1950 operating out of R.N.A.S. Brawdy and its satellite airfield at R.N.A.S. St. David’s. This unit initially flew Sea Mosquito TR.33 and Auster Vs, these later gave way to Sea Hornets, Attackers and Sea Venoms.


Closure

From late 1959 the establishment began to run down to closure; the Met school was the first to relocate moving to RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, rating training went first in 1959, followed by the rest of the school and officers courses in 1960. In July 1960 Radar Plotter Training moved to HMS Dryad and the end of the year Aircraft Direction Officer Training returned to R.N.A.S. Yeovilton.

RNADC Kete was paid off on January 2nd 1961. The site was later sold to Dale Castle estate.

 


Click here for a list of Primary sources


Additional sources:

Special Military Branch Acquaint 4991

 

Admiralty Fleet Orders:

 

 

National Archives
WO 32/20873  RN Aircraft Direction Centre (RNADC), Kete: sale to Dale Castle estate

 

Web site

CLOUD OBSERVERS  An Association For Retired Meteorological Observers Accessed 29 April 2015

 

Thanks to Mrs. Julie Gracie for supplying documents belonging to her late father Radar Plot 3 Norman Hiles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 


View Larger Map

 

 

Radar Plotter History Sheet

Acrobat document, click to open. From the collection of Able Seaman Norman Hiles, RP3.

 

Sports Day souvenir programme

July 1950. Acrobat document, click to open. From the collection of Able Seaman Norman Hiles, RP3.

 

 

 

 

 © 2013 Tony Drury www.royalnavyresearcharchive.org.uk


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