A Royal Naval
Air Station was established here in the spring of 1941 to
train Fleet Air Arm pilots in the art of flying seaplanes.
Operations began in May 1941 when Walrus and Swordfish
aircraft from No. 764 Seaplane training Squadron, based at
RN Air Section RAF Pembroke Dock, began using the site and
nearby practice bombing ranges. By October 1941 the Air
Section was withdrawn in response to enemy air raids on
Pembroke Docks and relocated, with 764 squadron, to the
Lawrenny Ferry site. This became a Royal Naval Air Station
under the control of HMS DAEDALUS at Lee-on-Solent. From
this time the official role of the station was Seaplane
Flying Training Part II, and included Seaplane conversion
and sir gunnery courses. The squadron moved in with 8 Walrus
and 1 Swordfish floatplane, but this was withdrawn soon
after the move and the Walrus was the main equipment until
the middle of 1942 when Sikorsky Kingfishers arrived. The
station was commissioned as HMS DAEDALUS II1
on February 1st 1942 but later reverted to having its
accounts borne 'on the books of Daedalus'.
station comprised of one 60' by 70' hangar, three concrete
hardstandings for the ground handling of seaplanes, a wooden
jetty and an 18 foot wide concrete slipway for manually
hauling out aircraft. Accommodation and administration
offices were provided within local cottages and Nissen huts;
other accommodation was found in the village of Lawrenny,
the Lawrenny Arms acted as the NCOs' mess and two steam
yachts, CARMELA and ZAZA were used for accommodation
of 764 squadron personnel, these had moved up river from
Pembroke Dock and were moored there at Lawrenny Quay.
Aircraft were moored in the river Daugleddau between
Lawrenny Quay and Coedcanlas further upstream. A practice
bombing range was established at Sprinkle Pill, 3 miles
North on the Cleddau river, with range observer situated on
the Eastern bank near Landshipping.
had operated of a maximum of 12 Walrus amphibians and 6
Kingfisher floatplanes; many as 33 Walrus passed through the
unit during the period May 1941 - October 1943, compared
with only a maximum of 8 Kingfishers. The larger, American,
Kingfisher floatplanes were only received in small numbers,
the first arrived in July of 1942, and a second joined the
squadron in October and a third in February 1943. This
number rose to six in March 1943 but this was short lived;
two were written off in March; FN688 caught in a
downdraught, and crashed on touchdown and FN694 undershot,
hit a rock & capsized. Two more crashed in April, FN680
capsized on start up and FN689 capsized in crosswind and a
strong tide while starting up at its mooring buoy. As a
result of these accidents only one Kingfisher remained
operational during May through August when FN701arrived.
amongst the Walrus complement was also fairly high, 3
aircraft suffered accidents resulting in category X,
repairable on site, damage; K8340 grounded on slipway in
July 1942, L2234 ran aground taxying down Cleddau River
after night flying on very dark night in February 1943, and
W2704 swerved on landing and its port wing touched down in
April 1943.3 suffered Category Y damage, repairable but at a
repair yard; R6546 Ran into a derelict jetty, in August
1942, K8340 aircrew got lost, and made forced landing
striking a hedge in September 1942, and W2718 rammed into a
yacht while embarking passengers from a motor dinghy in May
were written off in category Z incidents, two involving
fatalities; L2230 was left to sink after its crew landed in
minefield to rescue the crew of Sunderland DV972 of 119 Sqn
RAF in November 1942, but failed to take off - all rescued
by launch. W3079 crashed into trees during a night landing
in November 1942. W3031 capsized in the Cleddau River after
its Starboard wingtip hit on landing in August 1943,
Midshipman BG Bridgewater was killed but Sub Lt. FW
Smallwood was rescued. On August 27th 1943 the wing of
Walrus P5707struck a pinnace and the aircraft dived into the
water, Lt. Cdr. RLM Shannon was uninjured but a 14 year old
Sea cadet, Alec Hancock was killed "due to war operations"
presumably he was in the pinnace.
By the middle
of 1943 the need for dedicated Seaplane Training schools was
ended, 764 Squadron was disbanded at Lawrenny Ferry on
November 7th 1943, the station had been reduced to Care and
Maintenance status on October 21st on three months notice to
resume flying. No further use was made of the base and it
was closed sometime in late 1945.
1 Reference to 'DAEDALUS II' is probably
spurious; the name has been linked to
Sandbanks, Lawrenny Ferry,
Lympne, and Newcastle-under-Lyme. Only one Training
establishment bore this name RNATE
commissioned 01.01.40, paid off 31.01.46. Lawrenny
Ferry is listed as RNAS under Western Approaches Command on
books of 'Daedalus' for accounts in the February 1942
edition of the Navy List.
2 Still listed as
being on C & M status in the July 1945 Navy List
3 No specific
officers are listed for Lawrenny Ferry until Lt. Cdr. (P) J.
E. Mansfield is listed as being O.I.C. from 16 June 43.
Still listed in July 1945 Navy List.
Click here for a list of
Alice Pyper & Marion Page. 2012. TWENTIETH CENTURY
MILITARY SITES: AIRFIELDS. [ONLINE] Available at:
[Accessed 01 December 13].
Admiralty Fleet Orders:
418/42 —R.N. Aii Station, Lawrenny Ferry
Confidential Admiralty Fleet Orders: