I have made a study of the RAF Davidstow Moor and it's buildings over the last 40 years. It formed part of my Royal Mail post round and I spent many meal break investigating and measuring the buildings, some of which are no longer there. I have been very lucky to talk to my customers about their memories and to be put in contact with the people who were there in wartime. This is the result of that research.
The land for RAF Davidstow Moor was acquired in 1941. Construction took place in the first half of 1942 and was carried out by private contractors working under the Air Ministry Works Department [AMWD]. The moorland site was the water catchment area for the River Fowey and needed extensive drainage. Miles of drainage pipe had to be laid and local quarries provided hundreds of tons of hardcore to stabilize the aerodrome's foundations. The road from Camelford to Altarnun ran over the proposed site and had to be closed. Some field boundaries were removed.
The site was one of archaeological importance. An examination of the archaeological remains was carried out by C K Croft Andrew both before and during the construction work. Croft Andrew reported that the weather was appalling and that his trenches flooded on several occasions.
The aerodrome was built at a high location [970ft above sea level] to be above the summer sea fogs suffered by lower lying coastal aerodromes. This enabled the aerodrome to be used on many occasions when other aerodromes were closed to flying.
Like all A Class aerodromes RAF Davidstow Moor required a large amount of manpower and materials. At one time nearly a third of Britain's construction manpower was engaged in building aerodromes. The Class A aerodrome would consume 6 miles of water main, 4 miles of sewer, 10 miles of roadway, 4 ½ million bricks and 20 miles of drain.
The Air Ministry Works Department [AMWD] were the controlling body for the construction of RAF Davidstow Moor. They contracted work out to:
Taylor Woodrow were the main contractors and were responsible for the land drainage and buildings. Their Chief Engineer was L R Vine who was known as Daddy Vine.
L J Speight were responsible for the runways and the perimeter track which took eight months to complete. One of their charge hands was Mr Dempsey.
Glovers of Manchester were responsible for the exterior electrical work, the overhead cabling, poles and wiring.
Buchanan and Curwen were responsible for the interior electrical work. Local resident Peter Ascott recalls his time at RAF Davidstow Moor as an electrical apprentice on the BBC's WW2 website. The foreman was Frank Poulter who lodged at Castle Villa, Tintagel.
Billingtons were one of several firms contracted for haulage.
A number of local people were employed as civilian workers on the aerodrome during it's construction. These included:
Construction continued after the station was opened on 1 October 1942 and the construction companies were joined by the men of the Airfield Construction Service [ACS] under the control of No14 Works Area Headquarters, Launceston. On 26 October 1942 an officer and 207 other ranks arrived to finish work on the fuel dumps.
When the Americans had arrived in October 1942 bombs were being stored in one of the hangars to keep them clean and dry and away from the mud which was all pervasive. Although the bomb dumps were under construction they were not completed until early 1943.