The Royal Air Force aerodrome at Stormy Down served a very important role in the training of Commonwealth and Allied ground and air crew during the Second World War. Facilities initially included wooden buildings, workshops, and a small grass runway, but were later expanded to include a new VR type hangar, concrete buildings and a reinforced surface for the runway.
More than 7,000 Air Gunners were trained there on courses lasting up to seven weeks. Often as young as 18 or 19 when they arrived, they would leave as Sergeants and could expect to be in combat soon after. A ground armaments school was also based at the site. It trained 1,800 members of the RAF and Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, alongside several hundred sailors destined to become Telegraphist Air Gunners with the Fleet Air Arm.
It’s estimated that over 10% of the young men who passed through Stormy Down would go on to lose their lives serving with Bomber Command. Among these was the Canadian Flight Sergeant Frank Garbas who took part in the famous ‘Dambusters’ raid.