Start Date: 01/12/2016 End Date: 01/08/2017
Capturing memories of war
During the second world war, Dunkeswell Airfield was the only US naval air base on British soil. Our Dunkeswell War Stories project set about telling the story of Dunkeswell during this period of its history, and created a series of school resources.
Through first-hand accounts, the Dunkeswell War Stories website reveals the impact of war on the lives of local people and the young men who travelled from far away to support the war effort.
Dunkeswell Airfield was built in 1943 on farmland close to the Blackdown Hills village of the same name. Before long, American accents began to mingle with the gentle Devon burr. Liberator planes could be heard overhead, lorries were careering along country lanes and Saturday night dances became a little more exotic!
First-hand video accounts
Dunkeswell War Stories website includes a series of short films, featuring interviews with 26 residents and four American veterans, combined with animation, photographs, music and 1940s-inspired artwork. There is a video memory bank for deeper research.
Some films focus on the friendships between American servicemen and local people, and how the air base changed village life. Others look at the memories of evacuees, how farming changed, dances and boxing matches on the air base, anti-submarine missions and many other aspects of life at Dunkeswell.
A compilation of the Dunkeswell War Stories video interviews is available on DVD from the Blackdown Hills AONB office. The DVD is priced at £5, with all proceeds going to Blackdown Hills Countryside Fund. You can pop in to our office to make a cash payment and collect the DVD, but please do call ahead to check one of us will be in the office. If you would prefer us to post you a copy, please send a cheque for £6 (£5 for the DVD and £1 postage) made payable to Devon Community Foundation and write on the back Blackdown Hills Countryside Fund, and post your payment to our office in Hemyock .
Resources for schools
As part of the Dunkeswell War Stories project, the team worked with the children of Broadhembury Primary School to introduce the important role played by Dunkeswell during the second world war and to give children a first-hand look at documentary film-making.
Dunkeswell War Stories website was developed by the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) thanks to a £39,600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Additional funding came from Devon County Council, Dunkeswell Parish Council, Councillor Paul Diviani, and the Blackdown Hills AONB Partnership itself.
The project ran from 2012 to 2013.