R.A.F. St. Eval

An interesting place, St. Eval.  In 1938 most of the land around here was acquired by compulsory purchase.  The village, apart from the church, which would provide a good observation post, was demolished, and in its place R.A.F. St. Eval Coastal Command station came into being.  During the course of the war squadrons based at St. Eval took part in the Battle of Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic, providing anti-submarine and anti-shipping patrols far out into the Atlantic Ocean, and south across the Bay of Biscay, flying reconnaissance missions, meteorological data-collecting flights and convoy patrols, and once even attempting a highly audacious attack by Beauforts on the German battleship Gneisenau in Brest harbour.  In 1942 and 1943 American Liberators flew anti-submarine missions from the airfield, and squadrons from St. Eval continued to fly hundreds of anti-submarine missions as well as providing air support for the D-Day landings, until the Allied capture of the French ports and the subsequent decrease of the U-boat threat in the autumn of 1944, after which operations from the airfield could be drastically reduced.  Post-war, St. Eval continued to be used for air-sea rescue operations and shipping patrols until its closure in 1959.  Today, as you can see in the final few photos, the base is occupied by a Ministry of Defence communications station.


St. Eval was frequently attacked by the Luftwaffe, and some of the casualties of these raids are buried in the churchyard.  On 25th January 1941, 22 personnel were killed when an air raid shelter took a direct hit from a parachute mine, and a dozen of the victims are buried in line here, and we shall visit them later.  Other burials here are, I suspect, of aircrews whose planes, for whatever reason, crashed in the vicinity of the airfield. 

Now, I shall not be annotating the following photos, as quite frankly I don’t have the time and this website is not entitled “With the R.A.F. in Cornwall”, but all the names are legible, so you can research them yourself if you wish.  In the meantime it’s time for a quiet walk around the churchyard of St. Uvelus, who was, apparently, a Breton.  Thought you’d like to know that.

This entry was posted in Cornwall, U.K. Churches, Memorials & Cemeteries - Back in Blighty. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to R.A.F. St. Eval

  1. Mike Hicks says:

    Cornwall Family History is compiling a database (to be accessed through a free website) of all those mentioned on a War Memorial, Rolls of Honour, family graves, Commonwealth War Graves, and any who were based in Cornwall. The database has 37 columns of information. To date, we have researched 7,000 people. We will incorporate pictures of the individual, any WM (etc) mentioned on and grave stones.
    Do you have a list of those aircrews who were stationed at St Eval who were killed? Are you willing to provide the list for the Society’s project?
    Mike Hicks
    Cornwall’s War History Project Manager
    Cornwall Family History Society

  2. Magicfingers says:

    Mike, I’m just a visitor to Cornwall although I do go down there at least once every year. However there are nearly 80 Cornish churchyards etc on my website as you have doubtless noticed, so if you can use any of them for your database, give me a credit, and be my guest. MJS.

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