Pembrokeshire in wartime

Pembrokeshire's coast is littered with reminders of its wartime past, with relics of both World Wars concealed among the heather along the cliff-tops.

If you look carefully you may find the remnants of lookout stations, gun emplacements, submarine listening stations and small airfields.

    Stackpole Court - a wartime billet

    Stackpole Court around 1900. Stackpole, Pembrokeshire

    Stackpole Court, like many great houses, was used as a billet for soldiers during the Second World War. The family's possessions were locked up and guarded by a housekeeper, but the troops did serious damage to the house. Lead was stripped from the roof, so that by the 1950s there was a serious damp problem and the house was never the same again. It was demolished in 1963.

    Kete - Naval radar and ice-cream trikes

    Aerial view of the entrance to Milford Haven from the west, with Kete and St Anne

    Today it's just a coastal car-park, but during the war it was HMS Harrier, a collection of about 100 huts that housed the Royal Navy's Air Direction School for training radar technicians. An unusual use was found for Wall's Ice Cream tricycles.

    St David's Airfield - helping guard the western approaches

    Aerial view of St Davids Airfield Pembrokeshire prior to the demolition of the runways.

    One of several small airfields along the Pembrokeshire coast, St David's Airfield was opened in 1943. Today the runways are gone, and the area has been restored to native heathland, which plays an an important part in our Heathland Beef scheme.

    Garn Fawr - wartime lookout

    The First-World-War lookout at Garn Fawr, near Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire

    One of a number of wartime coastal lookouts, Garn Fawr had possibly the best view of any of them. The lookout with his binoculars would have felt very lonely up here had an enemy fleet approached. The builders, and some Royal Naval staff, have carved their names into the concrete.

    St David's Head - radar and gun emplacement

    From the high point of Carn Llidi on St David

    During the First World War a hydrophone station was built here to listen for submarines entering the Irish Sea.  You can still see the footings. During the Second World War a radar station and machine gun emplacement were positioned on Carn Llidi. You can still see evidence of these structures – look for the remaining brickwork and concrete paths.

    Freshwater West - landing craft tragedy

    Sunset at Freshwater West, a bright red sun hanging over the western horizon with the beach and rockpools in the foreground. The Angle Peninsula and St Anne

    Many beaches played their part in training for D-Day. April 1943 saw a tragedy at Freshwater West when not only two landing craft full of troops but also a small lifeboat sent to rescue them were lost. A war memorial by the car-park commemorates this tragic event.

    Milford Haven - a well-defended waterway

    Aerial view looking west of Milford Haven. In the foreground is the power station, currently being rebuilt, with one of the oil refineries behind it. The LNG terminal is to the right. Beyond the refinery are the Angle Peninsula, the entrance to Milford Haven, and the Dale Peninsula and St Anne

    One of the safest harbours in the world, Milford Haven was of great strategic importance in wartime. Pembroke Dock housed a Royal Naval dockyard until 1925 and, during the Second World War, the RAF's Sunderland flying boat base. The oil tanks at Pennard were bombed in 1940.

    Lydstep - more gun emplacements

    Lydstep Headland, an outcrop of Carboniferous Limestone in South Pembrokeshire - the first National Trust property in Pembrokeshire. Lydstep Haven, a large residential caravan park, to the right

    You'll have to search among the gorse bushes at Lydstep to find the concrete remains of the Second World War gun emplacements. Lydstep was the first National Trust place in Pembrokeshire, and makes a short but spectacular coastal walk.