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Lieutenant Jerry Tribe RN at the ceremony
Sgt Pilot


Published: 29 Mar 2012

A memorial was unveiled at Exeter International Airport paying tribute to RAF Exeter and the Royal Navy Air Squadrons based there during the Second World War.

The Airport, formally known as RAF Exeter was of strategic importance to Fighter Command and became one of the most important air stations in the South West of England. During the War Hurricanes, Typhoons and Spitfires as well as Royal Navy Albacores and Swordfish aircraft were based there. Polish, Czech and American squadrons alongside RAF squadrons were stationed over the war years. Flying missions protecting the vital dockyards of Plymouth and Portland as well as fighter cover for Exeter. The base also took its fair share of German air raids, but was proudly never out of action.

Captured in a moving pose, the bronze statue by sculptor Frances Margaret shows a pilot who made a safe return scanning the sky for his missing comrades. The plinth is designed to carry up to six plaques showing the history of RAF Exeter and those who flew from there.

The Aircraft of 816, 834 and 841 Naval Air Squadrons operated at Exeter during most of 1943. Their mission to locate and attack the German E boats, which threatened and harassed Allied shipping in the English Channel.

Representing the Royal Navy at the unveiling was Lt Jerry Tribe from the Royal Naval Reserve Air Branch based at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset. Jerry laid a wreath from the Fleet Air Arm and was moved by some of the stories from the surviving wartime aviators.

Robin Gilbert from the South West Airfields Heritage Trust, said, “We are delighted that the Fleet Air Arm took part in this historic ceremony. One of the many important roles RAF Exeter played was escorting our shipping into and up the English Channel, this was vital for the war effort. It is also worth noting that among RAF Exeter’s Battle of Britain Role of Honour was 23 year old Sub Lieutenant W.J.M Moss RN who was killed whilst flying a Hurricane with 213 Squadron RAF during august 1940.”


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