RAF Llandbedr – Maes Artro – Wales

Llanbedr is a village in the Ardudwy area of Gwynedd, Wales.   The Village grew through slate quarrying.  In Llanbedr are Neolithic standing stone and Bronze Age hut circles.  It is thought that Llanbedr once had a castle and the parish church of Saint Tanwg probably dates from the 13th Century, but two inscribed stones are evidence of Christianity in Llandanwg from the early 6th Century.

RAF Llandbedr was a RAF fighter base (V Bomber station) which opened in 1941 and became operational in spring of 1942; in 1943, the base was home to RAF Fighter Commands 12 group.    The base was used as a training and rest camp for active squadrons and was operated by Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA).  Post war the base was a launch site for pilotless remotely controlled aircraft to detect Ariel targets by RAF and UK forces and guided missiles. The USAF also used the base.

The base had three concrete runways and one was extended post war, the airfield was constructed in 1939.

The base operated a diverse and singular number of ‘target’ and ‘target towing’ aircraft.  The Stiletto, a supersonic air launch target, the Jindivik an unmanned drone.  Towed targets include, the Rushton, Banner, Sleeve were used for Ariel gunnery and the low-level height keeper target which was used to simulate an Exocet sea skimming missile, manned aircraft such as the Hawk, Meteor and Canberra.

By the 1950’s the base was used for Korean war training and refurbished so it could return to aviation it was used by No 5 Civil Anti-aircraft Co-operations unit with Mosquito target tugs and meteor TT aircraft controlled by RAF maintenance Command.  Low-flying Spitfires and Vampires provided the practice for artillery sighting and manoeuvring, whilst Beaufighters towed targets for air-to-air gunnery.

Llanbedr base received the first Meteor U.l5 in January 1957 and the first Meteor drone exercise took place on the l7th July 1958.   A shepherd aircraft (usually another Meteor) took the drones out to the range and brought them back.  As the Meteor F.8 became more available, additional airframes were altered into the more sophisticated Meteor U.l6, which made its first drone flight in September of 1960 with over 200 eventually being ‘droned’.

Llanbedr also employed a pair of ex-Royal Navy De Havilland Sea Vixens and the only survivor (known as Foxy Lady) was handed over to RAE Llanbedr in June 1973, where it flew as a conventionally piloted high-speed radar target. Between 1977 and 1985, the aircraft was converted to a D.3 drone by Flight Refuelling Ltd and flew as a manned drone from Llanbedr from 1986 until its retirement in 1991. It was also used to train ground-based drone controllers and was always flown with a safety pilot aboard.

Contracts were given in 1957-1997 to the Short Brothers operating the unit with RAF personal and supervising ex-service civilian employees until the RAF was phased out.  Airworks took over the contracts until 1991 and FR Serco took over.

The Base was known as RAF Llanbedr until 1957. RAE (Royal Air force Establishment) until 1992 and T & EE (Test and Evaluation Establishment) until 1995 and DERA until 2001 when some of DERA became QinetiQ.  MOD Llanbedr Meteor D.16 drone, WH453 is at Bentwaters Cold War Museum being restored to the original F.8 and repainted with the markings of No 72 Son, RAF unit from the 1950’s.

There were alot of violence, unexplained crashes resulting in a lot of deaths and accidents at the Base and rumours of other macabre incidents.

The base turned into the Living History Museum, which had a Royal Air Force Museum, where you could trace the history of RAF Llanbedr and take a close look at the years during World War II.  Outside you would find fighting vehicles and aircraft on display.  At the Yester Years museum, you walk through and experience a re-created Welsh Village street from the 1900s with its rich sights and sounds of daily life and at one point the morgue was an aquarium.

Sadly most of the place has probably been pulled down, planning permission was granted for 12 timber lodges and a lot of the items have been sold off or put to scrap.  The mural in the mess hall was taken down and sold, very sad and should never had happened as it was painted post-war and original WWII wall art.

Reported well-known activity is that two RAF men still roam the site, a ghost of a dog, voices heard, chairs moving and small items are removed.

I was lucky enough to attend here one night in 2005 but sadly, we did not have access to the airfield and little did we know we did not need to.  I shall explain as brief as I can the activity we witnessed on that cold night.  The main area for activity for us was the Aquarium/Mortuary.  In the filter room in the Aquarium, the name of Emma was gained, aged 26 with a mental age of eight (not verified). She moved the water when asked and a 5p coin was thrown into the water and it disappeared, another three were thrown in, the same area etc and they were all visible, was this paranormal we do not know.  Wooden doors were heard rattling, noises sounding like snapping.  Someone was pushed into the room, footsteps heard, light blue light was seen, noise from the display room and the sound of something being thrown at great force.  Some left after hearing this noise, I did not hear it but everyone else did and I wondered why everyone was running.  I meet the others outside and we decided to go back in, while walking in the tunnel, two of us stopped at the same place for no apparent reason, at the exact same time.

The main area of the aquarium was where a séance was performed, during this séance, people were sensing/feeling people behind them, and a female voice was heard. Feeling of feeling threatened and most people were seeing faces above, opposite and in the circle and mists were seen in the same area colour of white/white-bluish.  We decided another séance was in order and during this one banging noises were heard and people were laughing for no reason.

A dark figure was seen in the shower room and the flag was moving on the flagpole on command, there was no wind, was odd but could not say it was paranormal.

This by far is one of the best places I have ever had the privilege of investigating and the scariest place. The Aquarium is something else and the above does not give justice to how scary it was there. Maes Artro is currently my number one scariest location.

Copyrighted by Tracy Monger 2012.

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