Porthcothan Bay is within the parish of St.Eval.
To the north and south is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline to be found anywhere in the world.
After a steep climb out of Portcothan Bay and through the village of Treburrick, I turn-out onto the plateau that is St.Eval.
RAF St.Eval was a strategic airbase for the RAF Coastal Command during WWII. St.Eval’s primary role was to provide vital anti-submarine and anti-shipping patrols off the south-west coast of England. The church tower was used as an observation post and navigation mark.
In June 1940, St.Eval became a fighter command sector headquarters for the Battle of Britain, and Supermarine Spitfires were based there. These were joined by Hawker Hurricanes and Bristol Blenhiem fighters, and the station’s aircraft took an active part in the conflict with considerable success.
The fighter presence though of the Spitfires was not a great success. The Luftwaffe’s change in tactics led to an increase in night raids which the Spitfires were not suited to. The base was unfortunately hit a number of times in the summer of 1940 and early 1941. This caused considerable damage and casualties. The Germans again made a number of raids in May 1942, causing damage to buildings and destruction of aircraft.
St.Eval was equipped with an amazing green box-barrage rocket device, which sent a steel wire curtain into the air to descend on parachutes. This was intended to enmesh enemy aircraft and cause them to crash, but unfortunately, the device was unsuccessful!
Today, the basic airfield structure still exists of the three runways and aprons, but all the original buildings have gone. The base is currently a radio communications station.
In 1955 and 1956 excavations were carried out at St.Eval. The excavation found evidence of bronze age and iron age settlements. This was the first bronze age site of its kind in the UK.