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RAF WWII Prestatin air to ground target range

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RAF WWII Prestatin air to ground target range

Old 22nd Apr 2015, 20:24
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RAF WWII Prestatin air to ground target range

As a none flyer, I often spend time on the old RAF air to ground target range based in the sand dunes at Talacre, Holywell, Flintdhire, north East Wales; perhaps better known as the "Prestatin Range".

During last November's remembrance day, I set aside time to sit on the sands and contemplate the many young men that honed their target skills as their aircraft screamed in over the hills and dropped down to fire upon the large target boards set up in the dunes. How many of those young men, I wonder, went on to active service and eventually survived the war?

But what about those who never made it home; gone but certainly not forgotten!
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Old 22nd Apr 2015, 22:35
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If you travel from Talacre through Prestatyn via the Coastal Path, there are remains of the "blockhouses" on the beach near the Robin Hood caravan site. There were other remains at Towyn beach
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Old 22nd Apr 2015, 23:41
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Danny42C
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Christoph1945,

Your: "I set aside time to sit on the sands and contemplate the many young men that honed their target skills as their aircraft screamed in over the hills and dropped down to fire..."

This young man took a Spitfire II up there from 57 OTU, Hawarden in summer '42, but not to hone my target skills, but simply to fire into the sands the half- dozen rounds of 20mm loaded in each cannon (all they could spare at the time ?)

The idea was to let us feel what it was like to do this (it was terrifying, as the noise and vibration bid fair to shake the Spit to pieces), so as it would not be too much of a shock the first time we tried it later. Nor did we ever fire the Brownings, or use the gun cameras for practice. As I've noted long since, the budding fighter pilot might well reach his squadron having fired nothing more lethal than the popgun he'd had as a child. Perhaps the air gunners used the targets. Don't know.

Danny.
 
Old 23rd Apr 2015, 07:47
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Good morning Danny,

many thanks for your reply and your willingness to share your experiences. I often wonder if I should have asked people about their service days during WWII. George, an old friend of mine, was captured in France and spent most of the war in a German pow camp. George eventually escaped and surrendered to the advancing Russians. Sadly, my friend George was killed by a hit an run driver some years ago!

Often, whilst at Talacre, I think of you and your fellow pilots; wondering if you made it home and how things fared after hostilities ceased. Born in 1945, whilst the Russians were still beating down the gates of Berlin, I am ever grateful for the sacrifice that so many made on our behalf.
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Old 23rd Apr 2015, 07:58
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Good morning Chiglet,

thanks for the information. I know the location of five Norcon Pillboxes between the Point of Ayr lighthouse and Presthaven sands but didn't know about the blockhouses.

The beach area close to the firing range that Danny was using in his SpitII is still littered with thousand and thousands of .303 and .30 spent projectiles. There is also some 50cal stuff, but far less 20mm. I had never thought about why there was such a ratio of 20mm and 50cal to the smaller stuff; until reading Danny's reply.

Interestingly, some .303 cartridges made in India in 1943 turned up in the area.
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Old 23rd Apr 2015, 15:43
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Christoph,

Have a look (if you have not already done so) at "Gaining a RAF Pilots' Brevet in WWII" (a few doors down at the moment, widely regarded by many as the Best Thread on PPRuNe). Plenty of old-timers' tales there.

One reason for the paucity of 20mm and 0.50 (these would be mostly American) cases might be that they are bigger, and therefore more easily fashioned into ornaments etc, than the smaller stuff. And the scrap brass collectors could get a decent load without so much picking up to do.

So Indian 0.303s turned up (how would you know ? - I can't remember if there were any code markings on the base to give a clue, and I handled thousands of them). If they did, probably from Dum-Dum (Calcutta). Small world !

Cheers, Danny.
 
Old 23rd Apr 2015, 17:48
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Good evening Danny,

Let me first thank you for your service to our country and willingness to serve during those times of great tribulation.

Interestingly, after you told us of your practice run over Talacre, I remembered a 20mm canon cartridge case that I dug out of the beach just west of the lighthouse at Talacre and I did a quck check of the head stamp. Turned out that it was stammped with the British war arrow, 1941, and 20mm.

Not one of yours, I suppose. Unless you missed the dunes!
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