13:42

D-Day role highlighted in 80th anniversary exhibition

Exeter Airport’s vital role in supporting the allied D-Day invasion of Europe 80 years ago is being highlighted in a two-day public exhibition at the airport.

The D-Day 80th anniversary event is being hosted by Chris Wiseman and Jerry Bird on 5 and 6 June, from 11am to 7pm on both days in the airport terminal. Car parking is available for just £2 per day in Car Park 4, and the airport’s Cove Café will open on both days.

Chris presents talks about the history of the RAF at Exeter and is also the creator of the RAF Exeter and Exeter Airport Memories websites. Jerry Bird has a long working and professional association with Exeter Airport, writing and researching the history of RAF Exeter.

Chris and Jerry will be on hand on both days with a display of photos, presentations, memorabilia and stories of D-Day at RAF Exeter and the immediate aftermath.

Stephen Wiltshire, managing director of Exeter Airport, said: “Chris and Jerry are very much our local experts when it comes to Exeter Airport’s wartime role and we’re delighted that they have put together this fascinating exhibition for the 80th anniversary of D-Day.”

During World War II, RAF Exeter was a Class 1 Fighter Station with several fighter squadrons being based there from 1940 to 1945. It played an important role locally, particularly during the Battle of Britain and the Exeter Blitz of Spring 1942.

In April 1944, in preparation for the Normandy D-Day landings, the airfield was taken over for approximately six months by the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) and became home to the 440th Troop Carrier Group.

Scores of aircraft from Exeter dropped hundreds of paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division on Normandy on 6 June 1944. Once allied forces had established themselves in France, RAF Exeter was used to ferry supplies across the Channel and to bring wounded troops back to England.

After the USAAF left in late 1944, Exeter reverted back to RAF use until the end of 1946.

Today Exeter Airport is a popular regional gateway to 25 destinations in nine countries, as well as an important South West aviation industry hub.

Photograph: shows US C-47 aircraft parked at RAF Exeter on 5 June, 1944.