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Monday, 7 November 2011

Local People Help To Reveal Wartime Secrets Of Ynyslas Military Research Establishment

Local residents and RCAHMW staff
On Saturday 8 October 2011, local residents from Borth and Ynyslas joined RCAHMW staff, Medwyn Parry, Deanna Groom and Nikki Vousden on a short guided walk of the 20th century military structures hiding amongst the residential homes at Ynyslas.

The remains comprise a former top secret missile fuel research facility – Ministry of Supply Experimental Establishment Anti-Aircraft Ynyslas.
One of the 20th century military structures at Ynyslas

Towards the end of the war (with certainty from 8 February 1945 onwards), Ynyslas was selected by the Air Ministry to become a missile-testing site to explore the effectiveness of solid fuel in comparison to liquid fuels. The Liquid Oxygen and Petroleum Guided Anti-Aircraft Projectile (LOPGAP) project was a merger of the Brakemine project developed by Cossor (3 x 3in rockets) and the Spaniel Project, the first surface to air guided weapon developed at the Projectile Development Establishment. The Ynyslas establishment appears to have been operational until its transfer to Aberporth some 15 months later on 17 May 1946.

The only written evidence so far found for the buildings established and operations conducted at Ynyslas are contained within documentation referring to a similar establishment at Walton on the Naze where the Brakemine project was developed (Nat Archives Kew: AVIA 48/16 C400195). A memo dating to in October 1946 refers to Ynyslas in relation to a specification for a camera/observation post installed at both establishments.

With little documentary evidence apparently surviving, the wartime memories of local people are proving invaluable in helping to unlock the history of the camp.

The footprint of the complex can be clearly seen on RCAHMW aerial photograph 99-cs-0921.

With the arrival of the military, the road or track installed as part of the Ynyslas Estate development plans was upgraded and concreted to serve as the main access road. This road ran to the main workshop and accommodation complex, comprising workshops, assembly shops, accommodation huts, and other ancillary buildings. Two of these camp buildings survive in poor conditions as this image shows.

Local residents have confirmed that several of the existing houses at Ynyslas were commandeered for military use. They have also provided information with regard to the use of HMS CAMROUX III, a coaster that was requisitioned in 1939. It was anchored at Aberdyfi to provide 30 billets for army officers during the construction of the range. The ship’s company carried out a detailed survey of the foreshore at Ynyslas, which was later squared off into grids. Each grid was allocated a target reference code for the rockets and the grid was used to test accuracy. The ship itself used a rocket-testing bed with a thousand rockets each with its own projector placed onboard. Then banks of 25 rockets at a time where fired onto the mudflats and their landing sites recorded. HMS CAMROUX assisted with the experimental development of radio and radar as well as various underwater propulsion systems.

The RCAHMW would love hear from anyone with additional wartime memories of Ynyslas and Borth.

Please contact Medwyn Parry or Deanna Groom.

Coflein - Discovering Our Past Online
Coflein is the online database for the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW), the national collection of information about the historic environment of Wales. 

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