Dunkeswell Airfield was built during World War II and construction took from 1941 to June 1943. The base was initially occupied by the Liberators of 479 anti-submarine group, part of the US Army Air Force. This group transferred from St Eval in Cornwall in August 1943 and came under the wing of 19 Group, RAF Coastal Command. The missions flown were primarily anti-submarine patrols. By December 1943, anti-submarine duties were taken over by the US Navy and VB (bombing) squadrons 103, 105 and 110 took up residence at Dunkeswell, also flying the PB4Y-1 Liberator. The station then became United States Naval Air Facility Dunkeswell – the only airfield operated by the US Navy on British soil during WWII. After the war in Europe was over, the US moved out and the RAF moved back, in the shape of No. 16 Ferry Unit in August 1945. The unit prepared aircraft for overseas service but only stayed until May 1946.
The RAF remained, using the airfield for storage purposes until they finally left in February 1949. One reminder of the WWII days is an underground battle headquarters, from where the Defence Officer would have co-ordinated ground forces in the event of the airfield being attacked. Entrances to the underground bunker are currently blocked. Post War, the airfield became used for general aviation and is still active, being the home of Devon and Somerset Flight Training.
Fast forward to the late 1980s, and the RAF was designing a secure voice and data network. This included 46 hardened bunkers spread throughout the UK built in the early 1990s. One of these was built at Dunkeswell and still survives. The Uniter bunkers have an unusual diagonal striped finish to the outer concrete – whether this serves any practical purpose or is purely decorative is unclear. Later in the 1990s, it was decided that having many (19!) separate communications networks for the three armed forces and the MoD itself was wasteful and Uniter was just one system eventually replaced by the BT-led DFTS (Defence Fixed Telecommunications Service).