According to ‘Action Stations’ (Chris Ashworth) Yate was a grass airfield used in in WWI for test and flight facilities for No 3 (Western) Aircraft Repair Depot. It was abandoned after the war and taken over by George Parnall & Co aircraft company in 1925. My friend, Carl, from Wotton-Under-Edge tells me:
“I’ve had a word with our amateur local historian and the Yate airfield ran from what was Parnells (now the Indesit/Creda washing machine factory, up to the church. To the left of Station Road as you head thru’ Yate towards Chipping Sodbury.
“Parnells built biplanes during and after the first world war and by WW2 were manufacturing gun turrets. The airfield catered for despatching the planes direct from the factory i guess.
“The officers mess was in Pool court which still remains and is now used as a registry office i believe.
There still remains a building in Indesit that was rebuilt by the German prisoners of war (held on what was the common in Yate) after the factory was bombed in ’39. I understand there are also air raid shelters still standing there just by the gatehouse.”
According to Chris Ashworth, the gun turret operation was in place as war began, and attracted the attentions of the Germans. A raid on the factory in September 1940 was foiled by the fighter Squadrons, in which 10 German losses were claimed, including 4 Bf110’s; while the RAF lost one Spitfire (pilot killed) and one damaged Hurricane. The airfield escaped damage, however, and went on to be come the largest sub-contractor of Spitfire components in the country.
Carl tells me if I Google ‘Parnall Yate Airfield’ I will come across an aerial shot taken from German bombers after a raid in 1939. This is actually on a forum post: http://www.pprune.org/aviation-history-nostalgia/276126-abandoned-little-known-airfields-3.html Yate aifield is now built over. It looks as if, when I visit next year, I will be taking Chattie’s photograph in front of Morrison’s Supermarket.