2018 is an important year for many people, with a number of significant anniversaries and commemorations taking place. Two of the more significant anniversaries in 2018 are the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force, which came into being on 1 April 1918, and the centenary of the end of the First World War in November.
At Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre, one of our main aims is to share pride in the town, a pride based on its significant heritage as well as on its present day achievements and on its future potential. Pembroke Dock should rightfully feel a sense of pride in marking both of these anniversaries, in the contributions that this town has historically made in wartime and ultimately in the resolution of the First World War, and also the significant role it played in the Royal Air Force’s 100 year story, so far.
The town is unique in many respects; it has been the only Royal Dockyard in Wales – a place where over 260 Royal Naval vessels and five Royal Yachts were built. Fighting ships built here were active throughout the 1800s, and a number were involved with the First World War Battle of Jutland, in 1916.
The Dockyard became the world’s largest flying boat station during the World War Two and the Battle of the Atlantic, and the Short Sunderland flying boat, a giant of its time, became virtually synonymous with the town.
Throughout all of this, there have been army regiments garrisoned in the town, seeking to protect its strategic value and in staging for operations elsewhere. The Army were stationed here until the late 1960s, making the town unique or certainly unusual in that it has hosted all three armed forces – the Navy, the RAF and the Army, a fact demonstrated by the presence of Wales’ only dedicated military cemetery in the town.
The Second World War saw the uniformed men from many nations come to this corner of Pembrokeshire, with Allied and Commonwealth soldiers and airmen posted here and in the surrounding area to serve a common cause. Even after the war, German Panzer regiments came to Pembrokeshire, landing in Pembroke Dock before making their way to Castlemartin, where they were based for training.
Pembroke Dock was not just a military base, however. There continues to be a vibrant community of people, of shops, of pubs and other businesses which developed – first around the Dockyard and then to support the Royal Air Force base. The town’s social history is just as important as its military heritage.
In the 21st century, Pembroke Dock has much to celebrate. Sitting in the heart of Pembrokeshire, within easy reach of the National Park, the county town of Haverfordwest and the tourist hubs of Tenby and St. Davids. It sits at the southern end of the Cleddau crossing with good links to South Wales and beyond and into the Republic of Ireland, meaning that a high portion of Pembrokeshire’s estimated 4 million annual visitors will come through Pembroke Dock at some stage in their journey. The growth of environmentally-friendly energy sources, and the unique geography of the Cleddau estuary, and the existing infrastructure mean that the town is gaining a reputation among businesses specialising in renewable energy, giving PD an important role in our sustainable future.
For all of these reasons, past present and future, we are Proud of Pembroke Dock, and we would like you to be proud too!
Show your pride in Pembroke Dock, use the hashtag #ProudofPD in your social media posts.