The Hawkerland Common was a storage area for the U.S Navy, which was known as ‘Hawkerland Valley Depot’. Hawkerland Common was one of many American storage facilities in the South West of England, for the storing of vital equipment in the build up for the D-Day landings in June 1944. It was also supplying allied forces on the frontline in the days and months after D-Day.
The Hawkerland Valley Depot was constructed in the winter of 1943/44 and was one of the ‘open storage’ facilities for the United States Naval Amphibious Supply Base, which was partially sited on Exeter Golf Course, Countess Weir, Exeter. The U.S Naval supply base in Exeter was the biggest in England, which could process and distribute equipment from as far as Liverpool and Newcastle. Once the equipment was transported to the Exeter base, it was then transported either by lorry or train to one of the south coast port ‘hubs’ to where it was then dispatched to the troops.
Two hundred railway wagons would come into Exeter with equipment each day. The wagons were unloaded from the railway siding at the 95 acre Exeter Depot, and then transported to the 10 acres of the Hawkerland Valley and also to a small site at Winslade Park, Exeter. By late February 1944, 300 trucks per day would be loaded at the stores and despatched to the main embarkation ports of Falmouth, Plymouth, Salcombe, Dartmouth, Portland, Weymouth, Portsmouth and Southampton.
The Hawkerland Valley Storage Depot was constructed and operated by the 1049th Seabees U.S. Naval Construction Detachment, Transportation Unit.
The division was only in existence from around March to November 1944 and consisted of over 500 men. It is thought that equipment is still on the Hawkerland and Aylesbeare commons, buried there after the war, as it would have been too expensive to ship it all back to the U.S.
Pretty much all that remains of the Hawkerland depot, are a few rusty objects on the surface.
Here’s a pile of artefacts found there.
In this pile are engine parts, exhaust manifolds, struts off a chassis and a fire extinguisher.
The fire extinguisher was just too good to leave! It’s in surprisingly good condition, considering it’s been in truly dreadful soil for 70 years.
This extinguisher is American. Made by Dugas Fire Extinguisher Corporation, Chicago, IL, USA.
The next of my finds, gives a very small glimpse at to what they were storing at the depot.
This big brass eyelet is a tensioner for a ‘Rhino Ferry’ pontoon. The pontoon is made up of box segments, which attach together with these brass eyelets providing adequate tension on the bolt to keep it all together..
Another vehicle part, was this lump. After a bit of research, I found that this is a fuel filter from a Dodge WC series 1/2 tonne truck.
On one side of the filter is a makers name ‘ZENNITH’ along side ‘MADE IN U.S.A’.
As the nearby Dalditch camp, Hawkerland also had Nissen huts. With the building of the Nissen huts at Hawkerland, the Americans didn’t hesitate to use some of their own parts and pieces to build the infrastructure, as this brass tap shows.
The ‘OB’ logo in to middle is the makers code, which is Ohio Brass Co.
On the side is written ‘Flexitite Disc’ and it even has a date ‘8-9-1925’.
Below is another peice from the Nissen huts. A stove hot plate made by Metrovick.
Whilst cleaning it, The ID tag came off, just as well, as all of the information was on the other side!
The rusted object next to the hob and small bottle, is a U.S. issue slide hammer. A slide hammer is typically used to bash out dents from a vhicles body work, freeing up locked brake drums, etc. It’s like a normal hammer, but in reverse!
The top part of the slide even has a part number.
A white porcelain pot lid, marked on the underside ‘SHENANGO CHINA, NEW CASTLE PA’.
A GORGEOUS little clear bottle. It has hashing all round it with writing on two opposite sides. It says;
’Lytia Special Quick-Dry Waving Fluid Wave Set’
on the other side;
’Dip The Comb In The Bottle’
It was a bit difficult taking good clear pics of the marks, so I did a rubbing, too.