Wartime Facts

This page details facts and important military events/history which occurred on the Isle of Man during the Second World War. It is not intended as a definitive nor complete list:-

  • In excess of 300 lives were lost in and around the Isle of Man in over 200 flying accidents involving locally based aircraft, and also many from bases in the UK which used the Island as a landmark in navigation exercises during the war.
  • Apart from Ronaldsway, the RAF constructed two additional airfields on the Island at Jurby and Andreas. Both were initially used operationally with, Spitfire, Hurricane and Defiant squadrons being based there to cover the North Irish Sea area for shipping patrols and convoy escort. Subsequently, both stations were converted to training purposes.
  • The Island was also utilised by the Navy and Army for their own training requirements. For the Navy, this involved the training of some 40,000+ personnel in such tasks as the operation of radar equipment and medical training etc. For the Army’s part, Officer Cadet Training Units were set up in Douglas and Port St Mary.
  • Groups of the Island's boarding houses were used for the detention of German and Italian internees, together with other nationalities sympathetic to the Nazi cause. Secure camps were established in Douglas and Onchan, with others in Ramsey, Peel, Port Erin and Port St Mary.
  • Highly secret radar sites were built at Dalby, Scarlett, Cregneash, and Bride and were used as part of the Chain Home Radar Defence.
  • ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) staff, who were trained at the Code and Cipher School in Douglas, were to be based at Bletchley Park and its satellite operations throughout the UK and overseas. They were involved in the breaking of secret German and Japanese codes.
  • The establishment of the World’s first Area Air Traffic control system used by the RAF, to control air space over the Irish Sea, was based in the Ramsey Grammar School buildings. During the Battle of Britain this same Control Centre served No.9 Group Fighter Command as a Sector Control.
  • As with the rest of the UK during the war, the Isle of Man had Home Guard units set up to protect vital locations.