Radar fitter at Bawdsey 1946-1947 remembers dangerous operations.
Radar operator 1943 to 1945 recalls Bawdsey’s ‘luxury’ accommodation.
WW2 Radar operator bombed by an aircraft categorised as ‘friendly’.
WW2 Radar operator remembers a mass raid of Heinkels from first radar detection to viewing to going out to ‘guard’ a shot-down Heinkel.
Radar instructor during WW2 recalls gun laying radar and comments on ‘man’s work’ and girls as radar operators.
Hilda Pearson nee Wilkinson
Radar operator in 1943 recalls Bawdsey being bombed.
Helped develop the Chain Home receiver (under Cyril Fogg) remembers travelling between Chain Home stations in an Austin 12 driven by his wife.
These A4 PDF sheets provide an unparalleled insight into the world of Bawdsey in the words of those that worked there.
- Hilda Pearson, Radio Operator 1944
- David Harrison – working on the East Coast Chain Home Tower – 1953
- Terry Bunce – RAF 1958-1984, three postings to Bawdsey – 1963
- Stanley Brown – Bawdsey Filter School – 1943
- Patrick Lyford – National Service at Bawdsey – 1953
- Sir Robert Cockburn – Memorial Address for Sir Robert Watson-Watt at the Royal Air Force Church of St Clement Danes – 1974.
- Keith Wood – Airborne radar development – 1935
- John Moss – National Service at Bawdsey – 1951
- Bill Walker – sports day at Bawdsey – 1943
- Douglas Myhill – Laboratory Assistant, Bawdsey – 1938
Who wore the trousers?
In April 1939, there were 1734 women in the WAAF. By 1945, the number had risen to 175,000, many of whom had trained or worked at Bawdsey.
Despite millions of women volunteering to carry out essential roles in the first world war, when that war ended they were dismissed from their jobs and barred from claiming unemployment benefit.
By the start of the second world war, it was clear that their skills were needed again.
By the end of 1941, women were being conscripted into work in factories, nursing, the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) and the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRENs).
Tributes to the female war-time workforce were many.
‘…the ready acceptance by the RAF of the WAAF in a large variety of skilled trades and the extensions of responsibility to the WAAF officers and NCOs has given women in the WAAF greater opportunities than in other spheres of war work… Parents of this country [should be reassured] that the duties that their daughters are doing towards the war effort are as important as the duties their sons are doing.’
Director of the WAAF, Air Commandant Jane Trefusis Forbes DBE, 1941
Jane Trefusis DBE
Jean (Sally) Semple
Dr Mary Taylor
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A world first – the story of Bawdsey Radar
On 24th September 1937, RAF Bawdsey became the first fully operational Radar station in the world.
Remarkably, this was only a short eighteen months after the first experiment, conducted by Robert Watson Watt and Arnold Wilkins, which established that by using transmitted radio waves it was possible to detect an approaching aircraft.