Category: news


On This Day – April 13th

By Sue Michell,

On this day in 1892, Robert Watson-Watt was born.  In response to growing concern about the defence of British cities from aerial attack, Watson-Watt, with his assistant Arnold ‘Skip’ Wilkins, developed the world’s first operational radar station at Bawdsey in Suffolk.

This technology proved vital in WW2, allowing the outnumbered RAF to efficiently find and attack incoming Luftwaffe aircraft.  Radar technology developed by Watson-Watt and his team continues to impact our lives today, from weather forecasting to astronomy and archaeology.

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Rose Davies WW2 Radar Operator

By Sue Michell,

A Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) veteran who was involved in the D-Day landings has died aged 107.

On 6 June 1944, during the Normandy landings, Rose Davies, as a radar operator, would play a key role in its success alongside hundreds of personnel in the UK, supporting Operation Overlord.

She was also a recipient of the Legion d’Honneur – France’s top military honour – for her radar surveillance work during the Second World War.

Rose married Wilfred Dawson and they settled in Beeston, Nottinghamshire. Wilfred, who served as a wireless operator on RAF Bomber Command in North Africa and Malta, flying on Wellington and Lancaster aircraft passed in 2021 aged 99.

In 2021, Rose Davies told more of her story in an interview with the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund:

https://www.rafbf.org/news-and-stories/raf-history/how-radar-operator-rose-davies-supported-d-day-landings

We send our condolences to all who knew and loved Rose.

Other Tributes

Twitter

https://twitter.com/VeteransFdn/status/1775584365742858693

Forces Net

https://www.forces.net/military-life/veterans/radar-operator-and-waaf-veteran-involved-d-day-landings-dies-aged-107

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FIRM FAVOURITE BACK IN STOCK

By Sue Michell,

We are pleased to let you know our retro design tea towel is back in stock in the Museum Shop and Online!

This exclusive design was created by Nick Black, A Bawdsey Radar supporter, using a retro colour scheme to give a familiar picture a nostalgic but lively makeover.  The presence of the four Transmitter Towers behind the Manor are a reminder that this was the place where RADAR was secretly developed

 

    To place an online order click here.

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Battle of Britain film screening –

By Sue Michell,

Join us to watch the classic film ‘The Battle of Britain’ on Sunday 12 May at Riverside Cinema, Woodbridge.

With a star-studded cast including Laurence Olivier, Trevor Howard, Michael Caine and Susannah York, this special screening includes a talk on just why the radar technology developed at Bawdsey was so vital to the outcome of the Battle of Britain.

Many will know the story of the Battle of Britain when the gallant ‘few’ defended our shores in their Spitfires and Hurricanes. What is far less well known is that experimental developments carried out in Suffolk in the years leading up to the outbreak of war enabled this success. Using radio waves to detect the presence of aircraft was first demonstrated in 1935. As a result, a team of scientists and engineers were sent initially to Orfordness and then to Bawdsey Manor. This work, carried out in haste and in great secrecy, turned the idea into a chain of coastal radar stations ready and able to defend the country.

A percentage of the ticket sales will go to the work being done by Bawdsey Radar Museum to share this important story of radar.

Book your tickets now https://www.theriverside.co.uk/programmes/battle-of-britain-talk/

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On This Day – 25th March

By Sue Michell,

On This Day  in 1991, the RAF Ensign was lowered for the final time at RAF Bawdsey.
Derek Rothery, the last station commander of RAF Bawdsey, remembers the official closing ceremony –

‘The date of Monday 25 March 1991 was selected. A Guard of Honour was formed on Bawdsey Quay, which was part of the RAF station. RAF Bawdsey was part of 11 Group, the old RAF Fighter Command in WW2, and we had Air Commodore Mike Donaldson from 11 Group HQ as our Reviewing Officer.

We had one police dog at the time, Air Dog Skip, who was on parade having been promoted that day to Corporal Air Dog Skip and he retired that day after the closure ceremony. It was a very moving ceremony with the General Salute, the National Anthem, prayers & an address by the Reviewing Officer which included a brief history about what happened at Bawdsey. The Ensign was lowered, folded, presented to me & I led the parade off in a slow march to the strain of Auld Lang Syne.
I’d spent six happy years on a station unlike any other with the role it played in air defence of the UK, I believe it was unique in the Air Force.
I was determined to be the last RAF serviceman to leave Bawdsey and I was.
As I walked past the guard-room I turned for a last look at the Manor and gave a final salute to all the personnel who had served at RAF Bawdsey’.

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The Daventry Experiment

By Sue Michell,

On this day in 1935, two men drove a van into a field near Daventry and proved that radar as an air defence system would work. The experiment they conducted helped win a battle in a war that had yet to start…

The two men were Robert Watson-Watt and Arnold Wilkins. With some poles, wires and a receiver in the back of the van, they proved that radio waves would bounce off an aircraft and those reflected waves could be picked up on a receiver. The aircraft could be detected. It was a breakthrough moment.

It was proof that radar would work. This field work became known as ‘The Daventry Experiment’. It was so successful that the government funded development of Radio Direction Finding as it was called before it was named Radar later in the war.

By 1937 three radar stations were built, Bawdsey Radar was the first. By 1939, there were 20 radar stations built and ready. The radar stations formed a protective chain of radar defence and was known as the Chain Home, the world’s first operational radar defence system.

The location near Daventry was chosen as it was close to BBC broadcasting transmitters. The aircraft that took part in this historic experiment was a Heyford Bomber.

You can see all these elements in the drawings below by Mark Beesley: the men, the van, the aircraft and the transmitter towers. The drawings feature on this special mug designed exclusively for Bawdsey radar Trust to commemorate the remarkable achievement 86 years ago.

It’s for sale from Bawdsey Radar online at £12.99 and is a unique piece of history telling.

Illustration shows image that is around the mug

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Fifty Anniversary of Sir Robert Watson Watts Death

By Sue Michell,

Its 50 years since Robert Watson-Watt died. This past week @ScotlandsPeople released the records for everyone who died 50 years ago (or married 75 yrs ago or died 100 yrs ago in Scotland).

Here’s the link to Watson-Watt’s record with an article

https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/article/our-records-sir-robert-watson-watt-1892-1973-0

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New Season Events Planning underway

By Sue Michell,

We’re planning events and activities for the season ahead and this popped up as a memory from last summer. The radio ham group took part in International Museums on the Air in June on their call sign Bawdsey Radar Station ‘GB2BRS’. It was a smashing day.  Keep checking the website and our social media for updates.

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Connections’ at Bawdsey Radar

By Sue Michell,

Did you work at RAF Bawdsey? Or do you or a family member who had a connection with the work done here?

There are many fascinating and moving personal stories of service at RAF Bawdsey before and during WW2, and throughout the Cold War. ‘Connections’ is capturing these stories and creating a new record of these experiences from people who lived and worked at Bawdsey and also from the families of those who served.

‘Connections’ will provide a moving and informative record of these personal stories and connections that will contribute immensely to the educational value of the museum. The records will be a digital resource available online for all to contribute to and as a source for research.

If you have a memory to share or a family or personal connection that you would like to add to the record, please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

Please email project@bawdseyradar.org.uk or ring 07821 162879.

 

 

 

 

 

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