Category: news

Bawdsey Podcast Eleven

By Sue Michell,

Podcast alert!

The next one in our series has landed.

Following the Second World War there was hope that the fighting was over, but within two years the world held its breath as two superpowers battled it out in a 40 year cold war. 

This episode is a roundup of events and how the Cold War affected the use of Bawdsey’s radar in this time and includes the voices of those who worked here.

Thank you to every National Lottery player as National Lottery Heritage Funding makes this podcast possible. Thank you to Emily Casson for creating and producing this podcast.

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We need interns! 

By Sue Michell,

Intern opportunities at Bawdsey Radar


June 2021 for up to a maximum of 6 months

We’re looking for two interns to work in visitor services in a Covid Secure environment.



If you’d like more information, please click here

Closing date for applications is 23 May 2021.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for their support and funding.

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By Sue Michell,

We are now selling a set of our lovely logo lapel pin badges in the online shop.

Available in four colours you have the opportunity to wear a supporter’s badge with any outfit!

Made of brass and enamel and exclusive to Bawdsey Radar Trust the set of four costs £8.99 +pp


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Bawdsey Podcast Ten

By Sue Michell,

The next in our regular series of podcasts has arrived and it explores National Service at Bawdsey.

Following the end of the Second World War there was still a need for Britain to maintain high levels of military power in some parts of the world. The British government concluded that to meet these needs effectively they would use National Service during peacetime.

In 1947 Parliament passed the National Service Act which would come into force two years later in 1949. In this episode we take a look into the stories of some of the men stationed at Bawdsey for their National Service. Listen here.


Thank you to the National Heritage Lottery Fund for their support and to Emily Casson for researching and producing this podcast.

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Kickstart Scheme

By Sue Michell,


Are you 18 – 24 and looking for work?  Take a look at Kickstart




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By Sue Michell,

We are excited to introduce to our shop, a bright new ‘retro’ design tea towel depicting RAF Bawdsey in 1937.

This exclusive design has been created by Nick Black, a Bawdsey supporter, using a retro colour scheme to give a familiar picture a nostalgic but lively makeover. The presence of the four towers soaring behind the architecture of the Manor are a reminder that this was the place where radar was being secretly developed in the 1930’s.

We like to support local businesses so asked Stuart Morris Textiles of Hadleigh to print the tea towels. Selling at @ £8.99 it’s a lovely gift and very easy to post too!

*All purchases from our shop will support the Trust’s mission*


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Easter Family Activities

By Sue Michell,

Happy Easter!

If you’re looking for things to do at home this holiday, have a go at our cracking Spot the Difference puzzle – download here – can you find all 6?

This image shows the Daventry Experiment.  Click here to find out more this amazing experiment.

Next, watch the short film – ‘Pebble in the Pond

Then find an adult helper first, fill a washing up bowl with water and drop a pebble in. Watch the ripples as they move and imagine they might be radio waves looking for enemy aircraft or alien space craft.

Take a look at this video and see what else radar can detect!


What would you like to discover using radio waves? Draw it and post on our Facebook page (add link) – we’d love to see them.


Good luck and happy Easter!

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RAF Bawdsey – thirty years ago

By Sue Michell,

The end of an era:  the RAF leave Bawdsey for the last time


Thirty years ago, on Monday 25 March 1991, the RAF left RAF Bawdsey for the final time and marked the occasion with a moving closing down ceremony.

It’s hard to imagine the impact on the world that the technology developed at Bawdsey would have when a handful of scientists moved, quietly, to Bawdsey Manor in 1936.

Robert Watson Watt, Arnold Wilkins and the team had moved in to the grand surroundings of the Manor from their first base at Orfordness. The team continued their top-secret work to develop the world’s first operational radar to be ready for the coming second world war. At the outbreak of war, the scientists were moved to a safer location in Dundee.

The Manor became RAF Bawdsey in 1937 and from then until 1974 RAF Bawdsey, the first radar station in the world, was home to thousands and thousands of women and men who did their training there before being posted on active service. Radar developments continued apace: Identification Friend or Foe was critical in identifying friendly aircraft for example. The No. 5 Training school was established in 1945 and No. 144 Signal Unit moved in 1956.

In 1959, a station badge was approved by HM The Queen. The design is based on the guard dog mosaic in the entrance of Bawdsey Manor, in turn based upon a mosaic at Pompeii.

In 1966 Bawdsey regained its full position as a Master Radar Station after a disastrous fire at RAF Neatishead in Norfolk. In 1974 the station was placed in to ‘care and maintenance’ and its School of Fighter Control was moved to RAF West Drayton.

In 1979 RAF Bawdsey was back in the thick of it becoming an operational Bloodhound Mk2 Surface-to-Air Missile site and by 1984 was home to the Interim Alternate Strike Command HQ before ceasing to be operational in 1990 and being slowly wound down.

The last station commander was Derek Rothery. Here are his memories of the official closure 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 and an address by the Reviewing Officer which included a brief history about what had happened at Bawdsey.  The Ensign was lowered, folded and presented to me, and I led the parade off in a slow march to the strains 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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Battle of the Atlantic – Radar’s Role

By Sue Michell,

80 years ago on March 7, 1941, Winston Churchill coined the phrase ‘Battle of the Atlantic’ deliberately echoing the Battle of Britain to emphasise its importance.

Science and the new technologies played a big part in the fight. Radar, which could see over great distances and through fog and dark, was introduced on ships in 1940 -Type 286. The first sea battle using radar was fought on March 17, 1941, 400 miles off the Shetland Islands.  HMS Vanoc using Type 286 radar sank the U-boat, U-100.  Aviation was also transformed by ASV (Aircraft to Surface Vessel) radar, the development of which began prewar at Bawdsey with Bowen’s work on AI (Airborne Interception).

Several visitors to the Transmitter Block over the years have talked of their experiences of getting radar onto ships in the early days.  One visitor viewing ‘The Magic Ear’, the original exhibition in the Block, was reduced to tears on reading the Battle of the Atlantic panel.  A close relative of hers was drowned on one of the convoys and when spoken to she explained how she felt little was made of the enormous sacrifice of merchant seaman in WW2 and to see it mentioned in a radar exhibition was overwhelming.

      HMS Vanoc


     U-Boat  U100

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Easter Online Shop Offer

By Sue Michell,


Chopping Board


  • Melamine both sides
  • 5cm x 18cm (23.7cm including handle) x 5mm
  • Weight 200g

Why Sheep?

This sheep motif has been adopted by the Bawdsey Radar shop, as a reminder of pre radar days and the search for a ‘death ray’. In the early 1930’s, the Air Ministry was becoming increasingly concerned that there were limited means of shooting down incoming bombers. They therefore offered a reward of £1,000 (more than £65,000 in today’s money) to anyone who could demonstrate a ray that could kill a sheep at 100yds. When no-one was able to claim this prize, it was observed that “the mortality rate of sheep was not noticeably affected”!

We love this story and hope it will make you smile each time you use your chopping board.

The hard melamine makes a good cutting surface and we recommend using the plain side to preserve the design. The board can be washed in hot soapy water and dried with a teatowel. It is not dishwasher proof, heat proof and should not be soaked in water.

This item is easy to pack and would make a great gift.

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