December 2023

Twelve Days of Radar – Day Six

For our sixth instalment of our 12 Days of Bawdsey, we are sharing the story of Peggy Haynes (was Butler).

We love sharing Peggy’s story at Bawdsey Radar and were lucky enough to hear her memories of the site as part of our oral history project.

Peggy joined the WAAF in May 1942 aged 18 after working for a publishing company in London during the Blitz. She had planned to join the motor division in order to learn to drive but, as she remembers, she was ‘put up for ‘Clerk, Special Duties’’. Neither she, nor the recruiting officer knew what this meant!  Peggy became a radar operator at the site and was tasked with interpreting the cathode ray tube to work out the number and distance of enemy aircraft heading towards Britain. Peggy remembered the diligence with which they carried out their work, making sure that ‘Everything had to be recorded. I was quite hoarse by the time I’d finished because you had to relay the plots to the filter room.’

Peggy was at Bawdsey during VE day in May 1945 and told us her memories of this time:

‘We couldn’t find out what was happening- nobody seemed to know on May 8th 1945 that anything had happened at all. We were listening on night watch and we were tuning in to German stations and they were making me listen because I knew a few words of German, but I couldn’t hear anything – just ordinary conversation and it wasn’t until we got back into the manor that we were told ‘Yes, the war is over’. So, it wasn’t very celebratory really, because by that time, of course, we were well in with the boys from Martlesham….and what were we celebrating? – you know- OK we had stopped fighting but they were going off to the Pacific to fight their war. We were all confined to camp for some reason – which we didn’t take very kindly to – but by the evening the Americans had managed to muster up a lot of beer and they all came over in their trucks – and we did have a dance – because we did have a dance every week in the Manor ballroom which was very nice – and so we did celebrate to some degree’.

More of Peggy’s memories of the site can be read and heard in our Shout and Whisper oral history book, available from the Bawdsey Radar online shop. More information can be found here:


Peggy Haynes (was Butler)
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Twelve Days of Radar – Day Six