March 2023


Today is International Women’s Day. In honour of this, we are celebrating the contribution of all those women who lived, worked and trained at RAF Bawdsey throughout its 55-year history for our latest instalment of WAAF Wednesday. RAF Bawdsey was the first site in the UK where women took frontline operational roles, with much of the detection of aircraft by radar and the plotting of their location undertaken by women. Women were also involved in the maintenance of the equipment at the station. While many of the engineers at the site were men, every service personnel, including the women of the WAAF, had to be able to maintain the transmitter equipment which meant that everybody had to climb the 360ft transmitter towers at least once for training!

For much of its history, RAF Bawdsey was also the radar training school, with many thousands of women trained here before continuing their work either at RAF Bawdsey, or at radar stations across the world. The work undertaken by the women of the WAAF and later of the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF) was vital to the operation of RAF Bawdsey throughout World War Two and into the Cold War. It has been suggested by historian Louis Brown that radar won the Second World War; the work of the women of the WAAF was vital in keeping radar at RAF Bawdsey and throughout the UK operating.

To learn more about the women who staffed RAF Bawdsey, visit the museum which reopens on April 2nd.

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