Women in radar

Jean (Sally) Semple

Jean Semple joined the WAAF in March 1940 and trained on the RF5 radar receiver at Bawdsey Manor.

After training, she returned to operate the Gonio.

‘On the screen there’d be a whole lot of blips, looking a real mess. The left side showed blips like planes beating out but these usually turned out to be permanent echoes like those of church steeples and our radar towers. The first five miles of signals were usually ignored.

We did a lot of working out on paper and there was a hit or miss formula for determining the height of the plane.

You established its range, multiplied that by 100, and then added two-thirds of the actual range squared. This calculation was meant to take into account the curvature of the earth.’

The work of the radar operator was as secret as that of the code-breakers at Bletchley Park. Each had a revolver and instructions to shoot their screens should the station be breached.

A lead tank filled with acid was installed in reach of the operators so that they could destroy all maps and sensitive material if necessary.

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Jean (Sally) Semple