Site Name: Kenton Bar - 13 Group Fighter Command Headquarters and Region 1 Regional War Room
Sub Brit site visit 1st December 2004
[Source: Nick Catford]
During the expansion of the RAF during the late 1930s, the command structure of the air defences of Britain was reviewed. New developments in radar technology and the capabilities of the new Spitfire and Hurricane fighter aircraft, together with the changing nature of the threat posed by the modern bomber aircraft used by the Luftwaffe meant that a comprehensive reorganisation was required. In a command network known as the Dowding System, Fighter Command was divided into four operational Groups, under the control of a central Headquarters at Bentley Priory. Each Group had its own geographical area of responsibility: 10 Group, South West England and South Wales; 11 Group, South East England; 12 Group, the Midlands; and 13 Group, north of the Humber and all of Scotland.
Photo:The original 13 Group Fighter Command operations room adapted for use as Region 1 Regional War Room
Photo by Nick Catford
The location of the 13 Group HQ was chosen before the 27th September 1938. Initially there was a temporary above ground operations room brought into use by 24th July 1939 to coincide with the formation of the Group. At this time a permanent underground operations room was under construction, this was completed and was being fitted out by 3rd December 1939 becoming fully operational at 23.59 hours on the night of the 13th of March 1940.
Location of the Kenton site
The area controlled by 13 Group was relatively calm during the Battle of Britain, with the brunt of the German assault being borne by 11 and 12 Groups. After the end of the daylight phase of the Battle of Britain, the operational requirements of the air defence system were changed. On the 1st August 1940 Dyce and Wick sectors were transferred from 13 to 14 Group, a new formation covering the air defence of Scotland with a fifth protected Group Headquarters provided at Inverness. On 9th August 1940 13 Group was further reduced in size with the formation of 9 Group at Barton Hall, Preston (later RAF Longley Lane). the defences of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and the Western Approaches.
Floor plan after conversion to 1 Group Regional War Room
Drawn by Nick Catford
The Operations Record Books from this period are a useful reminder
that the role of the headquarters went beyond directing air defence
operations. Documents bound in with the operational diaries include
combat reports and the development of new tactics, particularly during
the switch to night-bombing in late 1940 to 1941.
For further information and pictures of Kenton Bar click here
Click here for Blakelaw Filter Room
[Source: Nick Catford]
Last updated 15th September 2005
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