Site Name: RAF Bawdsey Chain Home Radar Station
Bawdsey Manor was built in 1886 and enlarged in 1895 as the principal residence for Sir. Cuthbert Quilter.
In August a filter room was established to process data from two other recently opened Chain Home stations, the tracking information obtained being used for the deployment of fighter aircraft.
The station was fully operational by 24th September 1937 providing long range early warning for the southern North Sea and the Channel approaches, as well as radar coverage for coastal convoys.
Photo:Bawdsey Manor housed the Station Headquarters, WAAFS barracks and Officers' Mess
Photo by Nick Catford
As well as research for the Air Ministry, a War Department (army) Team was working on the development of gun-laying radar that would enable anti-aircraft guns to fire accurately with poor visibility. By 1939 acceptable gun-ranging equipment was in service with an accuracy of 25 yards at a range of 10 miles.
Another important area of research was the development of an 'Identification, Friend or Foe' (IFF) system allowing friendly aircraft to be differentiated from hostile planes. As a result of this research, aircraft were fitted with aerials incorporating motor-driven tuners that caused the reflected signal received by ground radar stations to vary in amplitude. Later models employed an electronic unit that detected the presence of friendly radar and then transmitted a coded signal causing the ground radar display to indicate a friendly aircraft
Towards the end of 1941 Coastal Defence Radar (Army CD Mk IV) was established at Bawdsey. This installation was taken over by the RAF on 7th December 1942 making Bawdsey the only site in the UK with three types of radar (CH, CHL and CD) in operation. By August 1943 Coastal Defence was changed to an AMES Type 55 Chain Home Extra Low (CHEL); again this was mounted on a 200 foot platform on the northern (No 1) transmitter mast.
Photo:The receiver block at Bawdsey
In September 1944 Bawdsey began monitoring the launch of V2 rockets using specially developed Chain Home receivers codenamed 'Oswald'. Although there was no defence against the V2 once it had been launched Oswald was able to provide Bomber Command with the location of the launch sites which could then be attacked. Other CH stations equipped with Oswald were RAF Stoke Holy Cross, High Street, Great Bromley, Dunkirk & Swingate.
The run-down of radar stations started before the end of the war from a peak of 194 stations in 1944 with only 36 remaining by 1947 and only 29 of those were manned at full readiness. Bawdsey is listed as being operational with both CH and CHEL in 1948.
For further information and pictures RAF Bawdsey click here
[Source: Nick Catford]