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The

BAWDSEY RADAR GROUP

 

The aim of the organisation is to preserve historical significance of what was achieved and maintained at Bawdsey during its days as an RAF station. 

The moderator for this page will be John McCue who is also Membership Secretary of the BRG.

 

How it all started.

Dear Sir,   I read your website with interest. This event may be of interest to you. Regards,  Nat Bocking

From: Susan Brookes <Susan.Brookes@et.suffolkcc.gov.uk>
Date: Thu, 5 Jun 2003 15:23:45 +0100

Subject: Restoration of the Transmitter Block, RAF Bawdsey-Home of Early Radar

Dear All

The Transmitter Block, Bawdsey Manor

Due to the tremendous support that we had at the Radar Waves Open Day, we would like to invite you to a meeting at Bawdsey Manor on Thursday July 17th 2003 at 7.30pm.

The aim of the meeting is to discuss the future restoration and development of the Transmitter Block. We are looking for a range of volunteers to help so whatever your skills we will be pleased to see you.

We would also like to take the opportunity to thank Neils and Ann Toettcher, owners of Bawdsey Manor, for their support of this project.

The Agenda for the meeting is
* Welcome and Introduction
* Proposals for the future development and restoration of 'T Block'
* Election of a committee and chairperson
* Any Other Business/Date of next meeting
* Tea and Coffee.

The meeting will be held in the Manor and access will be via the main entrance on Bawdsey Quay. Please contact me if you would like to attend this
meeting. If you are unable to make this date and would like to be actively involved, please let me know. My telephone number is 01473 583179 (with 24 hour ansaphone) and email susan.brookes@et.suffolkcc.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Susan Brookes
Heritage Promotion Officer for Suffolk County Council And Jim Wyllie, Bawdsey Manor.


Arising from the above letter from Susan Brookes, re: Restoration of the Transmitter Block,  a committee has been formed and one of our 'members', John McCue, is on that committee and he has kindly agreed to keep us informed of its progress.  John would like to hear from anyone interested in the project.  This is his report to bring us up to date.

Following the success of the Radar Waves Open Day earlier this year, attended by some 950 visitors (only around 50 were expected) there was a
meeting held at Bawdsey Manor in order to establish the formation of a committee, in the hope to establish a "museum" dedicated to the role that
Bawdsey played in the development of radar, and to the people who worked there.

My own personal view, is that Bawdsey has never received the acknowledgment for the importance of the work that was done there, or the value of the work to the war effort. Again it is my opinion that without the work done there, the outcome of the war, without a doubt would have been different. Notwithstanding, the lives of those who fought to defend this country, and those of civilians would have been much higher, as without the work done at Bawdsey, we simply would never had seen them coming. Take it even further, I doubt man would have gone into space let alone walk on the moon, had it not been for radar. I'm sure someone will correct me if I am wrong in my assumptions, but having served there, albeit as a policeman on a Bloodhound Missile site in the 80's, I still live in the village, and like many of the others who served here, met my "better half" there too.

There are three ex-servicemen on the committee, one did his National Service here, the other worked on radar in the 70's and returned in the 80's with the  Bloodhound system. The manor was sold in the 1990's and at present is an International Language School, though you can stay at the manor if you fancy a break, or even hire a cottage in the grounds too. The Technical site remains as it did when the  Bloodhounds left, but it is my understanding that a computer company has purchased the site to use for underground storage.

At present, the owners of Bawdsey Manor, have allowed the use of the transmission block, which is at the base of the last tower, demolished a few
years ago, but replaced by a smaller more modern "maritime" one. There is the remnants of the transmitter there, along with some other parts.
It is here that it is intended to start the challenge of putting Bawdsey back on the map, and building a fitting tribute to the vital work that was
done there over its service life. I do not expect it to be an easy task, but not an impossible one either. The committee is aware of the groundwork that
needs to be done in order to get this project moving in the right direction. We have met as a committee, elected a Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer, made up of a total of 7 volunteers from the meeting on July 17th 2003.

I hope to keep this site updated with regular reports, as and when information is available. Any feedback would be gratefully appreciated, and or, any help, information etc that anyone feels may be of use to this project.

I found a quote on a radar web site, that I found appropriate: "Old radar men never die - Their echoes only fade away according to the inverse square law" , I hope the memories of RAF Bawdsey never fades away.

John McCue.


BAWDSEY RADAR ASSOCIATION  14th August 2003

The steering committee, formed after the recent Radar Waves open days, has a name - Bawdsey Radar Asssociation. I have been tasked with being the membership secretary, (though others will no doubt say I volunteered). I am currently obtaining information, some 900 plus names of those who attended the open day, and subsequent meeting, with a view of beginning to form a members list. Anyone visiting this site can contact me by e-mail, but please be patient, as I have never been a membership secretary before, let alone starting a membership.  Once I have names etc. to put before the committee, I will hopefully know what becoming a member will entail.

John McCue.


BAWDSEY RADAR GROUP. Sept 2003

The name, or the association part of it has been amended to 'Group', that means our initials will be B.R.G - Bawdsey Radar Group for the time being, B.R.A was a bit unfortunate. Work has started on a draft constitution, and we are also in the realms of trying to obtain a "lease" for  the old transmitter block, from the owners of the Manor. Other issues such as trustee's and other legal matters, memberships etc are also being looked into at some depth, and we hope to have another meeting in November. 

As far as a progress report goes, a "draft" lease proposal will soon be sent to the owners of the Manor, in respect of the Transmitter block area. Hopefully there will be some response produced at our next committee meeting in November.  Once we have obtained the lease, then we will have passed one of our major obstacles, as without the transmitter block, we would have to find an alternative site to build upon, which would be unfortunate given the historical and heritage value of that particular site. We then have to try and establish what we will have in respect of exhibits etc that are related to radar, and the work that has been done at Bawdsey, from the development days until its closure in the 90's, which still involved the use of radar. 

John McCue


BAWDSEY RADAR GROUP  3rd February 2004

The owner of Bawdsey Manor has recently agreed in principal, to the request from the committee, to lease the "transmitter block". The lease would be  for 25 years initially. The committee reported on the draft constitution, public liability insurance, planning, etc. There was also the subject of having costings for an asbestos survey to be carried out on the transmitter block. Then the subject of fundraising and publicity was raised and discussed, and it was felt that the number of committee members should be increased. The next meeting has been scheduled for the 18th March 2004.

John McCue


Message from John McCue,  6th February 2004

Hello and welcome to the Bawdsey Radar Group. The group was formed in 2003, following the surprising response to an "Open Day" at the old Transmitter Block, at the former RAF Bawdsey site. Thanks has to be given to the organizers of that day, in particular to John Langford who is known for his publication of "The Beam", Susan Brookes from Suffolk Council, and the present owner of the Bawdsey site (including the Manor) Neils Toettcher, to name but a few. Expectations were that around 50 or so visitors would attend, the final figure was in excess of 900. A meeting was arranged soon afterwards, this too was well attended, and a committee formed. Since then, the committee has been striving to obtain a lease for the Transmitter Block, develop a constitution, and other related matters. Its a slow but important process, but the main objective, is to try and achieve some recognition for the important development work on radar that was done at Bawdsey, and indeed for those who worked there.

It is sad that there has been recognition for inventions like Barnes Wallace's Bouncing Bomb, and other inventors work/inventions etc through that period, but there is absolutely nothing to show for, or the importance or significance of the work in developing the first operational radar at Bawdsey. My own belief is that Bawdsey, and those who worked there in the early development of radar, are probably the last "unsung" hero's of WWII, as without radar, the Battle of Britain may well have been lost. Battles are remembered, individual acts of heroism etc, have all been, for want of a better word, glorified, films etc made about them, but the only reference to radar, has been a map table, and WRAF's marking out friendly and hostile aircraft on them. A recent claim on a local TV programme, referred to the development of radar at Orfordness. As I understand, they tried it there initially, but Orfordness had other important development work of its own, and the cliff at Bawdsey was a more desirable site.

Back to the present, the Technical site, has remained dormant since the RAF's withdrawal in 1992, a computer company purchased it some years ago, and it recently changed hands again, though I have at present no idea who has bought it, or their intentions for the site. 

There are a lot of knowledgeable people out there, as the many radar websites show, I would be grateful if anyone connected with radar could submit information etc in order that we can build up the history of radar, particularly the development work etc done at Bawdsey. I'm not going to write a book, but I would like to "map" out the history of radar, showing the involvement of Bawdsey and those who worked there. Hopefully, we can right a wrong, and put Bawdsey and its personnel in its rightful place in history, and commemorate that work too.

Finally, thanks to Ray Shakeshaft, for the use of his website and his invaluable advice too. 

John.


BAWDSEY RADAR GROUP  18th March 2004

The committee met on the 18th March and progress so far is that we now have a solicitor appointed in respect of sorting out the lease for the T-block, from the owner of Bawdsey Manor. The Bawdsey Radar Group Constitution is almost complete, and progress on other administration matters are gathering pace. Another issue that we need to address is funding, another "Open Day" at the T-Block is one option being considered. Anyone with suggestions on how we could raise funding would be welcome, as would anyone who would like to become a committee member.

Thanks to those who have contacted me via this website, including the one from America who expressed an interest in membership of the group. The Bawdsey Radar Group, as such, is at this moment in time, nothing more that a group of people with a vested interest in promoting the radar development work that was done at Bawdsey during the war, and more to the point, seek to gain recognition for that work, and honour the fact that Bawdsey was the first operational radar station too. Until we have established the lease etc, there is little more to offer members than feedback and progress reports from the committee. Idea's or suggestions on what members would expect from membership would also be welcomed.


John


BAWDSEY RADAR GROUP  30th April 2004

We can officially announce the the Transmitter Block is one of the 21 sites competing in the BBC2 Programme "Restoration".  The "winning" is via a viewer vote, with the most worthy site winning an estimated 3.5 million for restoring the building. Imagine what we could achieve with that?, sadly the Manor is out of the price range, but we could develope a "World Heritage" site as a memorial to the work done over decades there as well as commemorate the site of the worlds first operational radar.

Hopefully we will be able to achieve the recognition for those who worked so hard for the most important development work during the war, which we all take for granted today. Microwave ovens, radiology etc are basically by-products of radar.

I doubt that we will win, but it would be great if we made the last 7 out of the 21, and a win would be a bonus. I hope that we can gain maximum publicity from the programme, and get some funding for the project as a result. The committee are planning to hold the Bawdsey Radar Group's first AGM in September, hopefully in the manor.  I'll keep you posted.

John


BAWDSEY RADAR GROUP 27th June 2004

Just to confirm that there will be an open day at the Transmitter block on the 17th July 2004, 10am - 4 pm.

The subject of fund raising has been put on the BRG agenda, and we are looking at forming a "friends of the Bawdsey Radar Group" in order to try and increase our income this way.

BBC Restoration, the programme on Bawdsey is scheduled to go out sometime in August, but the BBC cannot be specific at the moment.

Neatishead has just been on the news, its last "sortie" as a radar station was completed today, and it is feared that the station will be "run down" in the coming months. As for the radar museum there, its future is still uncertain, as the MOD has not declared what its intentions for the site are.

John


BAWDSEY RADAR GROUP 17th August 2004

Thanks to all of you who supported Bawdsey reach the final eight sites in the Recent BBC Restoration TV programme. Sadly we didn't win, but we have gained a massive amount of interest and publicity from the programme. Its not the end of the project, more like the end of the beginning. The Restoration Programme has given us a fantastic platform on which to build from, the response and feedback is still pouring in.

The Committee are still in the process of negotiating the lease of the T-block, and is near completion. We are also in the process of becoming a registered charity, and then hope to apply for grants etc. We then hope to have power and water installed in the not too distant future, then the real work in renovating the  building will take place.

I would like to hear some of your idea's of what you think would make the T-block an interesting, informative and fitting commemoration of the work that was done there. Wally Norton made a truly outstanding statement on the final of Restoration, he said " Bawdsey did its bit for Britain during WW2, now its time for Britain to do its bit for Bawdsey". Couple that with the enthusiasm that 432 Sqn Woodbridge Air Cadets, and you think we would have been able to win the final, sadly, there were only 2 minutes for "Britain to save Bawdsey" before voting closed.

Britain may not have come to the rescue of Bawdsey, but there are certain members of the Committee that have taken that task on, long before any TV programme. Particular mention has to be made to Mary and Peter Wain. Mary is the Chairperson of the group, and was born in one of the married quarters on Ferry Road.( Her parents both served at Bawdsey, and some of you may even have known or served alongside them). Other Committee members have also made their mark too, Eileen the Group Secretary has been invaluable, and an absolute treasure too. It hasn't been an easy road so far, with obstacle after obstacle making an uphill struggle worse, and yes there have been times that it would have been easy to say, enough is enough and throw in the towel, but not this Committee. Add to that, the stress and strains of being involved with a TV programme, deadlines to meet, TV and Radio interviews, I have to say that I am proud to have been part of the committee that has but one goal, to commemorate the vital important contribution that Bawdsey made in WW2, and the development of radar since its beginning.

Bawdsey was "First in the Field" in the fact that it was the first operational radar station in the world. There is nothing to commemorate nor acknowledge the work that was done there, we aim to "right that wrong". Many of you reading this, will have been part of Bawdsey's history, which is part of this country's heritage. In my opinion, Bawdsey is a little more than that, it deserves "World Heritage" status. The story of Bawdsey has been a secret for too long, its not a "pretty or particularly heroic story", its full of facts. A lot of what happens in this world today, happened at Bawdsey in those early days. "Friendly Fire or unfriendly fire" incidents were one of the other discoveries at Bawdsey. Not only did radar help us see the enemy coming, and where they were coming from, it also helped damaged aircraft back to the nearest base. Unfortunately, as radar was so secret, and communications not too good, some of these aircraft were shot down by our own defences, having mistakenly identified as the enemy by others. Identification Friend or Foe was soon developed as a result of these incidents. The 1991 Gulf war brought the Friendly Fire incidents to our homes, but it was nothing new, Bawdsey could claim another first in that respect.

I have had the privilege as a committee member of meeting people from the early days of radar, and "original" Bawdseyites. Then you have the enthusiasm of 432 SQN, Woodbridge Air Cadets, and other "youth" of today, who are keen and interested in preserving what they see as part of our/their history. The "Bawdsey Spirit" is still there, the place is unique, and there is an almost eerie appeal for the place that you get when you meet a diverse spectrum of people who served at, and even from those who have visited the place.  

We hope to give Bawdsey, the country, and those who have served there  throughout its RAF life, a fitting commemoration and tribute, for what Bawdsey did done for us, in our moment of need. "First in the Field" and last to be recognised, time to "right the wrong".

John McCue


THIS ORGANISATION NOW HAS ITS OWN WEBSITE http://www.bawdseyradargroup.co.uk/ AND THANKS US FOR OUR COOPERATION.  I AM SURE THAT WE WISH THEM WELL AND WE WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THEIR CAUSE.  THIS PAGE WILL CLOSE AT THE END OF THE YEAR.