Sunday, 5 September 2010

Radar Traces

My hauntological remix of the Oral History of the development of radar at Bawdsey in Suffolk can be downloaded from ... It's very much a work in progress, and at some point I would like to a more extended audio project involving Bawsdey, perhaps involving some of the other posters here, should they be interested.

Bawdsey should be a World Heritage site, and at least as renowned as Bletchley Park ... in addition to everything else, there's a whole Sadie Plant-type story to be told about the role of women and the prehistory of cyberspace...

Also see Bacteria Grrl's pix here ...


  1. Mark, as a work in progress this is fascinating. Really look forward to it's further development.

  2. That's great, Mark, fascinating stuff and a great idea.

  3. I hope it would be better than a Sadie Plant-type story!

    When the radar stations were developed in anticipation of the Battle of Britain, such was the chauvinism of the RAF, it was thought that pilots would be demoralised if they heard female voices giving them instructions from the ground.

    Air Chief Marshall Dowding, realising that for obvious reasons WAAF personnel would have to perform such a task, was instrumental in persuading the Air Council to dismiss such concerns.

    Also, Dowding was one of the few prepared to stand up to Churchill and as such his contribution to Britain's survival is somewhat underappreciated. One thing he always kept quiet from his contemporaries was his firm belief in the existence of 'a spirit world'; indeed, he spent his last years devoted to the study of spiritualism and was written off as something of a crank.

    A key radar station at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight was attacked by Stuka dive bombers on 12th August 1940 and temporarily put out of action. Quickly, the station sent out a fake signal to give the Luftwaffe the impression that the radar was still operational, when in fact there was a gaping hole in the defences. Dowding sent a rare personal message to the WAAF's at Ventnor to express his "pride in the behaviour of the WAAF in the face of enemy attack".

    As for the RAF pilots themselves, they soon came to appreciate the vital efforts of the WAAF; in RAF parlance they came to be known as "The Beauty Chorus".