Bawdsey Manor, dating from 1886, was taken over in March 1936 by the Air Ministry for developing the Chain Home (CH) RDF (radar) system. Also known as Bawdsey Research Station (BRS) , the first CH station was built there, characterised by eight tall masts, four for transmitting and four for receiving.
When war was declared in September 1939, the development activities at Bawdsey were relocated, first to Dundee, Scotland, and later to Worth Matravers near Swanage in Dorset on the southern coast of England, where they became the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE). The CH station at Bawdsey remained, and the overall site was designated RAF Bawdsey. The radar site lies about 600m. from Bawdsey Manor itself along the top of the cliffs going in the direction of Shingle Street.Apart from the radar scanners which were above ground, there was a large underground command centre built in the late 1950`s. It incorporated an uplit radar display showing the whole of SouthEast England and on which would have been projected any aircraft.Around the walls of the command post was a gallery with the status boards of all the fighter command and other RAF airfields in the area.The command centre was self-supporting for a limited time and included living quarters, and air filtration to make it capable of operating during nuclear attack.The command centre was accessed by way of a small `bungalow` which can be seen on the left of the road which runs from Bawdsey village to Bawdsey Manor.The station was sttod down for a number of years but was re-opened in 1978 as a Bloodhound missile site, but was closed again two years later when the missiles were moved to West Rainham.
In 1944 a mock commando raid was staged at Bawdsey. RAF Bawdsey was warned of the attack and told of the approximate expected time of the attack. In the small hours the sentries on lookout saw a flotilla of rubber dinghies approaching the shore. The sentries had not been warned to expect a mock attack by friendly forces and so assumed it was the Germans. Bawdsey was prepared for an attack by sea and defences were in place. These consisted of drums of petrol which were anchored to the sea bed and which could be ruptured by explosive charges detonated from the shore. There were also machine gun positions along the cliffs. Once the oncoming dinghies were close to the shore the defenders detonated the drums of petrol which were then ignited by tracer fire from the machine guns. The invaders were incinerated . The question is who failed to warn the sentries of the impending attack. The event has been and still is covered by a `D Notice.
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