In Search of the Radar Pioneers of WW2

May 23, 2012

A departure from normal service hereabouts, but a very worthwhile one, I hope you'll agree. I've just received an email from the Association of Royal Air Force Fighter Control Officers, who are asking folks with websites to publish the following text. It ought to be fairly self-explanatory. I don't imagine either of my regular readers were involved in running the Dowding System during the early 1940s (and, in the process, developing the basis of the Quick Reaction Alert system still in use to defend Britain from airborne attack today), but maybe someone you know knows someone who has a relative who might have been. My success rate with getting pieces on this site to "go viral" isn't quite at TMZ levels, but every little helps. And if anyone wants to re-post this on other sites, please go right ahead - the text below is copyright-free, as are the images, and I'm perfectly happy for this bit to get copied elsewhere too. Just this once, mind. Anyway, here's the appeal:

Calling all operators of the ‘Dowding System’ between 1939-1945

On the 8th August 1945 the Air Ministry issued a communique revealing the existence of radar and in that communique the Ministry acknowledged the role that women had played in operating the system of air defence which became known as the ‘Dowding System.’ 

“Working under the closest secrecy since 1939, over 4,000 Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) personnel have played an important part in the air victories achieved by radiolocation (Radar). They tracked hostile and friendly aircraft, flying bombs and rockets, German E Boats and Allied Merchant vessels, and have guided British and Allied fighter pilots on to enemy aircraft. Trained to use and service some of the most delicate and complicated instruments ever invented, they have carried out their duties with enthusiasm, often under uncomfortable conditions and sometimes under enemy fire.”

The ‘Dowding System’ was a complex system of new and secret technologies, intricate and extensive communications, new ways of managing information, new processes and procedures and last, but not least, the highly skilled personnel who operated the system and who made it all work. 

The Association of Royal Air Force Fighter Control Officers is currently compiling a database of operators who worked on the Dowding System between 1939 and 1945 with the aim of capturing their stories and memories and then working to secure appropriate recognition for their contribution during WWII. The hope is that the Association will stay in regular contact with the veterans and keep them updated on events relating to various 70th and 75th anniversary celebrations over the next few years. 

Dowding System Filter Centre, Operations Room, Radar Unit and GCI Operators are warmly invited to contact Gp Capt (Retd) Tim Willbond RAF at: or 07775 854559



posted on my website and that may get some attention, But PPRune may be your best bet.

posted by: Jwcook: 25 May, 2012 01:39:24

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