Early forms of radar were being pioneered and operated in the UK by 1940. This assisted the Spitfire squadrons in identifying incoming attack aircraft. Nevertheless it’s still early days for radar. But it was just in time to provide that absolute crucial assistance.
Of course there were early developments in this field during the 1930’s – but there was still a very long way to go – before there was any serious effective defence from attack from the air. In fact – the defence system that was eventually set up – even by 1940 – was extraordinarily elaborate – and had been developing at an awe-inspiring rate.
The story of the development of radar – is truly amazing – one author has described it as a miracle – and much of my focus will be of the time when radar development was based at Worth Matravers, 2 miles from Swanage, Dorset. During the time it was based there – from May 1940 to May 1942 – some of the most significant developments in radar took place.
As just stated – I can add that it was agreed by all – that in some ways the most significant developments in radar – were developed at Worth Matravers, 2 miles from Swanage. But after 2 years of phenomenal, frantic and desperately urgent work (by what was described by one person at the time as ‘Mad Scientists’) – it was believed unsafe to stay there any longer – with the Germans now established on the coast of Northern France. It was especially feared at this time that there would be raids – radar equipment captured – as well as bombings – and this gave way to an urgent need to move back from the coast to a safer and far less obvious area. Thus the whole elaborate TRE establishment – with so very many of the best young scientists fresh from universities – alongside older and very experienced scientists (from various related backgrounds) at Worth Matravers and the surrounding areas – felt that they had no other choice in terms of security – but to move from the absolutely beautiful, idyllic small town on the coast, and from the surrounding high breathtaking rugged and wild hills of Worth Matravers. It was decided that the whole intricate, elaborate – by then immensely complex establishment comprising in their different various fields around 2000 ‘personnel and workforce’ – should move lock stock and barrel to Malvern in Worcestershire England.
Later of course – this idyllic area of Swanage and its surrounds – would be occupied by many from the American 1st Infantry Division – who had come over from fierce hard and backbreaking fighting in Sicily and Italy – arriving in November 1943 – battle hardened and being prepared for their next destination – completely unknown to them at the time of course – that of The Normandy Landings. Described and agreed by many afterwards – as The Greatest Invasion in the History Of The Earth.
I will be going into this – in very fine, extensive and intricate detail – focusing especially upon the times in Swanage, and the surrounding areas in Dorset.
If one visits Swanage today (which many did in years past – since the war – from The American 1st Infantry Division, including the children of those troops who were once there) – it is just such a peaceful calm and idyllic place with beautiful high rugged hills, and from where one can look over a vast panoramic area of the English Channel – the peacefulness and natural beauty – are such that one could never imagine – that this was once an unbelievably vast military base – right across the county – with a purpose so great – that of the liberation of Europe from tyranny.