RAF Bawdsey

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RAF Bawdsey
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Near Felixstowe, Suffolk in England
Bawdsey For Wiki Russ.jpg
Bawdsey Manor, formerly RAF Bawdsey
RAF Bawdsey is located in Suffolk
RAF Bawdsey
RAF Bawdsey
Shown within Suffolk
Coordinates 51°59′32″N 001°24′10″E / 51.99222°N 1.40278°E / 51.99222; 1.40278Coordinates: 51°59′32″N 001°24′10″E / 51.99222°N 1.40278°E / 51.99222; 1.40278
Type Royal Air Force station
Site information
Owner Ministry of Defence
Operator Royal Air Force
Site history
Built 1936 (1936)
In use 1936-1990 (1990)

Royal Air Force Bawdsey or more simply RAF Bawdsey is a former Royal Air Force station situated on the eastern coast in Suffolk, England. Also known as Bawdsey Research Station (BRS), the first Chain Home radar station was built there, characterized by eight tall masts, four for transmitting and four for receiving. When the research group moved to Dundee in September 1939, the radar station was left active under the name RAF Bawdsey. The site later hosted a Bristol Bloodhound surface-to-air missile station until 1990.


Bawdsey Manor, dating from 1886, was taken over in March 1936 by the Air Ministry for developing the Chain Home (CH) RDF (radar) system. The station's Superintendent was initially Robert Watson-Watt, later followed by A.P. Rowe. The experimental radar station was located just northeast of the Manor, about 200 yards (180 m) distant. When war was declared in September 1939, fears of a possible commando raid on the group led to the development activities being 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). In 1944 the British Army staged a landing against Bawdsey, having warned the station's officers that the attack would be taking place. Due to an administrative oversight, the sentries were not warned. When they spotted rubber dinghies approaching the beach area, they released gas-filled barrels and set them alight with tracer fire from the cliff-top machine-gun posts. In the morning the sentries "found the beach covered with dozens of charred bodies" that they at first thought were Germans dressed as Army soldiers. The story was declared secret until 2014, but was leaked in the Daily Mail in 1992.[1]

In the 1950s, the Bawdsey CH station was upgraded as part of the ROTOR programme and gained an underground control centre with 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 stood down for a number of years, but was re-opened in 1978 as a Bloodhound missile site, with the launchers located just to the northwest of the CH site. This site was closed in 1990 when its missiles were moved to RAF West Raynham.[2]

Current use[edit]

The remains of the site are still fairly well preserved and will undergo restoration in 2017 due to a £1.4 million Lottery Grant.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ George Fowler, "D-Day Training Disasters", The Barnes Review Archived 20 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Historic England. "RAF Bawdsey (1309533)". PastScape. Retrieved 6 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "Bawdsey Radar Station set for restoration in 80th year". 5 February 2017. Retrieved 6 February 2017. 

External links[edit]