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Thread: Watch Office/Control Tower Staff

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    Default Watch Office/Control Tower Staff

    Hello,

    What was the typical make up of a Bomber Station Watch Office/Control Tower?
    Did the staff have defined roles i.e. someone monitoring Morse, another giving permission to land/take off, somebody else doing the appropriate paperwork etc. And what were the ranks of these, I seem to recall seeing photo's showing WAAFs and Corporals in the Watch Office.......and finally, where were they trained, was it on the job or were there specific units that instructed in Air Traffic Control.
    As you can see my ignorance is almost total so any help at all would be appreciated.

    Pete

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    Hi Pete

    I can't help with the composition of personnel in ther Tower, but a School of Flying Control was set up at Watchfield on 15 Dec 1941, which moved to Bridgnorth on 15 Nov 1942 and back to Watchfield on 14 Nov 1943. It became School of Air Traffic Control on 1 Nov 1946. This probably answered you question about training.

    Malcolm

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    Default Yorkshire Air Museum, ex-RAF Elvington

    Pete,

    Many (most?} included a meteorological office which extended across the front of the ground floor, facing the runway. There was also a small room for met communications - usuall about three teleprinters. There's a very good example of a wartime Watch Office at the Yorkshire Air Museum, based on the old Bomber Command airfield of Elvington. I only know of it because my wife and I spent the best part of a day there earlier this year - she found it fascinating despite it not being 'her thing'.

    I'm sure there must be others.

    Brian

    Edit: See photos at http://www.controltowers.co.uk/E/Elvington.htm . Also see photo 13, 35, 38, at http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g186346-d212048-r139022174-Yorkshire_Air_Museum-York_North_Yorkshire_England.html. Also a small number of interior photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/welshbob1964/6259683865/ (but the website has a huge number of photos of the museum.
    Last edited by Lyffe; 16th October 2012 at 19:43. Reason: Just remember photo sources

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    Thanks both for your insight
    That helps with the training aspect Malcolm, it poses a few more questions but I'll try and find out a bit more about Watchfield first.
    Sorry for forgetting about the Met folks Brian, liked the photo's of all the no doubt expensive meteorological equipment and then the Pine cone on the windowsill !!

    Here's what I 'think' it might have been:

    Flying Control Officer (flying) X2 plus one or two assistants (non flying)
    Signals Officer (flying) X2 assistants as above
    Met Officer (flying) X2 assistants as above
    With a new shift/watch every eight or twelve? hours.

    Any additions or amendments welcome.


    Pete

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    At some stage during the life of 'Bomber Command; there would have been two controls within the same building -'local' & 'approach, one handing over to the other depending whether the aircraft was departing or arriving at the airfield.
    Last edited by namrondooh; 18th October 2012 at 15:21.

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    This is clearly a problem for the Air Tragickers.
    When I were doing my thing, Local Control looked after the Circuit and those Landing, or Taking Off, at/from the airfield. I don't know when Approach Control came into being, but in my day they got a/c from the Circuit/Landing/Take-Off from, and into, the Airways/Route patterns wherever they happened to be, and at pre-determined heights. Now, the above Air Tragickers will take me to task but, in WW2, I think there was a lot of Local Control, but not much Approach Control. Command/Group tried, in the Tasking Signals, to put some Approach Control formalisation into the routes but, I suspect, it was a bit "hit & miss".
    And, most (but not all) Station Met Officers were non-flying - but were encouraged to obtain flying experience with whatever a/c the Station had. Done it with Coastal, Bomber, Fighter, Transport, and Comms Sqns!
    What we need is the School of Air Tragic to pronounce definitively!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Thanks for the extra info chaps, for some reason I now have a picture in my mind of the approach controller saying "just passing you over to local" and then changing the sound of his voice and saying "hello this is local..." all the while sat in the same chair!

    If I could add another question, who received the instructions on the aircraft? were the W/Op, Nav and Pilot all listening in or did the W/Op receive the info and pass it on to the others.

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