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Thread: Biggin Hill 1939-1945

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    Default Biggin Hill 1939-1945

    Dear All,

    I'd like to ask anyone with some research knowledge of RAF Biggin Hill the following:

    1) Were there any SOPs for landing during an air raid - were incoming allied kites sent elsewhere and if so, to where?
    2) The control tower - was manned by what rank of ground crew (presumably not aircrew)?
    3) Can I assume that the control tower, unlike these days, was NOT in communication with aircraft and merely displayed signals?

    Thanks for your time.

    Nick

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    Nick, Hi,

    I can only give you some ‘broad brush’ answers. The Biggin experts will, hopefully, be along later.

    Yr 1. Don’t know if there were SOPs (other than common sense!)

    Yr 2. The Control Tower would be inhabited by at least 1 x Officer. He would be the Duty Pilot (in the GD Branch). There may have been other Officers (Controllers unfit for flying duties, or on Ground Tours, etc). There would have been SNCOs/JNCOs in charge of the ORs looking after State Boards, Pyrotechnics, Admin, Assistants ATC, etc, (and even the ‘Tea Swindle’!!). There might have been JNCOs/ORs from the Ground Radio Sqn/Flt looking after the ATC Comms. In many Twr there might have been a Met Section with the S Met O (either in uniform, or a civilian of Officer status), Forecasters (ditto), a Senior Scientific Assistant (SSA) (either in uniform, or a civilian of SNCO status), and Scientific Assistants (the Met Observers/Plotters/Comms) (either in uniform, or as civilians of JNCO/OR status). The Fire/Crash Rescue might well be next door! The twr was a hive of activity – even when no flying was taking place. There was no ‘hard & fast’ org – each Station was different.

    Yr 3. No, you cannot assume that the ATC twr was NOT in comm with the a/c. In the early days of WW2 the A/G comm would have been H/F R/T. In the latter days it would have been VHF R/T. (Some Stations could communicate with their a/c by H/F W/T – but not, I think, in Fighter Command!). The Signal Square (in front of many ATC twrs) was a residual from the days when very few a/c had any A/G comms. It showed if the twr was ‘open’, it showed the r/w in use, and a whole host of other ‘goodies’ (we had one at El Adem up until the mid 50’s!! – ORs, for minor disciplinary infractions, would be set-to to clean/paint/weed/tidy the Signal Square (been there, done it!!)). Don’t know when they ‘went out of fashion’? Much regretted by ATC Discip SNCOs who then had no ‘punishment’ for ‘bolshy’ ORs!!

    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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