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Thread: ORB for Chain Home Radar

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    Default ORB for Chain Home Radar

    Hi, looking for ORB? or records at NA regarding Chain Home in Scotland. My late father flew as part of a private crew for ACM Sir.W.Mitchell in 1941 who, prior to his retirement oversaw the installation/ distribution of these. He flew under Station Flight-RAF Abbotsinch but I am not sure where to look for records as Scotland came under RAF 13 Group (also being No.11 Civil Defence Region) and possibly linked to No.72 Wing RAF. Any records I find on Sir Mitchel omit these details so I'm wondering if it is classed as classified?
    Would appreciate any help, Fred

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    Default Re: ORB for Chain Home Radar

    Fred,

    I'm not entirely clear on what you are looking for. Are you seeking information in the radar plots on individual flights by your father? If not, can you explain exactly what it is you want because you've not explained the link between your father and radar stations. If these plots are indeed what you seek then I'm afraid I have no say that this information no longer exists. The ORBs of the Signals Wings covering Scotland (Nos 70-72) exist but do not cover this level of detail, and only fragmentary remains of ORBs from individual stations have survived. Even these do not include plotting board tracings, so I'm not aware of any surviving plots, other than from calibration flights.

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    Default Re: ORB for Chain Home Radar

    Ian, sorry about that. I have from his log book what actual stations he visited. I'm trying to find out more regarding the work done by ACM W.Mitchell and also my father lists various civilian and RAF personel names on particular flights and so hoping the ORB's might explain who these individuals were and if they were connected to the CH Radar stations possibly in their instalation etc.

    Hoping this makes sense? Fred

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    Default Re: ORB for Chain Home Radar

    Fred,

    Thanks, that makes sense. My understanding is that AVM Mitchell was Inspector General of the RAF at that time. He wouldn't have had any formal role in the installation or the running of the station but I believe that his visits were more about welfare. He would visit to see the conditions service personnel were living in and make recommendations accordingly.

    Is it possible to give me a list of the names and dates and I can perhaps answer your questions? If you let me know what stations he visited and on which dates, and who he met, I may well be able to say who they were and what their role was.

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    Default Re: ORB for Chain Home Radar

    Ian,
    Your answer has made me re-think the whole situation. The link to CH Radar with Sir Mitchell was made by an article on another forum which now could be wrong? On delving deeper into the log entries my father being based with Station Flight Abbotsinch for his time with Sir Mitchell he made 171 flights - many short and sometimes 3-5 per day between 19 airfields and I can only link 2 to radar i.e. Sanday (Whaleshead) and Benbecula. The others are Tiree, Stornaway, Pt.Helen, Dyce, Sumburgh, Sollas, Turnhouse, Kirkwall, Northton, Cambletown, Perth, Barra, Hatston, Sanday, Wick, Bernera, Renfrew.

    Regarding names, my father on some entries just said passenger, but others had specific i.e. 9/9/41 Baroness De T'Serclaes, W/Cmdr Freeman, W/Cmdr Watts - Port Helen to Cambletown to Abbotsinch 2/9/41 Colonel Bruce White Abbotsinch to Benbecula, Besides Lady Mitchell names in a lot of flights were Mr.Sayers,Mr Gray, Mr.Redfurn, Mr.Whiitaker plus A.S.O. Morray, Sqdn/Ldr Andrews, P/O Upton, P/O Kempton, Fl/Lt Pembleton.

    All of these flights were between August and October 1941. Apologies for lenght of response.
    Fred

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    Default Re: ORB for Chain Home Radar

    Fred,

    Thanks for your post, which is rather interesting. With the dates you provided, I've been able to check the ORB of No. 72 (Signals) Wing and the following may be of interest:

    15 July 1941
    "Air Marshal Sir William Mitchell, KCB, CBE, DSO, AFC (on behalf of the Air Council) visited Edinburgh holding a conference in connection with his visits to the Hebrides and Outer Islands. W/C FJ Watts attended this conference, various matters connected with transportation were discussed and dealt with."

    August 1941
    "The work of this month has largely been concerned with the installation of new stations in this Wing. As a result, Wing personnel are rapidly acquiring an intimate knowledge of the geography of the Hebrides ... Air Marshal Sir William Mitchell has been of considerable assistance to this Wing in overcoming shipping difficulties which are considerable in the Western Isles."

    Regarding the people you mention:

    Wing Commander Frederick James Watts (service number 75214) was the Officer Commanding No. 72 (Signals) Wing

    Squadron Leader Humfrey Andrewes (service number 74767) was Senior Technical Officer at 72 Wing

    Squadron Officer Baroness E. de T'Serclaes (service number 417) was a WAAF officer at Headquarters, No. 60 (Signals) Group. She arrived at 72 Wing HQ on 4 September 1941 "for inspection of this Wing HQ and during her stay the Squadron Officer visited the Isle of Islay and RAF Station North Cairn."

    Wing Commander Frederick Charles Gordon Freeman (service number 24252) arrived at 72 Wing on 10 September 1941 and "after a comprehensive tour of 72 Wing island stations visited this HQ and discussed fully various matters arising from his tour." Other than he was not 72 Wing staff, I have not yet determined what his role was. He may well have been at HQ 60 Group, but can't confirm this.

    Mr Sayers was Embarkation (Shipping) Glasgow, and was "representing Sir Robert Renwick the Chairman of the RDF Committee" and in July 1941 "visited Wing Headquarters and discussed ways and means of speeding up supplies and communications. On 28/7 Mr Sayers and S/Ldr JR Colquhoun visited No 1 Works Area, Edinburgh to confer with the Superintending Civil Engineer Mr E Wakeford. Many matters relating to the object of Mr Sayer's investigations were discussed."

    The upshot from all the above is that I was mistaken about Air Marsahl Mitchell. His visits weren't about welfare, but rather about logistics, transportation and communications. There were many challenges in constructing military installations the Scottish islands as well as the necessary power and communications facilities required by radar stations, and this seems to have been the focus of the visits.

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    Default Re: ORB for Chain Home Radar

    Fred,

    Is it possible to post the link to the other forum? I'd be interested to see what was posted and the context as this might help with my answers.

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    Default Re: ORB for Chain Home Radar

    Ian, brilliant info, most grateful. Not sure how to post but if you google www.militarian.com and go into the Biographies section it was posted 29 Jan 2010 and is on page 2.

    You have explained a lot regarding the link to transportation. My father was Flt/Sgt F.E.Crawley rafvr (later becoming Warrant Officer) was teamed with pilot F/Lt J.Hankins (later becoming Sqdn/Ldr) flying for Sir.Mitchell under the banner Station Flight, Abbotsinch and after this period it became 1680 (western Communication) Flight later into 1680 (Transport) Flight. During 1941-1945 he flew over 2,200 flights around the Scottish Isles (including ambulances) , luckily on leave on the date of the terrible flight of "Silvia Scarlet" when his friend pilot F/Lt Knox perished. He was later given the King's Commendation, mentioned in dispatches and Hankins received the AFC along with others from the Flight. I am awaiting for NA to re-open to check that ORB. as it has not been digitalised.

    Thanks again Fred

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    Default Re: ORB for Chain Home Radar

    Fred,

    Thanks for the link. The information in the post is clearly copied from somewhere else and it appears to be from an obituary. Such accounts are not always 100% accurate as it depends on how much the person writing the obituary actually knew. Mitchell clearly helped sort out logistical problems making it difficult to get construction materials and communications links to the islands, but I can confirm he did not directly oversee the installation of the radar stations.

  10. The Following User Says Thank You to Ian Brown For This Useful Post:

    Fred J Crawley (20th March 2021)

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