Purbeck played a very large part in WW2,
largely without much public knowledge of what was afoot. The biggest
operation was that which took place close to the village of Worth
Matravers. Here it was that 10 centimetre radar was developed. The site
also housed a Chain-home and Chain-home-low station as part of the
early warning protection which stretched around most of the U.K. Radar
as a principle, had been established earlier, by the team at Bawdsey
and such people as Watson-Watt, Wilkins and Bowen - but the much higher
frequencies required for accurate airborne radar required a new
10 cm. radar was developed from first principles by the scientists and
engineers employed at Worth under conditions of secrecy. Their work led
ultimately to airborne systems such as the AI mk8 and the work
done at Worth paved the way for systems in use today.
Known officially as 'TRE' (Telecommunications research establishment),
the group expanded in to various nearby locations; Leeson and Durnford
schools and Forres school in Swanage was used as a training
Later, the site was to also house a GEE transmitter and an additional
300 ft. Steel tower. GEE was an accurate navigation system devised by
R.J. Dippy. The transmitter at Worth employed a frequency of 30.7 Mc/s
and had an externally radiated pulse peak power of around 100 KWatts.
Many of the team lived in Swanage at the time, including Dippy.
A further accurate bombing navigation was OBOE and a station for this
was set up at Swanage, where the Durlston Country Park now sits.
Nothing remains now of the OBOE site and little remains at Worth, with
the exception of the GEE building and some remnants of the
Chain-home-low station on the very edge of St. Aldhem's head, close to
the coastguard hut.
TRE Worth Matravers. Chain Home in foreground, GEE
picture was probably taken from the GEE tower.
A communications centre was established in underground bunkers at
Knitson. This was used for communication to the 'D-DAY' invasion
forces. It consisted of an administration and generating plant at the
foot of Nine-Barrow down close to Knitson farm, and three bunkers at
the top of the hill, one of which was refurbished for modern VHF
communications. It is sometimes wrongly thought that this was part of
the radar establishment.
Entrance to lower bunker.
Two of the hilltop bunkers.
Secret war-time activity was not confined to the professionals. My
grandfather (Richard Walter Daw) was then Chief Booking Clerk at
Swanage station. In his off-duty time he used a government-supplied
radio receiver to track German signals on an official basis. He was one
of many 'Voluntary Interceptors'. The messages they received along with
the government 'Y' receiving stations were passed on to Bletchley Park
for decryption. He did not know this at the time, but it was obvious
that the signals were of use in some form.
photographed on the platform of Corfe Castle station, around 1951.
Two remaining documents relating to his work as a Voluntary Interceptor:
At left: E.F. (Ted) Maltby, whose signature appears on the memo. (Courtesy of Geoffrey Pidgeon.)
R.W.Daw (allegedly driving) with others outside Swanage Railway station
as members of the Swanage Home Guard.