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The Eyes and Ears of the Royal Air Force – a History of The Royal Observer...

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University Centre Shrewsbury

Guildhall

Frankwell Quay

Shrewsbury

SY3 8HQ

United Kingdom

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The Royal Air Force’s Royal Observer Corps (ROC) has had a wide and varied existence. Being formed in 1925 as The Observer Corps, its history can be dated back to the days of the Spanish Armada and the use of beacons (or bekyns) to warn of invaders by sea. It is due to this history that the Elizabethan firelighter for such beacons is used on the badge of the ROC and is still in use today by the ROC Association.

Throughout its 70-years’ existence it has seen a number of changes, which will be discussed by Mike Bradbury in this lecture. During the Second World War it was the ‘eyes and ears of the RAF’ in providing spotting and plotting of enemy aircraft; whilst later the Corps’ role changed to encompass a new role of
the warning of potential nuclear attack from the Soviet Union and monitoring of nuclear fallout during the Cold War.

The main body of ROC members was stood down in 1991, with the final stand-down of members from Nuclear Reporting Cells in 1995.

Shropshire played an important part in its heritage, including posts across the county feeding information into Ops Rooms at Group Headquarters in Shrewsbury.

Background on speaker

Mike was born into a farming family at the Bridge Farm, Stapleton, just south of Shrewsbury in 1938 and educated at Dorrington CE School, and later Church Stretton Secondary Modern School. On leaving school he worked with his father on their farm. At the age of 18, he registered for National Service, with the RAF. He later joined the Royal Observer Corps on 16 Group Golf Three Dorrington post, over the next four years gaining promotion to become the Chief Observer (Sergeant in the RAF). This post was closed in a reorganisation of the ROC in 1968 and Mike was posted to 16 Group Echo One Post Bomere Heath. In 1971, he gained promotion to the rank of Observer Officer (Pilot Officer in RAF), a rank he held until the Royal Observer Corps was stood down. Being a founder member of the Royal Observer Corps Association, he is now treasurer and standard bearer.

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University Centre Shrewsbury

Guildhall

Frankwell Quay

Shrewsbury

SY3 8HQ

United Kingdom

View Map

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