'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

Me-no-here...or F.Y.E.O. post 1

I mentioned that Suffolk held some memories relating to things mysterious. I have also mentioned previously that my father was an electrical engineer. The main reason for much of my childhood being spent in Suffolk is due to his having contracts down there. Mainly the standard electrification of remoter regions via poles and pylons kind of stuff.

However, at the time we were there, the American military also was. I used to babysit for USAAF families who lived in our village. The 'cold war' was still raging. There came a contract which had a degree of secrecy about it. As far as we knew, dad was working on a giant radio station. Which wasn't untrue; just not the whole truth.

Orfordness has a long history of use by the military. It was acquired by the War Department (precursor to the MOD) in 1913 for experiments in flying. Almost exclusively, the spit of shingle became attached to all things aerial. By the time of WW2, the RAF controlled the spit and brought on many civilian scientists with a view to improving ballistics and testing aircraft defences and vulnerabilities. One of the scientists was Robert Watson Watts who developed RADAR here. Then came the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.

Established in 1954,  AWRE Orford Ness was one of the few sites in the UK where purpose-built facilities were created for testing parts of nuclear weapons. At the height of the Cold War, Orford Ness was used to develop the atomic bomb. Within its stone walls, bombs would be put through their paces to test how they would deal with extreme temperatures, G-force and vibrations. Although no nuclear material was used in the testing, it was present at the site, increasing the risk of an explosion, which is why the 'pagoda' labs were designed to absorb an explosion. There are still some files closed on this matter. 

It was in 1968 that work began on the top-secret System 441A OTH ('over the horizon' a.k.a. AN/FPS-95) backscatter radar project; codename - 'Cobra Mist'. Father has informed me that he was given an honorary rank of Fl Lt in the RAF in order for him to be able to access this building. The main contractor was the USA's RCA. In a number of documents I have read, there is no mention of the sub-contractors (the actual builders) of the masts, Balfour Beatty. Which might be a blessing, as things did not run smoothly and RCA would have to hold the responsibility of that in the end. Not that I could track down any evidence - rather, there seems to have been quite a lot of 'tap-dancing' to get more money out of the government to 'fix' things... On Thursday a little less history and more about the father's work.

10 comments:

  1. Ohhh this is most interesting YAM-Aunty and we look forward to Thursday!
    Dad of Madi is most interested history like this.
    Hugs we 3 seniors

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  2. Perhaps it's of no interest except to our generation, but good to have it written down.

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  3. Hi Yam - it's really an area I should know more about ... and it must hold interesting remembrance stories for you ... great reminiscences - cheers Hilary

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  4. Very interesting information. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. that was interesting... and I remember (the last part) of this cold war time. so much things and plans for "the day x " and all plans and ideas were in vain how we know today...

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  6. That cold war was very scary for me. And even after all those years I refuse to see 'a day after' I believe it was called. Even though I lived at the end of it, it just had an impact on me.

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  7. Wow. Such history!
    Our family friend, in her 80s, has dementia but remembers the time her father was called to work in an emergency. They went below ground, into the bowels of the spy agency networks for her dad's meeting. There are stories. She cannot remember us, but she remembers this story, and others!

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  8. looks like to me the Russians are still watching us over here.. scary then and scary now

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  9. Wow! how scary-cool! Fascinating history.

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  10. The Cold War thaw and now the current US president are reshaping alliances. Do not think I can ever trust Russia.

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