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Saturday, June 4, 2011


Like many men ( and some women too I guess ) Tony is very interested in World War II and of course when we visit England we realise just how close it was to the fighting.
Being a former commercial pilot he is passionately interested in the RAF and on our last visit we spent a whole day at Duxford Air Field Museum near Cambridge.

On this visit we had booked, via email, a tour of the Battle of Britain Bunker at Uxbridge.

It was from this bunker, 60 foot below ground level, that all air operations were controlled during WWII.

The  RAF base was officially closed on March 31, 2010 so it proved quite a difficult task to find the bunker on the almost deserted base but we Aussies are made of stern stuff and we persevered till we finally found the right place - and only one whole hour late for the fore mentioned tour!!

There is no marking on the gate to indicate that this is the right place- indeed that it was ever an RAF base and you have to walk quite a way in before you begin to see signs that you have found the right place.

The bunker has been preserved as a museum and is more or less exactly as it was at the end of WWII and is manned by volunteers who conduct the guided tours.
We gave our profuse apologies explaining that our directions and contact phone numbers were completely wrong. ( Apparently something to do with the closing of the base )
Two friendly volunteers, Chris ( who is responsible for setting up the whole museum ) and John ( a trainee guide ), both ex-servicemen were there to guide us and the tour was only us, so we were given the royal treatment.

The bunker is, of course, very inconspicuous.

You quickly descend the 60 foot by way of stairs - lots of them!

They lead directly into the Operations Room.
It was from this room that all operations in what was to be called "The Battle of Britain" were directed as well as all air cover for the evacuation of Dunkirk.

The Ops Room is virtually as it was at the end of the war with uniformed manikins in place to demonstrate how it worked.
It was affectionately known as "The Hole" by the personnel, mainly women, who worked there.
Twenty WAAFs worked around the table in pairs. Each pair comprised a Plotter and a Teller.

The Plotter made up the blocks and pushed them onto the table, whilst the Teller spoke via a headset directly to the Observer Corps of Fighter Command HQ at RAF Bentley Priory, Stanmore.

The map and markers to show the position of each squadron are all still in place and the large map is angled so that it could be easily viewed from the observation decks on a higher level.

The boards at the rear indicate all the squadrons and their status was shown by a sequence of lights progressing down the board.

The plotting room is overlooked by three glass fronted cabins. The duty controller and Ops A personnel sat in the centre cabin.
One corner cabin was occupied by Observer Corps personnel, balloon officers and the other by Army (Anti-aircraft and searchlights) and Royal Navy personnel.

The Battle of Britain Museum is housed in the Controllers' Room, Observer Corps Room, Anti Aircraft Room and Map Rooms.
This is not a tourist attraction and there is no charge for the tour.
It is maintained as a memorial to all those brave members of the air crews who defended Britain against terrible odds at great personal cost.

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Outside once again ( oh all those stairs !!) we posed for a photo beside the memorial.

A memorable experience for both of us.


Visits must be booked in advance either
 by telephone - 01895 815400 from UK  (+441895 815400  from overseas )
or email - 11gpenquiries@btconnect.com

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  1. Fascinating stuff. I have a friend (the one in Wales) who comes from Uxbridge and I never knew about the memorial there. Takes an Aussie to educate a Brit!!

  2. Hello Helen, I used to work in Uxbridge at the Civic centre and travelled past the base on the bus, but I have never been in the bunker :-)
    So glad you are enjoying England so much.

  3. My Dad would go completely nuts to see this .He dragged us around the national war museum in Canberra when we were little and Im still in therpay getting over it.

    Im going to send him this link since your blog post was actually very interesting.

  4. Hi Helen, I am enjoying catching up with your holiday tales from the UK. I used to live near Uxbridge and often went passed the RAF base on the bus - and I have just seen that Kath used to work at the Civic Centre - I know that well, what a very small world we live in!! A really interesting post thank you xx

  5. Very interesting place. You see some of those type of places in the movies, but never the real thing. Thanks for sharing.

  6. That looks so very interesting. I'm glad you kept going until you found it and didn't give up.

  7. I am a volunteer guide at the Battle of Britain Bunker I am pleased that you enjoyed the visit. I wish to point out that tours to the Bunker and Museum are being suspended from Jan.2012 until end of Mar. 2012 for essential saftey work to be carried out (blame health and safety) WE WILL BE RUNNING TOURS FROM APRIL ONWARD please note entry to the site is via St Andrews Road (off Vine Lane Uxbridge)opposite American Community School.