Just thought I’d write this as it may be of interest with the school holidays upon us.
We were part of a group that had a guided tour of the Battle of Britain Bunker at RAF Uxbridge. There are guided tours on weekdays at 10am and 2pm. You need to book but the tour is free though they do suggest a £3 donation per person.
The heart of the visit is a descent down about 70 steps (didn’t actually seem that many to me) to the Operations Room. This is the one you see in the films with the big map and the WAAF team moving the blocks around to show where the enemy aircraft and RAF fighters were. What strikes you is just how much information there was in that room for the Controller to absorb – available fighters, how long they’d been in the air, what reserves were available and then to use all this to decide over what air space to put the fighters to counter the enemy formations. During the Battle of Britain one person, Group Captain Lord Willoughby de Broke, was primarily responsible using the map and all manner of other information to oversee this country’s air defences. When you sit in that room you understand just how big a task that was and how much rested on his shoulders when he made decisions. And, in our age of technolgy, it’s an eye-opener to see how the Operations Room worked and information kept up to date using a simple but very effective colour coded clock and coloured lights on a board showing the status of aircraft at the main sectors in southern England.
It’s a guided tour and includes a 20 minute film about the Battle of Britain – never shown on TV or at the cinema apparently. There is also a series of rooms with all manner of RAF and other WW2 items to look at. Apart from the two planes on display in the grounds there are no other planes to be seen as it was always an operations/admin base.
It’s well worth a visit if you’re at all interested in this part of our history. Full details are on their website – http://www.raf.mod.uk/battleofbritainbunker/