The Steps down into the bunker.
The Germans attempted to bomb RAF Uxbridge several times and failed - the nearest bomb falling a few yards from the junction of Court Drive and Vine Lane about 250yds away. They knew something important was going on here... but no intelligence of what exactly was recieved by them. The bunker is under 30feet of re-inforced concrete and with the ordnance available to them at the time, they would not have penetrated the bunker.
The Battle of Britain memorial.
The inscription on the memorial.
Descending the stairs.
The Operations room.
Squadron readiness indicators. Each sqaudron was formed of 12 aircraft and 20 pilots formed into red, gold, blue & green groups of (at full capacity) 3 aircfraft each. The extra pilots were to allow for rest periods. Often the aircraft would land, be re-fuelled and re-loaded and straight back up with a fresh pilot. Such was the desperate nature of the combat.
The colours on this clock relate to the coloured bands on the above photo.
When the information was updated, the lights are set to the colour on the clock,
thus you always know how old the last bit of info is, and when it gets to 15 minutes it is discarded.
In the readiness indicator, the "enemy sighted" row was all red lights.
During the main battle, all squadrons showed all of these indicators leading to Churchill's famous comment (in War Memoirs)
concerning "The lights glowed red"
On seeing this, alarmed, he turned to Air Vice Marshall Park and asked "What reserves have we?"
"None Sir." came the solemn answer... everything hung on this last battle. Allied resistance in Europe had been crushed.
Britain stood alone against Germany. This assault by the Luftwaffe was intended to deprive Britain of control
of it's airspace,
to dominate it in the run-up to Hitler's operation Sealion...
the pilots, the aircraft and the ground crews were all that stood between Britain and invasion.
As a direct result of
this battle, operation Sealion was shelved - permanently as it turned out.
The mimic board. Controlled by an operator with a headset listening to the battle chatter. Pins are inserted which make an electrical contact and so the lights on the main board illuminate.
Detail of the battle chart set up as it was during the climax of the Battle of Britain.15th September 1940
The blocks with the yellow flags are friendly - the numbers are the squadrons concerned. The white number is the number of aircraft and the blue number below is the holding height in thousands of feet. The blocks with a yellow H (for Hostile) are enemy groups. The number in white is a serial allocated to each group and the number underneath is the number of aircraft in the group... 170+ enemy aircraft in this photo alone!
RAF tactics were simple but somewhat unorthodox. Normally it is accepted as a good method to "take the battle to the enemy" i.e. to intimidate by fighting in their backyard demonstrating they have no safe haven. It is the sole tennet behind an invasion. With the major battles here though, a "Big Wing" of fighters was assembled from 12 group towards Lincolnshire and the midlands. This flew south. As the German bomber groups closed on Britain, the squadrons of 11 group (South and South East) engaged them over or close to Britain. Many aircraft were destroyed in this stage but pure numbers meant some would get through to their targets... just in time to meet the Big Wing from up north. An already battle-weary, decimated bomber group was engaged by a fresh second wave - with devastating effects. Often the fighter escort was gone. Me109 had only 6 or 7 minutes in British airspace before they had to return due to low fuel and many didn't make it - ditching in the North Sea or on the dunes of France, Belgium & Holland was common. Many times, bombers were seen to drop their payload wherever they were or chose an adhoc target and run for home upon realisation the big wing was waiting for them over London.
For more detailed discussion with diary of events, vistit http://www.raf.mod.uk/bob1940/bobhome.html
If you would like a tour, the museum is open to the public by appointment only. Groups of upto 50 people can be taken around and you need to make a day of it because besides the operations room, there is a wealth of wartime memorobilia - a great day out for "browsers". Touching the chart table... the actual chart table, you can feel the historical importance drip from your fingers!
Contact Hazel Crozier on 01895 815400 (or from overseas +44 1895 815400). RAF Uxbridge is a 20 minute car ride from Heathrow Airport. Entrance is free but a donation is a nice gesture as it doesn't run itself and in these times of budget cuts, it would be a shame to lose such an important piece of history