Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Telecommunications Research Establishment

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1936 The team of research staff developing the Chain Home radar system were transferred from the National Physical Laboratory to the Air Ministry, initially at Bawdsey Research Station (B.R.S.) in Suffolk. Having created the team, Robert Watson Watt was the first Superintendent of the Bawdsey Research Station.

1938 Watson Watt was appointed Director of Communications Development in May; Albert Percival Rowe succeeded him as Superintendent of B.R.S. Rowe was to remain Superintendent throughout the rest of the war.

1939 To protect the work in the event of war, it was decided to move the team to Dundee; the organization was renamed the Air Ministry Research Establishment. But east Scotland was not free from hostile aircraft, which interfered with the research at the nearby Chain Home station.

1940 The unit was moved again, to Worth Matravers, near Swanage, and put under the Ministry of Aircraft Production. In November 1940 it was renamed Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE).

1940 Following development of the first working magnetron by Boot and Randall at Birmingham University, radio-location became possible using 10cm wavelength radio waves, which revolutionised radio-location. By July the first 10cm RDF echoes had been received from an aircraft. In October the first Airborne Interception night fighter operation was conducted under ground controlled interception.

1942 Developed the Gee aircraft navigation system which was first used operationally by Bomber Command in March.

1942 Following the successful British raid on the German radar station at Bruneval, it was felt prudent to move TRE from its coastal position so it was moved Malvern in May; the new site had space to accommodate the thousands of workers.

1942 Developed Oboe, a precision ground‐controlled blind bombing system, which had its first operational use in December.

1943 Developed H2S, an airborne radar navigation and bombing aid and the first ground mapping radar, which was first used in operations in January 1943.

1943 Developed centimetric anti-submarine radar which was first use by Coastal Command in March.

Post WWII: TRE was renamed the Radar Research Establishment, later Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (R.S.R.E.) and finally became part of Defence Evaluation Research Agency (D.E.R.A.)

See Also


Sources of Information

  • A brief history of TRE [1]