Kent Defences => Radar, Radio, Telecomms & Sound Location => Topic started by: Islesy on October 24, 2009, 14:32:44

Title: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Islesy on October 24, 2009, 14:32:44
I've been in contact with an ex-USAF chappie on several occasions recently, and amongst other things he has given me permission to reproduce his photos from Swingate here.
Curtis Haack, or 'Towerdog' as he was known, was part of a USAF Tower maintenance team. Here are his pics (which I have colour corrected and sharpened):

(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3486/3833078295_18d6599a99.jpg)

(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2592/3833877050_4a2cb19e99.jpg)

(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2667/3833881036_a259f173d3.jpg)

(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3498/3833882142_34b190fe45.jpg)

All the pictures were taken in 1982.
Title: Memories of RAF Swingate - Flight Sergeant G. Brent.
Post by: Islesy on October 24, 2009, 14:58:50
The following account of a posting to RAF Swingate first appeared in a booklet published by The Canadian Legion. I have been given permission to reproduce Gerry Brent's account by his estate.

"I returned to the UK for Christmas 1943 after almost three years in the Middle East and West Africa. On my fourteen days' disembarkation leave, I had a relapse of Malaria and spent most of my leave in hospital. When I reported for duty in January, the Wing Commander at Bromley said, "you've had a pretty rough time, so I'll post you to Swingate Radar Station." I was pleased with this posting, because I had served as a radar mechanic at Swingate in 1940. I found it had expanded a lot and now included an Oboe station.
When I left Swingate in 1940, there had been about 25 WAAF & 70 RAF pilots. Now there were almost 100 WAAF & 25 airmen. My first reaction after three years without women was that I?d died and gone to heaven! We had a Flight Lieutenant as CO and a WAAF section officer as admin.
I was now a Flight Sergeant and Senior NCO for operations. My first duty was to assign personnel for the four operator and four mechanic watches. I divided them up, matching ranks, skills etc, and posted the list, no sweat. In less than half an hour of posting the list, I had tearful, angry and overly sweet WAAFs pounding on my door wanting shift changes because of 'horrid girls', 'loathsome girls' and 'toffee nosed girls'. I was soon learning my heaven was more like hell!
The second day on site, I was inspecting the receiver block and realized an incident was taking place. An incoming target was on the screen with no IFF from the aircraft. It was approaching dead on to our station, losing altitude and only travelling about 140mph. At one point it looked like it was below the level of the cliffs, but it pulled up at the last minute and just missed our block, making a belly landing about 200 yards away.
I phoned the medical people for an ambulance and picked up a couple of mechanics, and we ran to the downed B17 Fortress from the UASF. The pilot, a major, was struggling to remove the Norden bombsight, but appeared to be smoking a cigar. We asked about the rest of the crew and he replied, "they're all stiffs." We removed eight bodies, but there should have been ten. We never knew whether they were blown out of the plane through the flak holes, one of which was as big as a jeep, or whether they were thrown out to lighten the load. All the machine guns were gone.
I made arrangements for motor transport to the railway station in Dover and a rail warrant for London. The Major, carrying the bombsight in a fitted bag, wanted to visit American HQ in London. I now revised my watch schedule to free up two guards for the plane on a twenty four hour basis so the clocks, compass and radios wouldn't walk.
Unlike the RAF, the USAF had crews on site the following day, and amazed everyone by putting airbags under the wings to lift the body whilst they lowered the undercarriage. They installed new propellers, filled the tanks with gasoline and removed the anti-glider wires on the field. The plane was flown off the field at 3:00pm that day.
I thought I was supposed to be having a rest.
The roofs of the barracks were full of patches where shrapnel from the German cross channel guns at Cap Gris Nez, as well as our own ack-ack debris, fell.
A couple of days later in the transmitter block I found that the routine cleaning of salt sea spray from the antennae insulators was overdue. There was no rush of volunteers to climb the 360' towers and be lowered by breeches buoy seat to wipe off the insulators with an ether soaked rag.
It was a sunny day, not too cold. I had often done this routine and didn't mind heights, so I grabbed a guy as ground man to control my descent in the breeches buoy chair with the rags and bottle of ether. There was a series of steel ladders leading to the top and, being young, I was soon on top and sitting in the chair. I was lowered in ten foot intervals to meet each insulator. There was a procedure to protect oneself from radio frequencies burns, since the 900 kilowatt transmitters were energised on a twenty four hour basis.
The work proceeded until I reached the sixty foot platform where the antennae system terminated. I swung over and stepped onto the platform, ready to descend the ladder to ground level and climb up the second of the four towers.
I was startled to hear the bosun's chair crash to the ground as my ground man dropped the rope and ran for cover. There was the scream of aircraft engines in a dive, together with cannon and machine gun fire. As I turned to look, there was a Messerschmitt 109G, slightly below the level of the platform, throttled back from his dive and about twenty feet away! I could see his blond, straight hair, no helmet or goggles, just a headset on his ears - a rather good looking chap. As he shot past me, he poured on the coal, evidenced by a stream of black smoke from his exhaust pipes, and climbed parallel to the line of our towers. Here he was safe from ack-ack. If his dive had been a few minutes earlier, I'd have fallen from that 360' level and been smashed like an over ripe melon. I later learnt that the 109G  was one of four fighters that had fired 20mm cannon shells at three Land Army girls, wounding one, as they worked in a field on a neighbouring farm.
Although I was shaken, pride made this Canadian Sergeant round up the ground man and complete the remaining three towers. We should have been warned there was a 'red alert' on, and we could have delayed the cleaning joy.
All went well for a few days, and I got to play the piano in the local pub for the beers that soon lined the piano top.
Our CO was concerned that people were not following the Air Raid and Shelling rule to immediately take shelter, and instructed me to ensure they were posted on all bulletin boards. I was also to talk to them and convince them they must comply, or face disciplinary action. Just two nights after the orders were posted and announcements made on the tannoy, we received a direct hit on the WAAF shelter by a one ton, twenty inch shell. There were no survivors and we lost thirty two girls.
The shelter site was bulldozed and a small cross was erected. Thank god for the WAAF officer who helped me write the letters to the parents and next of kin for the CO's signature. The letters were all different, not just copies. In the days following, our watches had to be doubled to make up the loss, and several girls developed shingles and other nervous disorders. The Wing HQ took action, and all remaining WAAF were posted to various other stations.
My posting to Rye in Sussex came about a week later. My posting to Swingate for a 'rest' was about the worst four weeks of my service life (although I had been strafed and wounded by a 20mm cannon shell fragment in Egypt, it happened so fast, and we were fighting so hard that it never affected my emotions). Two days after I left Swingate, an RAF Mosquito bomber with two Canadians as crew hit a balloon cable, crashing and burning, killing them and severely damaging the station cookhouse and dining hall"


At present I am in the process of trying to verify and cross reference the events in Gerry's account. The first discrepancy relates to the crashed Mosquito mentioned at the end of the article. I have only been able to locate one incident similar to that stated which is here: http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=4394.0 (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=4394.0)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Islesy on October 24, 2009, 15:10:49
The role of the W.A.A.F.
In World War II, with changes in technology came changes in role. One of the jobs that the women did, and did particularly well, concerned the radar control system. This was vital during the Battle of Britain and later in guiding night fighters against the bomber formations attacking the UK under cover of darkness. Initially, women served as radar reporters, using the huge Chain Home radars to locate raids and report their positions, as well as plotting these reports in the Sector Control Rooms. It was the plotters job to obtain information from the signals staff, often W.A.A.Fs themselves, who were listening to the reports from radar and Observer Corps' posts. This information was then transferred to visual plaques on racks, which were then positioned on the map, showing the position and direction of the raid as it progressed. Every raid was allotted a serial number and a prefix to indicate if it was friendly, hostile or unknown.

It was possible for a plotter to achieve 4 to 5 plots in a minute on occasions. This needed great mental dexterity, which had to be learned in a short period of time. By 1944 most plotters were female, as were many of the radar controllers. It was discovered early on in the development of the radar control system that women's voices carried very clearly in radio transmissions, particularly considering the noise levels in most fighter cockpits of the day. Later in the war, German speaking W.A.A.Fs were trained to imitate the Luftwaffe fighter controllers. Using powerful transmitters based in the UK, the W.A.A.Fs gave contradictory instructions to the German night fighters, and caused great confusion, saving many bomber crews lives. In 1944 W.A.A.F's were first called on to go abroad, firstly to Egypt and then into Europe after the invasion, often operating forward airfields and radar control sites. Prior to this there had been several postings to the United States.

Mrs E.M.W Fairley (Mary)  W.A.A.F Radar Operator.
'Swingate, near Dover, was a huge R.A.F station with many different types of radar, all kept secret from one another. We only knew the type on which we worked. My type was used mainly for tracking enemy shipping passing through the Straits of Dover, and clinging close to the French coast near Calais. Our huge cross-channel guns would shell the German ships, just as the Germans shelled ours when they tried to pass through the narrow channel of water. I don't think very many ships were hit as it was difficult for the long range guns to be so accurate, but aircraft from both sides were used for attacking the convoys and I think did quite a lot of damage. Dover town was shelled endlessly with intermittent shells landing for hours - days, sometimes. From the cliff at St. Margaret's Bay where our station was we could see the flash of the gun being fired at Calais, then we would count a certain number of seconds and wait to hear the sound of the explosion when the shell landed on our side of the Channel. Some shells landed on the RAF Station and one fell directly on an air raid shelter in which I and many other W.A.A.F were sheltering (as we were obliged to if we were not on duty). We were buried for some time then we were dug out. Some girls were killed and some injured. I received a scalp wound which bled a lot so I was taken to Dover Casualty hospital which was full of really seriously injured people ? some sailors blown up on a minesweeper and many civilians, horribly wounded by shrapnel. I remember especially a mother and her baby, both terribly injured. My cut healed soon leaving a small scar on top of my head as a memento of the war.'
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: doug on October 24, 2009, 20:07:32
The fenced compound at RAF Swingate was the radio station for RAF Ash,* after the closure of Ash the system was taken over by the Americans. The towers and some of the buildings are used by the BBC.
Two of the towers date from ww2 the third is a new one put up in the 1950s, the fourth tower was removed to allow the site to be used by a communication system that ran from the midlands to Ankara in Turkey[ now dismantled] The towers are also used by the RAF aerial riggers school at RAF Digby for training. The site is controlled by MOD Manston. [ * As is/was common Radio stations were often a distance fron parent units] RAF Sandwich ww2 the radio station was at Ash. Manstons radio station was 1/2 a mile away from the airfield buried in a wheat field.
Title: Re: Memories of RAF Swingate - Flight Sergeant G. Brent.
Post by: Potholer12 on October 25, 2009, 19:20:10
Islesy thank you so much for publishing this deeply moving account.  I have been drawn to this site for nearly 3 decades now, and it is as if I can feel that there is something there I should know but don't about it.  I guess it begins to make sense now, but I still think there is more about the site.  Looking at Google Earth I wondered why there are some square shaped ground disturbances in the lane beside the Swingate pub going down towards Bere farm.  Where I wonder but shudder to think might that air raid shelter be, and is it noted anywhere as a war grave, or even is there any other evidence to corroberate?  I also wonder what is inside the  blast protected central building at the site with the massive air con plant. Great post!
Title: Re: Memories of RAF Swingate - Flight Sergeant G. Brent.
Post by: doug on October 25, 2009, 19:38:27
The square distubance by the the Swingate pub is probably the Ammunition stores, The exstension from Martin Mill railway line went past the boundary fence to the radar station, the line now removed was in a cutting at this point which was filled in leaving only the upper level to the ammunition stores. The railway line is quite easy to follow, Look for the Hawthorne bushs which seem to like old railway lines
Title: Re: Memories of RAF Swingate - Flight Sergeant G. Brent.
Post by: Potholer12 on October 25, 2009, 20:22:31
Thank you Doug, looks quite feasible.  Just when you think you know Dover, it comes back to remind you there is always another layer!
Title: Re: Memories of RAF Swingate - Flight Sergeant G. Brent.
Post by: Islesy on October 25, 2009, 20:22:40
Potholer12 - if you take a look at this thread http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=1542.0 (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=1542.0) my last post shows the ammunition stores. I've got some pictures from inside the blast protected Receiver Block which I'll post up in the RAF Swingate thread shortly (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=706.0 (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=706.0)).
I am trying to research the WAAF losses, but have so far drawn a blank - I've been right over the site but have found nothing! At the moment I'm waiting for a researcher at Hendon to come back to me regarding airfield plans for Swingate, and I've got a few leads to follow up at the NA at Kew.
Like you, I am sure there are a few secrets that Swingate has yet to give up!
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Islesy on March 17, 2010, 08:39:31
Plans of Tower 2 at Swingate, and its compound.

(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4042/4439451076_e778c17472_b.jpg)

(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4016/4439450458_2cd408b27e_b.jpg)

Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Islesy on March 17, 2010, 08:45:40
The masts at sunset.

(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3495/3841100356_2edacfbb79.jpg)

Twilight view from Tower 1

(http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2480/3853899566_212590d377.jpg)

Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: delboy on March 24, 2010, 16:00:06
Went for a walk today with the dog and spotted one of the pylons being demolished. I was last up there Sunday and didn,t notice it then nor did the wife. delboy
(http://i927.photobucket.com/albums/ad117/dovermarine/khf/pylons004.jpg) (http://s927.photobucket.com/albums/ad117/dovermarine/khf/?action=view&current=pylons004.jpg)
(http://i927.photobucket.com/albums/ad117/dovermarine/khf/pylons005.jpg) (http://s927.photobucket.com/albums/ad117/dovermarine/khf/?action=view&current=pylons005.jpg)
(http://i927.photobucket.com/albums/ad117/dovermarine/khf/pylons006.jpg) (http://s927.photobucket.com/albums/ad117/dovermarine/khf/?action=view&current=pylons006.jpg)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Islesy on March 24, 2010, 19:23:44
That has only happened today delboy. Another piece of Dover's history gone.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: DoverDan on March 24, 2010, 20:24:46
Ive got to say i am stunned to see that. One of Dovers if not Britains most important historical landmarks being wiped out. Such a shame.
Had anyone heard this was going to happen? I know the tower has been without any transmitters or ariels for while but i hav'nt seen anything in the council archives about taking it down!
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: unfairytale on March 24, 2010, 22:31:22
Most of the transmitting equipment and power was stripped from it months ago. So I guessed is was going to go. I wonder if it's one of the original towers. The only two remaining from WW2 still in use.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: kyn on March 25, 2010, 16:00:54
It is original.  I think someone needs to find out if these are listed and if it has been done with permission.  The last remaining one really needs to be protected to make sure it survives!
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: unfairytale on March 25, 2010, 17:32:29
(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4054/4465914252_050fa90f21.jpg)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Dan on March 25, 2010, 22:05:19
I have just emaild conservation@dover.gov.uk not sure if this is who we should direct an enquiry (they deal with listed buildings) but hopefully they will point me in the right direction. 

Maybe some of you can email them aswell !! :)

The more noise we make the more chance of someone listening
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Lee on March 27, 2010, 10:07:21
It maybe it was unsafe - when I used to climd them regularly doing maintenance on the lighting in the 80's the one that was demolished belong to the British Army TROPO section and had wooden walkways and ladder steps, which weren't in great shape then, where as the American one that is lit up was all metal.

Someone recently climbed and put a pirate flag on the pylon that was demolished and it maybe after that the MOD reviewed state of pylon and was worried that someone might climb it and have an accident, due to state and age of wooden walkways and ladders.

Hopefully this isn't the case, as the person who climbed and put up flag could have been responsible for this land mark coming down :-(

Both pylons used to sway quite a lot and we weren't allowed to climd above a force 4

bsrgds
lee
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: unfairytale on March 27, 2010, 12:59:23
The mast had metal ladders and walkways, I recon its scrap value had more to do with this rather than the idiot with the flag.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Lee on March 27, 2010, 15:11:59
Hi Unfairy

last time I climbed it had wooden walkways - used to creak and crack
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Trikeman on March 27, 2010, 19:21:18
And then there were two....

How did this act of vandalism get past the planners? MOD land I suppose. How am I going to navigate around Kent if they take the others down? All I'll be left with is the cooling tower at Richborough! A sad state of affairs - what would the ghosts of fighter pilots past be thinking?
Surely this WW2 icon should have had some protection?
History is not as permanent as you might think!
Taken today - see Hawkinge thread for other act of vandalism.
Trikeman
(http://i722.photobucket.com/albums/ww221/trikeboy/Radar/IMG_5329.jpg)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: crgshpd on March 29, 2010, 13:36:31
hi all, just read somewhere that dover district council had replied to someones saying land was still owned by the mod, so no planning permission was needed...not sure if this is right ???????
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: seafordpete on March 29, 2010, 13:39:31
hi all, just read somewhere that dover district council had replied to someones saying land was still owned by the mod, so no planning permission was needed...not sure if this is right ???????

Crown lands can do what they want,
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: kyn on March 31, 2010, 17:21:19
I have just been informed the last remaining WWII tower has had all it's dishes a stuff removed!  Is this one next?
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Lee on March 31, 2010, 17:35:00
Hi Guys
I wouldn't think this pylon will come yet as this is used and owned by BBC and as I understand it still supplies signals to Dover area, although this may change when digital is switch over in the area
bsrgds
Lee
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: unfairytale on March 31, 2010, 18:00:38
Surely it's only leased by the BBC, but it's true what you say: The stuff on the pylon is FM equipment used to transmit BBC radio programmes, and that only has a few years to go unless the government has a rethink.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: strangelights on March 31, 2010, 21:35:57
I read today in the Dover Mercury that the MOD had notifyed Dover district council of their intentions to demolish the mast.They went on to say that it was demolished due to health n safety concerns because of its poor condition,and also that it no longer served any usefull purpose.They also said that they wouldnt be demolishing the other two....SORRY TO SAY BUT I DONT BELIEVE THEM!!!
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Lee on March 31, 2010, 21:40:48
Hi Guys

I think the issue was that recent climb up the pylons and hoisting of the pirate that has hasten the demise of these local icons, hope the person involved is happy to have had such an effect on the local environment.

Will be a shame to see the go, I would say that USAF pylon should still be in good condition as this was completely metal, so if they are stating H&S it is probably due to the fact they don't want to secure site from unauthorised climbers

bsrgds
lee
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: unfairytale on March 31, 2010, 22:49:15
Surely it's cheaper to put a lock on the gate than to take down a pylon. I don't think the Pirate flag has anything to do with it. There's pictures all over the net of people on the tower and of its metal ladders and walkways. I don't expect the MOD would have handed it over to BT if it were a danger. The MOD do this all the time: get us to pay for the upgrade and then sell it. That's exactly what they did with the married quarters at Burgoyne Heights.
 It probably all comes down to money. Why pay to maintain a tower that is not needed when you can take it down and sell it for scrap.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Lee on April 01, 2010, 07:11:23
Hi Unfairytale

I would think the issue would be if someone fell off pylon - that would be a lot more expensive than a padlock for MOD
The middle pylon has belong to BBC for as long as I remember since early 70's at least so not just handed over and I presume they have continued to maintain it as they still use it, where as other pylons aren't use so I presume no maintenance to save costs has resulted in further detoriation.

It won't be cheap to keep these structures maintained, as well as additional security to keep people off them, so the climbing of them will have hasten there demise, by highlighting costs and liability for any accidents as you still have a duty of care to trespassers.

bsrgds
Lee
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: HERB COLLECTOR on April 10, 2010, 11:45:54
"We were concerned it could be a health and safety hazard, hence the need for it to be demolished to ground level, a small single-storey building, steel cables and an equipment shelter are also being removed."
MOD spokesman, Kent on sunday,April 4 2010.
http://yourdover.co.uk/kent-news/towering-presence-comes-tumbling-down-newsinkent34414.aspx?r (http://yourdover.co.uk/kent-news/towering-presence-comes-tumbling-down-newsinkent34414.aspx?r)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: ellenkate on April 10, 2010, 12:22:51

I have just received an e-mail from Derek Leach of The Dover Society that the Society has approached Clive Alexander, Heritage Manager at Dover Dist Council Offices, Whitfield, about saving the other two masts at Swingate,  and Derek has heard from Clive as follows:

Derek
With regard to the Swingate masts, I have applied to EH to have the two remaining masts listed! Shame about the one they removed.
Best wishes
Clive

                            Ellenkate

Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: kyn on April 12, 2010, 16:43:12
A reply from an MoD Estate Surveyor:



I am not aware that it is the intention of the MoD for either or both of the remaining towers to be removed in the foreseeable future.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Paul on April 12, 2010, 18:46:47

  • It was a Cold War communications tower

I thought it was pre WW2 in origin?

And of course the MOD are correct Lattice Masts are only found on ships,On land they are Towers :)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: kyn on April 14, 2010, 10:43:38
Does anyone else think that the tower removed was WWII origin and not Cold War origin?
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Paul on April 14, 2010, 11:08:18
In Delboy's Pic (4th down http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=5964.0)

It clearly shows that it is the same construction as the other WW2 one,and the Cold War one is of a comletely different construction.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: unfairytale on April 14, 2010, 13:21:31
I also think it was WW2 vintage. Here's an old Air Ministry photo.
(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4026/4520032137_e0abe25d64.jpg)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: crgshpd on April 17, 2010, 12:36:46
Hi everybody, keep hearing a rumour that points to the fact they took down the wrong tower...does that mean were about to see another tower come down..hope they get listed asap
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: ellenkate on April 19, 2010, 18:35:16

Masts at Swingate:

There is now a (dated) wartime photo of the masts on website:
http://doversociety.homestead.com/WWII.html

Ellenkate

Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Islesy on May 03, 2010, 17:08:01
With various lines attached to the northern most Tower, and workman on site the local rumour mill has been in overdrive recently.

Took a walk over today and had a good chat to the foreman - turns out they're a maintenance crew. First task involves pressure washing down the structure and then they'll repaint it with a water based eco-friendly paint. All of this whilst dangling from a bosun's chair (hence the ropes attached to the tower).
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: kyn on May 03, 2010, 21:54:38
Thanks for the update Islesy!
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: kyn on June 19, 2010, 17:43:43
29th April 1941, the Radar Station being shelled.

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_3777.jpg)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: DoverDan on July 03, 2010, 15:35:29
The base of the recently demolished tower.
(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4114/4757717852_dff35d66c2_b.jpg)

(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4101/4757717858_49bdf9535d_b.jpg)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: DoverDan on July 03, 2010, 16:07:38
Would i be right in thinking this was the receiver block for Swingate??
(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4096/4757142851_68e39ed95d_b.jpg)
It is located in amongst the base's for the receiver towers.

And could these be bullet holes from straffing fire from a fighter or stuka or maybe shrapnel marks?
(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4096/4757142859_a277898170_b.jpg)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Paul on July 04, 2010, 12:25:31
It could be bomb fragmentation or "Concrete Cancer"?
Certainly the smaller ones are fragmentaion or maybe bullets,but the larger ones look like where the inner steel rusts and weakens the concrete.
The one on the left wall looks like a splinter and theres a chunk missing off the top of the wall. Is there any marks on the inner walls?
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: DoverDan on July 04, 2010, 13:01:41
Here is a close op of the one on the left blast wall.
(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4081/4759638661_07e86e4c4a_b.jpg)
The other side of the wall is infilled with earth so i could'nt see if it had popped that side. Almost all these marks appear on the side of the building that faces the channel which makes me think bullets/shrapnel maybe from a tip and run raid by a fighter like an FW190 coming in low with its cannon firing first then releasing its bombs.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Paul on July 04, 2010, 14:32:49
With that scrape mark.. It could have been a JCB or someting?

Bullets tend to loose momentum on ground targets unless You are extremely low (making yourself a target) Armour Piercing or High Velocity would cause that type of damage.

Shrapnel is normally used for Anti Personel and consits of Lead Balls, later Steel Balls. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Shrapnel

This sort of damage is consistant with Bomb or Shell fragmentation.

Is there any mark in the walkway to the blast door?
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: neil clark on July 05, 2010, 17:30:59
With regard to that very interesting old sign board -

251 Signal Squadron still exist!

251 Signal Squadron is located in Aldershot, Hampshire.  The role of the Squadron is to provide, high readiness, secure Information Communication Systems (ICS) and specialist support expertise to the UK, Ceremonial Duties and Other Government Department (OGD) operations.

251 SIGNAL SQUADRON CAPABILITIES

251 Signal Squadron provides numerous capabilities and conducts various functions, these include:

    * Various secure, deployable, Voice, IT and communications capabilities
    * High
 readiness communications assistance to Counter Terrorist Organizations
    * Secure satellite, Wide Area Network (WAN) communications
    * Performing various Ceremonial Duties support tasks, for example, to the Queen's birthday parade and the
    * State Opening of Parliament
    * Deployment on various operational tours including Iraq and Afghanistan

251 SIGNAL SQUADRON SKILL SETS AND TASKS

251 Signal Squadron has a very robust and challenging role and, as such, the soldiers within the Squadron are required to be of a high calibre.  The soldiers within the Squadron possess a wide range of capabilities and specialist communications knowledge. Due to the operational requirements of the Squadron, soldiers need to be proficient in both military and trade skill sets.  The soldiers often undertake tasks outside their basic trade skills and must be capable of adapting quickly to operate various communications equipments.  Training of soldiers within the Squadron reflects this and with the skills and abilities that are developed here, soldiers of 251 Signal Squadron are often regarded as being amongst those at the top of their given fields.

  
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: HERB COLLECTOR on July 05, 2010, 21:36:59
"As the third volume in the English Heritage series Monuments of War, it also assesses the survival of wartime radar stations in todays landscape, showing how protection of these remains is being assured by statutory means."
From the blurb for "Building Radar, Forging Britains Early-warning Chain" by Colin Dobson.
I have not seen the book yet, but the quote above rather "amused" me.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: DoverDan on July 05, 2010, 23:29:00
Is there any mark in the walkway to the blast door?
although this photo doesnt show the whole walkway it does show that it has little damage and also that the walls are rendered here with some of it falling off near the door but i thnk that just ageing of the builing.
(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4080/4763928671_209fb329f3_b.jpg)
Im going to revisit the site soon so i will look into this a bit more.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: kyn on July 12, 2010, 11:38:26
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_46281Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_4629Small.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/IMG_4630Small.jpg)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Lee on July 12, 2010, 16:23:03
Great Pictures Kyn - where did you get them from, I remember the area well as learnt to drive around what was left of those buildings.

You can also see the trenches very well.

bsrgds
Lee
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: kyn on July 12, 2010, 17:22:27
Hi Lee, they are on the wall of The RAF Manston History Museum  :)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Islesy on September 15, 2010, 15:50:47
In response to an email I sent to Arquiva on August 18, 2009 requesting official permission to climb the towers.

"Dear Paul
 
Thanks for your email. In principle we could allow access for you to take pictures from one of the towers at Swingate, however there are implications.
 
In order for you to climb one of our masts or towers you would need to apply for accreditation via our Gateway system at a cost of 250, and then you would be required to have supervision for the day at a cost of 450 per supervisor. It is likely that two supervisors will be required, although this depends on your training/capabilities.  To assess feasibility we would need a Method Statement, Risk Assessment, your Working at Height training documents, and details of your personal protective equipment.  We would probably be able to supply certain safety items (harness etc).
 
I realise that the costs involved may be prohibitive but I'm afraid we are unable to absorb them within our PR budget.  Arqiva does not normally seek exposure with the general public or in the consumer/regional press.
 
Do let me know if you would like to proceed on the above basis.
 
Best regards
Bruce
Bruce Randall
Corporate PR Manager
Arqiva

t: +44 (0)1962 822582  |  m: +44 (0)7831 175036
Crawley Court, Winchester, Hampshire, SO21 2QA
www.arqiva.com "


....I climbed the bloody thing anyway :-)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Lee on September 17, 2010, 18:56:09
As mentioned before when I regularly climbed this tower in late 80's the condition was not great compared to the USAF tower, which was in 1st class condition, so another 20 yrs of limited maintenance could certainly have resulted in further deterioration of the tower.

bsrgds
Lee
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: unfairytale on September 17, 2010, 19:07:38
Is it not the case that Arqiva only lease the site and do not own the towers?
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: beadle on April 02, 2011, 23:09:53
Correspondence on the various sites regarding the demise of one of the original WW11 towers at Swingate seems to have dried up.  I have been corresponding with English Heritage, Kent County Council and Dover District Council  on this matter for 10 months or more with over 30 emails going to and fro so far.

The demolition of this tower ( with undue haste) is a national disgrace and I am of the opinion that a replica should be erected in its place (paid for by the company that had it demolished)  in time for the 75th anniversary of the battle of Britain in 2015. These towers are world-class WW11 survivors and the among the first of their kind to be used anywhere in the world. Without them, the Battle of Britain might have been lost. Out of an original 47 sites, there are now only 5 sites with a remaining tower.  English Heritage has now carried out a full survey of the whole Swingate site and I eagerly await the results. If the whole site is given a suficiently high rating, there would, indeed , be a case for erecting a replice tower.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: unfairytale on April 03, 2011, 08:58:24
I don't think building a replica would do anything for the site. The whole point is that they were original. What about the fourth one which was removed years ago, and the one who's replacement still stands? Unless you think it would serve as a punishment. I don't think that any laws were broken when tower was removed, it was just thoughtless.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: beadle on April 04, 2011, 20:46:32
Regarding a fully WW11 spec. replica radar tower at Swingate, had the demolished tower been the only original feature on site, maybe it would be more difficult to justify it.  In the context of the whole site, however, the demolished tower is only one small but very prominent  feature of a fairly comprehensive site. Replacement of the tower would therefore become a small but very important enhancement .
Regarding replicas in general, how much of HMS Victory is original. The same can be said for many of our "historical" survivors, be they buildings, ships, vehicles or whatever. I believe that historically speaking, our radar towers are just as important as the Victory or even the Tower of London. Better a rebuilt tower than no tower at all.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: TimR on December 09, 2011, 21:58:36
So what is the function of the glass pyramid? Anyone ever been inside? I've tried to locate some close up photos of it but have only managed to get it in the background of the masts.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: Islesy on December 09, 2011, 23:09:44
It's not glass I'm afraid, just metalwork...
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: JohnG on September 03, 2012, 22:37:36
It may be of interest to the forum readers that I put in an application to get RAF Swingate listed and the application has been successful and it is now a listed site.  This will not safeguard the remaining masts as they are moving all the time with the wind, this means it suffers wear which will one day make the mast unsafe.  If the masts are not in use no one will pay for their maintenance and sadly one day they will have to come down.  The rest of the site is now listed.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: kyn on September 04, 2012, 09:31:07
Well done JohnG, it is great that people respect the importance of these sites.
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: cliveh on October 20, 2013, 17:24:04
Some photos from a very wet & muddy visit yesterday!

cliveh
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: kyn on October 21, 2013, 08:36:21
The building in Cliveh's pictures was queried on the forum as possibly the receiver room, it is very well protected with huge blast walls and I have never known it to be open. 

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_0222.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_0222.jpg.html)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_0223.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_0223.jpg.html)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_0221.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_0221.jpg.html)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_0206.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_0206.jpg.html)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_0208.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_0208.jpg.html)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_0218.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_0218.jpg.html)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_0209.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_0209.jpg.html)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF2/IMG_0216.jpg) (http://s260.photobucket.com/user/batgirlphotos/media/KHF2/IMG_0216.jpg.html)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: cliveh on October 21, 2013, 13:58:07
The building in Cliveh's pictures was queried on the forum as possibly the receiver room, it is very well protected with huge blast walls and I have never known it to be open. 
[

It looked like the farmer had been using it as a shelter for his animals!! Felt like it underfoot too!!  :)

It was quite exciting to find it opened up!

cliveh
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: kyn on October 21, 2013, 14:08:12
You didn't seem quite as excited as me ha ha!
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: cliveh on October 21, 2013, 14:24:04
You didn't seem quite as excited as me ha ha!

No - you were like a little girl who's just found all her pressies under the Christmas Tree!!  :)

cliveh
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: kyn on October 21, 2013, 14:42:32
 :)
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: cliveh on October 21, 2013, 16:34:27
These huge concrete bases are all that remain of the four towers that once stood on the Receiver Site:

cliveh

Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: weedon on January 11, 2014, 19:52:12
Does this link relate to the same site as the subject of this topic?

http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-1405533-receiver-site-and-royal-observer-corps-
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: cliveh on January 13, 2014, 15:57:59
Yes it does weedon. There's also a seperate listing for the transmitter site and one of the masts

cliveh
Title: Re: RAF Swingate, Dover.
Post by: kyn on August 14, 2015, 23:42:28
The view from Dover Castle