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Battle of Britain: Unearthing the stories of those who served

As we mark the 80th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day at former Chain Home radar site, Bawdsey Radar in Suffolk, we remember all of those who served behind the scenes in crucial roles during the Second World War. People like Mary Wain's parents, who met and married at Bawdsey whilst working at the radar station.

To Mary Wain, President of the Bawdsey Radar Trust, radar not only has historical significance but personal too. Mary's parents worked at RAF Bawdsey. But because of the huge secrecy around the role and the need for all personnel to sign the Official Secrets Act, Mary has little information about what her parents' experiences working on radar were.

Mary Wain Bawdsey Radar Battle of Britain 80

Mary was born at RAF Bawdsey after her father was posted back there after the war and she lived there for six years. Her mother was part of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and was at Bawdsey in 1940, Mary assumes, working as a radar operator. Neither her mother nor her father spoke about their actual work at RAF Bawdsey.

Today, Mary lives in Felixstowe and is President of the Bawdsey Radar Trust, after serving as chair for many years. Bawdsey Radar Trust is an organisation which has brought about the conservation of the radar station's transmitter block. It is now also home to a fascinating exhibition on the groundbreaking role of radar through the ages, how it was pioneered by Scottish engineer Robert Watson-Watt and the significance of RAF Bawdsey as the home of the first operational Chain Home aircraft radar site.

A focus of Mary's work over the years has been uncovering the stories of those who served at Bawdsey Radar, particularly the women who worked as radar operators during the Second World War.

Mary said: "Thousands of WAAFs served in radar across the UK during the war and their work was secret. Many never spoke about it and records on their contribution are few and far between, meaning the important role women played during conflicts like the Battle of Britain often do not enter the public consciousness."

On Battle of Britain Day, the RAF Benevolent Fund paid tribute to everyone who served, not just eighty years ago but every day since. From the brave young women who served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, to the volunteers of the Observer Corps and many more. We want their stories to be told and their contribution to be recognised, to make sure that every member of the RAF Family receives the support they need today.

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