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The Met Office and Bombs in a Field

by Dunstable Town Centre

Contributed by 
Dunstable Town Centre
People in story: 
A W Morgan
Location of story: 
Dunstable, Bedfordshire
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
19 April 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by the Dunstable At War Team on behalf of the author and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

When we went up to Dunstable Downs to play or to look for mortar bomb cases, we passed a gate to a long field that was approximately where the entrance to Drovers way is now situated. There were animals in the field but beyond the far hedge was what appeared to be a small hill with a hut on the top. We knew that this was really some sort of camouflage but did not know exactly what was there. It was not possible to go very far along Green Lane as there was a barrier made from wooden logs covered by what we called barbed wire entanglements. Sometimes there would be soldiers behind the barriers. When my father was home on leave, we often went to see relatives in Totternhoe. As a family group, we walked across the field to Brewer’s Hill road, along past Clark’s Farm to the Green Lane and the down the lane to the village. Once again, there was another barrier preventing access to Green Lane between Brewer’s Hill Road and the Downs. High hedges prevented us seeing what was in the field under the camouflage and from the Downs, the spinney of trees restricted the view.

However, from Totternhoe Road, a number of aerial masts could be seen in the field between that road and Green Lane. To us at the time, it was something of a mystery but after the war the camouflage was removed, the huts and buildings of the “Met” Office could be seen and the “hut” turned out to be a chimney and / or a tall narrow water tower.

One night my mother and I were both woken by a series of loud explosions followed by the sound of falling debris. My mother came into my room and looked out of the rear window, fully expecting to see that the houses in Victoria Street had disappeared. We learned afterwards that some bombs had fallen near the top of Lancot Hill. A day or two later we went to see the damage. A bomb had fallen in a paddock situated between a bungalow and a house. The roofs of both were damaged and the bungalow was covered with tarpaulins. Across the road, were three or four further craters in a line nearing the aerial masts. With hindsight, it is clear that the “Met” Office was the intended target.

In the late 1970’s, the B.B.C. broadcast a series called “The Secret War” in which Professor R. V. Jones described the way in which the Germans used radio beams to find their targets and how these were countered. He also published a book, “Most Secret War”, in which he explains how the Germans used some of our navigation aids, using “rebuilt captured equipment” from bombers shot down over Germany and they also developed and improved their earlier beams. I now believe that the “raid” on the “Met” Office was probably a single bomber using the more accurate beam system that they had developed for use during late 1943 and early 1944. Professor Jones tells how the R.A.F. needed their most accurate system to be calibrated and corrected for differences between the British Ordnance Survey and the Continental equivalent and how the members of the resistance in Belgium reported back to the U.K, the results of a bombing raid on a radar command post.

Did the Germans miss the “Met” Office because they had insufficient means of calibrating their system?

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Air Raids and Other Bombing Category
Childhood and Evacuation Category
Bedfordshire Category
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