BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page was last updated in February 2012We've left it here for reference.More information

27 August 2014
Accessibility help
Text only
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site Print this page 

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!


6) We had our fair share of attention from the Luftwaffe

by Genevieve

You are browsing in:

Archive List > Childhood and Evacuation

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Raymond John Lawrence
Location of story: 
Neasden, North London
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
20 October 2005

Whilst discussing the intensity of German activity in our particular neck of the woods, we were, relatively speaking, quite well removed from the heart of London. In fact I can vividly recall kneeling, with Gerry, on the windowsill of our small south facing bedroom to watch without any great excitement, the whole southern horizon glow deep red as London burned at the height of the 'Blitz'. Yet, as I have already stated, we had our fair share of local attention from the Luftwaffe. The Dollis Hill research station we have latterly learned was the centre of the highly secret and successful Radar experiments that gave our crews the edge in the air and at sea. In addition, we only just recently discovered that the first electronic computer, grandly named ‘Colossus’ was developed and built at this time at the Dollis Hill Research Station. This machine was subsequently erected at Bletchley Park, the famous Station 'X' where Turing and his team broke the complex German 'Enigma' code which effectively won the war for us! This in itself would explain the excitement that spiced up the colourless round that was every day life at Tanfield Avenue.

However, I was truly amazed to hear from newly released documents that there was a highly classified alternate ‘War Room’ built underground roughly half way between our house and the research station. Churchill had been there. It was to have come into operation should the London centre of operations have suffered extinction. I can't believe that all this was going on as we kids cycled past playing our games. We must have been within feet of it, yet had no idea. Only now, some sixty years later do we find out and I feel I must, somehow, make the effort to go back yet again, just to stand on the spot and relive the moment. Of course as I have mentioned, Gerry and I did pay a nostalgic return to see our old stamping ground but we knew nothing of this latest revelation or of 'Colossus’ at that time. It surprises me to realise that I feel in some way, cheated. Sitting here now, a sad resentment rises in me that I wasn't told. I feel, in this instance, we were somehow excluded. It makes no sense I know. 'Tell you one thing, looking back on it; the chap that programmed the guidance on that Doodle Bug did a good job. As I said, it fell in the park but that hole in the ground was probably within half a mile of ‘The Research’ or the ‘War room’ or even 150 Tanfield Avenue.

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Becky Barugh of the BBC Radio Shropshire CSV Action Desk on behalf of Raymond John Lawrence M.B.E and has been added to the site with his kind permission. Mr Lawrence fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

Continue reading Mr Lawrence's story by clicking below:

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

Childhood and Evacuation Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy