Your stories and pictures so far


Malvern radar families' stories and pictures of life in Malvern. From 22nd March 2021

Your latest posts…just flip through..

“During the war and afterwards the scientists were working with radio waves

that today the HSE would forbid. Father and many of those he worked with

during the war ended up with Parkinsons”

“My father would never talk

about "What he did in the War"

“They had a job to cut silver paper,

they thought for chocolate

or food wrapping…”

“I happen to have some of the 'window' in a box,

lots of it landed round here when they were developing it.”

“During one of the strafing raids on Swanage my mother found me peacefully sleeping in

my cot covered in bits of glass and wood where the

window above me had been shot out. “

“I now wish i had taken more ?me

to listen to the personal

history of my parents.”

“I also went to Hillside School

before going on to King's in


“They oCen talked

about the night they

were spirited away

from Swanage in

the early hours of

darkness to


I’m the great grand daughter of

Thomas George Thorne

he worked with your dad.

“My uncle,

Herbert Jack Morris

was part of

Mark Oliphant’s team

at Birmingham


"My mother had been desCned to work at Bletchley Park, but her dreams were

shaGered when she was told she was being sent to TRE Malvern.”

“We were


I believe. In

fact, I think

you had a

dog called


Anyway, he

nipped me

one day!”

“My Mum

thought he was so

secretive that he

was having an


“My grandfather John Banner MBE worked

at RAF Defford in radar tes;ng and fi=ng.”

“Dad built our first television from an old,

ex radar cathode ray tube (the picture was

very green) and all the neighbours came in

to watch the Queens CoronaCon”


From Vivian J Parsons:

“My father Sidney ‘Robbie’ Roberts was working on wirelesses when he went to sign up

and because of this he was sent to TRE.

My parents moved to a rented cottage in Worth Matravers and asked for their belongings

to be sent to them on the train. On the trunk was their married name and my mother’s

german sounding maiden name. The next thing they knew were two policemen coming to

arrest the German spy.

From Worth Matravers they moved to Malvern Wells to a flat in a large house called

Haslington, I think other TRE families were there too.

I remember my father saying when they tested the radar in the aeroplanes they took their

life in their hands as the planes were the war rejects and he worried that either bits would

fall off them or they would crash.

Every so often my father and Mr Groves would have to take the latest radar equipment up

to the Admiralty??. They would spend the night in Dulwich with my grandparents, the

equipment being hidden in the bedroom and my grandparents sworn to secrecy.

There was always a little prejudice towards the TRE folk as the number us arriving upset

the balance of the town and the work was not understood. As children we accepted that

we didn’t know exactly what our parents worked at and probably didn’t really care!

When the houses in Pickersleigh Road were built we moved into one. At a time when

many people didn’t have bathrooms, had outside loos and maybe in rural areas no

electricity or running water these house were built to a high spec. We had a fitted kitchen,

pantry and airing cupboard with radiator to dry clothes. Three bedrooms with fitted

cupboards and electric fires a downstairs loo and a coal shed. We also had a lovely large


There always seemed to be valves and other electronic bits scattered around the house

and I know some of the scientists built their own TV’s using small round cathode ray


RRE had a social club and Christmas parties were arranged for us. I remember a beautiful

dressed doll as a present. There were flower shows where my friend and I entered

exhibits in the children’s garden competition.

I remember going to a thrilling lecture on explosives given by a seemingly absent minded

scientist who scared us silly by pretending to forget what would explode next. I also

remember one open day seeing a live football match in colour on a television screen,

perhaps in 1957?

Without a grammar school in Malvern we all had to travel. I went to Worcester Girls

Grammar where surprisingly there was resentment at having Malvern girls in their school.

One particularly difficult journey to school through the snow meant we were late. We were

told by Miss Barker the history mistress that not only had we taken the school places of

Worcester girls we couldn’t even turn up to school on time!

I always thought I was lucky to grow up in Malvern, a beautiful town, and I still visit

whenever I can.”

Pic1 Boy's College, second row right 4th in Father, 3rd in Mr Groves

Pic2 RRE 1st row left Mr Manfield

Pic3 RRE testing

Pic4 On the dreaded plane

Pic5 Children at Haslington


Name Stephen

Hello, My father Jim Smith worked as a Mechanical Design Engineer at Malvern during the war years. He

met my mother there, Elsie, who was a land army girl at Bamfords farm. Looking at the small picture you

have on the Radar and Malvern page the 3rd person form the leQ had a look of him but i guess that is just

coincidence . Regards Stephen

From Robert Webb:

“My Mother and Father, Doris and Eric on

the Beacon 1944

I believe this picture (below) was taken

during a visit by the King to Malvern during

the war. My mother is in the picture, standing

right on the corner of the wall. My father was

in the RAF and both had been at Worth

Maltravers, although they didn’t meet until

the relocation to Malvern. My uncle on my

mothers side, Wilfred Hill MBE was ex RAF

at this time and was part of the team that

requisitioned Malvern College. He once said

to me “I was still relatively young but I never

had so much power before or since then”

Added later:

At the start of the war my mother came down from Sheffield to be with her older married

sister whose husband, Wilfred Hill, worked for the Air Ministry, he was ex RAF... This was to

Worth Matravers and she was billeted in Swanage. My Father (London..Camberwell) had

not waited to be called up, he once told me he didn't fancy the infantry, and had

volunteered for the RAF. On finding out he was a "techie" aQer telling the recruitment

officer he had built crystal sets on his mothers kitchen table from the age of 14 he was sent

into the Radio Detec;on and Ranging at RAF Worth Matravers.

I have walked the south west coast path and spent ;me in Worth Matravers and its hard to

imagine the windswept fields once housed over 2,000 people.

My Mum was a civilian working in the "labs" as she called it and my Father was out in the

"field" I remember him men;oning something to do with the "Ba_le of the Beams" trying

to send the German bombers off course as they followed the radio beams to their targets,

talking about spending many a cold night on top of a hill wondering if he was making a

difference...... he men;oned the Chain Home Radar and Chain Home Low and also talked

about fi=ng radar sets in the flying boats for the an; submarine patrols in the Ba_le of the

Atlan;c. I think he did this in Pembroke docks.

They did not actually meet un;l aQer the reloca;on to Malvern and were married in the

winter of 1944, I have a_ached a photo, the snow is on the ground and his mother only just

made it from London! The wedding was at the Church...All Saints Malvern Wells and Wyche

and the small recep;on was next door at the Railway Inn. Her sisters house was just along

from the pub.

At the end of the war I believe my dad was offered a chance to stay on in the RAF at an

officer level but like most young people he wanted to get back to civilian life. He eventually

took a posi;on at AERE Harwell and they se_led in Wantage, on a ministry estate, then

later on almost self built our next house and spent the rest of his working life at AERE

Harwell (Atomic Energy Research) as a scien;fic officer.

He built our first television from an old, ex radar cathode ray tube (the picture was very

green ) this was before I was born and apparently all the neighbours came in to watch the

Queens Corona;on. I can remember him "conver;ng" it to receive the new ITV service :-)

with a big Bakelite knob on the side that went "clunk" when you changed channels.

We had many "days out" to Malvern when we were kids, St Anns Well at the bo_om....

climbing the hills to the Beacon, the cafe on the top, the Winter Gardens...especially the

boa;ng lake.

My parents hoped to reCre to Malvern but this

was not to be as my Dad died in 1988 from, you

guessed it, leukaemia. (I watched your video on

the site)

All in all very happy memories of Malvern and

with my wife Jane we sCll pay a visit and walk

the hills, using it as training for the Camino de

SanCago. (in stages)

Once again, well done for publicising this

subject, they were a very special generaCon,

young lives put to work for the common good,

teenage and young adulthood lives lived so

differently to how we grew up in our Cme.

From Cath Shinton

As so many children of these boffins, there is very little we are able to recall as their jobs

were never talked about at home and when asked my Dad would often say they had been

out in the plane looking for Russian subs! My Dad was Dougie Webber and as far as I am

aware he was seconded to Malvern from his job in Birmingham as an electrical engineer.

I remember my Mum, Connie, talking about when she worked in the grounds of the

school. They were due to marry and I think this process was speeded up so that they

could set up home together. They lived in rooms at a house called “The Bent” at the top

of Peachfield Road for a while before moving to a house called “Stanton” at 244 Wells

Road, where they started their family. I only ever remember Dad going to and from work

on his bike .. always came home for lunch too as money was tight. He used to go around

every month with a three penny piece in his pocket .. just in case anyone was leaving and

he needed to donate for a card! When paid he would withdraw the ‘housekeeping’ cash

for the month and split it into 4 or 5 tins, depending on how many weeks in the month.

These were hidden (under the floor as we later found out) so that Mum could not

overspend on the household! She would be given a new tin on the same day every

week! In an effort to close the gap on household funding, Dad worked as a maths

teacher at Malvern Tech, 2 or 3 nights a week. Mum never worked after having we

children. I’m not sure how they saved but eventually we moved to a self-built bungalow

in Bellars Lane .. called “The Limberlost” after the tennis club in Erdington where they had

carried out most of their courtship. There is only one story I recall about Dad’s time at

work and I don’t think we were told about this until after his retirement! It involved an

airborne radar test which had to be carried out. My Dad was usually the only civilian on

the planes and on this occasion a young ‘apprentice’ type lad was with them – he may

have been military like the rest of the crew – I don’t know. The story goes that in order to

test the radar in flight, bits of foil (like oversized confetti) had to be dropped from the rear

of the plane so that Dad and others could monitor picking these bits of metal up on the

radar. The young lad was given his order to ‘launch’. The team saw nothing on the radar

screen. “Again” went out the request to the youngster. Still nothing detected on the

radar. Apparently no one had instructed this poor lad that he was meant to empty out a

full container when the instruction was given. He was sitting there dropping one piece at

a time!! I do remember talk of there being little or no inflation so annual pay rises didn’t

exist. Dad would talk of the wait for someone to retire or die before any sort of

progression could be made and I think I’m right in saying that his salary remained the

same for about 15 years. He remained at RRE until he retired early when the section was

being transferred to Farnborough in about 1976, I think. In order to overcome the 5 lean

years until his pension was payable he concentrated his efforts on his competitions which

were, by then, paying off nicely!! In March 1961 Dad was the only civilian member of the

team on the Valiant bomber which, by way of pilot error, crashed on take-off from Defford

fully loaded with fuel. It ended up in a ploughed field not far from the railway

embankment with Wyre Piddle village immediately beyond. The airfield’s brand new fire

tender got stuck in the field and never made it to the plane. Luckily nobody was seriously

injured although the rescue services had wanted to amputate the pilot’s leg in order to get

him out. However, Dad had hung around and insisted they got him out, and his leg, in

one piece .. which they did eventually! Dad was honoured by the Queen in the New

Year’s Honours of 1963 with a Commendation for “Valuable Service in the Air”. I’m

proud to now own his award and certificate from this.

(Cath - please can we see some pictures - of your family? Of the award and the

commendation? That is an important piece of history! - Anne )

From MikeSmith

Hi Anne I thought I'd get in touch as I am a member of the same Malvern generation as

you. My dad (Derek Smith) was a GP in Malvern during the 60s and 70s. Just before he

died in 1988 he also had a role as a medical officer at RSRE. Like you, I also went to

Hillside School although you were a few years older than me, before going on to King's in

Worcester. Although I moved away from Malvern I came back about 20 years ago and am

still here now. I thought that I'd point you in the direction of a couple of Facebook pages

that may be of use/interest to you. One is the Malvern History Page, the other is the

Hillside School page. I'll also send this link to an interview with Ken Slater. He was a

friend of my parents and a director at RSRE.

History:Kenneth_F._Slater I knew a number of families around Malvern where a parent

worked at RRE/RSRE/DERA (why did they keep changing the name?!) but have no idea

what they did! Duckworth, Putley, Watkins, Prior, Smart, possibly Ward and Thetford

too....I also remember we had a neighbour who I think had worked on liquid crystals who

died in strange circumstances but I can't remember the name. Good luck with your

project! Best wishes Mike Smith


From Judy

In the war my mother, who lived in Birmingham, had been destined to work

at Bletchley Park, but her dreams were shattered when she was told she was

being sent to TRE Malvern to work in the Drawing Office. Around the same

time, my father, from Bournemouth, went to Worth Matravers to work on

radar housing equipment in aircraft. He was then sent to Malvern when

Worth Matravers was discovered by the Germans, and met my mother. They

were both billeted in cottages in the Malvern area, and bussed into TRE

daily. Once they had met and got married, my mum had to leave TRE as she

and my dad were not allowed to work in the same place. They were

fortunate to be given a prefab in Pershore, then two years later a Ministry

house nearby with beautiful views of Bredon Hill. There, my childhood

began, along with many other TRE children. Dad never told us about his

work, and mum just said her work wasn't very interesting, so my sisters and I

had no idea about how vital their work was.

(I’d love to know more! Do you have any photos too? And any anecdotes? -



From Rid

My grandfather John Banner MBE worked at RAF Defford where radar

testing and fitting were designed for the latest model of planes.He invented a

radio locator device for downed airmen.

This is covered in the book Angel visits from biplane to jets a history of radar

development and RAF Defford amongst other things.My grandfather was

posted to an abandoned school building and a chap with 2 brushes came in

and asked him to help tidy up.That was sir Bernard Lovell !

My grandfather assumed his radio locator device would rescue airmen from

the sea in dingys which it did but it had massive success in Borneo and

Malaya due to the dense jungle.He went on to be a director of GEC building

a tv factory and thousands of early TVs.


From Keith Ettle

I read your piece in todays Sunday Mail (14/03/21). Very interes;ng. I have no

connec;on to your story other than my grandfather, 'Bert' Hill, born 1890 and

serves all during WW1 in the 1st Glosters, was a Printers' Cu_er for E. S. & A.

Robinson during WW2 in Bristol. (he was lucky not to be killed in France and

again during WW2 fire watching in Bristol at the Bedminster factory.

Continuing my story- One night in the 70's when he was about 80+ we

were watching a tv prog about 'Windows'. He was true Bristolian and

said 'Gaw blimey kid, now I know what I did'. He would set up the

machines to cut the printed paper that Robs printed for wrappers and

boxes so that it was in the size and shape wanted. Thay had a job to

cut silver paper, they thought for chocolate or food wrapping but seeing

the shape and size on the tv he recognised it as the job he did. All those

years after he knew what he was doing! Hope you get this in a readable

form and is of interest. Regards


From Anthea

My father was a radar boffin in the Navy. Obviously not based at Malvern but I have

discovered a lot about what he did during the war. He was involved with decoding

information and was a member of teams called Naval Parties.

Added later:

Stanley Arthur (Gillie) Potter 1914 - 1978

My father left the Royal Liberty School Romford and in 1934 he became a sorter for the

London Postal service before becoming a wireless operator for the Telegraph service

where he moved around the south coast of England. Based at Niton Wireless station on

the Isle of Wight he was very close to the site of Marconi’s first Radar transmission.

In 1987, at the time when Peter Wright published ‘Spycatcher’, our Uncle (John) Brian

Harding, an RAF pilot who flew Spitfires during the Battle of Britain, met my sister, Gillian,

and said he had something very confidential to tell her about what our father had done as

he had worked for Peter Wright in the hunt for German spies and this might have been

mentioned in the book. At the same time as he worked for Peter Wright Dad also worked

in an ASDIC team developing Radar and he invented a Jammer to prevent the Germans

intercepting our transmissions. In 1950 a colleague who visited us on the Isle of Wight

told us they had each received £5 for designing the Jammer and that these mechanisms

were in all Royal Navy ships.

Brian Harding told my sister that Dad had signed the Official Secrets Act-similar to those

who had worked at Bletchley- and had never disclosed what he had done-except to Brian

Harding- no one else knew. Not even his Naval colleagues. Dad said he had also been

sent to Murmansk and had worked with the Indian Navy in 1942 on Radar installation in

their fleet.

We have a document stating that he was a civil servant. In 1939 he apparently joined the

Royal Naval Reserve not actually joining the Navy until 1946.

Throughout his life he was a Radio Ham with very sophisticated Radar equipment. We

were intrigued to learn on a local news programme that a Jammer had been found in a

cupboard at HMS Hornet-where Dad had been based- which was similar to those

developed at Bletchley.

A prolific photographer- we have a box of photos of Anzio and his progression up through

Italy to Rome- via Monte Cassino- alongside the Partisans.

He was awarded a Herbert Lott award- we are trying to find out more about this.

He was a keen yachtsman representing GB in the yachting team as crew to Bruce Banks

in both the Helsinki Olympic Games 1952 and the Melbourne Olympics of 1956.

As a family we are very proud of our father’s achievements and that he kept his word by

not disclosing any of this information- but we are frustrated not to be able to access the

records to find out more about these teams and what they did to discover and develop

Radar- in our lifetime.


From Nicholas:

My late grandfather, CEF Peachey, was at TRE Malvern. He started at RAF

Bawdsey where radar was first developed under Robert Watson Watt, then to

Worth Matravers, then Scotland and finally TRE Malvern. He was not a boffin but

was responsible for ensuring the security of the establishments. Between the wars

he served in India as a mechanic in the RAF. When demobbed he went to work for

the Air Ministry and was sent to Bawdsey, where he was rapidly put in charge of

security by Watson Watt. In 1939 when war broke out he immediately rejoined the

RAF. Within days Robert Watson Watt intervened and my father was discharged

and went back to Bawdsey. Whilst at Worth Matravers I was born in Poole in 1941

not far from the harbour. According to my late mother I arrived coincidentally with a

stick of bombs on the harbour. Shortly after during one of the straffing raids on

Swanage my mother found peacefully sleeping in my cot covered in bits of glass

and wood where the widow above me had been shot out. As far as I can make out

there was a fairly brief time in Scotland before the establishment of TRE Malvern,

where my father remained until 1948 when he took another civil service post in

Suffolk and we moved. He never spoke about what he did, I only know the brief

snippets my mother occasionally dropped and from one or two things an ex

colleague told me after my father died in 1959. One incident sticks in my mind.

We lived in Manby Road Malvern and one evening when it was almost but not

quite dark my father said he had something to show us outside, so my parents my

younger brother and I went outside and stood in the garden. After a few minutes

my father told us to look up and as we did so a huge glider swooped low over our

heads and disappeared into the gloom.

Added later:

Unfortunately I have no photos from that period. Only a couple of incomplete albums from my

father’s RAF days. I am certain he knew that something was being developed to try and locate

enemy aircraZ with radio waves, most local people knew something was going on when the

four big masts were built at Bawdsey to carry the aerial arrays. On the Bawdsey theme a friend I

served with in the RAF told me a tale he had heard from a reCred German submariner.

Apparently the Germans knew before the war that something secret was going on a RAF

Bawdsey but all aGempts to infiltrate the camp failed and other aGempts to gather intelligence

were also unsuccessful. So it was decided to send a submarine over to sit on the boGom during

the day, surface at night and if it was dark enough to avoid detecCon send a dingy ashore

carrying experts to glean whatever they could from the masts and anything else. I seems the sub

went to periscope depth and if it looked very dark fully broke surface. Every Cme they did this

there was a loud click from the shore and huge searchlights lit everything up and the sub had to

crash dive. AZer a few weeks supplies were running low and the sub was giving problems, so

they went home confused and none the wiser. The chap who told my friend the story was part of

the crew and there is no way of actually checking whether or not it is true, but I like to think it is.

I have thought about the glider over the years. The fact it was a glider and had navigaConal

Cming, alCtude and accuracy far in advance of anything then in use leads me to believe it was

being developed for clandesCne operaCons. Where did the glider come from, how was it

launched and where did it land? I doubt we’ll ever know.


From George

I downloaded this photo from the MRATHS website men;oned in the ‘Resources’

page. I found it while browsing around it while I was a member. My dad is 6th from

leQ on the back row. He worked on precision metal parts for the radar. The photo

was named on MRATHS ‘House 5 residents C1944’.

(Can anyone find this photo?- Anne)


From Ken

My father was in the RAF from 1941 until 1945 or 1946. He would never

talk about "What he did in the War" other than to say that he was a radar

technician in the south of England. We were from Northampton. After the

War he went on to manage a Radio Rentals business. In 1953 he emigrated

to Toronto and my mother and I followed in 1954. He went to work for

A.V.Roe in Malton and worked on the radar systems of the CF100 jet fighter.

He took a three year hiatus to go to the Artic Circle on the DEW Line (Distant

Early Warning) Once again, working on Radar installations. When he returned

to AVROs in 1958, he then went on to be instrumental in overseeing the

radar systems in the AVRO ARROW supersonic Jet Fighter, and worked on

all 7 prototypes. All of this stemmed, I believe, from what he did in the War!

When "Black Friday" closed down the development of the Avro Arrow and

put everyone out of work, he was offered an opportunity to head up the

Radar Division of the Toronto Police Force. Instead, he decided to accept a

position with Remington Rand Univac Division to become Toronto's first

computer operator in 1959. My father was hired by the city of Toronto to

oversee the installation and running of their first main frame computer in

1966. He retired after 20 years and passed away in 2007 at age 86.



From David Delaney:

Hi My wife Lynn’s father was in the RAF and posted to Canada for all the was to work

on Radar. She would like to hear from anyone who was similarly posted.


From Viv Munro

Hi I am one of the daughters of Sandy Munro who worked at RSRE, joining TRE,

because the government said he was too clever to join the war due to his

University degree he dedicated his lifeCme discovering things in the Defence


Added later:

I have come back to live in Malvern, in fact we're just around the corner from Eileen Tomlin, do you

remember her from Music Makers? Eileen is now a lovely neighbour and works very hard at St


Unfortunately Mum and Dad have since passed, so has my Brother Alistair, despite having polio he

went to Barts Med School and finished his career as Consultant Chemical Pathologist at Worcester,

he finished working in the CCG.

He unfortunately had kidney cancer before he died, I do miss him terribly.

Have you heard about MRATHS in Malvern - the Malvern Radar and Technology Society? There

was lots of Dad's old work up in the a=c, we had to clear Mum's and Dad's bungalow to put on

the market, I didn't have the heart to just 'get rid of it' but thankfully remembered the Malvern

college was connected with MRATHS.

So I contacted them and they were v grateful, so was I! Mike Burstow from MRATHS, who I used to

work with in Qine;Q, actually collected all the boxes, they have been busy scanning scien;sts'

work and placing the scans in a secure vault somewhere.

You ought to join them, I'm a member, it's all v interes;ng and they hold regular mee;ngs - on

Zoom at the moment!

Added later

Dad worked in Airborne Radar, when I went back as a contractor to DSTL and Qine;Q a couple of

scien;sts 'sang Dad's praisies', saying that he had developed blah blah blah. , and I was very lucky

to have a Father like him! He worked with 'microwaves' etc and I remember he used to go down to

Defford for .... I also remember him having meals as a family around the Dining Table when he

would be v quiet and then blurted out "I've found it" of course he couldn't say anything about his

work so we didn't have a clue what he was thinking!

(I am indeed a member already and ac?vely talking to MRATHS! And of course I remember Eileen - please

send my warmest wishes to her- Anne )


From Charles Rigg

I was reading your article in The Mail On Sunday. I live at Bishampton, near Pershore,

Worcestershire; that is close to the ex-R A F Defford from where the wartime test flying of

the radar equipment took place, and right next to the ex R A F Pershore to where the

post-war flying was moved. About the latter (amongst other things re WW2 and post-war)

I have researched and written as part of the village History Society. Something I came

across as part of my research that possibly you may not be aware of (and who have been

very helpful to me) is the Malvern Radar and Technology History Society - https:// Hope it may be useful. Regards.

Added later:

We moved here in Sept 1969, with a thunderous noise the next day to see a C130

Hercules some 200 - 300 yards away and 200 feet up about to touch down, so for an

aircraft/history/military history 'nut' I wasn't complaining! So since I have always had an

interest in Pershore Airfield. During the WWI anniversary years I did a lot of research into

and writing a local book on the village guys that went to war, and that also threw up things

about WW2 and later. As is my habit, there was later digging further into those, and it

became apparent that despite general conceptions of this area and Worcestershire being

a quiet backwater in the war, that couldn’t be further from the truth. That resulted in a talk

to our local U3A Family History group, and now expanded into another book for the village;

so many people here, especially newer residents, have no idea what went on locally. All

the local substantial properties hereabouts were earmarked for use by Royalty/Cabinet/

Government/etc - which included Malvern College for the RRE - and nearby Coughton

Court for the House of Commons (seeing its connection with the Gunpowder Plot, did

someone have a sense of humour?!). All a bit surprising when another Army Intelligence

scenario was that there could be a secondary invasion via the South West/Bristol and/or

Wales and Ireland aimed directly at Birmingham and the Black Country which would came

straight through this area. Churchill’s We shall not surrender speech probably generally

regarded as a morale booster - but he knew, with his own input, that there very strong

defences put up around the country including the regular Army, reasonably well-armed

Home Guard (unlike Dad’s Army) - and local top secret underground resistance units of

some six or eight personnel, who were armed with latest equipment and explosives even

before the Army got them. Like your parents, they had to sign the Official Secrets Act and

kept so secret that virtually nothing became known about them until the mid-1990s.

Pershore Airfield had a ‘claim to fame’ in that it was the only one of the many in the

Midlands that had one of those resistance units (The Stay Behinds), comprising local men

here, which was set up principally to watch on and sabotage the airfield if taken over

during any invasion. But I digress.

Pershore Airfield was established in the mid-1930s as a private grass airfield and flying

club, being taken over by the Air Ministry at the start of the war and then being built as a

full-scale bomber specification airfield. At the same time, the Ministry purchased land at

Croome Estate to build Defford Airfield, to bomber spec but slightly smaller than Pershore.

R A F Pershore was used as an Operational Conversion base for training bomber crews

throughout the war, as was R A F Defford for a very short while; that then was changed to

operating the test flights for the equipment being developed at RRE Malvern, being the

main base for that. Those operations continued at Defford until that closed in 1957, when

they were transferred to R A F Pershore where they operated until that closed down in

December 1977. During that time, R A F Pershore became a dispersal airfield for units of

the nuclear bomber force, so several times we had Vulcan bombers flying in. RRE had

some 500 personnel on site and a fleet of some 40 aircraft. All very interesting when we

went into nearby Pershore with the road crossing the main runway, and we had to wait

behind crossing barriers if aircraft were landing/taking off.

You mentioned in your article that your father, apart from some flights on operational

sorties, did several flights around the country on test flights for their equipment, as it

seems several ‘boffins’ did. I would suggest therefore that those latter would probably all

have been from R A F Defford. Do you know of the Defford Airfield Heritage Group that is

based at Croome Court - ?

I mentioned in the first para one other item local to here (about a mile away) that was one

of RRE’s projects, that being the Sheriffs Lench Observatory. Again, something I knew

basics about, but then stumbled across a website where a guy recently had taken drone

photos of the redundant site with some extra details. When I put this to The Malvern

Radar and Technology History Society they gave me complete ‘chapter and verse’ on it.

Might have been after your parents’ time, but for your interest I have attached my chapter

on that.

With regard to other sources etc, a local-ish guy (Glyn Warren) in the 1980s produced two

small books on the airfields - RA F Pershore - A History, and The Endless Sky, Pershore

and Defford; despite being small (a bit larger than A5 size) they contain a lot of info/photos/

personal recollections from the relevant times. Probably cost (metaphorically) a fiver in

those days; The Endless Sky can be bought on-line - at £100+ !! Ironically, after a very

long loan, I have just returned those to the local library, but I could get back The Endless

Sky and scan/copy the relevant section on Defford. I would hazard a guess that being

local books they only are in Worcestershire Libraries, but I remember that with one thing to

do with my personal family history research I was able to have transferred/loaned a local

family history book from Lancashire Libraries, so I don’t know whether that is a system that

is generally available. I have to assume that Glyn Warren is no longer with us as I can find

nothing about him.

Apologies if this has ‘rambled on’ a bit, but hope that some may be of use/interest.


Charles Rigg

(Many thanks Charles - plenty to follow up there!! - Anne)


From Alan:

An interesting article by Anne Diamond about her father's work with radar during the war.

He may well have known my old boss Eric Ackermann. He joined the Telecommunications

Research Establishment RTE early in 1940 and like her father flew many sorties

researching enemy radar and testing our own detection and counter measures. For his

work he was awarded the George Medal.

His work continued after the war in Germany as the CO of 646 Signals Unit with the

honorary rank of Wing Commander. I was a RAF Radar Fitter and was at posted there in

1957. The unit HQ was then at Obernkirchen home of the girls choir famous for getting

into the UK top ten with the song The Happy Wanderer. After arrival I kicked my heels for

three weeks without a clue of what I was supposed to do even from people I knew. I later

found out I was undergoing high level security checks. Needless to say that our work was

an extension of what he and others did during the war. The unit had a number of

detachments throughout Germany. I spent most of my time at Putlos near Oldenburg in

Schleswig Holstein. During my time there the CO decided that the unit should have a

badge. It sported the white horse of Hanover and I believe the only RAF unit badge with a

german motto. Kein Hindernis zu Hoch. (No obstacle too high).

Alan Stackman



(Hi Alan - found both your old boss and my dad’s name on this document - they MUST

have known each other, they were certainly both at Worth Matravers and your old boss

obviously worked alongside Joan Curran, the woman who developed window or chaff….-


From Richard Browne


MARCH 2021 Books telling the true story of TV and Radar development. The Life and

Works of A. D. Blumlein By Robert Charles Alexander. The Life and Times of A. D.

Blumlein By Russell Burns On page 195 a gold watch was also presented to C.O.

Browne The Endless Sky. Pershore and Defford By Glyn Warren Here’s Looking at you.

The story of British Television 1908 – 1939 Echoes of War. The story of H2S radar. By Sir

Bernard Lovell They include details of the tragic crash of the Halifax plane which took off

from Defford on Sunday 7th June 1942. The crash resulted in the loss of all 11 on

board. There is now a memorial stone on the Courtfield estate beside the river Wye

where the plane crashed. West Bicknor, Herefordshire. There is a memorial window in

Goodrich Castle to those who worked on radar . One day in February several years back

a man with a metal detector was out looking for any metal objects of interest in the field

where the crash happened.. There were clear skies and late afternoon the gentleman

decided to rest his legs before packing up and heading home. Much to his

astonishment snow started to fall from the sky. Some years later I (Richard Browne, son

of C O Browne killed in the Halifax V9977 crash) visited the crash location with my family.

A beautiful still summer’s day. I said a prayer and we held a minute’s silence. Much to

our surprise a breeze started making the green grass and buttercups move until we

finished our minute’s silence. For that moment we all felt as if we had been joined by my

father and those killed in the crash. I was 6 and living in Gerrards Cross when my

Mother took me into the garden to break the tragic news of my father’s, her husband’s,

death. I have never forgotten that moment and where I was told. Richard

Browne, Son of C. O. Browne who was one of the scientists killed that Sunday



From Nick Mills

Hi Anne. Are you aware of Bill Penley's website: Both

your Dad and mine (John R Mills) are mentioned under TRE We were neighbours I believe

(living at No. 17) but left when I was 6 in 1960. In fact, I think you had a dog called Chips

or Chipp? Anyway, he nipped me one day – one of me few memories of that time

From Neil:

Tracing for family tree my aunt Berta's husband Bill Holland. I understand there were 2 Bill Hollands at

Malvern during the war. See photo a_ached. Cheers Neil


From John Clements

Hi Anne - I read with interest the story about your parents work during the war. While my

parents also met during the war they had nothing to do with the TRE at Malvern, My Dad

was farming near Upton and My Mum, who was from Bromsgrove, had joined the Land

army - and bingo me and by siblings were the result! The reason I am contac;ng you is

becuase during last summers lockdown we went on many walks we had not done before -

this was one of them and this is what i posted last october on the Malvern History site. I

am sure that with the work you men;oned your father was involved with he must have

known some of these people - it was just fortunate that he wasn't on that plane that night.

John. While walking alongside the Wye - from Stowfield to below Symonds Yat rock today I

came across this memorial. I looked up Alan Dower Blumlein when I got home and it would

would appear he was an amazing electronics engineer. He sadly died on June 7th 1942,

while tes;ng the H2S airborne radar system, when the Halifax bomber caught fire and

crashed near Symonds Yat. The plane was on a flight from Defford when the engine set on

fire, part of the wing fell off and the plane flipped over before crashing, killing everyone on

board. From what I understand the radar system was largely being developed at TRE. I am

sure there will be some of you out there who may be rela;ves or may have known people

who have related stories about this incident. Apparently the incident was kept secret for

years aQer the event. h_ps:// There is also a

memorial window, opened by Sir Bernard Lovell, in Goodrich Castle and another one in the

TRE museum at Croom Park where the bomber was based. I happen to have some of the

'window' in a box, apparently lots of it landed round here when they were developing it.

There is also some bits of plane wreckage - the story goes there was a prac;ce bombing

range on Longdons marsh at castlemorton and 2 American planes collided sca_ering bits of

wreckage far and wide. John

(For more on this - see my video blog - Anne )

From Richard:

Trying to find any informa;on on my uncle, Herbert Jack Morris who was part of

Mark Oliphant’s team working on radar, located at Birmingham University. In 1940

Jack build the first cavity magnetron for John Randall and Henry Boot. During WWII

he was one Oliphant’s assistants sent Berkley, USA to work on Radar and the

Manha_an Project. AQer WWII he joined the Atomic Energy Research Establishment

as head of Glass, Plas;c and Ceramics. It would be interes;ng to hear from anyone

who worked with him.


From Peter Gough:

My father John Gough , known as Jack Gough, was a teacher before the war. He

taught Physics, mathematics, Latin and coached his schools rugby teams. At the

outbreak of war, he volunteered and had been accepted for officer training for an

eventual commission in the Royal Corps of Signals. My mother was also a

teacher and like many teachers they got married in the October half term. Of

1939. Churchills’ edict that those with science degrees get ‘looked at’ led him to

RADAR course number 2 in a village hall that had thy kingdom come above the

door. Initially he was assigned to try and get the radar working that guided the

anti-aircraft batteries in Bristol. Both him and my mother were Bristolians. After

a few months he was posted to Christchuch research. In 1942 they along with

many other scientists were moved to Malvern , initially working at Malvern Boys

College. They were quartered in a flat in Graham Road. Mother got a job teaching

at Croftdown where she remained teaching until 1964 when father got sent to

London to work. They acquired an Irish setter in 1947, adopted my sister in 1948

and adopted me in 1950. They were allocated a Ministry House in Leighsinton

Road and moved again to another Ministry House in Cockshot Road in !954. In

1960 mother cashed her teachers pension in and they bought a new build house at

the top of Queens drive(the road behind Brays) In 1964 father was sent to work in

London. Whilst in Malvern his focus was on Ground Radar and after he retired he

was asked to write a history of ground radar 1939 to 1966. It was published with

the title of Watching the Skies by HMSO. Very technical but parts almost

intelligible to me.... During the war I was told that the scientists were paid

infrequently (my parents were lucky with mothers income), relied on goodwill

from the shop keepers, the grocer Mr Tipping whose shop was by Priory Steps

was one. The Doctor was Dr Harvey (no NHS in those days) and many others. I

was told the local populace was very hostile to the scientists for quite a while.

Father was active in the motor club and Pale Manor Rugby Club. I attended

Hillside where it was realised I was too thick to pass 11 plus so was entered for

scholarships / bursaries at various boarding schools. I was offered two so started

boarding at a very young age My sister attended Croftdown and then went to the

AO in Worcester and her A levels at Frimley Grammar. Malvern was a great place

for a child growing up.


From :Robin

My Uncle and Aunt were part of the TRE Team at Malvern during the War and up to

the 1970s. Graham Russell was one of the research scien;sts married to my

mother's sister Val. They were originally based in Swanage and Graham was

recruited by TRE from GEC At Leicester where they both worked and were married.

They oQen talked about the night they were spirited away from Swanage in the

early hours of darkness to Malvern and were billeted in lodgings in the town.

Graham Russell was also one of the team under Sir Bernard Lovell and constantly

flew night missions from Bristol tes;ng airborne radar. As they had no children I

spent every summer at their new home in Daventry Avenue one of the houses that

were built for the scien;sts and staff at TRE. Graham built me a morse code set and

taught me how to send messages. He later worked on radar guidance systems for

Bloodhound and Blue Streak missiles before re;ring due to ill health due to exposure

of micro wave and infra Red technology. I do have photos of them and will post aQer

a trawl through the loQ Robin Davison

(Looking forward to those Photos, Robin! - Anne)

Added later:

Hi Anne

I’ll dig some out We have some of the house in Daventry Avenue and I’ve also found my

Uncle Graham Russell listed working for Matravers team.I’ll have a dig around and so

pleased I’m not the only one proud of what my family were involved with.BestRobin

And more:

Graham Russell worked with another radar scien;st Les Weaver who was married to Hilary.

Les bought a 1954 Ford Popular Reg PUY226 and had it un;l 1965 when it was bought from

him in June for me having just passed my driving test.

Les and Hilary Weaver used to play bridge at home quite oQen with Graham and Val Russell

and all the Research Team seemed very close and more of a family than work mates

And later:

My Uncle Graham Russell worked with Tom Kilburn on the development of computers and

I remember my uncle bringing home very small components and transistors to replace

valves when he made me a portable hand held morse code radio.

Graham said that Tom had believed that computers would run the world eventually and he

was so right!

Billet for Graham Russell TRE Malvern visited by my family from 1948 to 52

From George Ford:

I was most interested to read your ar;cle in the MoS about your Dad and his

involvement in the development of Radar. Unfortunately I have no story to tell it's

just that I have long been interested in most things technical, Radio and Radar in

par;cular and hope that by joining this site I may improve my knowledge of the early

days at TRE, Malvern, Worth Matravers and Bawdsay Manor. Have you watched the

film'School for Spies' ? a most interes;ng film which I guess would be like a home

video for you. It is the only one in my experience that s;cks with the story of Radar

with very li_le devia;on or sub plot. I highly recommend it. Best of luck with your

project I do hope you receive lots of publicity and a good response to your request

for informa;on. I said I had no story to tell, well perhaps these two short ones.... my

Dad was in the Royal Ar;llery and landed on Juno Beach on June 7th, drove inland

with his unit and set up posi;ons in and around a town called Bre_evillel'Orgueilleuse,

midway between Bayeux and Caen. He survived the war and in 1956

built a detached bungalow and called it 'Bre_eville" , where I now live. He had lots of

war souvenirs and one day we were in the garage together going through them and I

asked him, as only a stupid nine year old could, "did you kill anyone in the war" he

replied " it says in the Bible 'thou shalt not kill' "I was stunned into silence and never

asked him about the war again. He died aged 57 in 1975 and Oh how I wish I had

tried again to broach the subject, but much to my bi_er, bi_er regret I never did. I do

hope you have more success than I did. Kind Regards George Ford


From Tom

Hi Anne - my Canadian uncle spoke of his ;me sta;oned in Scotland where

radar trials were performed. Will this be included in your website? Many

thanks Tom

(Absolutely - all stories are welcome, not just limited to Malvern…Let’s hope others can help with more info!

- Anne)


From Chris;ne Escri_:

I remember the scien;st you men;oned with the basket on his head. I lived with my

family of 5 kids half a mile from the girls college for 18 years. I eventually worked for

REME at one of the old radar sites in Malvern Link. The best childhood!


From Katy:

My grandad Thomas George Thorne worked with your dad in worth and Malvern , I

think my mum went to the same school as you .

(Oooh - more info please, Katy! - Anne)


From Nick

Hi Anne. Are you aware of Bill Penley's website: h_p://

Both your Dad and mine (John R Mills) are men;oned under TRE We were

neighbours I believe (living at No. 17) but leQ when I was 6 in 1960. In fact, I think

you had a dog called Chips or Chipp? Anyway, he nipped me one day – one of me

few memories of that ;me

From Angus

Congratulations! This website is a wonderful initiative. My uncle, John Harris

Richards (aka Harris) graduated at Cardiff University with an engineering degree in

1934 and for the next 20+ years worked for Metropolitan Vickers in Trafford Park,

Manchester. In 1940 he visited his sister (my mother) in the London hospital where

she was a nurse and hid documents marked ‘top secret' under her mattress. He told

her he was working on radar and would be visiting a government department while

he was in town but would not say any more. He never spoke to his son or to me about

the work he did during the war and we regret we didn’t press him. I am writing a

family history and it is possible more about his work will be revealed. I’m sure that

Malvern wasn’t the only place where radar was developed. Do you agree? I will of

course share any information I uncover with this website.


From: Terry

Thank you for allowing me to join RADARfamilies. I am a re;red RADAR

operator. I have many pictures of different RADARS and underground RADAR

loca;ons if they are of interest. TB


From Judith Pollard

I don’t have memories of families involved with the radar work at Malvern but I may have

information on someone who may have worked there. The person I refer to is a Professor

Chick who i met when my late husband joined the University of Surrey’s Department of

Electrical and Electronic Engineering in the mid 1960s. Professor Chick was Head of that

Department. I remember it being said that ‘Chicky’ as he was known had been involved in

the development of radar so I imagine it’s highly likely that he had been in Malvern before

he later joined the University

(Anyone remember Chicky? - Anne )

From David Kavanagh

Hi Anne,

Having read the Daily Mail ar;cle I wasn’t too sure if it was H2S your father had

worked on, but guessed it was.

I’ve had an interest in RAF Bomber Command for very many years. In the last

few years I have been interviewing Bomber Command veterans for the

Interna;onal Bomber Command Centre, Lincoln. They were all in their mid 90s

and told some incredible stories. All very humbling. Sadly, with the passage of

;me, there are now no more interviews to be done.

I have always had a par;cular interest in H2S and the other radar devices used.

I have felt that Telecommunica;ons Research Establishment (TRE) and the

work at Malvern deserves so much more recogni;on. I can’t claim to be a

technical expert, but with a number of contacts I have, I was wondering if I

could help your project with details of the development and use of the radio

and radar devices used by Bomber Command.

I’m currently doing some research work for the Lincolnshire Avia;on Heritage

Centre, East Kirkby. They are restoring Lancaster NX611 “Just Jane”. This

aircraQ has s;ll installed the H2S development H2X/APS-15. It worked the

same way. I could arrange an introduc;on to them and see if they can help

with your project.

I’m also advising on a film project “Lancaster”, a cinema release later this year,

which is including the story of H2S and the radar countermeasures such as

“Window”. It could be useful to see if the projects could be linked in anyway.

If you think I can be of any help to you and your project, then please let me


Kind regards


From Alan

Anne, You have missed the film "School for Secrets" which

seems to have some striking parallels with what you wrote in

today's Mail on Sunday. The only Wartime Secret I have is that

my Wife's Father was one of the secret listeners.

Added later from Alan:

Here are scans of the labels on my DVD. With that info I expect you will

be able to trace a copy. If not, let me know and I will gladly lend you my

copy - I am sure Peter Us;nov would not mind.

As for the secret listeners, they were civilians who could accurately read

morse and they were given frequencies to monitor when they were able.

My late Father-in-Law [whom I never met as he died before we married]

was such a person. He was medically unfit to serve and was a night

telephonist at a factory near where he lived.

What they read was passed to Bletchley Park, and you know what they

did. There is a roll of honour at Bletchley Park with the names of the

listeners and my late Father-in-Law is there, Harold Worsley Robinson.

BTW, the Worsley was a family name and it is held that it came down

from the Worsley root when in Lancashire and before one of them went

over the mountains to Yorkshire and led down to Katherine Worsley, a

name I am sure you know.

As for me, my DoB was November 1932 and you will realise that I was too

young to be in the War, except as an evacuee. I did later become an

appren;ce at RAF Halton and when I had graduated, found to my disgust

that the RAF vessels did not carry electricians, However aQer I was

invalided I joined the Admiralty Ferry Crews, some;mes known as Charles

Barber's Private Navy. I was lucky enough to be on two Spithead Reviews!

Best Wishes, Alan

From Steve Burrows:

I (and my co-author) are both re;red police officers. We have wri_en some 15 books,

fic;on & non-fic;on and have a website www.bos; if you are interested. (Bit

of a ‘bucket-list’ enterprise)

I’m interested in your aims with the radar website? I am a historian by qualifica;on, live in

Worcester and became interested in TRE for two reasons:

Firstly, I s;ll work part-;me for the Home Office and ‘hot desk’ at Defford airfield in the

West Mercia Police compound there. I became aware of the history of the site and it

seemed nobody had wri_en an account in book form for many decades, so I did.

Secondly, un;l recently, my daughters worked at Na;onal Trust Croome Park so I visited the

RAF Museum there.

I also have a friend who was a radar scien;st and lived and worked at Malvern in the 70’s &

80’s and advised on both books in terms of the science involved.

I empathised with your views about the forgo_en heroes of TRE and Malvern. It is a

na;onal disgrace that the site has been demolished without any a_empt to preserve the

history and one of the main reasons for wri;ng the books was to capture and preserve

memories from the dwindling band of those who worked there, and at Defford and

Pershore. I have met a number of wonderful and inspiring nonagenarians during the


(Steve’s books - Anne)

From Rosemarie Watson:

My father was a scientific Instrument maker at Marlborough College, and was sent to Worth

Matravers…I don’t know the date. He was then moved to Malvern to work on the

Radar. He never said anything about his work and I know nothing about his lodgings or

what he did. But I know my Mum thought he was so secretive that he was having an affair.

I was born after the war in 1948, but I know their marriage was rocky and when he died in

1970 she looked through everything trying to find some evidence. I think he obviously took

his signing of the Official Secrets Act very seriously and thought if he told Mum she would

tell everyone…but it made for an uncomfortable marriage I think. I, and my sister who was

born in October 1942 (so he must have come home once!) would love to know more. I like

to tell people when talking about the war that my Dad helped discover Radar…however

small his job was! I am interested to see that there were married quarters at Malvern…I

never heard my Mum mention that she could have gone. Here is a photo of my Dad back,

while the Queen was talking to him on the Royal visit to Malvern, and this letter:

(Thanks so much Rosemarie! The Official Secrets Act clearly caused a lot of problems for some!!!? - Anne)

And this from Rosemarie’s nephew, Alan Watson:

Dear Anne,

I was given your email by my Aunt, Rosemarie Watson, who told me that

you are looking for information about the Radar research during the

second world war.

I am the second son of Keith Watson who was the first son of William

(Bill) Watson about whom Rosemarie wrote to you about.

I believe Rosemarie sent you a copy of this photo of my Granddad

(Rosemarie’s father-in-law) meeting the King and Queen while working

at the T.R.E. in Malvern.

We had a copy of this photo on the wall at home for many years with a

note underneath saying “Bill Watson meets the King and Queen – either

at Worth Matravers or at Malvern”. Bill had died in 1970 having

disclosed very little about his activities during the war to his family.

I was pleasantly surprised a couple of years ago when I was surfing

YouTube looking for information about Worth Matravers during the war

and I stumbled upon this video clip:

The footage was taken at the same Royal visit depicted in the photo

above. For the first part of the video, Her Majesty is without the bouquet

of flowers but after leaving the Engineering Unit you can see her

carrying the flowers seen in the photo above. Unfortunately there is no

footage inside the Engineering Unit only still photos. I’m guessing the

light levels inside the buildings was too low for the new-fangled colour

film. This video helped me pin-point not only the location but also the

date – 19 th July 1944.

I remember a conversation with my dad where he told me he’d been

informed by other sources, long after his dad had passed away, of what

Bill had worked on at Worth Matravers and later Malvern College.

Apparently Bill, as a metalworker, had been helping to machine the

tooling required to perfect the Plastic Injection Moulding process that

was necessary to produce parts for the Radar Antennas.

I hope this information is of interest to you.

Good luck with your research.


From Judy Wynne-Davies

My maiden name was Harris, and I am a_aching staff list from TRE Purbeck which

includes your Dad’s name (Group 10) and my Dad’s - N S Harris (Norman). I’m afraid

I’m a bit hazy on the dates that my dad moved - I know he came up from Dorset

around 1942 but I can’t remember if he went to Malvern or RRE Defford first. I will

do more inves;ga;ng and see if I can dig up any photos.

PS I was born in 1952 and grew up in a MOD house in Pershore, which was where we

se_led when Mum had to leave work.

From Barry Symonds:

My (not par;cularly exci;ng) story is simply that during the nineteen eigh;es,

on several occasions I escorted a number of teenage appren;ces on visits to an

adventure experience trip to Dorset.

One of the centres that we used had a large display board on the wall

explaining that the building had been used to examine the radar set captured

by a commando raiding party from a German Radar site in northern France.

I was excited about this as I was aware of that par;cular spectacular raid.

However, my students could not appreciate the significance of the Marines


Reading you ar;cle in ‘Mail on Sunday’ clarified my musings as to why that

building in Worth Matravers should have been used by the Royal Radar


I have no way of knowing if that building was the genuine one or whether the

display board had been relocated. The loca;on was at Renscombe Farm, about

half-mile west of Worth Matravers village.

Coincidently, the adventure Centre closed following an accident at a different

adventure centre in Dorset which resulted in the drowning of students, who

were canoeing on the open sea.

I hope that you find my recollec;ons of interest.

Also, I wish your endeavours success in gaining recogni;on of your parent’s

war;me efforts.

During the evacua;on from Dunkirk in 1940 my father was captured while

helping to hold back the German forces at St Valery. He survived five years in a

POW camp and lived un;l 1989.

Best wishes,

Barry Symonds

(I think that’s a brilliant story! - Anne)

Thank you so much for all of the

memories and pictures you have

sent. Please find more! Unless you

state otherwise, I will publish them

like this so that others can share…

More to come!

More to come…

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