How do I feel about visiting Norfolk? It is a strange thing to see places from twenty years ago. That strange sense of deja vu, places almost recognised. Names of places and streets that I should know, but gone beyond recognition. R.A.F West Raynham, I did two tours at this base, spent time with people, and learnt a lot of my trade working first and second line repair sections. R.A.F Bawdsey Manor, A magnificent building, appropriated during the Second World War. Home of RADAR. The Chain Home system. Meaning Radio Detection and Ranging. It was, like West Raynham, in the boonies. You keep going East till you hit the sea. Then you have arrived at Bawdsey. At least the domestic site is still being used, a school now so we couldn’t get in for a look round at the old place. I got into the Ops site to drift about and let the ghosts walk with me for while. A strange thing to come full circle like this.
Next stop was R.A.F Bawdsey Manor, a fine old place on the Suffolk coast near Ipswich, at the mouth of the river Deben. Like West Raynhan, Wattisham and North Coates, Bawdsey is a cold war relic these days. After it became part of the Bloodhound Missile defensive umbrella it held sway at the top of the cliffs, looking over the North Sea for many years. Happy days of cold winds and driven rain.
Not my normal post today, normal service will restart soon. I spent many years at places like this, learning my trade and learning about life. This was my first visit back in a long while and it was a sad few days of looking at the past aging without being given any grace to end with dignity. Part of the history of our country and the world, the cold war seems a long time ago now.
Memories walk with me
down roads trodden now by strangers,
layers of reality and history.