Background to the Penley Radar Archives

Penley Radar Archives - How and Why collected 

by Dr W.H. Penley 
Sir Stafford Cripps and almost certainly Sir Winston Churchill believed that without Radar we would have lost the Second World War. Because of the need for extreme secrecy little was made known at the time about the amazing story of its development in the UK, and this is still true even though its use is now commonplace. I was privileged to have been a member of the leading Radar Research and Development team throughout the War and subsequently remained in the Government Service working on Defence matters subsequently becoming responsible for the whole Defence research programme.

Following the security rules I did not keep any significant personal notes or records but have some diaries that recorded my movements and the dates of some of the meetings I attended.

The papers, records and personal memories in these archives were collected after 1988 - over 45 years after the actual events. They do not pretend to be a comprehensive record but I believe they will help to provide a better understanding of what was achieved and how a group of outstanding Scientists and Engineers worked together to achieve such remarkable results. 

Miss Dudley the Chief Librarian at the Royal Radar and Signals Establishment in Malvern provided what information she could and Dr Ernest Putley who was sorting out their historical records also was most helpful. Douglas Fisher who was a member of our photographic group throughout the war provided many pictures from negatives he had retained of photographs he took during this period to add to photographs I already had.

I was able to persuade many of my colleagues to write their personal memories of that time. Anne Stobbs and Colin Latham used extracts from some of these in their book 'Pioneers of Radar'. Some more comprehensive records by individuals were provided and several have written and published biographies. Sqn/Ldr Hayward has written at length on associated RAF matters. 

I wrote notes for lectures on 'The Early Days of Radar' and recorded a shortened version to make a video - this was not completed but the recorded text (in .wav format) provides an outline and could have pictures added. I also wrote chapters for an autobiography covering this period. All these are in the archives.

As far as possible I am scanning the more significant papers to make them easily available as computer records.

Bill Penley 2002  -  Latest info:  - Created: Bill & Jonathan Penley
Page last updated: 12 March 2011     Version:   02d   (12th March 2011)