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Kenfig - The Complete History
A Welsh Documentary Heritage Website
Identified by The National Library of Wales Kenfig - The Complete History
A Welsh Documentary Heritage Website
Identified by The National Library of Wales

The Royal Observer Corps

War Years Section || Kenfig Area - The Royal Observer Corps


The War Years around Kenfig
Documenting the entire history of the old kenfig borough / old bro cynffig

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The Old Kenfig Borough / Old Bro Cynffig



Locks Lane, Porthcawl

Royal Observer Corps

The Royal Observer Corps

Hidden in a field next to Locks Lane, Porthcawl until April 1994 was an underground operations room. Built in 1961 on the site of a wartime surface observation post - the original wooden structure was built in 1938 for what was the Observer Corps.
The observation post at Porthcawl commissioned in 1938 consisted of a wooden shed topped by a tower giving excellent views over the Bristol Channel.

Underground Bunker

The bunker was built in 1961 on the site of the wartime surface observation post and consisted of an entrance turret topped by a locked hinged plate which when lifted revealed a ladder. The undergraound chamber covered by 3 feet of reinforced concrete was 12 feet below ground.
There was a small recessed area housing an Elsan toilet at the foot of the ladder, to the right was a door leading to a small room measuring approximately 8x12 feet.
The post was occupied from 1961 until it was disbanded on 30 September 1991 by men of the Royal Observer Corps who operated a continuous 8 hour shift pattern, each with two men, with duties to check for radioactive fall-out in the event of a nuclear attack.

Original Post

The observation post at Porthcawl, commissioned in 1938 conisited of a wooden shed topped by a tower giving excellent views over the Bristol Channel. It was continuously manned day and night initially under the command of an Observer Group Officer reporting to a centre controller in Cardiff.

Operation Overlord

The Royal Observer Corps made a significant contribution to victory by its participation in 'Operation Overlord' - the invasion by the Allies of Nazi occupied Europe in June 1944.
Due to the number of friendly aircraft being shot down, a solution was adopted for observers trained in aircraft recognition to sail with and advise gun crews on board ships taking part in the invasion.
The observers required to man the ships were drawn from some 1400 members of the Corps who volunteered for this duty. Ten of them were mentioned in dispatches and King George VI approved the wearing of the shoulder badge 'Seaborne'.
There were several Observers from Porthcawl who were entitled to proudly wear the Seaborne badge.












The Royal Observer Corps


Royal Observer Corps post at Locks Lane, Porthcawl
Royal Observer Corps post at Locks Lane, Porthcawl

Chief Observer, Walter Lang in the observation tower
Chief Observer, Walter Lang in the observation tower

The ROC post after the war
The ROC post after the war

Observer Corp - Origins

The badge of the Observer Corp depicts an Elizabethan beacon lighter which alludes to the warning system of invation used in the 16th century.
The basis of the Corps can be traced to 1914 when the police were instructed to telephone reports of any Zeppelins or aircraft seen or heard within 60 miles of London to the Admiralty who were at that time responsible for Britain's defences.
The Air Ministry took control in 1929 and the Observer Corps became a corporate body with a Commandant of Air Commodore rank appointed from the retired list. Air raid warning officers were also installed in Observer Corps centres to give warning of imminent attack.
On 09 April 1941 HM King George VI granted permission for the Corps to use the title 'Royal' and in September 1941 women were introduced into the Corps.



Associated Website Links ||

Acknowledgements ||


Bibliography

(1) Bridgend County Borough Council Library & Information Services
(2) 3rd party copyright © Mike Mansley (Porthcawl at War 1939-1945)
(3) Porthcawl Museum & History Society
(4) Rob Bowen - Kenfig.org Local Community Group

Webpage Author

(1) Mr Rob Bowen - Kenfig.org Local Community Group, 2009.

3rd Party Copyright:

Royal Observer Corps (Porthcawl);

Information & photos originally researched by Mike Mansley (Porthcawl at War 1939-1945) and part re-published online strictly for educational purposes only - 3rd party copyright © Mike Mansley (Porthcawl at War 1939-1945) - (First Printed 1994 - ISBN 0 9523152 0 3)
Information edited & sub-edited for online purposes || Rob Bowen - Kenfig.org Local Community Group, 2009
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