WWII in real time


General Wavell, commander of Singapore: "There are neither plans nor fortifications to defend the north side of this 'impregnable fortress.'"

With Japanese just 30 miles north of Singapore, Churchill is horrified to hear that the city is only fortified against attack from sea, to the south.

US Treasury reports an anonymous American veteran, stricken by conscience, has mailed them $36, with a note: "For overpay in the last World War."

Red Army's first ever large-scale airborne attack is erratic: Soviet paratroopers are scattered across 10 miles, most of their supplies lost, as Luftwaffe pick the transport planes from the skies.

Red Army are trying radical new tactics: thousands of Soviet paratroopers being dropped behind German lines, ordered to regroup & capture town of Vyazma. https://t.co/HGTlzVsTq0 RealTimeWWII photo

Greece & Yugoslavia are making plans to merge into a Balkan Union: in London, the governments-in-exile of Nazi-occupied nations have agreed to join economies & military forces after the war.

As Japanese invaders advance further down Malayan peninsula, smashing through defenders' lines, British cartoon shows Japanese octopus nearing Singapore, "jewel of the British Empire": https://t.co/WxqK7fqbek RealTimeWWII photo

Lombard was almost bumped off her fatal flight for Air Force pilots; but the actress pulled rank, arguing her publicity tour for US government was "war work".

Carole Lombard, American film star & wife of Clark Gable, has been killed in a plane crash, flying on a public tour of USA to sell war bonds. https://t.co/SLEVDXqXJH RealTimeWWII photo

Despite brave & fierce defence by Indian & Australian troops, Japanese have fought across the river Muar (1 on map), advancing ever-closer to heavily-bombed Singapore: https://t.co/Qzi9GbvVHN RealTimeWWII photo

Gen. Arthur Percival, British commander in Malaya: "The young Indian recruits were helpless. They didn't even know how to take cover, & there were not enough officers to control them. I say this in no spirit of disparagement. It was the penalty of years of unpreparedness for war"

Rather than attack fortified bridges, Japanese have sneaked across the Muar River in small Malay boats, & are taking Indian defenders by surprise, from behind- leading to confusion, panic & retreat. https://t.co/MNxjC20XCo RealTimeWWII photo

Japanese forces are back on the offensive in Malaya: despite slaughter at Gemas, Japanese Imperial Guard are attacking, bypassing Australian & Indian defences on the Muar River. https://t.co/s8B8hAEAuH RealTimeWWII photo

US government has not ordered a coastal blackout at night- meaning shipping is outlined against glow of city lights-, nor organised merchant ship convoys or warship escorts; reports of sunken ships are censored.

German submarines wreak havoc in US coastal waters: 4 more merchant ships torpedoed today, 9000-gallon oil tanker explodes 47 miles off Long Island.

Despite calls to suspend American Major League baseball games for duration of the war, President Roosevelt insists teams play on: "6000 athletes will provide a vital morale boost for US workers & soldiers." https://t.co/eGpm4CHXzr RealTimeWWII photo

German Admiral Dönitz has sent his U-boats to hunt American ships as a "Paukenschlag"- a "roll of drums", to show the USA the power of the Kriegsmarine unleashed.

German submarine U-123, hunting American shipping, has surfaced off coast of New York- close enough to see fairground rides of Coney Island silhouetted against the city's bright lights. Kriegsmarine captains astonished- & delighted- by American unpreparedness.

Roth: "Strelezkaja burns to the ground, in every hut lie 20-30 dead Russians." Red Army counter-massacre, butchering the wounded in a nearby German field hospital.

German soldier Hans Roth: "Most of the Russians didn't even get up- everyone is clubbed to death on their cots. The whole nightmare lasts about a half hour."

Blakelaw Filter Room

This facility was somewhat smaller than the Group Headquarters, but built to a similar pattern.
Filter rooms were the nerve centres of the UK radar system and vital to the success of Fighter and Bomber Command headquarters throughout the country. Information from Radar Stations, airfields, aircraft and ROC posts were directed into the Filter Room. From here, a dedicated and hard working team of RAF personnel collated all of the information to provide an as accurate as possible air picture to be passed onto the Operations Room where, commanders could direct aircraft resources.

The work done by the WAAF plotters of the Filter Room, the Movement Liaison Officers and the Filter Officers who were responsible for calculating and rectifying the position, and identifying the hundreds of tracks of hostile and friendly aircraft leaving and approaching the coasts of the British Isles, was vital. Working conditions were difficult; ventilation and heating were poor. Personnel had two fifteen minute periods when possible during the watch for a refreshment break. The food available varied considerably. Sandwiches of marmite and raw cabbage were a popular snack!
The requirement for the Filter Officers to have quick reactions was patently obvious. They had to sort out the correct position of the aircraft from the various overlapping Radar station plots which covered the same aircraft responses. They needed to estimate both height and number of aircraft, as well as direction from information given, having intimate knowledge of the siteing of the Radar stations involved and judging their accuracy. All of this had to be done with great speed as the aircraft themselves were constantly moving on to new positions. It was found that male Filterers, mostly well over thirty years of age were far too slow during periods of intense activity and they had to be removed from the table!
For the displayed information to be of value to the Operations Room, it had to be as up-to-date as possible. This meant that in times of the greatest activity, a Filter Officer must estimate and display accurate information on up to fifty different tracks within a minute. The mental stress and physical strain were intense under these conditions and when the personnel came off watch, whether officer or airman, tension was invariably high. Quite often however tired, sleep was impossible.
On the whole, it was amazing how few buckled under the strain. They all realised the importance of their work and it took a really major illness to prevent them from appearing for duty. However, subsequently, time has taken its toll of some amongst that small group. There have been instances of suicide, of recourse to alcohol in later years and bouts of deep depression. This is not to be wondered at when one considers that whilst filtering the tracks of the bomber squadrons on operations over Germany or plotting fighter sorties against incoming hostiles, these young women knew that their own husbands or sweethearts were amongst the aircrews. They would count with trepidation the numbers of the returning Allied aircraft.
The mixture of backgrounds amongst the members of the Filter Room officers was vast. Most of the senior male officers hailed from the Stock Market where they worked as brokers. It was an inspiration on the part of the RAF to choose these men for the positions as Controllers and Movement Liaison Officers. All personnel involved had to have quick reactions, good mathematical ability and be physically very energetic. The women chosen ranged from psychology or science students, young actresses, county debutantes, and grammar school high flyers to daughters of famous people – novelists, painters, musicians and vicars. But they were all dedicated to their work.
At approximately the same time another underground bunker was constructed. The communications bunker. All communications from airfield squadrons, aircraft and group headquarters were relayed through here before branching off into either the Filter room or direct into the Operations bunker. (The location of the Communications bunker is not known)

Information from http://www.websitedcm.com/bunker/filterroom.htm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Our Twitter Feed

Donate

Help Preserve The Bunker