October 28, 2021

From Vivian J Parsons – Sidney ‘Robbie’ Roberts

We have been inundated with wonderful stories and recollections from the Family of much loved family members.  This is the first of many – if any of these stories strike a chord – please contact me, anne@radar.family. I’ll add them to this wonderful collections of your stories.

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 garden.

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 tubes.

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

 

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