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The Observer Corp in grateley

  I was lucky to catch an exhibition mounted by the Royal Observer Corps Museum Trust in Andover Library on the role of the Royal Observer Corps.

Through the good offices of Neville Cullingford, Hon Curator of the ROC Museum, I am now aware of the sites of the two observer posts and the names of the people who manned them. The first post was situated in the field south of Monxton Road roughly opposite the Dell. The second was at the station end of the parish just past the Old Stockbridge Road junction with the B3084.

The following information is submitted with the kind permission of Neville Cullingford.

The Post was part of the Winchester Observer Corps No. 3 Gp with the designation 3/A3 Grateley Post with the call sign 3/A3. The post was initially opened in 1926 and was sited in the field south of the present Monxton Road (Grid Reference SU280420). In May of 1939 the post was resited to a position in a field just south of the bungalows on the B3084 in Palestine (Grid Reference SU268409). In addition to the observer role the post was used as a datum point for turning for allied bombers on wartime night navigational exercises. For this role the post was equipped with a paraffin MONEY Flare.

These posts were manned and remained the same until reorganisation in November 1953 when the call sign was changed to 14/N2. The wartime Post structure of a two-storey brick-built building was still in use until at least 1961.

The post was converted to an underground Cold War monitoring post by June in 1961 and continued until it closed in 1991 on the general stand down of the ROC. During this period changes in organisation of the ROC and administration led to minor changes in call signs. Data processing required the call sign to change to 14/31 in 1967 followed by a change to an administrative identity of 14/E2 in 1968 on the reorganisation of the ROC . In 1982 the call sign changed from 14/31 to 14/32 when communications were reorganised.

Although I am in possession of the names of members of the Corps for pre-war, wartime and post war periods I record only those involved at the early stages from 1926 to 1945.

The Head Observer was AG Flippance (Born in 1884) with a relative EG Flippance (Born 1910) as Leading Observer. The other H/Observer was a younger chap, F Crane, (born 1901) who left to join His Majesty's Forces in July 1942. The three were part time as was Observer P Hynd who joined in January 1942 at the age of 65, being the oldest member of the Grateley Unit. The full time members were L Stokes, H Pothecary, W Sprackland, G Bailey and L Fenton: names well known in Grateley. Bill Ayers (born 1899) was a part time member until becoming full time in January 1942. The 31 post-war members of Grateley Post 3/A3 & 14/N2 came mainly from the Wallops: only Fred Attwood, Dave Hoare and AG Holland coming from Grateley.

It would be nice if anybody could remember the Observer Posts of Grateley and even better if there were photographs of the sites or members. Any further information would be welcome both by this site and Neville Cullingford for the ROC Museum.

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