Royal Observer Corps
No. 6 Group Museum
Upon the stand-down of the Royal Observer Corps in September 1991, a request
was made to No 6 Group Headquarters at Norwich for at least one of each item of
equipment, insignia, forms and memorabilia, to be saved for future display. The
staff at HQ managed to put aside a great number of items for the proposed ROC
museum at Flixton, where at least twenty museum members had served in the corps.
Fund Raising started with jumble sales, raffles, personal donations etc., to
raise enough money for a building. When a children’s playroom used by the
American church at RAF Woodbridge became available, transport was arranged and
it arrived at Flixton in 1992. The task of obtaining planning permission began.
Once this was completed, concrete foundations were laid, and the building was
winched into place, repaired and repainted. Most of 1993 was taken up with
moving the exhibits in and setting up the displays within the building.
The official opening on 26th September 1993 was performed by
Mr Harry J Teague MBE, a former Group Commandant of No 6 Group
The Royal Observer Corps Museum
The museum traces the history of the Corps, from the beacon lighters of
Elizabethan times, to LADA, (The London Air Defence Area) of World War One, to
its official inauguration in 1925, through to its standing down in 1991.
Initially the museum was only open Sundays and Bank Holidays, with ex-ROC
members manning the museum, providing visitors with valuable answers to any
questions raised about the role, lifestyle and operation of the ROC.
On entry to the museum is a welcome sign and a ‘key date’
history of the Corps. There are photographic displays of the
‘Bungay Post and Crew’, The ‘Southwold Post and Crew’, ‘ROC at
Home Days’ and ‘Seaborne Observers.’
There are also 22 uniforms on display ranging from Observer to Observer
Captain, with displays of rank, insignia, badges and medals. A female observer
wearing a wartime battle dress uniform stands in a sandbag enclosure with post
chart table on a tripod, with post aircraft plotting instruments facing towards
an incoming raid. She is wearing a wartime head and breast set telephone. There
are displays of aircraft recognition cards, magazines, models and epidiascopes.
There is a small scale model of the wartime RAF Uxbridge operations room, where
wartime aircraft plots were fed to.
One of the display cases in room one
For the post-war Terrier + Rats and Cold War period there are displays of
post aircraft plotting chart tables, and a small scale Norwich Ops room main
table showing aircraft plots, with aircraft recognition slides and projections.
Going to the nuclear role there are many post exhibits, including: Maroons,
Hand-Operated sirens, emergency rations, first aid kits, Dosimeter, Fixed Survey
Meter, Radial Survey meter, Generators and ground zero indicator. There are also
displays in the 2nd room which is a replica underground post manned by four
female observers. Headquarters equipment for the Cold War Period includes a
Triangulation table, for working out the ground zero of nuclear bursts in the
group’s area, it’s power and its height within the atmosphere, from information
fed in by the post; from this information the UKWMO (UK Warning and Monitoring
Organisation) warning team could, with wind direction and speed, predict the
future of fallout for public warning notices and the military. There are
training displays A and B, which are vertical Perspex displays on which nuclear
bursts and fallout plumes were plotted. There are examples of Post Display
Boards on which communications, First Fallouts and radiation readings were
plotted, feeding information to the warning team. There is a display of rules,
templates, protractors and calculators used by the Triangulation and Warning
Members of the ROC wore RAF Pattern uniforms, from early war to 1991. Ranks
were a mixture of Naval and Air Force (Leading Observer-Leading Seaman, Chief
Observer-Chief Petty Officer, Observer Officer-Pilot Officer.) ROC members were
also issued with a (UKWMO) United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organization ID
card; in times of emergency this could insure the holder a police escort to
their place of duty, in this case, their designated ROC post.
Over the years the museums flat roof caused a few problems, this was finally
cured by a new pitched roof. The old combi-TV showing relevant videos has been
replaced by a flat screen player that shows two five minute films about the ROC.
The museum has also gone through an overhaul in terms of lighting and security,
with some of the exhibits now utilising new LED lighting to highlight them.
Eight new display cases were added in the winter of 2011/12 as part of the
on-going process to re-energise and re-invent the displays of the ROC museum.
Memorabilia on display includes the No6 Group ROC Ensign and
Headquarters Board, three framed stich word badges, five wall
shields, anniversary mugs, crew shields, crew of the year
trophies, plotter of the year trophies, crew three bowls trophy,
6/40 post shield and trophy and the Ray Allard Aircraft
Every September from 1992, the museum arranges an “At Home”
or ROC Day for ex members and visitors. Entertainment is held in
the hangar with other stalls and raffle. Weather and
availability permitting there is a flypast by the Battle of
Britain Memorial Flight, a reminder of King George VI’s awarding
of the title Royal to the Observer Corps in 1941 for services
rendered during the Battle of Britain, when friend and foe were
‘The Royal Observer Corps Club’
The Observer Corps Club was formed from the Hearkers Club in
January 1941, re-named the Royal Observer Corps Club in April
1941. The club took over aircraft recognition training;
observers tried to attend one club meeting a month which
included graded recognition tests and lectures. The club
produced recognition sheets and cards for the epidiascope. In
September 1941 the club produced its own magazine, the ROC Club
Journal. If there were not any photographs of any aircraft then
the model makers produced them so photographs could be taken of
them for the journal. By late 1942 there were 191 branches of
the club. Observers/Members were also lecturing/instructing the
Army, Air Force, Navy, Home Guard, Air Training Corps, and
Spotters Clubs in order to pass on their knowledge. Recognition
tests were of three grades; Basic, Intermediate and Master. For
the latter a badge showing the plain view of a Spitfire was
awarded and worn on the arm. At the end of 1942 it was announced
that the ROC club had to be disbanded and the journal to cease
production, and recognition cards were to be stopped. The Air
Ministry did not like the idea that recognition training to such
a high standard was carried out by a civilian club! And in
future would have to be done by the ROC itself and members would
be issued with a new publication called Aircraft Recognition-
the Inter-Services Journal. (In many ways just a copy of the ROC
Journal.) The final combined copy for December 1942 and January
1943 had 72 pages and instead of the normal blue cover was
bright blood red. All the ROC club branches were closed down.
For further information, contact Huby Fairhead at