RAF Box (Rudloe Manor site 1) – Wiltshire

I can’t begin to explain what this site was for. Wikipedia says the following…

The Rudloe Site was formerly RAF Rudloe Manor, which was established during the Second World War as a non-flying station for administrative and command & control purposes. It was home to HQ Number 10 Fighter Group, RAF Regional Command, Headquarters RAF Police & Security Services, No 1 Signals Unit, Controller Defence Communications Network and 1001 Signals Unit. By 1998 it had become mostly administrative, housing the RAF Provost and Security Services, which dealt with security and criminal investigation services, the Defence Communication Services Agency, while the detachment of 1001 Signals Unit of the RAF remained. It closed as an operational site in about 2000.

The base has two main buildings – a manor house and a purpose-built operations building. There are several smaller, newer buildings scattered around the site too.

Manor House

The manor house looked lovely from the outside but was sadly inaccessible. It is thought that this was used as accomodation for the officers.

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Operations Block

A short distance away from the manor house is the operations block.

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The block housed two operations rooms – although one has been turned into a squash court in recent years.

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The operations block has deteriorated pretty badly since closure. Wires have been stripped out and windows have been smashed up. In some places, moss is growing in the corridors.

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Other buildings

These buildings may be covered on a re-visit. Stay tuned!

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116 Responses to RAF Box (Rudloe Manor site 1) – Wiltshire

  1. Hi Violet (Dew nee Westcott). I was at Box with the W.R.A.A.F. from 1948-1952 but was in the telephone exchange. I knew several of the plotters though – Ken Collier (Sgt),
    Chris Brinsdon (Sgt), Margaret de Jong, Mary James and Joyce Burge. Have sent a
    couple of previous posts with various names which you may remember. Would be
    interested to hear if you recognise any of them.

  2. Brian Harper says:

    Hi, David Tuck. It would be easier for me to send copies of photos via Email.
    However they are not of Rudloe Manor, they are the underground signal section of RAF Hawthorn. Send me an Eamil if you want my photos, okay?
    Brian Harper

  3. Brian Harper says:

    David Tuck. I have just copied and sent those photos you were interested in. The copies aren’t brilliant, either because the ink I use is poor quality or I am.

    I don’t remember the names of the two people depicted in them – sorry about that!
    Good Luck


  4. Brian Harper says:

    It’s been a while now, David Tuck, since I sent those photographs you asked for. Have you received them?

  5. Gwen Whitear says:

    Hello Brian,
    My husband Peter, was at R.A.F. Hawthorn in 49/50 and worked on the telephone switchboard (P.B.S.) He enjoyed this but was “volunteered” for a short time, to work on the teleprinter switchboard which he found rather a pain as he couldn’t type! He used to get, “come on mate, haven’t got all day,” and “get some service in!”
    He will contact you – after he locates his pictures of both exchanges and corridors.
    I’ve heard many stories over the years, that’s 63 in all, married 59 years.

  6. Gwen Whitear says:

    It seems that no one was at R.A.F. Hawthorn at the same time as my husband Peter, January ’49 – July – ’50. He worked underground in the telephone exchange, mostly days. Unfortunately, can’t recall any names, apart from Mr. Rosenburg who ran the N.A.A.F.I. at the time. Oh, he’s just come up with 7 other names! George Bryant (a Boxer), Pete Johnson, a keen cyclist, (with an all chrome bike!) Freddie Brookes, (used to lie in bed and miss his breakfast!) Bill Prosser, (a big BIG man) Dave Ward (room mate) Malcombe -? (another keen cyclist, once cycled all the way home to Yorkshire!) Peggy -? and another (more mature gentleman) Cpl. Luck.
    I’ve heard many stories over the years, that’s 63, been married 59.
    At the time, I had my eighteenth Birthday and he presented me with a beautiful silver locket (I still wear it) , he had just enough money to get back from Bath if he walked to another bus stop, over a thickly snow clad field, all going up his trouser legs! All to
    get it for me, bless him!
    Whoops! Another name has come up – Maurice Chiverton.
    Peter can always tell a good story, a laugh a minute, but anyway, if you do know him, you’ll know that. Kept me happy all these years, but unfortunately, he’s no good on the keyboard as those on the other end of the teleprinter found!
    If it’s any good saying, you’ll find me on facebook. I never wanted to have anything to do with it, but although they’re all living near, it’s good to keep in touch with the family.

  7. Brian Harper says:

    Hi Gwen, I’m afraid I don’t recognise any of those names. Unfortunately I can’t even remember the names of some of those I knew well; even all the names of those I met again in the Canal Zone. Two that I do remember – apart from those I have already mentioned – are Cpl Dingle and Cpl Paddy Stafford…..and Sgt Adams. There was Cpl Cooke too but if I remember correctly he was later killed in a car smash in Germany. Anyway, I arrived at Hawthorn in September or thereabouts in 1950 – after you had left.
    Good luck. Brian

  8. eric swithenbank says:

    i served in the raf and was stationed at rudloe manor ,i was in the mt section.i seem to remember thet there were two camps as such and you got to the other camp along leafy lane. i was there in 1947 which was the year of the big snow and along leafy lane you could only see the tops of the edges.from rudloe manor iwas posted to raf changi ,singapore.

  9. Gwen Whitear says:

    Dear Brian and Eric,
    Thank you so much anyway. Peter is still searching fo his photos! Showed them to our daughter a few weeks ago. Now has no idea what he’s done with them! Senior moments! The pair of us.
    Gwen and Peter

  10. I was stationed at RAF Rudloe Manor from summer 1962 to Summer 1963. I lived (in the Nissan huts) on the camp and worked as a Statistical Clerk at the Headquarters, which was situated just across the A4 in the manor house. This house was HQ 24 Group. The statistical area was headed by a civilian (can’t remember his name) but I do remember a colleague Bernard Rogers who was an SAC as I was, but was destined for greater things. The ROC office then was tucked away above our Stats office and their access was through our office! I remember only two other colleagues … a chinese guy called Ng and also a Cpl Callendar who had a Hillman Minx … I have a photograph of me standing beside his car! If anyone was at the camp at the same time, I would love to hear from them. Andre Francis

  11. Brian Harper says:

    David Tuck try me on arpo1atwestnet.com.au

  12. David Perry says:

    I am trying to find out anything about my grandfather Francis William George Perry. We have very little information on his working life as everything he did was kept secret and died with him. We know that he was stationed at Box on two occasions and on one of those postings he was a Flt Lt and officer commanding some signals unit 1958 to early 1960’s. We also know that he also spent a lot of time at Whitehall working in Churchills war rooms. We also know he joined the RAF as an airman then after promotion to Flt Sgt he took a commision. We have also found information showing he was in Mi5 at some time.

  13. Mark Porter says:

    I was based at RAF Rudloe Manor in the late 70’s and early 80’s. We lived in nissan huts on No. 1 site which were cold and draughty, I lived in Spitfire block during my first posting there and then in the MT block in my later posting. Eventually new blocks were built to modern standards, a welcome change.
    I worked with some good mates there, I especially remember Paul Hughes (Plug) MTD, Graham Bligh MT Mech and Phill Bignal MT Mech. We all had motorcycles and used to hang around together, mostly frequenting the Northerly Arms in Box and the Borough Arms in Chippenham.
    There were two sites one at Hawthorn and another accessed via leafy lane across the A4, a service shuttle bus was used to convey personell from one site to another and I can remember personell waiting for the bus mostly in the rain to return to the residential site for dinner.
    A few of my mates worked downstairs in 6SU signals unit and they complained about the flourescent lighting and couldn’t wait to come up to the surface. There was an MOD Policeman on duty as security in a small building above the lift shaft to 6SU and across the road was a post office and The Flamingo club, we had quite a few drunken nights in there as it was open later than our NAAFI and Astronaught Club.
    Mick Phillips was a Corporal there in those days and if I remember rightly left the mob to live on Leafy Lane.
    We had a Sergent called Dennis, but I cannot remember his surname and another Sergent called Roger Crapps, I think they both left and lived nearby.
    HQP&SS Southern Region were situated across the A4 based in the old Manor House on No. 1 site, along with the bedding / clothes store, Sergents Mess and Officers Mess and a car club.
    I was the Station Commanders driver for a while for Group Captain Graham Noyce.
    A good time was had by all I think as it was very relaxed and laid back, as long as everyone did their job.
    I would like to know if anyone based there remembers the good times we had.

    • Dave Langcake says:

      Hi Mark, I served down the ‘Hole’ in the Commcen early 70’s and enjoyed myself, had some good mates there, weekend night shifts we drew the keys and went around the complex sometimes for hours at a time, saw that huge metal gate that the trains used to enter from the main line and wandered around the small tunnels that linked ‘Districts’ together. The ‘Districts’ were enormous and were not lit up like the small passage ways where it is said Roman soldiers are seen walking through walls, never saw them myself but the Maintenance staff have seen things such as that. These ‘Districts’ were of such a size that even with a torch you could not see the other walls it was quite scary to say the least. There is a book written about the place as far as I can remember it was called ‘City beneath Streets’ regards Dave.

    • Jackie Bligh (was Johnson) says:

      Hi Mark
      Yes I remember you, I was there from 79 to 81 when I married Graham Bligh…..just had our first grandchild at Christmas :o)
      I worked over in P&SS and my first job was physically making 1250’s (ID cards) with 2 machines to copy the photo & signature onto blank cards and then I had to stamp out every letter of the details onto the cards on an embossing machine!!!!………….I’d been doing the job for 4 months and was just about to move on before I was told I was actually supposed to wear protective clothing and a mask whilst doing the job!!!!
      I then went into NV SQN processing security clearances for the rest of my time at Rudloe.
      We bumped into Paul (Taff) Hughes at a bike show in the late 80’s / early 90’s and bumped into Trev Good in the queue at the Passport office a few years ago LOL. (Small world)
      I was in Mustang Block along with the likes of Jane Auger, Dawn Newnham, June Dick and Sue Moody. And I’m sure we have some really old, grainy photos of you and Graham, with Taff, Pip & Karen, Pete Johnston & Debbie, and some others with your bikes outside the Guardroom.
      Other names I remember are Phil Tucker & Colin Young, there was that driver who used to wear his beret like a flat cap who we used to call Smiler (cos he was always miserable LOL ……… soz if you are reading this :o) there was little Pete Hurd and Al Greenacre (we all went to his wedding in Corsham)……..Don the lovely big bloke (civvi) who used to run the club until during one of the ‘lock ins’ he collapsed and we had to call an ambulance………….(No more lock ins for us……and he lost his job, ……… oooops) Lovely Marg (another civvi) who used to keep us fed in the evenings with toasties and mugs of coffee , and I’ll never forget how we all stood in awe trying to master the latest technology…………..the Space Invader Machine!!!!
      Happy days :o)
      Reply if you want to get in touch Mark, or look me up on Facebook, Gray’s a deep sea dive out in the middle east at the mo but I can put you in touch :o) x

    • Alan F MILLERSHIP says:

      I was stationed at RM from May 1977 to Apl 1979 as the SNCO I/c CANA CI at HQP&SS(UK),a new post on a move from Northolt in West London.I had a MQ at Colerne some 4/5 miles away thro very winding and steep narrow lanes.Great accommodation in the fab manor hse.Great Sgts Mess, and local pubs and area,enjoyed my time there,left to go not CIO duties in Essex and London.
      Alan F Milleship

    • Alan F MILLERSHIP says:

      I was stationed at RM from May 1977 to Apl 1979 as the SNCO I/c CANA CI at HQP&SS(UK),a new post on a move from Northolt in West London.I had a MQ at Colerne some 4/5 miles away thro very winding and steep narrow lanes.Great accommodation in the fab manor hse.Great Sgts Mess, and local pubs and area,enjoyed my time there,left to go on to CIO duties in Essex and London.
      Alan F Milleship

  14. Roy Daniel says:

    As a National Serviceman, (1960-1962). Rudloe Manor was my first posting from Compton Bassett as a Teleprinter Operator and being a Yorkshireman, it was a long way from home..My living accomodation was on the Hawthorne site and was quite comfortable. Meals were taken in the canteen there and as I remember were excellent. I remember the Post Office opposite the camp and also the Ex-Sericemens Club just down the road.. I walked down Leafy Lane every day to my place of work in the tiny com-centre there, with a Corporal and a Junior Tech, both of which eventually got posted to Cyprus which left me on my own working in the small centre.. There was a PBX office across the corridor and I remember a Corporal Brian Downes being in charge there..I also remember each day the Orderly Officer visiting to inspect all the confidential documents within the safe, each visit he tried to talk me into signing on..It was when walking to or from the com centre that I was once given a lift by an airman in his new Mini and once by a Sqdn Ldr Vaquier in his Citroen car (his office was the one next to mine)..After about 8 months I was posted to RAF Gan and finished my National Service on that island..Having to complete National Service, I never regret the experience, the friends I made and the comradeship experienced..As for my time at Rudloe Manor, although I worked alone mostly I enjoyed my time there and frequently reflect on it now in my 73rd year….Happy memories.

  15. George Ley says:

    I served at Rudloe Manor from June 1961 to December 1962. I was i/c Commcen which was housed in the 24 Group HQ and consisted of 1 teleprinter and a small PBX which was manned mainly by 2 civilian operators during the day and RAF operators at night and at weekends. I lived in married quarters in Portal Avenue (off Leafy Lane). I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and left on posting to Aden.

    • Patricia Jardine says:

      My Dad was stationed at Box . I remember Leafy Lane. I must have been 3 or 4 years old. My Dad also went to Aden and later, in 1963 to Borneo.

  16. Malcolm Bale says:

    I did my technical training at the South West Switching Centre, based at RAF Hawthorn, in 1952-3. It was quite an experience going down the ‘mine shaft’ every morning, but I never did manage to explore all the underground units that were housed there. Howeever, I did know that the GPO (who were responsible for the telephone service in those days) had a research programme there, experimenting with the use of fibre optic cables.

  17. Alec New (2403565) says:

    From August 1948 until April 1950, I spent most of my National Service at Rudloe Manor having been kitted out at Padgate, basic training at West Kirby and trade training at Compton Basset. Whilst I was at Rudloe, we worked a 24hour shift system – 17.00hrs to23.00hrs – 23.00hrs to o8oohrs and o8oohrs to 17.oohrs. I have a photograph taken sometime in1949 and attach a list of my colleagues shown on it.
    Don Powell; Ray Cowdell; “Erky” Coy; “Ging” Antwis; “Taffy” Jones; Keith Littleton; Bill Ross; “Jock” White; ? Hawkins; “Ginger” Todd; ? Calder; “Taffy” Griffiths; “Goldie” Goldberg; Bert Wells; George Bell; Harry Bell; Ray White; Ron Kenny; Arthur Catchpole; Tommy Thomas; Ron Smith; Jack Hewett; Johnny Davys; ?White; Ida Wingate (the only WAAF!); Jim Williamson; Roy Line; Bob McSorley; “Jock” Beattie; Jim Slattery; Alan Stokes; Dicky Farrow (Corporal); Eric Snowdon (Sergeant); “Jock” Payne (Corporal) – I wonder if any are still with us?

    • Kevan Fawkes says:

      Hello Alec,

      My wife is the grand daughter of Eric Snowdon and I can confirm he is still with us and living, with his wife Dorothy, in Oakham. I note that you say you have a photograph of him with his colleagues and wondered whether it may be possible to get a copy. It would make a lovely present for him at Xmas.

  18. Mark Chater says:

    Hi Ed Campbell, i was at Commcen Rudloe Manor 76-79, it became No 6 SU about 78 I think!!, Went back there also in 86-88 not sure its status now.

  19. Pete Knappett says:

    Hey, I was there 77-81 putting in the ATAC to replace the old GPO stuff.
    Many memories, Eileen are you there ? Nice nude coffee !
    I ran the Motor Club on North site and had a Sgts mess room.
    Lynne, miss you lots.

    Peter K

  20. Colin Winger says:

    Hi Alec New,
    I was at RAF Hawthorn (Rudloe Manor) at the same time as you having been to West Kirby and Compton Bassett as you did. I was on ‘C’ Watch and have a photograph dated 14th April 1949 with the majority of names on the reverse. None of those you list are there and I assume this was a different watch to the one you were on.
    I do however remember Eric ‘Erky@ Coy and Sgt.Snowdon and have a programme for the Astral players performance of ‘Ali Baba and the 40 thieves’ which shows both of them in the cast. I also have a menu from the Xmas 1949 lunch on site which has a lot of signatures on the back, not all of which are decipherable.
    Although not included in the photograph there were a number of WAAF’s on the watch including Cpl. Sylvia Hopkinson, Pat West, Pat Whiley, Tomsy Duncan, Dot Thompson, Irene Halstead, Audrey Tarlen. I also remember one of the S.P’s Ted Pocock plus Sgt. Bateman who was in charge of the guardhouse.
    Very happy memories of my time at Rudloe.
    Colin Winger 2405252.

    • Kevan Fawkes says:

      Hello Colin,

      My wife is the grand daughter of Eric Snowdon, who is still up and kicking. I note you say you have a copy of a photo of him in “Ali Baba”, (we have heard the story of that production on many occasions), and wondered if there is a possibility of getting a copy. It would be a lovely surprise for him and Dorothy. Thanks

  21. Charles Halliday says:

    I was posted to RAF Rudloe Manor 1972-1975:I worked at the officers mess as a steward:I had a giant of a bicycle,to peddle to work,in all weathers:Life is sure funny: When you look back,it feels very much part us to this day:You just don’t forget.lol.What good friends,we laughed and cried together: The world has sure changed since those days!The years just seem to have flown past.SAC Kearns. SAC Cliff Hennesy (cook.)SAC Wright, Cook. Long time ago..Where are they now?
    All the best! Charlie Halliday (Maltese Falcon)

  22. SUSANN PHAIR says:

    I lived at RAF Rudloe Manor as a small girl from 1966-1967 and went to a local school that was at the end of a long hill. Does anyone know the name of that school or have any photos of the married quarters? My father was on a course at Kemble at the time.

  23. Geoff Williams says:

    I was at R.A.F. Box from 1951 to 1954. We lived at Rudloe Manor, No.2 site at Hawthorn and worked at Brown’s Quarry, which was H.Q.Southern Sector, Fighter Command.I was a teleprinter operator. We worked a shift system of morning and evening followed by afternoon and all night, followed by a day off. We hold a reunion at the Union Jack Club each year, (2013 ‘s will be in September). Our C.O was Wg Cd Dudley Ford, Sqn Ldr Nash (Beau) was our immediate boss, W/O Jack Emery, Flt Sgt Stanley and Sgt Walley were also in the signals hierarchy. S.W.O. was Flt Sgt Swithinbank I/C the orderley roomon the surface. H.Q.S.S. orderley room underground with the rest of us was manned by “Ginger ” Shine, and Alan Perry who later joined Bath Police Force. One of the S.Ps who guarded the top of the lift shaft was Bob Little. Manning the P.B.X. were Terry Barefoot with whom I spent the night before the Coronation on the Mall,Cpl PierceBill Goodwyn, Jimmy Green,Jock Lodge,Gerry King, Ron Forrest. Fellow Tele.Ops were Tom Berry, Colin Shillshire, Dave Tuck, Geordy Adamson, Jim McGrath,Jimmy Dark, Malcolm Lamb,Pete Webb, Johnny Sawbridge,Don Jones,Johnny Worswick. There was also an auxilliary squadron, 3507 F.C.U., who used to come for training at weekends.

    • Peter Hall says:

      High Geoff,
      I recognise a few names! I was a fighter plotter 1952-53. Bob Little remained a very close friend. With me, he joined Bath Rugby Club as a winger. Wing Commander Ford played in the second row. We won the smaller stations rugby championship that year. Also Terry Duvall who joined Cheltenham.
      I have a photograph somewhere. I later became a President and Life member of the Bath Club. Apart from Bob Little, the only contact was with Martinson (a centre), a Yorkshire farmer. Roger Hosen (of England fame) was full back.
      I remember F/O Sturdy (wing forward) as I was forced to capture him and hold him down on a late night defenders and invaders exercise!
      Happy days!

      Pete Hall

  24. DAVID TUCK says:


  25. DAVID TUCK says:


  26. Peter Hall says:

    Any old friends welcome. I am in my 81st year!
    R.A.F. Box 1952-53.
    Was very keen on leafy Lane and a certain WRAF PTI, from Wales. !!!
    Pete Hall

    • Edward Jackson R.A.F. 1952-55 says:

      For the first time – taking a look at RAF Box which I briefly visited and still in awe at the underground security. First post RAF Trerathick. Outstation near Newquay. RTDF Operator. Later BOAR 19 Germany. Can’t believe I’m doing this! 79 in August.. Great memories in Cornwall and RAF Butzveilerhof although it has blunted my spelling. Sorry I’m not your old girl friend from Wales but I may bring you luck… Keep going my old friend.

  27. Mary Jefferis. says:

    Made a big faux pas by giving my married name previously as Mary Nicholson. This should have
    been Mary Jefferis – 3507 F,C.U. 1948 – 1952. Do hope some of the people previously mentined
    might still be around as would love to hear from them.

  28. Nigel Fiddes says:

    Only just discovered this site: how it brings back memories!

    I was a telephonist at SWSC Hawthorn from May 1954 until demob January 1956 – the whole of my National Service after square-bashing and a period in hospital at RAF Wilmslow. When I started there, the switchboard was operated by WAAFs as well as National Service blokes, but in late 1954 or early 1955 the powers-that-be decided to make SWSC all-male and its northern counterpart NWSC all-female: the result being that all our WAAFs went up north and all their men came south to Hawthorn. A sad loss for us males who were left behind – but we still had lots of WAAFs around, because of all the Fighter Plotters in the adjoining tunnels of RAF Box.

    At the time of the changeover, it was rumoured to have been triggered by an on-duty late-shift liaison between a WAAF telephonist and the night duty RAF policeman, resulting in an emergency phone-call (termed a “flash call” in those days) going unanswered. How true that was, I’ve no idea, and it certainly didn’t happen at SWSC while I was there.

    Strangely enough, after all these 50-odd years I still remember quite a few names of contemporaries in the Underground Air Force, as we used to call it: telephonists Johnny Easton, Dusty Miller, Jim Scott, Dot Hodge, Maureen Lynch, Rhys Davies, Dave Blatchford, Mike Kelynack, Ken Millar and a delightful WAAF corporal who I remember only as Pat and who taught me to be a telephonist; teleprinter operators Johnny Stait, Iewan Evans, Robbie Lee and Dave Fitch; fighter plotters Jennifer Hidderley and Edna (“Eddie”) Chapman; RAF policemen Jock Duff, Dan Aston and Richard Herd; and not forgetting my long-lost girlfriend, a WAAF telephonist at RAF South Cerney named Nancy Corbin.

    Often look back at SWSC as being one of the happiest times of my life. One of the reasons I didn’t sign on as a Regular was because I didn’t want to get posted away from there!

    Would love to hear from anyone who was at Hawthorn same time as me.


    Nigel (living in Australia since 1968 – at Cairns in the tropical north since retirement 12 years ago.)

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