Peter Long’s brief history of Watton – 1951

Watton’s Last Lancaster TW864 retired at the end of January.

During April, eight Gloster Meteor FMk8’s arrived at Watton’s Special Radio Installations Flight from RAF Wattisham to be fitted with a homing device code named ‘Lunch’. These aircraft were returned to Wattisham as their equipment was cleared for use. Another Meteor F8 arrived at the same time but went to Development Squadron’s ‘B’Flight for development work.

In September the GCA Technical School and Higher Maintenance unit were transferred away from Watton to No 4 Ground Radio Servicing Squadron at RAF Chigwell in Essex.

During October, because of the RAF’s need for dedicated operational countermeasures and signals intelligence gathering units, there began a number of important changes to the Flying units at CSE Watton. Radio Warfare Squadron began a rundown prior to being disbanded. It’s Monitoring and RCM Flights were transferred to other units. It’s Operations and Radio Servicing sections had already been absorbed by the CSE’s own highly classified signals and communications units.

On 1st November the CSE’s signals and communications units merged into ‘Radio Squadron’ which embraced all signals and radio activity on the Station. On the same day, two Squadrons were formed using aircraft and crews from Development Squadron. These squadrons weren’t given technical titles but were awarded the numberplates and histories of previously disbanded squadron’s with EW pedigrees. 192 Squadron and 199 Squadron were reformed at CSE Watton on 1st November 1951, a date that is at odds with other sources. This is the date that is shown in the CSE Operational Record Book. 192 Squadron, initially equipped with three of Dev.

Squadron’s Lincoln aircraft, was tasked with signals intelligence gathering and would be working under the direction of ‘Y’ Wing and GCHQ.

In peacetime, 199 Squadron would carry out RCM/ECM (radio countermeasures was beginning to be referred to as electronic countermeasures) exercises and special equipment operator training for Bomber Command. The Squadron’s wartime role would be that of active radar and communications countermeasures. 199 Squadron’s aircraft establishment was to be four Lincoln aircraft and three Mosquitoes, all taken from Development Squadron. Both of these new squadrons would be the operational responsibility of the Central Signals Establishment. Development Squadron was left with only three Lincoln, three Mosquito and one Meteor F8 aircraft to carry out it’s development tasking.

On the same day, Calibration Squadron split into two new Squadrons. These were ‘N’ Squadron, tasked with the calibration of navigation and landing aids, using four Lincoln and six Anson aircraft. ‘R’ Squadron, equipped with one Lincoln, two Mosquito and five Anson aircraft, was responsible for the calibration of a wide variety of radar stations and installations.

To end the year, No. 751 Naval Air Squadron was reformed at Watton and was based in one of the T2 Hangars on the Griston site.

Peter Long

These and the other ‘snapshots’ of my post-war history of RAF Watton are extracts from

‘In Support Of So Many’
Royal Air Force Station Watton 1945 ~ 2000
A Story of a Peacetime RAF Station

© Peter J. Long 1999