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Message started by Dickie Mint on Sep 2nd, 2009, 1:23pm

Title: The BBC's Secret War
Post by Dickie Mint on Sep 2nd, 2009, 1:23pm

An article on BBC London ( )
tells the fascinating story of wartime BBC Engineers at Alexander Palace and Swains Lane using the transmitters there to thwart German bombing.

I wonder if any surviving staff or their relatives/friends have any stories to tell?

Thanks to Mike J, if he's on this board, for pointing me to it.


Title: Re: The BBC's Secret War
Post by Simon Vaughan- APTS Archivist on May 26th, 2010, 11:29am

We have several written accounts in the Alexandra Palace Television Society Archive by Wilfred "Paff" Pafford, who was a BBC engineer based at Alexandra Palace during the war years and was the mainstay of the "beam bending" activities.

We also have photographs of a television demonstration conducted in 1943, which shows the studio equipment fired-up and working, despite the studio equipment being "mothballed" for the duration!!  The photographs also show two engineers in Studio A (they are named on the photograph descriptions), with a film camera on top of an Emitron tripod filming the scene in the studio.

This television demonstration is not listed in any documents at the BBC Written Archive Centre and no other information can be found.  Immediate post-war television engineers have been asked if they have any knowledge of a war-time television demonstration but this has also drawn a blank.

There was a television demonstration in February 1945 to members of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Conference, which is well documented, again we have photographs and also a copy of the script.  But the demonstration in August 1943 is a total mystery.  When "Paff" was asked about this demonstration he got extremely upset, stating he had signed the Official Secrets Act!  All he would say was that "we did a many secret things"!

Neil Campbell, son of Desmond "Cam" Campbell, who donated the photographs to the APTS Archive does remember something to do with a television demonstration during the war years.  His father "Cam" was given a petrol allowance to travel to AP, along with Douglas Birkinshaw (who features in the photographs along with Wilfred Pafford), and that "Cam" had a car accident on the way home to Daventry.  But sadly that is all he knows.

A fascinating story, and one which I hope in the fullness of time, we will be able to find out more.

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