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  RAF/RCAF Digby : 1506072 Radio Mech L Oliver

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Updated: 7 Sep 08

The gentleman was posted to Blankey Hall as a radio mech during World War II.

RAF Digby has an operations room but it was not used - I worked in the operations room for 3 years and it was at Blankney Hall. Some time later the ops room was at an underground site near Blankey Grange {unsubstantiated}.

I was a radio mech at the ops room at Blankney and the male personnel lived in the stables. I assure you fun and games were still present as WAAF officers used to patrol the shrubbery with a torch!

I was one of the few personnel who were trained in the TYPEX code and cipher machine and knew a little about the German equipment the ENIGMA.

RAF No 1506072 L Oliver

Notes:

TYPEX or Type X machines were essentially reverse-engineered early ENIGMA machines without the later German military addition of the stecker or plug board. The RAF had ordered 350 of these machines in Jan 1939 to secure communications.

In 1934, Group Captain O. G. Lywood, a signals officer asked GC&CS if he could borrow one of the two Enigmas bought in 1928 for the RAF Wireless Establishment at Kidbrooke. The Enigmas had lain idle while the Inter-Departmental Committee on Cipher Machines, formed in 1926, debated how best to use machine cryptography. With his team he set about building a copy of the Enigma using mainly parts from commercial teletypes then in service with the RAF.

After three years the team produced a cumbersome machine they called the RAF Enigma with Type-X Attachments. This Heath Robinson consisted of a standard Creed teletype with an Enigma rotor basket grafted on the front, machined from solid brass and weighing over 120 pounds in total. Typex was able to print out cipher and plain texts simultaneously on paper tape at fifty words per minute.

In 1937 the Cipher Committee refused to authorize further development but the RAF decided to continue on their own asking a small firm Creed & Company of Croydon to build 29 machines based on Lywood's prototype. These were called Type-X Mk I and were used to equip the main RAF headquarters. After a number of improvements the Typex Mk II was shown to the Cipher Committee on 14 June, and they immediately approved an order for 350 Mk II machines at a cost of £107.8.0 each, which was enough to equip the entire RAF down to station level.

location of RAF Digbyin relation to Lincolnshire - click here for full-size map showing all station locations

Digby Squadrons

Blankney

Ashby de la Launde

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Sector Ops Room Museum

Digby crashes

Digby Oral Histories:


Digby - A History
" A history 1917 - 1978"
Foreword
Introduction
1917
1918
Inter-War Years
1919
1920
1922-23
1924
1925
1926

1927-1929
1930-1932
1933
1934-1936
1937
1938
World War II

1939
1939-1940
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Jan - Aug 1942
Sep 1942 - 1944
1945
Return to Training
1945 - Jan 1948
Feb - Mar 1948
Mar 1948 - 1953
A cadet remembers
The Signals Era
Jan 1955 - Dec 1961
Dec 1963 - 1978
Curent Day

1955 - the Signals Era


Digby Ops Room Museum
A brief history on Airops website

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