Free lecture on 'The Eyes and Ears of the Royal Air Force'

From origins in warning of invaders by sea at the time of the Spanish Armada, to potential nuclear attack during the Cold War, the history of the Royal Air Force’s Royal Observer Corps will be the subject of a free University Centre Shrewsbury (UCS) lecture this month.

Mike Bradbury will present the talk on ‘The Eyes and Ears of the Royal Air Force’ at Guildhall, UCS’s learning and research base, on Monday June 11.

The event, starting at 1pm, will explore how the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) has had a wide and varied existence - and the role played by Shropshire.

Mike said: “Being formed in 1925 as The Observer Corps, its history can be dated back to the days of the Spanish Armada and the use of beacons (or bekyns) to warn of invaders by sea. It is due to this history that the Elizabethan firelighter for such beacons is used on the badge of the ROC and is still in use today by the ROC Association.

“Throughout its 70-years’ existence it has seen a number of changes. During the Second World War it was the ‘eyes and ears of the RAF’ in providing spotting and plotting of enemy aircraft; whilst later the Corps’ role changed to encompass a new role of the warning of potential nuclear attack from the Soviet Union and monitoring of nuclear fallout during the Cold War.

“The main body of ROC members was stood down in 1991, with the final stand-down of members from Nuclear Reporting Cells in 1995.

“Shropshire played an important part in its heritage, including posts across the county feeding information into Ops Rooms at Group Headquarters in Shrewsbury.”

Shropshire-born Mike registered for National Service with the RAF at the age of 18. He later joined the ROC on 16 Group Golf Three Dorrington post, over the next four years gaining promotion to become the Chief Observer (Sergeant in the RAF). This post was closed in a reorganisation of the ROC in 1968 and Mike was posted to 16 Group Echo One Post Bomere Heath. In 1971, he gained promotion to the rank of Observer Officer (Pilot Officer in RAF), a rank he held until the ROC was stood down. Being a founder member of the ROC Association, he is now Treasurer and Standard Bearer.

Admission to the event is free, but booking is essential. To reserve a place go to or or

Alternatively, people can visit the reception at Guildhall in Frankwell Quay (SY3 8HQ) which is open from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and from 8.30am to 1.30pm on Fridays, or call 01743 297185.

The talk is part of a series of events at UCS covering a range of subjects. Many of the events are free, and they are open to everyone. For further details, please go to