On 24th August 1939 notices issued to all members of the Observer Corps.

War declared on 3rd September 1939, with observer posts and centres being manned continuously until the end of the war on the 12th May 1945.

Radar stations were able to provide warning of enemy aircraft approaching the British coast, but once they had crossed the coastline the Observer Corps provided the only means of tracking through the network of observation posts and this provided the information which enabled air raid warning to be issued and RAF fighter intercepts.

The Capture of Rudolph Hess

Rudolf Hess was Adolf Hitler’s Deputy in the Nazi Party and after a flight of almost 1000 miles, at around 23:00 hours, Hess parachuted out over Eaglesham near Glasgow.

‘Royal Recognition’

After the successes of 1940 and early 1941 and especially in respect to the work undertaken as the ‘eyes and the ears’ of the RAF during the ‘Battle of Britain’, on the 9th April 1941, His late Majesty King George VI the “Observer Corps” was provided with royal recognition and the retitle to the “Royal Observer Corps”

No 1 Group Bechenham ROC - Main Plotting Table No 1 Group Bechenham ROC – Main Plotting Table

Women in the Corps

1941 saw the introduction of women into the Royal Observer Corps.


D day 6th June 1944, the Air Ministry issued a confidential order which outlined an urgent need for a substantial number of ROC Observers to be employed on aircraft recognition duties in defensively-equipped merchant ships. They continued to wear their ROC uniforms but wore ‘Seaborne’ shoulder flashes and a Royal Navy brassard with the letters ‘RN’

During the D-Day Landings two observers lost their lives; 22 survived their ships being sunk and a number being injured during the landings. The Seaborne operation was seen as an unqualified success and was recognised by His Majesty King George VI, by the approval of the use of “Seaborne” shoulder titles as a permanent feature of the observer uniform.