Roy Taylor was just one of the many thousands of young British men of the postwar era who were called-up for a compulsory two-year stint in the armed forces – an experience which defined their generation.
For most, it was a time that they now look back upon with affection, when at an impressionable age they were thrown together with many others from all over the country and forced to learn the value of discipline, self-reliance and comradeship. Not surprisingly, many came to feel that the lessons they learnt during these years set them up for life, and in this respect Roy is no exception.
For him, National Service represented a welcome escape from his less than happy home life, an opportunity to meet new people, learn a trade and visit new places… six new places to be precise - RAF Cardington, RAF West Kirby, RAF Sandwich, RAF St. Margaret’s, RAF Barkway and RAF Truleigh Hill
In the course of his enjoyable account of his years in RAF uniform he takes us to each of these places in turn as he progresses through his training to his posting on active service and in doing so he provides us with a series of accurate and believable snapshots of the life of a young National Serviceman in the 1950s.
Roy's duties involved him working as a radar operator on the Chain Home Low air defence system, an early warning system devised during the Second World War to detect incoming hostile aircraft. The CHL equipment was housed in bombproof reinforced concrete bunkers, unsurprisingly located on high ground overlooking the coast. During the 1950s this was updated in order to detect the much faster jet aircraft being developed, although even this technology was soon superseded. The Chain Home Extra Low Rotor station at Truleigh Hill, sited on a high point of the South Downs to the north of Shoreham-by-Sea and overlooking the English Channel to the south, was constructed in 1952 and decommissioned in 1958, making Roy one of the few operators to have worked there, thus having his own small claim to a place in aviation history! Many former CHL installations are now derelict and have become objects of interest to amateur historians. Truleigh Hill lies within the South Downs National Park and is currently being redeveloped as a visitor centre.