Fight lost to save Battle of Britain radar mast

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The Independent Online

Historians have lost the fight to save a giant radar mast that played a vital role in helping the RAF to defeat the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain.

Historians have lost the fight to save a giant radar mast that played a vital role in helping the RAF to defeat the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain.

With what could be described as unfortunate timing as official celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain take place tomorrow, contractors will move in this week and begin the task of tearing down the 327ft "Chain Home" mast at Bawdsey Manor on the Suffolk coast. All that will remain is a foundation block marked by a plaque.

English Heritage gave the go-ahead for its demolition after experts said the mast was too dangerous to repair.

English Heritage's regional director, Richard Halsey, admitted: "It is a Grade II listed structure of national historical interest and architectural importance and we were opposed to its demolition but we have to agree it is beyond repair."

Last year the site was cordoned off amid fears that the metal structure put up in 1938 was so corroded and rusty that it could collapse at any time.

Neil Cossons, director of the National Museum of Science and Industry, said: "This battle, one of the pivotal military contests in human history, has few enduring memorials. It is no exaggeration to say that there is a direct link between the radar research, the survival of Britain as an unconquered nation and the emergence of a modern democratic Europe."

On Friday, veterans gathered at RAF stations across the country, while Biggin Hill airfield in Kent was preparing to put vintage Spitfires and Hurricanes back into the sky today for the official celebration.

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