Veteran Stories:
Gerry Funston

Air Force

  • West Coast Patrol Areas and Radar Coverage, 1944.

  • Mediterranean Allied Air Force R.A.F. Stations on March 1st, 1945. Canadian Radar Technicians served on all, or nearly all, of the stations shown throughout the WWII theatres of war.

  • Gerry Funston at the former Transmitter block at C.H. Station Loth, Scotland, where he was stationed from December 1943 to March 1944.

  • Burma Radar Station Site showing radar cover in June 1945.

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"We constituted fifty percent of their radar mix, and I believe we were the only members of the Canadian Armed Forces to serve in all war theatres, from Europe to the Far East."

Transcript

My name is Gerald... Gerry Funston. While this is a personal story, it would be remiss of me not to comment intially on the story of Canada's radar mechanics, and conclude with a technical overview.

I was one of those who served overseas, attached to the Royal Airforce. We constituted fifty percent of their radar mix, and I believe we were the only members of the Canadian Armed Forces to serve in all war theatres, from Europe to the Far East. Between us, we served on over twenty types of ground radar, and at least six airborne radars. Surprisingly, we are not included in the RCAF's official history of World War Two - the Crucible of War. This was apparently because we were attached to the RAF.

I enlisted in the RCAF in 1942. In August, we started our electronic training at Central Technical School, Toronto. And after a thirteen week course, most of the class were moved to RAF Clinton, Ontario. I was retained to do some instructing, and it was like the blind leading the blind. In late December, 1942, I reported to Number One Manning Depot, CNE Toronto. There we received our RCAF uniforms and kit, and we confined to barracks over the holiday period for medical and dental checks and innoculations. After the quarantine period, we spent most of the days drilling. We were allowed out from five to eleven PM.

Finally, in March, 1943, I was posted to Clinton. It was then for the first time I was posted to RDF - Radio Direction Finding - or radar as it came to be known. The first course was on airborne radar. AI, Aircraft Interception, ASV, Air-to-Surface Vessel, and related equipment. It lasted six weeks. Then I was signed to an eight week course on ground radar, consisting of CH, Chain Home, and CHL, Chain Home Low. In June, 1943, after two weeks leave, I was posted to the UK. I served on one auxillary CH station, four CHL stations, and one CHEL - Extra Low - all but one in Scotland. Also on one 7K-Gee navigation station in Stenigot in Licolnshire, England, where I met my wife Freda - a radar operator. We were married in December, 1945, and I was posted home on the Ile de France in June 1946, and de-mobbed in February. My war bride followed in July 1946, and we still enjoy reminiscing about our war experiences fifty-eight years later.

The concept of a complete air defensive system for the UK was conceived by Sir Robert Watson-Watt in 1935. The system was designed to give the range, direction and height of any detected aircraft, and determine if it was hostile or friendly. It also provided for secure telephone lines, radio telephony, and complete ground control to aid in aircraft interception. It all came under the direction of fighter command 60 Group. First built CH stations in their final form could detect aircraft at 180 miles, up to 40,000 feet. The search for narrower beams and lower coverage led to CHL, CHEL and ground control interception, all with rotating aerials. There were two navigational aids - 7K for Airborne Gee, and Oboe for targeting marketing and pinpoint bombing. Plus airborne H2S and many others.

Churchill stated that radar was one of the three factors that won the battle of Britain. It meant pilots didn't have to fly standing patrols, and it saved fuel and pilot fatigue. ASV [Air to Surface Vessel and related equiptment], by locating U-boats, was also a major factor for winning the Battle of the Atlantic.

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