Whaddon - Secrets of Windy Ridge
A cattle trough stands on the foundations of one of the huts.

The Citizen, April 9 1998

Just before the outbreak of World War Two, Richard Gambier-Parry, sales manager for the Philco Company, had been tasked by the Secret Service to take on a new role in the overseeing and improvement of their radio communications equipment.

This would include providing transmitters for the propaganda operations, as required by the head of that department, Campbell Stuart who in the early days of the War made his headquarters at Paris House, in the grounds of Woburn Abbey.

From there he paid several visits to Gambier-Parry now resident at Whaddon Hall, which had been taken over by the War Office. At the Hall, Gambier-Parry's wife, formerly his secre¬tary, made the early propaganda broadcasts onto disc, working from a small outbuilding that had seen previous use as a gun room. Transmissions were then made from a radio station at Gawcott, near to Buckingham.

Very soon the propaganda elements were transferred to larger premises at Wavendon Towers and Whaddon Hall thereon became a secret radio communications centre, more exactly the headquarters of the Special Operations Group of the Special Communications Units.

This entailed, among other operations, responsibility for the transmission to commanders in the field of the decrypted German intelligence from Bletchley Park whose initial radio station -Station X - had been originally housed in the converted water tower of the Park mansion.

In a field adjoining Whaddon church, two huts were especially built on Windy Ridge for the purpose, complete with receiving aerials in the neighbouring acreage. Of low brick walls, roofed by sheets of corrugated iron, one of the huts contained teleprinters, receiving decrypted information direct from Hut 3, at Bletchley Park, whilst the other was a radio transmission centre, broadcasting the information overseas to the various military commands.

For security reasons, the actual transmission aerials were sited many miles away, probably at Creslow but nevertheless the Germans still paid Whaddon occasional attention and indeed a local house was destroyed during one such bombing raid.

Personnel to operate the Windy Ridge station were initially accommodated in the village hall but as the Whaddon requirements grew, so Nissen huts had additionally to be erected in the field at the rear. Apart from the needs of Bletchley Park, Whaddon Hall - staffed by a mix of intelligence and army personnel - from outposts in the nearby fields also provided communication with agents in Occupied Europe and from purpose-built workshops manufactured the compact radio sets used by them.

On a larger scale, prior to D-Day the special radio vans to be employed by the army in the Invasion were also fitted out there. To ensure the security of the transmitted information, provided by the codebreakers of Bletchley Park, special units were attached to each military command in the field.

These were known as SLUs, ie Special Liaison Units and in simplistic terms comprised a radio truck manned by selected personnel, whose task was to maintain communications with Whaddon and thereby supply the military commander with the information gleaned by the codebreakers. SCUs were Special Communications Units, Whaddon being SCU1 and several were dotted around Britain.

Their job was to provide the personnel, equipment and training for the SLUs although the Training Wing for Whaddon was in fact situated a few miles away at Manor Farm, Little Horwood.

After the war, the activities of Whaddon Hall were transferred to Hanslope Park and following a variety of private uses, the Hall has today seen conversion into a number of flats. As for Windy Ridge, the huts were eventually given over to a local farmer, but later suffered the attention of arsonists.

Little now remains except the concrete foundations and there is nothing else to recall that once this site was among the most secret and important of locations, in wartime Britain.