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Trip down memory lane for ex-Navy lieutenant

Ex Royal Naval Reservist Lt John Dean with the Type 271 Radar and, inset, serving in the Navy in 1941. (S)

Ex Royal Naval Reservist Lt John Dean with the Type 271 Radar and, inset, serving in the Navy in 1941. (S)

A 93-year-old Navy veteran from Ripon had a trip back in time while visiting a museum to see old equipment he once used.

A 93-year-old Navy veteran from Ripon had a trip back in time while visiting a museum to see old equipment he once used.

Seventy years after his first visit, John Dean – who signed up as a reservist in 1941 – visited onshore training establishment HMS Collingwood where he was able to try out equiment he was once a specialist on – including a Type 271 Radar, the first 10cm radar set.

“It was like putting your head in a microwave,” said John, who served as Group Radar Officer (Electrical Branch) 93 at the rank of lieutenant.

John visited the museum with his daughter, Margaret, and was shown round by Bill Legg, curator of the Radar and Communication Museum in Hampshire, for a trip down memory lane.

The Type 271 Radar was first installed on ships in 1941 and became the most sophisticated piece of kit onboard during the war with the capability to detect surface ships 25 miles away and submarine periscopes on the surface from a mile away.

Remembering his time serving, John said: “I joined the Royal Navy Volunteer Reservists while studying at Birmingham University. I remember walking the five miles to campus from my accommodation when two bombs dropped nearby sending shrapnel everywhere. I thought to myself, ‘I can’t do that again!’

“The Admiralty offered students the chance to undertake a two-year course with officer entry, so I took it – even though my dad was completely against it.”

John went on to study radio training and engineering, and wireless telegraphy, and trained under the famous Sir Mark Oliphant, responsible for airborne radar.

During his naval career, John served on HMS Fencer and HMS Highlanderwith the Escort Group B4.

He was called to HMS Fencer after her radar aerial was knocked off by returning fighter planes in rough seas.

John’s groundbreaking idea of using the radar’s IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) transponder so planes could get a bearing on the ship at 120 miles and return safely earned him a mention in despatches

John said: “I loved being on ships at sea, I remember being in the middle of the North Atlantic and being tossed into a row boat to work on another ship’s radar, the conditions were terrible but I loved it.”

John and his daughter’s visit concluded with a tour of HMS Collingwood.

 
 
 

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