This Article, RAF Fylingdales – BMEWS was first published on 13th Dec 2011 and is dedicated to my late father George William (Bill) Kilpatrick of Whitby who passed away November 17th 2010. Whilst sorting through some of his belongings my mother came across a set of photographs of my dad working on the Ballistic Missile Early Warning Station (BMEWS) at RAF Fylingdales on the North Yorkshire Moors outside Whitby.
The pictures are marked unclassified and before publishing them I sought permission from Flight Lieutenant Mike Foster at RAF Fylingdales.
My mother believes the photos date back to the late 1950’s and early 60’s when my father worked as maintenance supervisor at the base.
From discussions with my father, I recall that the base was one of three identical bases in the northern hemisphere, built to give radar cover for the entire northern hemisphere during the cold war with Russia and the Eastern Block.
I believe this is where the phrase 4 minute warning originated from as the base would give a 4 minute warning in the eventuality of a nuclear strike from The USSR.
Throughout my early childhood I have memories of my dad being away from home for long periods of time. I believe my father was away working on the construction of the other two BMEWS in Thule Greenland and Clear Alaska.
I also believe my father worked on a similar base somewhere in Belgium and again was away from home for long periods whilst working there.
Whilst working on the BMEWS, dad was employed initially by RCA and then more recently Serco for whom he worked from 1950’s right up untill the 1990’s when, believe it or not, one of his final jobs was to dismantle the raydomes he had helped construct 40 years early.
The bolts from one of the raydomes are now used to hold my garden shed together.
To add a final twist to the story, I myself worked on the construction of the new pyramid which replaced the golf balls on Fylingdales Moor in the early 1990’s.
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