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Cold war days at Hopton recalled

PUBLISHED: 22:51 26 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:32 06 July 2010

AS A pimply 18-year-old with live bullets in his pocket radar operator Ted Linzey half expected the enemy to come clambering up Hopton cliffs in the 1950s.

AS A pimply 18-year-old with live bullets in his pocket radar operator Ted Linzey half expected the enemy to come clambering up Hopton cliffs in the 1950s.

At the start of the cold war the radar base at RAF Hopton was beefing up its role as part of a chain of coastal stations forming Britain's aerial defence system against a threat that felt very real.

For the young Ted it meant many hours staring at screens in the underground complex nearby at Corton to give early warning of low-flying aircraft, twin pylons constantly rotating overhead.

Now aged 78, the retired IBM director who lives in West Sussex, is scanning the country for former comrades who also spent the first two years of the 1950s at the Hopton base, where youngsters away from home for the first time enjoyed nights out roller skating at Gorleston and dancing at the Floral Hall.

Radar reunions held at Potters Leisure Resort every year drew people from miles around but not often from the Hopton base where Mr Linzey stood on guard at the cliffs every night and sent boxed bloaters home as gifts, he said.

Now having been contacted via Forces Reunited by old chum Malcolm Raynor who shared his hut the pair are keen to swap memories and find out more about what happened to their friends, some of whom would travel home with them at weekends to meet their families.

Mr Linzey recalled that although food was rationed fish was abundant, the buses on routes travelled by the Scots fisher girls all smelling of herring.

“Looking back it was a very exciting time. We were all put on a train to Yarmouth and then a bus to Hopton. When I got there there were only about 40 people at the camp. Nothing much had happened since 1945. But in August 1950 a state of emergency was declared and national service people had to do another six months building the camp up to about 100 people and starting dawn till dusk watches.”

He recalled one mother writing to complain about her son gallivanting till all hours, prompting a midnight curfew, and an incident where someone shot themselves in the foot leading to new rules about carrying live ammunition.

The subterranean base at Corton is now a privately owned home called Radar Farm. The living quarters at Hopton have long been swept away first by a holiday park and in the 1970s by a bungalow estate.

Anyone with a connection to the base between 1950 to 1952 can contact Mr Linzey via Linzeyted@aol.com or Mr Raynor via Mgr14132@aol.com.

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