ACA Woking News by Paul Holden, PRO

19 August 2003


At their August meeting in the clubhouse at Fairoaks Airport, Woking Branch members of the Aircrew Association were pleased to welcome Don Lowe, who had recently moved into the area from Kent, after a career spanning Canberras, Vulcans and Valiants, instructing on Vampires and Meteors, conducting weapons trials in Australia, and tours in Turkey, Canada and the MOD. Also appearing for the first time was Charles Greggor, who joined the RAFVR in 1943 via the Edinburgh University Air Squadron, and retired in 1947 after serving as a Navigator on Mosquitoes.

Philip Russell
Philip Russell
The subsequent speaker at this meeting was Philip Russell who became a Photographic Interpreter at RAF Medmenham, where topographical modellers worked from aerial photographs obtained mostly from photographic reconnaissance units based largely at Benson (but now mostly from Wyton). They modelled every location at which a significant wartime operation was to take place, and were therefore amongst the very small number of people who knew in advance which beaches were really going to be used for the D day landings! They also often worked very close to the front line in military operations, which involved them sometimes having to improvise for shortages in traditional modelling materials by using fronds from local trees, etc.

By the stereoscopic use of overlapping photographs routinely provided by photo-reconnaissance missions, they were able to determine the height of objects on the ground - and thereby could often discriminate between dummy targets and the real thing, and could mitigate to some extent the effects of camouflage designed to hide the location of military installations.

During the 1950s, radar was used to supplement aerial photography, and more recent use of Satellite Surveillance, and Unmanned Airborne Vehicles (UAVs) has changed the role of photographic interpreters, who are now known as "image analysts". The speaker hoped that they would not be kept in the dark as much as he was during his time in photo reconnaissance about the intelligence which they were helping to pick up by a great deal of painstaking and often unrewarding work.

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