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Unlocking the Real Secrets
The Suffolk Aviation Heritage Museum occupies part of a former United States Air Force installation on the eastern fringes of Ipswich. The station was known as RAF Martlesham Heath while operational, taking its name from the famous former RAF airfield situated nearby.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing military sites in the region, the high security nature of its role has spawned a number of strange tales and myths, ranging from the existence of an underground hospital to -
Colloquially known as the 'Roc' by servicemen and public alike, the site was, in reality, a US Defense Communications Station, with responsibility for providing communications for the effective global command and control of US and NATO forces in Europe and South East Asia.
In addition to an array of ultra-
During the 1970s and 80s, the station was virtually self-
The upgraded DEB system was partially established at the station, as the last in a line of similar installations built across Europe. However, the ending of the Cold War and subsequent closure of the site meant that the new system was never brought on line at RAF Martlesham Heath. The DEB building itself, situated on the opposite end of the site to the Museum, was designed to be unmanned and built to withstand a nuclear blast, with 3ft thick walls and automatic flash shutters to protect the sophisticated internal equipment.
Deactivated in 1988, the station finally closed in 1992 after 39 years of US operations.
The Roc Research Project
Although American use of the site began in 1953 -
The first use of the site is believed to have been as the location for one of three timing huts situated along the southern boundary of Martlesham Heath Airfield, and along which aircraft speed test trials were conducted between the two world wars.
Although there is some evidence of radio communications deployment at the site during the mid-
The hidden history of the 'Roc' was recognised in 2009 when Suffolk Aviation Heritage Group received a Luftwaffe aerial reconnaissance photograph dating from August 1940. The photograph clearly showed a lone building on the site, surrounded by bomb craters, after being attacked by German aircraft two weeks earlier. It was soon realised that the building still existed within the site, standing unrecognised amongst the vast array of buildings that had sprung up from it and around it during the intervening seventy years.
The large flat-
The Roc Research Project, which is expected to form the basis of a booklet on the subject, also includes:-
Selected updates on the Roc Research Project will be posted on this website from time to time.
Acknowledgements and Copyright
© Marc Trebacz
© Tom Brannick
© Suffolk Aviation Heritage Group