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‘Invasion receiver’ proves a hit at Sudbury Heritage Centre Home Front exhibition





A radio receiver, which had lain gathering dust in a loft for more than 40 years, is proving an eye-catcher at an exhibition.

Phyllis Felton, a trustee of the Sudbury Museum Trust, which runs the heritage centre at Sudbury Town Hall, discovered the portable communications receiver (PCR) in her loft last month.

It had been found 45 years ago by her son, Jason, in a pit at the end of the family’s garden off Marlborough Drive.

Phyllis Felton with the portable receiver. Picture: Mecha Morton.
Phyllis Felton with the portable receiver. Picture: Mecha Morton.

“Children used to play in the pit before it was developed into housing, and Jason brought the receiver home one day when he was a teenager,” said Phyllis.

“The town’s Royal Observer Corp had been based nearby on Constitution Hill during the Second World War and the receiver had been discarded at some point after the conflict ended.

“I knew it was in the loft and we managed to get it down to include as part of our Home Front exhibition at the heritage centre.

Service men who were based in Sudbury and likely to have used the transmitter
Service men who were based in Sudbury and likely to have used the transmitter

“We didn’t know much about it so one of our trustees wrote to the Imperial War Museum, sent pictures, and they came back with lots of details.

“I also have a pictures of the men who were stationed on Constitution Hill and would have used it, as one was my father-in-law.”

The radio transmitter was designed by Pye in Cambridge in March 1944, though the Sudbury example was manufactured by Philips Lamps. Philips produced between 15,000 and 17,000 units at their Mitcham Works factory in south London.

The Pye receivers were made by teams of assemblers in the Pye Village Industries scheme in village halls and other buildings in East Anglia and collected once a week for testing in Cambridge.

The equipment was intended as an invasion receiver – a general purpose communications receiver that was used after the Normandy landings to receive military progress and information broadcasts as the divisions of the British Second Army moved across Europe.

Manufacturing of the model ceased in December 1945.

The Royal Observer Corps was established in 1926 within the Special Constabulary as awareness of the military importance of air power grew. The organisation was mobilised in 1939 when war became imminent.

The Sudbury post, located at the top of Constitution Hill, was one of the highest points in the town, giving all-round visibility.

A team of about 20 men worked on a rota to man the post to keep watch on aircraft manoeuvres and report to Fighter Command.

They had to learn aircraft recognition, both friendly and hostile. Their motto was ‘forewarned is forearmed’.

The Observer Corp, or Silent Service as it was known, was disbanded in May 1945.

The Sudbury post remained in place long after the war ended, within the garden of 1 Marlborough Drive, built in 1965.

It was demolished in 2006 to make room for another bungalow, which was constructed in the garden of the property.