Hughenden Manor

THE SECRET MAPMAKERS OF RAF BOMBER COMMAND

To most Buckinghamshire inhabitants, Hughenden Manor will usually invoke the link with its most famous incumbent, the Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

With passing generations, the house became less used, perhaps less loved, until by the 1930s it was largely empty and rundown. Early on in World War II, the RAF had moved Bomber Command headquarters from Uxbridge to Naphill, a stone’s throw from Hughenden. Hard-pressed aircrews were facing great difficulties in accurately locating their targets owing to poor training in navigation and the maps they had been provided with. It was decided that a totally new map making unit was required to make special target maps for them. This was based on an ever-expanding library of photographs taken from high altitude RAF reconnaissance aircraft. Where better to place such an organisation than at nearby Hughenden Manor?

In great secrecy, a number of civilian personnel with all manner of skills from normal trade backgrounds were brought in to form the team. This included printers, draughtsmen, artists, cartographers, architects, civil engineers, surveyors and the like. Some remained as civilians, many were given instant call-up papers and brought into the RAF.

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