Key Publications / Further Research
The following are books, reports or documents relating to the Royal Observer Corps.
The publication list has been extensively compiled by Lawrence Holmes, Curator of the Veryan ROC Post Museum, Cornwall over many years and he is always keen to hear of new additions to his list. If any reader knows of any titles not listed ... please forward information through via the 'Contacts' page.
Books listed in RED are those deemed to be of particular interest and should be read in the first instance. Books are listed in alphabetical order by title.
ROC Related Publications
A HISTORY OF THE ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS IN THE CROSBY AREA: 1937 - 1991
Author: Don Brereton; Privately printed in 1995.
This account is a personalised history of the ROC on the Waterloo, Formby, Woodvale posts in 21 Group in Lancashire from 1937 to 1991, their personnel, and Don Brereton’s involvement with them.
A HISTORY OF THE ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS IN THE NORTH EAST OF ENGLAND
Published by No 23 Group ROC Archive Committee. 1985
A useful small booklet detailing the history and activities of No 23 Group.
A JOB FOR YOU STANLEY – CLIVE JACKSON
Author: Clive Jackson. Printed privately by the family in 2005.
Reminiscences of Obs/Lt/Cdr Stanley Jackson from 1909 to 1991. Stanley joined the Observer Corps as a Special Constable in 1937, went on to become a full time Officer and finally Hon Vice President of No 4 Group Oxford ROCA. He died in 1996. His son Clive has put together this history from papers and notes found after his father’s death. Clive is a member of No 20 Group York ROCA.
‘A SHORT HISTORY OF THE NUCLEAR REPORTING CELLS OF THE ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS’
Author: Published privately by Lawrence Holmes, 2010.
Information on the NRCs is limited but Lawrence’s booklet attempts to describe how the Special Duties Teams were formed in 1958 through to the days of the NRCs in the 1970s and 80s and finally to the NBC role in the period 1992 to 1995 and final stand down. All NRC s are listed together with a brief description of each Cell. Three more detailed Cell histories are included as well as an extended description of the Special Duties Teams. The booklet ends with a description of every nuclear exercise in which the NRCs took part from 1975 to 1991.
A SMALL PART IN THE COLD WAR: The ROC experiences of an ex Royal Observer Corps Group Commandant.
Published privately by Peter J Jex ex Group Commandant of No 15 Group Lincoln in March 2002.
A personal record of Peter Jex's ROC service from 1958 to 1991 as post and Ops Room member and as Group Commandant in Lincoln Group for nine years.
ATTACK WARNING RED (1st Ed,)
Author: Derek Wood; Publisher: Macdonald and Janes Ltd 1976.
A comprehensive history of the ROC from 1925 to 1976.
ATTACK WARNING RED (2nd Ed. Reprinted and revised edition).
Author: Derek Wood; Publisher: Carmichael and Sweet 1992.
Additional historical information up to 1992 added.
BADGES AND INSIGNIA 1925 -91 OBSERVER CORPS AND ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS
Author: Basil Rookley; Published privately, 1995.
A detailed listing of ROC insignia throughout the Corp’s existence. Updated and expanded in 1996, to include details of other Observer Corps biographical information on Group Commandants.
CENTRE CREW - A MEMORY OF THE ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS
Author: Eric Wilton (Obs E G A Wilton).
The WWII history of No 19 Group Bromley. Published privately for members of ‘B’ Crew 1946.
FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED
Author: T E Winslow, Publisher: W Hodge and Co 1948.
A comprehensive account of the ROC from 1914 to 1945 but primarily the WWII years.
FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED
Author: Henry Buckton; Publisher: Ashford, Buchan and Enright. 1993
An Official Tribute to the ROC with a brief history.
JOURNAL OF THE WATFORD AND DISTRICT INDUSTRIAL HISTORY GROUP
Number 19 issue of this Journal dated 1996 features the ROC.
The front cover shows the ROC badge and on pages 2 to 16 there is an article on‘Group 17 Royal Observer Corps and its Watford Centre’. The Watford Centre was opened in 1933 and closed in 1974 when the buildings were sold. They are still in use today as a Veterinary Surgery.
KING 3 STANDBY
The story of Kingsworthy ROC Post, Hampshire, 14 Group Winchester from 1926 to 1991 by Neville Cullingford. A4 and approx 30 pages. Privately published in 2010.
The book covers all who served on the post and the personally related stories of some of the WWII Crew. It covers how it all began and includes, the task, training, infrastructure, locations, exercises, achievements and personalities.
LIFETIME MEMORIES OF AN EX OBSERVER 4577 K R (Ken) LEACH SUBTITLED - M2 POST HILL HEAD
Author: Ken Leach. Privately published by Ken Leach, 2003.
Well illustrated with aircraft and ROC photographs. This is a highly readable account of part of the life of aircraft and aviation enthusiast Ken Leach from 1931 to 2003. The book is first and foremost about aircraft with some ROC content thrown in for good measure. Ken covers his early interest in aircraft, WW2, the 1940s and his RAF service from 1946 to 1948. He joined the Corps in 1949 and served on M2 Post Hill Head in 3 Group until the late 1950s. The last part of the book deals with Ken’s career with various aircraft companies and aircraft including the Folland Gnat. This is an excellent book for the aircraft and ROC enthusiast.
MY WAR 1939 to 1945 - JOY COOPER
Author: Joy Cooper. Privately published for her family.
Describes her wartime experiences, including her ROC service in Lincoln Operations Room 1943 to 1945. Vivid descriptions of life in the Ops Room and the pressures of reporting all manner of aircraft. Joy now lives in Totnes, Devon.
‘NOTES AND PAPERS FOR THE HEARKERS CLUB AND THE ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS CLUB’
Compiled by Lawrence Holmes; 2010.
Includes articles on the‘Hearkers Club History’ by Lawrence Holmes and ‘How it started’ by R O Dowdeswell. Also included are maps of the location of ROC Clubs in the UK and in Cornwall and Devon, details of ROC Club, branches and Minutes of Club meetings (from Neville Cullingford). Photocopies from the ‘Aeroplane Spotter’ of Hearkers Club Bulletin January to February 1941 and photocopies from the ‘Aeroplane Spotter’ of ROC Club Bulletins July 1941 to December 1941.
NRC 1 TO NBCC 15 - A PERSONAL HISTORY
Author Lawrence Holmes; Privately printed in 1995.
This book details the history of a Cornish NRC from 1975 to 1995 in both Operational and social aspects. Also contains the short history of every other NRC in UK.
‘OBSERVERS TALE’ (THE STORY OF GROUP 17 OF THE ROC)
Produced and published by Roland Brothers 1950.
The story of No 17 Group Watford during WWII.
ODES TO THE OBSERVER CORPS
Author: Squadron Leader A J M Ross. Publisher: Perry and Routleff 1941.
A selection of poems relating to the Observer Corps.
PROTECTION FROM THE COLD
Author: Simon Craine & Noel Ryan; Publisher: Wildtrack Publishing, 2011.
A book about the development and need for protected “nuclear-proof” buildings during the Cold War. The book identifies and explains the need for the wide range of nuclear bunkers and ROC monitoring posts focusing on South Yorkshire. The book includes a full history of the Royal Observer Corps from 1925 to 1995 as well as related histories of the Civil Defence Corps and AFS during the Cold War.
R.O.C THE STORY OF No 11 GROUP
Edited and published by Ch/Obs J Newton, printed by Lincolnshire Chronicle April 1946. An account of No 11 Group Lincoln during WWII.
RAVELIN (SPECIAL NO 8) THE ROC UNDERGROUND IN KENT AND ESSEX
This small booklet is a special publication by the Kent Defence Research Group edited by Nick Catford. Published in 1999.
The book reviews the current condition of all the ROC Posts in Kent and Essex eight years after stand down.
ROCA JOURNAL ‘A CELEBRATION OF THE FIRST 20 YEARS 1986-2006’
Published by national ROCA in October 2006.
Contains many good quality photos. All the 25 Groups of the ROCA submitted at least 4 pages on a variety of aspects of ROC and ROCA life. Subjects covered include, the ROCA Standard, ROC Benevolent Fund, Seaborne. Royal Reviews, museums, cartoons, poems, ROCA histories, WWII, preserved posts, Group histories, unusual posts, secret bunkers, Exercise Flaming Torch, the story of Hess, Burns Suppers, ROC walking groups, Reunions and much more. The history of 10 Group ROCA is included and this chapter includes Veryan Post, and all the branches in 10 Group.
ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS ABERDEEN GROUP GOLDEN JUBILEE
Author: Miss J N Webster. Privately printed in the Group in April 1989.
Miss Webster was the Group Clerical Officer and a Crew Officer.
ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS ASSOCIATION MILLENNIUM CALENDAR 2000
Published in October 1999 as a Millennium project by Graham West.
Contains 12 monthly pages with two ROC colour and black and white photographs per month. The photographs depict ROC life in all aspects.
SEABORNE ROC GROUP 8
Edited by H A Jowett MBE.
Interesting account of the Seaborne Venture and the observers of No 8 Group published by ROC No 8 Group HQ Leeds 1944.
Published by ROC Northern Area Collection to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the involvement of the ROC in Operation Overlord May to July 1944.
The booklet describes the Seaborne Venture and the part played in it by several observers from the north east.
SMILE AWHILE WITH TALES FROM 12 POST
Author: ex Obs(W) Gillian Anderton, Bidford on Avon Post, Oxford Group. Privately published 1985.
This is a book of humorous cartoons about post life and also life at the ROC Annual Camp.
SOME KIND OF CLUB
Author: Obs Cdr Brian Watson; Published: No 6 Group ROC. Design and Publish: D J Associates, Salhouse, Norfolk. 1984.
A history of No 6 Group Norwich 1935 - 95.
THE AIRCRAFT RECOGNITION MANUAL
Author: C H Gibbs-Smith Royal Observer Corps; Publisher: George Newnes Ltd., Tower House, Southampton Street, London, WC2, April 1944.
Text and aircraft silhouettes. Gibbs-Smith was a member of D3 Post Harrow in No 17 Group Watford in WWII. The book explains aircraft classification, learning aircraft recognition , aircraft analysis, aircraft markings and aircraft silhouettes. The bulk of the book consists of over 350 sets of silhouettes of WWII aircraft.
THE BEACONLIGHTERS COOKBOOK
Edited by Mrs Barbara Horrocks, wife of Commandant ROC Air Cdr Horrocks, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Armada (or Beaconlighter) and sold in aid of the ROC Benevolent Fund. 1985.
Contains a vast collection of recipes sent in by Corps members with cartoons by Bill Thacker.
THE HUT UP THE CHIPPY ROAD
Author: John Rawlins; Publisher: Journal of the Wychwood Local Historical Society Number Eight dated 1993
This is an account of the Shipton under Wychwood ROC Post by. The post is in Oxfordshire some 6 miles SE of Stow on the Wolds. The account covers the ROC from 1915 to 1991 and the post from formation in 1936 to closure in the 1968 reorganisation. The story concentrates on the period 1936 to 1959 when Shipton was an aircraft reporting post. There are some good photos and diagrams in this relatively short account.
THE JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS CLUB 1941 - 43
Bound volume of all ROC Club Journals from Vol 1 No1 in September 1941 to Vol 2 No 4 January 1943. Volume includes sixteen Journals. A total set of Club Journals is relatively rare and a bound volume is a collector’s item and seldom seen on the internet or in secondhand bookshops. These journals were almost totally about aircraft recognition and contain many aircraft photographs, tests and instructional articles. Also included are details of the various Club branches which were located throughout the UK.
THE JOURNAL OF THE ST AGNES (Cornwall) MUSEUM TRUST NO 16 DATED 2007
This local Journal is published annually and No 16 is almost totally devoted to the Royal Observer Corps. 32 pages cover the ‘Wider View of the Royal Observer Corps’ by Roy Kersley, then there is a detailed ‘History of St Agnes ROC Post 1941 to 1991’ by Lawrence Holmes and Ross Luke. Lastly is an article on ‘A Short History of the Royal Observer Corps in Cornwall’ by Lawrence Holmes. The contents of this Journal are based on a project document on St Agnes Post prepared by Lawrence Holmes from information and memories provided by Ross Luke who was the Ch/Obs on St Agnes Post.
‘THE OBSERVER’ – THE HISTORY OF GREAT BEDWYN ROC POST
Author: Gary Crook, Privately published by Gary Crook in 2008
This is an account of the Great Bedwyn ROC Post in 14 Group.
The post is located three miles SW of Hungerford in Wiltshire and was in No 23 Group Bristol and No 3 Group Winchester. The history covers the operational years 1938 to 1991 and describes the post after renovation in 2006. The small book has quite a lot of good photographs and even a crossword puzzle at the end.
THE ORIGINAL ROC BOOK OF CARTOONS, JOKES AND ODDITIES
Privately printed, 1988.
Collected and edited by Lawrence Holmes, this book contains many examples of cartoons by Sessions, Thacker, Jones and many more. Amusing, jokes, poems, charts and orders collected over many years are also included.
THE PLANE SPOTTERS
Author: H J C Dartnall; Publisher: Roberts 1995.
The Medallic History of the Royal Observer Corps, a detailed study of honours and awards to ROC members.
THE ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS GAZETTE 1946 - 1958
Two bound volumes of all the ROC Gazettes from Vol 1 Number 1 in August 1946 to the Vol 7 No 6 in December 1958. The ROC Gazette , specifically aimed at ROC personnel, was an insert into the Joint Services Recognition Journal which dealt with general aspects of recognition. The Gazette was only published between 1946 and 1958 and contained news of the Corps, articles on specialised subjects, cartoons and the much loved ‘Airborne Headaches’. A full set comprises 7 volumes and 69, four page Gazettes. Separate Gazettes are quite common but a full set is getting somewhat rare and a bound volume is even rarer.
THE ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS IN LINCOLNSHIRE 1936-1991
Author: Chas S Parker via Lincolnshire Aviation Society Ltd. 1991.
Small history of Lincoln Group.
THE ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS IN WORTHING
Author: Graham Lelliott; Published privately, 2008.
Graham Lelliott is a young and amateur author but has already published several books on local subjects. This book covers the ROC posts in the Worthing area and is based on visits to old posts as well as information provided by the ROC Historic Collection at Newhaven Fort.
THE ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS MONITORING POSTS
Author: Mark Dalton; Publisher: Folly Books. 2011
This book recounts the detailed history of the ROC underground monitoring posts, their equipment and the crews that operated them, from their inception in 1956 to their closure in 1991. It also chronicles the fate of the many posts that have survived until the present day, either abandoned to vandals and natural decay, or lovingly restored
THE ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS REVISITED
A pictorial look back at the Royal Observer Corps over the last 75 years. Published by Graham West in October 2000 as a 75th Anniversary publication.
THE ROYAL REVIEW OF THE ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS - 25th JULY 1991
Published by HQROC 1991 and given to all those who attended the Royal Review.
Provides brief details of the Corps, Banner and order of Review.
THE STUDY OF RECOGNITION
Published privately by the North Western Area of the Royal Observer Corps Club. Printed by Sankey, Hudson and Co. Ltd. 1942.
This small booklet describes the need for aircraft recognition and methods to be used.
‘THE TRAGIC DEATH OF OBSERVER KELWAY’
Compiled and published privately by Lawrence Holmes and Charles Parker. 2010.
Charles Parker of 15 Group ROCA has obtained much new information on the death of Obs Kelway and Lawrence Holmes has also carried research and written a much longer account of the occurrence than was previously available. The story centres on the series of events which led to Kelway’s death and also that of the German pilot who killed him. Also intertwined is another story of a JU88 and the deaths it too caused. The two aircraft involved were the last two German aircraft to crash on the UK mainland in WW2.
WATCHERS OVER THE BROAD ACRES
Author: Norman Spence (privately in December 1987). Published by John Ramsey Marketing Ltd. 1987
The story of the ROC in Yorkshire from 1937 to 1987.
WE WERE ABLE 2
Publisher: Mrs Levinge. Printed by Taylor and Sons, Minety, Wilts. 1968.
The story of A2 Post Group 23 (Bristol) Royal Observer Corps in WWII.
WATCHERS OF THE NORTH EAST
Published by No 23 Group ROC Archive Committee to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Observer Corps in the North East of England. 1988.
Chronicles the warning role from Roman, Elizabethan, Napoleonic times to WWI, WWII and UKWMO in NE of England.
Other Related Publications
Campbell, D; 1983, War Plan UK. London: Paladin [Out-of-print but available through libraries]
Clarke, B; 2005, Four Minute Warning – Britain’s Cold War. Stroud: Tempus Publishing
Cocroft, W D & Thomas, R J C; 2004, Cold War – Building for Nuclear Confrontation 1946 – 1989. Swindon: English Heritage
McCamley, N J; 2002, Cold War Secret Nuclear Bunkers. Barnsley: Pen & Sword