Language selection


Discovery Of Magnetron

Heroes Remember

Discovery Of Magnetron

I started my training in September of ’41. By June, I was on my way overseas by boat with about four or five hundred other radar mechanics. We went to Hastings to begin with, at a reception depot, and after two weeks we were quickly moved from there one day, and down to Bournemouth. The next day, the Dieppe raid went out of Hastings. We were in Bournemouth by that time, so we were out of the way of the army. I was one of those fortunate enough to be shipped to a Canadian squadron. Started out with 420 Squadron in, near Lincoln, in Lincolnshire, and then we moved north into Yorkshire, where we were converted to heavier aircraft and the radar being installed. So we had, as you go through Bomber Command, we started out … the first equipment we had was identification of our aircraft for our own defences, an automatic transceiver. Then we got into equipment that would... so we could help with navigation. Then, equipment for defence of the aircraft. And finally, target finding equipment, which was the last equipment the Bomber Command used. We could, as an American recently said, “They were more accurate at night than we were in the daytime.” So we had the old boy equipment, which was very highly refined. The thing that gave the big break to us in the development of radar was the discovery of magnetron, which, if you have a microwave oven at home, it contains one. This permitted us to go to very high frequencies and short wave lengths. It increased our accuracy and gave us a big advantage.

Mr. Campbell describes his responsibilities as a radar mechanic with the Bomber Command and the equipment used during his service.

Phil Campbell

Mr. Campbell was born on August 1, 1922 and raised on a farm in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. At age 18, he entered aircrew training school and later became qualified as a radar mechanic with the air force. He joined the Bomber Command and travelled to England, spending most of his service time in North Yorkshire. In September 1945, Mr. Campbell returned to Canada and was released from service. He enrolled at the University of Alberta and obtained a degree in agriculture. In May 1949, Mr. Campbell held the position of Research Scientist in the agricultural laboratory of the University of Alberta. During his career, his involvement in various aspects of international trade negotiations took him to many parts of the world. Mr. Campbell retired in 1989 and immersed himself in volunteer work. He dedicated much of his time to writing a book in support of radar technology and the important role it played in the war effort.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Phil Campbell
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Air Force
420 Squadron
Radar Mechanic

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: