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Radio Direction Finding

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Radio Direction Finding

RDF was Radio Direction Finding. It was quite a common technology, so that if you were, say, on a ship or an aircraft, you could tune in on a radio station such as, well, the broadcast stations here in Ottawa, and get the exact direction that station was away from you. It was a smoke screen, as I say, and RDF, for a good part of the time that we were in the service, was the name given to this equipment. But radar, the Americans coming along with ... it became what they called the arsenal of democracy. They produced huge amounts of radar equipment. They introduced high tech people from Bell Labs, Lincoln Labs in the States, and the various military schools, and towards the end of the war, really dominated the technology. They had the capability, the assets, so that’s why radar. And nowadays, whether it’s a speed gun on the highway or something that directs you when you’re coming into an airport, that’s radar And it all goes way back to the very early ... what would, I guess you’d call it, the secret weapon work that Watson Watt was doing in 1935 in Britain when he discovered that you could detect aircraft by bouncing radio waves off them. That was in 1935. Fortunately, the British government caught onto the value of this and built radar stations as a chain around Britain to war give advance warning of, say, enemy aircraft coming from the continent. But radar, it’s it now … no longer RDF.

Mr. Barrie defines the term RDF, the introduction of radar equipment, and its vital role in determining the exact direction of radar frequency.

William “Bill” Barrie

Mr. Barrie was born on June 5, 1918. As a child, he was intrigued by radio, followed his desires and studied in the field of radar. By 1939, Mr. Barrie received a certificate as a Second Class Commercial Radio Operator from the Marconi Radio School in Toronto, Ontario. At age 22 he joined the RCAF. His first posting was to Britain and from 1941 to 1942, while in service, he obtained more education on heavy duty radar systems. In July, 1942, Mr. Barrie joined the RAF # 212 Flying Squadron and travelled to Southeast Asia where he took part in many airborne radar patrols. In 1945, Mr. Barrie returned to Canada and enrolled in a Radio Physics course at the university in London, Ontario, graduating with a BSC in Honours Radio Physics. In 1946, Mr. Barrie met a young Scottish girl who was serving with the Royal Navy as a WREN and they married later that year. After graduating university in 1949, Mr. Barrie was employed as a Development Engineer with a company in Belleville, Ontario. From 1957 until his retirement in 1981, Mr. Barrie was involved in major projects in the field of radar, from developing sound systems to designing more complicated satellite communications hardware. Retirement allowed him to become a major contributor to the “Canadians on Radar Research Project”.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
William “Bill” Barrie
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Southeast Asia
Air Force
212 Flying Squadron
Leading Aircraftman
Radar Mechanic

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