A quiet market town with no military presence was chosen as the secret communications centre for Britain as the country prepared for war with Germany in 1937. When hostilities began, ‘Q Central’ attracted a dozen other clandestine operations set up to defend the country or designed to confuse and undermine enemy morale. The headquarters of radar, RAF Group 60, also came to Leighton Buzzard to be hidden from German attack and to be close to the telephone and radio communications needed to run its vast chain of radar stations. These directed the defending fighters that saved the country in the Battle of Britain and then took the bombing war to Germany.
Close by, for the same reasons of secrecy and safety, were the satellite stations of Bletchley Park, the now famous code-breaking centre; the Met Office at Dunstable, which gave the all clear for the D-Day landings; Black Ops units that set up false radio stations and wrote propaganda to confuse the enemy; and airfields used for dropping agents behind enemy lines. At Q Central itself was the largest telephone exchange in the world, with more than 1,000 teleprinters communicating with all the armed services in every theatre of war and directing the operations of the secret services.
Now the restrictions of the Official Secrets Act have been lifted, enabling eight members of the Leighton Buzzard and District Archaeology and History Society to piece together this compelling story for the first time.