Members from the Defence Flying Complaints Investigation Team (DFCIT) have been careful custodians of the clock ever since and it was following a force development visit to the museum in 2014 that a photograph of the clock was spotted in one of the reconstructed rooms by Mr Derek Allen. Notifying staff of its whereabouts, plans then commenced for the return of the clock to its original home.
Derek has worked at DFCIT for 15 years and recalls the history of this famous timepiece, he said: “There have always been rumours that the clock was whisked away in the middle of the night but they’re simply not true. As guardians of this rescued clock, the department has always been immensely proud of it. It’s been on permanent display, has been admired by many and has formed part of our history.”
The clock has followed DFCIT to various locations through the years including Bromyard, RAF Rudloe Manor and finally RAF Henlow where the team now resides. It is reported that on each of these moves, it was wrapped in a blanket for safe keeping and transported in the boot of a car. However, for its final trip to Bentley Priory, the traditional blanket was replaced by bubble wrap to ensure its safety.
DFCIT bestowed the honour upon Derek to formally hand over the clock at a small ceremony and he said: “This is a small part of history which I’ll remember fondly - from the panic in 2009 amongst some of the RAF Police thinking it had been stolen when in fact it was in for repair, to today, as it comes home and leaves a space on our wall which will now remain empty.”
Receiving the clock on behalf of Bentley Priory Museum was the Director, Eleanor Pulfer-Sharma, who said: ‘‘We are delighted that the sector clock has been returned to Bentley Priory Museum, where it will be placed on display to enhance interpretation of the Dowding System and the pivotal role of RAF Bentley Priory during the Battle of Britain as Headquarters Fighter Command.
“It is evident that during its time with the RAFP’s DFCIT that the clock’s important historical value was recognised, and great care has been taken of the sector clock–including fundraising to have it repaired to working order.’’
Editor: Sal Davidson
Photographs: Mr Andrew Reed
Derek and FS Mick Parkinson open the clock for Eleanor Pulfer – Sharma.
The team say farewell to the cloc.
© MOD Crown Copyright 2015