Margaret Thatcher and other politician signed letters

SKU: PT876

Sale price£4,500
In stock


  • A typed letter beautifully handsigned by Margaret Thatcher praising the Royal Observer Corps.
  • Signed letters from other prominent politicians and military figures, including prime ministers Jim Callaghan and John Major
  • Superb provenance

In June 1992, author Henry Buckton began assembling correspondence from British politicians and military personnel to illustrate his book "Forewarned is Forearmed" (The Royal Observer Corps motto).

The letters include tributes from Margaret Thatcher, John Major, James Callaghan (x2 original), Tom King, Kenneth Baker, Air Vice-Marshal Johnnie Johnson (x1 original x1 printed), Air Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris (printed), Group Captain Sir Hugh Dundas (printed), Group captain Tom Gleave, John Carrington, Leon Brittan, Malcolm Rifkind, Paddy Ashdown, Roy Jenkins, Douglas Hurd (x3 original) and Michael Heseltine.

Margaret Thatcher's tribute reads:

"I will remember the importance of the Royal Observer Corps during the darkest days of the War. Their service to our country and people was an example of all that is best in the British character - invincible and indomitable. I am grateful to have the chance to pay tribute to each and every one of those who served."

Thatcher's black ink signature is among her finest.

On 10 Downing Street headed paper John Major's tribute reads, in part:

"The Corps had been an outstanding example of how large numbers of volunteers are prepared to give freely of their time and effort for the good of their fellow-countrymen."

A unique set of correspondence honouring the achievements of The Royal Observer Corps.

Also included is a copy of the book "Forewarned is Forearmed" signed by the author Henry Buckton.

About the Royal Observer Corps

The Royal Observer Corps (ROC) was a civil defence organisation operating in the United Kingdom between 1925 and 1995.

After the First World War, because of the menace posed by enemy aircraft and zeppelins crossing the British coastline and bombing the mainland, trials were held in aircraft spotting and tracking. This led to the creation of the Corps and a national network of spotting posts, from where observers could ascertain the type, height, number and direction of every enemy aircraft that flew over land. Coupled with the new radar system it meant that by the time of the Battle of Britain, every incursion was tracked.

This information was used by RAF Fighter Command to direct its aircraft directly onto the raiders without wasting man hours and fuel endlessly searching the sky. Often when the Germans bombed the radar sites, the Observer Corps were quite literally the eyes and ears of Britain and the country's only early warning system. The job they did was so crucial and well executed that in 1941 the Corps was granted the Royal prefix by the King.

Throughout the remainder of the Second World War, the ROC continued to complement the radar chain by tracking enemies over land. Many specially trained members of the Corps accompanied the invasion fleet to Normandy in 1944 to identify enemy aircraft for the gun teams as many Allied aircraft were being shot down by mistake.

With the advent of the Cold War, the ROC continued in its primary role of aircraft recognition and reporting, and in 1955 was allocated the additional task of detecting and reporting nuclear explosions and associated fall-out. By 1965, thanks to advances in radar technology, most roles and responsibilities relating to aircraft had been withdrawn and the ROC assumed the role of the field force for the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation, (UKWMO); a role which the ROC continued until the early 1990s and the cessation of the Cold War.

Following the UK Government’s Options for Change defence spending review in 1990, the vast majority of the civilian spare-time volunteers were stood down on 30 September 1991, with the remainder being stood down on 31 December 1995. The closure of HQROC at RAF Bentley Priory on 31 March 1996 and redeployment of those few remaining HQROC staff marked the disbandment of the ROC after over 70 years of service.

But the Corps will always be best remembered as the eyes and ears of RAF Fighter Command during the summer of 1940 when they played a vital role in the defence of Britain which ultimately saved Britain from invasion.

Learn more about these letters in our blog here.

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