Robert Calvert
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RAF Veteran Recalls Operation Which Shortened WW2 By Two Years

A former RAF radio operator who helped shorten the Second World War has marked the Royal Air Forces centenary.

Robert Calvert

Bob Calvert standing next to a full-size replica of the Hawk fighter jet (Picture: PA).

A former RAF radio operator whose team helped shorten the Second World War by two years has marked the RAF centenary.

Robert Calvert, who is now 93 years old, read Morse code military communication, a vital job during the conflict.

He also worked on a seized German U-boat coding box as part of a high-security project which spent six months translating its contents.

After D-day, he was based in Belgium, Holland and Germany. Following the war, he served in Egypt, North Africa, Germany and Cyprus.

The RAF veteran was the guest of honour as the RAF prepares to commemorate its own special 100th birthday at an airshow in the seaside resort town of Newcastle in Northern Ireland this weekend.

Robert Calvert
A full-size replica RAF aircraft will also be at the foot of Mourne Mountains (Picture: PA).

Northern Ireland became a vital base during the Second World War, with 25 airfields from the Ards Peninsula to Lough Erne primarily focused on winning the Battle of the Atlantic.

Aircraft based in Northern Ireland successfully sank many U-boats and assisted in the scuttling of the most famous German battleship of the war, the Bismarck.

Robert spoke about his important wartime role:

"I was security-cleared, and I was very proud of it, to go on a little coding machine that was found in a U-boat that the Americans had sunk off the coast of America."

The Americans took the crew of the enemy submarine to shore and one who spoke German overheard a member of the captured group disclose:

"We did not take that top secret stuff with us."

That statement prompted a six-month effort to process all the information found onboard the U-boat, which then led to the discovery of a large number of enemy craft.

Analysis of German military signals during the war meant allied convoys could be directed away from the U-boats and helped win the Battle of the Atlantic.

Robert refers to the RAF as "his life":

"I loved the Morse code. It is always in your head, always ticking along, it does not do you any harm."