Mid Wales

WW2 women's secret war effort at Cardigan Bay

The Ynysals women Image copyright National Army Museum
Image caption The Ynysals experiments continued after the war and played a vital role in the UK's post-war space research

Newly discovered World War Two photographs show the first women to track a rocket by radar.

Members of the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Army were working at a top-secret rocket testing range in Ynyslas, Ceredigion.

It is thought at least 30 women helped test missiles in the hope of fighting back against Germany's flying bombs.

The Ynyslas experiments continued after the war and contributed to Britain's post-war space programme.

By 1946 the women had joined forces with American and even German technologists to track the first rocket using radar.

Image copyright National Army Museum
Image caption The women were sent overseas where they could test rockets over a longer distance

The British women were later sent to Australia where they could test rockets over a 1,200 mile range - 40 times the distance available at Cardigan Bay.

Margaret Herterich, who was part of the Ynyslas testing team, said: "We were responsible for the results of the experiments costing thousands of pounds.

"We knew that we were working on something special when we girls received letters from the Ministry of Supply, asking if we would like to go to Woomera, Australia, to carry on the work of the Blue Streak rocket."

Britain's space programme led to the establishment of the European Launcher Development Organisation in the 1960s - the forerunner of today's European Space Agency.

The pictures were discovered at the National Army Museum by staff at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales who were researching the location's coastal heritage.

They show the women at the secret Ceredigion site during the war.

Image copyright RCAHMW
Image caption Aerial photos show the rocket firing test ramps in Ynyslas, Ceredigion

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