Spies in the Sky: The Secret Battle for Aerial Intelligence during World War 2

18 May 2017

No.4 Hamilton Place, London


18:30 - 19:30 

At the centre of Allied Intelligence operations during the Second World War was the work carried out at two country houses just outside London. Both were near to railway lines with easy access to the capital. Moreover, both operations soon outgrew the country houses themselves, and brick and concrete huts sprawled out across the grounds and gardens. The work carried out at one of these country houses, Bletchley Park, is now well known. There have been novels, movies and dozens of books about Bletchley Park. However, the story of the top-secret intelligence work carried out at RAF Medmenham and of the equally remarkable group of boffins and mavericks who were gathered there is still relatively unknown.

This is the history of how a secret science was developed to read and measure aerial imagery, how the use of 3D photographs was developed and how a mass of data was built up about the German war economy. An extraordinary group of men worked at Medmenham, and an even more remarkable group of women worked there. 

Speaker Details

Taylor Downing, Historian

Taylor Downing is a best-selling historian and an award-winning television producer. He writes about scientists and war. His book Spies in the Sky (Little, Brown) came out in 2011 to much acclaim. Andrew Roberts wrote that the book filled 'a huge gap in Second World War historiography in both an exciting and intellectually stimulating way.' Prof David Reynolds described the book as 'A fascinating read and a significant contribution to the history of World War Two.' Taylor regularly gives talks around the country and has lectured at the Imperial War Museum, the National Army Museum, the British Museum and at Bletchley Park and at many other universities, history societies and book festivals.


No.4 Hamilton Place, London

Royal Aeronautical Society Headquarters

No.4 Hamilton Place