Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 21, 2020 9:43:25 GMT 12
I thought I would create a thread highlighting the New Zealanders, or others who worked in New Zealand, during WWII in the fields of science and engineering research to improve the Allies' ability to wage war against the Axis forces. The following are articles from Papers Past.
NEW ZEALANDER ABROAD
PA AUCKLAND, May 10. - A New Zealand mechanical engineer, Robert Maxted. who, after graduating at Canterbury University College went to England in 1929 for 18 months' experience and returned in the Wairangi from Liverpool to-day with his wife and three children, has had a crowded career. He first joined the British Thomson Houston Company in charge of the radiation research department. When war broke out he worked with the defence forces on radar and apparatus for anti-aircraft batteries. After the war he became a member of the Control Commission in Germany. “ Our task,” he said, “was to get the Germans off their backs and on their knees and keep them there.” He added that the Nazis had made a thorough job of wrecking industry, hoping to drag the rest of Europe down.
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 21, 2020 9:46:00 GMT 12
NEW ZEALANDER RETURNS
(P.A.) WELLINGTON, Feb. 7. For the last three years a scientific liaison officer in London for the New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Dr. I. E. Coop, returned in the Themistocles, which arrived at Wellington yesterday. Dr. Coop, who is a New Zealander, was formerly a lecturer in chemistry at Canterbury Agricultural College, Lincoln. His services were loaned to the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research for wartime duties in London.
His work has been to maintain contact with the major British research institutions and forward to the Dominion reports on the latest developments. He has been specially concerned with the defence aspects of research, including radar, asdic, the degaussing of ships, and methods of chemical warfare. Dr. Coop has also procured for New Zealand scientific instruments for use in munitions production, and has forwarded plans and specifications for other instruments made in the Dominion for the armed forces.
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 21, 2020 9:49:18 GMT 12
RADIO PROXIMITY FUSE
NEW ZEALANDER'S IDEA
A radio proximity fuse used in antiaircraft shells that beat the flying bomb and saved the British fleets in the Far East from serious loss when the Japanese threw in suicide bombers, was conceived by Mr. W. A. S. Butement, a technical officer of the Ministry of Supply. Mr. Butement was born in Masterton, and was the eldest son of Dr. William Butement. His aunt, Miss W. Butement, and his uncle, Mr. A. G. Buteinant. live in Masterton.
Mr. W. A. S. Butement later designed the C.H.L. radar sets.
Shells inserted with radio proximity fuses burst on the shell coming within a certain distance of the target. The increased number of flying bombs destroyed in 1944 before reaching their targets is attributed in part to the use of these fuses. The British ideas regarding radio proximity fuses were passed on to the American authorities in 1940, and the productive capacity of the U.S.A. enabled rapid output.
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 21, 2020 9:56:44 GMT 12
WOMAN SCIENTIST HELPED
DR. ALEXANDER’S SHARE
An outstanding woman research worker who has made a valuable war-time contribution to science by her share in experiments on radar research in the Dominion, Dr. F. E. S. Alexander, will leave Wellington this month by the Ruahine on her return to England. Her important geological work in Malaya interrupted by the war, Dr. Alexander came to New Zealand with her three young children. Singapore fell, and her husband, who was professor of physics at Raffles University College, became a prisoner of the Japanese.
Dr. Alexander’s work in New Zealand began with her association with the Radio Development Laboratory in Wellington in January, 1942. Work on statistical analysis on radar occupied her time at first, and then she went on to study meteorology. Working from the Mount Victoria signal station in Wellington every night for months, Dr. Alexander, with a party of Wrens, plotted by radar the movements of the inter-island steamer. By this was gained a great deal of information on the behaviour of radio waves under certain weather conditions.
A further contribution in the field of radar research has recently been made by Dr. Alexander in the project known officially as the “Canterbury Project,” which is located at Ashburton. She helped in the initial stages at the headquarters near Ashburton. Intended to increase knowledge of the effects of weather on radar, the investigations in Canterbury will be largely the result of experiments carried out in New Zealand during the war.
Work in Singapore Up to the fall of Singapore Dr. Alexander was doing statistical analysis work for the Navy, and before that she had been engaged on the first detailed geological survey of Singapore Island undertaken. Her husband did extensive scientific experiments and investigation for the armed forces.
Professor Alexander is a New Zealander. He was educated in Hamilton and graduated later from Auckland University College. He has the Ph.D (Cambridge) and M.Sc. (New Zealand) degrees. He has returned to Singapore to continue his work at the University, which was due to open on July 1. Conditions were better than be had expected, he has told his wife by cablegram.
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 21, 2020 10:05:31 GMT 12
EXPRESSION OF THANKS
GESTURE OF RADAR RESEARCH PERSONNEL
FIELD DAY TO BE HELD FOR PUBLIC
Thanks to the people of the Ashburton County and Borough for their hospitality to, and co-operation with all members of the Department of Scientific Research engaged in radar investigations in the County were expressed yesterday afternoon by Mr R. S. Unwin (chief scientific officer) when representatives of local bodies and organisations were entertained at afternoon tea at the Ashburton airport.
Yesterday's pleasing function was a formal expression of gratitude. It was not possible to show anything of their equipment to the visitors that afternoon because it was so scattered, continued Mr Unwin, but just before research was closed down for the Christmas vacation he hoped to hold a field day on the airport on Wednesday, December 18, when it was proposed to concentrate as much of the equipment being used in the project as possible, including one of the aircraft, so that the public might obtain an insight into the experiments that were going on under nor-westerly conditions.
Mr Unwin expressed regret that north-west winds, for which the district is famous, and which are required for the special radar investigations, seemed to have stopped now, though when preparations were being made in the early spring for the experiments the winds were blowing. “We are just starting to get our teeth into the problem,” said Mr Unwin, but it was hoped by the end of next year that “we will have all the answers.”
Special reference was made by the speaker to the hospitality of the Savage Club and of Miss V. E. Dearsley (Matron of the Ashburton Public Hospital).
Finest County in New Zealand This was the finest county in New Zealand and in the centre of it was the most progressive town, Ashburton, said Mr E. C. Bathurst (the Mayor of Ashburton) in reply. Insofar as air transport was concerned, the locality was isolated, he continued. He had been pressing the claims of Ashburton, Timaru and Oamaru for feeder services. The idea was to have planes leaving Oamaru calling at Timaru and Ashburton to pick up passengers and link up with the main airlines.
The Mayor appealed to any of the English personnel in the radar project with knowledge of air transport conditions in England, a country of similar size to New Zealand, to offer advice. Such an air service, he firmly believed, would overcome the isolation and bring us days nearer the north of the North Island.
“We would prefer to call it the “Ashburton project” rather than the “Canterbury project,” said the Mayor, referring to the name given to the radar research in the Ashburton County. “We can turn on winds here they cannot in Christchurch,” said the speaker. If north-west winds had not been experienced so far by the investigators, they would be bound to strike a cycle yet, he continued.
Although Mr Unwin had said that it was hoped to complete the investigations by the end of next year, Mr Bathurst said he hoped that the research personnel would be here much longer. Mr M. S. Turton (chairman of the Ashburton County Council) expressed pleasure that such an important experiment should be carried out in the county. He congratulated Mr Unwin, as a New Zealander, on being in charge of such a project.
In entertaining the visitors Mr Unwin was assisted by Mr and Mrs A. D. Lowe, Flight-Lieutenant J. Conyers-Brown and Mrs Brown, Flight-Lieutenant G. B. Sloane, Mr and Mrs J. Richards, Mr and Mrs R. W. James, Mr B. Milnes, Mr and Mrs W. S. Joyner and Mr and Mrs A. D. Bates, the last four named men being of the team of six experts from the United Kingdom. All the men were of the staff of the research station.
The visitors included representatives of the Ashburton County and Borough Councils, the Ashburton Savage Club, County Club and hospital. Among those present were Miss V. E. Dearsley (Matron of the Ashburton Public Hospital), Messrs W. H. Amos, W. H. Sarney, H. G. Ferrier, A. A. McDonald, R. C. Major (clerk), G. A. MacFarlane (engineer}, all of the Ashburton Borough Council, S. P. Taylor, H. A..MacKenzie, W. G. Gallagher, M. D. McDowell, G. Kelly (clerk), R. L. Lindsay (engineer) (all of the Ashburton County Council), A. C. Wilson and H. L. Freeman (Ashburton Savage Club), L. E. Carter, R. Drummond and C. E. Moller (Ashburton County Club), H. G. Kemp, W. G. Welsh, S. H. Truman (Ashburton Electric Power Board), A. J. Mason (Superintendent of the Ashburton Public Hospital) and the Ven. Archdeacon C. L. Mountfort. Most of these representatives were accompanied by their wives.
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 21, 2020 10:08:02 GMT 12
LONG WAIT AHEAD
PEACE-TIME USE OF ATOMIC POWER
P.A AUCKLAND, Feb. 16
A New Zealander who was employed in the construction of England’s first atomic pile, Mr C. N. Watson-Munro, formerly head of the Scientific and Industrial Research Department’s radar research laboratory, who returned in the Marine Phoenix to-day after “secret list" work in England and Canada, said he believed it would be at least 10 years before atomic power was produced economically for peacetime use.
Some great stuff here Dave H. And in case you did not know (reference to Robert Maxted, first post on this thread), if you have ever flown in a piston-engined British aircraft made between the 1920s and the 1950s, chances are that your life depended on the installed British Thomson-Houston magnetos providing and distributing the sparks. In fact most British aircraft (including turbines) would have had some BTH electrical equipment installed on their engines or nearby. If you look up the BTH Wikipedia article you will also see that the early BTH monogram was closely styled on that of its (American) parent, GEC, which is still going strong (I think!) Incidentally there is a nice photograph on that site of an RR Kestrel engine, complete with BTH magnetos. Unfortunately the caption states that this is a distributor only; it is actually a combined magneto/distributor as were most (but not all) magnetos of the day. The other major manufacturer of British magnetos from the 1920s (possibly also Great War) was the well-known Rotax company, and another was Waterford. David D
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 21, 2020 10:45:14 GMT 12
CHURCHILL'S PROPHECY WHEN HE SAW RADAR
(By E. K. GREEN.)
WHEN Winston Churchill first saw radar equipment — then "radio location" — he made a comment which, in the light of later events, had prophetic meaning.
"If this invention succeeds," he said, "it will make England once more an island, and we shall be free from the intrigues of the Continent."
That comment was remembered by at least one of his hearers, Dr. E. Marsden, New Zealand Director of Scientific Development for the Defence Services, and he quoted it in telling me some of his experiences in the pre-war days of 1939, when he was for a time an observer with Mr. (now Sir) Robert Watson Watt, the Scottish physicist who gave to Britain her most important war weapon.
Mr. Churchill was then a private member of the British House of Commons—and radio location, then the topmost secret of the Air Ministry, was known to only a few Ministers of the British Government. In his character of "stormy petrel" he was urging with vigour the adoption of another detection device, so he was taken to see what was already in train. He was convinced, but, as an indication of his foresight, it was found that the device he was advocating was complementary, in certain later applications, to radar.
New Zealand's Special Interest Dr. Marsden had two other revelations to make of special interest to New Zealand. When Watson Watt first made his epic discovery that aircraft reflected or "echoed" back radio beam emanations — an accidental find while the scientist was conducting experiments in the ionisphere — he might have suffered the rebuffs that have often faced scientific workers in contact with officialdom. However, he was able to interest "someone in the Air Ministry" and financial authority was given for the work which saved the day in the later Battle of Britain, and has since proven a mighty weapon in the hands of the Allies.
That "someone" was Air Marshal Sir Cyril Newall, then chief of the Royal Air Force, now Governor-General of New Zealand. His Excellency has, ever since taken a keen and knowledgeable interest in the development of radar.
The other revelation concerned a New Zealander — Squadron-Leader Ramsbottom Isherwood, who later, as a Wing Commander, led the first R.A.F. fighter wing to serve in Russia. Isherwood, carrying the first air radar set in his Spitfire, co-operated with Watson Watt in the first air-ground radar experimental work.
Experiments had been going on for a number of years and development work had reached an interesting stage in Britain when, in May, 1939, the late Rt. Hon. M. J. Savage, Prime Minister of New Zealand, received a cable from the United Kingdom Government requesting that a New Zealand physicist should be sent to Britain "to learn a new service development." No hint was given of what the development constituted, but the importance of the request was realised.
Mr. Savage's Decision Dr. Marsden, as permanent Secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and himself formerly a professor of physics, was asked to make nominations. To his Minister, Mr. Sullivan, and Mr. Savage, he suggested the names of three young men. He commented to them that the rate of scientific development in physics was such that it was only young men in their twenties who could really keep abreast.
Mr. Savage smiled, and made his decision dryly: "There may be policy involved, Marsden. You'd better pack up tomorrow and go by air." It was a decision of importance to New Zealand, for it was the start of a scientific development in this country that has had vital results... a work carried on by young men in civilian clothes, some of whom have carried their scientific work right into the front lines of the Pacific war (one of them was wounded), and who have pioneered in several aspects of radar development. Their work, and that in other scientific fields also, bears the impress of volatile Dr. Marsden, himself a Peter Pan of science.
It was not until he reached London that the doctor learned of the development of radar as a practical weapon of the first importance in the war that was already looming. And at that time it was contemplated only in its aircraft detection aspect. Its possibilities in gun ranging and other almost limitless spheres were future developments.
Dramatic Setting No mystery story could have had a more dramatic setting than the place on the East Coast to which he was directed—an old manor house, surrounded by a river as a moat, over which visitors had to be ferried by boat. Residents had been cleared away from the vicinity. And here Watson Watt and his team of assistant physicists carried on their work.
Dr. Marsden, though mainly an observer, became one of the team, and on one occasion he flew as a passenger, crowded in behind Isherwood in his Spitfire, while he conducted tests to judge the most handy placement of the equipment in the fighter.
Another privileged visitor to that establishment was Mr. Walter Nash, who had been visiting London, and after seeing a demonstration he placed funds at the disposal of Dr. Marsden to purchase sufficient components and materials to make radar development in New Zealand possible.
"That decision was fully justified," said Dr. Marsden, "for radar equipment could not be spared for export from Britain for nearly two years after the commencement of the war."
At the time, it will be remembered, 30 Wellingtons were on order in Britain for the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and crews had gone Home to ferry them out. Arrangements had been made to fit one with radar, to enable contact to be kept among the aircraft. That would have been the first radar set to be used overseas. Britain asked, however to be permitted to retain the aircraft, and New Zealand agreed.
Rushed Development Organisation Equipped with vital information, and with necessary components and materials, Dr. Marsden left England one day before war was declared, but his homecoming was not immediate. By direction of the Air Ministry he stopped off in South Africa to co-operate in the organisation of radar development in that Dominion — an organisation that was carried on by Professor Schonland, who afterwards became scientific adviser to Field-Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery.
And New Zealand was not lacking in the speed with which her resources were organised to cope with the task. A Radio Development Laboratory was established, first as part of the radio section of the Post and Telegraph Department, and later under the aegis of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.
It is indicative of the urgency given the work that arrangements were made immediately for training radio physicist personnel. A special course in radio physics was organised at the university, with an allowance to each student undertaking it, and the first students (at Auckland and Christchurch) began their course in December, 1939. Those students never heard of radar while taking the course, but some of them became prominent research workers later, or entered the services as radio specialists. Others had a less pleasant fate. Some of them were among a number of volunteers for radar operating work in England. Their ship was intercepted by a raider, and they are still prisoners of war in Germany.
Interesting find Dave (Doctor Marsden, above), and one of the few mentions I have come across which includes the plan to install a type of Radar (probably a prototype of ASV) in one of "our" Wellingtons in 1939/40. I was first told about this by D C (Don) McGlashan, shortly before he died (he had throat cancer, and had an electronic voice, which he apologized for over the phone). I also have my doubts as to the aircraft recognition skills of Dr Marsden (in above post) that he flew in a Spitfire testing a Radar set mounted behind Isherwood - I don't think a heavy radar set and a scientist would fit in such an aircraft in that manner, and even if they fitted, the aircraft would be way beyond its aft-most centre of gravity. More likely it was in a Fairey Battle, Hawker Hotspur or some such aircraft. Everybody wanted to fly in a Spitfire, but until they made two-seat conversions postwar, this was pretty well impossible. David D
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 21, 2020 11:08:25 GMT 12
FORMER NEW ZEALANDER
After conducting sea tests with special low radiation radio equipment on a voyage from the United States to New Zealand, Mr E. H. Scott, of Scott Radio, Chicago, is at present preparing reports on the results obtained. Mr Scott, a former New Zealander, is chief executive of the company, and is combining his experiments with a rest trip, during which he is visiting relatives in Nelson.
While serving with an Australian motor transport company in France in the last war, Mr Scott invented a compact piece of apparatus for quickly locating trouble in automobile engines. This he offered to the British Government. Experts admitted that it was a valuable device, but as it would cost about £20,000 to build enough of the instruments to handle all the motor transport vehicles in the British Army, they reluctantly felt they would just have to “try to get along without it.”
Subsequently it took the United States Army just 10 days to decide that they wanted the invention, and it was adopted as standard equipment for all United States tank, tractor, and motor transport. For his invention Mr Scott received 52,000 dollars. Radio experimenting and construction interested Mr Scott after the last war, and he established Scott Radio, now one of the largest radio building enterprises in the United States.
Since the present war started civilian production has been halted. One of the greatest achievements of Scott Radio resulted from an appeal from the United States Navy. When war broke out it was found that broadcast receivers on naval vessels and transports radiated so much interference that positions of ships could be picked up by enemy radar equipment. In 36 days’ research engineers at Scott Radio had found a solution of the problem, a special type of low radiation receivers. To-day the company has contracts totalling 20,000,000 dollars.
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 21, 2020 11:11:01 GMT 12
Yes I was baffled by the mention of riding with Ramsbottom Isherwood in a Spitfire. I wonder where the Wing Commander's logbook is these days, I know his grandson made a great documentary about him some years back.
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 21, 2020 11:32:10 GMT 12
VALUABLE EXPERIENCE GAINED
Team of Radio Engineers from New Zealand
WAR-TIME RESEARCH IN BRITAIN
From A. W. Mitchell, Special Correspondent
Rec. 7.30 p.m LONDON, June 5.
Nearly three years ago, on June 16, 1944, what may be described as the smallest expeditionary force ever to leave New Zealand flew from Auckland to England. It comprised 11 radio engineers, all trained in the development and production of signals equipment. Their assignment was to assist the Ministry of Supply with the production of radio equipment for the approaching campaign in the Far East. At that time the Ministry was desperately short of trained radio engineers and readily accepted a suggestion by Dr E. Marsden, secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, that New Zealanders should help to fill the gap.
Later the team was joined by a twelfth New Zealander; with the exception of two all have now returned to the Dominion after varied experiences which included the cross-examination of German scientists and the collation of information regarding the German rocket V2.
While being of direct assistance to teams of British radio engineers working for the Ministry, they also gained some valuable knowledge for New Zealand reproduction — new recording systems, the application of electronics to industrial processes, television, plastics, and the various uses of very high-frequency radio. Particularly interesting in the field of v.h.f. is its use for police radio, and it is understood that the New Zealand Government is at present securing further information on this subject from the British Home Office.
The Government has also been informed of the latest developments in the use of v.h.f. for emergency services, including ambulances, ship to shore communication, and radio for trains. Valuable information was secured, too, by the New Zealand team on manufacturing technique and factory layouts in keeping with the modern trend of development in the industry.
The team comprised T. Hill, R. W. Schdroski, of the Post and Telegraph Department, I. K. Walker, of the DSIR, D. K. Collett, T. P. Joseph, and P. B. Armitage, of the N.Z.E.F Signals. Those from private firms were O. N. Curtis, J. M. Gifford, and A. P. Gregg, from Wellington, and R. J. Orbell, RJ. Long, and L. Ferguson, from Auckland.
Diversified Fields On arrival in England in 1944, Walker went to the radar research and development establishment at Malvern, in Worcestershire. One of his most interesting tasks was to join an English team experimenting to locate by radar the firing-point of artillery and mortars. He is now engaged with another New Zealander, O. N. Watson-Munro, on atomic energy research at Professor Cockroft’s establishment at Harwell.
Curtis and Gifford went to the headquarters branch of the director of signals research and development in London. Curtis is now attached to DSIR in London, and will be returning to New Zealand shortly.
The remaining members went to the signals research and development establishment in Hampshire for a period, and were engaged on development for the production of army radio equipment for use in the tropics.
Later Curtis, Collett, Joseph, and Armitage moved to the Ministry's radio production unit at Woolwich, in London, where they are assisting with the work of developing a v.h.f. pack set.
Remarkable Radio Set Working with English teams throughout, the New Zealanders saw the development of army intercept communication receivers for use in tropical areas and a portable radio transmitter and receiver for use in all parts of the world. It is designed to withstand immersion in many feet of water, to operate in heavy tropical rainstorms and heat, and it is sealed against dust and sand. It could be carried by men, mules or in motor vehicles.
This set was distinct from the v.h.f. pack set, which operated on frequencies recommended by Sir Edward Appleton’s radio propagation committee. Weighing only 54lb, it was the first portable equipment of its kind and could be used for communication between land stations and aircraft, in dense bush and jungle. It was proofed against electrical interferences, tropical rain and moisture.
In all their work, the New Zealanders have had every help and assistance from Colonel W. Raby, C.B.E., who at that time was the chief superintendent at the research and development establishment in Hampshire, and also of the radio production unit at Woolwich.
Colonel Raby is now engaged in expansion of the South African steel industry at the invitation of General Smuts and Dr Vanberbjl. The New Zealanders formed a great admiration for him. There is no doubt that the associations formed and the knowledge acquired by the New Zealanders, “the smallest expeditionary force.” should be of continuing value to the Dominion.
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 21, 2020 14:20:34 GMT 12
RESEARCH WORK IN AMERICA.
SEVEN NEW ZEALANDERS TAKE PART.
(P.A.) WELLINGTON, August 13.
Seven New Zealanders took part in the research work leading to the development of the atomic bomb, the Minister of Scientific and Industrial Research (the Hon. D. G. Sullivan) said to-day. They were sent to America for this work, and are still there.
Mr Sullivan said that when the Prime Minister (the Rt. Hon. P. Fraser) was in Britain in 1944 he had been asked by Sir John Anderson, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether, in view of the extreme shortage of scientific personnel, New Zealand could release some of her best brains to assist in atomic research.
The secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (Dr. E. Marsden), who was in Britain at the time, was consulted, and he suggested five of his best physicists and engineers for the work. Four of these men at that time were employed in the radio development laboratory at Wellington, which had been established earlier in the war to consider the problems of radar application, and to develop equipment for the use of New Zealand and Allied forces in the Pacific.
The leader of the New Zealand team is Mr C. N. Watson-Munro, M.Sc., director of the radio development laboratory, and the other members who commenced research with him are Messrs K. D. George, M.Sc., scientific liaison officer at Washington, W. W. Young, B.E., engineer to the defence development section of the department at Christchurch, R. M. Williams, M.A., and G. Page, B.Sc., physicists at the radio development laboratory.
Early in 1945, Mr G. J. Ferguson, B.Sc., and Mr A. E. Allen, B.E., from the radio development laboratory, went to America, and the Government had under consideration the sending of another highly-trained electrical engineer.
All these men were well trained in electronics for work on atomic power and explosives. The Minister said excellent reports had been received of their work, and New Zealanders should he proud to learn that New Zealand scientists of this generation were in the forefront of research started by another New Zealander, Lord Rutherford. Mr Sullivan paid a tribute to the work Lord Rutherford had done at the outset of research, and mentioned that Dr. Marsden had been one of Lord Rutherford’s students.
The Minister added that when Mr Fraser received a request for personnel, an appeal was also made for men to work on jet propulsion development, and four New Zealanders were dispatched to Britain. They were Messrs N. A. Mackay, B.E., A. A. McCutchan, B.E., P. J. Hambleton, B.E., and G. A. Hookings, B.Sc. These four were adding lustre to New Zealand’s name in scientific and engineering 'circles.
"At the time, it will be remembered, 30 Wellingtons were on order in Britain for the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and crews had gone Home to ferry them out. Arrangements had been made to fit one with radar, to enable contact to be kept among the aircraft. That would have been the first radar set to be used overseas. Britain asked, however to be permitted to retain the aircraft, and New Zealand agreed."
This very, very interesting, although it poses more questions:
1. Which aircraft received or was intended to receive the radar?
My guess is not any of the first six produced (NZ 300 - 305), most of which were dual-control and intended for the training of crews in the UK. The first Flight (due to leave for NZ in October 1939) was to deliver the next six aircraft, ie., NZs 306 - 311, so you would assume it was to be installed into one of those.
Marsden didn't arrive in the UK until April 1939, by which time the first a/c NZ 300 had already been built.
However, the radar unit could have been retro-fitted and there is a mystery over what happened to that very first Wellington, which was completed but never delivered to the New Zealand Squadron at Marham. Could she have been sent off for radar installation and/or trials, interrupted by the outbreak of war?
2. What type of radar was it? If the radar was "to enable contact to be kept among the aircraft", would that suggest AI (Airborne Interception) rather than ASV (Air to Surface Vessel)? Ground-scanning radar (like H2S) wasn't developed until later.
3. If Britain was to retain the aircraft, it suggests that the radar was only for trial on the long distance flight, not for the long-term use of the RNZAF. Would that have meant flying it back to Britain after the ferry flights? Why would they ask to keep the aircraft and not just send the unit back?
Have just come across a book online, "Rocks, Radio and Radar: The Extraordinary Scientific, Social and Military Life of Elizabeth Alexander".
It covers Marsden's stay in the UK in 1939, and his evaluation of the different types of radar under development there, having to make a decision in a rapidly changing field on what he would recommend and if possible, bring back to New Zealand.
The longer he stayed the more he learned, but at the same time, war was increasingly likely and he needed to get something up and running back home, ie., manufacturing our own radar, in time to be useful.
ASV (Air-Surface Vessel) was of particular interest, relating to one of the main threats that NZ faced, attack by sea, and already in use by the RAF.
He knew that the Wellingtons were due to fly back to NZ and that they would eventually be equipped with ASV, so decided it would be sensible to install a unit in one and fly back to NZ in it, to observe it in action!
The equipment was quite large however and best built into the aircraft.
The war happened in the meantime and the Wellingtons were now to stay in England with the RAF, so we can assume that the installation either didn't happen, or didn't happen in time to be delivered to the NZ Squadron.
By then Marsden had learned how to assemble and line up an ASV Mark 1 set so he arranged to purchase one and sent some of the equipment home by sea with the Australian delegate (also in the UK to learn about radar), D.F. Martyn. Marsden was to follow about a month later.
Amazingly, after stopping off in Wellington for discussions and meetings, with Marsden not yet back in the country, Martyn sailed back to Sydney, taking some of Marsden's equipment and top secret reports with him!
Post by Dave Homewood on Apr 21, 2020 20:59:20 GMT 12
Work of Dominion Scientists
Written for the Daily Times by Bernard Magee
The Science Congress to be held in Wellington from May 20 to May 23, will draw together men from far and near who are eminent in the scientific world. The gathering here in New Zealand will also direct attention to this country's contribution to that branch of knowledge and to men who have established reputations for themselves abroad
RUTHERFORD OF NELSON
PIONEER OF ATOMIC ENERGY
Bestriding the scientific world like a Colossus stands Lord Rutherford, a native of Brightwater, Nelson. Over 45 years ago, after a boyhood spent assisting his father at farming and flaxmilling, young Rutherford was experimenting at Canterbury College with ether waves and succeeded in transmitting wireless messages over short distances. Had the New Zealander continued in this direction, instead of winning a travelling scholarship enabling him to proceed to England to study under Sir J. Thomson at Cavendish Laboratory—thus directing his energy to other scientific pursuits—it is possible that Marconi would not be acclaimed as the inventor of wireless.
That tremendous weapon of destruction, the atomic bomb, was due to the early researches of Ernest Rutherford into the splitting of the atom. After the Bikini bomb burst last year a group of scientific observers visited New Zealand. Among them was Dr Karl Compton, of the United States, who, at a function, recalled an interesting piece of history concerning Lord Rutherford. Dr Compton said that he was organiser of an Allied conference in Paris during the World War of 1914-18, designed to cope with the German submarine menace, at which Lord Rutherford represented Britain. During the sitting he wrote a note to Compton as follows:
“We have Just carried out an experiment which leads us to believe that we have split the hydrogen atom. If this is so, it is more important than the war. We are carrying out a confirmatory test, so I shall be a day or two late. Do not say anything to anyone in case it is wrong.”
Honours fell think on the New Zealand scientist’s shoulders before he died in 1937. Apart from Empire honours Turin Academy of Science (Italy) and the Sorbonne (Paris) conferred distinction on him. The rare honour of the Order of Merit and his elevation to the peerage marked Britain’s appraisement of his ability. The crowning honour was the award of the Nobel Prize.
Product of Otago University New Zealand scientists were prominent in developing the atomic bomb and other devices that culminated in the Axis Powers biting the dust. Conspicuous, by reason of his position as chief assistant to Professor W. L. E. Oliphant, who made possible the use of the atomic bomb, is Dr R. R. Nimmo, a product of Otago University, where he graduated as master of science, he went to Cambridge 20 years ago as a result of winning a travelling scholarship. Dr Nimmo studied there under his great countryman, Lord Rutherford, and imbibed some of the vast knowledge Rutherford possessed on splitting the atom by electric ray bombardment. He went to Perth, West Australia, as lecturer in physics at the university there, but returned to England in 1939 to fill a similar post at Birmingham University under Professor Oliphant. Prior to going to the United States with other British scientists to work in collaboration with United States scientists on the atomic bomb, Dr Nimmo was one of Professor Oliphant’s staff who perfected the instrument that defeated the German submarine.
Radar work was another war-time activity the New Zealander was engaged in. For his part in it he qualified for a Nuffield fellowship.
Anthropologists In the realm of anthropology, New Zealanders have established a niche for themselves abroad. Now regarded as one of the most able anthropologists in the world, Dr Diamond Jenness, an ex-student of Victoria College, Wellington, where he graduated in 1908, is chief of the anthropological section of the Canadian National Museum, Ontario. Canada. His work in connection with Eskimo and American aborigine derivation won him high commendation. His book, “Children of the Twilight", a well as being a scientific work of great value, also possessed literary merit of a superior order, and the New Zealand University conferred on him the honorary degree of literature about 10 years ago. Dr Jenness in 1913 accompanied Stefansson's North Pole expedition.
Dr Peter Buck Since his services were enlisted by the Bishop Museum of Honolulu Dr. Peter Buck (or to give him his Maori name, Te Rangi Hiroa) has done valuable anthropological and ethnological work concerning the Polynesians. He has travelled extensively over the broad Pacific, visiting remote islands in quest of knowledge. Yale University recognised his outstanding ability and appointed him to the professorship of anthropology at that institution. The Royal Anthropological Society of Great Britain and Ireland conferred on him an honorary fellowship — at the time, the first distinction conferred on a New Zealander.
As well as voyaging round the Pacific islands, he visited America and Europe in pursuit of information concerning the Polynesian race, and has unearthed much information that will be embodied in volumes that posterity will thank him for.
Incidentally, it may be mentioned, that his researches in museums in parts of America concerned in the early whaling industry, especially the centre of the industry, Salem (Massachusetts) a century ago, yielded much treasure to Dr Buck regarding New Zealand’s early history.
Dr R. W. Firth Another anthropologist who has attained a high position abroad is Dr R. W Firth, who, in 1944, was appointed to the Chair of Anthropology at London University. An old scholar of Auckland University and Grammar School, he went to London and entered the School of Economics there — by the way, the New Zealander, William Pember Reeves, was director of it from 1908 till 1920. From 1933 to 1935 Dr Firth was lecturer in anthropology at that institution; then his research work took him to the Solomon Islands and Malaya. During he war he was engaged by the Admiralty, being secretary of the Colonial Social Science Research Council.
Metallurgy A New Zealander who made his mark in electro-metallurgy in America was Professor A. M. Hunter,. a native of Mercer, Waikato. After his education in this country, he went to England to further his studies in that branch of science he fancied. Later he went to Goettingen, where he studied under Professor Nernst, then under Moissan in Paris, and with Le Blanc and Haber in Karlsruhe. Arriving in the Land of Opportunity he was appointed professor of electro-chemistry and electro-metallurgy at the Renneseler Institute, Troy, New York, and eventually became its head. It is the oldest school of engineering in the world, and includes among its functions the application of science to agriculture.
Before going abroad to seek wider opportunities, Dr Strathmore Ridley Barnett Cooke, B.Sc., B.E., a native of Wanganui, studied at the School of Mines at Thames, Otago University, and the Otago School of Mines. He had wide experience in Australia, Canada and British Columbia before becoming research professor of mineral dressing at the Montana School of Mines, USA. At times Dr Cook has acted as consulting research metallurgist to the United States Bureau of Mines at Reno (Nevada), and Tuscaloosa (Alabama). Articles by him in technical publications form a valuable contribution to the science of metals. He holds the degree of M.Sc. at the Missouri School of Mines, as well as that of Ph.D. Entomology
Dr J. G. Myers, a graduate of Victoria College, Wellington, went to Harvard University in 1935 to continue his studies. While in the United States he was requested by the English Department of Agriculture to make investigations that might prove of value to agriculture in England. On returning to England he was appointed to the Imperial Bureau of Entomology. Later he joined the entomological station at Farnham Royal, Kent, an institution working on lines similar to the Cawthron Institute at Nelson.
Institute of Technology During the war the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the greatest institution of its kind in America, if not in the world, and its scientists’ efforts to circumvent the Axis, figured prominently. To the average New Zealander the name conveys little; yet it was to Richard Cockburn Maclaurin that it owed its high position as a great centre of science. Some 63 years ago young Maclaurin won a scholarship at a Waikato school, which enabled him to go to the Auckland Grammar School; later he entered the University there. Subsequently at Cambridge Maclaurin won the foremost distinction in the mathematical world — a Smith Prize. Holders of this prize include Sir John Herschel, Lord Rayleigh, James Clark Maxwell and Sir J. J. Thomson, intellectual giants. While at Cambridge he “roomed” with another struggling scholar named Jan Christian Smuts, who became his life-long friend. On the opening of Victoria College at Wellington, he joined the staff, but was enticed back to the States in 1907 to take up a post with Columbia University, New York. A couple of years later he accepted the headship of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. By his efforts he raised millions of dollars to erect modern buildings and furnish up-to-date equipment. Dr Maclaurin found time to write on such subjects as “ The Theory of Light,” “ Title to Reality,” and “Light.” That the New Zealander’s contribution to knowledge in the United States was recognised was shown by the fact that a biography of him was published in America. He died in 1921.
Dr J. M. Austin As recently as 1943 another New Zealander. Dr J. M. Austin, was appointed Professor of Synoptic Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied meteorology as a pupil, thus preserving this country’s association with that famous institution. Dr Austin was the product of Otago Boys’ High School and Otago University, afterwards going to Cambridge University. At the time of his appointment to the professorship at the institute he was the youngest professor in meteorology in the United States, being only 26 years of age. Science played an important part in the Normandy landing and Dr Austin was one of a band of a dozen United States civilian meteorologists chosen to advise on the matter. Another duty devolving on him was to supervise theses of naval officers for the United States Navy.
D-Day Meteorologists In addition to Dr Austin’s' services to the United States on D-Day, another New Zealander was performing like service for the British. One factor that could determine the feasibility of landing Allied armies in France was the state of the weather. The greatest precautions had to be taken before launching the armies over the Channel. Eisenhower had reports prepared by the weather experts of the navy, the RAF. and the USAAF. One of the experts on the naval side of the meteorological conference was Instructor-lieutenant Hogben, D.S.C., of Auckland, a Rhodes scholar who made the science of meteorology and mathematics his special study. He was the first instructor officer to receive the D.S.C. for his valuable services to the navy when it destroyed the Bismarck, for Arctic Sea convoy work and the bombardment of Genoa.
Dave, Donald Charles McGlashan reckons he saw one of our Wellingtons fitted with radar aerials, but I have never seen such a photo. It is likely that should this have been to case, then photographs would have been taken, but of course they would have been Top Secret at the time - perhaps they might be turned up someday by a curious researcher. David D