Norman Greenwood (1925-2012) was born in Australia and graduated from Melbourne University before going to Cambridge. His wide-ranging research in inorganic and structural chemistry made major advances in the chemistry of boron hydrides and other main-group element compounds. He also pioneered the application of Mössbauer spectroscopy to problems in chemistry. He was a prolific writer and inspirational lecturer on chemical and educational themes, and held numerous visiting professorships throughout the world.
One of the first things that we noticed on the little track that we were following was that every couple of hundred metres there was a post exactly one meter high cut off at that level and I said, 'What on earth's that?' and Odd said, 'That's the Germans'. At the end of the war they were retreating from Norway, which was occupied. They were concerned of course about the Russians who were advancing through Finland and Northern Russia. They were concerned about a pincer movement coming down through Norway and so they cut off all the telegraph communications, and religiously one can say, at one metre high the whole of the way along this telegraph line, until we left the line and did something else, every post was cut off. I'll just add at this point that they did more than that in their retreat. They totally devastated the whole of the north of Norway, every town, every village, every little local factory that was weaving and so forth, every point of habitation, every quay was wrecked, damaged, burnt. There was not a thing. The people who were there, and we're talking about perhaps 60,000 or 70,000 people were just displaced several hundred kilometres south. It was a devastating time and that was not so very long after we were there... before we were there. That was obviously happening in 1944/45 and we were there in the early 1950s.
Professor Brian FG Johnson FRS, FRSE, FRS Chem, FAcad Eu, FAS. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Edinburgh 1991-1995, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry University of Cambridge 1995-2005, Master Fitzwilliam College Cambridge 1999-2005. Research interests include studies of transition metal carbonyls, organometallic chemistry, nano- particles and homogeneous catalysis. Professor Johnson is the author of over 1000 research articles and papers.