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Continued work on H2S


Don Bennett and the RAF Pathfinder Force
Bernard Lovell Astronomer
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At the same time Bomber Command had... instead of being a unified command had decided to set up a Pathfinder force. Now, I don't think Harris liked that... Bomber Harris liked that because he indicated that there were a couple of... a few squadrons who were superior to the rest. Anyhow, this path finder force was put under Don Bennett, an Australian, a remarkable person who held first class certificates in every conceivable discipline, navigation, engineering, flying and so on, and he flew the first heavy aircraft across the Atlantic from America to Britain during the war. He'd been shot down over a raid on Tronheim and had escaped through icy conditions into Sweden and I think he had already married a Swedish girl and anyhow, he was repatriated. He got back to England, and it was Don Bennett who was put in charge of the Pathfinder for us, and that's how I met Don Bennett and he believed the best time to fly was either after midnight or before 6.00 o'clock in the morning, and so we spent most of the night flying and the rest of the day trying to make the equipment work.

Bernard Lovell (1913-2012), British radio astronomer and founder of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, received an OBE in 1946 for his work on radar, and was knighted in 1961 for his contribution to the development of radio astronomy. He obtained a PhD in 1936 at the University of Bristol. His steerable radio telescope, which tracked Sputnik across the sky, is now named the Lovell telescope.

Listeners: Alastair Gunn Megan Argo

Alastair Gunn is an astrophysicist at Jodrell Bank Observatory, University of Manchester. He is responsible for the coordination and execution of international radio astronomical observations at the institute and his professional research concerns the extended atmospheres of highly active binary stars. Alastair has a deep interest and knowledge of the history of radio astronomy in general and of Jodrell Bank in particular. He has written extensively about Jodrell Bank's history.

Megan Argo is an astronomer at the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory researching supernovae and star formation in nearby starburst galaxies. As well as research, she is involved with events in the Observatory's Visitor Centre explaining both astronomy and the history of the Observatory to the public.

Tags: Bomber Command, Pathfinder (RAF), Atlantic Ocean, USA, Great Britain, World War II, Trondheim, Sweden, England, Bomber Harris, Don Bennett

Duration: 1 minute, 26 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2007

Date story went live: 05 September 2008