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My wife Joyce

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Release from the army and my desire to get back into research
Bernard Lovell Astronomer
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I wanted to get out. I was desperately anxious to come back to research. It had been a young man’s war. In 1945, I was well- I was born in 1913 so I was just 30, nearly 30, just in my early 30’s. They wanted me to stay and they wanted me to go into industry and all that sort of thing. I made one or two vague manner of interest, ICI wanted me and somebody else wanted me and I said- No, I want to get back to a University and do research, and so I was released from the war in the summer of 1945. They wanted me to go to the Far East and modify my equipment for use over the greater distances, and I said, No, they really couldn’t order me then and I don’t think they wanted to. They thought I’d probably, they probably thought I wouldn’t do it anyhow and that I’d done enough, so I had my release papers in I think June or July of 1945, before the end of the war. At the end of the European war. And then I had no further contact with World War II and I thought I had ended for the whole of my life any contact with military matters and defence, but as you will hear, as I go on with my story, that turned out to be far from the case. I was released in the summer of 1945, and we had bought a house near Manchester so that I could return to the University. I had discovered that Blackett or Blackett told me he was then the Director of Naval Operation and Research in the Admiralty that he himself was returning to Manchester, and I wanted to return to Manchester and work with with Blackett. I think the day after I got back to Manchester I received an urgent call to return to TRE. This was because the Chief of Air Staff, Portal had visited the place and wanted me to explain to him the differences between our equipment and a captured German replica of our equipment, which they never succeeded in getting to work, but after that, that particular episode of my life’s account is over.

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: British Army, World War II, Imperial Chemical Industries, Far East, Manchester, Royal Navy, Telecommunications Research Establishment, Patrick Blackett, Charles Portal

Duration: 3 minutes, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2007

Date story went live: 05 September 2008