The Guardian from London, Greater London, England on April 5, 1994 · 39
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The Guardian from London, Greater London, England · 39

London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
Tuesday, April 5, 1994
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Personal THE GUARDIAN Tuesday April 5 1994 Rupert Bruce-Mitford, right, at the Window of Sir Robert Cockburn SIR ROBERT COCKBURN, Britain's pioneering scientist of electronic warfare so important to modern front-line aerial defence technology, has died, aged 84. He spent the first seven years of the thirties as a science teacher at the West Ham Municipal College, before becoming a researcher in communications at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough. In 1940, he headed the wartime team first at the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) Frances Donaldson, biographer site of the Sutton Hoo ship in 1967 opportunity near Swanage and later at Malvern, Worcestershire charged with developing radio countermeasure jammers for the newly-discovered radio beams, with which the Luftwaffe intended to direct its bombers in the blitz on London and other cities. Cockburn's imaginative and often provocative ideas resulted in highly successful "beam-bending" devices the first break-though in what is now electronic warfare. As the enemy produced new radio beam systems, his team devised a deceptively simple, yet extraordinarily effective, counter-measure. This was the dropping of slow- Revolutionary truths Frances Donaldson FRANCES DONALDSON, who has died aged 87, almost originated contemporary revolutionary candour about the royals with her biography of Edward VD3, published in 1974. She was of an age to recall directly the inter-war, pre-abdication, glamour of Edward, when he was Prince of Wales, with his sleekly golden and well-tailored appearance. But she was herself the daughter of a snobbish, self-centred and spoilt success, the playwright Frederick Lonsdale, and had been immunised in childhood to the PoW's brand of Keeper of the death ship Rupert Bruce-Mitford RUPERT Bruce-Mitford, who has died aged 79, will join that tiny band of scholars whose names are linked with great archaeological discoveries. He did not himself excavate the Sutton Hoo ship burial, but when during the second world war, Thomas Kendrick, of the British Museum, wrote to the young Bruce-Mitford, then serving in the Royal Signals, telling Bruce-Mitford that he would be responsible for the study and publication of the finds, Kendrick made the perfect choice. Just as the undisturbed Anglo-Saxon ship burial (near Woodbridge in Suffolk) was one of the most memorable archaeological discoveries in Britain, so Bruce-Mitford's publications on it are a classic of archaeological literature. The first volume, which appeared in 1975, was described by the president of the Society of Antiquaries as "one of the great books of the century". The falling bundles of thin strips of metallic foil, cut to specific lengths to cause lasting radar echoes equivalent to those of large, four-engined, bombers. After overcoming considerable controversy (because of the counter-counter effect that this idea would have if the enemy worked out the principle for themselves and used it against Britain), it was first used to great effect in the first big raid On Hamburg in July, 1943. Thereafter, under the British codename Window, and the American Chaff, it proved to be a standard device of electronic warfare and, as demonstrated in the Falklands and Gulf wars, continues to be effective today. charm. Her father, finding her the perfect pet and amanuensis, had blocked or damned her attempts at acting and writing. She had escaped him via a disastrous, virtually arranged, brief marriage; a second marriage, to Jack Donaldson (later Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge) genuinely freed her. She farmed. She wrote practical books about farming. She proved herself free by writing her father's biography in 1957, firmly but fairly. There were other books, developing her curiosity and cool judgment, including The Marconi Scandal (an analysis of a 1912 political-financial affair) and a sketch of her country neighbour, Evelyn Waugli. Then she won the Wolfson History Award, and best-seller status, for revealing second volume came in 1978, and a third in 1983. Neil Stratford, Bruce-Mitford's successor at the British Museum, said these massive tomes "stand in their own right as a tribute to Kendrick's foresight". They also reveal much about Bruce-Mitford. They contained contributions from many specialists, but much of the text was his own, and his guiding hand is evident throughout. He later recalled the conservation years, "great days for Sutton Hoo when new, often dramatic discoveries were being made in the workshops all the time. Built from fragments, astonishing artefacts helmet, shield, drinking horns were created." Bruce-Mitford was Keeper of the Department of British and Mediaeval Antiquities (1954-69) at the British Museum, then Keeper when the department was renamed Mediaeval and Later Antiquities (1969-75). From 1975-1977 he was Research Keeper. He acquired his wide-ranging curiosity from his father, who combined being a geographer and vulcanologist with journalism. Apart from his involvement with Sutton Hoo, which extended over much of his working life, he did many other things. His academic posts and honours were numerous. So successful was the British progress in radio counter-measures under Cockburn that a joint Anglo-American team was set up at Malvern in late 1943. Claimed by the Americans to be "hugely successful", the ensuing collaboration was said to have saved some 450 aircraft, and ten times as many lives, in the US 8th Army Air Force alone. Working with Leonard Cheshire, Cockburn also greatly helped to deceive the enemy during the night before the D-Day Normandy landings in June 1944. This he did by creating spurious electronic signals, from a handful of aircraft, to represent a mock armada of attacking bombers these ghostly planes diverted much of the German defences well to the west of the intended Allied assault. Recognised at the end of the war with the US Congressional Medal of Merit, Cockburn joined the newly-formed atomic energy team at Harwell for three years until he became scientific adviser that the popular image of the Prince of Wales the PoW of the night clubs, the golf course, and of publicly-declared sympathy with the unemployed had overlain a real, selfish and fractious, Edward. She had access to previously private records from the PoW's circle, and she used them scrupulously. When she later acted as consultant to a popular TV series, Edward And Mrs Simpson, which told part of the same story, she guaranteed the production had some quality. She also biographed P G Wode-house; autobiographed, in a Child Of The Twenties and A Twentieth Century Life; and applied the same assiduity to researching histories of the British Council and of the Royal Opera House as she had, during her agricultural years, to explaining milk production without tears. V R Frances Annesley Donaldson, born January 13, 1907; died March 27, 1994. He was in 1947 made a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and became a fellow of the British Academy in 1976. Even after his retirement, he held various visiting professorships and fellowships, and was a member of various foreign archaeological societies. At home, he was secretary of the Society of Antiquaries, and later, vice-president. He was also extremely knowledgeable about mediaeval pottery, wrote influentiariy on the subject, and helped to establish the National Reference Collection of dated mediaeval pottery. There were also various publications on other subjects, including a facsimile edition of the Codex Lin-disfarnensis, editing Recent Archaeological Excavations In Europe, and many papers and reviews. His excavations varied from early work at Seacourt in Buckinghamshire (1938-39) to, after the war, archaeological digs at Mawgan Porth in Cornwall (1949-54), and on the Chapter House graves at Lincoln Cathedral (1955). He also did some detailed work at Sutton Hoo itself from 1965-1968. Terence Mullaly Rupert Bruce-Mitford, born June 14, 1914; died March 10. 1994. to the Air Ministry in 1948. His subsequent appointments as controller of guided weapons at the Ministry of Supply, and then chief scientist at the Ministry of Aviation, resulted in a knighthood in 1960, and his last official appointment was as Director of RAE Farnborough from 1964 until his retirement five years later. However, he continued actively as a research fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge, and chairman of the National Computing Centre for a further seven years. He was also chairman of the television advisory committee for posts and telecommunications from 1971 to 1973, and chairman of the BBC engineering advisory committee from 1973 until 1981, when he retired altogether to pursue his talent for sculpture. Norman Barflcld Robert Cockburn, born March 31, 1909, died March 21, 1994. Prof John Albery, Master, University College, Oxford, 58; Alberto Romero (Cubby) Broccoli, film producer, 85; Allan Clarke, rock singer, 52; Roger Corman, film director, 68; Tom Finney, footballer, 72; Lady (Nigel) Fisher, founder, Women Caring Trust, 73; Arthur Hailey, author, 74; Nigel Hawthorne, actor, 65; Prof Denis Lawton, chairman, Consortium for Assessment and Testing in Schools, 63; Prof Donald Lynden-Bell, astronomer, 59; Peter Moore, professor of Decision Science, 66; Stan Orme, Labour MP, 71; Gregory Peck, actor, 78; Gen. Colin Powell, former chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, 57; Brian Rouse, jockey, 54; Tessa Solesby, diplomat, 62; Anne Scott-James, noveltot, 81; Stanley Turrentinc, saxophonist, 60.

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