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De-mobbing Military Oceanography: Post-War Needs of British Science

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Ocean Science and the British Cold War State
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Abstract

In the immediate post-war years Britain needed to decide which of the sciences that had emerged during the war as ‘militarily relevant’, the “nation” needed to continue investing in to ensure national security in peacetime. Into this melee of political policy making George Deacon emerged as a go-between for the oceanographic community, Whitehall (the British Civil Service) officials, and the military establishment. Charting these interactions reveals the second major argument of the book—that the day-to-day organisation for science was formulated and organised within the sub-government below the direct political oversight of ministers. Utilising minute sheets and internal government letters the chapter burrows into committee-work to reveal the inner-workings of the sub-government, arguing that the relationships forged during the war were essential to gaining financial patronage for oceanography in its aftermath.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Phillip J. Gummett and Geoffrey L. Price, “An Approach to the Central Planning of British Science: The Formation of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy,” Minerva, 15:2 (1977): 119–143.

  2. 2.

    Note from Deputy Secretary to Coxwell, Permanent Under-Secretary, Admiralty, 11 July 1947, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  3. 3.

    David Edgerton, Britain’s War Machine: Weapons, Resources, and Experts in the Second World War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011): 135.

  4. 4.

    Edgell’s final report for the Admiralty was submitted to the Admiralty post-war problems committee on 17 July 1944, ADM 1/16020, TNA (London).

  5. 5.

    The Royal Society Minutes of Council, 1940–45, Vol. 16, Minutes of Meeting 13 January 1944, 209.

  6. 6.

    Margaret Deacon, “Steps toward the founding of the NIO,” in Of Seas and Ships and Scientists: The Remarkable Story of the UK’s National Institute of Oceanography, Anthony Laughton, John Gould, M.J. ‘Tom’ Tucker, Howard Roe, (Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 2010): 25–6.

  7. 7.

    Report of the Sub-Committee for Oceanography, 24 August 1944, CAB 124/555, TNA (London).

  8. 8.

    Ibid.

  9. 9.

    Appendix B, Report of the Sub-Committee for Oceanography, 24 August 1944, CAB 124/555, TNA (London).

  10. 10.

    Ibid.

  11. 11.

    Memo Head of Military Branch, 19 December 1944, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  12. 12.

    Note Director of Finance to Head of Military Branch, 22 December 1944, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London); “votes” was the money given to the Navy by Parliament as their annual budget.

  13. 13.

    It should also be noted that A.V. Hill was heavily involved in the Marine Biological Association so knew something of marine science.

  14. 14.

    W.S. Feldberg, “Henry Hallet Dale, 1875–1968,” Biogr. Mems. Fell. R. Soc., (16:1970): 77–174; D.N. Newitt, “Alfred Charles Glyn Egerton. 1886–1959,” Biogr. Mems. Fell. R. Soc., (6:1960): 39–64; B. Katz, “Archibald Vivian Hill. 26 September 1886–3 June 1977,” Biogr. Mems. Fell. R. Soc., (24:1978): 71–149; J.A. Ratcliffe, “Edward Victor Appleton. 1892–1965,” Biogr. Mems. Fell. R. Soc., (12:1966): 1–21; H. Edelsten, “John Claud Fortescue Fryer. 1886–1948,” Obit. Not. Fell. R. Soc., (7:1950): 94–106.

  15. 15.

    Minutes of meeting 21 December 1944, CAB 90/5, TNA (London).

  16. 16.

    Royal Society Minutes of Council, vol. 16, 315.

  17. 17.

    Minutes of meeting 21 December 1944, CAB 90/5, TNA (London).

  18. 18.

    Anna Carlsson-Hyslop, “An Anatomy of Storm Surge Science at Liverpool Tidal Institute 1919–1959: Forecasting, Practices of Calculation and Patronage,” (Ph.D diss., University of Manchester, 2010): 84.

  19. 19.

    Minutes of meeting 21 December 1944, CAB 90/5, TNA (London).

  20. 20.

    Ibid.

  21. 21.

    Hamblin, Oceanographers and the Cold War, p.xx.

  22. 22.

    Minutes of Meeting, 12 February 1945, CAB 90/6, TNA (London).

  23. 23.

    Minutes of Meeting, 12 February 1945, CAB 90/6, TNA (London).

  24. 24.

    See Peder Roberts, The European Antarctic: Science and Strategy in Scandinavia and the British Empire (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

  25. 25.

    C.F.A. Pantin, “Robert Beresford Seymour Sewell, 1880–1964,” Biogr. Mems Fell. R. Soc. (1965): 150, 152. The International Joint Commission on Oceanography was established by ICSU in 1948 to concentrate on the coordination of deep sea research. Torben Wolff, The Birth and First Years of the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR), http://www.scor-int.org/Publications/SCOR_History_1.

  26. 26.

    Memorandum for the Council of the Royal Society in connection with the ‘Report on the needs of research in fundamental sciences after the war’, Post-War Research in Oceanography, R. B. Seymour Sewell; 3 March 1945, CAB 90/6, TNA (London).

  27. 27.

    Ibid.

  28. 28.

    Hamblin, Oceanographers and the Cold War, 62.

  29. 29.

    Mare nostrum meaning ‘our sea’.; ‘A Note on the Proposal to Establish a National Institute of Oceanography’, R. B. Seymour Sewell, 22 November 1945, CAB 90/6, TNA (London).

  30. 30.

    See Jim Endersby, Imperial Nature: Joseph Hooker and the Practices of Victorian Science (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008); Brett M. Bennett and Joseph M. Hodge, eds, Science and Empire: Knowledge and Networks of Science across the British Empire, 1800–1970 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

  31. 31.

    John M. MacKenzie, Propaganda and Empire (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986).

  32. 32.

    Minutes of SAC Meeting, 9 August 1945, CAB 90/6, TNA (London). Lord President is the fourth highest office of the British State. The Privy Council is an ancient body which links the monarch to the parliament and acts on their behalf in the examination of bills and the signing into law of legislation. They also manage bodies under Royal Charter, such as universities.

  33. 33.

    A.C. Hardy, “Obituary. Stanley Wells Kemp F.R.S. 1882–1945,” Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 26 (1946): 219–234.

  34. 34.

    ‘A Note on the Proposal to Establish a National Institute of Oceanography’, R. B. Seymour Sewell, 22 November 1945, CAB 90/6, TNA (London).

  35. 35.

    Ibid.

  36. 36.

    Ibid.

  37. 37.

    SAC (45) 24, M.T. Flett, 22 November 1945, CAB 90/6, TNA (London).

  38. 38.

    SAC (46) 1st Meeting, 14 January 1946, CAB 90/6, TNA (London).

  39. 39.

    H.G. Maurice, “Discussion on Oceanography,” Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of London, 158 (July 1947): 79.

  40. 40.

    George E.R. Deacon, “Physical and Chemical Problems in Oceanography,” Proceedings of the Linnaean Society of London, 158:2 (July 1947): 81.

  41. 41.

    M. Flett, memo for Herbert Morrison, ‘Discovery Committee’, 22 October 1945, CAB 124/555, TNA (London).

  42. 42.

    On basic science, see Sabine Clarke, “Pure Science with a Practical Aim: The Meanings of Fundamental Research in Britain, circa 1916–1950,” Isis, 101 (2010): 285–311; Ronald Kline, “Constructing ‘Technology’ as ‘Applied Science’: Public Rhetoric of Scientists and Engineers in the United States, 1880–1945,” Isis, 86 (1995): 194–221; Jane Calvert, “What’s Special about Basic Research?” Science, Technology and Human Values, 31 (2006):199–220; Désirée Schauz, “What is Basic Research? Insights from Historical Semantics,” Minerva, 52 (2014): 273–328; Roger Piekle Jr., “‘Basic Research’ as a political symbol,” Minerva, 50 (2012): 339–361.

  43. 43.

    Herbert Morrison, 23 October 1945, CAB 124/555, TNA (London).

  44. 44.

    Deacon, “Founding of the NIO,” Of Seas and Ships, 30.

  45. 45.

    CO 927/7/6, letter from Barlow to Sir George Gater, 6 November 1945, CO 927/7/6, TNA (London).

  46. 46.

    Minute by Head of Military Branch, 8 February 1946, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  47. 47.

    Ibid.

  48. 48.

    Minute by USS to Head of M. Br, 11 February 1946, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London). Italics mine.

  49. 49.

    Follows above in minute sheets, author unknown, 19 February 1946, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  50. 50.

    Minute sheets 1946–7, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  51. 51.

    The vote was the annual budget given to government ministries by the Treasury.

  52. 52.

    G.J. Piller, “Tizard, Sir Henry Thomas (1885–1959),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004) doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36528 [accessed 14/12/14]; R.V. Jones, W.S. Farren, “Henry Thomas Tizard, 1885–1959,” Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, (1961); on the Defence Research Policy Committee, see Jon Agar, Brian Balmer, “British Scientists and the Cold War: The Defence Research Policy Committee and Information Networks, 1947–1963,” Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences, 28:2 (1998): 209–252.

  53. 53.

    The NIO during the 1950s allowed Bullard the use of the RRS Discovery II for two months every other year.

  54. 54.

    Letter Edward Bullard to Henry Tizard, 29 May 1947, CAB 124/555, TNA (London).

  55. 55.

    Ibid.

  56. 56.

    Note, Henry Tizard to I. Montgomery (MoD), 4 June 1947, CAB 124/555, TNA (London). On the formation of ACSP, see Phillip J. Gummett, Geoffrey L. Price, “An Approach to the Central Planning of British Science: The Formation of the Advisory Council on Scientific Policy,” Minerva, 15:2 (1977): 119–143; Montgomery is identified as the Secretary of ACSP and DPRC in Jeff Hughes, “Doing Diaries: David Martin, the Royal Society and Scientific London, 1947–1950,” Notes & Records of the Royal Society, 66 (2012): 273–294, note 49.

  57. 57.

    Letter I. Montgomery (MoD) to Dr Mackintosh (Discovery Committee), 6 June 1947, CAB 124/555, TNA (London).

  58. 58.

    Letter Dr. Mackintosh to I. Montgomery, 6 June 1947, CAB 124/555, TNA (London).

  59. 59.

    Peder Roberts, “A Frozen Field of Dreams: Science, Strategy, and the Antarctic in Norway, Sweden and the British Empire, 1912–1952,” (Ph.D diss., Stanford, 2010): 130.

  60. 60.

    Correspondence between S. W. Smith (Secretary of the Discovery Committee) and Miss Churchard (Ministry of Transport), CO 927/39/1, TNA (London); CO 927/39/2, TNA (London); CO 927/39/3, TNA (London). The corporation of Trinity House has since 1514 been responsible for the maintenance of navigational aids (such as lighthouses) in British waters.

  61. 61.

    Letter Henry Tizard to Edward Bullard, 17 June 1947, CAB 124/555, TNA (London).

  62. 62.

    Eric Grove, Vanguard to Trident: British Naval Policy since Second World War (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1987).

  63. 63.

    Richard Moore, The Royal Navy and Nuclear Weapons (London: Frank Cass Publishers, 2001): 39–55.

  64. 64.

    Letter from Coxwell to Deputy Secretary, 10 July 1947, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  65. 65.

    Letter from Deputy Secretary to Coxwell, 11 July 1947, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  66. 66.

    Letter from Admiralty to Barlow (Treasury), Ref. W.G.F.417/47, 5 August 1947, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  67. 67.

    Minute from U.S.F (Morris), 28 October 1947, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  68. 68.

    Ibid.

  69. 69.

    Very little archival material of Brundrett’s survives, although some of his papers exist at the Churchill archive centre. For a general synopsis of his career, see “Profile: Sir Frederick Brundrett,” New Scientist (9 January 1958): 16–17. He is also extensively discussed in Robert Clayton and Joan Algar, ed., A Scientist’s War: the war diary of Sir Clifford Paterson, 1939–1945 (London: Peder Peregrinus Ltd., 1991).

  70. 70.

    Memorandum, Deacon for Brundrett, 7 February 1948, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  71. 71.

    Ibid.

  72. 72.

    Memorandum, Deacon for Brundrett, 6 October 1947, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  73. 73.

    Memorandum, Deacon for Brundrett, 7 February 1948, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  74. 74.

    It is difficult to ascertain Wyatt’s true intentions, as he left no written record of his feelings in a memoir or correspondence with others. All that remains is meeting minutes.

  75. 75.

    Minutes of a meeting, ‘Reconstitution of the Discovery Committee and Establishment of National Institute of Oceanography’, 11 February 1948, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  76. 76.

    Memo by J.N. Carruthers 16 February 1948, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  77. 77.

    Letter from CRNSS to Head of M. Br., 3 March 1948, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  78. 78.

    Ibid.

  79. 79.

    Minute for D.C. (R&D), 14 October 1947, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  80. 80.

    Memo by Mackintosh sent to Jourdain, 20 Feburary 1948, received in Cabinet office 1 March 1948, CAB 124/555, TNA (London).

  81. 81.

    Note by Head of Military Branch (Abercrombie), 13 July 1948, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  82. 82.

    Grove, Vanguard to Trident, 39.

  83. 83.

    Sean M. Maloney, Securing Command of the Sea: NATO Naval Planning 1948–1954 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995): 135.

  84. 84.

    Minute signed by Wyatt, 29 November 1945, ADM 116/5715, TNA (London).

  85. 85.

    Report of the Sub-Committee for Oceanography, Nov. 1944, CAB 124/555, TNA (London); for a history of the Liverpool Tidal Institute, see Anna Carlson-Hyslop, “An Anatomy of Storm Surge Science at Liverpool Tidal Institute 1919–1959: Forecasting, Practices of Calculation and Patronage” (PhD diss., University of Manchester, 2010).

  86. 86.

    Minute, 25 January 1946, BJ 5/276, TNA (London).

  87. 87.

    The executive committee consisted of Deacon, Brundrett and other “allies”. At this time it would be wrong to say that this was an officially established body; it was certainly taking advantage of the NOC’s embryonic state.

  88. 88.

    Margaret Deacon, “Founding of the NIO,” Of Seas and Ships, 32.

  89. 89.

    Phrase adapted from Peder Roberts, “A Frozen Field of Dreams: Science, Strategy, and the Antarctic in Norway, Sweden and the British Empire, 1912–1952” (PhD diss., Princeton, 2010): 129.

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Robinson, S.A. (2018). De-mobbing Military Oceanography: Post-War Needs of British Science. In: Ocean Science and the British Cold War State. Palgrave Studies in the History of Science and Technology. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-73096-7_3

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