October 27, 2021

Richard Browne remembers his Dad – C. O. Browne who was one of the scientists killed that Sunday afternoon

Richard Browne Son of C. O. Browne who was one of the scientists killed that Sunday afternoon.    writes:- “Prompted by Anne Diamond’s article on radar inventors in the Mail on Sunday, 14th March, 2021 I made a long overdue visit to my bookshelves to refresh my mind about the  development of television and radar in the first half of the Twentieth Century.  It filled me with immense pride to think that my father had played such a vital and important role in the team for the development of television  and then radar. I was also filled with sadness that he was killed along with 11 others (scientists and crew)  when Halifax V9977 crashed at West Bicknor, Hereforeshire on Sunday 7th June 1942.  It had taken off from Defford that afternoon with the purpose of testing H2S radar.

For  reasons unknown to me those involved in the birth of television and radar have never been given credit for the work they did as scientists and physicists.  Blumlein, Browne and Blythen (all killed) were  from EMI and were a part of the team that won the BBC’s competition for the future of television held in Alexander Palace.  Should the BBC go with the electronic system (EMI) or the mechanical (Logie Baird)?  It was the EMI system that was chosen and developed.

Some of the books telling the  story of  TV and Radar development include.

The Life and Works of A. D. Blumlein – By Robert Charles Alexander.

The Life and Times of A. D. Blumlein – By Russell Burns

On page 195 a gold watch was also presented to C.O. Browne

The Endless Sky.  Pershore and Defford – By Glyn Warren

Here’s Looking at you. The story of British Television 1908 – 1939

Echoes of War.  The story of H2S radar. By Sir Bernard Lovell

They include details of  the tragic crash of the Halifax plane (V9977)  which took off from Defford on Sunday 7th June 1942.  As already said the crash  resulted  in the loss of all 11 on board.

From  1939 the EMI team worked on the  highly secret development of H2S radar.

There is now a memorial stone on the Courtfield estate  beside the river Wye where the plane crashed. West Bicknor, Herefordshire.

I was 6 and living in Gerrards  Cross when my Mother took me into the garden to break the tragic news  of my father’s,  her husband’s,  death.  I have never forgotten that  moment and where  I was told.

There is a memorial window  in Goodrich Castle in the Wye Valley  to those who worked on radar .

One day in February several years back a man with a metal detector was out looking   for any metal objects of interest in the field where the crash happened..   There  were clear skies  and late afternoon   the gentleman decided to sit and  rest his legs before packing up and heading home.    Much to his astonishment snow started to fall from the cloudless sky.

Some years later I (Richard Browne, son of C O Browne killed in the Halifax V9977 crash) visited the crash location with my family.  A beautiful still summer’s day.   I said a prayer and we held a minute’s silence.  Much to our surprise a breeze started making the green grass and buttercups move  until we finished our minute’s silence when it then stopped. .    For that minute we all felt as if we had been joined by my father and those killed in the crash.

In a Camberley care home there is a resident, Arthur Walker, and his wife, Grace.  Arthur  turned 100 at the back end of 2020.  He has recounted his time in Swanage, Worth Matravers and Defford.

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