Printer Friendly

Welsh genius who helped to turn the tides of war.

Byline: Robin Turner Reporter

AGENIUS scientist from Swansea whose work on radar helped win two major WW2 battles has finally been recognised in his home city.

A blue plaque in memory of Edward "Taffy" Bowen was unveiled outside his childhood home in Stepney Lane, Cockett, Swansea, by council officials on Thursday . His work on radar helped the Allies win the Battle of Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic.

His story is described as "the stuff of legends".

The son of a tinplate worker, Bowen built his own valve radio transmitter aged just nine, joined Swansea University at 16, received a masters by age 19 and a professorship at 24.

He worked on developing early radar which gave the RAF a huge advantage in the battle of Britain and became "the father of airborne radar" by miniaturising it so it could be fitted into the noses of aircraft.

That helped planes destroy Hitler's U-Boat packs in the Atlantic and other naval theatres of war.

Asked to come up with a "death ray" to bring down bombers by fellow radar pioneer Sir Robert Watson-Watt, Bowen's work in the field of electromagnetism did not come up with the deadly ray but it did lead to the development of the microwave oven and TV cathode ray tubes along with modern air traffic control systems.

Cricket-loving Bowen also won the American Medal of Honour for being part of a secret Winston Churchillordered mission to take radar to America.

In the closing months of 1943 he moved to Australia to join the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Radiophysics Laboratory and in May 1946 he was appointed Chief of the Division of Radiophysics.

He built a radio telescope so powerful it received the first slow-scan images of the Moon landing in July 1969. At the telescope's inauguration in October 1961 he said: "The search for truth is one of the noblest aims of mankind and there is nothing which adds to the glory of the human race or lends it such dignity as the urge to bring the vast complexity of the universe within the range of human understanding."

He later worked on cloud seeding (rain making), something vital for his rain starved new country.

Bowen though, refused to become a naturalised Australian revelling in his "Taffy" nickname.

He turned down a number of Aussie honours and often returned to his beloved Swansea.

It was while studying at Swansea University Bowen met his future wife, Enid Vesta Williams, from Skewen in Neath. They married at Horeb Baptist Chapel in Skewen in 1938 and had three sons, Edward, David and John though they divorced in the 1970s, Vesta returning to Wales.

In December 1987, Taffy Bowen suffered a stroke and gradually deteriorated. He died on August 12, 1991 at the age of 80.

John Berry from Cadw, said: "Taffy Bowen made lasting and significant pioneering and developmental contributions of global reach and importance. He was one of many without whom the outcome of World War II would have been much less certain."

At the plaque unveiling, Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea council's cabinet member for enterprise, development and regeneration, said: "Our blue plaque scheme introduced a few years ago in Swansea is coming on in leaps and bounds.

"Many of Swansea's most accomplished sons and daughters have now been recognised, including musicians, wordsmiths and scientists who left their mark on the world. Edward Bowen's work in helping develop radar and radio astronomy is the stuff of legend, so he's very deserving of following in their footsteps.

"The world we live in could be very different if it wasn't for his genius. He helped give the Allies a crucial advantage during the Second World War."


Edward 'Taffy' Bowen's work on radar helped the Allies win two major campaigns in World War II
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2015 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 30, 2015
Previous Article:Grieving father criticises delay in IraqWar report; Seven-year wait for Chilcot Iraq report.
Next Article:Man charged after vehicle fires; NEWS IN BRIEF.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters