Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

The Tizard Mission followed a visit to MAEE at RAF Helensburgh

The Tizard Mission has come to be regarded as one of the most significant events of World War II.

In summary, the mission saw a group of British military officers and scientists headed by Sir Henry Tizard secretly travel to the US and Canada in September 1940, beginning one of the least known but potentially most important missions of World War II in an unparalleled collaboration in science and technology.

Their goal was to convey a number of technical innovations to the US in order to secure assistance in maintaining the war effort.

The collection of ideas, blueprints, and prototypes they carried was probably some of the most valuable material ever taken to American, inside a briefcase (almost lost in a London taxi at the start of the journey – the driver apparently left without his passenger). In particular, the cavity magnetron was not only instrumental in the Allied victory, but also became the foundation of an enduring scientific relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States.

The briefcase contained all Britain’s military secrets, with blueprints and circuit diagrams for rockets, explosives, superchargers, gyroscopic gunsights, submarine detection devices, self-sealing fuel tanks, and information that would lead to the jet engine and the atomic bomb.

Research into the secret MAEE (Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment) at RAF Helensburgh has discovered the visit there by Tizard and other involved in the mission, as told by our friend Eye on Millig.

The story begins:

A VISIT to the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment at RAF Helensburgh in 1940 by Sir Henry Tizard was a prelude to what is said by historians to be the most important secret mission of World War Two.

A team of six headed by Sir Henry went to America with a black box of secrets. With him were two of the world’s experts in radar, Dr Robert Watson-Watt and 24 year-old genius Edward Taffy Bowen.

Tizard was a former military pilot and chair of the Aeronautical Research Council, and previously headed a Government air defence committee to explore the possibility of a death ray.

He enlisted Watson-Watt, who did not favour the concept but instead developed radar as a way of detecting approaching enemy aircraft, and was responsible for the chain of radar stations that played such an important role during the Battle of Britain.

The Tizard Mission took secret documents to the USA for safe keeping following the fall of France and possible invasion. The contents were to be shared with the Americans.

Tizard invited Watson-Watt and Bowen to form part of the delegation because of his earlier work with the two scientists. Bowen was made personally responsible for the box during its journey to Washington.

Retired Merseyside newspaper editor Robin Bird — author of two books about MAEE — tells me: “Now it can be revealed that Sir Henry, Watson-Watt and Bowen were at RAF Helensburgh shortly before the Tizard Mission.

“They are listed among eight VIP visitors at the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment regarding developments in ‘experimental warfare’.

“In hindsight this was a significant visit. MAEE was involved with trials of the new ASV long range air to surface radar, Bowen having conducted the first trial using ASV radar to detect submarines in December 1939.

“MAEE adapted it for use by Coastal Command Sunderlands and lend-lease Catalinas, and airborne ASV radar proved to be a major weapon in the ultimate defeat of Germany’s U-Boats.

“What exactly the meeting at Helensburgh was about we will never know. No doubt ASV radar was on the agenda — and possibly developments in anti-submarine warfare.

“The fact that we know Tizard, Watson-Watt and Bowen were at Helensburgh is down to a contemporary report on MAEE at the National Archives in Kew, London.

“It merely states the names of official visitors to RAF Helensburgh for discussions about possible developments in war requirements. I recently had the opportunity to inspect it.”

Via: Eye on Millig: The top-secret mission that began at RAF Helensburgh

The full story of the visit to Helensburgh can be read at the link given above.

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May 30, 2017 - Posted by | World War II | , , , ,

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