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Churchill contains:
<-- See earlier
RWSN The Papers of Peter Rawlinson
RYLE The Papers of Sir Martin Ryle
SALE The Papers of Lieutenant Richard L Sale
SAUN The Saunders Family Papers
SCHL The Papers of Sarah Churchill
SCHO The Papers of Sir Basil Schonland
SDDN The Papers of John Seddon
SDEE The Papers of Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee
SEAG The Papers of Anne Seagrim
SELO The Papers of Selwyn Lloyd
SEYR The Papers of Sir Horace Seymour
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The Papers of Sir Basil Schonland

Title The Papers of Sir Basil Schonland
Reference GBR/0014/SCHO
Creator Schonland, Sir Basil Ferdinand Jamieson, 1896-1972, Knight, physicist
Covering Dates 1954–1960
Extent and Medium 7 archive boxes
Repository Churchill Archives Centre
Content and context

Basil Schonland was born in Grahamstown, South Africa, 2 February 1896, the son of Selmar Schönland and Flora MacOwan. He was educated at St Andrew's College School, Grahamstown, 1907-10; Rhodes University College, Grahamstown, 1911-14; and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, 1914-15 and 1919-20. He married Isabel Marian (Ismay) Craib in 1923, with whom he had one son and two daughters.

He served with the Signal Service of the Royal Engineers in France, 1915-18, was wounded at Arras, and twice mentioned in despatches. He was a research student at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, 1920-2, where he studied the scattering of beta particles. He returned to South Africa as a Lecturer and later Professor of Physics at Cape Town University, 1922-36, and Director of the Bernard Price Institute of Geophysics at Witwatersrand University, 1937-9. He concentrated on the investigation of atmospheric electricity, chasing storms, photographing lightening and measuring the electric fields under thunderclouds. During this period, he also spent a year on a scholarship back at the Cavendish Laboratory, 1927-8.

On the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined the South African Special Signals Services to work on radar, 1939-41. He returned to England and was initially appointed to the staff of the South African High Commissioner in London to advise on radar, 1941. He was recruited by Sir John Cockcroft to be Director of the Army Operational Research Group of the Air Defence Research and Development Establishment at Richmond, Surrey, 1941-4, and was Scientific Adviser to General Montgomery with 21st Army Group in England, France and Belgium, 1944.

After the war, he was brought back to South Africa by General Smuts, the Prime Minister, to establish and become the first President of the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. He also resumed his post at the Bernard Price Institute at Witwatersrand University, 1945-54, and was first Chancellor of Rhodes University, 1951-62. He returned to England in 1954 and became Deputy Director, 1954-8, and Director, 1958-60, of the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell and Director of the Research Group of the newly created United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell, 1960-1.

He retired to the family home near Winchester, in Hampshire, and died after a long illness on 24 November 1972.

He was awarded the OBE (military), 1919; CBE (military), 1944; and a knighthood, 1960. He was an honorary fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, 1959-72.

His publications include: "Atmospheric Electricity" (1932); "The Flight of Thunderbolts" (1950); and "The Atomists 1805-1933" (1968).

Papers comprising working files from the Atomic Energy Research Establishment, at Harwell

The papers were given to Churchill Archives Centre by Lady Schonland, 1973.

Access and Use

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge. Churchill Archives Centre is open from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. A prior appointment and two forms of identification are required.

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Please cite as Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Sir Basil Schonland, SCHO

Further information

Copies of the collection level description and catalogue are available at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, the National Register of Archives, London, and on the Janus website http://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk.

This collection level description was prepared by Sophie Bridges, November 2004. The papers have been listed. Biographical information was obtained from the website of the "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography"; Sir Basil Schonland's obituary in "The Times", 25 November 1972; "Who's Who 1897-1996"; and Brian Austin, "Schonland. Scientist and Soldier" (2001).

Index Terms
Schonland, Sir Basil Ferdinand Jamieson (1896-1972) Knight, physicist
Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell
Churchill/SCHO contains:
1-2 Personal correspondence.
4 files.
3 References.
2 files.
4 Draft lectures.
1 file.
5 Correspondence about lectures.
2 files.
6 Copy papers of the Geological Survey Board. With correspondence.
1 file.
7 Correspondence about the Bernard Price Institute, Witwatersrand University, and Rhodes University, South Africa.
1 file.
8-10 Correspondence and papers about visits.
3 files.
11 Correspondence about articles.
1 file.
12-13 Copy minutes and papers of the Royal Society.
4 files.
14 Correspondence about personal visitors.
1 file.
15 Correspondence about lightening studies. With a photograph.
1 file.
16 Copy minutes and papers of the Atomic Scientists Association. With correspondence.
1 file.
17 Correspondence with the Royal Society.
2 files.
18 Copy minutes of the General Board of the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington.
1 file.

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