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July 2008


Jack Nissen and the Radar War
Premier Smallwood and Danny Kirwan
Royal Hibernian Military School
Duke of York's Royal Military School

Jack Nissen and the Radar war
30 July 2008

Hello: Just a quick note to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed reading Winning the Radar War. At the time I read the book I was the Human Resources Manager for Varian Canada Inc. We were located in Georgetown, Ontario. The Varian brothers invented a device called a Klystron in 1939 which was used as part of the early radar systems used by the allies. When I noticed at the end of your book that Mr. Nissen lived in the Toronto area I immediately tracked him down. I had a great telephone conversation with him and invited him to tour our microwave facility in Georgetown. Jack came to Varian with a friend named Brian who I believe worked for the Ontario Science Center in Don Mills. Prior to Jack arriving at our facility I sent out a note to our senior scientists advising them of Jack's planned visit. In all, about 15 of our top engineers and scientists assembled in our board room to hear Jack talk about his exploits during the Second World War. I took several pictures of Jack and he was good enough to autograph a copy of Wining the Radar War. I certainly treasure this copy. I have loaned out the book to several of my friends who also enjoyed reading it. I remember Jack telling me that I should also read the book titled Green Beach, which I eventually did. I retired from the company three years ago and what prompted me to e-mail you was the fact that one of our past U.S. CEO's wrote a book recently called The Tube Guys. I have just started to read the book. It covers a lot of history particularly about the invention of Radar and of the different companies in North America and the UK who manufactured radar devices such as the magnetron and klystron etc. I hope this e-mail finds you in good health and again thank you for introducing me to Jack Nissen.

Denny Foley

31 July 2008

Denny: Thanks for your interesting commentary on Jack and his visit to your plant. He was an inventive scientist and a fascinating man to work with on the Winning the Radar War book. I admired him as much for the fact he acquired his knowledge of radar science from the 'floor up', so to express it, as for his accomplishments in radar technology. While he attended a technical school on radio, primitive as radio communication was at the time, his achievements in radar science he acquired from practical application - learning as he went along. Jack had a sharp and inventive mind even in old age. As you probably know, in his later years he ran a flourishing business creating and manufacturing scientific devices for museums around the world. I'm sorry to say that he and I lost touch in his last years although we did speak to one another occasionally. His Dieppe exploit would have made a great film. I'm sorry that the film option taken up on the book was never followed through. I'm also intrigued to learn that your principals invented the Klystron.


Premier smallwood and Dan Kirwan
4 July 2008

Art: Nice to hear from you. Most of my Army and Railroad friends have gone wherever you go when your time on Earth is up. So, I don't have many people to keep in touch with. You seem to be able to find out nearly everything about our school. I was wondering if you could find out who the Drum Major was in that photo with Miki. It was taken on Grand Day 1957. I would like to send him a copy of it. Miki would have liked that. By the way, how did you find out so much about my Brother Joe. I thought it was nice that you said you would notify people about my 95th Birthday. I am proud to represent the Dukies in the USA. I hope your wife enjoyed her whale watching trip.


4 July 2008

Dan: And it's always nice to hear from you. You are among the most constant and reliable of correspondents. It shouldn't be too difficult to find out who was the school [Duke of York's Royal Military School] drum major on Grand Day in 1957. The simplest thing is put this question to the loop; some were at school during that era. I'll also post a question on Chad Stather's web site although I don't give much hope for the chances of an answer as there's no heavy rush to respond.
    Yes, C had her outing to the mouth of the St. Lawrence where there were large pods of whales waiting to catch a glimpse of her and blow their holes. She saw lots of Minki whales, Belugas, Humpbacks and dolphins by the score to entertain and watch the watchers. And so, she found the Quebec hotels, food and entertainment most enjoyable. Visiting the Maritimes is worked out well in advance. Next year, I believe, she's heading for Newfoundland where 'cod and brewis' is the order of the day. I know the place well having lived and worked there for seven years running and building hydro stations. Joey Smallwood, long since gone the way of all flesh, but once the Province's premier and the politician principally responsible for bringing Newfoundland and Labrador into Canadian Federation. He was kind to me as a young engineer and treated me well; introduced me to a Newfie special 'cod au gratin' that was so delicious I would have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner whenever I visited the Provincial capital.
    Premier Smallwood was a benevolent dictator. His outer office was always crowded, like a doctor's waiting room filled daily with petitioners who would see the premier - and they did. Can you imagine a state governor or provincial premier doing that today? Many would be there to have the premier cut their husbands off the bottle because they were drinking too much. That was an easy thing for the premier to do because all liquor bottles in those days were numbered and registered, so the liquor board knew who drank what and once a Newfie was 'cut off' it was no easy to get back on the allowed list. I was told that if the police found an discarded liquor bottle on the highway it was a simple matter to trace the owner, who was promptly brought before the local beak. Retribution was swift. Found guilty of carelessly discarding a bottle along the Province's highways and byways the culprit was fined twice the value of the bottle: once for the bottle discarded and once for a replacement bottle. Joey sure knew how to run the Province.
    He said he began life as a factor's assistant. It was from him that I got the idea, though not the plot, of the story Rats and Molasses, the first piece I ever wrote and sold. It was published in the St. John's Evening Telegram, the Provincial rag, for which I was paid the handsome sum of twenty-five dollars. (Patricia can see that one somewhere on my web site.) The story Joey told me - I can't go bail for the truth of anything he told me - was that he had to collect a barrel of molasses from another factor on the far side of the lake. It was the dead of winter, so he used a sledge. Unfortunately, the bung of the barrel came unplugged when he started back, so by the time he had crossed the lake all the molasses had leaked out. His boss, the factor, said, 'That's no more good, my son' and he bade him go back and gather the spillage. I was astounded. 'How was that possible?' I asked and he said, 'The molasses were frozen in the snow, so I took a two by four to the other side and rolled the molasses on the spar like a roll of toffee, my son. That's how we recovered the spillage and not another word was said. 'It pays to use your brains, bye,' said the Premier. He used a Newfie brogue when entertaining visitors.
    He told me another, which bears repeating. I must write it up one day, for it is rather funny and could only come from Newfoundland, the Newfies being a fair match for the Irish, although, for your education, sixty per cent of Newfoundlanders hail from the English West Country (Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, etc) and but forty per cent are post 'potato-famine' Irish of 1846. Anyway, the gist of the tale is this.
    Like many a Newfoundlander, a young fellow from a fishing outport - or outports as they say - journeyed to St. John's hoping to take passage on a schooner and make his fortune by going to Boston in the States and getting a pair of false choppers, which happened to be all the rage at the time. With the money his parents had given him to speed him on his way, he bought a new pipe and a pair of seaboots (called logans on the Island) to look the part and in this impressive plumage he tramped back and forth along the quay in the hope of seeking a berth. St. John's was normally a bustling place, but when the harbour is empty of vessels, it reverted to what it was, a quiet, compact and small place. It happened not to be a busy day and he got 'caught short' as they say. Being a stranger, he didn't know where to go, so he asked a bricklayer working on the quay, who helpfully directed him to a wooden privy perched on the edge of the dock. The young fellow hurried to the privy to let nature takes its course.
    The privy was a primitive building, a one-seater wooden structure built on the quay over- hanging over the water. It was furnished with a stout pole on which the occupant sat to discharge waste directly into the water; all very hygienic for the time. So there the young fellow sat with his trousers resting about his logans, and his new pipe in his mouth, all set to contemplate the prospect of his fortune-in-waiting. He hadn't yet started smoking, but the pipe felt good between his teeth. It gave him confidence and a sense of self-assurance.
    Suddenly, his reverie was shattered by a weighty rattling of the privy door that was
     wrenched open and in stepped a heavy woman laden down with her week's shopping. 'Hello, my son,' says she. ''Tis a foine and blustery day if ever I seed one.' With this convivial greeting, she placed her bags on the privy floor, lifted her skirts and settled herself alongside him on his perch. The beam sagged dangerously under their combined weight, which caused the young lad from the outports to slide along the polished beam until he was snugly berthed alongside his mighty companion.
    She chatted merrily away about the weather, the promise of a fresh nor'easter, and the cod fishing, a subject always good for easy conversion among Newfoundlanders. He for his part, however, was agitated beyond measure and gripped his pipe so hard that he broke the end that had fitted so comfortably between his teeth. 'Whatsa matter, b'y?' says she. 'Lost thy tongue, ha thee?' He was too mortified give answer and stared stonily to his front and was in this same stony state when, her business done, she looked about her for paper and found none.
    Unexpectedly, finding the public facility so devoid of what was provided in every decent household, the woman grabbed the tail of her companion's shirt and wiped herself clean, saying, 'We has to be neighbourly, my son. We has to be neighbourly.' With that, she adjusted her garments, picked up her bags and took her leave, hurrying like the white rabbit, and muttering, 'We has to be neighbourly as I all'ays say "Hans up all them as wants jilly" and, so saying, took her leave, banging the door to a close behind her.
The poor young fellow from the outports had had a terrible experience to say nothing of the humiliation he felt, shame and indignity. He would have cut off the shirt tail and dropped it into the harbour, but had no knife. Dull indeed, however, is he who is without wit and resourcefulness. He remembered the bricklayer and thought the workman's trowel a handy instrument to sever the offending shirt tail. He therefore adjusted his dress as best he was able, stepped out of the privy and came again to where his fellow Newfoundlander was at.
    'I has a problem, b'y,' he says, 'an' could do with a loan of your trowel.'
    'Certainly, my son, but what's the trouble,' ' says the bricklayer, handing over his tool.
    'It's like this,' says the fellow from the outports, newly arrived to seek his fortune as he struggled to sever the tail of his shirt by hacking away at it with cement-covered trowel, and told his sad tale.
    The bricklayer watched in silence until, with eyes swimming in moisture, he could contain himself no longer and burst into unrestrained laughter. This unsympathetic reception to the tale of his plight so embarrassed the fellow from the outports that he took off along the quay at a stretch gallop and didn't stop until he reached Water Street, The sound of the bricklayer's booming voice sped him on his way and ever after he was haunted by those taunting words as the bricky called out at the top of his voice, 'We has to be neighbourly, my son, we has to be neighbourly' until he could be heard no more.
    It's rather long, but what the heck! It will help Patricia amuse you for a while; and Ray Pearson, too, I hope. The rest can concentrate on identifying the drum major on the 1957 Grand Day parade.


royal hibernian military school
16 July 2008

Mr. O'Reilly: I recently found that two of my g- grandmother's brothers were in the RHMS, Dublin, both entering at age 14. Their names were Beresford Gordon and Collingwood Royal McCausland. Collingwood Royal died in 1853 at Weedon Barracks while serving with the 77th Foot. We have just found that Beresford Gordon was in Australia sometime around 1846 with the 48th Foot (The Rutlandshire Regiment), but have yet to find out whether he continued serving in the military and where he died. I would like to purchase the above, and need to confirm its current price and cost of mailing to Australia. Can you please confirm the amounts showing on the RHMS website are correct.

Patricia McGufficke
Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia

18 July 2008

Patricia: I have passed your email to the GSI (Genealogical Society of Ireland) as they may still have copies for sale but, in fact, the book does not list pupils that far back - in reality the 1901 and 1911 census plus graveyard info is what it contains. However, I am forwarding your email to Peter Goble who is an expert on the RHMS and who has researched just about everything available and he may be able to help you.


18 July 2008

Patricia: Thanks for the contact. I have to say, you have the luck of the Irish because I have mention of both (see the .jpg image attached). I would be interested in knowing your source of info re their admission to the RHMS, which you give as 1842. Could this be a misunderstanding of the data entered into their attestation papers? The ledger I have is NA WO143/27 - Discharges Alphabetic 1840-ish to 1919, Many entries that should be recorded are missing. The two brothers are at the beginning of my records. Very few have been found before 1847 and, of these, just a few have all detail. The date of discharge indicates that at this date the boys will have been near to, or just past, their 14th Birthday, making their birth years 1826 and 1828. The No 2: Indicates that the boys' father was deceased at the time of their admission. The second number,is the Plea no, the application for admission. Finally, No 31, is the page number in the original chronological ledger. All archived documents pre-1847 were destroyed during the 39-45 war. Visit, for a copy of the earliest HIB Boy in uniform (1863) and a tour of, which will give you a good introduction to the History of the RHMS. I would be pleased to add to my data base any additional information regarding your two forebears. .

Peter Goble

royal military Asylum
7 July 2008

Sirs: I am researching my family history and would be very grateful if you could clear up one or two points for me. My great grandfather, Joseph Lodge and his brother John Lodge were both admitted to the Royal Military Asylum on 17th May 1856. Joseph was 7 and John was 6. Their parents (my great-great grandparents) were James and Julia Lodge. Does the column of the register headed 'Decl_Reg' denote their father's regiment? (In their case it was 19th Foot.) Also, does the column headed 'Address' denote the regiment they joined on leaving the RMA? In addition, will there be any record of whether their father or mother were alive or not at the point of their admission? And are there any further records relating to their years at the RMA which I can access?

Susan Lodge

7 July 2008

Sue: My super spy software has gone mad and sent your post among others into the trash can. Sorry about the delay.
1. Both boys appear in the ledger, their father is noted as being in the 19th Foot aka The Yorkshire Regiment aka the Green Howards. 2. The declared regiment is not in the ledger but indicates the area of recruitment check the WEB using the search parameter
    '19th Regiment of Foot' 3. Address is the destination of the boys on discharge, either to a Regiment a trade or returned to their parents.


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