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Single Person record details
Person Code NA9288
PreTitle Sir
Forenames Robert Alexander
Surname Watson-Watt
Dates 1892-1973
Epithet physicist
Activity Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt (1892-1973), physicist, was born on 13 April 1892, the son of Patrick Watson-Watt, Brechin, and his wife Mary Matthew. He was educated at Brechin High School, University College, Dundee and the University of Toronto. He worked for the Meteorological Office in the department of Scientific and Industrial Research where he designed devices to locate thunderstorms. Watson-Watt came up with the phrase 'Ionosphere' to denote an atmospheric layer. During the 1930's he worked on radio-detection at the National Physical Laboratory. Between 1915-1946 he was employed at the Air Ministry, Ministry of Aircraft Production, Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Supply. From 1943-1946 he was Deputy Chairman of the Radio Board of the War Cabinet. During the Second World War he developed and introduced Radio Detection and Ranging (RADAR) to track enemy aircraft. In recognition for this work he was knighted in 1942. He married, firstly on 20 July 1916, Margaret Robertson of Perth. They were divorced in 1952 and he married secondly Jean Drew on 20 November 1952. He died in Inverness in 1973.
Notes See Peter Townend, ed. 'Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage' (London, 1963) and www.geo.ed.ac.uk/scotgaz/People.html
Associated records
GB233/Acc.9343Correspondence and papers of Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt1916-1969

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