Before he joined the Royal Aircraft Establishment in 1937 Bob Cockburn taught science at West Ham Municipal College. At RAE he led the team that developed the VHF communications system for air to ground communications which played a vital part in the Battle of Britain. 

He joined TRE at Worth Matravers in May 1940 and built up the team charged with devising countermeasures to fool the enemy radar and radio navigation systems. 'Bending' the German navigation beams reduced the devastation caused by their heavy bombing raids and many devices to fool or jam enemy radar greatly reduced the losses sustained by our bombers in the offensive stages of the war.

He played a major role in planning the spoof attack across the Channel on D-Day that so confused the enemy they failed to concentrate their forces in time to overcome the actual Allied landings. His wartime work had a major effect on its outcome.

He remained in the Civil Service after the war, joining the Atomic Energy Authority team at Harwell but returned to Defence work in 1948 where he held many senior positions such as Controller of Guided Weapons and Electronics, Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Aviation and Director of the Royal Aircraft Establishment.

He was created OBE in 1946, CB in 1953 and Knighted in 1960.

Sir Robert Cockburn CB
1928 - 21 Mar 1994.

If you have additional information or materials - please contact the Radar Trust
Papers & Links etc.
Penley Radar Archives - reminiscences, D-Day spoof & letters 
    [ index on www: www.penleyradararchives.org.uk/documents/cockburn/ ]
Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge holds some of Bob Cockburn's papers:
List available via Janus - Ref: GBR/0014/ROCO  papers & biography   accessed Mar 2011
or try:  http://janus.lib.cam.ac.uk/  with search word: ROCO 
Obituaries  The Times - 4 March 1994;  The Independent - 31 March 1994.
Group in March 1942:  Group 5  - Countermeasures
Robert Cockburn

copyright Purbeck Radar Museum Trust 2013  |  www.purbeckradar.org.uk  |  version 8f - 9 May 2015

Page last updated: 30 May 2011