Ronald Lees (Pilot Officer) Ronald Lees was studying Science at Cambridge University before the war - following in his father's footsteps who had been a lecturer in Thermodynamics and Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge.  When war was declared, fellow students studying the arts (such as Raymond Williams) had to relinquish their studies.  However Ronald, studying Science, was allowed to complete his degree.

After being awarded his degree Ronald joined the Royal Air Force.  He started work on top secret radar development at the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) then at Worth Matravers in Dorset.  On the March 1942 organisation chart he is recorded as working in Group 25 entitled 'Post Development Services' alongside, amongst others, Martin Ryall who later received a Nobel Prize and became Astronomer Royal.

The 'Post Design Services' (PDS) group helped to introduce new radar equipments into Service use particularly new equipments fitted in aircraft.  Typically a small number of hand made models were installed and used operationally to get quick results. The staff of Post Design Services would go to RAF aerodromes to set up and adjust the equipments before operational sorties.  They would then get reports on how the equipment operated in practice.  These reports were used to determine whether changes in design were needed before starting to produce the equipment in quantity.

In May 1942 Ronald moved to with the establishment to Malvern when it was relocated to reduce the risk of German attack after the British raid on a German radar station at Bruneval in France.  In November 1943 he was transferred to London HQ in Church House, Westminster.  He appears on the TRE staff list for August 1944 as an RAF Flying Officer on detached duty.

Ronald met Annette Hughes on a train from London to Cambridge in 1939.  Annette was being evacuated from London where she was studying at the London School of Economics.  Ronald craftily took a note of the address on Annette's case, and later contacted her in Cambridge!  They were married at Birmingham in 1942 when Ronald was working at TRE in Malvern.  Annette moved to Malvern, and worked part time for a while at ADRDE, the Army HQ for radar (which had moved to Pale Manor Farm from Christchurch).

Soon after the D-Day landings, Ronald contracted a serious 'flu.  All the available hospitals on the south coast were cleared for the reception of casualties from France.  By this time Annette had moved back to be with her family in Shrewsbury.  Ronald was therefore sent to Shrewsbury by train from London to convalesce.  He briefly stayed with Annette and her family, but the Medical officer from the Shrewsbury Barracks then sent him to Shrewsbury Royal Infirmary.  The limited supplies of penicillin (which was fairly new at the time) were also concentrated  in the war zone and therefore not available in Shrewsbury. Ronald died on 8th August 1944 of acute bronchial pneumonia and cardiac failure.

Summary details.
Full name: Ronald Samuel Mann Lees
Pilot Officer no: 110250
Died: 8th August 1944 (pm) in Shrewsbury Royal Infirmary,
cause of death: Acute bronchial pneumonia, ?toxemia?, and cardiac failure.
Birth certificate: 24th March 1920, 51 Chesterton Road, Chesterton.
Father's profession: University lecturer in thermodynamics and a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge
Parents married: 17th (?19th?) October 1922

Prepared: Jonathan Penley, January 2010
from papers, photographs and discussion with Annette Lees.

If you have additional information or materials - please contact the Radar Trust
Papers & Links etc.
Imperial War Museum - Annette contributed diaries - www.iwm.org.uk  ? reference no ?.
Group in March 1942:  Group 25 - 'Post Design Services'.

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Page last updated: 05 April 2011