the war Rennie Whitehead studied physics at
Manchester University, graduating in the summer of
1939. A prospective academic career was pre-empted
by the war, and an interview in London with C P Snow and Watson-Watt
heralded the start of his wartime career in radar research.
the radar team at Bawdsey on 11th August 1939. He
started work on IFF (Indication Friend or Foe) Mark II -
'transponders' installed on aircraft which respond to
radar pulses so as to identify the aircraft.
Within two weeks of starting, news came that the
establishment was moving to Dundee. Equipment was
packed in crates and loaded onto the train on 1st
September for the move - just prior to the declaration
of war on 3rd September.
has written his of his experiences in detail - see the
link to 'Memoirs of a Boffin' below.
May 1940 the establishment moved again - this time to
Swanage in Dorset. Rennie continued work on IFF
with FC Williams
which involved many flight trials from the Christchurch
airfield. As IFF Mark III development got
underway, Rennie took on the responsibility for
developing the transponder and went to Manchester to
manage the project at Ferranti. In May 1942 the
establishment moved again - this time to Malvern.
Malvern Rennie met Nesta whom he married in November
1944. While on honeymoon in Swanage, he unexpectedly
received a telegram saying that he had been posted to
Washington to liase with the Americans on IFF
development. In October 1945 he returned to the Malvern
where he was briefly involved on early work on
millimetric radar before an academic interlude at
Cambridge University from 1946 - 1951.
short time back in Malvern, Rennie went to Canada in 1951 for
a job as professor in the Physics department of McGill
University. He went on to direct RCA Victor Co
research labs and became Science Advisor to Federal
Cabinet, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and
Honorary Member of the Club of Rome.