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Ernest Owen Courtman

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Major Ernest Owen Courtman (c1878-1930)

1930 Obituary [1]

ERNEST OWEN COURTMAN, an Original Member of the Institute, died on October 20, 1930, from heart failure, at his home at Surbiton, Surrey, at the age of fifty-two.

He was educated at the Royal School of Mines, where he graduated in both mining and metallurgy.

After spending some time on the Evenwood Colliery, Durham, he became a demonstrator in the Mining Department of the Royal School of Mines, but in 1900 he transferred to the staff of the Metallurgical Department of the same college, where he remained to his death. In addition to scientific and engineering subjects, he was a keen amateur artist, and devoted much of his leisure to drawing, painting, and photography. He excelled in architectural subjects, for which his accurate technique was admirably suited, and he was awarded the University of London Diploma for Architecture. It is, therefore, not surprising that he organized a class of instruction at the college, on furnace drawing and design, which he conducted with success for a number of years, and which was much appreciated.

Major Courtman was keen on military matters and, when the senior division of the Officers Training Corps of the University of London was formed in 1909 he joined the Engineer Unit. Having obtained the "P.S." of the School of Military Engineering, Chatham, in a very short space of time, he became its commanding officer with the rank of captain.

At the outbreak of war in 1914 he was first appointed the commanding officer of a School of Instruction for Canadian Engineer Officers, afterwards as Commandant of the University of London Training Camp, and later as the Commandant of the R.E. School of Instruction at Esher. Towards the end of the war he was promoted to the rank of major, and was attached to the General Staff of the London District.

For some months after the war he served as Military Adviser on Technical Education at the War Office. For his war work he received a Special Mention in Record of War Services. Throughout his military career he was a member of the Military Education Committee and of the Commissions Nominations Board of the University of London.

Late in 1919 he rejoined the Metallurgical Department of the Royal School of Mines, and was appointed Assistant Professor of Metallurgy (Ferrous Branch). This position he held until his death. Major Courtman was a brilliant lecturer; he had a sound knowledge of detail and the patience to attend thereto, and the gift to impart his knowledge to others. He was a quick and accurate thinker, getting to the root of a question and working it out to its logical conclusion. Quiet and unassuming, he was universally popular. The students soon realized his kindly nature and his great sense of fairness in his dealings with them, and they looked upon him more as a personal friend than as a teacher. He earned the goodwill of all with whom he was associated by his courtesy, cheerfulness, and sympathy. He was a good shot and rider, and, until recently, he enjoyed a game of tennis, when his time permitted. He was greatly interested in horticulture, and devoted himself to his favourite hobby of rose growing.

Since he had much musical taste and wrote plays, he was able to give valuable advice to the College Musical and Dramatic Society in connection with their amateur theatrical performances. For a number of years he acted as an Abstractor and Reviewer to the Institute, and he was the Secretary of the Board of Studies in Mining and Metallurgy of the University of London. He was also the Convener of the High Degrees Sub-Committee of this Board.

Major Courtman was taken seriously ill in August 1930, but, during the whole of his illness, he was more concerned respecting his work at the Royal School of Mines than about his own desperate condition.— W. H. MERREFT.

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