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Harold Morris-Airey

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Harold Morris-Airey (1880-1927)

1927 Obituary [1]

HAROLD MORRIS-AIREY, C.B.E., M.Sc, died at Portsmouth on the 19th June, 1927, in his forty- eighth year, having been born on the 10th February 1880, at Crumpsall, Manchester.

He was educated at Owen's College, Manchester, and upon the completion of his degree course was sent to Germany by Prof. Schuster to carry out experimental work in physics under Prof. Kayser at Bonn University, where he continued from 1901 to 1903 as assistant in the physical laboratories.

He returned to Owen's College in 1903 as demonstrator in the Physical Laboratories of the University of Manchester, which post he held until 1906. He devoted much of his spare time to experimental research and published articles on such subjects as wave-length determination in the extreme ultra-violet portion of the spectrum, the rigidity of gelatine, and the resolving power of spectroscopes; also papers con-jointly with other workers on electrical measurements.

He was a very keen research worker and, after demonstrating in the laboratories of Owen's College during the day, would retire to the research laboratory in the basement to his experiments, where one would find him happily employed, alone with his pipe and his apparatus. In 1906 he was appointed Lecturer in Physics at Armstrong College, University of Durham, where he carried out experimental work in wireless telegraphy, which included considerable work in connection with the origin of atmospherics.

In 1915 he was appointed to the Wireless Telegraphy Department of H.M.S. "Vernon," Portsmouth, first as Lieutenant and later as Lieutenant-Commander, R.N.V.R., and there he took an active part in the development of wireless apparatus, especially for naval aircraft. During 1918 he was appointed in charge of the Experimental Wireless Transmission Section, H.M. Signal School, Portsmouth, and held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, R.M. (unattached).

In 1920 he was appointed chief technical adviser to H.M. Signal School, where he was responsible for the technical development of apparatus for wireless telegraphy and allied methods of signalling. He possessed in a marked degree a combination of sound judgment, technical knowledge and imagination. These qualities ensured success in his work of developing apparatus to embody the technical advances made during and after the war. In particular the silica power valve for wireless telegraphy was one of the subjects in which he took great interest, and its success has been in great measure due to his enthusiastic support, especially in the earlier stages of its experimental development. He had a very equable temperament and possessed remarkable self-control.

During the last five years of his life he carried on his work under difficult conditions due to ill-health, but he was always cheerful and optimistic with his colleagues.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1923.

1927 Obituary[2]


The death of Mr. Harold Morris-Airey on Sunday, June 19, at the early age of 47, means the loss to radio science and technology of a careful and hard-working investigator. Since October, 1919, the deceased had held the post of Chief Technical Adviser at H.M. Signal School, R.N. Barracks, Portsmouth, and thus, within a few months, this establishment has lost two of its chief officials, Dr. Erskine Murray, whose death we recorded in our issue of February 18, 1927, being the other.

Mr. Morris-Airey was the only son of Mr. William Morris-Airey of Crumpsall, Manchester, and was born in 1880. He was educated at Owens College and at the University of Bonn, and later was lecturer in Physics at that university, as well as at Manchester and Durham. In 1906 he was appointed a research professor at Armstrong College, Newcastle, and shortly afterwards began his investigations into radio-communication, a subject which mainly occupied the remainder of his career. At the outbreak of war he offered his services to the Admiralty, and in 1915 was appointed to the Wireless Department of H.M.S. Vernon with the rank of lieutenant R.N.V.R. He took an active part in the development of wireless apparatus for naval aircraft, an application to which the hostilities and the increasing part played by air warfare naturally gave considerable stimulus. He obtained promotion in 1917, and when, in 1918, he was appointed to the general charge of the development of naval wireless transmission, he was given the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the Royal Marines. He received the C.B.E. in recognition of his services during the war. In spite of his official position, Mr. Morris-Airey was a frequent contributor on electricity and optics to the technical and scientific journals, and as recently as our issue of June 10, we published an account of a useful joint paper, in which he and his colleagues went very carefully into the recent progress, which has been made in the development and manufacture of silica valves, an important part of which is the seal, a matter to which he had given close attention."

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