World War II British physicist Reginald Victor Jones is recognized by the world’s intelligence services as the “Father of Electronic Warfare.” Yet he remains largely unknown to the general population.
Jones, (29 September 1911-17 December 1997), was one of the main “wizards” of the secret war against Hitler. He pioneered technology to mystify, mislead and surprise the enemy, developing many of the electronic counter measures (ECM) which helped to defeat the Luftwaffe.
After completing a First Class honours degree in physics at Oxford, Jones was awarded his doctorate at age 23, specializing in infrared rays. In 1936 – not yet 25 years old – he took up a post at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, a part of the Air Ministry, where he worked on problems associated with defending Britain from air attack.
When the Second World War started, he became MI6’s (today’s Secret Intelligence Service) principal scientific adviser. Keeping up his Air Ministry connection for cover, his first important task was to discover how Luftwaffe pilots navigated when they overflew England by night during the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. He unraveled the Lorenz beam navigation systems they were using, and was sometimes able to jam or divert their beams.
”His contribution to the Battle of Britain was unmatched,” said R. James Woolsey Jr., a former Director of Central Intelligence. ”Without the battle of the beams, it could have gone the other way. And he did it singlehandedly. And he did it against the opposition of much of the bureaucracy.”
Jones stood up to Churchill and thereby earned his confidence. After the War, he became a professor of Natural Philosophy at Aberdeen University. When Churchill returned to office in 1951 he appointed Professor Jones as director of scientific intelligence at the Ministry of Defence – a short-lived posting due to his frustration with the MoD Bureaucracy. After resigning, Jones said, “intelligence cannot usefully be organised in committees of fairly senior officers who know nothing about the subject in detail.”
Professor Jones’ book, Most Secret War, is an absolute classic for anyone interested in a “behind the scenes” look at the advanced science that was used to fight World War II.
Winston Churchill, said of his “boy wizard:” ”He did more to save us from disaster than many who are glittering with trinkets.”