The Tizard Mission: 75 Years of Transatlantic Partnership on Science and Technology
In 1940, Sir Henry Tizard secretly travelled to the US and Canada during WW2, to launch one of the most important missions of the war.
This year is the 75th anniversary of the Tizard Mission, when a group of British military officers and scientists led by Sir Henry Tizard secretly travelled to the US and Canada during WWII, launching one of the least well known but arguably one of the most important missions of the war. This mission launched what is today an unparalleled collaboration in science and technology.
The group travelled to the US in September 1940 during the Battle of Britain and intended to convey a number of technical innovations to the US in order to secure assistance in maintaining the war effort.
The collection of ideas, blueprints and prototypes that they brought with them is considered some of the most valuable cargo ever brought to American shores during the war. In particular the cavity magnetron, despite almost being lost from the roof of a London taxi at the start of the journey, was not only instrumental in the Allied victory but also became the bedrock of an enduring scientific relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. It’s that relationship that has brought about the age of radar, the proximity fuse, jet travel, the Internet and penicillin.
While the roots of this collaboration are certainly noteworthy, it’s perhaps even more important to understand what we are doing together today and in the future. For example, there are more than 100 Ministry of Defence scientists working in US laboratories, covering a portfolio of collaborative research that ranges from missile defence to counter-IED and from naval architecture to satellite infrastructure. We are each other’s most important research and development partners, and by sharing our facilities, expertise and resources we save each other hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
During a recent visit to Imperial College in London, looking at technology and research jointed funded by the UK and US, US Secretary of Defence Ash Carter and UK Secretary of State Michael Fallon issued a joint challenge to strengthen our bonds and bring forward proposals that match the ambition of the Tizard Mission.
Mr Fallon said:
Both Secretary Carter and I believe taking a more innovative approach is vital to ensuring we are ready for the challenges we will face together in future. Harnessing new technologies and concepts of operation will be central to that.
So today Secretary Carter and I have challenged out teams to tighten our bonds, to bring forward proposals that match the ambition of the Tizard mission.
The UK is already championing innovation in collaboration with the US by jointly investing in things like biologically inspired unmanned aircraft. The UK has also looked for innovative new ways of working – for example, the MoDHACK 2015, which saw Silicon Roundabout software engineers give their time for free developing apps which might be used in military support to disaster relief operations.
NOTES To Editors:
About the Tizard Mission: The Tizard Mission, officially the British Technical and Scientific Mission, was a British delegation that visited the United States during the Second World War in order to obtain the industrial resources to exploit the military potential of the research and development (R&D) work completed by the UK up to the beginning of World War II. It received its popular name from the program’s instigator, Henry Tizard. Tizard was a British scientist and chairman of the Aeronautical Research Committee, which had propelled the development of radar. The mission travelled to the United States in September 1940 during the Battle of Britain. They intended to convey a number of technical innovations to the U.S. in order to secure assistance in maintaining the war effort.
About the Symposium: On Tuesday 17 November, the Chief of Naval Research invites the public to an event hosted by the Office of Naval Research and the Embassy of Canada in Washington commemorating the 75th anniversary of this important milestone in transatlantic science and technology collaboration. For those interested in attending, please register here.