These photographs show the whirling machine designed by Professor Oliver Lodge in the early 1890s for experiments with ether. To construct the whirling machine, Lodge secured a grant from the Royal Society to pay for an assistant, Benjamin Davies (seen immediately to the right of whirling machine in his shirt sleeves). Source: Cadbury Research Library OJL5/2, University of Birmingham.

Seeking Relatives of First World War Hero of Anti-submarine Underwater Sound Detection

The Royal Commission’s U Boat Project 1914-18 team are seeking relatives of the late Benjamin Davies (1863-1957) for information about their ancestor’s work with the Admiralty during the First World War.

Pictured here in 1908, HMS SURLY was a Rocket class destroyer built in 1894 on the Clyde. Source; postcard view published by Cozens & Co, Portsmouth. Source: RCAHMW
Pictured here in 1908, HMS SURLY was a Rocket class destroyer built in 1894 on the Clyde. Source; postcard view published by Cozens & Co, Portsmouth. Source: RCAHMW

Benjamin Davies (1863-1957)

The team have discovered two fascinating notebooks containing details of experiments conducted by Benjamin Davies which explore the properties of different types of early underwater listening devices used to detect enemy submarines. The notebooks, located amongst papers deposited in the National Library of Wales in the early 1980s describe calculations, design ideas, and practical trials. For example, in July 1918, Davies went onboard the destroyer HMS SURLY off Weymouth to conduct a trial, during which a British submarine circled the destroyer so that the sensitivity of Davies’ new hydrophone could be tested.

These photographs show the whirling machine designed by Professor Oliver Lodge in the early 1890s for experiments with ether. To construct the whirling machine, Lodge secured a grant from the Royal Society to pay for an assistant, Benjamin Davies (seen immediately to the right of whirling machine in his shirt sleeves). Source: Cadbury Research Library OJL5/2, University of Birmingham.
These photographs show the whirling machine designed by Professor Oliver Lodge in the early 1890s for experiments with ether. To construct the whirling machine, Lodge secured a grant from the Royal Society to pay for an assistant, Benjamin Davies (seen immediately to the right of whirling machine in his shirt sleeves). Source: Cadbury Research Library OJL5/2, University of Birmingham.

Benjamin Davies was born in Llangynllo, Cardiganshire, in 1863, and was the eldest of three children. He joined the Eastern Telegraph Company in 1908, eventually becoming the head of the research department before retiring in 1922. His daughter, Gwenhwyfar Davies, taught at the School of Arts and Crafts, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth from 1929-1959, and was responsible for ensuring that her father’s scientific notebooks were deposited in the National Library of Wales.

The 1939 Register provides a snapshot of the civilian population of England and Wales just after the outbreak of the Second World War. The survey was undertaken on 29 September 1939 and was used to produce wartime identity cards, ration cards, and to inform call up for war service. In his entry, Benjamin Davies gives his occupation as ‘Physics applied in Submarines, Electrical Engineer Research…’. Source: The National Archives, Kew, R39/7555/7554D/017
The 1939 Register provides a snapshot of the civilian population of England and Wales just after the outbreak of the Second World War. The survey was undertaken on 29 September 1939 and was used to produce wartime identity cards, ration cards, and to inform call up for war service. In his entry, Benjamin Davies gives his occupation as ‘Physics applied in Submarines, Electrical Engineer Research…’. Source: The National Archives, Kew, R39/7555/7554D/017

If you are a member of Benjamin or Gwenhwyfar Davies’ family, please get in touch.

Email: LlongauU@cbhc.gov.uk / UBoat@rcahmw.gov.uk
Phone: 01970 621200
website: https://uboatproject.wales/ / https://prosiectllongauu.cymru/

The U-Boat Project now offers unprecedented access to some of the wrecks from the First World War on our website.

On a virtual dive, you can explore 3D, interactive models of eight wartime wrecks. As you dive around the wrecks and explore them from all sides, hotspots will guide you to particular points of interest. Pop-up windows will show you historical photographs, ship plans or drawings and contain explanatory notes.
https://uboatproject.wales/virtual-dive/

07/17/2019

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