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Sir Barnes Neville Wallis (1887 - 1979)

Local resident Sir Barnes Wallis was a scientist and engineer...
truly a national hero...
In one of his first jobs, Barnes Wallis created a new design technique - geodetic construction - assisted by Neville Shute-Norway the novelist, as his chief calculator. This was used in the the giant R100 airship. It flew successfully to Montreal in 1930, but sadly was then grounded following the tragic loss of the rival and design flawed R101 in October 1930.
The Wellington was the RAF's most important heavy bomber for the early years of WW2 - over 11,000 were built. One of only two surviving Wellingtons can be seen at Brooklands museum - it was recovered from Lock Ness in 1985 and is slowly being restored by enthusiasts. The other aircraft is at the Hendon RAF Museum
The key feature of the Wimpy, as it was was nicknamed, was Wallis's unique geodetic construction. This allowed the aircraft to remain structurally sound despite heavy damage from AA guns. Similar damage would have destroyed conventional designs - this saved a lot of lives.

Wallis is most most famous for the "bouncing" bomb which was used by specially-formed 617 Squadron of the RAF to destroy the Möhne and Eder dams in Germany's Ruhr district in May 1943. 

To destroy the dams, a bomb had to be placed right against the wall, but the raid (arguably the first precision bombing raid in history) was an astonishing technical success and a great propaganda victory also, although many aircrew were lost on the raid. Wallis' greatest victory was perhaps not in getting 9,000 lbs. of explosive to skip over water to land precisely on target, but that he convinced the Air Ministry that he could get 9,000 lbs. of explosive to skip over water to land precisely on target! 

Wallis later went on to design the 6-ton Tallboy and 10-ton Grand Slam earthquake bombs (which were used successfully against many enemy targets in the later years of the war) and after the war developed the practicalities of swing-wing aircraft - the F111 was based closely on his designs, which we handed over to the Americans on the 50s when British Government funding of development ceased. 

In an amusing anecdote, Wallis explained (personally to the author) how they continued the development work for a while after he was obliged to handover the key information to the Americans - whilst the funds lasted. He had long believed it should be possible to control the aircraft without a tail plane through moving the wings independently. They modified the swing wing flying scale model and proved this concept worked in practice - however they omitted to tell the Americans - which is why all swing wing aircraft still use tail planes today!

Wallis worked at Vickers-Armstrongs - during the war he & his R&D team were based in a dispersed location at Burhill Golf Course and did early bouncing bomb tests on the nearby Silvermere Lake, using sheds which now comprise the Cobham Bus Museum.

 At the end of the war they moved into the former BARC motoring clubhouse at Brooklands -the pre-war motor racing circuit - it's contents are preserved today as part of the Hendon RAF Museum. 

Wallis lived at White Hill House, Beeches Lane, Effingham - a house he built during the 1930s. He carried out some of his early bouncing bomb experiments on the pond nearby
Barnes Wallis was instrumental in the founding days of the KGV playing fields at Effingham. He was Chairman of the KGV Management Committee and negotiated the landscaping of the "bowl" cricket ground. As a fanatic cricket fan he was keen to see a first class ground in his village, the County Council wanted to improve the line of the adjacent A246 and Wallis persuaded them to cut and fill the sloping playing field to achieve today's superb flat cricket ground. At one stage it was the back-up ground to The Oval! He was the first Chairman of the Effingham Housing Association - a charity which built homes for local people - the most recent development - Barnes Wallis Close was opened by two members of his family in 2002. 

Barnes Wallis died on 30 October 1979 and was buried in St Lawrence Churchyard - just a few yards from KGV fields.

Links to a few Barnes Wallis related web sites:

http://www.computing.dundee.ac.uk/staff/irmurray/wallis.asp (All about the bouncing bomb and other inventions)
(more about his family and background)
(BBC history page)