A brief summary with a lot of added details .
24th June 1909 – March 3rd 1991
Lord William George Penney of East Hendred. O.M (Order of Merit ), K.B.E. (Knight of the British Empire), Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy), D.Sc.(Doctor of Science ), F.R.S (Fellow of the Royal Society )
He originally lived in “The Hut“ at Rushenden and first wife was Adele Minnie Elms from Queenborough, married 1935, she died 1944. They had two children, he then married Eleanor Joan Quinell from Brentwood Essex, no issue.
(His sister married Leslie Norman Hogan from Scarborough Drive Minster).
His coat of arms was the first of the Arms to consist of modern day symbols, Electrons ,etc.
He was born in Gibraltar where his father, William Alfred Penney was born, Jan 23rd 1881, and died Sept. 24th 1979 (aged 98) at Blair Park, Sittingbourne. He was a Sergeant in the Army Ordnance Corp and his father was George Penney, a joiner/shipwright, born 1848 in Sheerness, he died 1925 aged 75.
Lord Penney (he always preferred to be called “Bill “) was educated at Sheerness Technical School, Imperial College London (B.Sc with 1st class honours at age 20) then University of Wisconsin for his Masters Degree (1931-1933) then to Trinity College ,Cambridge for his Ph.D. (1933-1936). He then returned to Imperial College London as Assistant Professor of Mathemetics (1936-1945). Scientific work for Ministry of Home Security and Admiralty (1940-1944). Department of Scientific and Industrial Research at Los Almos Laboratory, New Mexico (1944-1945 ), Chief Superintendent Armament Research, Ministry of Supply (1946- 1952). Fellow of the Royal Society 1946, O.B.E.,1946. Knighted 1952, Director of Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Aldermaston 1953- 1959. Member for Weapons R.& D 1954- 1959. Treasurer for The Royal Society 1956- 1960. Vice President 1957- 1960. Member for Research U.K Atomic Energy Authority 1951-1961. Deputy Chairman 1961- 1964. Chairman 1964- 1967. Created Baron Penney 1967. Rector of Imperial College 1967-1973, F.R.S. (Edinburgh). For services to the United States he was one of the first recipients of the United States Medal of Freedom awarded by the President . etc,.etc. etc.
William George Penney was a British physicist who was responsible for the development of British nuclear technology .A mathematician by training, he became an expert on wave dynamics.He was one of the world`s leading authorities on the effects of nuclear weapons .
During the early years of World War 2, he was loaned out to the Home Office and the Admiralty. He designed and supervised the development of the Mulberry harbours that would be placed off the Normandy Beaches during the D-Day Invasion. In 1943 he was released from his duties at Imperial College to work on the Tube Alloys Project. And shortly before D-Day he returned to America to work at Los Alamos as part of the British delegation to the Manhattan Project. On the Manhattan Project Bill Penney worked on the use of the Atomic Bomb, its effect and, in particular, the height at which it should be detonated. He quickly gained recognition for his varied talents, his leadership qualities and his ability to work in harmony with others.
In July of 1946 he was invited to be present at the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands and wrote the after action reports on the effects of the two A-Bomb detonations His reputation was further advanced when, after the sophisticated test apparatus of the Americans failed, he was able to determine the blast power using observations from his specially placed piles of discarded oil drums.
The first British nuclear bomb test, Operation Hurricane, conducted 3rd October, 1952 off the west coast of Australia in the Monte Bell Islands, was organised and directed by William Penney and was 10 times greater than the first U.S. nuclear fission weapon.
W.G.Penney also served on the Target Committee which met in April and May 1945 to select the Japanese cities upon which to drop the Atomic Bombs and he was an observer at the 16th July bomb test at Trinity site in New Mexico and on 9th August, 1945 he witnessed the bombing of Nagasaki from one of the observation planes that accompanied the Nagasaki mission bomber ENOLA GAY. He was a member of the U.S. team of military and scientific analysts who entered the rubble of Hiroshima to assess the effects of the Atomic Bomb of August 6th 1945 .After completion of the Bikini tests Dr. Penney returned to England to undertake development of the first Atomic Bomb
In January, 1947 Clement Attlee appointed him Chief Superintendent of Armament Research and placed him in charge of designing, producing and testing the British A-Bomb.
Imperial College built and named the William Penney Laboratory after him.