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Weapon Engineer Officers ‘Look After’ one of their own

16 December 2016
Royal Navy Officers from HMS Collingwood recently took time out from their training to visit the grave of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Bradwardine Jackson in the churchyard of St Marys, Hayling Island.

Two Officers, who are training to become Weapon Engineers, spent time at the grave tidying the site, working with Clive Kidd, the Curator of the Heritage Collection at HMS Collingwood, who had originally made contact with Elaine Emerson, who runs the St Mary’s Parish Office, regarding the condition that the grave was in.

Henry B Jackson was born in 1855 in the village of Darfield, just outside Barnsley, Yorkshire. He joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1868.

Jackson specialised as a Torpedo Officer, one of the predecessors to the present day Weapon Engineers, hence the natural connection to HMS Collingwood the present day home of Royal Navy Weapon Engineering. 

It’s a pleasure to introduce the next generation of Weapon Engineers to the pivotal role Admiral Jackson played in the development of wireless in the Royal Navy.

Clive Kidd

In 1885 Admiral Jackson was appointed Commanding Officer of HMS Defiance, the Torpedo Training School based in an old wooden walled ship.

Whilst in Defiance, independently of Marconi, he developed Wireless telegraphy. By 1896 he had succeeded in communicating - in Morse code - with another vessel, HMS Scourge, at range of 2.5 Miles.

The equipment used was a spark transmitter and a simple coherer receiver.

In 1901 Admiral Jackson was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, which recognises engineering excellence, partly for his work on Wireless, described by the Society as "Aerial Telegraphy".

He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1906. He rapidly rose through the Naval Service and became First Sea Lord in 1915 and Admiral of the Fleet in 1919. Post World War 1 he worked tirelessly in the nascent wireless/ radio industry.

He died on 14 December 1929, aged 74.

Talking of his involvement with the project Clive said “It’s a pleasure to introduce the next generation of Weapon Engineers to the pivotal role Admiral Jackson played in the development of wireless in the Royal Navy.

“It was his work and that of other pioneers that led to the highly complex electronics systems that are an essential part of the RN today.”

Midshipman Chelsea Baker and Midshipman Kye Thomas said of their involvement “Learning about Admiral Jackson’s work in parallel to invent wireless technology proved a rewarding experience and restoring the memorial gives him the recognition he deserves as a predecessor of the Weapon Engineering branch.”

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