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Death of distinguished Malvern scientist
A MALVERN scientist who had a long and distinguished career in research has died.
Ernest Putley died peacefully after a short illness on November 29, aged 87.
Dr Putley, known to friends as Ernie, was born in south London and graduated with a BSc in physics from Queen Mary College in 1942.
In August that year he started work at the Telecommunications Research Establishment(TRE) in Malvern, which was later known as RSRE and DERA and more recently partly privatised to become QinetiQ.
Dr Putley became deeply involved with the development of complex radar systems that were essential in helping to win aerial and Atlantic combat with the Nazis.
He recently provided an account of that work and period in his life in his book TRE: A Story of Radar 1942-1953.
He later became more interested in shorter wavelengths than those used in radar, first millimetre wave and then infra-red systems. His work on the latter still forms the basis for technologies under development even today.
He was subsequently one of the team who developed the pryoelectric vidicon thermal imager, best known as the camera that allows firefighters to see through smoke and to rescue people in burning or collapsed buildings.
In 1977, he met the Queen when she visited RSRE, and later his work helped the establishment to win a number of Queen’s Awards for technological achievement.
In 1986, he was part of a team awarded an Optoelectronics Prize from the Rank Prize Funds for work enabling low-cost, easy operation of infra-red photography.
Dr Putley retired from RSRE in 1982 but returned almost immediately as an unpaid volunteer to record the history of the military electronic developments with which he had been involved for so long.
He was determined to preserve records of the many scientific achievements made by the Malvern research community and became an enthusiastic member of the Malvern Museum Society, providing a permanent display about research work in the museum.
He was closely involved with the dedication of a radar memorial at Goodrich Castle, near Ross-on-Wye, in 1992, and more recently as a member of Malvern Civic Society helped erect a blue plaque at Malvern College in memory of Jimmy Rowe, the first director of TRE.
Dr Putley’s historic interests extended to archaeology, castles and the industrial revolution, and he also had a keen interest in railways.
He was also a nature-lover, and he and his late wife Cynthia donated a badger hide to the Brotheridge Green nature reserve.
Dr Putley is survived by three sons and a granddaughter.