The Wallis's ~ The Complete Story

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impracticable. Arguments would occur blame was passed around with no one wanting to get the job done. However with the outbreak of war in August 1914 Barnes saw a solution rushing off to the nearest recruiting office and signed on for the Royal Navy as engine room artificer. It was short-lived service for his boss H.B Pratt informed Sir Trevor Dawson and within 24 hours Wallis was out of the navy and back with Vickers!

The Airship project continued to stumble along The First Lord, Winston Churchill lost interest, and aeroplanes came into favour! This with lack of cohesion within Vickers, and by March 1915 Churchill gave up the Airship project completely! And both Pratt and Wallis were out of a job.

They both joined up to the Artists Rifles. Wallis was sent to Epping Forest where he learnt from his Adjutant what value he was held in: You’re an engineer? Yes sir said Barnes, Then go and sort out our drains.

In May 1915The Government formed a Coalition and Pratt and Wallis were both brought back to design their Airship but now the chain of command was complicated malice and conniving were clogging the wheels of progress. During the 4 years it took to make this one airship The R80 the Germans had built Ten!! By late 1919 Barnes was suffering a complete physical and mental break down he couldn’t work and this illness keep him away for more than 6 months. When he did return in May 1920 it was clear the Airship construction programme was on the rocks. The chief of the air staff announced the project was of no further use to the nation. On Sept 20th 1921 the R80 made it’s last flight having logged only 73 flying hours. Barnes Wallis was given his notice!

In 1922 Barnes took up a post teaching Mathematics at Chillon College an English public school in Switzerland. The headmaster offered Barnes a permanent appointment but Barnes was still hoping to be recalled to Vickers.

It was at this time Molly Bloxam who was 17 came on the scene. Molly’s aunt Edith Bloxan was Barnes’s mother and just before Barnes took up the Swiss teaching appointment a close friendship had started to grow. Barnes had come to Molly’s family house in Hampstead and he wrote to her from Switzerland, coaching her in mathematics for her examinations.

Though there was a great difference in their ages Barnes was 35 Molly but 17 years they fell in love. Molly’s father was concerned at the difference in ages but even so they married in April 1924. Life took on a happier look everything seemed to be happening and with all these changes going on he was recalled and offered the post of chief designer in the Burney’s Airship Guarantee Company.

But there was a cloud on the horizon, There was to be a Government election which put Labour in power for the first time, Brigadier General Christopher Birdwood Thomson was taken on to the Air Ministry as Lord Thomson of Cardingyon!

Ramsay MacDonald announced in May 1924 that Airship development was to be intensified but his government could not accept a Vickers monopoly. Civil Service designers were authorised to plan and build Government workshops for the construction of a 5 million cubic feet ship and funds would be set aside for the building of a terminus and a “Mast” to dock the ship. The Burney- Vickers Airship Guarantee Company would be offered first refusal for a contract to build a second ship.

The press enjoyed the intriguing possibilities of this competition between a



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