Schonland, Sir Basil Ferdinand Jamieson (1896-1972), physicist and meteorologist, was born at 1 Francis Street, Grahamstown, Cape Colony, southern Africa, on 2 February 1896, the eldest of three sons (there were no daughters) of Selmar Schönland (b. 1860), botanist and curator of the Albany Museum of Grahamstown, and his wife, Flora, daughter of Professor MacOwan, rector of Gill College, Somerset East, Cape Colony. Schonland attended St Andrew's College School and then in 1914 took a BA degree in physics at Rhodes University College, Grahamstown. He entered Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, in 1914, gained a first class in part one of the mathematical tripos (1915), and was elected to an exhibition. Immediately after the examination he enlisted in the Royal Engineers, and as a second lieutenant was placed in charge of a team learning to lay communication cables. Early in 1916 he went to France with his team as officer in charge of the Royal Engineers' 43rd airline section, and for two years without a break he endured the gunfire and mud of Flanders, receiving severe concussion at Arras. He was mentioned in dispatches for bravery, appointed OBE (military), and finished the war as an acting major with the rank of captain and chief instructor, wireless communications. He was demobilized in March 1919 and completed part two of the natural sciences tripos (physics, first class, 1920), winning the Francis Schuldham plate of the college and a George Green studentship for research. He then worked for two years in the Cavendish Laboratory, on the scattering of beta particles. He also discussed atmospheric electricity and thunderstorms with C. T. R. Wilson, a world authority on the subject.
Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.8702
Scope and Contents
'Notes on spark discharge', 2 volumes; 'Lightning on earth', 1 volume; 'General scrapbook of notes', 3 volumes; papers and notes on atmospherics, lightning; letters and notes on visits to India, South Africa, U.S.A.; personal and professional correspondence and notes.
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