Reginald Victor Jones (known to many friends simply as R.V.) was born in Dulwich, London on 29 September 1911. He attended Sussex Road Elementary School, Brixton from where he won a scholarship to Alleyn's School, Dulwich. In 1929 Jones was awarded an Open Exhibition in Natural Science to Wadham College, Oxford, where T.C. Keeley was his tutor, and graduated with first class honours in physics in 1932. He was awarded a Research Studentship and at F.A. Lindemann's suggestion began developing new infrared detectors in the Clarendon Laboratory. Jones took his doctorate in 1934 and was elected to the Skynner Senior Studentship in Astronomy by Balliol College, with the intention that he should work with H.H. Plaskett on the infrared spectrum of the sun. These plans, however, were not to come to fruition. Instead in late 1935, with Lindemann's encouragement, Jones took part in trials to detect aircraft by infrared. As a result of these trials the Air Ministry's Committee on Air Defence, chaired by Sir Henry Tizard, employed Jones from January 1936 to work at the Clarendon Laboratory on the development of an airborne infrared detector which could be mounted on night fighters. In October 1936 he was appointed as a Scientific Officer and full-time member of Air Ministry staff. In January 1938 the airborne infrared project was terminated. After an initial decision to send Jones to the radar establishment at Bawdsey, Suffolk was reversed, he was posted to the Admiralty Research Laboratory, Teddington, Middlesex. This move was clearly a disappointment to Jones who viewed it as an 'exile' from the important task of air defence research. His stay at Teddington was short-lived, however, and in September 1939 he was attached to the intelligence services to investigate the German application of science to air warfare.
This move to intelligence work proved to be a masterstroke as Jones proceeded to play a vital role during the Second World War in identifying and counteracting German weapons developments. He built up a small staff at the Air Ministry, and arranged in 1940 for the transfer of his close friend from Oxford, Charles Frank, from the Chemical Research Establishment, Porton, Wiltshire. An early success was the identification and jamming of the radio navigational beams systems used by the German airforce to guide bombers to their targets. This achievement established his reputation and in 1941 Jones was promoted to Assistant Director of Intelligence (Science). He continued to make important contributions to the Allied war effort, playing significant roles in the success of the Bruneval Raid in 1942, the development of 'Window' and the Allied understanding of the German V1 and V2 rockets. A full description of Jones' work during the war can be found in his autobiographical account Most Secret War (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1978), published in the United States as The Wizard War.
In 1946, despite promotion to Director of Intelligence, Jones decided to leave Government service because of his unhappiness at proposals for the post war organisation of scientific intelligence. He applied for the vacant chair of Natural Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen and was successful, thanks in part to the vigorous support of Sir Winston Churchill. At the request of Churchill in 1952 he returned briefly to intelligence work as Director of Scientific Intelligence at the Ministry of Defence but this proved to be a largely unsatisfactory experience and he resumed his academic duties in Aberdeen at the end of the following year.
Upon his appointment to the chair of Natural Philosophy Jones was faced with a decision over which direction his research should take. His work for the Air Ministry had kept him out of academic research for about ten years and placed him at a disadvantage to many contemporaries. Much of his earliest research after the War related to crystal growing and under his guidance the Department of Natural Philosophy became a world leader in this field. During his years at the University of Aberdeen, however, the main focus of his research was the development of instruments capable of precise measurement, such as optical levers, capacitance micrometers, microbarographs and tiltmeters. His ability to design highly sensitive instruments led to a number of important scientific contributions, highlighted perhaps by his work on the radiation pressure of light. Despite little teaching experience at the time of his appointment in 1946 Jones proved to be a popular lecturer. He captured the interest of his students by enlivening lectures with a variety of demonstrations, including the firing of a pistol to illustrate momentum conservation. Unfortunately Jones' later years at the University of Aberdeen were clouded by disagreements with colleagues, particularly over the proposals of the Robbins Committee to expand higher education, to which he was opposed. He retired in 1981.
Jones remained busy following his retirement. He travelled widely to give lectures and attend conferences, frequently visiting the United States where he was held in very high esteem in intelligence circles. He also continued to serve on Royal Society and other committees in London until his arthritis made travelling from Aberdeen difficult. He died on 17 December 1997.
Jones contributed numerous research papers to scientific periodicals and a selection of these were published in 1988 under the title Instruments and Experiences (John Wiley & Sons). He also wrote and lectured extensively on defence and intelligence issues, education, the history of science and a variety of science-related issues. His best known publication, Most Secret War, achieved distinction as both a critical and commercial success and a follow up was published in 1989, Reflections on Intelligence (Heinemann).
Jones played an active role in public life after the Second World War, acting as chairman of numerous government committees and other bodies. These include the Infra-Red Committee of the Ministries of Supply and Aviation, 1950-1964 and the Air Defence Committee Working Party of the Ministry of Defence, 1963-1964. He also served the Royal Society in a number of capacities. He was a Vice-President, 1971-1972, Editor of Notes and Records of the Royal Society, 1969-1989 and Chairman of both the Paul Instrument Fund Committee, 1962-1984 and the British National Committee for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, 1970-1978.
Jones was accorded numerous honours and awards. He was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1965. For his intelligence work during the War he received the CBE in 1942 and the CB in 1946 and was also honoured by the United States Government with the Medal of Freedom with Silver Palm in 1946 and the Medal of Merit in 1947. The high esteem in which Jones was held across the Atlantic was further demonstrated in 1993 when the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) established the R.V. Jones Intelligence Award in his honour and made him the first recipient. His achievements were also given greater recognition at home with his appointment as a Companion of Honour in 1994.
SECTION A BIOGRAPHICAL NCUACS 95.8.00/A.1 - NCUACS 95.8.00/A.302
SECTION B SECOND WORLD WAR NCUACS 95.8.00/B.1 - NCUACS 95.8.00/B.613
SECTION C UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN NCUACS 95.8.00/C.1 - NCUACS 95.8.00/C.282
SECTION D RESEARCH TOPICS AND SCIENCE INTERESTS NCUACS 95.8.00/D.1 - NCUACS 95.8.00/D.456
SECTION E DEFENCE AND INTELLIGENCE NCUACS 95.8.00/E.1 - NCUACS 95.8.00/E.256
SECTION F SCIENCE-RELATED INTERESTS NCUACS 95.8.00/F.1 - NCUACS 95.8.00/F.275
SECTION G VISITS AND CONFERENCES NCUACS 95.8.00/G.1 - NCUACS 95.8.00/G.448
SECTION H SOCIETIES AND ORGANISATIONS NCUACS 95.8.00/H.1 - NCUACS 95.8.00/H.922
SECTION J PUBLICATIONS NCUACS 95.8.00/J.1 - NCUACS 95.8.00/J.824
SECTION K LECTURES, SPEECHES AND BROADCASTS NCUACS 95.8.00/K.1 - NCUACS 95.8.00/K.495
SECTION L CORRESPONDENCE NCUACS 95.8.00/L.1 - NCUACS 95.8.00/L.140
SECTION M NON-TEXTUAL MATERIAL NCUACS 95.8.00/M.1 - NCUACS 95.8.00/M.50
The material is presented in the order given in the list of contents. It covers the period from 1928 to 1998.
Section A, Biographical, documents Jones' life from 1928 to 1997, including papers relating to his appointment at the University of Aberdeen as well as the numerous honours and awards he received. There are a few printed articles about Jones and several autobiographical drafts. The section also includes a long sequence of correspondence and papers assembled by Jones under the title 'Bouquets and brickbats' which reflect his many achievements and also some of his failures. A record of day-to-day activities is provided by a series of twenty nine pocket diaries which runs almost continuously for the period 1957-1979. There is also a significant collection of press cuttings, illustrating his public profile, and a sequence of invitations to various social events.
Section B, Second World War, is of great interest since it is for his work in scientific intelligence during the War that Jones is best known. There is a significant quantity of wartime documents, many of which were used in the writing of Most Secret War. These include copies of the Air Scientific Intelligence reports he wrote during the War, copies of intelligence reports he received and captured German documents. Jones' work as a consultant to the Control Commission for Germany from 1948 to 1951 is also represented. In addition to the wartime documents there is also considerable material relating to the historical treatment of the Second World War, focussing on topics such as the German air raid on Coventry on 14 and 15 November 1940, Farm Hall and the Oslo Report and on individuals such as Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Henry Tizard and Lord Cherwell. The section also includes correspondence with wartime colleagues, British veterans of the War and former members of Resistance organisations.
Section C, University of Aberdeen, covers Jones' career as Professor of Natural Philosophy from 1946 to 1981. The material includes correspondence and papers relating to the administration of the Department of Natural Philosophy, the Faculty of Science and the University. There is also documentation of Jones' teaching, with two significant sequences of manuscript lecture notes.
Section D, Research topics and science interests, relates largely to Jones' active research at the University of Aberdeen. The material is arranged alphabetically by subject and includes correspondence with colleagues, drafts of publications and lectures, and manuscript and typescript notes. Research areas well represented in the papers include aether drag, capacitance micrometers, crystal growing, optical levers and radiation pressure. There is also an interesting sequence of material on 'flying saucers', reflecting Jones' interest in unexplained aerial phenomena.
Section E, Defence and intelligence, documents Jones' involvement and interest in defence and intelligence matters after the Second World War. His association with the Ministry of Defence is well represented, particularly his chairmanship of the Air Defence Committee Working Party in 1963-1964. His interest in the Strategic Defense Initiative (commonly known as Star Wars) is represented in this section as is his membership of an unofficial committee on hull-forms for warships in 1985-1986, chaired by Lord Hill-Norton. There is also material relating to a variety of intelligence issues, including a significant quantity of papers by S. Dedijer, the founder of the Research Policy Institute at the University of Lund, Sweden.
Section F, Science-related interests, brings together a number of Jones' interests outside his academic research. The history of science is particularly well represented and includes papers relating to James Clerk Maxwell and the history of infra-red research. There is significant material documenting Jones' concern with education policy, in particular the issues of university expansion and the teaching of science in schools. The section also includes a long sequence of papers assembled by Jones under the title 'Quacks', consisting largely of letters, circulars and pamphlets sent by numerous individuals and organisations, chiefly relating to unorthodox approaches to science.
Section G, Visits and conferences, covers the period 1948-1997. It documents much of Jones' attendance at conferences as well as his domestic and foreign travel. The material is divided up by country following his own arrangement, with much relating to the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany. The papers for a number of countries also include general correspondence with friends and acquaintances living there. His German correspondents include several wartime opponents who later became friends.
Section H, Societies and organisations, is extensive, illustrating his many commitments outside academic life. His longstanding service to the Royal Society is substantially documented particularly his work on the Paul Instrument Fund Committee and his editorship of Notes and Records. His service on numerous Government bodies is also well represented, including the British Transport Commission, the Safety in Mines Research Advisory Board, the Electronics Research Council and the Infra-Red Committee of the Ministries of Supply and Aviation. This section also includes papers relating to Jones' attendance at International Conferences on the Unity of the Sciences, together with correspondence about the activities of the Unification Church. Consultancy work by Jones is represented by material relating to the firms, A. & M. Fell Ltd and Hilger and Watts.
Section J, Publications, presents a chronological series of drafts of books, articles, letters to newspapers, obituaries, reviews, and other contributions by Jones, covering the period 1946-1997. These drafts reflect the wide range of his interests, but are especially strong on the Second World War, intelligence issues, scientific research and education policy. The most substantial accumulations of material relate to Jones' two major books, Most Secret War (Hamish Hamilton, 1978) his bestselling account of his scientific intelligence work during the Second World War, and its follow up Reflections on Intelligence (Heinemann, 1989). The papers relating to this sequel also include drafts for a book covering Jones' experiences before and after the Second World War, which he proposed to call 'No Easy Chair'. Although plans to publish such an autobiographical account were abandoned the drafts nevertheless contain interesting biographical information.
Section K, Lectures, speeches and broadcasts, covers the period of about fifty years from the end of the Second World War to the final years of Jones' life. He was a highly accomplished public speaker and many of his most prestigious lectures are documented here, together with the numerous invitations he had to decline. Included here is a sequence of material relating to his lectures to the Senior Officers War Course at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. The section also contains a significant quantity of material representing his radio and television broadcasts. These papers include transcripts of recordings and are particularly extensive for the 1970s when he took part in a number of programmes about his scientific intelligence work during the War.
Section L, Correspondence, is relatively short since many of the letters Jones received were filed by subject, with the result that they appear in other sections. There are, however, significant sequences of correspondence with two friends, Sir Harold Hartley and Henry Cobden Turner as well as material relating to references and recommendations by Jones.
Section M, Non-textual material, consists largely of slides relating to the Second World War, research interests and the history of science. There is also a video cassette of the Memorial Service for Jones at King's College, Aberdeen in 1998.