Davies, Frank Thomas, 1904-1981

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Davies, Frank Thomas, 1904-1981

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  • Davies, Frank T.

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Dates of existence

1904-08-12 - 1981-09-23

History

Frank Thomas Davies was born on 12 August 1904 in Methyr Tydfil, Wales, the son of school headmaster Richard Davies and school teacher Jessie Starr Davis. He attended local schools and went to the University College of Wales, Aberystwth, to study physics. Graduating with a BSc in 1925, he went to Saskatchewan where he held various jobs before becoming a demonstrator in physics in the University of Saskatchewan. This influenced Davies to go to McGill University where he received a Masters of Science in 1928.

In 1928 he was chosen by Admiral Richard E. Byrd to go on the first Byrd Antarctic Expedition of 1928-1930 as a physicist to gather terrestrial and atmospheric data. This expedition included elements of traditional Antarctic expeditions such as grueling physical effort and dog teams as well as newer elements of radio and aircraft. Like all members of the expedition he received the (US) Congressional Gold Medal in 1930. This gave him the experience to lead the Canadian Second Polar Expedition to Chesterfield Inlet, Northwest Territories (now Igluligaarjuk, Nunavut) on Hudson Bay in 1932-1933. The scientific data it gathered was published in two volumes as the Canadian Polar Year Expeditions, 1932-33.

Davies, who had previously worked for the Carnegie Institute of Washington on terrestrial magnetism, became the Director of the Carnegie Geophysical Observatory in Huancayo Peru. He lived with his wife and two children at the observatory in Peru from 1936 to 1939.

Davies returned to Canada at the beginning of the Second World War and joined the National Research Council. He was seconded to do research for both the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Navy on the application of ionospheric data to high frequency radio detection and direction finding. Davies was a member of the Canadian Radio Wave Propagation Committee 1944-1946. It became the nucleus of Radio Physics Laboratory (RPL) of the newly-formed Defence Research Board (DRB) in 1948. Davies was superintendent of the Radio Physics Laboratory, then Director of Physical Research and later Assistant Chief Scientist of DRB.

From 1951 to his retirement in 1969, Davies was Director General of the Defence Research Telecommunications Establishment (DRTE) of DRB. Its priorities included Arctic communications, high altitude research using Black Brant rockets and the design and construction of the Canadian satellites Alouette I launched by NASA in 1962 and Alouette II (1965) as well as later research and communications satellites. Davies was involved in each of these projects.

After his retirement, Davies reconnected with the resurgence of American research in Antarctica. He received honorary doctorates from McGill and York University in 1977 as well as medals from the Canadian government. He was a life member of Canadian Association of Physicists and a Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America. Frank T. Davies died on 23 September 1981 at the age of 77.

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Following RAD rule 22.2A, the predominant name found in reference sources (VIAF) was used as the authorized form of name.

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First finding aid by Larry McNally, 2014. Accrual/draft French added by Adele Torrance, 2018. French editing by Céline Mongeau, Larcoque Linguistic Services, 2018-12.

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