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Barnes Wallis – A portrait by his grandson

In an exclusive interview with Jonathan Stopes Roe, the grandson of bouncing bomb inventor Barnes Wallis, he gives a personal account of Wallis as a grandfather.

Until Wallis's death, when Jonathan was in his late twenties, the two knew each other well. Jonathan says on his grandfather's character and work ethic: "He was always quite remote, working on something frightfully abstruse.

"He would turn up at meal times and ask my grandmother to keep the children quiet, so to speak. But despite being aloof in that way he was really, I think, a wonderful grandfather."

Jonathan explains how his grandfather's passion for engineering didn't stop at work, but was a significant part of his personal life too.

"Of course his whole background was making things work with his hands and brain.

"I remember he kept a fleet of motor mowers. I remember when I was younger, the excitement of him showing me how to completely dismantle the engine, decoke it, clean the spark plugs, wash all the parts in petrol and put it all back together.

"He was painstaking, unstinting in the care [which he took].

"He was really imbuing me with the excitement of making things work and I'll never forget that."

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Flying Officer James Warner, a navigator with 617 Squadron on the Dambuster raid, who was killed in action on May 16, 1943.

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