Meteorology

Dennis Young’s work as a meteorologist

Dennis Young started his first job as a maintenance engineer for Bermuda Electric Light and Power Traction company Ltd (BELPT Co.). This was in 1939 at the age of 17. He was in Bermuda because his Father was posted there in Argyles. Bermuda is an independent Crown Colony.

Schooldays
Dennis had spent his school days at the Army Base from 1927 until 1934 when he was sent to stay with an uncle and attend Ealing Senior Boys School.  He didn’t return Bermuda until June 1939. He took a £22 second class return on a ship Pacific Steam Navigation Company based in Bermuda. One of  their routes was Bermuda to UK. War was declared in September 1939 and his Mother decided he should stay there on the island. This is how he came to be working for BELPT Co.

First Job
His first job involved maintaining electric motors pumping oil and water. The water came from the country rock which was mainly coral. The water beneath the island was brackish (used for cooling equipment) at the top then there was seawater and beneath it was fresh water from rain water.

Meteorology work
Then he saw another job as a Meteorology assistant based at St. George’s, Bermuda at a place called Fort George Colonial office. He now earned £130 a year. In his previous job for BELPT he had earned 25 /- a week i.e. £5 a month for six 8 hour days. His engineering experience came in useful as he had to read lots of instruments such as thermometer dials, vernier scales etc…  Once a year there was a hurricane with an average wind speed on 75 mph with 180 mph gusts! This was measured with Dines Pressure-tube thermometer.
Part of the meteorologist office’s job was to watch the barometric tendencies for all the islands and then send the information to all the islands by radio (wireless). A morse code operator sent the information manually. The Forecast decided it was a hurricane. The warning was sent out by radio as morse code. There was no voice radio. You could pick up an American radio station in New York.

Famous Inventor
Dennis knew a man who retired to Bermuda called Professor Fasindon. He developed the ability to play music on the radio in 1902. He was friends with Marconi, who took the patent. He was still fine financially though.

In June 1942 he went to work at the Met Office as a civilian. Between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. someone told the people working there “You are in the RAF”  and he was in the airforce. The bonus was that he was paid more money and he got accommodated in a hotel paid for the RAF. Before this he had lived in a shared flat. In addition to his RAF pay he also got a Canadian Dollar a day as he was deemed to be working under the Canadian wing.

Bad Weather encounter

Churchill’s 1942 Flying Bermuda VisitFlying Boats taking Churchill’s entourage to the United States for a Big Four meeting had to stay over on the island due to poor weather. Churchill came over to the Met Office to see what was happening. He became interested in the two pens that Dennis held in his hand at the same time. Dennis explained to Churchill why he had the two colours. On the Weather maps the Red Pen was used when tendencies were falling and the black pen for rising tendencies.

Here is a recent long article about Churchill’s visit to the island of Bermuda in 1942 (screenshot above)

He had a girlfriend with Fairy Aviation. After travelling including to Lerwick in Shetland Dennis went down to Downham Market in Kings Lynn from where he was demobbed. One weekend he decided to visit the Muscles Club in Norwich and met his wife Jean Walker. He got married on Demob Leave. He applied for reinstatement with the Met Office in Norwich. After Dennis and his wife decided not to move to Bermuda. Dennis knew many couples who got a divorce due to the Bermudan lifestyle. He moved back to Downham Market and by 1950 he was based in Bengasi North Africa as a scientific assistant. He returned to the UK in the summer of 1951. The family flew (they had a son Miles who was 3 or 4 by then) flew first to Malta and then were going by ship back to the UK. They had two weeks off in Malta and one day went to the only place on the island for afternoon tea. Princess Elizabeth happened to there. She was in Malta to see her husband, Prince Philip. The Prince was based on the island as his Royal Navy ship was based there.  Their son, Miles a curly-haired confident child chatted to the Princess and she said she was missing her son, Charles. She seemed visibly upset seeing Miles who was about the same age.

Dennis and his family returned to Downham Market in Norfolk.

Flying Saucer event

Dennis Forres UFO 3 articles High level weather balloons were released four times a day by Crawley Meteorological office, where Dennis worked at this time as shift supervisor. The balloons record wind velocity, temperature etc… In November 1953 after one such balloon release one of them was picked up by the Army at Lee Green on a radar screen and reported as “something strange”. Dennis appeared in the paper identifying the balloon as one of theirs. The Crawley Weather men appeared on TV, talked to the press and generally had a throughly enjoyable time. See the newspaper cuttings recalling the event.

Dennis went on the work at  Peas Pottage training school (in Crawley) teaching amongst others the weather man Michael Fish (who became a well-known BBC weather forecaster).
The training school was attached to an official Met Office.

Later at Hemsby Training School on Norfolk he often trained men with BSc and PhDs preparing to go to the Antarctic Expeditions. The Met Office staff were much quicker than the academically trained people as the Met staff could listen to the equipment and decode at the same time. Dennis wanted to go down for a slot but he sure he would have a job when he came back so he stayed where he was.

Another job was on an island in the gulf called Mazera. There he had the interesting job of opening a Met station. He also spent three years in the RAF base, Larbrook in Germany in civilian post. While then his children Miles and Karen had left home. On a visit to see her father Karen met Clive Hamilton, an RAF officer. Clive and Karen went on to marry and eventually ended up at Brodie. Dennis retired with his wife in 1982 and lived in Spain for ten years. They then moved back to Bridgewater for nine years. In 1999 Dennis moved to Forres to be closer to his daughter in Brodie.

Additional Information

Michael Fish memory of the Storm of 1987Great Storm – I’d like to erase the memory completely!

BBC Memoryshare Team on behalf of Michael Fish’s memory of 16th October 1987. Not so much Great Storm Memories as I would like to erase the memory completely!

There are many myths to dispel.