Eric Ackermann was a scientist who served with an honorary commission in the RAF during the Second World War and into the Cold War, working in the secret world of radar and signals interception. He was thus closely associated with the famous R V Jones, who became a family friend, and singled out Ackermann's contribution in a number of his speeches.
This book reveals the frustration of the research process. Ackermann's career was clearly of some importance, but there are large gaps in the records. In some cases, in particular in the post-war period, this is because records were still classified at the time of writing, but in other cases they appear to have been lost, or simply not kept. One example is the number of operational flights he was involved in. Ackermann was awarded the George Medal for flying in operational aircraft on raids over enemy territory to investigate German radar signals from up close. He probably flew on over 90 missions, but the various squadron records don't record anywhere near as many.
Ackermann's story provides an interesting view of the life of an essentially civilian scientist within the RAF, where his mixed status caused some confusion (not least in the award of the George Medal, where there was a long debate over which award he qualified for).
This is an interesting look at the life of someone who served in an important technical role, not quite at the top level, but very close to it, and working with some of the best known figures in the scientific war. It also provides an unusual level of detail into the author's research techniques, as they explain how often they got stuck and where their information came from in a rather chatty style.
1 - Family Background and Early Life
2 - The Telecommunications Research Establishment
3 - North Africa and Italy: Torch, Husky and Avalanche
4 - The George Medal
5 - Eric Ackermann and the Flying Bombs
6 - North-West Europe, 1944 to 1946
7 - The Long March to Lindau, 1946
8 - The Air Scientific Research Unit
9 - Life and Work at Obernkirchen
10 - No.646 Signals Unit and the RAF Signals Intelligence network in Germany
11 - Farewell to Obernkirchen
12 - The 646 Signals Unit Badge
13 - Farewell to Germany
14 - Migration to Maryland
15 - The Family Man
16 - A Full and Useful Life
Author: Peter Jackson & David Haysom
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation