Radar and wireless pioneer and battlefield hero
Donald Stanley examines the life of John Scott-Taggart
FOR many years a quiet man and his voluble wife riding their bicycles through Beaconsfield, one behind the other, were two familiar figures. He, John Scott-Taggart, had been a pioneer of wireless and radar, as well as a hero of the battlefield. His wife, Elizabeth, was an artist and sculptor.
Despite being below enlistment age, John enlisted in the Seaforth Highlanders upon the outbreak of the First World War.
His talents were quickly recognised and he progressed from Sergeant – Instructor of Signalling to Instructor in Wireless to the First Army of the Western Front in which capacity he was awarded the Military Cross for his work during a critical stage of the German’s last desperate attempt in 1918 to break through to the English Channel.
After the war he spent three years in industry before founding a publishing company to produce wireless journals and such books as ‘How to Make Your Own Broadcast Receiver’.
After four years he was able to sell the business and lead a life of leisure for six years, reading for the Bar although he never practised as a Barrister, and learning to fly. In 1932 he returned to wireless journalism. As Frederick James Camm had started a wireless supplement to ‘Hobbies Weekly’, he and John in ‘Popular Wireless’ found themselves competing for the attention of the many enthusiasts who constructed their own radios from designs in the two publications.
John’s were distinguished by their superior design and, in many cases, beautiful walnut cabinet work.
In the Second World War the Royal Air Force made John a Wing-Commander and put him in command of radar training.
He became responsible for radar stations in most of England and Wales and subsequently wrote an account of their work and operations.
Following the end of the war he spent the remainder of his career in the Admiralty Signal and Radar Establishment but was by no means idle following retirement in 1959. Under his own name he wrote books on Italian tin-glazed maiolica pottery which dates from the Renaissance and others under the pseudonym ‘Rodney Quest’. The first of these, ‘Countdown to Doomsday’, was followed by three murder mysteries. In 1975 he was awarded the OBE.
Meanwhile, the oil paintings and bronze sculptures of Elizabeth, whom he had married in Amersham in 1949, were shown in local exhibitions and as recently as 2014 in auction houses.