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Biographical entry Pither, Alfred George (George) (1908 - 1971)

16 October 1908
Shepparton, Victoria, Australia
2 July 1971
Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia


George Pither, a Royal Australian Air Force officer from 1930 until his retirement with the honorary rank of Air Commodore in 1966, has been called the "father of RAAF radar". An early interest in radio led him to specialise in signals. After four years commanding the Signals Training School at Laverton, Victoria, he travelled to the United Kingdom in 1940 to learn about the new, secret technology of radar. Much of his service during WWII revolved around radio-jamming programs, and the establishment of a chain of 126 long-range radar stations in Australia. Pither commanded what became the Directorate of Radar. After the war Pither was given responsibility for guided missiles and was involved in the development of the Australian rocket-range (named Woomera at his suggestion). In 1954 he became Director of telecommunications and radar for the R.A.A.F. and in 1963 was in charge of telecommunications engineering.



Education - Graduated from Royal Military College, Duntroon
1930 - 1936
Career position - Commissioned in the Royal Australian Air Force
1936 -
Career position - Flight Lieutenant, Royal Australian Air Force
1936 - 1937
Education - Training at Royal Air Force signals school, United Kingdom
1937 - 1939
Career position - Officer-in-charge, Signals Training School, Laverton, Victoria
1939 - 1941
Career position - Staff Officer, Directorate of Training, R.A.A.F. Headquarters, Melbourne
1941 - 1943
Career position - Wing Commander, Directorate of Signals, Royal Australian Air Force
1942 - 1943
Career position - Commander Directorate of Radar, R.A.A.F.
1946 - 1951
Career position - Responsible for guided missiles, R.A.A.F. Headquarters
1951 - 1954
Career position - Seconded to the Department of Supply
1954 - 1959
Career position - Director, Communications and Radar, R.A.A.F.
Award - Commander of the British Empire (CBE)
1959 - 1961
Career position - Commanded No.1 Aircraft Depot, Laverton, Victoria
1961 - 1962
Career position - Officer Commanding, R.A.A.F. Base, Laverton, Victoria
1963 - 1966
Career position - Staff Officer, Telecommunication Engineering, R.A.A.F. Support Command, Melbourne
Life event - Retired

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Published resources

Book Sections

  • Coulthard-Clark, C.D., 'Pither, Alfred George (1908-1971), Air Force Officer', in John Ritchie and Diane Langmore (eds), Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 16, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2002, pp. 6-7. Also available at Details

See also

  • Fielder-Gill, Walter, 'The "Bailey boys": the University of Sydney and the training of radar officers', Historical Rcords of Australian Science, vol. 12, no. 4, 1999, pp. 469-77. Details
  • Minnett, Harry, 'Light-weight air warning radar', Historical Rcords of Australian Science, vol. 12, no. 41256-67, 1999. Details
  • Minnett, Harry, 'Radar and the bombing of Darwin', Historical Records of Australian Science, vol. 12, no. 4, 1999, pp. 428-55. Details

Helen Cohn