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AWE scientist who helped develop Britain's first atomic bomb dies
A HAMPSHIRE scientist who helped to develop Britain’s first atomic bomb at Aldermaston has died aged 96.
Percy White was one of a group of boffins involved in the UK’s nuclear weapons programme in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Mr White was chief chemical engineer at the Atomic Weapon Research Establishment where much of the pioneering work was carried out. He made many contributions to the weapon, which was successfully tested off the north-west coast of Australia in October 1952.
The London-born scientist began his career in the metals industry, moving to the Ministry of Supply during the Second World War.
He worked on antidotes to chemical warfare agents and also developed a faster method of filling shells and bombs with high explosive.
At the end of the war, Mr White was offered a permanent appointment as a Government scientist.
He joined the London-based Armament Research Project, which was given the task of designing and testing Britain’s atomic bomb.
The project needed new accommodation and moved to Aldermaston in 1950.
Mr White was the first scientist on the site and was asked to design a radioactive liquid treatment plant for the facility.
His boss was William (later Lord) Penney, who had worked on the US atomic bomb programme, the Manhattan Project, during the war.
He described Mr White as a highly-talented engineer who was energetic and self-confident “with an inquiring mind and the ability to express himself with extraordinary clarity”.
Mr White was awarded the OBE in 1966 and moved to Lymington in the New Forest in 1972.
After his wife Jean died in 2007, he moved to Wokingham in Surrey to be near his son Steven and daughter Barbara.