John Fleetwood Baker

The War Years

Bakerís first concern was to reduce the vulnerability of buildings to bomb attacks, in particular some of the large factories. He also set up a nation-wide network of engineers to make technical reports on bomb damage, the first application of what became known as Operational Research.

In particular, the air-raid shelters then in existence were found to be inadequate, and at the request of Herbert Morrison, the Minister for Home Security, Baker was asked to deal with this problem. It had been estimated that once air raids began the casualty rate would be of the order of 35,000 people a day. Not only did Baker come up with a way of improving existing shelters, but he also designed a new type of indoor table shelter, known as the Morrison shelter, of which over 1.25 million were distributed to householders, saving countless lives.

This intense period of high pressure work during the war years not only added greatly to Bakerís research experience, but also showed him the importance of addressing problems in production engineering using scientific methods and the value that social scientists could have on management issues. He came back to Cambridge in 1943, and believing that the war was coming to a victorious end, spent considerable time on planning the future of the Department.