Archibald Hayman Robertson Goldie, C.B.E., M.A. (Cantab.), D.Sc. (St Andrews)

RSE Obituary

by W A Harwood

Obituaries Index

Archibald H R Goldie was born on July 7, 1888, the son of the Rev. Andrew Goldie, M.A., Minister of Glenisla for many years until his retirement to Stirling in 1923. He died on January 24, 1964.

From the Harris Academy, Dundee, A H R Goldie went to St Andrews and thence to St John's College, Cambridge, where, in August 1913, he graduated as wrangler in the Mathematical Tripos. He was then offered a post in the Meteorological Office, and after a period of training in the Forecast Division, was posted to Falmouth Observatory to develop the work there. The onset of the First World War however led to his transfer to Eskdalemuir Observatory as senior assistant to L F Richardson, then deep in what was later to prove an important factor in the development of (to quote his title) "Weather Prediction by Numerical Process". This transfer was followed shortly afterwards by Goldie's commissioning in the newly-formed Meteorological Section, R. E., and departure to join Capt. Gold and Lieut. Geddes with the 3rd Army at St Omer. His war service was distinguished. He became Meteorological Advisor to General Rawlinson with the 4th Army; subsequently, in 1917-1918, set up the Meteorological Organisation for the British Forces in Italy; was twice mentioned in despatches; and, after the Armistice, became Major, R.E., as head of the Meteorological Service of the Army of Occupation, with Headquarters at Cologne. He was demobilised in 1919, and rejoined the Meteorological Office in London.

Appointed Superintendent of the Meteorological Office Local Services Division, serving the R.A.F., he remained in London until, in October 1924, he returned to Scotland on succeeding Dr A Crichton-Mitchell as Superintendent of the Edinburgh Office administering the three Meteorological and Magnetic Observatories at Aberdeen, Eskdalemuir and Lerwick. In Edinburgh his industry matched that of his noted predecessors of the Scottish Meteorological Society from its inception in 1855. Instructed not to expand (it was the period of economising after the first war), he took full advantage of the opportunity to undertake investigational and other meteorological work in addition to the Office administration. It was in this period that he was elected to the Society (1925), served on the Council (1929--32), took his degree of D.Sc., St Andrews (1936), revised and largely re-wrote an 8th edition of Weather, the distinguished book by the Hon. Ralph Abercromby originally issued in 1887, and was called on to act as Association (Local) Secretary for Meteorology to the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics for its highly successful meeting in Edinburgh (1936), work which he continued until 1947. He was recalled to London in 1938 as Assistant Director, with special responsibility for the research organisation then being planned by the Director. The outbreak of the Second World War prevented the early fulfilment of these plans and in November 1939 Goldie moved to Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, to take charge of the Climatological and Instruments Division and the Marine Branch which had been evacuated from South Kensington. When later, in 1941, the plans for a Meteorological Research Committee were realised he became responsible for its administration also.

The end of the war brought another reorganisation of the Office in company with other scientific departments, and in early 1948, when nearing the age of sixty, he became the Deputy Director in general control of research work. In 1950 was added to this work the resumed charge of the Climatological and Instruments Division and the Marine Branch. His service was extended yearly, almost to the age of sixty-five.

Goldie's investigational work may be assigned to three periods - that following the first war while he was in London, that while he was in Edinburgh, and that in London after the second war. The list of his papers is an impressive one, too long to be detailed here. In the first period, papers on upper air temperature and gustiness of wind, in air of different origin, were presented to the Royal Meteorological Society of which he was a Fellow from 1914. In the Edinburgh period his studies included diurnal variation of rainfall in homogeneous air and at fronts, the formation of depressions, and their movement as vortices, annual weather types, and terrestrial magnetism. During and after the second war he added to these interests the global circulation of air at high levels, and atmospheric turbulence affecting aircraft. A study of condensation trails from aircraft (then a serious military problem) led to forecasts of trail formation and rules for instructing pilots on how to avoid them. Issued for practical use in 1952, this was reprinted in 1954.

In 1951 his work for the Meteorological Office and the Services was recognised by the award of the C.B.E., and from 1953 to 1956 he was a Vice-president of our Society. On his retiral in 1953 high tribute was paid by the Director of the Office to his capacity for combining first-class research with administration.

Goldie was first married in 1928. His friends and staff, and visitors from many places, will recall the warm hospitality which they met with at his home and during Highland holidays in the very happy years which followed. He remarried in 1952, some four years after the tragic death of his first wife, and was fortunate in the cheerful support received during his closing years, years marred by an illness borne with much fortitude. His was a quietly forceful personality with a keen, characteristic, sense of humour (and appreciation of others who "could see the funny side of things") accompanied by a way of encouraging his co-workers which is gratefully remembered. He is survived by his second wife.

Archibald H R Goldie was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 9 March 1925, his proposers being Thomas James Jehu, Ralph Allan Sampson, Sir James Walker, Sir Ernest Maclagan Wedderburn. This obituary, written by W A Harwood, appears in the Royal Society of Edinburgh Year Book 1965, pages 18-20.