Lieutenant Commander A. C. Brinsmead 

We have some brief information on Mr. A.C. Brinsmead, set out below. There is additional biographical information at the page about his parents. We would be interested in hearing from anyone who can add any further information.

During World War II, A.C. Brinsmead apparently served with the Department of Miscellaneous Weapons Developments (DMWD). This group of experimenters were nicknamed "The Wheezers and Dodgers". He became a Lieutenant-Commander. 

A reference to Lt-Cmdr A.C. Brinsmead in the book "The Secret War 1939-45" by Gerald Pawle, with a foreword by Nevil Shute (Norway) who worked on many projects with them, read:

"Brinsmead, in peace time was a furniture manufacturer and owned a 40-foot motor cruiser. During one of the Department's many "crazy" experiments with rocket devices Brinsmead was "scorched brown from head to foot".

A longer extract reads:


A section taken from Gerald Pawle's book "The Secret War 1939-1945"

………………(Nevil Shute) Norway's next venture was a shore-based rocket projector called the "Radiator." Although, now that winter had set in, there was no likelihood of a major invasion attempt, it was thought that the enemy might well try again in the spring, and the Admiralty called for a weapon which could be mounted at the mouths of rivers, to fire on approaching landing-craft. Once again speed was the essence of the problem; Norway had to find a simple contrivance which could be easily mass-produced at a time when the country was desperately short of steel. The Radiator was simple enough; it fired salvos of ten 2-inch rockets horizontally, and it did not have to be elevated or trained. Again, the inaccuracy of the rocket was useful.

For its trials a secluded stretch of water west of Aldeburgh, in Suffolk, was chosen, and Tolman, who by then had finished his abstruse gunnery calculations in the office in Archway Block North, went down to Suffolk with Brinsmead, another new recruit to the department. When they arrived and unpacked their gear they found they had not brought a firing switch with them, so an ordinary cheap tumbler switch was bought at a shop in the nearest village. Rocket weapons have one particularly unpleasant trait; at the moment of firing a searing tongue of flame belches from the rear of the mounting.

Mindful of this, Tolman and Brinsmead followed a set safety routine, and two switches - a safety switch and a firing switch - had to be brought into operation before each salvo was loosed off across the marshes.

When the Radiator was wired up they fired several rounds successfully, and they were both standing behind the rocket gun, when Brinsmead said, "Let's try one more salvo, and then pack up." He flicked over the safety switch, and Tolman had just started to walk across to operate the firing switch when there was a tremendous explosion. The tumbler switch had short-circuited, everything was enveloped in flame, and Brinsmead, standing right in the path of the blast, was instantly scorched brown from head to foot. Several discs of thick millboard from the base of the rockets struck Tolman, hurling him flat on his face, but he got off lightly, his only substantial wound being caused by a most unlikely projectile -a spirit level, which the blast had swept from a bench at the rear of the mounting. The arrival back at the Admiralty of the Radiator trial team caused quite a stir, for the unfortunate Brinsmead had lost his eyebrows, his eyelashes, and most of his hair - and he was deaf for several weeks afterwards. It was a salutary lesson in safety pre-cautions !

Radiator passed its trials with no other mishaps, and many of these anti-invasion rocket guns were installed on the East Coast. By this time Goodeve's team had learnt a good deal about rockets and their possibilities.

A web site about Nevil Shute give a little more information on the operations of the Wheezers and Dodgers:

 Nevil Shute Norway

After the War, Lieutenant-Commander Brinsmead applied for compensation for one of his inventions, the account of which was published in the Times of London. 

The Times of London - March 20th, 1952 - Page 2, col. e.



Mr. A. C. BRINSMEAD of Audley Gardens, Seven Kings, Essex, claimed before the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors in London yesterday in respect of a counter-mining pistol which, it was stated, would explode a depth charge from the pressure of an explosion at a distance under water. 

Mr. Brinsmead said that before his invention the method used was of electric wiring to each charge. Heavy seas and tidal currents often caused failures bringing danger to divers. His pistol had made it possible to place a line of charges on the sea bottom beside a wreck and to explode them simultaneously, making a deep trench. With the movement of the tide the wreck would be pushed into the trench and be silted over.

Mr. Brinsmead claimed that the use of this device in dispersing 500 wrecks would save several million pounds in costs.

CAPTAIN G. CURTEIS, R.N. (retd.), Deputy Master, Trinity House, formerly Director of Wreck Dispersal Admiralty, said that the device had completely revolutionized wreck dispersal work. It reduced time taken to a tenth of that of the old method.

Mr. B. OSBORN, for the Admiralty, submitted to the commission that the pistol was not a war-winning weapon and was not an aggressive weapon.

Mr. BRINSMEAD said that he could not accept the Admiralty offer, which be understood he could not disclose, because it was only a fraction of 1 per cent. of the total value of the contracts placed for his pistol, and because its terms were "a final settlement in respect of past, present and future use."

The commission will consider the evidence and an announcement will be made later.

The Times of London - April 4th, 1952 - Page 3, col. c.

The Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors has recommended a total ex gratia award of £1,500 to Mr. A.C. Brinsmead, of Seven Kings, Essex, for counter-mining pistols which would explode a depth charge by the pressure of an explosion at a distance under water.

The Public Records Office contains a number of documents in relation to Mr. A.C. Brinsmead, indexed as follows.

  • ADM 1/22032 Inventions and visionary suggestions (59): Improvements in and relating to detonator firing devices: correspondence and complete specification for patent by Lt. Cdr. A C Brinsmead RNVR and others. Dates 1945-1946

  • T 166/17 Brinsmead A C

  • T 166/36 Brinsmead A C

  • T 166/105 Lt. Cdr. A.C. Brinsmead