Garrod, Dorothy Annie Elizabeth, 1892-1968

by Gertrude Caton-Thompson

20 Apr 2016
978-0-19-725916-0 hbk

Elected Fellow of the British Academy 1952.

Extract relating to military intelligence work:

It was 1942 or 1943. She walked unexpectedly into the Combination Room of her Cambridge college, on short leave from Medmenham Abbey, Bucks., where she was one of a team working on the interpretation of aerial photographs for the R.A.F.

She wore the grey-blue uniform of a Section Officer in the W.A.A.F.; on her tunic was a ribbon of service in the First World War, in which her three brothers had lost their lives. Although 50 years old, her upright, well-knit figure, moving quietly and unselfconsciously, gave an impression of controlled energy and mind and body. A visitor asked ‘Who is she?’ ‘The Disney Professor of Archaeology, Dorothy Garrod.’ She had been appointed to the chair in 1939 (the first woman in Cambridge to hold one), but had decided to suspend the lesser task for the more urgent and physically uncomfortable one.


The years 1939-52 were engulfed by her election to the Disney Professorship, interrupted by the war and her service from 1942 to 1945 with the W.A.A.F., at which moment this memoir regains its starting point. She ranked as a Section Officer in the department dealing with reconnaissance photographs and the assessment of bombing damage to German industry. Though life was exacting, she was happy in the work and the companionship of other temporary officers, many of whom, such as Grahame Clark, Glyn Daniel, Charles McBurney, Charles Phillips, and Stuart Piggott were old colleagues.

(See: List of humanities scholars who worked in military intelligence in the Second World War)

Sign up to our email newsletters