S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Bourhill, Mr Herries (atmospheric physics)

Born: 22 April 1883, Witbank, Mpumalanga, South Africa.
Died: 28 June 1949, Place not known.

Herries Bourhill served with the British forces during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), among others through the siege of Kimberley. In May 1902, at the conclusion of the war, he applied for employment in the British administration of the newly created Transvaal Colony. In 1911 he married Emily van der Merwe.

In 1904 Bourhill published a short article, "Curious electrical phenomenon", in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society (1904, Vol. 30, pp. 55-56) and reprinted in Corliss (1977, pp. 377-378). In this note he described a terrific explosion and various associated sounds that he heard at about 3:30 a.m. on the morning of 14 June 1903 at or near Witbank, Transvaal, where he lived at the time. The night was calm and clear and a search later that day yielded no meteorite fragments or other explanation. Some 20 other persons in the neighbourhood, up to about 18 km apart, also heard the explosion. Bourhill concluded that the explosion was probably caused by atmospheric electricity.

List of sources:

Ancestry, at http://search.ancestry.co.uk/search/

Corliss, W.R. Handbook of unusual natural phenomena. Glen Arm, Md: The Sourcebook Project, 1977.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Herries Bourhill / H. Bourhill.

Compiled by: C. Plug