Sydney Charles 'Ben' Gascoigne was born in New Zealand, did his undergraduate study at the University of Auckland, and gained his PhD from the University of Bristol, in the UK. R. v.d.R. Woolley, the Director of the Commonwealth Solar Observatory (CSO), then offered Gascoigne a Research Fellowship, saying that his 'experience in optical work [was] unique' and that Gascoigne was 'trained in a way that no one else in Australia has been qualified'.(1) And so, in August 1941, Gascoigne arrived in Australia to contribute to the optical munitions work being undertaken at the CSO.
During the war, Gascoigne was an integral part of the team of CSO physicists that undertook optical munitions work. His tasks included the supervision of design, assembly and inspection of optical instruments. In particular, he worked on the design of a sighting telescope for an anti-aircraft gun. Later, Gascoigne worked as C.W. Allen's assistant, helping Allen to develop a testing and measuring laboratory.
Gascoigne lived in the Bachelors' Quarters at the CSO on Mount Stromlo, along with N.A. Chamberlain, J. Dooley, F. Lord and K. Gottlieb. The Bachelors' Quarters saw many noisy parties, but also served as the informal production headquarters. In 1943 Gascoigne married and moved into a house on Mount Stromlo with his wife, Rosalie (Rosalie Gascoigne is a renowned Australian sculptor).
After the war, Gascoigne continued his astronomical research, focusing on stellar evolution, the distance scale, and faint star photometry. He was also involved with the establishment of the Anglo-Australian Telescope at Siding Spring, New South Wales. In June 1996, he was awarded the Order of Australia for services to Australian astronomy.
(1) R. v.d.R. Woolley to Secretary, Department of Interior, 25 August 1941, Australian Archives, A 431/1, 52/201.