Memoirs of a Boffin

Chapter 2: Secret Assignment (1939-1940)

The embryo research establishment I joined in Bawdsey was called simply the Bawdsey Research Station, because of its location in Bawdsey Manor on the Suffolk coast. Its name was later changed a couple of times, but it eventually acquired the title Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE). Because it became universally known by these initials for many years we might as well use them from the start. It was here that I became a “boffin”, a term the RAF coined for the scientists who worked and flew (and sometimes died) with them in the early years of the war.

Bawdsey Manor

In August 1939, the research group was still very small. It had been formed in Orfordness, on the Suffolk coast, a few miles to the north of Bawdsey, in the early 1930s, under a considerable cloak of secrecy. It was there, in 1935, that a handful of scientists, (the very first boffins in the world), headed by Watson-Watt, demonstrated to the Tizard Committee their ability to detect and measure the range of an aircraft up to a distance of 40 miles. This was accomplished by transmitting very short high-power pulses of high-frequency electromagnetic (‘radio’) waves, and by picking up the minute amount of energy reflected back from the aircraft to a sensitive receiver in the vicinity of the transmitter. The range of the aircraft could be obtained by measuring the time taken for each pulse to make the round trip from the transmitter to the aircraft and back. Radio waves travel a mile in about 5 millionths of a second (microseconds), so a round trip of 10 microseconds represents a range of one mile. The direction of the aircraft could be determined roughly by using the directional properties of the antenna. The time-base was displayed as a line on the face of a cathode-ray tube and the ‘echo’ as a deflection of the line, known as a ‘blip’. The range of a target aircraft was measured by the delay between the transmission of a pulse and its reception as displayed on the time-base. This was the basis for the first systems of Radio Direction Finding (RDF), or Radiolocation as it later came to be called, or “Radar” – the name that was universally adopted after the war.

Once the Tizard Committee had convinced the Cabinet of the potential of Radiolocation, events moved quickly. Money was made available to expand the research and, in May, 1936, the research group moved from Orfordness to Bawdsey Manor. This 250-acre property lay on the north bank of the estuary of the Deben River, just north of Felixstowe in Suffolk. It was owned by Sir Cuthbert Quilter, who sold it to the Government to house the new laboratories and provide space in which to construct the transmitting and receiving antenna towers which, at the frequencies used, needed to be at least 240 feet in height.

I arrived in Bawdsey on August 11th, 1939, a week after my 22nd birthday. The first man I met was A.B. Jones, the chief (and practically the only!) administrator at the time. I recall climbing the stairs of Bawdsey Manor with him to his office where I signed the Official Secrets Act and then, for the first time, learned what this secret research establishment was doing. And now I was a part of it thanks to the foresight of Professor Blackett. It was all tremendously exciting.

I obtained ‘digs’ in Felixtowe, which was reached by ferry across the Deben estuary, followed by a bus ride. I don’t remember much about those digs which, in the event, I only occupied for a couple of weeks. I was assigned to work with a Professor Oliphant, who was temporarily in charge of the IFF group. “IFF” stands for “Identification, Friend or Foe”. The idea was that an aircraft could identify itself to radar by picking up the radar pulse, amplifying it and sending it back to the originator on the same frequency. By interrupting the amplification at regular intervals, the echo of a friendly aircraft seen on the detecting screen would be caused to ‘flash’ (i.e. the blip would lengthen) repeatedly and could easily be recognized as friendly. IFF Mark I had already been designed to respond to the Chain Home (CH) radars on a frequency of about 23 MHz. The first airborne trials of IFF Mark I were just taking place when I joined TRE in August 1939. I was put to work on the design of IFF Mark II which was to respond on the frequencies of the Chain Home Low (CHL) radars (200 MHz) as well as the CH radars. IFF Mark II was the first airborne IFF set ever to go into regular service. We coined the word “transponder” to describe these and later devices. They were the forerunners of the Air Traffic Control and satellite transponders of years to come.

It was during these first days at Bawdsey Manor that I met some of the members of the small original pioneer RDF team who were in Orfordness and Bawdsey during those crucial few years before the war. Among them were ‘Skip’ Wilkins, Taffy Bowen [1], Hanbury Brown, D.H. Priest and a senior technician, R.H.A. (Nick) Carter. Hanbury Brown later captured the spirit of those early years in his inspiring book with the appropriate title of “Boffin” [2].

1. Author of Radar Days, Adam Hilger, 1987.

2. Boffin – a personal story of the early days of radar, radio astronomy and quantum optics, by R. Hanbury Brown; Adam Hilger, 1991.

Several scientists from universities and other sources had already joined the Bawdsey group. Notable among them was Dr. W.B. (Ben) Lewis from the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, who was to have a great influence on my future. During the first two weeks at Bawdsey I also met Sidney Jefferson (with whom we corresponded for 50 years in spite of being 3500 miles apart) and Harold Larnder, the father of Operational Research, who emigrated to Canada after the war, as we did, and there established the first operational research group in the Defence Research Board of Canada.

I also met Joe Airey – a remarkable, practical man, small in stature but tall in wisdom. Joe, one of the original Orfordness group, was responsible for workshops and transportation at TRE throughout the war. He soon became a friend and essential ally and I remember him with affection.

It very soon became clear that the government expected an early air attack on Bawdsey. The head of TRE from 1938 to 1945, A.P. Rowe (One Story of Radar by A.P. Rowe; Cambridge University Press, 1948) wrote, after the war:

“The first day of September, 1939 found Bawdsey Research Station with packing cases waiting alongside laboratories. All arrangements had been made for the journey north and only word from Headquarters was awaited. In our conceit, it was felt probable that the enemy would bomb the Manor in the first hours of the war and perhaps even before war was declared; but Bawdsey Manor still stands.”

At the end of August, after I had been there barely two weeks, we were suddenly told that we would have to pack up the establishment and leave Bawdsey within a day or so. We packed all the apparatus into crates and, on the night of September 1st. loaded them on a train in some rural station in pitch darkness. I am not sure I ever knew where it was, exactly. I just remember that we all stripped to the waist and worked like navvies for the whole of that night, until the train departed for Dundee.

My first boss, Professor Oliphant, drove three of us from Felixtowe to Dundee on Saturday the 2nd of September, 1939. This was not the Oliphant of Ogden Nash’s clever poem (The Face is Familiar, by Ogden Nash; J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1943), although his face is indeed still familiar in my memory after all these years. We stopped over at his home in North Berwick. It was there that we heard Neville Chamberlain announce that we were at war with Germany. It was Sunday morning, September 3rd, 1939.

We arrived in Dundee later that fateful day. The following morning, Rowe scolded Oliphant for not arriving earlier. However, in his book (see above), Rowe admits that he too was still en route to Dundee “in a little cottage in Northumberland” at the time of Chamberlain’s announcement. It was a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

We were to set up our new laboratories on one floor of the Teachers’ Training College in Dundee. The lower floor was occupied by the college. As it was peopled largely by eligible young women, it is not surprising that a number of TRE scientists married Scottish teachers. Other than that it was not very suitable accommodation for the research establishment on which the future conduct of the war would largely depend.

I found ‘digs’ at 93, The Nethergate, in a boarding house run by Mr. and Mrs. Myles. “Masterpiece Theatre” could hardly have presented a more intriguing set of characters than those I met at number 93. The entrance was through a ‘close’, or passage and an interior flight of some 56 stone steps to the front door. The Myles’s were likable, friendly, and very Scottish. You couldn’t help feeling they were rogues, but their dealings always seemed to be impeccably honest. 93, The Nethergate was not far from the Dundee Palais, where dances were held at least three times a week. Most of the members of the Palais dance band were in our digs. Andy Lothian, the conductor and leader was an excellent violinist. He was handsome with the quiet authority, integrity and charm that make a natural leader. His brother Jimmy was the pianist. He was a wild one and it took Andy all his time to keep Jimmy out of trouble. Sunday was our only day off, so I saw quite a bit of the band members on Sundays, when Andy and I would often play chess.

I was working very hard on IFF Mark II at the time. Work occupied all my waking (and some of my sleeping) hours, except for visiting the Palais two or three evenings a week. Hugh Tuckerman would come even though he was unable to dance. Hugh was a teacher who also lived at the Myles’s. He had been afflicted with polio and had a shriveled leg. He was a strong-willed, rugged character who only occasionally became bitter about his disability. He must have been a marvellous teacher. We shared a room for a time and often talked into the small hours on every subject under the sun. He had no idea what was going on at TRE and had the good sense not to ask.

In addition to Hugh Tuckerman, another friend – a colleague from TRE – Derek Ritson, also came to the Palais without any intention of dancing. Hugh and Derek would sit at the bar all evening, and as we passed we would buy them pints of draft beer. Derek, a dour Northumbrian , would only drink at his own speed and I remember him best with a line of some eight pints lined up in his methodical way, ready to be consumed. He would get through them all before the evening was over.

Derek Ritson and I used to conduct ground tests of IFF Mark II between equipment on the roof of the Teachers’ Training College and a hook-up in a van parked at Broughty Ferry, along the north bank of the Tay. By this time Oliphant had disappeared and F.C. (Freddie) Williams was in charge of IFF, inter alia. He had been with Moullin, on the staff of the Engineering Department at Manchester University while I was an undergraduate in the Physics Department. Like Moullin, he was already well known for his brilliant work on circuit noise. Also, like Moullin, he was a heavy, chain smoker. He was to die of lung cancer soon after he was knighted in 1976.

F.C. was to have a great influence on me over the next two or three years. As we were both Lancastrians, whenever he could get away for the weekend he would offer me a lift to my parents’ home in Great Harwood on his way from Dundee to Manchester so we quickly got to know each other very well. It was, perhaps, through this that I found myself being given more and more responsibility for the airborne IFF transponder, even at the Mark II stage. The Mark II production was in Manchester, at Ferranti Ltd, so it worked out rather well for both of us.

In order to identify itself to radar, every aircraft would have to have not only an IFF set (transponder), but a suitable antenna. As we were then dealing with wavelengths of 13 metres or so, the aircraft antenna had to be a compromise – a cut and try sort of thing of dimensions comparable to those of the aircraft itself. A small, compact antenna was out of the question because it would not collect enough energy from the radar signal. We first used an airfield at Scone, near Perth and did some of the early antenna experiments on a Fairey Battle. The Battle was a single-engined two-seater aircraft (fore and aft seating) and looked something like an overgrown Hurricane fighter.

I drilled holes in the tailplane, put bolts through and connected wires which went forward to the mid-section of the fuselage to form a sort of triangle with the tailplane itself. I flew in the Battle to ensure that the IFF transponder was operating correctly and to measure the received strength of the irradiating radar pulse at various ranges and in various orientations. It was my first flight ever; it was to start a love-hate relationship with aircraft that has dogged me all my life, as I reckon I have by now spent the equivalent of several months, 24 hours a day, off the ground.

Fairey Battle

Scone airfield had no runway and neither fuelling nor service facilities. I remember the take-off from Scone in a Hampden bomber aircraft one day to do an IFF flight test over the North Sea, in conjunction with the radar station at Douglas Wood, near Dundee. The pilot was an RAF officer called Jacklin. He was about 19 years old but already held quite a senior rank and had competence and leadership qualities to match. They were sorely tested on this flight. The aircraft was low on fuel, so he had to fly it straight to Leuchars, a few miles away, to refuel, before the trial. We rumbled over the grass at Scone and took to the air. We were still below 1000 ft. with a few miles to go and already we were running out of fuel. The starboard engine began to cough. Jacklin ordered us to standby to bale out. I was seated in the lower gun blister, under the fuselage, facing aft, with my hand on the jettison lever. While I was screwing up the nerve to turn it, Jacklin countermanded the order saying that we were too low and he was going to try to fly it in. By this time the port engine was also spluttering. Jacklin was braced in his seat, fighting the aircraft into the direction of the Leuchars runway. We just cleared the fence at a steep angle, the lower wingtip almost brushing it. Jacklin managed to wrench the aircraft level and bang it down on the runway, just as number two finally died. We had to be towed in and refuelled and we were on our way to the test within half an hour. It transpired that the fuel gauges were faulty. Soon after that we moved to Leuchars near St. Andrews for all our flying.

Hampden Bomber

Just before Christmas 1939, I had to go to Pembroke Dock at the extreme South-west corner of Wales to prototype the huge Sunderland 4-engined flying boat for IFF. I arrived late at night and I remember literally feeling my way down the pitch-black unfamiliar street of the small town to find my digs. I rose early and was delighted to be able to buy the day’s Manchester Guardian in one of the most remote areas of the British Isles at 7-30 am. I reflected at the time that wartime Britain had got at least one of its priorities right.

As usual, I was alone on the job; we lacked the personnel to allow the luxury of assistants or technicians. I was taken out to a Sunderland riding at anchor about a mile offshore. There were many others, all turned into the wind. The RAF Coastal Command launch dropped me off saying they would pick me up later in the day when they saw my signal. I completed the job by mid-afternoon. It was a bit nauseating, riding at anchor, now that the wind had changed and the sea was lively. Besides, I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. So I climbed up to the cockpit, wielding an Aldis Lamp, and sighted on the jetty for the RAF launches. Or tried to. Because of the change of wind, the other Sunderlands had turned round at anchor like mine, and were effectively blocking my view of a wide stretch of shoreline. I spent the next three or four hours watching launches make pickups from other Sunderlands while I was trying to attract attention. It was not until well after dark that a launch saw a glint of light from my direction and finally picked me up. I enjoyed a huge dinner that evening.

Short Sunderland of the RAF

That Sunderland was to fly from Pembroke Dock to Calshot in the Solent on Christmas Eve. I believe the Captain lived in Southampton and looked forward to Christmas at home. I wanted to get home to Lancashire for Christmas, which was easier by rail from Southampton than from Pembroke Dock. So I cadged a lift on the Sunderland. The weather was foul and we flew down the West coast at no more than 1000 feet. I was downstairs in the ward room feeling queasier and queasier. The second pilot happened to drop in and, seeing that I was slightly green, suggested I take his seat up front, while he kipped down. I did so and, once installed, the pilot suggested I would feel better if I got the feel of the controls. Within a few minutes I had forgotten the queasiness and was able to keep the craft on course at the specified altitude quite comfortably until we were ready to descend towards Southampton. It was the first time I had been allowed to get the feel of the controls of a large aircraft and it was an exciting experience.

We landed on the Solent and were ferried to shore in an RAF launch. I took the first train from Southampton to Manchester, then the bus to Great Harwood. The radio shop in the town centre in which my parents lived and where I had worked through grammar school and university was locked and there was no sign of anyone at home. It was getting late on Christmas eve and I did not relish the idea of spending Christmas alone in an empty house. I made several wrong guesses as to where my parents had gone, but, eventually, by ringing the police in Halifax, I found that my parents were staying with a cousin there – something they had never done before. So I crossed the Yorkshire moors by bus, late on Christmas eve, to spend my first wartime Christmas in Yorkshire.

Back in Dundee, after Christmas, I continued to prototype different types of aircraft for IFF. “Prototype” is not a great verb but we used it to describe the marrying of a new system to a particular type of aircraft. That involved designing an IFF antenna to suit the aircraft, deciding where to install the IFF transponder in the body of the aircraft and the control unit in the cockpit; then carrying out the installation and flight testing the result against the nearest operational radar. At that time our flying was mostly done on aircraft borrowed from operational units. Later, TRE developed a Test Flight Unit of its own, which grew steadily throughout the war to include a very large number of military aircraft, of many types.

The purpose of these flight tests was twofold. Primarily they served to confirm that features of the airborne equipment conceived and tested in the laboratory performed as expected during actual operation. Secondly they served to expose the equipment to experienced air crews and to radar operators on the ground who could be relied upon to give their frank criticism from an operational point of view.

Working with operational aircraft and pilots had its own peculiar qualities. When we borrowed a Spitfire, it arrived with a flourish in a low roll and an archetypal fighter pilot got out. He refused to let anyone else fly the aircraft and refused to let us do anything to it without his participation. So it was that we drilled holes in the tail, stuck bolts through (he wielded the wrench) and mounted the IFF unit amidships. We were all worried about the shift in balance, but there was no time for all the bureaucratic complexity of consulting the designers or bringing in aeronautical engineers. So the pilot, who claimed to know the exact location of the centre of balance, took out the lead ballast, weighed it, calculated moments about the centre, allowing for the weight of our ‘box’, took a hacksaw and he cut a slice off the lead weight. Once it was replaced he took the Spitfire up for a test flight and pronounced it perfect.

After lunch the pilot took his Spitfire up again to show it off to of some of the local RAF types (there were no Spitfires around Leuchars). He ended his show of aerobatics with a fierce loop that he only just pulled out of in time. I met him as he climbed out of the cockpit. “That was a tight one” he said “it must have been 7g the way it felt.” I remarked that the Spitfire had evidently felt the same way, pointing to a crease in the stressed skin behind the cockpit. He had almost broken its back. I believe it was a write-off.

About that time, which was before the fall of France, we undertook to prototype a couple of types of French aircraft for IFF – the Potez 63, two-seater fighter and the Liore bomber. These arrived at Leuchars piloted by unilingual French test pilots. We installed IFF antennas on both aircraft and mounted the cradles for the IFF transponder. The first test was on the Potez 63, a twin-engined fighter with high wing loading, i.e. a high take-off and landing speed. We cruised out over the North Sea in a pattern that was becoming routine, completed the tests and turned for home.

By this time it was very misty and we could only see a very limited circle below us. We flew on and on until time said we were well past our landfall on the coast of Fife; but we were still over water. The pilot reduced height a little and we both peered through the murk for a sight of land. Suddenly a bunch of girders flashed underneath us; we had flown down the centre of the Firth of Forth and had just missed hitting the Forth Bridge. So we climbed and turned north for Leuchars.

The excitement was not over. Fortunately, at Leuchars, the weather was relatively clear. Nevertheless, instead of landing, the pilot circled the airfield about six times, working vigorously in the cockpit all the time. I was seated directly behind him in the aft cockpit of the two-seater and I assumed that he was pumping up the hydraulic system. He turned and shouted something in French against the buffeting noise of the slipstream, which only those who have flown in similar types of aircraft will appreciate. I guessed that he was trying to tell me that he couldn’t get the wing flaps (air brakes) out, (neither, in the event, power to the wheel brakes), because of a fault in the hydraulic system. So I shouted ‘flaps?’ and he repeated “oui, flaps, flaps, flaps” but indicated that he was going to attempt a landing. I don’t remember much fear, but I remembered his mentioning the very high wing-loading of the Potez 63 before we took off. It was no comfort to me that he had said that the stalling speed was about 245 km/h, without flaps.

So we came in to land at more than 250 km/h without flaps or wheel brakes. Leuchars airfield was on the coast and the landing path at that time came in over the sea and the runway headed for the sea at the other end.

Potez 63

The airfield was being upgraded and, in particular, new airfield buildings and control tower were under construction at the opposite end of the runway from the old ones. We approached the runway like a bullet, but the pilot set the Potez 63 down more like a feather and right on the marker. Our colleagues who were standing near the buildings at the beginning of the runway, saw us flash past and disappear along the runway. It was obvious that we would still be doing at least 100 km/h, without brakes, when we headed into the sea at the other end of the runway, so I braced myself for a bath (I couldn’t swim). But the Capitaine had other ideas; perhaps he couldn’t swim either. He ground-looped the aircraft just before we ran out of runway, turning off to the right towards the new hangar under construction. We hit a pile of constructional material. I can still see the steel beam being flipped up like a piece of Meccano, slicing through the fuselage a couple of feet behind me and chopping off the tail section. The wheels collapsed and the props curled up and we slid over a concrete floor into the middle of the new hangar, where we thankfully came to rest.

In spite of a bump on the knee, I got out pretty smartly, fearing fire. The pilot was a bit slower as he was a little dazed by a bump on the head. However, within a couple of minutes we limped down the runway in our Sidcot (flying) suits, carrying our ‘chutes’ and I carrying also the precious 35-pound prototype IFF transponder. We were very glad to see a Land Rover come over the horizon to collect us. But we couldn’t waste time. We drove straight to the Liore bomber, where I clipped in the IFF transponder and we took off (with the other French pilot at the controls) within 15 minutes for another test flight.

It was about this time that I was first flown in a Skua dive bomber.

Skua Dive Bomber

I had made one abortive attempt to make the IFF tests on this type of aircraft earlier. On that occasion, I was flown to Wick in the North of Scotland in an Anson. The Skua was ready for a flight in the general direction of the Orkneys. The weather was perfectly foul, with heavy cloud and Scotch mist which always seems to wet everything from the inside. I clambered into the aft cockpit and the mechanics lifted the canopy into place over my head and proceeded to bolt it down. This didn’t look like much fun to me, sitting there wondering what I would do if I had to bail out. (I think I learned later that the Skua canopy had explosive bolts). Fortunately, on that occasion the pilot decided the weather was too bad and cancelled the exercise. So the Skua tests were transferred to Leuchars.

One of our pilots (I don’t remember which) took me up on a particularly successful test in a Skua, using the coastal CH (Chain Home) radar at Douglas Wood, north of Dundee. He was so exuberant when I told him that all had gone so well, that he decided to make a low pass on Douglas Wood. Like all CH Stations, Douglas Wood had four 240’ wooden towers and four 350’ steel towers in a row. The steel towers had cantilevered platforms, like shelves sticking out from each side at the 100’ and 250’ levels, with the outer edges of the platforms on adjacent towers quite close together. We dived towards the towers, banked and went between two of the towers between the platforms. From my point of view the lattice of steel girders sweeping across my field of vision were spectacular, to say the least.

CH Transmitter Towers

On landing, the pilot was told to report to Flight Commander Rayment. I went with him. Rayment tore him off a strip (to use RAF slang) then dismissed him with a caution. But before we reached the door Rayment said: “Oh, by the way, they’re putting up a curtain array between those two towers tomorrow.” A curtain array consists of a veritable spider’s web of heavy wire which, had it already been there, would have cut our aircraft to ribbons. Moreover it would have been impossible to see it until it was too late. The pilot was suitably chastened. I just shook a little.

Incidents like this were not uncommon. Perhaps it was not surprising, as we were all working near the limits of our capabilities and endurance and enjoyed a little light relief. In the early days at Leuchars, I designed the IFF installation for a Hudson bomber and arranged a flight test from Leuchars. As we took off to fly over the North Sea we were treated to the sight of some six or seven carcasses of Hudsons in the fields of Fife. Apparently the aircraft had a special, small fuel tank containing high-octane fuel for the take-off. The pilot had to switch manually to the main tank within, I think 90 seconds after take-off. Perhaps the first Hudsons destined for the RAF arrived without instruction manuals.

Our IFF trials were usually completed on the outward leg of the flight and while circling over the most distant point from the radar at which we could still receive the radar signal (usually about 60 miles). I could relax on the return flight.

Lockheed Hudson

The Hudson was luxurious compared with some of the military aircraft and I would lie on the cot and the pilot would set the aircraft to fly on ‘George’, the automatic pilot. On one trip, with a USAF crew, I dropped off to sleep and was awakened by a lot of shouting. My first instinct was to look ahead to the cockpit. It was empty. The Captain and the two crew members were sitting on the floor of this roomy aircraft playing ‘craps’, while ‘George’ (the autopilot) looked after the flying. As soon as they saw that I was awake, the Captain was back at the controls. The only other time I slept on a test flight was in an Anson with a pilot, no crew and no ‘George’. I was wakened by a tap on the shoulder. Again I looked ahead at the cockpit. No pilot. He was at my side saying ” For God’s sake take over for a minute – I have to have a pee” and he headed for the funnel near the tail which was the nearest the Anson had to toilet facilities. I struggled into the pilot’s seat, taking great care not to touch the controls. By the time he returned I was getting a tentative feel of the thing. I had time to reflect that C.P. Snow and Watson-Watt had hardly prepared me for this sort of thing when they interviewed me for the job.

While we were in Dundee, over the winter of 1939-40, new accommodation was being built for us on the South coast of England, near Swanage, in Dorset. We moved there on the 5th. of May, 1940. We were sorry to leave Dundee, because of the friends we had made there, but we were happy at the prospect of having an establishment of our own.

We spent the last night in Dundee at the Palais. It was the habit of the band not to break for a rest as a whole, but to allow the players to ‘take five’ individually in rotation. That night, as each one arrived at the bar Hugh Tuckerman (my polio-afflicted roommate) and I bought him a drink. I nursed my drinks but, even so, for the first and only time in my life I almost became tight. I hate to lose coordination and I become irritable rather than merry if I have even one drink too many. Hugh, on the other hand had no such inhibitions. He welcomed the occasional chance to drown the pain of his affliction. After we had said our farewells, Andy Lothian and I escorted Hugh the hundred yards or so back to the digs. He was fiercely independent when he was drunk and insisted on climbing the stairs of the close without assistance. He literally crawled up them, dragging his withered leg, with its heavy boot, behind him while relieving his feelings, as he often did, by shouting “damn and blast this bloody leg.” It helped him a lot and he was grateful that we never pitied him. He was a true philosopher and a very strong and wise man. Much to my regret, I never saw him again after we left Dundee. Once we had moved to Swanage, we were so preoccupied with fighting the radar war 24 hours a day that our Dundee friendships became another casualty of war.