The formative reason behind my decision to study geology at university was my determination to go for a career as far as possible in the open air, a determination nurtured by natural history interests during my later school years and reinforced by my army experience of an office lifestyle.
When the war was effectively won and demobilisation on the horizon, I started engaging in correspondence to check on the available options. I ascertained that one was to join my old mentor, Professor King, at Cambridge as a post graduate student, and Prof King went so far as to sponsor my acceptance both by the university and by my brother Richard’s college, Peterhouse. However, in parallel with these quite complex negotiations at a distance, the possibility had arisen of entering directly into GSGB (the Geological Survey of Great Britain).
This came about because by coincidence Kingsley Dunham, a petrologist with GSGB, happened to live in Welwyn Garden City and attend the same Free Church as that in which my Mother was an Elder, and in fact I believe he was himself an Elder. Dunham was at that time effectively No 2 out of two in the GSGB Petrology Dept, although he was later to be appointed Chief Petrologist. My Mother put us in touch and I received a letter from him as early as 14 February 1945, outlining the position concerning possible employment in the Survey and the contemporary salary scales. A geologist aged 25 would start at £350 per annum, rising by increments of £25 pa to £650, after which there was a promotion bar to Senior Geologist, rising to £850 pa, although these scales were likely to be increased. Not only would GSGB be recruiting, but with my qualifications I would stand a good chance of an appointment subject to attending an Appointments Board on my return to the UK.
It was necessary to leave both options open until I was back home. The GSGB option was not a certainty, and moreover I was undecided as to which route to take. The Cambridge route was firmly agreed both by the university and by Peterhouse, and attracted me greatly, grants would have been available, my qualifications would have been added to, and I have always been keen on study and a civilised environment. On the other hand the GSGB lifestyle was exactly what I was looking for, and it became clear that possession of a post-graduate qualification would be irrelevant to a Survey career.
On the 7th August 1946 I departed from Addis Ababa en route…