Week 2 – First Year @ RMC – Extracts from 1949 Diary: 3069 W. A. McColl

“We have evidence that in recent weeks an atomic explosion occurred in the USSR,” President Truman announces September 23.

A specially modified U.S. B-29 flying off Siberia’s Kamchatka Peninsula has picked up traces of microscopic particles that contained disintegrating nuclei, and scientists have determined that the invisible grains of matter caught in the plane’s sniffer were part of a highly radioactive, eastward-drifting cloud produced by a device exploded August 29 in a desert about 100 miles south of Semipalatinsk.

Physicist Igor V. Kurchatov, now 47, has headed the Soviet team that developed the Soviet bomb (see 1945); his team includes chiefly Andrei Dmitriyevich Sakharov, 28, who won a doctorate at age 26, and 1925 German Nobel laureate Gustav Hertz, 62, whose uncle Heinrich Hertz pioneered the wireless in 1887.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reacts to news of the Soviet nuclear explosion by advancing the hands of its “Doomsday Clock” from 7 minutes before midnight to 3 minutes.

Week 2 at RMC for 3069 W. A. McColl

Sept. 19 -1949: Classes started today and I like the system they have for French and maths. More drill for the inspection.

Sept. 20 – 1949: We had our first English lecture and our first chem lecture. Col. Sawyer is going to be a swell prof I think. The English prof is a comical cuss.

Sept. 22 – 1949: Dr. Preston gave us our first History lecture – seems to be a meek little guy, funny little voice. We raced no.2 Sqn in the war canoe and won. Boy were we beat after that! Oh my aching arms.

Sept. 23 – 1949: RCAF band arrived for the dress rehearsal and we did the whole show in the rain. The prize winners even practiced giving their “prizes” to a recruit. Got my glasses broken playing basketball.

Sept. 24 – 1949: The parade went off perfectly. A senior dropped his rifle (Mackay) in the hollow square formation. Never saw so much brass and gold braid before in my life. Ex-cadets are roaming all over the grounds. We won the war canoe race by about 6” and crashed into the other canoe. The water was pretty calm and cold – so Goldie found out. Photographers all over the place. Coggins said our turn out could have been a lot worse. The Field Marshall said it was excellent. We had a swell dinner – suppose we’ll starve next week.

Sept. 25 – 1949: The Ex-Cadet parade went off very well and the memorial service was pretty grand. I heard Andy’s dad’s name read off. One of the spectators dropped dead during the service and an ambulance rolled up but we didn’t know about ‘til afterwards. Steve Routon showed up and I went sailing in an Admiralty dinghy with Fritz MacDougall. Well of a lot of fun!

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Next – Week 3


  • 3469 Richard D Noble

    September 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Bill:
    This made for enjoyable reading. We’ll have to communicate better in the future.
    FWIIW, Bill and I have been playing bridge together at least once every month for the past many years.
    Bill, I see that your cadet number is exactly 400 earlier than mine.
    3469 Dick Noble