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John A. Walters

(Civil and Environmental Engineering, 1942-44)
shares his memories of doodle bugs disrupting his exams

Having attended the Centenary reunion celebrations, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and having read issue 30, Summer 2007, of Imperial Matters I thought that you might be interested in my recollections of my final year at Imperial in 1944.

First of all my most vivid memory is of the final exams, which started in 6 June 1944 in the old drawing office. Not content with it being D-Day and all the excitement of that event, it was also the start of the’doodle bugs or V1s’.

Blackboard with mathematical symbolsDuring this first exam, which was maths I think, the air raid sirens went and when one of them approached the College the internal alarm from the spotter on the roof sounded and we had to take shelter under the heavy drawing desks.

Exam deskThis happened no less than three times and, by the second and third we realised that the invigilator’s desk was closed in the front, facing us,and therefore he could not see what we were up to.

What a chance to whisper about the questions! This type of interruption did not occur during any of the other exams.

Secondly, I remember the survey course undertaken during a vacation in Derbyshire under the tuition of Mr B. G. Manton, Senior Lecture, who wrote an article describing our work. In this article he described the use of the theodolite and said the “Angles were not accepted if the difference between the right and left face values exceeded one minute in value…”.

What a difference from the modern machines. I often used these while I was employed on the Beira railway in Mozambique in 1948.

  © 2007 Imperial College London

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