Kings College London

Commander David J Dacam OBE, BSc, MSci, PhD

I spent the first four years of the war as an evacuee, returning to London in 1943 in time to experience ‘Hitler’s secret weapons’ - the V1 and V2, the doodle-bugs and the rockets.

I can still recall September 1st 1939, I was 9 then and attending a London junior school, going to school with my boxed gas-mask over my shoulder and a rucksack on my back, and with tearful parents to see us off as we boarded buses to Paddington and then a train to Dorchester.

I still have vivid memories of many wartime things and events; Chamberlain’s message to the country at 11 o’clock on September 3rd, for example, saying we were at war with Germany, dog fights overhead and collecting shrapnel, sharing a school with the local Dorchester children so that we attended for only half a day each, but most of all the freedom to explore and play in Roman Dorchester and Dorset shire country side after having only the streets of London to roam in for the first nine years of my life.

There were no formal 11 plus exams during the war and I was lucky enough in 1941 to get a school recommendation to my London County school which was also evacuated, to Winchester. So I was bundled into yet another bus and sent there to share the requisitioned vicarage at Owslebury with twenty other boys for two more years. Again I was so happy to have the freedom of a countryside life rather than the confines of London. Several of us got jobs on farms and we also had jobs at the vicarage, (I was the ‘duck-monitor’), where we created our own running track and spent lots of our spare time in various sports so that when the school returned to London in 1943 we were a very healthy and fit addition to the school.

I joined with the crowds who collected in London to celebrate VE day on May 8th 1945 and remained in that school until 1948 which is when I had my first association with King’s because it was they who offered me ‘provisional acceptance’ (to read physics), which was a requirement to avoid having to go straight from school at 18 into the services (or the mines) for national service. I did in fact opt to go to Manchester for my first degree and then into the Royal Navy where I stayed not just for the obligatory two years but for thirty-one years, most of the time as a meteorologist and military oceanographer, but for the last four year of it as the Principal of the Gibraltar and Dockyard Technical College.

On retiring I kept up my technical connection by working for engineering institutions for a further twenty years and then, as I’d spent so much of my life using mathematics, I decided to make an honest man of myself by gaining a maths qualification and so returned to Queen’s London where I obtained a maths Masters and at last got to take up my connection with King’s by moving there under Professor Margaret Brown for my PhD. 

David Decam  Harrold Beck
David Dacam   Jim Rickett   Harold Beck



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