Oral history of British science
Dommett, Roy (Part 15 of 19). An Oral History of British Science.
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Interviewee’s home, Fleet
Dommett, Roy, 1933- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Dommett, Marguerite, 1931- (speaker, female)
Part 15: Reflections on recollections over course of interview, better memory of earlier part of his career than later, reconstructing memory of later years from documents. Remarks on later parts of career: work not leading to major work because of the declining need for nuclear weapons, current Trident replacement debate, limitations of cruise missiles, ABM systems. [04:15] Comments on nature of nuclear weapons: considering them a waste of money; closeness of Iraq to a nuclear weapon in 1990s, with comparisons to historical situation regarding World War 2 German V-weapons. [09:10] Comments on Britain's need for nuclear deterrence: comparative costs of a large standing army making nuclear weapons a value option; counterbalance to American power; weapon scientists' conscious of Britain's world power status after decline of Empire and affinity with former Imperial possessions; seeing work as doing his job. [14:35] Comments on nature of special relationship and technology transfer: political considerations; American's interested in British technology and technology transfer JWOGS; independence of Britain's nuclear capabilities [cough], with remarks on Anglicisation of American designs requiring a very detailed understanding of issues due to differences of facilities; [20:35] differences in American and British engineering cultures making technology transfer not simple, with reference to British subsidiaries of Sperry and Airlogs; Ordnance Board problems with establishing trust in imported systems; unknown unknown problems, such as Nimrod delays; British contributions to America, [Closed between 23:42 - 24:02] anecdote about the quirks of a missile launch radar at Orford Ness; technology benefits to USA, with reference to varying capabilities of USA and UK, Aldermaston providing an independent opinion from American laboratories; nature of discussions between UK and USA; [29:55] tripartite technical cooperation panels, a useful collection of view points, with example of Canadians; Americans placing contracts in European countries for SDI to learn their perspective. [31:35][Entry of MD] Remarks on MD: Born 30th may 1931; mother nurse; father engineer, except for a period delivering plate glass; grew up in Sholing Southampton on Middle Road, near a dairy farm; Porchester Road Infant School and Middle Road Junior school; evacuation with sister to between Bournemouth and Boscombe, until they caught lice and were removed by mother; subsequent evacuation to Fiddington; [36:30] growing up nearby RD, who MD was probably not allowed to associate with as parents brought her up to be a young lady; MD's father stationed at Middle Wallop and Uphaven; moving around many schools before Grammar school. Remarks on evacuation: billeted in Fiddington vicarage with difficult vicar who would read women's post; [40:10] moving with mother to a number of locations, including Old Sarum and Laverstock; learning to sing and play violin at church; changes in area on a recent visit; not recognising father in uniform when he visited. Remarks on father's RAF career, escaped France in 1940 after a traumatic sinking, nightmares in later years at home. [46:20] Remarks on: father Alfred Reginald David "Pete" Dawson: darkish skin led to him being called a 'Dago'; Portuguese or Spanish background of MD, family name Bizerte; appearance and strict personality, with anecdotes about very proper behaviour on MDs 21st birthday and attitudes to tradespeople; [53:00] argument over MD with how she raised her children [54:25] Remarks on grandmother Betsy Barr, who lived in Isington. Description of detached childhood home and neighbourhood. Remarks on: mother Hilda Elizabeth Barr, nurse, worked at Boots, as did MD when she qualified as a pharmacist; friendly with Canon Waldegrave and brother Freddie. [59:35] Remarks on class: not being allowed to talk to some people; evacuees being disliked by locals; MD breaking wrist after ambush of local bullies; attitudes of locals toward outsiders, with anecdote about RD visiting a village. [1:03:05] Remarks on convent schools: story about strict attitudes of nuns; revisiting Fiddington recently. Remarks on: being strafed by a plane in North Walsingham; story about getting into trouble at North Walsingham and the poor treatment of children at North Walsingham home; different attitudes of past; MD attending 13 schools over wartime; transfer from La Sagesse convent school to Convent High Southampton. [1:09:45] Remarks on: Convent High School, attended until parents financial difficulties; moving to Co-educational grammar school, where she met RD; initially frightened of boys after convent schools; enjoyed music and singing.
Interview with rocket scientist and aeronautical engineer Roy Dommett