Friend and advisor to RCAF trainees

From May to the end of August, 1941, I was one of a group of RCAF trainees numbering one hundred and fifty housed at Acadian Camp . We were marched daily to and from the campus where we were placed in, the care of Dean Gage and Professor Volkoff and lab assistants for a program of mathematics and principles of electricity and radio . We had been recruited in response to the requirement in Britain and elsewhere in the war theatre for considerable numbers of radar mechanics . Most evenings were spent in the Library since the camp did not provide an environment particularly suitable for study.

In addition to his brilliantly clear and often humorous lectures, Walter Gage proved a friend and counselor to many of the men, putting in hours of his personal time circulating through the group during the study periods . At such times he rarely missed exchanging a greeting with each individual, dispensing help where needed, particularly in the cases of many who had little background in either math or radio. When, at the end of August, it was time to leave the campus for future postings and uncertainties of wartime, the parting was keenly felt by all concerned.

By the fall of 1945, a number of us found ourselves back at UBC availing ourselves of the veterans’ grants for further education . I shall always recall my surprise and pleasure when, after the four-year interval, I again ran into Walter Gage and was greeted with my Christian name . To many of the vets he continued as friend and advisor during succeeding years, and when he became later University President we all felt, I am certain, that the choice could not have been a wiser or happier one.

Joseph Rutland Billyeald