|To Canada and back
Realising that some of his contemporaries – such as Ralph Hooper – were more technically gifted, Gordon decided to move to Canada to take advantage of the opportunities on offer there. Unbeknown to him, Sydney Camm facilitated his move through his contacts at Avro in Canada. When Gordon realised he had made a mistake and decided to move back to Britain, Camm re-appointed him to a job at Hawkers – albeit in a different role.
After a four year – by 1952, having worked in the Design Office – improving my ability I must say. And, chaps like Ralph Hooper had by then joined the organisation but Ralph had been promoted to – well being promoted wouldn’t be quite right because he decided he’d do a couple of years in the D.O. so that he really understood the workings of the business. And he was moved into the Project Office where he should have been in the first place of course or could have been if he wanted.
And, I realised all these chaps were so much brighter than I was and the opportunities, I was told, in Canada were terrific. And I applied to go to Canada, got absolutely no reply at all. But what happened was we had a party and my wife was chatting to Sir Sydney Camm and made some comments about the fact that ‘Jeff’ wanted to go to- or Gordon as I am called – wanted to go to Canada and that seemed like a good idea, didn’t it? And he – and I didn’t find this out for years afterwards – wrote to the Chief Engineer of Avro, Canada and asked him to offer me a job. So I got a letter from this chap offering me a job.
So I sold my house and packed everything up to go to Canada, went to Canada in September and it was awful. There were twelve million people in Canada and the aircraft organisation factory, which was far bigger than anything a population level like that could possibly keep going. It just didn’t make sense. After all it is sitting next to America, so they don’t have to worry about defence. And they’d just designed the most appalling airplane- what was it called the F100 or something.
Anyway, I had no choice, realised I had made a mistake and came back. And to my amazement Sir Sydney Camm got in touch with me and invited me to go and see him. And I went to see him and to my even further amazement he offered me a job back. It could have been two reasons for that I thought at the time. They don’t want too many people haemorrhaging to Canada so perhaps the fact that I had such a rotten time might make other people think twice. ‘Cause you never know what you are going to think. Anyway, the bottom line was I got a letter from Sir Sydney offering me a job outside of the – well within the Design Office – but not as a draughtsman.
And we’ve got a copy of the letter which is in the archives here. And I came back and joined the company and was sent to Boscombe Down. But some of the directors didn’t like that idea at all so I was withdrawn from Boscombe Down the very same day and then of course they hadn’t a clue what to do with me.