Groves and the English

General Leslie R. Groves, the larger-than-life  head of the Manhattan Project in World War II, doesn’t figure much in my book. He built the atom bomb and I’m not writing about the bomb. Inevitably, he crops up during my early story, but by and large I’m glad to leave him alone. (I did enjoy Robert Norris’s wonderful biography, Racing for the Bomb: General Leslie R. Groves, the Manhattan Project’s Indispensible Man.)

But here’s an historical aside that amuses me no end.

Chemist Les Cook figured in Canada’s early decades of nuclear power. In an obscure set of recollections, he recalls General Groves visiting the Chalk River laboratory in Canada, just before being deposed as “atomic czar” at the end of 1946:

Groves hoisted his huge frame to his feet and with a flickering half smile delivered a 20 min. Oration. Of all the fascinating happenings of the last four years which he could have discussed, and about which we had hoped to hear – not a word. I think we all hoped to go home with a feeling that all the stories we had heard were washed away in the frankness and honesty of a personal encounter, but it did not happen. His topic from beginning to end was his dislike of England and Englishmen.


Cook, Leslie G. 1987. The Birthpangs of CANDU: The Chalk River Story.

Photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers –, Public Domain,