With this background David went to Glasgow University where he started an Arts course; although the beginning of the war was due to intervene. At University David joined the recently formed Mountaineering Club, reflecting and perhaps reinforcing his interest in the outdoors.
In due course David was called up to the REME and served in both Europe and East Africa. His fluency in French proved a bonus to his operations and he acted as virtual unit interpreter: later in non-French speaking areas he was also able to converse with the local priest in Latin! David’s adjutant was Robert Eden, a future geological colleague, and it is possible that their acquaintance at this time first steered David towards geology.