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*EXCERPTS FROM THE BOOK* 

 The relief of Jerusalem in 1917

‘Father recalled how he entered Jerusalem on 9th November with General Allenby and his fellow officers on foot in a triumphal procession, and afterwards when they remounted their horses outside the Jaffa Gate to ride away, they were mobbed by hundreds of cheering Jews…’

 


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 Tiger Hunts

‘In those days tiger hunting was a great social occasion when maharajahs, nawabs, important dignitaries and other guests would gather for a weeks hunting…with twenty to fifty trained elephants…In the 1920s, tigers abounded in spite of such large numbers being shot.  On one such hunt at that time, no less than one hundred and eighteen tigers were shot.’

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 WW1 . My uncle killed.

'My mother recalls how the the large framed picture of her brother Percy, taken in his military uniform just before he left for the battlefront, suddenly fell of the wall…".Mother’s face turned deathly white as she jumped up from her chair at the dinner table, shouting, ‘Its Percy! Percy has been killed !". A few days later the telegram arrived stating that Percy had been killed on the same day that his picture had fallen off the wall!'

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 Father’s heart is pierced by cupid’s arrow!

‘As she danced…this sparkling diamonte arrow in her hair caught the attention of a young officer who couldn’t take his eyes off her…With him it was love at first sight.'

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 Mother’s unpleasant, but amusing incident with father

‘When walking through crowds in the Calcutta market while keeping close to him, an Indian crept up behind her and pinched her bottom. As she shouted out in distress, father was so angry that his instinctive reaction was to grab the nearest man, believing him to be the culprit, and start hitting him. As he was doing this she was shouting, "Stop Arthur! It’s not that man, it’s that man!", pointing to the fleeing Indian.'

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 The Studebaker 

'In 1926, my father had the latest model Studebaker car shipped out from America and this photo shows mother with the ayah, waiting to take me out for a drive.'

 


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 The Victoria Memorial

'In the early mornings and late afternoons when it was cooler, we were dressed alike in pretty dresses with large taffeta bows in our hair, and taken out by nanny Bessie and Mary ayah to play with our friends in the beautiful gardens of St Paul’s Cathredal or the Victoria Memorial.'

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 Laughing hyenas

'One evening…returning from a ride, we were terrified when we saw many eyes glaring at us from the bushes. I think they were hyenas. We often heard them howling at night as they prowled around the house.'

 

 

 

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 The Darjeeling Railway

‘It was a fascinating journey… the views were magnificent and changed as we rounded each bend. In some places, where the train went so near to the edge, you looked over a sheer precipice.'

 

 

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 At Convent school in Darjeeling.

‘I hated these boring prayer sessions during which time I froze...as I was reciting these prayers, I discovered that as I lent back against the chest it made a creaking noise, so started rocking back and forth in rhythm with the chanting.
‘Which one of you is making that noise?
‘I was Miss Swanson’.
‘Hold your hands out in front of you. No, turn them over’.
As I did so, she raised the ruler high above her head and with a lightening stroke, brought the sharp edge down with full force across my knuckles… She ordered me back into line to continue prayers as though nothing had happened.'

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 The Great Earthquake of 1934

'As I recall this event, there is horrific coverage in the press and on Television of the earthquake of October 10th 2005, which has killed many thousands of people across a vast area of Pakistan, Kashmir and Afghanistan. It was about the same strength as the one that I experienced as a child, and I remember the terror it caused then.'  

‘It was my first experience of an earthquake and lasted eight minutes …. But it seemed much longer.’

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 The voyage to England

'…This was the first time that I was old enough to enter into all the excitement of the moment. Soon we were out of port and passing the great Gateway of India….I wondered how long it would be before I would see it again.'

 

 

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 A visit to St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall.

‘As the tide was out we decided to walk across the causeway to explore the castle. When we started on the return journey, the tide was still out, but when we were about a quarter of the way across, we were horrified to find the sea flowing in fast from around the island…we risked being drowned. A local fisherman …rowed out to rescue us.'

 

 

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 At boarding school in England

‘It wasn’t long before I found myself breaking the rules which landed me in trouble, with the inevitable punishments that followed…The more punishments I was subjected to, the more resentful and rebellious I became.'

‘I was overheard talking during a meal …and ordered to go to my dormitory to wait there. Eventually this mistress appeared carrying a plate with a slice of white bread on it and a small glass containing a yellowish liquid… it contained castor oil.’

‘Sundays were spent in a special way…"Thou shalt remember the Sabbath to keep it holy".  No playing of games, no undue hilarity or noise, no sewing or knitting… As I look back to those times I realize how meekly I accepted those prohibitions without question.'

'With no one to turn to when I found myself in trouble, I gradually became more self-assured and independent…. So instead of feeling homesick, I felt a sense of rebellion at having been left at school for so long.'

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 A Romance? Oh yes!

‘Being the first man that I had ever met, I had always remained aloof, but we had enjoyed each others company…I realized now that I was going to miss him… The last precious memory I have of him is as he bent down and kissed me tenderly on my forehead and whispered in my ear; "Please promise to come back after this war is over and marry me, because I do love you!"

 

 

             RAF Pilot Officer Denis Weston ************************************

 The Troopship

' As we walked up the ship’s gangplank, the soldiers that were lining the decks watching us, exploded into a loud chorus of wolf whistling and shouting, which I found very embarrassing and set me wondering if this was what we were to expect during the long voyage ahead. …The SS Orion was also carrying just a few civilian passengers to the Far East, and I believe I was the only teenage girl amongst them.’

 Deserted amongst U-boats!

‘There seemed to be a stir and rustle of excitement on board all around us, with passengers rushing hither and thither calling out to each other as the ship slowly turned around in the middle of the convoy and we found that we were steering back the way we had come, all alone ’

 A surprising incident!

‘I caught sight of Jock the sailor, sitting on a coil of rope with his head in his hands…I called to him and noticed his blue eyes were full of tears… He told me that he had fallen in love with me and was heartbroken because he couldn’t bear the thought of never seeing me again….I hoped he might soon forget me, but as time passed it proved that he didn’t.’  .

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 Strange noises in the night

'By the light of the moon I could see a horde of bat-like creatures hanging from the branches of a tree…It was like something out of a horror movie…This was India and just another of the many sounds and sights that I would have to get used to once again.'

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 An  unusual pet      

'Larry could be quite mischievous at times…Sometimes he crept up behind to butt me… At other times he could be very affectionate and cuddle up to you.'

 

 

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 A moonlight picnic

'When there was a full moon, we organized a moonlight picnic for the boys in the forces. I can still visualize that scene with the reflection of the moon in the lake and the sound of the cool breeze rustling the fronds of the palm trees….and those boys stretched out on the grassy banks by the water, listening to the music we were playing on our gramophone. The scene was quite magical, and they loved it.'

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 Calcutta bombed

'The Japanese launched an air raid …When the bombs started to fall we could hear the explosions and screams of these poor terrified people mingled with the frantic barking and howling of the many pariah dogs which roamed the streets as they raced about the city in panic.'

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 The Bengal famine

'The sight of the poor emaciated starving children crying beside their mothers was heartrending. The most horrendous sight of all was the vultures circling overhead and fighting over the corpses decomposing in the great heat. That terrible memory still grieves me because I was powerless to help them.'

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 Mother Teresa

'No one had ever shown that they cared for these tragic souls before….Those who criticized her motives should have been in Calcutta …to see the terrible sights that I witnessed.'

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 The Water Buffalo incident

‘I was appalled to see the driver of the cart shouting at two very large water buffaloes, as he lashed them savagely with his whip. …I grabbed his whip and threatened him with it. He was so startled that he ran away leaving me with his cart and the two buffaloes in the middle of the road.’

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 My mother’s thoughts on a visit to Kashmir.

"We were so happy to be in this tranquil place, that we just sat in our deck chairs until sunset and drank in all the beauties around us. This is another world altogether …The peace, stillness and wonder of it all. turns my thoughts to God the Creator, and I am thankful to Him that I am privileged to see it."

 

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 Trekking in Kashmir 

'We arose at sunrise and when I looked out, I was stunned to count no fewer than twenty two pack ponies that had been loaded with our gear…What a cavalcade we are as we ride at the head of this long line of ponies and men. As we did not have enough ponies to carry all our kit, we had to hire five more coolies to carry the extra loads.’

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 The view en route

'The view from the verandah …was so breathtaking that no description does justice to it. We just sat there in awe as we watched the glow of the sun changing the whole range of the high snow-capped mountains from pale gold to flaming orange, then to crimson, with the ever- changing colours of the sky which cast shadows down into the deep valleys.'

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 The engagement.

'…The bearer came to announce that the ‘Major sahib’ had arrived. Words cannot express my joy, relief and emotion as I rushed to see him….We spent some happy days together… One night I dressed up in an exotic evening gown, because Bill wanted to take me out …for a romantic candlelight dinner…Being so much in love, I remember just sitting there in silence holding his hand across the table and gazing at him through the candlelight…wondering if it was all just a dream.'

                                                                         

                                                                          Bill

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 Our visit to Kashmir together

'The last evening that Bill and I spent on the Pintail was memorable as we watched the sun go down behind the range of mountains that lined the lake, lighting up the peaks in red and gold….All along the banks of the island, the soft lights of the houseboats moored there, shimmered on the still surface of the water and, every now and then, it was broken as we heard the soft swish of a paddle as a shikara glided past.'

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 Another sad parting.

‘So once again we had to part, and each time it became harder because neither of us knew if we would ever see each other again. Everywhere people were suffering the same heartaches because of the war, which was a time for so many sad goodbyes.'

 

 

                                       Bill in the Burma jungle.

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 Bill rescues prisoners.

'As Bill and his fellow officer …approached the front gate of the prison, a rebel leant out of a window and shot at them. The bullet hit Jim…A fierce battle ensued before they managed to take over the jail and release all those people who had suffered so much for so long.'

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 Decoding secret ciphers.

'The job that I was given was in the Department of Intelligence….I found this very interesting and sometimes exciting, especially when I decoded a ' top secret' message on July 31st 1945, which read-- ‘A secret device is about to be used against the Japanese within one week, which it is believed will end the war in the Far East.’…That secret device was the atom bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th 1945 exactly a week after I decoded that message.'

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 Communal strife

‘Never in all its violent history had Calcutta known twenty-four hours as savage and packed with such human viciousness. There were as many as six thousand savagely mutilated corpses lying all over the city …the vultures found them and moved in to feast…This carnage became known as The Great Calcutta Killings and changed the course of India’s history.
Ali Jinnah …vowed that day. "We shall have India divided or we shall have India destroyed."'

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 Mohandas Gandhi          

'Gandhi had always had a dream of creating a modern India that would be a living example to Asia and the rest of the world…these ideals had become an embarrassment to Nehru and other members of the Congress Party who wanted the very things that Gandhi was opposed to.'

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 Partition of India

'Mountbatten had a vision together with Nehru and Gandhi, of a united India, but Jinnah had always wanted to create the state of Pakistan…To nearly all the British, including our family, the idea of partition was a horrifying thought that could only bring disaster to India and all of us who had made our home there. 

As soon as Independence was granted there were riots… The situation deteriorated so rapidly that the British feared for their lives….

My father felt that it was now time for us to say goodbye to India for good and set up home in England….It was a heartrending decision…'

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 A sad departure.

'I was also devastated and heartbroken at the thought of leaving my precious Bill behind and wondering if he would be killed, wounded or taken prisoner and whether I would ever see him again.

Each day I hoped for news of Bill, but there wasn’t any….'

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 Good news at last.

'…The long awaited letter from Bill arrived…his demobilization number had finally come up.'

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 The Wedding 

 

October 5th 1948

'As I entered the church to the sound of…‘Here Comes the Bride’ and saw Bill standing there at the alter, he turned to smile at me, and my heart skipped a beat. He looked so radiant and handsome.'