Correspondence Part 6
Date: March 1, 2007
The latest very welcome bulletin on Rev Arthur Sanford's recovery, quoted below, that properly disengages us in this WebPage from posting any more follow-up messages here, comes from his daughter, Connie. Since it has already been broadcast to the scores of his Bible Study correspondents worldwide, we repeat it here for the benefit of our dear readers to close this episode of concern for the welfare of one of the few living Father-Figures of that era who knew most of us then and could even recognise us today.
Pastor Arthur Sanford, an octogenarian presently residing in California, USA, only recently transferred his church membership, in an act of personal dedication by himself and his wife, to the remote Union Church in Kharagpur, the home of his fondest memories of a most fruitful ministry in the India of our memories, to which so many of us can attest, of the 1940s and early 1950s.
From Connie on Wednesday, February 28 at 1:48 her time
Dad asked me to send an update for him. He's up and around now, for short periods of time. Even though he's anxious to get back to his Villa room, he tires easily, so the nurses are saying a few more days in full care. He's been able to go to the dining room for two meals this week, and has enjoyed seeing friends and eating wtih Mom again. We are all telling him to go slow and let others do the things for him and for Mom that he was used to doing himself. He's finding that he needs to let others do for him.....a good lesson before he's on his own again!!
Dad had thought he would be back at his writing this afternoon, but being at the computer still tires him. So I think it will be a couple of weeks before he sends out another Bible study.
We have all greatly appreciated your prayers, and would continue to ask for them as Dad works on "getting well." Thank you for your support.
Greetings and THANK YOU from Art!
Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007
Last October, under the heading "A Rarity of an old Voice Recording circa 1935 Surfaces ," we mentioned that a reader had found two old voice recordings sent to Kharagpur in 1936. "How wonderful it would be," we thought, " if we could bring these to life for the benefit of all our readers." Now, thanks to some technical assistance found in Leeds, England, this has been accomplished. Liz and Judy Malins had said:
"Dear Stephen, It is great that you may be able to help us with these unusual voice records. We have two 5" diameter aluminium discs and three small wooden needles. The voice records came from a company called Voice Records Ltd. Of 5-6 Argyll Street (Oxford Circus), London, W1. It appears that on the reverse side there is an advertising message, and there is a British patent number 412509 (Foreign Patents Pending). The records were sent from UK to India in 1935 and 1936, presumably Christmas messages to my father's parents. The discs appear somewhat battered and scratched, so we have no idea whether we will be able to retrieve anything."
The Original envelope addressed to Kharagpur
Record sheath with wooden needles
In reply to our enquiry, the British Library Sound Archive in London replied:
"Dear Mr Baxter, Your enquiry has been passed to me by the EMI Archive Trust. The discs you describe were relatively common in the 1930s, as a means of making one-off instantaneous recordings. The recording itself is embossed in the grooves, and while they could be replayed using a conventional modern record player equipped to play 78 rpm discs, it would be far more advisable to have this done by a specialist. I can advise you of a freelance specialist who might carry this out. Please feel free to contact us again if we can help further."
The recordings were duly reprocessed and re-recorded on CDs last month and were forwarded to us with the following message:
For the benefit of our readers whose equipment may not be able to render a clear soundtrack, we have included transcriptions as follows:
"Dear Corinne. My sister Judy Issitt and I found these voice recordings which were in my Mum's possession and had wooden needles (styluses). We had no idea what they contained, just that they were from my father to his parents - dated and addressed to Bungalow #6, Kharagpur.
"They were written from my father Robert Nuttall Malins to his parents: Robert Christy Malins and Dorothy Hesther Malins (née Nuttall) who were still in India along with his brother Stanley Malins. My Dad had gone from India to St. Barts, London, to begin his medical training to become a doctor. This was prior to his mother and brother going over to the UK. His father stayed in India and died there in Khargpur in 1954. We are unsure as to why he did not go to England permanently with the rest of the family. Stanley later on followed but was killed in a motor cycle accident at the age of 20 in Derbyshire.
"I feel as if my dad was homesick for India and his family, and his spoken voice was much different from that which my sister and I remember. He sounds different, very sort of upper crust and with an Indian tone to it.
"We are truly indebted to your husband, Stephen Baxter, for making the contact with Will Prentice of the British Library who put us in contact with the specialist, Paul Haden of Leeds, who filtered, restored and digitized these recordings onto CD for us to hear. We do believe they were recorded in 1935 and 1936 respectively. We have no objections to your using either of these, both or either of the adverts.
"Best wishes Stephen and Corinne. Liz and Judy Malins"
Transcript #1: (Click "Message #1 to hear it.) Message #1:
"Hello, hello, this is Rob calling. How are you? I bet you are surprised to hear me aren't you? Well, I happened to be at Radio Olympia and I saw this new machine here where you can make a spoken letter, so of course I couldn't resist saying a few words to you. You must forgive me for not writing this Saturday, but truly I haven't had time. Anyway this is much better than writing isn't it? I want you to send me a spoken letter too if possible. These machines are going to be all over the place now. How do I sound? You recognize my voice don't you? If I had a good singing voice I'd sing you a little song, then you could entertain the whole family with it.
"By the way, how are darling Mum and Dad? I haven't had time to say much more so, as a BBC announcer would say, ‘This is Daventry on GSF F for fortune closing down.' Cheerio, Mum."
Transcript #2: (Click "Message #2 to hear it.) Message #2:"Hello, Hello. This is Rob sending Christmas and New year greetings to darling Mum, Gran, Dad and Stan."There are so many, many trails o'er which we often roam,
The best of all would be that trail, the one that leads to home.
So keep a smile from when you're happy, for the day you're sad
And when the great big world seems empty, recall joys we've had
And so as Christmas time returns, I wish that I could see
The dear old home and those I love, just as they used to be.
"Here's to a jolly good Christmas and a better New Year. I hope all are keeping well and are quite okay. All the best and a jolly good time to you all. God bless you all."
As a bonus, the recordings also contained some contemporary advertisements. While quaint by today's standards, they do reflect the character of life and style of speech in those distant times of our era in pre-war Kharafpur. I think you will agree that they do not need any transcription by us. For our next challenge we look forward to including such post-war amateur movies as was suggested by the Sanford family!Advertisement #1: (Click "Ad #1" to hear it.) Ad #1:
My best wishes and many kind thoughts for Easter 2007,
Corinne Baxter née Crampton
It was a trip down memory lane for many as the magnificent Beyer-Garratt chugged out of its scrap shed on Sunday after almost 36 years.
Named after its British discoverer, Herbert William Garratt, the steam locomotive, popularly known as the Black Beauty, was given a fresh lease of life by a team of engineers and technicians commissioned by the South Eastern Railway (SER) authorities.
The locomotive, which rewrote history as it chugged out of Kharagpur for Midnapore on Sunday morning, "Would soon be carrying tourists from Shalimar to Digha," said a senior divisional manager of Kharagpur.
The few fortunate passengers on board were visibly glad at this unprecedented move of the SER authorities. They said the railway had given the modern-day cognoscenti a golden opportunity to experience the Goliath for themselves.
As the whistle blew again, after almost four decades, the Black Beauty belched out clouds of smoke and rolled out of platform number 3 of Kharagpur railway station. With every turn of its wheels, an enthusiastic: crowd, jostling for space on the world's longest platform, waved at the fortunate few occupying the passengers' seats. While veterans relived the glory of the Raj days, for youngsters it was a peek into the past. "The moment may have been temporary, but the memories will be forever," they said.
The Garratt's successful run in India started in 1927 with the then Bengal-Nagpur Railway (BNR). At a time when the electric engine was in its infancy, the Black Beauty was a force to be reckoned with among steam engine manufacturers. This was best suited for Asian countries and was a wonder on Indian tracks. Used for hauling coal and steel, the Carratts were last used in 1971.
Some time ago, Peter Nailer sent me a copy of an old WEBpage of his together with his permission to publish it here. At the time I had little experience in handling his format, but now I can publish it here for all who may have Microsoft Word installed.
Since we have now translated his contribution below for this WebPage, and have improved the resolution of most images, We have discontinued access to his Word Doc version in the interest of saving bandwidth, but we will honour requests for it upon your request using the "CLICK HERE to send me a message, memory, or comment" button.
Most of the pictures are smaller and of lower definition than we would normally present, but the background Peter provides is of great interest and justifies our publishing it just as presented. For unknown reasons Peter has not been able to furnish images of greater clarity, but we remain hopeful that he will eventually be able to upgrade them for us all.
TRANSLATION OF PETER NAILER'S "Word" DOCUMENT FOR CORINNE'S WebPage: Publisher's Note
Several of our readers have mentioned some difficulty in accessing and displaying Peter Nailer's document that was attached in the previous article. Mac computer owners were particularly effected, and almost universally, the pictures were rendered unsatisfactorily.
Accordingly we have attempted a complete re-editing exercise so that it can be displayed here without recourse to external access. We have paid particular attention to the pictures which, in most instances, have been enhanced to the limit of our system, especially in the cases of those containing faces that we all want to see in the finest detail attainable. We have used the best sources available to us in the absence of the originals, so some of them continue to disappoint us. Nevertheless, even though some liberties have been taken, we have tried to retain the character of the original ducument as Peter's own testimonial.
We remain hopeful that others will be encourage by this to emulate him in sending us similar testimonials.
O you shaggy-headed banyan tree standing on the bank of the pond; have you forgotten the little
child like the birds that have rested in your branches and left you?
from the poem “The Crescent Moon” by Rabindranath Tagore
This site has been set up to store the many happy, if brief, memories of the people who called ”Good old, gay old KGP” home. Like the birds in Tagore’s poem they left her for many parts of the world, but unlike the birds, there is still a part of their heart that fondly remembers this former nondescript little railway town in West Bengal. It is important that this bit of history is not lost. Future generations may ask the question, “What was it like in those days?” Maybe they will find some answers to their questions here.
Peter Nailer January 2005
From what I can determine the railway colony was established around 1900. It was probably named Khargpur after the village and its 150-year-old Khargeswar temple that occupied the land to the north of the current Calcutta – Nagpur line. The Railway High School was founded on 13th November 1899.
I haven’t been able to determine what “ Khargpur” means in Bengali or Hindi, nor why the spelling differed from the current version; Kharagpur. The closest that I can get is that “Kharg” means sword. With “pur” meaning town. To confuse matters the railway company spelt it Khargpur while the Municipality spelt it Kharagpur.
With 1947 came a new era for India and Kharagpur. Many of the old Anglo Indian and European families, who had lived there from the town’s beginnings, left India forever. The town also changed from being just a railway junction to a major industrial and educational centre with its world famous Indian Institute of Technology at Hijli.
The colours of the BNR were Maroon & Gold. The badge featured the Royal Bengal Tiger and the King Cobra both native to Bengal.
Kharagpur was a railway town and owed its growth to the Bengal Nagpur Railway. From what I can determine, the Company was formed in London 1887. Around 1898 – 1899 the Company constructed the line through Khargpur to Nagpur, and in 1901 the branch line to Midnapore was built . When the line was connected to Madras. Khargpur became Khargpur Junction.
Being a junction, the Company built a Loco Shed with repair facilities for its steam engines. In those days Companies provided the work and also the accommodation for their employees. I have not been able to determine the date, but I am assuming that the company acquired the land south of Khargpur and the main line and laid out the regular pattern of the streets of the new town from about 1900 onwards.
The BNR was taken over by the Government of India in 1944. It became part of the Southern Railway and in 1955 it emerged as the South Eastern Railway.
Kharagpur has the distinction of having the longest railway platform in the world at 2,733ft, 833m (according to the Guinness Book of Records 1996 Edition)
I was told a story that the Chairman of the Railway Board was a Sir T R Wynne. He supposedly visited Kharagpur in the 1920’s & 30’s and had his own railway carriage based there. It is said that Wynne Avenue near the hospital was named after him.
Station Platform 1933
Station Platform 1994
My name is Peter Gordon NAILER. I am the second son of Herbert Owen NAILER (Born Madras 1910) and Gwendoline Lillian MAGRY (Born Kharagpur 1911). I was born at the Railway Hospital on 23rd January 1946. My brother, Gavin Michael NAILER was born in 1940 in our Grandparent’s home in “Rose Dene” Japartapur.
We lived at 323 Third Avenue until we left India forever on 29th May 1950 to settle in Western Australia.
323 Third Avenue 1994
The Nailer family in Kharagpur about 1948, Peter being the smallest.
My father, like many young AI men back then, started work in 1928 as an Apprentice with the BNR. In those days Apprentices lived in the Apprentice’s Home near the workshops. A Principal & a Matron ran the home. My father qualified as a Boiler Maker and worked his way up to Assistant Foreman Boiler Shop in the Railway Workshops.
Apprentices 1930, picture #1
Apprentices 1930, picture #2
Loco Quarters: 345 Third Ave. 1994
Workshop Quarters 322 Third Ave. 1994
My Grandfather was a driver for the BNR. He and his family lived in railway quarters at 345 Third Avenue until he retired in 1935. In those days once you retired you could no longer live in company accommodation, so he built a bungalow just across the Maidan in an area called Japartapur, at the junction of where the road from the station met the road to Hijli. He romantically named it “Rose Deane”. I don’t know what it cost to build, but in 1950 it was sold for Rs25,000/-. From the late 1920’s onward many retired railway workers built houses in Japartapur.
Rose Dene Japartapur 1938
Rose Dene Japartapur 1986
Rose Dene : Looking across the Maidan 1950
Rose Dene Front Garden 1950
Before he married my father lived with his half sister Gladys & Brother-in-Law Harold GOLDSWORTH (who was in his latter years the Secretary of the Railway Institute). Harold was a Foreman and lived in Foreman’s quarters on Wynne Avenue.
Foreman's House Wynne Ave.
Workshop Quarters. 4th Ave.
Traffic Qtrs. 1st Avenue 1986
Type B Housing Old Khargpur
The railway company provided housing according to your job. The lowest level staff (Cleaners, Labourers etc.) lived in terraced housing over the lines in old Khargpur. There were dwellings of various “type”. They were commonly referred to as the “Types”. “Traffic” staff (Guards, Ticket Collectors etc.) and “Loco” Staff (Drivers, Fireman etc.) lived in semidetached bungalows like 345. These quarters were on First, Second & Third Avenue, near to the Station and the Loco Shed. Workshop staff lived in semidetached double storey houses like 323 in Third. Fourth and Fifth Avenue near the workshops, while Foremen lived in single double storey houses on Wynne Avenue. Officers (Managers) had large bungalows set in large gardens on Fifth and Sixth Avenue overlooking the Maidan.
Khargpur had three Institutes, which were the centre of the social life. This was owing to the very rigid British class system that operated in India in those days. The large Railway Institute was the centre of the social life in KGP for the majority of the European and Anglo – Indian community. This institution started its life known as the Mechanic’s Institute. It had a large dance hall, a picture theatre with a balcony, a billiard room, card rooms and a bar. Traffic, Loco, Foremen and Workshop staff and their families frequented this venue.
Institute & Bandstand 1930’s
Institute Bowling Green 1950
Officers had their Officers Club on Sixth Avenue overlooking the Maidan. It had a pool and small Golf Course. Then there what was referred to as the Indian Institute closer to the railway station. This was for all the other Company employees. In the grounds on the main Institute there was a Bowling Green (under lights), both indoor & outdoor Tennis Courts, Soccer, Hockey & Rugby playing fields plus the legendary Bandstand, which was the focus of many outdoor events.
Christmas Fair 1930’s
Institute Tennis Club 1930’s
Ex-Apprentices’ Dance 1940’s
Every year there was the Annual Christmas Fair for the children around the Bandstand. Also, every year there was the “Ex Apprentice’s Dance”. This was the social highlight of the year drawing people back from all over India. Well know Bands came from Calcutta and the hall was brilliantly decorated for the night.
AFI Band early 1930's
Every Railway Company had its own military force that was part of the Auxiliary Force India. They were established for the purpose of protecting Railway property. The BNR had a Regiment based in Khargpur. It was mandatory that as part of your employment with the Railway Company, you had to send part of your time in the force. They had an armoury located near the Railway Institute. They Paraded on the Maidan and had a rifle range, referred to as “the Butts” on the Maidan near the railway cutting. The new state hospital now stands on this site. The Regiment even had its own Fife & Drum Band.
Based close to Khargpur was a British Army (Black Watch) Regiment plus during World War II there was a Ghurkha Regiment and Band. These various Bands used to provide entertainment from the Institute Bandstand on moonlight nights and other special occasions. Courting couples used to sit around the Bandstand on these nights or disappear off to “Lovers Land” which was between Sixth Avenue and the Maidan.
During the Second World War the American Air Force set up their base in what is now the main building of the Indian Institute of Technology at Hijli. This building served for some time during the War as a Detention Centre for Indian Nationalists. It was originally built in the 1920’s (so I am told) to house the Law Courts, which were supposed to move from Midnapore, however the Judges & Barristers wouldn’t relocate so it stood vacant up until the War. Its’ shaded verandas were the scene of many picnics.
NOTE: the foundation date 13h November 1899
Junior. School 1950
Senior. School 1950
The Railway Company also provided a school for its Anglo India & European Employees. The school was divided in a Lower School and a High School.
The Certificate below shows that children attended Lower School from age 4 to 15 when they sat for their Junior Cambridge Exam. They sat their Senior Cambridge when they were 17. The fees were Rs8/- per month.
Very few students went on to University or Technical Colleges. In those days jobs were reserved for AI’s on the Railways, the Posts & Telegraph and the Police. The boys went on to do Apprenticeship and the girls Secretarial work in the Workshops or Calcutta. Some parents, especially the Officers sent their children away to Boarding Schools in the Hills.
I am fortunate to hold a copy of the entire school taken about 1936 when Mr Winkler was the Principal. In the photo are my mother Gwen MAGRY and her sister Phyllis MAGRY who were both Lower School teachers. I counted 198 pupils in the photo, which gives some indication of the possible AI population of the town.
Kharagpur had three churches within the Railway colony. They were All Saints Church of England, Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, and the Baptist Church - also known as the Union Church. Over the railway line there were two mission Churches, one Roman Catholic and one Baptist.
My grandparents were married at All Saints Church of England on 7th February 1907 so I assume that it was built prior to that date. Next to the church was a Rectory for the priest. It is interesting to note that all the Ministers of Religion were referred to as Padre.
All Saints 1994
All Saints 1950
Main Alter Christmas 1938
In the late 1950’s the roof collapsed while there was no one in the building. It was repaired and the church rededicated.
Side Alter Christmas 1938
Cleaning up after the collapse
In those days most people went to church, which was in a way the social centre of their lives.
Choir 1941: Back Row; #4 Daphne Manuel née Heldt: Middle Row; #3 Dorothy McMacFarlane: #6 Dennis Manuel. (Courtesy of Brenda Naser née Brewster In the sitting row second from left is: Chicky Seddon, wife to Berty Seddon. (Courtesy of Clair Gordon née Johnston)
The restored inside
The church had an active choir. At Christmas they used to go around the town Carolling like they would in England.
This church was built in 1918. Alongside it there is a large Parochial Hall. This used to be hire out for Wedding Receptions. There was also a Presbytery next door. In those days there was no Convent School.
Sacred Heart Church 190
Religious Play in Parochial Hall 1930
This church was built around the same time as the Church of England. It was built along with the Mission Church in Old Kharagpur with funds donated by the Baptist Union Missionary Society. It was known locally as the Union Church.
In the large grounds on Third Avenue there was a Manse and Tennis Court. In the late 20’s to 40’s American Missionaries staffed it. Refer to a wonderful book by Stanley Brush, the son of Pastor (Padre) EC Brush. http://www.farewellthe%20winterline.com/
I don’t know a lot about the workshops, but what I know I will list.
The Head was the CME (Chief Mechanical Engineer). The Workshops did all the BNR’s main Boiler and wagon work.
Workshop Staff (1940's): Front Row; #4 Barry Brewster, Brenda Naser's father: Middle Row; #10 Olive Naug; #13 Manek Sing. (Courtesy of Brenda Naser née Brewster)
Workshop Staff (1940's): Second Row; #5 P.P. Fernandez; #10 Barry Brewster, Brenda Naser's father; Front Row: #9 Manek Sing. (Courtesy of Brenda Naser née Brewster)
On October 15th 1942 a terrible Cyclone hit Kharagpur. Most of the town trees were blown over. Some people in town were killed with over 650 in West Bengal losing their lives in the storm and subsequent flooding in some areas. A falling tree killed an English soldier. As the road to the cemetery was cut, special permission was obtained from the Municipality and he was buried in the grounds of All Saints Church. The workshops suffered badly, worse than any bombing that the Japanese could have done.
Cyclone damage to the Railway Workshops; October 15th 1942 (Pictures 1
and 2 of 6)
Cyclone damage to the Railway Workshops; October 15th 1942 (Pictures 3
and 4 of 6)
Cyclone damage to the Railway Workshops; October 15th 1942 (Pictures 5
and 6 of 6)
Kharagpur had its own fully equipped hospital provided by the Railway Company for its employees.
Old Hospital (right)
The following is a map taken from a British Survey in 1933 and added to by the memories of many people. It is not the clearest. I am working on a clearer map which will be published later. (Note: I have enhanced the map as best I can, identifying various places of interest. Stephen)
|1 Railway to Midnapore||2 Road to cemetery||3 Carriage Shop||4 Boiler Shop|
|5 Blacksmith Foundry||6 CME's Office||7 Type Housing||8 Church|
|9 Dispensary||10 Markets||11 Locomotive Sheds||12 326 Third Ave, Nailer's Residence|
|13 Ration Shop During War||14 Level Crossing Gates||15 Signal Box||16 Khargeswar Mandir Shrine|
|17 Station Committee Rooms||18 Parking & Rickshaw Stand||19 Railway to Calcutta||20 Railway Station|
|21 Rest House||22 Underground Passage||23 Post & Telegaph||24 Avery's Machine|
|25 Billamoria's Store||26 Control Office||27 All Saints Church of England||28 Teachers' Quarters|
|29 Armoury||30 European Institute||31 Tennis Couts||32 Bandstand|
|33 Masonic Lodge||34 Wynn Court Officers' Quarters||35 Parochial Hall||36 Priest's House|
|37 Japatapur||38 Sacred Heart RC Church||39 D'Souza House||40 Magry House|
|41 Bunyan House||42 Meade House||43 Bowling Green||44 Hornby House|
|45 Allen House||46 Officers' Club||47 345 Third Ave||48 CME's House|
|49 Baptist Union Church||50 AMO's Quarters||51 To Cuttack, 170 miles||52 Railway Hospital (Main Part)|
|53 Maternity Wing||54 To Hijli||55 Apprentices' Home||56 Culvert|
|57 West End Foremans Quarters||58 Saw Mill||59 Watch & Warp||60 Heat Treatment|
|61 Electric||62 Machine Shop||63 Erecting Shop||64 To Bombay, Tartanaga 79 miles|
|65 Bengal Nagpur Railway Workshops|
Bernie Madeira (Driver) at Train derailment 1930’s
Soccer Team 1940
Extract from 444th Bomb Group Forums - Air Raid at Kharagpur.htm.
Many readers remember, with fondness, hosting USA personnel posted to Kharagpur during the war. I thought that this extract might jog a few memories and promote a few comments from our own readers. Perhaps we can paint in a little extra background colour of our own and add it to this commentary on an extraordinary event in the annals of Kharagpur. Stephen
Does anyone know anything about the Jap air raid at Kharagpur on Christmas Eve of 1944? From Dudhkundi we could see the anti-aircraft tracers going up, and white flashes from exploding bombs, but I never heard anything but conflicting versions about the details of what actually went on down there. Apparently, there was little damage and no casualties. So much for Tokyo Rose's prediction that the Japanese air force would bomb the 20th Bomber Command off the face of the earth on Chriistmas Eve. (by Guido Ransleben)
Hi Guido, just found this in a long narrative at the NEAM site.
Christmas Eve 1944 Air Raid.
Early in the evening of Christmas Eve l944, the air raid sirens began to wail giving about an hour's warning of a Japanese air raid.
When the alarm went off we left our tents and went into our slit trenches that had been dug on two sides of each tent in the area. This of may sound like a very simple process. However, for the past year these trenches had often been used as convenient urinals. It did not take very long for our stay in the trenches to become unbearable and most vowed never to make such use again.
After a while the 40mm antiaircraft batteries around the air base opened up. They seemed to be firing in almost every direction. A 40mm pom-pom was about a hundred yards from us. It seemed to be firing in every direction into the starlit night but not at anything we could see.
From our positions in the slit trenches we could occasionally see the Japanese bombers pass through the starlit night. I have no recollection of any tracers going anywhere near any of the enemy. On one occasion I did see a plane as it cut through the stars but no one was firing at it.
When the firing ceased many of us left the trenches. We could see the glow of fires burning about a mile away by the aircraft line. Four of us commandeered a small truck and drove to where a barracks-like warehouse was aflame. I took a fire hose and proceeded to wet down the building as best I could. I later learned it was a clothing warehouse.
We were told that more planes were coming and that we should get the fire out as soon as possible. I took a hose and directed it where the flames seemed brightest. This happened to be right at the peak of the roof that was burning though. After about ten minutes a fellow came around the building to urge me to aim the hose lower since I was getting the crews on the other side wet. I kept my hose pointed lower after that. I also remember that at one point we were urged to get the fire out since it appeared that the bombers were returning.
Just as we got the worst of the flames out a soldier walked up to me carrying a 100lb bomb cradled in both arms that had failed to go off. He asked what he should do with it!
One of the other fellows suggested that we put into one of the water barrels near by and fill it with water. The bomb was lowered gently into a barrel tail first and I used the hose to cover it with water. This we did very carefully, tail first but I'm not sure to this day if we did the right thing.
Afterwards the four of us went back to the tent area and told them where we had been. They didn't believe us until they smelled the smoke odor in our clothes. The bomb showed no damage from ground impact for whatever reason. The bomb had not detonated because the fuse spinner was still intact with the retainer fork in place and a short piece of cotton string attached.
Sometime around midnight we got the fire out and proceeded back to our tent area. Our tent mates at first refused to believe that we had gone to fight the fires but the smoke odor on our clothes soon convinced them otherwise.
I must have been quite tired in spite of the excitement of the evening. That night, for some reason, I slept on the folding cot with my right arm under me. The wooden inserts into canvas cut off all the blood circulation in my right hand. A day later I was still unable to use my fingers. I went on sick call and was sent to the Kalampur Base Hospital about thirty miles away. I remember hearing from my ward the screams of the flyers in the next ward across the way. They had been burned in a takeoff accident. Since they couldn't find anything wrong with my arm I was told to go to the hobby shop for physical therapy. I proceeded to make a Plexiglass B-29 about ten inches long as I gradually recovered use of my fingers. After about a week I was returned to duty.
We found out that the planes had been Japanese twin engine bombers. They burned a C-8, a B-24 used as a transport, and the storage barracks full of clothing. I don't know of any other damage. We were told that British twin-engine night fighters named Beaufighters had shot all the Japanese down before they could get back to Burma.
(by Katie, Daughter of Bart Kirk F/E/444th/679th/676th)
My father was at Kharagpur. I have heard him talk about the Christmas night bombing. If you are interested in his account you may contact me directly and I can help you make the connection. (by Georgia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thanks, Guido for getting this started, and the Craveys for the good account here.
Christmas Bombing Kharagpur, December 1944 Gerald T. Cravey’s Account, September 15, 2004
About that bombing? Let me give it some thought here. On the night before Christmas in 1944, my station chief, Harlow F. Brown and I, as chief radio operator of headquarters station 20th Air Force, had saved our beer [over a period of time]. We each had a case, which proved to be all we could consume that night and most of the following day. We had had a few hours sleep but were still feeling the effects of celebrating. We had grown complacent about possible attack by enemy aircraft due to out extreme distance from any Japanese aircraft that we knew of.
About an hour before sunset the air raid sirens and public address systems went off telling us that we were under red alert. “This is the real thing,” the announcement kept repeating. As quickly as possible, Brown and I ran to the radio station in the compound that housed the 20th Air Force headquarters. We saw that every radio operator scheduled for duty was on duty and monitoring his frequency. Of course the station as well as headquarters was blacked out. This went on for seemingly two to three hours with the commanding general [Curtis LeMay] and his entire staff in the building just beyond the burlap bag which separated the 20th Air Force command room from our radio station.
At about this time I felt the call of nature and exited the blackout curtains and proceeded to well, answer the call. I’m sure that beer the night before didn’t help! You’re not writing that down? You are! [laughter] It was a bright moonlit night, probably near full moon. All at once I heard the drone of bomber aircraft. Looked up to see the aircraft in the moonlight, how many I’m not sure, but not many. I heard them cut their engines to go into a bombing run.
What seemed like fifteen minutes was surely less than three or four minutes before bombs began to explode with a typical “whompf” at Salua Air Base, the main station of B29’s about three or four miles away. The 20th Air Force had four other dispersal bases as follows: Kalikunda, Paridoba, Dudkundi, and Chakulia.
I flattened out on the ground like a gallon of molasses. I would have gotten into my helmet if possible. They flew right over headquarters. Because it was blacked out, they didn’t know it was there. I would have guessed them to be 6,000 or 7,000 feet high.
Years later, my station chief [Harlow] “Pappy” Brown sent me some CBI Sound-Off magazines which had an account of the bombing and wrote in the margin, “And where were you, Mr. CV ? (my personal sign for radio purposes). I think the date of the bombing was actually Christmas Day, because Brown and I celebrated by drinking our beer on Christmas Eve.
Gerald T. Cravey, September 15, 2004
Margaret Cravey, Gerald T. Cravey’s wife, located a letter Gerald had written the day of the event. It is headed “Christmas Night, 1944, 7:10 pm, somewhere in India.”
The letter was interrupted. When Gerald resumes the letter he hints at the bombing in the next to the last paragraph.
“It’s now 12 o’clock and I still have to go back to the station. I’ve been there since I left rather hurriedly at 7:45.”
Dad said that because of security reasons and heavy censorship of the mail he could not write about the bombing nor could he even tell my Mother his exact location in India. (Notes by Georgia Cravey)
I know this is an old post but I found some information that I thought was interesting.
From the hisory of the 35th Air Engineering Squadron of the 25th Air Service Group stationed at Kharagpur...
"Though a raid by enemy aircraft is nothing unusual, this Organization deems it worth mentioning because of the fact that it was the first raid experienced at this base.
New Delhi has issued the communique that Jap bombers were over East Bengal; however, we can only say it was the Japs. We can only say because since it was our first experience, most of us now know it is pretty difficult to identify an aircraft at night while huddled up in a small corner of a slit trench trying to crawl into a helmet.
Damage sustained by this unit's Engineering Section was practically nil, to wit: a few flak holes in the area about several of the shops and a few splinters in the parachute shop door. It was an event to the men because of the enemy's thirst for drama picking Xmas day for their visit."
From the 578th Air Material Squadron of the 25th ASG History...
This account was so descriptive, I can almost see it... (by Billie)
"The highlight of the month was a raid by a lone Japanese plane on Christmas Night. Anti-aircraft batteries on the base had their first taste of action against an enemy plane, sending ack-ack fire screaming skyward ina brilliant display of red and white tracers against the background of a fullmoon in a blue evening sky. The enemy crossed at right angles to the runway, releasing incediaries and anti-personnel bombs on establishments and warehouses adjacent to the flight strip. Our signal supply Warehouse was hit, but suffered minor damage."
From: Ben Woodfall Jr (Note: Ben last wrote on 18 June 2006. See Correspondence Part 5.)
Date: June 20, 2007
Cousin Donald Thorn, visiting you in Canada in June 2007, has pricked my guilty conscience. My Sisters and I would like to say "Thank you" to you and your husband for making a dream come true for Don by hosting him at Heart's Abode in Ottawa, Canada this month. We cannot wait for his return to hear all the news. Meanwhile I will do my best to give you a potted history of my family and their connection with the BNR, and Kharagpur in particular.
Note: It has been a marathon of memories shared between the two of them during the last two weeks to which, of course, I must forever be the enthralled bystander. My only complaint has been, as always, that talk is cheap. Happily Donald has promised to encapsulate many of his new memories shared with Corinne here in an article to be published soon on this WebPage. Stephen.
My Mother (Mary Jansen) was born, like my father, in south India in a place called Coimbatore in 1897. She died in Hove, close to Brighton, England on the 15th October 1976. Father (Ben Woodfall Snr) was born in Negapatam (now called Nagapatman) in 1883. I don't know when my Grandparents on my mother's side moved to Bengal. I do know that father joined the BNR as an engine cleaner in 1902. When he retired in 1938 he was the Chief Locomotive Inspector and we lived in 253 Second Avenue.
During my father's career, he was a Driver when my eldest sister Gertrude (everyone in Khargpur knew her as Fairy) was born in 1919. She will be 88 on the 31st October this year. She was followed by my elder brother Ernest. He was born in 1922 and died on Christmas Eve 1996. Ernest was followed by Patricia, born on the 13th October 1923. She was followed by me (Ben Woodfall Jr) born on the 14th October 1926 (Yes, I know. I'll be 81 this October).
My Mother's family consisted of her mother Kate Jansen, her father Joseph Jansen (he died in the early 1930s, my Nana died in England in the 1970s). Her siblings were Isabella (Don's Mum), Dunnie (whom you seem to remember), Barbara - who taught at the Railway School in KGP, and the youngest brother Ben Jansen (also known as John. We AI's had a propensity for calling people by odd names).
We all went at some time in our lives to the Railway School. I went there first in 1930 when I was around 3½. I got a Perfect Attendance Medal (which I still have) in 1931. My class teacher was Miss Bailey. Like Ernest and Patricia I developed congenital cataract, so my schooling was interrupted from about 1936 (when I had my first operation in Calcutta) to 1939 when I had the last of my three operations. Ernest and Patricia were operated on by Dr.Martin Leake in the hospital at Garden Reach (I think it was called Barna-bashi).
Father worked in various places on the Railway; to name a few: Santragachi, Purulia, Sheadol, but his main place was Kharagpur. When he retired in 1938 we moved out of 253 Second Avenue and stayed for a short time in the house nearly opposite the Anglican Church, at the side of the signalling place. This house was Ronnie Turner's on Third Avenue so we stayed there while he was away in England, then we moved to two rooms in the School House, then to another address on Third Avenue.
Father was then called back to revise the overtime rates for all the Railway employees, and afterwards he was asked to supervise a new signalling system being installed at Howrah. After this he was given the job of organising the MRU (Military Railway Unit) at Adra. This was around 1940/41. We were in Adra around 2½ years, we then went to a place called Jharsuguda where father was the Loco Foreman. After another 3 years Father returned to Adra as Secretary of the Railway Institute. Then, I think it was at Christmas 1946, we arrived back in Kharagpur where Father took on the job of Secretary at the Railway Institute there. He was there until September 1948 when the whole family (without me) embarked on the SS.Empire Brent to come to England. I came a fortnight later on the RMS Stratheden with friends I had made in Adra.
I'm not sure at what address my Parents were when Fairy was born, she was the only one of the four of us to have been born at the Kharagpur Hospital. Ernest, Patricia and I were born in Nan's house at 345 Third Avenue, this is the address you are more than familiar with. I understand the midwife that attended my Mother was Phyllis Paul nee de la Hoy). Her brother was a teacher at our local school.
I always thought I was born opposite the Ice Factory. Remembering the Ice Factory, we had a beautiful polished teak zinc-lined box. This was filled with sawdust to keep the ice from melting. I also remember the lemonade bottles; these had a ball at the top which you had to press in to release the contents.
Do you remember your Ayah? Well mine was Anka-marie, and her mother Surima was Ayah to Fairy. Both these wonderful, lovable people were with us for over 40 years. Our budda Juma-dah when he first came to us with his mother, she was well in her 80s and the story has it that she was a child at the Indian mutiny in 1857.
Remember the Hills? Well when Douglas Hill married Dorothy Cox, I was their pageboy (I have the photo to prove it). I was also pageboy when Eileen Slaney married Carl Tapsell. I guess being pageboys and Best Man a few times had some effect on my getting married. This I eventually did when I was 38, but very unfortunately my dear wife Marjorie died on the 15th February 2001.
In the latter part of the 1920s Dunnie, Barbara and Ben Jansen, with the help of the Browns (Lewiin & Marjorie) used to put on variety shows at the Railway Institute.These were called "Jazzy Juveniles." In 1940 or 1941 Uncle John (Ben Jansen) wrote, produced, and directed the Pantomime Cinderella. Playing the lead role, Cinderella, was Marjorie Irvine. Principal Boy was Phyllis Magri, who later married Ben Jansen and became my aunt. Do you remember the Magri's?
Please accept my sincerest good wishes to your husband and yourself.
To: Bill Morden
Date: July 16, 2007
On July 4 you said;
It's by pure chance that I came across the Diaspora website, how fascinating! I've never been to India but I'm planning to visit in 2008/2009
My Grandfather, Arthur Ernest Morden, was an engineer with the BNR for about 30 years before retiring in the early 1940s. My father, Arthur William Morden, was born in Kharagpur in 1911 and lived at 306 Third Avenue until he came to England in 1930. He never returned and died in 1982. My Grandmother, Mary Morden née Littlewood died in 1938 and is buried in the Lower Circular Road Cemetery in Calcutta. After the end of WW2 my Grandfather came to the UK and lived with my parents in Manchester until he died in 1949. I was born in 1945 and have some vague memories of him. The Mordens and Littlewoods were long-time residents of India, the original members of the two families settling in there in the first half of the 19th century. Apart from my immediate family, there are no Mordens surviving from my Grandfather's family stem, but I am in contact with a couple of non-Indian members. I'm also in contact with members of the Littlewood family, one of which returned to England from Jamalpore in 1950. Another lives with her daughter in Toronto.
I see you list as family names Edwards. I recall when my Grandfather lived with us, a family of that name visited my parents, and continued to do so after his death. They had returned to England in 1945/46. I don't know their names but they had two children, about my age, called John Edwards and Penny Edwards.
I have a number of good quality photographs that I would like to share with you. If you would like copies of them, let me know and I'll scan them in and e-mail, or post a CD to you if you send me your address.
I've also tried to contact Mike Green, but as of yet not had a reply.
With best wishes and kind regards, Bill Morden
Thank you for your letter which I am including on my website shortly. (Herewith)
I will ask Penny Harrison née Edwards who, I am sure, will be delighted to resume connections with your family, to contact you directly. You are probably referring to Jimmy Edwards and Hilda Edwards visiting your parents, and the family may be able to help with your recollections. Penny and John are their children. I am so pleased to help with these connections, putting you all in touch with each other whenever possible.
Nevertheless, as I keep telling people, I am not an agency, and there is just so much time I am able to devote to this hobby. But my husband has been more help than I can ever describe, and has painstakingly given me instruction on the use of the e-mail part of the computer. Don't ask me to use the actual computer - I haven't a clue, but he has been an invaluable support, despite his own busy routine. (Note: We do not give out e-mail addresses, but refer requests for them to the owner for him or her to reveal should they so choose, all in the interest of the privacy of our readers. Stephen.)
Your very kind offer of photographs is thoroughly appreciated, and I would love to receive your CD containing any help in this area. I cannot promise to use all of them, but hopefully, I will.
Thank you so much, Bill. Do keep in touch and many kind thoughts -
Corinne Baxter née Crampton
To: Penelope.Harrison née Edwards
Date: July 17, 2007
On January 23 you said;
Hello Corinne, Like your other correspondents, I too am delighted to have found your website.(Thanks to my brother's daughter who is getting our family background sorted out.) Thank you for the information and memories of Khargpur, and for the.contact possibilites it gives us. Especially those of us with very limited and fragmented recall.My brother John Edwards, and I, Penelope Ann Harrison née Edwards were born in Khargpur, John in 1938, myself in 1942. Our parents were James Edwards
and Hilda Edwards, and we lived at 303 Third Avenue until May 1948 when we, like so many, left for England. Dad was a Workshop Foreman at the BNR. We settled in the Manchester area
Our maternal grandmother was Hilda Grace Clegg née Malins. She had a sister Eva Malins, and a brother always called Christie Malins married to Dolly. Their son was called Robbie Malins (or Clegg?) and I believe his wife was called Corinne. John and I have a memory of meeting them in Walsall in the 1950s We believe Robbie was a doctor in Wolverhampton, and that they had a daughter. Is it possibly the same Malins family that is referred to by Liz Thomas Malins in the updated correspondence of January 22nd? or just coincidence? Any news would be so welcome, and it would help to increase our family records and add to our India memories.
My thanks to you again, Penny Harrison née Edwards
You must have given up hope of hearing from us, and indeed, I have been so overwhelmed by correspondence to my website that I have had to take a necessary break from it. Unfortunately, I have had some health setbacks, which prevented me from sitting for long periods - back problems, unfortunately - but all is well now, and my husband and I are back "in action!"
I have very clear recollections of your family, and I recall your father vividly. He served on the school committee, so was a fairly visible person. I remember your mother cycling about Kharagpur, with you in the carrier-basket, but I do not remember seeing John too much. What puzzles me is that you list your house number as 303, and you lived quite a way off from our home, although on the same street. We were at 302 for some time, then moved to Wynne Ave. near the hospital (on the west side of the hospital) and almost backed on to your house.
Of course, your Uncle Frank (who lived on 6th Ave.) was related (through marriage to my mother's cousin, Gladys Meade) and memories of dear Uncle Frank are quite clear. He used to encourage me to sing "Baa Baa Black Sheep" - with all the actions, which amused him, and there would be great gusts of laughter following each "performance!" Then, he'd call - "Again!!" I believe I did oblige, because after that I was labelled "Little Miss Baa-Baa Gingerpop" - and he knew I hated that!! More gusts of laughter!! What a good-natured tease - but who was the "ginger-pop"? HE had carrot-coloured hair if ever anyone did!! It was all good-natured fun, and our family was full of camaraderie and humour, as you may recall.
I am posting your letter to the website (herewith), Penny, and I am sure you will receive many responses. All the names you mention are very familiar, and some of them are already on my website as you may recognize. The Edwards family - namely June and Derrick - are both alive, I think, and in Australia. I have had a letter from one of the younger Meades - son of Bill and Noreen - and am about to respond to it.
It gives my husband and me great pleasure to receive so many warm and encouraging letters, such as yours, and bit by bit, we may be able to piece family information together in a friendly, sharing manner. It is very time-consuming, and there is just so much time we are able to devote to this particular hobby, on top of everything else, but we find it very rewarding to recall dear old Kharagpur in such a positive way.
Do hope that you are well, and your brother, John, and of course, your respective families.
With kind regards,
Corinne Baxter née Crampton
To: Douglas Barracliffe
Date: July 18, 2007
On July 5 you said;
Dear Corinne. This is Douglas Barracliffe. I left Karagpur in 1956 to go to England. I am now retired in Spain. I recently got a computer and got connected to the internet. My son Mel sent me this link. It was great to see everyone. I would love to share some memories, God Bless, Doug
Your letter was a great surprise to me, and a memory of you in the KGP school popped into my mind. We were in the same class, I seem to recall? That was years ago. It must have been the 5th or 6th Std, but I am a bit hazy on that score.
In an earlier letter I listed the other members of the classroom, and remembered many of the group, but missed out a few - I simply drew a blank! - but one needs a slight "jog" to get the old banks flowing once more, and you have succesfully done that. It is over a year ago since I spoke with Randolph Wright (see the first letter in Part 1), who was also in my class, and we had a good old chat and a laugh, and I hope we will do it again soon, but I seem to recall he did mention your name also.
I would love to share anecdotes with you through the medium of the e-mail and, of course, the telephone - these days 'phone calls are relatively cheap, but I am not entirely sure about Spain. I understand that several people are retiring to that part of the Continent - I know many members of my own family have moved there. I suppose that the climate is more amenable, and the cost of living quite a lot less expensive, but it has to depend on the location. Do tell us more about your own area.
As you can see, we are resident in Ottawa, and have been for the past 17 years, and before that we spent 17 years in Montreal. We've been very happy in Canada, although moving was a difficult decision - Stephen's career was going swimmingly well, and we both loved our life in England, the boys were happy in their schools, and life was enjoyable, but along came some very enticing offers, and they merited our consideration, so - here we are! No regrets!
I was only 13 years of age when we left India, but my memory is very acute, and I am so glad my husband suggested starting this website - whilst the memory is still strong and clear! So many have written in, I am almost overwhelmed by the response. As it is, my "In" tray is overfull, especially as I was compelled to take a little break from it during the busy academic season, and then a few distractions of one form and another cropped up, but hopefully I will be gradually tackling the pile. So many charming and appreciative letters have been arriving and we are both deeply touched, and also very encouraged by the response.
I cannot remember where your family lived, Doug, but as you will notice, I have made a compass point of the hospital - so East, West, North and South of the Hospital area. We lived on the West side of Wynne Ave, two doors away from the Nurses' Home. The Institute was the other end of Wynne. I seem to remember that you had an older brother as well, but forget his name.
Do write again, and we would love to hear your recollections of that very interesting town of our childhood.
With kind regards,
Corinne Baxter née Crampton
To: Michael Howe
Date: July 19, 2007
On June 12 you said;
Hi, I have stumbled across your web site and was especially interested in correspondence Part 4 as my Dad is John Howe and his brother is Walter ("Booboo") Howe. My Dad married June Hendricks and migrated to England in 1958 where they had five children Wesley, Wayne Michael (Me), Paul and Simone. We migrated to Australia in 1972 and settled in Clayton Victoria. Mum and Dad now live in Dandenong and are doing well. Its great to see that we can track are parents thru websites like yours. If you have any more info [anecdotes?] about my parents that would be great. Michael Howe
Welcome to my website - so delighted to hear from you. I have already had a couple of lively "chats" with your mother, and also with your Uncle Walter who seems to be in good spirits. I hadn't met your mother at all, but you wouldn't think so from the way we just took off!! We filled each other in with all our respective family news and amusing anecdotes and shared good camaraderie and plenty of laughs.
I am glad to hear that your father is recovering well from a recent fall, which could have been very serious, but he seems to be a tough young blade - must be all that sport he used to do when he was younger! He and your Uncle were very active in the school athletics programs, and extended it to their respective social lives.
I understand you asked if I had any further information about them, Michael, but I am hoping that YOU could fill US in with more about THEM! In case you have mislaid their e-mail address, I am forwarding yours to them, and I eagerly await a further letter from you with more news. Meanwhile, what about telling us about yourself? It is always interesting to hear from the next generation down, and indeed I have correspondence from "Great grandchildren" of my former friends and acquaintances - which thrills me so much - the fact that you are all so interested in your geneology, and are going to such lengths to pursue it. One of the reasons we started this particular project was to reconstruct old memories, but the other was to interest the younger generation in a bygone age, which can never return! My husband has been doing all the "posting" and a great deal of interest in putting it all together, and considering he has had no contact with India at all, I commend his efforts heartily!
Do write again soon, and I shall send your e-mail address to your parents immediately.
All the very best and with regards,
Corinne Baxter née Crampton
To: Yvonne Moran née Wilmot Upshon
Date: July 20, 2007
On June 21 you said;
Hi My name is Yvonne, great grandaughter of Herbert Sydney and Linda Ivy Hatton. I am (with the help of my aunties, Joan, Inez and Olga) trying to trace the family tree. This has been both successful and daunting. Now I need to return a favour to my auntie's Inez and Olga. They are looking for any information regarding Gwen Upshon née Howe. She worked on the South Eastern Railway in Kharagpur. Childrens names I think are Lila and Vivien. Also a Lenny Upshon who went to my Aunty Joan and Uncle Clinton John's wedding in Ruislip England 1962. If anyone could help I would be very grateful as these are the dearest ladies and it would bring them great joy to hear of any news with regard to their missing relatives and friends. Thank you. Regards, Yvonne (was Wilmot Upshon)
I note with interest that your maiden name was Wilmot Upshon, and I refer you to a former correspondent who was searching for the Upshon family. Could this be the same family from whom you are descended?
My reply remains the same - I do not know much about them at all, except that there was once a "Roxy" Upshon who was a nurse in the Indian section of the hospital in KGP. I do believe that she was the Matron of the Indian hospital, and there were children - David? Anne? I believe that she may have married a "Shea?" My memory is very sketchy, I'm sorry to say, so hesitate to give wrong facts, but perhaps someone will respond, and put me right!!
Regarding the Hatton name. The only "Hatton" I vaguely knew was someone called Cyril, who lived opposite us for a time - he had two children who used to join in our games from time to time. They were called "Heatherbell" and "Rodney" and I believe that their mother was Isobel. Again, I am very blurred about these facts since we hardly knew them at all, but there ends my own connection with any of the names you mentioned. I shall post your letter to my website (herewith) and hope for a response which may please your dear Aunts.
Regarding the "Howe" family - could this be the same Howe family with whom I am in touch, one of whom lives in Ruislip, but has not a computer - Walter (affectionately known to us all as "Booboo" ) - and also his brother, John, who lives in Australia. If so, they are bound to read this and get in touch. It really is a small world, isn't it, Yvonne, and I have no doubt someone will "turn up" sooner or later - so keep logging in!
All the best to you, and with regards,
Corinne Baxter née Crampton
To: Gautam Mukherjee
Date: July 21, 2007
Dear Mr. Mukherjee,
On July 20 you said;
Dear Corinne, I am a native of Midnapore near Kharagpur. I have been following the contents of your website ever since I came across it. It is really a painstaking effort of you both to recollect and compile this vast information. I have always been very curious about the way of life of the Great British community when they stayed in India. Your website provides a lot of insight into the same. By the way, Corinne mentions about the holidays her family spent in Jhargram .Was it the Garh Salboni area of the following website? http://sundarijhargram.netfirms.com/garh_salboni.htm Warm regards to all members & wishing good health to all. Gautam Mukherjee.
Your very encouraging letter was such a pleasure to receive, and the history of Salboni which you had taken the trouble of locating on the InterNet and identifying it for us, was indeed touching - thank you for all the trouble you have taken. I was most interested in the background of this once tiny "Colony" and have many dear recollections of my childhood spent there.
Yes, Jhargram was indeed part of the Salboni area - or perhaps the other way around! - and many years before my grandfather retired, he had purchased a large plot of land, planned a house and grounds there, and commenced the building of the project. It was a beautifully planned enterprise, and by the time I was born, the entire estate was well-established along with several neighbouring properties aroundabout.
My grandmother did the planning of their home and garden herself, down to the very smallest detail. Iin today's world she would have been an engineer and architect, and a very good one at that! It was a well-appointed estate, down to the tiniest flower!! As it was, they retired to a well-run home, with lovely neighbours surrounding them, hence, the Colony - which included several retirees from Calcutta.
The Colonists' set up a wonderful ambience, quiet and amiable,and mostly very sociable. The homes were set far back from what passed as roads - really, sandy ribboned lanes - and there was a sort of "barter" system in place among the Colonists, which worked very amicably. Some properties contained well laid out gardens and orchards. Others just contained the minimum of foliage, and there was one family who started an apiary, so we were well supplied with honey in return for my grandmother's cashew nuts or wine, or whatever worked at the time. Another family were wonderful at baking bread, and so on. The "Barter" system tru;ly worked well!
Our home in Jhargram was well-appointed and thoroughly planned. The house was set facing South, and on the North side, the orchard yielded fruits of various kinds, a well, which brought forth wonderful spring water, and deep enough to prevent structural problems. An assortment of English berries was on the West side of the house; flowering shrubs which were so colourful on the East; flowering perennials and annuals in the front - all with tidy brick edging to the beds. And a wonderful spruce in the centre to help us celebrate Christmas.
The main " family holiday" season seems to have been the "Puja" holiday, when we all trailed down there along with friends and their children, and somehow we all fitted in - with the aid of a Kharagpur neighbour's tent, in which he slept along with another friend - braving both the mosquitos and any wild animals that happened to be prowling by!
There were "Duck shoots" during the day, lots of sports played on the grounds, and siestas during the heat of the day. Evenings were spent dancing on the patio to an old "wind-up" gramophone, sometimes Bridge parties, and an awful lot of camaraderie and general FUN! We children amused ourselves until we were old enough to join in. Meanwhile, my father - who absolutely loved going there - bought a piece of land opposite my grandfather's place, and we built a little "cottage" - thereby enlarging the "sleeping space" a smidgen!! But, camp-beds were in abundance, and failing that, "field beds" which we youngsters thought more sociable, and we would chatter away far into the night, with an occasional yell from one of the "grown-ups" in an adjoining bedroom, to "Settle Down!"
There was no electricity, then, so hurricane-lanterns hissed into life just before dusk, and were placed in all the rooms, casting shadows on the walls - which frightened us to death at times, but added to the ambience of the whole escapade! We had employed a "chowkhidar" who patrolled the sandy roads between the houses at night - all alone, and armed with just a stout stick - which he called a "lathi!" He never seemed to be afraid, although in the early days there were cheetahs and wolves around, and the occasional man-eater tiger had to be dealt with, but his call was so reassuring to us all : "Chowkhidar, memsahib!," repeated two or three times every few paces. He never seemed to mind the elements, but we always had the most wonderful moonlight nights during the Pujas.
There were romps on the grounds, raids on the abundant fruit-trees and rides on the bullock-cart, with our servant "Harrah" who took such good care of us all. The land-servants went home to their nearby village at the end of the day having done an excellent job of keeping my grandparents' gardens in such good condition, but the house servants stayed in the quarters which had been provided for them, and my grandmother made sure that they were comfortable and well-fed. I used to enjoy listening to them singing and dancing far into the night - how they ever reported for work at the first light never ceased to amaze me. But there they were, bright as buttons, facing another long day - except for the afternoons when they remained in their quarters with their own families.
Grandmother seems to have been perpetually busy, preparing dozens of biscuits, cakes, and one meal running into another, which she always supervised in her own kitchen, and being a bit of a perfectionist, making sure the tables were set with due order and lovely flowers. It all added to our colourful memories, which I shall retain to my dying day.
I often wonder what happened to "Hazel Villa" - so little information filtered through to us after we left. We had heard that it was turned into a school, then a hotel, and all kinds of other rumours, none of which was substantiated. Alex Eden, grandson of Ashley Eden, who had once been a neighbour and very good friend of my grandparents, is the only one who visits the area from time to time.
Our own "cottage" was sold to the then Mayor of Calcutta - a Mr. Goughgawyer(?) - who extended the property and loved going down for holidays. He had married Mr. Ashley Eden's daughter, Gwennie Eden, and so they were able to see her father, and their family more often. They took good care of the property, and it was a solace to my parents to know that the house was in good and loving hands.These are my recollections of my old childhood holiday home, and we never dreamed that we would one day sell out and leave the country. But life has a funny way of surprising us, doesn't it? I was interested in the original owners of the "Salboni Retreat" having the name of "Cutts" - one of the original colonists was a "Cutts" family, and their son, Alex Cutts, was one of our playmates. I wonder if it is the same family - do you know?
You have revived many happy memories for me, and I thank you for it. Do write again, and my best regards to you.
Corinne Baxter née Crampton
To: Karen St.Onge née Upshon
Date: July 22, 2007
On July 16, in your reply, you said;
Hello Corinne. Thanks for you letter. I have been researching the Upshon family. Upshon is my maiden name. My father was Robin Upshon, his dad Hector Upshon, his dad Llewellyn Upshon born in Madras, India and was Superintendent of Jails. Llewellyn was married to Sarah Mable McAllister. I am not an agency either and am trying to find more of my relatives on my own to build my family tree. I am sorry for just writing one sentence and can't even remember what I wrote. I have about eight surnames on the go and it just keeps going from there, so I post everywhere in hopes to find more family. My earliest Upshon is a John Upshon born 1743 married to Suzannah (unknown). I have done a lot of work on my family tree and am willing to exchange info. I live in Nova Scotia, Canada. Karen
Your very brief note of March 26 left me wondering whether to reply to it or not. You wrote merely one sentence! This is a friendly, sharing website, not an agency - and I really must emphasize this! - but I decided to send you this reply message and re-introduce myself!
The whole purpose of my starting the website was to gather old friends and acquaintances from our former town and share memories in a friendly, casual manner, and as you can see from the length of the site, it has been very successful. My husband - who has no connection with India whatsoever - and I have spent enormous amounts of time on this particular enterprise, and would love to think that in so doing we have brought much excitement and happiness to our readers. Judging from the many letters expressing courtesy and appreciation, I believe this to be the case, which is, in itself, a joy to us.
The initial letter from our new readers should include something of an introduction, including FULL names, e-mail address and, if you would like a call, telephone number - and a bit about your family and their background - this would be helpful, and I must emphasize that personal information is guarded carefully.
Any information about the "Upshon" family which could help place them would indeed be helpful, and how they relate to you, Karen, would interest our readers even further. I remember that John Upshon played in the band - the "Canteen Cats" - but do feel free to fill us in, and I am sure that this will inspire others to join in and escalate the correspondence.
Thank you for your note, and I look forward to hearing more from you.
Corinne Baxter née Crampton
Date: July 23, 2007
On May 31 you said;
Dear Corinne. I have noticed that you have been referring to a Nevin Ottman who married a Patricia Mahoney who then moved to British Guyana. Nevin was my great uncle. I knew Pat very well and was present when she died. We named our son Patrick in memory of her. If you want any information, I may be able to supply it. I am currently looking into my family tree which consists of about four generations in India. Regards. Mark Ottman
I was so delighted to hear from you, particularly as there had been some enquiries about Nevin Ottman and Pat Ottman née Mahoney, and I knew so very little about them. I knew that Nevin had been a former colleague and very good friend of my Aunt and Uncle, Hazel and Charles Brendish, and indeed had visited, and been visited by them over the years in England.
I telephoned my cousin, Keith Brendish, in England, and asked his permission to forward his e-mail address to you, which I will do privately, but will post this letter to the website along with yours (herewith), which I hope will provoke some more information for you. There are many who remember your Uncle and Aunt.
Nevin Ottman "apprenticed" with Uncle Charles Brendish, and had visited our own home - the Cramptons' - a few times, generally at parties which my mother threw from time to time. He wasn't a close friend, but they certainly knew him well. Pat worked with my Aunt Hazel, in the typing pool at the Workshops Admin. office, and they were quite friendly for many years before she married Nevin.
I understand that Nevin and Pat went out to British Guyana and were out there for some time - but you would be in a better position to fill us in on that part of their lives. I also heard that they finally settled in Herne Bay, England? Keith tells me that to the best of his knowledge Nevin died there, and he remembers his parents attending the funeral. I invite my readers to share their own memories of this lovely couple who added so much to the colourful vista of our Kharagpur.I am so looking forward to hearing your own input, Mark, and indeed any other memories of your family which may enrich my website. With kind thoughts and regards,
Corinne Baxter née Crampton