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Denis with his monkey — Bangalore 1946

Kathy with Denis’s monkey — Bangalore 1946

We were due to leave Bombay bound for Bangalore the next day when a telegram arrived from Dad. It informed us that our house in Bangalore, with all the family’s personal things, ready-packed for transfer to Kamptee, had either been stolen or vandalized. and could we “stay in Bombay a couple of days more?” This was a bit of a disappointment because we were dying to get home and see the rest of the family again. Anyway, we did stay in Bombay for a day or so more and had some fun with the cousins going shopping or to the movies.

After we finally left Bombay we went to Bangalore and spent only a few weeks there before moving on to Kamptee. In Bangalore we met a fellow named Pereira, who was an accomplished amateur photographer. He was also a career aeronautical engineer and worked for the Nizam [1] of Hyderabad. He took lots of photographs of the family and, on check flights of the Nizam’s Dakota, we were allowed to fly with him to Mysore. A couple of years later, the Pereiras stayed with us in England while they made arrangements to emigrate to Brazil. I don’t think we ever heard from them after they left.

The Nizam of Hyderabad was an interesting character. He decreed that on each of the anniversaries of his ascent to power he would be weighed in the precious metal or gem appropriate to the anniversary. Thus on his “copper” anniversary he was weighed in copper, on his silver anniversary he was weighed in silver and so forth. The value of the weight was then distributed among the poor of Hyderabad. The Nizam was a big lad and at the time that he was due to reach his golden anniversary he must have weighed between 280 and 300 pounds. I wonder who the lucky “poor” were!


Mum, Kathy, Phil, Mary, Sean and Denis — Bangalore 1946

By this time Kathy was out of the navy and was being dated by a young army officer cadet, Michael Blampied, who later got his commission and was transferred. We have, since we left India, again met Michael, now a well-known architect, and his family in England and have enjoyed some pleasant times together.


Near to Kamptee was the town of Nagpur which we remembered from the days when we had been in Agra. Dad used to travel on duty to Nagpur and when it was the orange season, he took up his pastime of buying in bulk. He brought us back huge baskets of big, sweet, juicy Nagpur oranges — to my mind still the best oranges in the world. They have loose skins which peel off with the greatest of ease and look almost identical to “ugli” fruit, but they are much more delicious.

In Kamptee, Dad was in charge of the Supply Depot which was quite near the house, and used to ride to work each day on his motor cycle. One day he fell off it and onto his head. He was hospitalised in the military hospital in Jubbalpore. In later years he was always convinced that the fall had been the cause of him becoming diabetic.


I was at a loose end having finished school, and was waiting to come to England. Everyone suspected that Independence was sure to happen very soon ; the war was over and the Indians were agitating and being even more disruptive than they were in the winter of 1943. Kathy too was at a loose end and used to spend day after day painting on the verandah. The two younger girls and Sean were in school locally.

I became quite friendly with a couple of young fellows from the Sergeant’s Mess who had their quarters across the maidaan and used to be off during the afternoons. I had started smoking regularly and carried my 50-tin of “Three Castles” and a box of matches like all the adults. One day the NCOs asked me if I would like a drink of whisky with them. No problem, ‘yes, thanks.” So we sat on their verandah, smoking like chimneys, and we really tucked into the booze. After a couple of hours, and for the first time in my life, I was as pissed as a fart and decided to go home for lunch. I wended my way across the maidaan with the bloody path weaving from side to side and me laughing at its silly antics. When I got home, Kathy was on the verandah as usual and immediately saw that I was “plastered”. “You’re drunk”, she said, rather sternly and then, amused at my imbalance and clutching out for the verandah roof-support, she smiled. “Let’s go and have lunch.” Then I went to bed and fell off to sleep.

In the evening, I got the bisthi to draw a bath for me and then talked Mum into “going to see this marvellous ‘flick’”. I had no money and was totally dependent on Mum’s generosity to pay for my ticket. We both went on our bikes and when we came home it was dark. There were no street lamps and we had no cycle-lights, but neither was there any traffic at all. I could see fairly well in the dark but Mum was near blind in it. Coming around a bend in the road there was a cow sitting in the middle. I saw it and swerved, and called out to Mum to “watch out for the cow”. But she was already right up to it. She applied her brakes, but it was too late and she ran right into the beast, nearly toppling over onto it. The animal jumped up in disgust ; how dare we disturb its rest – more an allegation than a question. Mum just stood there and giggled and giggled, so much so that she could not re-mount her bike. We had to push the machines the rest of the way back home. She could always see the funny side of a situation.


Major, later Lt.Col Daniels, and his wife and two children lived in Kamptee. I met them at the Officers’ Mess one day and when he asked me to ride out with him in the morning, I gladly accepted. He borrowed a couple of horses from the Cavalry stables and rode up to the house with the spare in tow. I thought he had lost control of the horses because he rode right up onto the verandah. Mum was just inside the house and couldn’t believe the sight. But Daniels was just fooling around and whenever we went riding together and he called for me, he would do the same thing. We were only in Kamptee for a relatively short time and when we moved out I lost contact with him until, in 1952, I discovered that he had, on “demob”, bought a hotel in Boscombe, just outside Bournemouth. I was working as a salesman at the time and would always stay with them when I was in the area.


Terry, Kathy, Mary and Phil — Totaladoh 1947

Kathy had met Col. Terry Fitzpatrick who was G2 Deccan Area at the time. They fell in love and later got married. Terry became my buddy too. We regularly went for picnics to a place called Totaladoh, where there was a nice little lake and a slow-moving river. Terry used to let me drive his army “jeep” when we drove out there and it was all marvellous entertainment.

However, on one occasion we nearly came to grief. Kathy and Terry had wandered off and left the rest of us alone to mess about in the water. We had a “Li-Lo” mattress which we used as a raft and on which we lay or punted around. I had taken Phil out on it and about ten or twelve feet out from the bank I started rocking it quite vigorously until she fell off into the water. She soon got to her feet in the water, it was only about four feet deep, and started laughing. She wanted to do it again and again because she thought it was great fun.

Then, Mary wanted to join in the game and so, sitting on the raft myself, I took each one of the girls out in turn and dropped them over the side by rocking it. Eventually, it became simpler to take both of them out together and making them both fall off — neither of the girls could swim, but the water was not deep. I got bolder and took them out further and further, but still with the water at a depth of only five feet or so. Certainly you could stand up in it and still keep your head above the surface.

On the fourth or fifth “rocking mission”, when both of the girls had been successfully dumped over the side, I noticed that Mary was in difficulty in the water. At first I thought she was kidding, but soon realised that she was out of her depth and was beginning to drown. I leapt off the raft, inadvertantly kicking it away as I did so, and went to her assistance.

But the moment I got within arm’s length of her, she flung her arms around my neck and her legs around my body and started to push me under. Damn, even I couldn’t touch the bottom of the lake.

All sorts of thoughts rushed through my mind. I decided to get clear of Mary and with a lot of struggling managed to get her legs from around my waist and her arms from around my neck. By this time, it had been such a heavy strain that I was exhausted. I tried to get hold of the raft which had drifted even further away when I leapt off it.

It was hell, my head was bursting and my lungs filled with fire. Mary was going under, but I just had to get the raft first. I couldn’t risk tangling with her again. I swam after it and after much difficulty re-captured it, and eventually managed to drag myself onto it. Exhausted, I started to move it in Mary’s direction, at the same time thinking that, if the worst came, I could always give her artificial respiration if she needed it. It was a struggle, but eventually, I managed to pull Mary onto the raft and the pair of us lay there filling our lungs with deep, deep breaths.

Slowly, I manoeuvered the raft to the river bank and pulled Mary to safety. Phil stood there bewildered and aghast at the scene but rushed to her sister and put her arm around her comfortingly. Mary, fortunately only needed comforting and the promise that we would never do any more “ride ‘em cowboy” stuff.

As soon as I had recovered my breath I swam out to the point at which we had been in difficulty and checked and re-checked the depth of the water. Sure enough, I was well out of my depth and to this day can only assume that beneath that otherwise benign stretch of water there was a much deeper pit below the surface. Mary always reckoned that she never learned to swim because of that day’s experience.


Terry’s jeep fascinated me. When jeeps were first introduced to the Military, I had seen a demonstration of its capabilities and marvelled at the way you could take them almost anywhere. They could be driven up the steepest of slopes, through deep mud, over the rockiest of terrains and even up steps. One day Kathy was entertaining Terry on the verandah, I got into his jeep and started it up, not checking but soon finding out that he had left it in first gear. It leapt forward and the front bumper got bent as I hit the garden gate-post.

The next day, Terry was due to inspect a Gurkha regiment and there was no chance of him getting the jeep repaired in time. He had taken us out to the Gurkha camp with him and I had to stand in front of the jeep to hide the damage. When the parade was over we took some snaps and Terry had to hide the damaged bumper with his beret. He was a great sport and I thought he was a marvellous guy. Kathy and Terry were married in Bombay and left for England immediately afterwards. They had two sons, Michael, a pilot with Air New Zealand and, Timmy, a great artist who lives in California.

While in Kamptee I met Hector King. He was a WO1 with the MES and an ex-schoolboy from Abu, many years before I was there. He was married and his sister-in-law, Rita Maxwell, was spending a few weeks on holiday with them. Rita was a really pretty and a hot little “cracker”, and it was not long before we began to spend a couple of hours getting to “number four” in the back of Hector’s Fiat “Toppolino” during the afternoons while he and his wife took a nap. — Have you ever seen a “Toppolino”?

Actually, my sexual progress would better have been described as “number five”, because not only could I get Rita’s cute little “titties” into my hands, I could pull them out and kiss them. But whenever I tried to slip my hand between her thighs she would baulk and pull away. God knows what I would have done if she had let me touch “l’onion d’or”, as the French call it.

I used to go swimming with Rita on Sundays, but one day she caught sight of this “new in town” young officer and made a bee-line for him. Actually, he was a very handsome young man, but I think she must also have promised him a really speedy approach to “number five” and beyond because he was instantly hypnotised by her. They cavorted around for half an hour or so then left the pool-side together and I never saw her again.

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[1] The title of the ruler of Hyderabad.


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