My Life – Page 01

‘Memories Naught Can Sever’ by Derek Holdaway

Lovedale.  12th February 1943. One of my earliest memories when we stepped out of the train was the sharp smell of eucalyptus and pine as they caught my breath, not that I knew it was eucalyptus till much later. The air was heavy with scents, the morning was bright and sunny there was a slight frosty chill in the air. My father and I had just got off the train at Lovedale in the Nilgris Hills, having travelled overnight from Madras. Of that particular journey I can remember very little but, I can remember waking up in the compartment that morning and wondering why my mother and ayah weren’t there. I had never woken up before without one or other of them. I was five years of age, and had never been out of their sight. It was all very strange. My father, a sergeant in the Madras City Police, said very little. I could not remember ever having been in the company of my father for such a long period. We did not really know each other, he seemed to be a rather shadowy figure in my life, and was always away during the day and returned home after I had gone to bed and sometimes did not return home for days on end, but I now know he had very mixed memories about that journey himself, having taken it many times before.


A modern photograph of the station

I held his hand as we walked up, what seemed to me to be a very steep hill in the company of other children with their parents. I had absolutely no idea what this journey was all about or why we were here, or why my mother or ayah were not with us, all I had was a vague notion that I was ‘going to school’, whatever that meant. I did not then realise that my destination was not far from the east coast towns of Tellecherry and Cannanore on the Malabar Coast where I later discovered my ancestor Lieutenant-Colonel John Edwards (1776/7-1817) had been stationed. On the way to the school, I think we did a slight detour with some of the families and remember we passed a large concrete swimming pool which was murky and green and looked very unkempt. We finally reached our destination, which I later learnt was the Lawrence Memorial Royal Military School, Lovedale. On the right was the ‘big’ school, a large Victorian edifice, built in 1863 in the Italian Gothic style by the architect R. Chisholm, using Chinese convicts from the Straits Settlements. It had a tall clock tower. Ahead of us was the Girls’ school and in front of it and to the left was the Preparatory School for children from five to ten years of age. It was fronted by a large gated playground with high fences around it with a view from one corner, of the road on which we had been walking. I was to get to know that corner of the playground and I have a heavy heart and tears in my eyes even remembering it all those years ago.

Matron.  My father handed me over to the matron, and our small group was taken up some tall stairs and down a long corridor off which led a series of dormitories with rows of beds with red blankets. The corridor was lined with benches. A number of porters arrived behind us and put down our luggage in front of each of us. Mine was a black metal trunk with my name on it, only I did not realise that D.I.W.HOLDAWAY was my name. My mother called me ‘Bo’ and everyone else called me Derek. We were told to empty our pockets and place the contents in the trunk. I did not have anything in my pockets other than a handkerchief. That was the last time I was to see a handkerchief for many months. We were told to undress and put our clothes in our trunks. I had not the faintest idea how to undress myself. I had never done so. The ayah or my mother had always done it and I had never thought to pay any attention to undoing buttons and undoing shoelaces. I was totally helpless. I watched others, some in the same situation, and finally learned to undress. I had no idea how difficult it was to undo buttons and undo shoelaces. Anyway finally the clothes were off and dropped into the trunk. And we all stood there naked and shivering while the matron appraised our height and size and called out a number. A servant went off to get the clothes attached to the number and placed it on the bench behind each of us. How to dress? What to begin with? A vest seemed to be what everyone put on first. A vest? I had never seen or worn a vest in Madras; did anyone wear a vest in Madras? Which way round did it go, which arm did you put in first, which was the back and which the front? Then came a shirt and tie, long socks and garters. It was a nightmare. The older boy next to me fortunately came to my help and tied my tie, one of the very few acts of kindness I ever received at the school. The final horror was tying shoelaces. I had absolutely no idea where to begin and by this time my companion had lost patience. The matron finally took me in hand and tied them for me muttering something about my mother whom she clearly knew; when I think back it could not have been complementary. I was now in a total panic and the mention of my mother brought tears to my eyes and a heavy heart. I was told I was number 3. I had no idea what that meant, but was shown a hook on the wall in my dormitory and shown my bed, with the number 3 on it.

Through misty teary eyes I noted that the bed was the third one from the left of the door on the widow side of the dormitory. In the five years I was in Lovedale I remained number 3. Each year you were given a different number as you grew up, and the clothes and uniforms for that number related to a particular size. The fact that I remained number 3 for the five years I was in the school must have meant that I never grew one inch during that whole period.

Farewell to my father. The ordeal over, all the children then rushed down the stairs to their waiting parents. I followed rather gingerly as I had never found myself at the top of such a long flight of stairs, I found my father outside the building with two young girls, who must have arrived a few days before and had latched onto him for the sweets he had bought for them from the tuck shop. I was also given a small bag of sweets, and I can recall vividly him telling them to look after me. Well, I thought, that was nice, already I had friends and remembering the boy who had helped me dress, realised that I needed all the friends I could get. It still had not fully dawned on me that I was to be left at the school, and I was beginning to get a very uneasy feeling of what was happening. My father took some photographs, after we had left our bags of sweets on a nearby post. Only three photographs came out.

The two girls look very nice and friendly; one of the photographs had the taller one with her hand on my shoulder. My father then hugged me and said goodbye and walked away down the hill. He walked to where there was a bend in the road, looked back, waved, and then disappeared.. I waited for a bit, thinking he was going to turn round and come back, but he did not. The two girls picked up all three bags of sweets, pushed me so that I fell down and ran away laughing. Until that moment I do not think that anyone had ever treated me badly, I was aghast and puzzled. What was happening to my world? Why had my father gone away? I got up and with tears streaming down my cheeks decided to follow him. I was half way down the road when I met someone, who I later discovered was one of the teachers who lived in nearby Ooty, who took me by the hand and led me back to the school. Did I struggle, I cannot remember, all I know is that I kept thinking that something was going very wrong and surely my father would come back for me, surely my mother and he would come around that bend in the road, if not just now, maybe later, maybe tomorrow, and this whole frightening business would be over. But he didn’t. They didn’t. I cried myself to sleep that night. Each day I waited by the post at the corner of the playground looking down the hill with a sick feeling in my stomach, willing them to come and take me away. I was not alone I think there were four of us. But my parents never came. But somehow I could not give up my vigil, so whenever I was let out into the playground, which was known as ‘the Pen’ I took up my now solitary stand by the post and looked and looked, waited and waited for them to come for me. I was not to see them for many months.

School life (i).  Over the following days a feeling of total despair spread over me. I can remember my bones actually aching. Strange how vividly I can remember it all. When I look back, I realise that as a child I had lived a quite solitary existence. Until I went to school, I had been my mother’s constant and sole companion, with my ayah and my dog. We had spent long periods in the wilds of India. I had never, as far as I can remember, played with another child though we clearly had met some children as can be see from photographs. I was totally unfit and unprepared for school life. So many of the children appeared to very happy; many seemed to be in small gangs of friends or siblings. No one was particularly interested in me and indeed, I just did not know how to socialise; in fact, I have to confess, I don’t think I particularly wanted to, my world had just come crashing down and I did not know how to cope. I cried myself to sleep in my bed that night. I cried myself quietly to sleep for many nights as I had got to know that it was unacceptable to cry loudly and sometimes I heard others sobbing too. Reading this I would seem to have spent a great deal of my time crying, if I did it was out of sight of others. I do not known how long it was before I realised that my parents would not be coming back for me and that I had to face life without them. And it seemed to me, having been surrounded all my life by people who loved and cared for me, that absolutely no one, no one, gave a hang about me or my feelings or my well-being and indeed why should they? In fact everyone around me appeared to be having the time of their lives. And so I withdrew more and more into myself. Throughout my whole period at that school, I do not think I made a single close friend, and I can remember only two names. I soon realised that in order to avoid the terrible bullying going on around me, I would efface myself as much as possible. I was quite small and thankfully, as far as I am aware, was probably found to be too insignificant for anyone to bother with. I never entered into quarrels, I never put forward my views or opinions, I never vied for favours and never received any, I was hopeless at games and sports so was ignored by the sporting set, and whenever a team had to be selected, I was always one of the last to be reluctantly chosen; I always hoped that they would have a full team by the time they go to me. Throughout my life I have never seen the point of putting balls into holes, over nets, into nets, or batting them or catching them, or watching other people doing so. I just thought, still do think, there are a thousand things I would prefer to do before I was reduced to playing with a ball. I watched with fear the bullying that went on around me. I just turned completely inward. I can remember one day with a sinking heart, realising, I could not remember what my parents looked like and then making a conscious decision to forget them, forget my home and forget my past. I stopped being a happy child in my first year at school and became quiet and withdrawn. I smiled at everyone, which on the whole disconcerted them, but then I had always smiled when I was at home. None of the children were allowed to have a toy, and many children picked up stones or pieces of wood that slightly resembled an animal or doll. From what I remember, in the slang of the school, these were called ‘lublubs’, and some children had quite a small collection. However, there were many fights over them and so I ensured I kept clear of having a ‘lublub’ of any sort, though I would dearly have loved to have had something that resembled one of my toys at home. Goodness knows the derivation of ‘lublub’. Teachers declared me to be ‘shy’, but I was just effacing myself as much as possible and watching from the side lines at what I regarded as some sort of hell on earth. When ‘hell’ was spoken of at the Sunday sermon, I knew exactly what it was like; Lovedale School. And so began a troubled five years of my life.

Max Cocker (1923-2011) Lovedale.  I have recently re-read Max Cocker’s love story about his days at Lovedale. He was clearly happy virtually most of the time and can remember so many names and personalities, so many good times, so many adventures. He was helped by the fact that he was with his siblings and came with an open heart, determined to make the most of the excellent education he received and revelled in the magnificent countryside that surrounded the school, which together with its climate, was like a perpetual perfect spring day in England. Lovedale, raised his spirits every time he thought of the place. I sadly have no such memories. My memories of Lovedale are clouded; for the most part, I can only remember how much I disliked the place. I can remember hardly any good times, and certainly no moments that made me feel nostalgic about the school. I suppose I was to blame, I should have joined in more, I should have made friends and soaked up the incredible and unique experience that was life at Lovedale. There must have been very many good natured children there whom I could have befriended, but, sadly, I never found them or them me, and there were excellent teachers, who taught me more in those five years than I ever learnt again.

hf-02School life (ii). We were awakened by a gong early each day just as the sun was rising. The sound of a gong makes my heart skip a beat to this day. We filed into the wash house, where there were individual basins for us to wash in and clean our teeth. My basin was No.3. If you had wet your bed you were placed naked on one side of the room, near the door with your soiled sheets and pyjamas at your feet. It was humiliating and meant to humiliate and everyone who passed them took the opportunity to jeer. ‘They’ were then showered and let go to clean their teeth. As they were later than the rest of us, they were late in putting on their PT kit and when we all assembled outside in the playground for physical exercises, they were late in arriving and therefore given fatigues, which meant that when we all went to breakfast they usually had to run two rounds of the playground. Having no watch or concept of time, I have no idea how long we ‘exercised’, needless to say by the time we returned and went to breakfast we were famished.

The Dining Room – the boys

The dining room. In my time the tables were together and formed long rows. My table was on the left (taken in the 1980s).

My place at breakfast and indeed all meals was the third on the left, with my back to the window. There were three very long tables; the one on the right was for the boys the one on the right was for the girls the one at the top, between the two was for the teachers, matron and other staff. We were always hungry, very hungry. There could have been no reason other than the fresh-air and exercise we got. I always returned home plump and unrecognisable and always returned to school from Madras looking thin. There was a picture on the wall of the dining room which fascinated me. It had a series of square pictures with the letters of the alphabet. The first square had a red apple with the legend, ‘A is for Apple, so Rosy and Red, the second, a baby in its cot – ‘B is for Baby Sleeping in Bed’, ‘C is for Cock that crows in the Morn’, ‘D is for Dog that…. I now have no idea what the dog did other than it rhymed with morn. It was looking at this picture each morning that ‘reading’ finally clicked into place. I have many lasting memories of that dining room. The first is that some boys had their food taken away by the bullies. If there was something they liked on your plate, and you hadn’t been quick enough to eat it, or they felt you needed to be punished for some petty matter, or that you owed it to them, a message came down from one of the bullies that the food on someone’s plate, should be passed down to him. A plate was passed down and the victim had to transfer his food across to it. A hungry boy, one of the latest chosen victims, would know what was about to happen and eat quickly, but such a boy faced retribution after breakfast. So he had to make a quick decision as to whether he was more hungry or more afraid of a thrashing afterwards. Fortunately, we who were at the far end of the long table from the bullies escaped this. I’m sure this was known of by the staff , indeed how could they not know when we at the far end of the table, next to theirs, were well aware of what was going on. Such behaviour was sadly tolerated. A whiff of this behaviour is to be found in Max Cocker’s book, of which, sadly he seems to have been one of the culprits and indeed was gravely miffed when he was told off.

The Dining Room – the girls.  The girls were in separate dormitories to the boys but apparently suffered the same humiliation if they wet their beds. There was one unfortunate girl who was evidently a serial bed-wetter. One day as we were all sitting down to breakfast and grace had been said, silence was called and a chair was placed at the end of the room and the poor girl was led into the room dressed in her school uniform with a potty tied on her bottom, like a bustle, held by a string around her waist. She was made to stand on a chair throughout our breakfast. She screamed the place down. I sat there frightened and disgusted and then began thinking, good for you, just keep screaming as long as you can. What was the school motto Never Give In – well, I thought, keep bellowing, never give in, make them all feel terrible – and she did. Strange that at the age of five I could reason like that.

The mother. The mother of one of the boys in my dormitory obtained a job as matron with the girls part of the school. At the end of the long corridor outside our dormitories was a door leading to the separate girls dormitories which was always locked. Each night after lights out she would unlock this door and come to visit him. She would tell him, and of course all of us, stories, I can’t remember them now but they must have been the standard fairy tales, but it brought us all some comfort. Here was someone who cared about us, I cannot express what solace she brought me.  One of the bullies (of them more later) told our matron of these nocturnal visits and, of course, she sneaked into the dormitory one night and there followed an almighty row between them. The mother was sacked shortly after.

Cross country race.  One of my horrors was the annual Cross Country Race. Max Cocker sets it out in some affectionate detail in his book and describes it as two and a half miles long for the Primary school boys. I can remember very little detail of the race, but can remember the feeling of dread days before it. The reason for the dread was not the race itself, which I took at my leisure, having no wish to compete with anyone, but the obstacles which you had to overcome. One, the worst, was the water jump. It consisted of a rickety wooden construction, Cocker says it was eight feet high, covered with branches into which thorny and prickly branches had been inserted by the ‘big’ boys just for fun. We were also told hair raising tales of snakes hiding in them, which when you think of it if you were a snake it would be an ideal place to catch birds. You were required to climb up this thing and jump off the top into a muddy pond on the other side. Some boys tried to climb down when they reached the top but were hooted at by the bystanders if they did so. I just closed my eyes, climbed my way to the top, stood upright on what seemed a frightening height, the whole structure wobbling about as each boy climbed up, scratched all over, hands and knees bleeding and jumped. Why some of us did not break our ankles is beyond my comprehension, the water was not very deep and full of mud and goodness know what else. Such trials were supposed to build your confidence. Sheer terror and not wanting to be derided was what drove me. Confidence had nothing to do with it. It certainly didn’t build mine. I was just as terrified and broken in spirit each year when I had to climb and jump this hurdle.

Bullies .  I have introduced the bullies. I don’t have names; I erased almost everyone’s name at the school from my memory a long time ago. There were three of them and for at least two of the five years I was in the school; they instituted a reign of terror. At the end of your period at the Primary School, everyone had to pass an examination, if they did, they went to the ‘big’ school, and otherwise they stayed or eventually were dismissed from the school. These three for whatever reason managed not to pass their examinations and therefore stayed at the Primary School; why they were not expelled is a mystery. Maybe their fathers were at war. Who knows. They stayed and were two years older than the oldest pupil. The matron for us boys lived in some comfort in a flat on the other side of the corridor to the dormitories. She gave absolute power to these three oafs provided they delivered a quiet life for her. No one was to be any trouble to her. So she locked herself in her flat and let them rule the roost. They were cruel and spiteful; their special weapon was a skipping rope, usually held by one or other of the three which they freely used on their victims. Fortunately for me, I never became a target during their reign of terror, except accidently.

The dormitory corridor. This is a later picture and does not show the long plain benches that lined both sides of the corridor. The dormitories were off to the right. 

After we had washed and dressed in the morning you sat on benches in the long dormitory corridor in numerical order. We had to sit bolt upright with our heads against the wall and our chests forward so that there was an arch formed by our backs down which the bullies could look and woe betide anyone who slumped back against the wall. This happened to the boy sitting beside me, no.4, and they duly lashed the top of his legs (we wore shorts for PT), the rope landed on his shorts, but the rope also hit my exposed thighs and instantly two huge swellings appeared, one of which burst, there was blood everywhere, it ran down my socks and dripped onto my shoes, I was more horrified to be the centre of attention rather than hurt. Panic ensued; they had to call in the matron, who just shrugged her shoulders at them, raised her eyebrows and dealt with the mess. During the second year an uncle of mine, one of my father’s brothers, Charles, came to visit me while on leave from the air force and fell in love with and married my form teacher who happened to be the matron’s daughter. From that moment on I was safe. But the bullying continued.

The brothers.  There were two brothers at Lovedale who I had met for the first time some weeks before I left home before my second term at Lovedale. They were our next door neighbours, also from a police family. We were never close at school, they were in another dormitory and we were not friends, mainly because I suspect I was so unhappy and withdrawn. During my final year at school, we were transferred to a sort of transitional dormitory, prior to being admitted to the Big School. This tale occurred while we were in this period. There was a dais at the end of the dormitory which held the beds of two, or was it three, seniors; all sergeants. They were supposed to keep order and look after us. They were the most frighting bullies we had encountered so far. The eldest of the two brothers I knew from home, I shall call Pat. Pat was gawky and gentle and would not harm anyone, but had a ferocious temper when roused. He, for some reason, became the target for some of the most ghastly bullying I witnessed at school. Somehow they knew they could goad him into one of his tempers and were merciless in their treatment of him. I remember when we were taken to the Big School to bathe, each of us with his own bath, in a huge bathing room, they would pin him down in his and turn on the hot water tap. He fought like hell, which is what they wanted to see. It was a rule in school never to ‘tell’ on anyone. Why didn’t he or I or his brother ever speak about it to our parents, for his ill-treatment went on for a considerable time. One day while we were at school, up the path from the station came his furious mother. If Pat had a ferocious temper it paled against that of his mother’s. She burst into the school like a bomb. Apparently one of the children had told his parents of the bullying Pat received and the parent had written to his mother. She took the roof off the school. What she did and said I do not know but the bullying stopped for a considerable time and no one ever touched Pat again. Each Sunday before we went to church, the whole school paraded around the parade ground, rifles, band, dark blue school parade uniforms, etc. At the end of the parade which was attended by Pat’s mother, who stood on the podium with the staff, the two bullies were called out and marched forward under escort. They were stripped of their stripes, listened, as we all did, to the withering comments of the headmaster and were, I think, dismissed from the school. Sadly the boy who had ‘told’ was treated like a pariah, though we should all have been grateful to him. Many years later I met up with the brothers, and Pat could not remember a thing about the bullying, he really could not. His brother who had never spoken about it to Pat, could remember, and we were both amazed at how Pat had honestly erased the appalling memory altogether. I think everyone left him alone after that but then we were all to leave school soon after.

Military matters.  The school was a military school and as such we spent endless hours learning how to parade. Within one day of arriving at school, I was put in the hands of an older boy and taught how to march, stand at ease, do left and right turns, how to present arms, slope arms, salute, etc. etc. Even at the age of five, we were presented with lightweight dummy rifles in which to learn parade drill. And then each Sunday before church we put into practice what we had been taught, presenting arms, sloping arms, salutes, right wheel turns, left wheel turns, slow march, quick march, eyes right, etc. etc., all accompanied by the band. Doing right and left wheels was a torment and we did them time and time again. In my last year we were taught how to fire rifles and pistols and how to clean them. I suppose the school always thought that the children at the school should be able to defend themselves in the event of another mutiny or the arrival of the Japanese. I wondered later in life what would have happened to us if the Japanese had arrived. Would we have fought them? The school had a big enough arsenal for everyone to have some sort of weapon. How would we have got home? Would I ever have seen my parents again?

The entertainment

The school and playground, called ‘The Pen’.  The top left hand corner looking down the road towards the station is where I spent many unhappy hours of my life 

The big school usually put on a play or musical – usually Gilbert and Sullivan and as an entr’acte the Primary School put on a small entertainment. One year ours was based on a popular song something about a girl choosing a husband and involved a number of us coming on as prospective suitors and being turned down till she found the right one. There were people from all walks of life paraded in front of her doing a small dance, and incredibly, I was chosen to be an air-force officer coming to pay court. I suppose I must have look small and cute and so I was taught a very basic dance composed of a few steps with my arms up as though I was flying, and wore a replica RAF uniform. Anyway leading up to this grand moment, which consisted of only one performance on the Big School stage, we were told to write to our parents and inform them of this big event and invite them to come to the school to witness it. So I duly wrote to my parents. And a couple of days before the performance, parents started to arrive mostly by car, all probably stayed in Ooty as I doubt there was anywhere suitable in Lovedale. Anyway up that roadway from the station, which could be viewed from the corner of the play-ground and which I knew so well, came flocks of parents. My parents had written to me to say they were coming, but having no car they would be travelling by train. I stood at my corner, now accompanied by many others, all waiting for parents. Mine did not turn up. My heart broke. I cannot describe how I felt; it seemed everyone else’s parents had turned up. It transpired that the only parents who had turned up had come by car and there were many other children equally disappointed. The great day came, I performed, there was a great deal of clapping and many happy faces around me, but my heart was frozen and I felt wretched and cried myself to sleep. The following day I took up my position in the corner of the playground with a handful of other children and who should be coming up the road but my father and mother. I could not believe my eyes. For some time I could not comprehend it was them. I tried to get out of the playground but of course it was locked in and so my first meeting with them was through wire mesh. I was finally let out. Of course they were too late for my one minute performance, and apparently they with many other parents had been taken off the train somewhere on the journey and spent a couple of frightful nights, while a landslip which had carried away the track had been repaired. My father had to return home the following day but my mother stayed with school friends in Ooty and I was allowed to stay with her for a couple of days before they returned. I was in a state of bliss, but it made the parting all the more painful. A PS to this,  My parents were asked to pay for some photographs that had been taken of me performing, which they did, and I was told the photographs would be put in my trunk and I would see them when I unpacked it at home. There were no photographs in my trunk. The money had just been pocked by, I suspect, the matron, apparently hardly any children got their photographs, it must have been quite lucrative for the matron.

Sweets.  Every Saturday there was a ritual after lunch, each child’s name was called out in no order so you never knew when your name would come up and you went up to the matron and she gave you a small bag of sweets. These sweets were paid for by parents who left money with the matron at the beginning of term to cover, what must have been a very small cost involved. What had not been told to my parents, and they only discovered this from another parent, was that it was expected that the matron be given a tip to keep a close eye on their child. My parents having not realised this had presented the prescribed money for the sweets and omitted the tip. In consequence the matron deducted her tip from the sweet money and I and a small number of other children whose parents were in the same situation, did not hear their names called out and did not get sweets. The sweets were not important to me, I’m sure they would have been taken from me very quickly in the playground, what was important was to hear my name called out; this meant that I had some contact with my parents once a week. Each time my name was called out I felt they were touching me, the feeling is almost impossible to convey, but when the last name had been called out and all the bags of sweets had disappeared from the table beside the matron, I felt rejected and broken. I seem to record crying a lot at school, but tears would stream down my face as we all trooped out of the dining room into the playground and my life seemed pointless and I hit rock bottom. This happened throughout the first two years, until my parents cottoned on as to what was required for payment to the matron.

The School.  The Lawrence Memorial Royal Military School was erected in an area called Lovedale, 7,300 feet high in the Nilgiri Hills, and is surrounded by rain forest and very little else thus the name became synonymous with the name of the school. It is 11 degrees north of the equator and has one of the world’s most ideal climates Ootacamund (Ooty) was the summer seat of the Madras government and is three miles from Lovedale. The school was initially in Ooty but moved to its present site in 1867. It was originally known as the Lawrence Asylum and was founded by Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence KCB (1806-1857) (killed in Lucknow during the Indian Mutiny).

Lieutenant (later Brigadier-General Sir) Henry Montgomery Lawrence (1806–1857)

Lieutenant (later Brigadier-General Sir) Henry Montgomery Lawrence (1806-1857) by James Heath Millington (1799-18972). National Army Museum

Sir Henry had been concerned about the welfare of the orphans of British soldiers and it was through his efforts that four Lawrence Asylums were opened, Sanawar in 1847, Mount Abu in 1856, Ootacumund in 1858 and Gjhora Gali in 1860. In 1913, Lovedale school was renamed Lawrence Memorial School and in 1922 it received royal patronage and changed its name to Lawrence Memorial Royal Military School.

lawrence 1

The memorial tablet to Sir Henry Lawrence erected in
St Paul’s Cathedral Calcutta

Sculptor Sir Edward Arlington Foley (1814-1874)

lawrence 2

Memorial to Sir Henry Lawrence in St Paul’s Cathedral, London
by John Graham Lough (1798-1876)

In 1949 the school was handed over to the Indian Government and its name changed to The Lawrence School. It has since become one of India’s foremost public schools. The school was reached by road and rail. The overnight train from Madras, the Blue Mountain Express terminated at Mettupalayam. From there you joined the small, almost toy, Nilgiri Mountain Railway built in 1908 with an engine at each end pushing and pulling the train on a central cog which stopped at Lovedale before finally terminating at Ooty a journey of about 30 miles North West and 7,500 feet high.

Image result for train to lovedale ooty

Nilgiri Mountain Railway

The line is 26 miles long and travels through 208 curves and 16 tunnels, has 250 bridges and stops at 12 stations. It is an incredible journey, through mountainous forests and waterfalls; I can still remember the incredible exotic damp scents which pervaded the train the branches of trees brushing past and the waterfalls splashing on the roof of the train and the call of monkeys and exotic birds. We once passed a moss covered stone wall covered in butterflies, something must have attracted them, it was an incredible sight. I realise now, it must have cost my parents a considerable part of their income to send me to the school.

The hospital   School assembly took place every morning after breakfast and before we filed off to our classrooms, a hymn was sung, prayers said and announcements made. The teachers all stood on a dais facing us. Suddenly one morning, during my first term, just as we were about to commence, one of the teachers virtually leapt from the dais and came rushing towards me, grabbed me by the collar and escorted me out of the room. I was horrified and wondered what crime I had unknowingly committed. It appeared that I had mumps; I caught a glimpse of my face in a glass and saw that it was almost circular. It only illustrates just how invisible I had become that no one had even looked at me that morning. I was rushed to the school hospital and put to bed. The hospital was set in its own grounds, with flower beds and magnificent views of the countryside. It was very tranquil. Recalling this for the first time for many, many years, I realise that my term in hospital was indeed a very happy one. I certainly remember how beautiful and peaceful it was in the garden surrounded by mountains, (was it?) and the exotic birds and butterflies that visited the green lawns and vivid coloured flower beds. I stayed in hospital for the remainder of the term. Every child who brought anything into the hospital, whether it was measles, chickenpox, whatever, if it was catching, I caught it. I had a blissful time, there were never more than a dozen children in the hospital at a time and I became the hospital pet. That period was certainly the happiest time of my life at school. Mornings, watching the sun come up, being overwhelmed by the scents in the garden. I made friends with the Indian gardener and I can remember that he carried me on his back to the station at the end of term.

The school anthem. For those who have not read Max Cocker’s book on Lovedale it may be worth recording the school song. The words by R. H. Rolfe and the music by J. Hennesey. I can find no record of either of these names. Anyway the anthem was sung at the only school reunion I attended in London.  It brought just sad, sad memories to me and I found that both my mother and I were in tears, I recalling my heartache and unhappiness and she recalling all her happy memories of her beloved school and her school friends. ‘Never Give In’ (the school motto). I wonder if it is sung by the pupils at Lovedale today?

First verse

At the dawn of Life’s endeavour with our hopes strung high we stand
In our childhood’s home whichever spreads wide her bounteous hand

Here a glorious inspiration from our Founder we’ll surely win

And with strong determination, play the game and ‘Never Give In’ 


Keep the dear old School in mind;
Strength in our hearts to play our parts,

Thrust fear and wrong behind.

We’ll live our life mid stress and strife

With the power and with the will to win

And we’ll show the world 

Our flag unfurled

With our watchword, ‘Never Give in’.

Second verse

At the noon of Life’s endeavour, while we toil to win the prize,
There’ll be memories nought can sever, thro’ heart and soul they’ll rise;

To the Blue Hills they’ll restore us, from the heat and the toil and the din

To that home where haunting chorus still rings out its, ‘Never Give In’.

Third verse.

At the eve of life’s endeavour, with the sands of our day’s work run,
All Lawrencians dull or clever will hear the loud, “Well done”

And our rest will be the better from conviction so deep within,

That in spirit and in letter, we will strive and did ‘Never Give In’ 

No wonder my mother and I were in tears.

The train home
On the train home the atmosphere was akin to scenes from St Trinians. Everyone was excited and the noise and confusion must have made anyone else travelling on the trains think they had entered a mad-house. However, the moment the train had descended from the mountains to the plains, and headed to Madras, the heat silenced all but the most boisterous. My memory of that first train journey back home, is that, because if had been in hospital for such a length period, I hardly knew a soul and remember feeling very lonely and isolated as everyone seemed to know everyone except me. My father came to the station in Madras to meet me. He did not recognise me, I was so plump and healthy looking. I got off the train and stood quietly by his side while he searched for me among the pupils getting off the train. He finally made an enquiry of a teacher and was told I was standing beside him. I could not understand why he did not recognise me and I was too shy to make myself known. I returned home in a rickshaw and my father followed at the side on his horse. I was so relieved to be back home and of course found I had a baby sister, Anne.

My mother was fully occupied with her and seemed to have very little time for me, I who had had my mother’s undivided attention all my life, suddenly felt neglected.  Anne had had a very troubled first year of life when she fell ill and nearly died. Surviving whatever horror it was, probably gave her the strong constitution she now has.

I also thought that maybe that was the end of school and I could get on with my old life. When I expressed this to my father one day, he soon let me know that I would be returning to school very shortly. I was horrified. He once took me to the police stables where his horses were kept and tried to get me to ride on one of them. I was having none of it, the horses looked terrifying. I now realise how foolish and timid I was and must have been a grave disappointment to my father. One day while I was at home my dog Amy had to be shot because she caught rabies. She came into the house,  foaming at the mouth, looking terrified, my mother rushed me out of the room and enticed the now crazed Amy into a small unused room at the back of the house, I remember seeing the foam from her mouth splashing everywhere, but she still tried to wag her tail at the sight of my mother. She was locked in the room and howled and scratched at the door. My father finally arrived with a rifle and shot her through the window. The house had to be cleaned and I was distraught. The next day my father arrived with a small puppy he had found being used as a football by some boys on the beach. She was covered with fleas and terrified of everyone. Within weeks she was transformed and became my closest friend and though I must have given her a name, to my shame I cannot remember it and I only knew her for a very short time. I duly returned to school, feeling deeply troubled and unhappy. My dog also caught rabies and had to be shot.

My father’s maternal ancestors. The Hendersons. I have been able to trace my father’s family firstly on his mother’s side back to great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Alexander Henderson born in 1673 (see family trees) to Fulton Henderson (1833-1906) who was the son of George Henderson, a butler at Prestonfield House Edinburgh, now a very stylish hotel still containing its original paintings, tapestries and ornate plaster ceilings, with an  important collection of paintings which includes two by Raeburn. 003

Prestonfield House in the Victorian era

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Image result for prestonfield house edinburgh

Interior of Prestonfield House

My cousin Lorna, my father’s  sister Violet’s daughter and I paid a visit to Prestonfield, sometime in the 90s and had a tour of the house followed by lunch.  All very grand. Surprisingly our splendid lunch was served to us by an Indian.  We tried to imagine our ancestor working as a butler and would dearly have loved to see the ‘downstairs’ but sadly that was out of bounds. It really is one of the most opulently furnished hotel either of us had ever seen.   The modern general décor was luxurious to magnificently over the top but fortunately all was matched by the very ornate, original plasterwork ceilings, and the enormous collection of paintings which must have been sold with the house.

Fulton Henderson

Fulton Henderson

Fulton was born in Edinburgh in 1833 and married Emma Dady (1846-1908) on 27 April 1863 at Seetabuldee, Trichinopoly, he was 28 and she 17.  They had 11 children. For details of family see Family Tree

Emma Dady was the daughter of Frederick Dady (b.c.1816) a soldier who had come to India on HMS Repulse.  He was a Sub-Conductor Ordnance, India.  He married Letitia Cranfield (1829-1897) at Cuddalore on 21 September 1842 when she was 13 years of age. Letitia died in Madras at the age of 68. For details of family see Family Tree.

Fulton volunteered for the Madras European Artillery in 1853 and sailed to India on the Coeur de Lion in the same year. He was a tailor by trade was 5ft 9 ins tall and had blue eyes and fair hair. He signed on for 12 years and was posted to the 2nd Brigade of Artillery on the Madras establishment. He was promoted to corporal in 1858 and became a sergeant in 1862. As a result of the Indian Mutiny, the East India Company’s army was disbanded  and European soldiers were given the option of discharge or transfer to the British Army. A few Non Commissioned Officers, were allowed to fill specialist vacancies in the Ordnance, Public works or clerical departments which is what Fulton did.  In 1864 he was a stores sergeant in th Ordnance Department. On 16 September 1874 he was promoted Sub Conductor, on 13 April 1878 he became a Conductor , on 14 September he was an assistant commissary and on 10 January 1887 be became Deputy Commissary and was made an Honorary Captain and appears in a list of Honorary Commissioned Officers of the Madras Circle, Fort St George, and finally retired from the service on16 March 1888 at the age of 55.  He seems from his records that he saw no active service as he cannot be found on the Indian Mutiny medal roll and anyway he was not in the units of the Madras Army which saw action.  His pension was 240 rupees a month.  Fulton died of bronchitis aged 72 on 2 July 1906 and was buried at St Andrew’s Church, Madras on 3 July 1906.  For details of Fulton and Emma’s children see Family Tree.

The man with the hang-dog expression in the centre is Fulton Henderson (1837-1906). Emma Henderson nee Dady (1850/2-1908) , his wife, is in the centre row, second from the left. Blanche Henderson is in the back row, second from the left. Frederick Fulton Henderson is next to her third from the left, Arthur Benns (1872-1939) is also in the back row, first on the right. He stands behind his wife Maud Henderson (1871-1918), Mrs Benns with their daughter Blanche Emma Benns (1904-1983) on her lap. Maud Colquhon (1900-1935) is seated on the floor second from left. (It has to be said that no two people agree on these identifications!)

My great-grandmother Emma, was born in Kamtee, India.  Tales in the family have it she was caught up in the Indian Munity as a child and had escaped death by fleeing, disguised with her ayah in a bullock-cart. Emma was the daughter of Frederick Dady (b.c.1816) a soldier sub-Conductor of the Ordnance Department, India who had, at the age of 26 married, in Madras, the 14 year old Letitia Cranfield (b.1829-1897). Fulton and Emma had 12 children. His youngest daughter Jessie (1855-1968) was born in Rangoon, and is my loathed grandmother. Fulton my great-grandfather must have been reasonably well off to be able to afford silver cutlery elaborately stamped with his initials, a few pieces of which have survived with another branch of the family.









Fulton Henderson’s gravestone

The Holdaways.  Jesse Holdaway (1845-1908). Born in Hartley Witney, Hampshire in 1845. Joined City of London Policeat age 21. Married in St Botolp’s Church, London to Isabella Mellafont on 3rd January 1869. Isabella Mellafont (b.1848) who was born in London on 13 April 1848 was the daughter of Thomas Gray Mellafont (b.1824/5) who was born in Bantry County Cork, Ireland and was also in the City of London Police and Elizabeth Sturt. Jesse died at 19 New Union Street, Moorgate, London on 7 February 1908. Jesse had many children, at least 5 brothers and I don’t know how many sisters. My direct ancestor Jesse had been a policeman in the City of London Police from the age of 21 (1866) till his retirement due to ill health in 1893. He retired on a handsome pension of £60.9.9d per annum. More than my father, his grandson got 50 years later. His records show that he was fined for being asleep on duty (twice), drunk on duty (once), gossiping (twice), and being found in a wine cellar (once). Sadly, records, being records don’t describe anything positive about him.

Grandfather Thomas Henry Holdaway (i).  Jesse and Isabella’s son my grandfather Thomas Henry Holdaway (1869-1935) was born in Shoreditch, London on 30th November 1869.  On his army record, he is recorded as being a porter before his joined the army in 1886.  He joined, first the Middlesex Regiment and then the 1st Batallion Lincolnshire Regiment, was 5ft 5 ½ in. tall and weighed 128 lbs.  In February 1889 the regiment sailed from England to Malta. They spent two years in Malta.  The Regiment then sailed to Egypt to deal with the uprising in the Sudan under the Mahdi, known as the Nile Campaign or the Mahdist War (1881-99).  This was a British colonial war which was fought between the Mahdist Sudenese of the religious leader Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah who had proclaimed himself the ‘Mahdi’ of Islam (the ‘Guided One) and the forces of the Khedivate of Egypt, initially, and later the forces of Britain.   007Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah (1844–1885) was a religious leader of the Samaniyya order in Sudan who, on June 29, 1881, proclaimed himself the Mahdi, the messianic redeemer of the Islamic faith. In 1885 at the fall of Khartoum the garrison was slaughtered, and General Gordon was killed fighting the Mahdi’s warriors on the steps of the palace. He was hacked to pieces and beheaded. When Gordon’s head was unwrapped at the Mahdi’s feet, he ordered the head transfixed between the branches of a tree “where all who passed it could look in disdain, children could throw stones at it and the hawks of the desert could sweep and circle above.”  Six months after the capture of Khartoum, Muhammad Ahmad died of typhus and was buried in Omdurman near the ruins of Khartoum. Kitchener had the body dug up and retaining the scull, pitched the Mahdi’s bones into the river.

The Regiment was the first battalion to leave Cairo for Abu Hamed in January 1898. The force with the Cameron Highlanders, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and later the 1st Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders marched on through Berber and joined the main army under the Sidar on March 30th 1898 on the banks of the Atbara.  On the morning of April 8th 1898 the Battle of Atbara took place and 3000 Dervishes were killed  During the summer the Battalion was stationed midway between Berber and the junction of the River Atbara with the Nile.


Lord Kitchener, centre right, in the field with the army in 1898

In September under General Kitchener they took part in the battle of Omdurman (Kartoum).  The remnants of the Dervish army were put to flight and 10,000 out of a Dervish army of 50,000 were killed. After the occupation of Omdurman, the Battalion was sent down the Nile in boats as far as Atbara, entraining there to Cairo, where some few days were spent in camp, and medals for the campaign were presented.  Late in October and early in November the 1st Battalion the Lincolnshire Regiment was sent in two parties by train to Suez, where it embarked for Bombay proceeding from there by train to Secunderabad, India.


On 12th December 1900 at the age of 31 he married my 15 year old grandmother Jessie Henderson in Rangoon where they spent their honeymoon. Here are photographs of them both on their wedding day, she looking very poised in white with an extraordinary hat which must have cost the lives of many birds       On the wedding certificate he is described as Acting Sergeant Major, Poonamallee. They had six children, the second eldest being my father, Walter Henry Cutting Holdaway. On 7 February  1908 he discharged himself from the army at Kamptee. His army number was 1665 and he held the rank of Sergeant. He was 39 years and two months old.  His height was said to be 5ft 10 ins and his chest 41 ins. The reason for his discharge was that he had come to the end of his second period of engagement. He had completed 21 years and 69 days service. His service record shows that he was a Private 19 November 1889, Lance Corporal 8 April 1890, Corporal, 1 May 189 and sergeant 1t December 1894. Having left the army he took his pension and returned to England, where his address is given as 114 Fenchurch Street, London.   Thus my father, their second son, was born in London in 1909. Henry and Jessie were not entirely happy with their lot in London. Obviously he had a modest army pension, but suitable work was difficult to find. At one time he worked as an ‘exhibition attendant’, though where is not known. Jessie Holdaway, born and reared in some comfort in Burma, was very unhappy with the English climate. She yearned to return to a warm, sunnier clime with servants and a bungalow. Sometime before the birth of their third child Violet in 1913, the family returned to India and Henry joined the Madras City Police.

Grandfather Holdaway (ii).  One thing was soon apparent; Sergeant Holdaway, like his son, my father, preferred to work as far away from the city as possible. The more remote a posting was, the more he liked it. Violet was born in Madras, but the next three boys, William, Edwin and Charles were born in the outback: Tuticorin, Arkonam and Vellore respectively. All were eventually sent to Lovedale. My grandfather favoured out-of-the-way postings, and in consequence my father and his brothers and sister had a wonderful life. They had boundless freedom to wander in the open, to investigate and learn about their unique environment. They mixed with the local population, learned the ‘lingo’, and led a life beyond the imagination of modern children. At one point my father kept a pet iguana. The photograph is of my father aged 3 years.

My grandfather, Thomas Henry Holdaway (centre second left). Poonamalee

My grandfather had elephants in his charge and jaunts on them for his children were a common event. To ensure that the elephants were property fed, my grandfather insisted on the elephants and their food being brought to the bungalow every evening and they were fed under his watchful eye. In later years my father looked back on this as a Golden Age. At one period his father had to deal with a rebellion by the Moplahs tribe, where he was nearly killed by an arrow.

Thomas Henry Holdaway and Jessie Henderson. had six children, including my father, Walter Henry Cutting Holdaway (1909-1968). For details of the children see Family Tree.

Back: Herbert Fulton Jesse Holdaway (1906-1991) and Walter Henry Cutting Holdaway (1909-1968) (centre) Jessie Holdaway (1885-1968), Charles Richard Sidney Holdaway (1921-1993) Thomas Henry Holdaway (1869-1935) (bottom) William (Billy) James Pierson Holdaway (1915-1941), Edwin Albert Morton Holdway (1918-2010) and Violet Isabella Alice Holdaway (later Mrs Frank Barks) (1913-1990).

Setbacks for my grandparents.  Life did not always run smoothly for my grandfather and his family. My grandmother had inherited a handsome collection of jewellery from some obscure relative. The jewellery was, apparently, quite valuable. Sadly it was all stolen and was never recovered. Also, rather injudiciously, my grandfather had agreed to stand as guarantor on behalf of a friend for quite a large sum of money. The ‘friend’ reneged and disappeared. As an honourable man he felt bound to honour the debt. This caused considerable hardship to the family over a long period. When the time came to retire from the police he became the verger at St George’s Cathedral, Madras and was virtually penniless.

Rockville Madras, the Verger’s House, behind the cathedral, where my grandfather lived with his family. The house no longer stands

My youthful father.  My father, more than his siblings, profited from those early days in far-flung postings. He became fascinated by the wild life of India and became a young and very competent ornithologist and lepidopterist. He formed a wonderful butterfly collection, brought in injured creature to nurture and kept pets of all kinds. At Lovedale, where he and his siblings were all sent to be educated, he was able to continue his interest as there was an abundance of wild life in the area around the school. It was at Lovedale my father learned to read music and play a range of instruments. It is little wonder that Lovedale boys were much-appreciated recruits in the Regular Army.

The favoured. My father’s sister Violet and brother Charles at Lovedale in their ghastly day uniforms. During my mother’s time at Lovedale (see below) they were updated.

At the end of term children returned to their parents, except for the orphans and the children whose parents could not afford to keep at home. My grandfather told the children he could not afford to have them all back, so Violet, Herbert and Charles were chosen to go back home and my father and his brother Edwin were left behind. This happened at the end of two terms, both were absolutely shattered by what they thought was unfair treatment. Though it did enable them to go ‘wild’ as there was little supervision and no lessons and no parades and they had all the adjacent countryside with its wild animals, exotic birds and magnificent butterflies to explore each day. I hope it was some compensation for their rejection by their parents.

My grandmother, grandfather and my father’s sister Violet

My grandfather outside the Cathedral, Madras.

Edwin at home.

My father’s brother Billy in Madras.  He was never sent to Lovedale because he  suffered from some ailment.  What it was I do not know but he was considered too delicate to suffer the rigours of Lovedale and remained home and died young.

My father’s brothers Edwin, Billy and Charles.

Marjorie Markham. Billy and Violet

My grandmother.  My father’s mother.

My father joins the army.  On the 16th of May, 1925, aged sixteen, and not having seen his parents for two years, my father left school, leaving Edwin behind, to which he did not take too kindly, and walked to Wellington in the Nilgris and enlisted in the army. He became a band boy, number 399727, in the 5/6th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards and was posted to the North West Frontier in India.

Band boy Walter Henry Cutting Holdaway, number 399727

My father is seated on the ground on the right.




Headquarters of Squadron, Royal Iniskilling Dragoon Guard. My father is in the 5th row from the top and 4th from the left.

My father played in the band and learned to ride which left him with a lifelong passions for horses. The regiment came to England for four years in November 1928, where he appeared in riding displays standing on two horses as they went around the arena.

‘Snowy’ The Regimental Mascot

S. ‘Dasher’Knight and my father on the right. York 1929

My father. 5th Royal Inniskiling Dragoon Guards. Aldershot, 1931

My father, Warburg Barracks, Aldershot, 1929

A painting of my father in uniform painted by a friend which is owned by my sister.

My father in York

My father and comrade in Lowestoft. 5/6th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards

My father with drummer Hamber in Lowestoft

My father with his comrades at Lowestoft.

In Lowestoft

My father in Aldershot

My father in Aldershot

Mounted band of the Inniskilling Dragoon Guards. Aldershot Tattoo.
Arrow indicates my father 

My father returned to India.  England did not suit my father and he went back to India with the 15/16th Hussars and later joined the 14/20 Hussars. 031

My father riding a bullock

My grandfather and my father

He became a superb and versatile musician, although his main instrument was the trumpet. His competence was rewarded with an offer of a place at Kneller Hall, then the temple of military music. He refused. The lure of India was too great.

My father in the army in India.  As he matured into manhood, he also became an excellent rider and marksman. Like many servicemen in those days, he served on the North West Frontier of India; he was a great raconteur and often spoke of Peshawar, Nowshera, Jalabad, Rawalpindi and the Khyber Pass.

The fact that he was a great raconteur comes from listening to other people talk about him.  He rarely, if ever, talked about his life to us his family and all we had were these photographs which I know I poured over many times trying to put together a picture of my father’s early life which seemed so remote to us. There were originally many more photographs but albums of them were abandoned in India before we left for England due to the fact that the amount of our luggage we were allowed was restricted.  The ants probably got them.  I could weep when I consider what we had to leave behind.

021 My father (right) with Bandsman Cray on the Khyber Pass


The snow peaks of Dagshi


The Muree Hills


My father on the right, en route to Khanspur Hill Station


My father on his horse on which he could ride bareback 


My father far right at Landikotal


My father on the left on his bunk at one of his stations

He would tell of men who came by like ghosts in the night to steal rifles and take anything that was not nailed down. Rifle stealing was so prevalent that in some of the postings, the men slept with their weapons chained to them. All the soldiers kept dogs as guard dogs.

Local tribesmen at Nowshera

My father spoke of the barbaric nature of the enemy as exemplified in the discovery of an advance party of six of his fellow soldiers found in their tents with their severed heads placed neatly on their chests. Life was a series of alarms and skirmishes with some fun.  He spent some time guarding the Khyber Pass and told of the long trains of horses and donkeys that set off daily down the pass. One day he and a group of soldiers were at the Pass when a long train of laden horses came into view led by a man on horseback. The man was fast asleep, so they slowly turned his horse around and slowly manoeuvred the train so that it set off back down the Pass from where they had just come. I always felt sorry for the horses. I don’t know whether there was an end to the tale.


A camel caravan on the Khyber Pass

Preparing to cross the Khyber Pass


My father with Bandsman Cray at Khanspur


Band practice at Khanspur


My father with Edwin’s tuba


Bandsmen and trumpeters in the band at Risalpur
(left to right) …?….,  Thorington, Kirby, Walter Holdaway and Brant


Band of the 14/20th Kings Hussars, Risalpur, North West Frontier.  Back row (left to right) : Cosgrove, Burnham, Cray, Knighton, Walter Holdaway, Evans, Ellender and Coles.  Second from back row: Phillips, Brant, Thornington, Martin, Mayland, Mayland, Wiltshire, Plummer, Howard.  Third row from back: Stonehouse, Bonser, Probert, Jones, Edwin Holdaway, Easterbrooke, Proctor.  Standing front row: Drury, Dewsall, Tracy, Gill, Cray, Chubb, Kirby.  Seated: Bonser, Major Pope, Lieutenant Colonel Miller, Bandmaster Grimes, Sgt.Sheerwood

Peshawar Station on the North West Frontier



Fort on the Khyber Pass


The Attock Bridge on the Khyber Pass

Attock Bridge is situated on the Indus River.  This bridge was one of the most important strategic and commercial crossing on the river between the Pubjab and Khyber provinces, hence was heavily fortified. Designed by Sir Guilford Molesworth it was opened to traffic on 24 May 1883. It was redesigned by Sir Francis Callaghan and was reconstructed in 1929. The approaches to the bridge were built as solid fortifications – as a defense against raids from nearby  Pashtun tribesmen.


The gardens of the Bank Block, Risalpur


The Attock Bridge on the Khyber Pass

A railway tunnel on the North West Frontier

My father with his army mates and dog. Barracks near Khyber Pass, 1933.

Playing hockey, my father second from the right with is dog.

My father’s bed in the barracks near the Khyber Pass.  Looks very Spartan, no wonder they were cold at night.

My father with his mates in the barracks near the Khyber Pass.


North West Frontier, India. Melton eating, my father bottom left with his comrades.


My father on the far right.


The Khyber Pass, 3,510 ft. is a mountain pass connecting what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan, and cuts through the northeastern part of the Spin Ghar mountains. It was an integral part of the ancient Silk Road and is one of the oldest known passes in the world. Throughout history it has been an important trade route between Central Asia and India and a strategic military location. Khyber is the Hebrew word for fort.

The fort near the Khyber Pass

A watch tower near the Khyber Pass

Tribesman of the Khyber Pass

Dogs. Dogs were kept by most of the soldiers on the North West Frontier and my father was no exception. Sadly most of the dogs caught rabies, sooner or later and had to be shot. My father’s dogs always lay at the bottom of his bed at night, he said they were there to guard him and keep him warn during the freezing cold nights.


These are some my father’s many dogs 


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