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John and Edith's wedding
John and Edith's wedding in 1945

Edith and John with Penelope
Edith and John with me in Delhi


Sailing home
We sailed home from Bombay on the 1 June 1947

The War years

Shortly after war was declared the 2nd Battalion moved to Fort Sandeman (see map) where a formal photo was taken (see below) and then to Secunderabad, Deccan in September 1940 for training. From there they go to Malaya landing in Penang in March 1941. Ironically they are disappointed when they hear of their Malaya posting, as it’s a backwater, writes my father, where nothing will ever happen.

Indian Army officers

Officers at Fort Sandeman in 1940


 But this is where the war begins, and it is never the same again; they all scatter to the wind. Having landed in Malaya, my father, much to his chagrin and disappointment, is ordered to attend Staff College in Quetta. While there the battalion becomes embroiled in the fighting that erupts in Malaya and is utterly decimated. So the Battalion that my father revered and spent the happiest years of his bachelor life is no more, and I also believe that my father never forgives himself for being absent during that fighting.

On 15 January 1942 he is posted as Brigade Major, Jullunder Brigade Area, a training area for the war. He thoroughly enjoyed that time there but was soon given another post as Staff Officer in the Waziristan District, which again he enjoyed. He could have had a very comfortable war well away from the frontline nevertheless, he pushed very hard to get to the war, and finally succeeded, getting a posting in Burma to a new war-raised Jat battalion in August 1943.  He took part in some action, which he describes in detail in his memoirs and remained with this battalion until July 1945.

When the Commanding Officer moves on in June 45, my father is asked to give up his UK leave to take command of the Battalion but decides that he is too tired physically and mentally to do so. Instead he goes home and marries my mother in August 1945. He returned to India by air in December 45 with my mother following by sea and I am born in June 1946 in Naini Tal. He is in India for one more year and nearly gets command twice; first it’s the 7th Battalion IX Jats and then the Andaman Islands, but both fall through. Finally he gets a staff job as GSO II in Delhi and I came down to from the hills with my ayah and lived in a hostel with my parents. We return to England sailing from Bombay 1 June 1947 almost a year to the day I was born, and my father left the army to become a chartered accountant because,

“I really did understand that very complicated document, the Sepoy's pre-war Pay and Mess book.”