Sunday, October 26, 2008

"One Touch of Adyar Changes Us Forever" : Brodie Castle from Hudleston's Garden

I very well remember the date, it was October 1, 1996 in London.I had just stepped out of the hotel but remembered that I had left some papers behind in the room. When I ran up to the room the telephone was ringing . Could it be Christies calling so soon? The lady at the catalogue counter had promised to look for those two exhibition catalogues and get back. Yes, she had found the two catalogue I wanted – one of the recently held sale of Daniell Oils by the P&O Company and the second,relating to an earlier sale, the “Visions of India” exhibition of the Paul Walter collection. Moreover, she had found a copy of the 1995 Paul Walter sale catalogue as well.

I had appointments to keep but Christies was round the corner from my hotel. Moreover, one could keep appointments all one’s life but never again find these catalogues (there was no E-bay then, I think). So, to Christie’s I went first, thanked the lady and pocketed the catalogues. As I was leaving, she implored me, “ don’t breathe a word about the Daniell catalogue until you leave the building, there are many people wanting one and you will start a stampede”.

Later that day, I managed to pick up “Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon” by Peter Washington, a book I had been looking for, for over a year. It is the story of the Theosophical Society at Adyar in Madras, a short distance from my permanent home. Back home in Dubai, where I was living then, I looked through the catalogues at leisure. Item No. 173 in the 1995 Paul Walter catalogue had me sitting up. It was a watercolour view of Brodie Castle in Madras and the catalogue description read :

Justinian Gantz (1802 - 62)

“View of Brodie’s Castle, from Mr Hudleston’s Garden, Madras, signed and dated ‘Just Gantz, ‘52’ (lower centre) and inscribed ‘Brodie Castle from Mr Hudleston’s Garden’ (on the reverse). Pencil, pen and brown ink and watercolour, unframed 10 3/8 x 16 ½ inches”.

The accompanying visual in the catalogue was only printed in monochrome.
I knew the item had been sold (it was the previous year’s catalogue) but couldn’t put the picture out of my mind. Christies were good enough to put me in touch with the successful bidder but he responded with a price that was four times his winning bid, way too high compared to my budget. The only course was to wait, there was a good chance that buyers may not offer his price as the Christie’s catalogue surprisingly gave no information about the picture except what is quoted above ( I was later to find out why). A good chance but only a chance, not a certainty and I had no option except to wait in faint hope. And I could not put the drawing out of my mind.

The Gantz Trio of Madras

Now, for someone from Madras with an interest in period drawings of the city, any drawing by one of the Gantz family, father and two sons, is rather special. Madras alone of the Indian cities had this distinction that it could boast of three fine local artists in residence over a 75 year period ( roughly 1800 - 1875). John Gantz (1772 - 1853) is thought to be of Austrian extraction and he and his two sons, Justinian (1802 -62) and Julius Walter (1816 - 75), ran a lithographic press in the city besides being extremely accomplished artists. A little digging into the history of lithography in India leads me to believe that the Gantz press was the first private, i.e commercial litho press in the country.

Drawings of the Gantzes decorate many of the posts in this blog, including this one. You can judge for yourselves the quality of their output. And let me add that Justinian and Julius Walter were both christened at St Mary's, Madras (as were all the other children of John Gantz).

Our Outings on the Adyar Flats

Brodie Castle form Hudleston’s Garden ! This is a lovely Madras view very familiar to me and one associated with many a pleasant outing to the spot with my friend Shivakumar. That is another reason I hankered after this watercolour. I have enjoyed this beautiful view on many a Saturday and Sunday morning between 1989 and 92when I lived even nearer to the Theosophical Society than I do now. Here are two visuals of the front of Brodie Castle, a photograph published by the Hindu and a beautiful contemporary etching in my collection by Bruce Peck, presumably based on the photograph.

If Madras had its Gantzes in the 19th Century, it can boast of Bruce Peck in the 20th and 21st Centuries, again a distinction that few other cities can claim. I have quite a few of his beautiful views of Madras and Kodaikanal dating from 1988 to 95. I see from his website that he went to school in our South Indian hills, still visits India annually and produces landscape etchings of Madras, the Western Ghats and of Benares.

I said I lived very near the Theosophical Society (or Theo Soc, as abbreviated in my bird notes) and most Sunday mornings would find Shivakumar and self, equipped with binocs, telescope (mine) and tripod (his), trooping into its extensive estate of nearly 300 acres on the banks of the Adyar. The idea was to do a checklist of the birds in the Theo Soc gardens and in the Adyar mudflats alongside. Oftentimes we came across Radha Burnier, the Society’s handsome President, inspecting her demesne. As we loped past, we must have looked to her a most un-theosophical minded pair of fogeys, if not downright blots on the landscape.

After a quick ramble through the Society's gardens we would move on towards the south bank of the Adyar. It was a moment's work to slip through the barbed wire and on to the relatively drier mudflats of the Adyar estuary and a couple of hours could be spent watching water birds and birds of prey. Mind you, the river is tidal at his point, being less than a Kilometre from the Bay of Bengal. So, one had to be mindful of the odd sea snake as a bite by one of these babies is always fatal(that there is no anti venom for sea snake bite makes no difference as the poison is said to kill in a very few minutes). Not there had been any reported incidents in recent times, sea snakes seldom venture inshore but still : the sea snakes were around, we are not terribly adventurous types, we only wanted to record the birds, so we had to be careful.

The bird watching on the estuary was actually a couple of hours of hard grind with little or no ease, wading around in knee deep water at times, the sharp morning sun beating down on us . But we enjoyed ourselves for there were waders by the thousands and birds of prey soaring overhead, especially the magnificent White Bellied Sea Eagle and some Harriers. And the wind in the face always gave us enthusiasm for the vigil. Above all else was the view : a sheet of water with the rivermouth and the Bay of Bengal to the right, Chettinad Palace, a Rajah's palace on the north bank, shimmering in the haze. Also, an unbelievable calm in the midst of an urban setting, something one can find only on the Adyar flats, with the bridge and the traffic nearly 2 KM's to the left. George Arundale, a past president of Theo Soc who no doubt had enjoyed this view, wrote : "One touch of Adyar changes us forever ". By Adyar, he surely meant the Society but I always thought those words equally described this riverine idyll.

Looking across the river, Brodie Castle is the first landmark to the left followed, to the right, by a temple, the Chettinad Palace, the Quibble Island Cemetery and so on with the view merging inot the distant Forshore Estate, an old housing development.

The House that James Brodie Built

James Brodie was a civil servant of the East India Company in Madras from the year 1784 and was Garrison Storekeeper in about 1800. In 1796 the Company gave him a grant of 11 acres of land on the North Bank of the Adyar river on which he quickly built himself a large house. In fact, a survey of 1798 has been found with the house marked on it. Brodie is described as : "tall and slender; with a calm and placid countenance .... wore powdered hair with a queue behind, a sky blue coat, with two or three large buttons .... in the fashion of the close of 1790 - odd". He married Miss Ann Storey in 1785 and got into some trouble with the East India Company in 1800 for trading on his own account, being asked either to resign his position with the Company or to desist from such trading.

Brodie built himself a grand, classical house with a colonnaded and pedimented portico but added a medieval or Scottish touch in the form of two castellated turrets. Brodie suffered a reversal in his fortunes sometime after the construction of the house and had to let it to a succession of civil servants. He did manage to resume the property sometime before his death by drowning in 1802. Brodie was fond of boating and the house backs on to the Adyar with steps leading down to the river. Ann Brodie apparently had a dream about her husband drowning in the river and cautioned him against going to the river. But he did and was drowned in the Adyar.

The glory days of Brodie Castle were by no means over with the death of its owner. For the next 150 years it housed the senior civil servants of Madras, the property having reverted to the Company . "Brodie Castle, the most imaginative of the merchants' palaces, with its long drawing-room jutting out into the Adyar river and catching every breeze, was occupied in 1930 by Charles Cotton, then Chief Secretary to the Madras Government, who had furnished it with a fine collection of 18th Century furniture and china made in or for South India and the Daniell brothers' paintings and prints of local scenes. .... I remember well the scene one morning as the great man, a spruce little figure in his white topee, silk suit, monocle and Old Etonian tie, emerged on the steps of the portico, while his car and attendants waited below". Thus Humphrey Trevelyan in 'The India We Left'.

The building is now in use as the College of Music and is still in good overall condition, in spite of being subjected to the TLC of the state public works crew (for example, a mini temple has been installed in the main drawing room which still catches every nuance of the Adyar breeze). An entire three KM stretch of road leading up to the castle was called Brodie's Road but was renamed i the 1960's. Happily, the final short spur or home stretch of some 200 Metres leading to the building is still called Brodie Castle Street.

Hudleston's Garden from the North Bank

Hudleston's Garden is in the Theo Soc estate on the south bank of the Adyar. John Hudleston was a civil servant of the East India Company of about the same period as Brodie and it is likely they new each other.

I found this pic from a past auction listing on the Christie's site. It is a watercolour by one F.J.Delafour of a view across the Adyar which is taken from the north bank.

The Christies notes to the listing state :
"Delafour was an artist from the circle of Justinian Gantz, eldest son of John Gantz. A signed, inscribed and dated watercolour of the same subject is now in the India Office Library, see fig. 1. The inscription reads 'West View of the Adyar River from the Terrace of the Adyar Villa. Just Gantz, Madras. 1836'.

Justinian Gantz is described in the East Indian Register as a 'Miniature Painter'. He helped his father with the family's lithographic press and specialised in making drawings of the houses of his European clients.

In the early, turbulent days of Madras, the Adyar River was the scene of many violent incidents, but by the time of the present picture it had become a tranquil and elegant suburb, as indeed it remains today. At the extreme right of the picture can be seen a part of the famous Marmalong Bridge, built by an Armenian in 1726 but now replaced by a modern bridge. The bungalow seen across the river became the home of the Theosophical Society of Madras".

Christies topographic description is wrong in that the bridge at the extreme right of the drawing is not Marmalong bridge which is at least another 4 or 5 KMs to the south west on the river's winding course (and, because of many bends in the Adyar, has never been visible from this point at any time). The bridge depicted by Delafour is the Elphinstone Bridge, also called now the Adyar bridge, which was in use till 1973 and which, though unused now, still stands. The Elphinstone Bridge in the pic was built in 1840, in the Governorship of Lord Elphinstone, so the dating for the picture, 1836, is wrong. I suspec it was drawn in 1856 but that the handwritten 5 was a bad 5 and mistaken for 3.

I was dumbstruck on seeing this listing and the picture for more reasons than one but, to understand why, you must see it in its virtual full size state so let me send you to the Christies web page of the listing. You can enlarge and zoom in then.

Firstly, was Delafour just another lazy fellow who preferred to draw from the comfort of the shade, as it would seem, or was he, in fact, trying to take the view from an unusual, remarkable perspective. The vista from the set back position of the artist is neatly bisected by one of the columns of the terrace. And, moreover Delafour from this set back, has given us a wide angle view of the river,his detailing of theforeground in no way detracting from the sweep of the Adyar and the grand setting of the houses on the south bank.

Next, I realised I was probably looking at Hudleston's Garden on the far bank. It is the building on the left, the spot from which Just Gantz had drawn his view of Brodie Castle across the river. So these two watercolours could be a matching set of views across the Adyar river, one of Brodie Castle and the other of Hudleston's Garden.

I was actually in London on the 22nd May, 2008, the date of the Christies auction. It was an extended visit of 8 weeks from the middle of April, the company I work for was getting listed on the London Stock Exchange and the listing came through by the end of May. So although I knew about the auction I had no time for it, not being able to look left or right at that juncture. In any case, I would not have been able to match the winning bid and yet .... and yet .... . I eat my heart out when I think of this picture that I can not own, a companion piece to Brodie Castle. But I compliment whoever bought it because he or she had the good sense to be able to spot a remarkable drawing. I only hope the buyer knows the background and has a Madras connection.

The Hudlestons

Of the many Hudlestons who served in Madras over two centuries plus there are three from a distinguished branch who are our men. John Hudleston (1749 - 1835) entered the Madras Civil Service in 1766 and probably knew his contemporary, James Brodie. By 1782, he was Military Secretary to the Madras Government and a member of the Council by 1790. As Military Secretary, he was instrumental in negotiating a treaty of peace with Hyder Ali in the first Mysore War and retired to England around 1800, becoming a Memeber of Parliament and a Director of the East India Company. He was the one who got a grant of the 28 acre property from the Company and most likely built the house - a garden house as the English termed such houses - as the style of the building accords with that of many others built in Madras around 1800.

John's son, Josiah Andrew (1799 - 1865), also entered the Madras Civil Service and retired as Chief Collector of Madras in 1855. Josiah Hudleston was also a famous guitar musician and composer. His son, also Josiah (1826 - 92), was a Colonel in the Madras Army and probably retired in the mid to late 1870's when the house was sold to an Indian. In 1882, Col Olcott and Madam Blavatsky, the founders of Theo Soc, bought the property from one Muthiah Pillai for a down payment of Rs 1000 with a mortgage of Rs 7500 on it which they assumed. For the full story, including intimations to Madam Balvatsky from the "Master", let me send you here. For the money they paid, what the Theosophists got was about 28 acres, the main house, a tank (which was converted to a tennis court), a swimming pool, stables and two substantial out-buildings -one, a grand octagonal house which Col Olcott took for his residence, and the other, a still more spacious structure which is used as a guest house today. As you can see, the Octagon House is washing its face at the present time (and seems to need no help in this from Shivakumar or me) .

The theosophists exulted over their acquisition. Col Olcott wrote that it is "hard to imagine our pleasure in sttling in a home of our own, where we should be free from landlords, changes, and the other worries of tenancy. Our beautiful home seemed a fairy place to us". And Madam Blavatsky : "It is simply delightful. What air we have here; what nights! And what marvellous quiet! .... I am sitting quietly writing, and now and then gaze over the ocean, sparkling all over as if a living thing really .... The moon here against the deep dark blue sky seems twice as big and ten times brighter than your European mother-of-pearl ball".

I was lucky to be able to contact David Hyde, 3 x great grandson of John Hudleston, courtesy that wonder engine, the internet and by Dave's kind permission the pics of John and Josiah Andrew Hudleston are borrowed from Joan Hyde's Scrapbook. For the full fascinating history of this family's life in New Zealand,written by Dave and his twin sister Audrey, please go to Dave Hyde's site here. The Hudleston family crest has been borrowed from here. Finding in Dave Hyde a descendant of the Huddlestons of Madras made the day for me. He has plans to visit Madras in a year's time and I am looking forward to taking him round to the Theo Soc!

Reciprocal Views of Brodie & Hudleston's : A Topographic Reconstruct

I needed to wait for the monsoon to let up a bit before I could go into Theo Soc and Brodie Castle again to shoot some of the pics here and I was able to do that today (more pics hoisted on Picasa). I hauled Shivakumar, who lives right next door to Theo Soc, out of bed bright and early this A.M and we were outside Hudleston's by half past six. There were two other reasons I wanted to visit the spots : firstly I remembered that there were two other Gantz watercolours in the British Library collection and it suddenly struck me that they might be of Brodie Castle. The BL descriptions in each case simply state "A European House in Madras" etc but I went back to the site and Bingo! they are Brodie views by Just Gantz!! The first one below is a frontal view, and the third is of the house taken from Adyar mudflats, mid river (both drawn in 1841). I have interposed the other Brodie watercolour (from Hudelston's Garden) between the two for comparison.

Simple enough but, without the British Library going to the trouble and expense of hoisting all those wonderful images online, where would I be? But there was another question that was troubling me and that is with reference to the striking watercolour view by Delafour from the north bank. I was sure the building to the left of the column was Hudleston's but I had to go to the north bank of the river to make sure. And, was the view taken from Brodie's? Bingo again! First below is the pic I took today from the first floor terrace or verandah of Brodie's and below that is the Delafour again in all its glory :

There are a couple of things to be explained : firstly, you will see that I had to cheat a bit in that I took the pic from the first floor of Brodie. Given the overgrowth and the dense treeline there wa nothing for it but to go upstairs. But Delafour took his view from the ground level terrace or verandah (in his drawing, you can make out the stockade at the river bank).

Second, you will see that the hocus-pocus or superstructure in my digicam shot, additions by the Theosophists to provide rooms for Annie Besant, is missing from the Delafour view of the 1840's. But if you can visualise the pile minus the superstructure, it is Hudleston's and the angles are about right. Here is a fuller view of Hudleston's from Brodie's across the river :

So, the Gantz of Brodie from Hudleston's and the Delafour of Hudleston (from Brodie) are reciprocal pictures of the sisters facing each other across the river. Because some important people lived in the two houses : a succession of Hudlestons in the eponymous house and, in Brodie's, a succession of senior civil servants. I am trying to find out who lived in Brodie Castle in the 1840's if the Madras Archives can dig out the details for me.

And, there are three Gantz views of Brodie Castle, reflecting its importance in 19th Century Madras, and a delectable one of Hudleston's by Delafour. I am glad I own at least one of them (yes, that Brodie watercolour by Gantz was put up for auction again at Christies, I came to know of it on 1st Oct '99, exactly 3 years to the day I first learnt of its existence and mine was the winning bid at a price below my original offer to the seller!): but I know I will never get to own the two with the Brit Lib. And what makes me eat my heart out is the Delafour because another individual has it and I don't know if it will ever come up for sale and, if it does, whether or not I can afford it!!

But I console myself that the Gantz watercolour that I have is a picture that neither the BL nor the Delafour owner will get to have. And that, being a local, I have been able to figure out what neither Christies nor BL knew about the Delafour and the Gantz drawings : why, they didn't even know which buildings those were!

The Theo Soc

In a post about the two houses, something must be said about the Theo Soc which has been using Hudleston's house for its headquarters for the last 126 years. The Society may also be expected to hold the property in perpetuity. I am totally ignorant about philosophy and theosophy but I am proud of this old society which provides us so much lung space. I am very fond of George Arundale's words about the Adyar; to quote them more fully : " Adyar touches each one of us here .... .... . While we are here we are changed, little or much. When we go away, something of Adyar goes with us, for one touch of Adyar changes us forever".

The Society, in the past, had many outstanding and colourful characters associated with it : Col Henry Steel Olcott, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Annie Besant, Charles Leadbeater, J.Krishnamurti, Rukmini Arundale. As Peter Washington demonstrates in his "Madam Blavatsky's Baboon", some were colourful rather than outstanding. There is the 'conjuring trick' phase of Madam Blavatsky's time and then there is Charles Leadbeater whose tastes, Washington reports, "ran to small boys and tapioca pudding, in that order".

Today, the Theo Soc is a highly respectable institution, almost stodgily so, a good neighbour to all of us that goes about its business quietly. Only, I suspect its memebership is not growing as it should and I am reminded of Stan Laurel's words to Oliver Hardy in the movie, Chump at Oxford : " You think they would advertise this place, to let people know it was on the map". But I am told there is a membership drive on at present.

I will always remember Col Olcott as Shivakumar and I walk about the Theo Soc's sprawling estate, watching the odd bird or the huge colony of fruit eating bats that inhabits its trees. Col Olcott's vision for the Society recalls to my mind the threnody of Mark Antony to the forum :

"Moreover he hath left you all his walks,
His private arbours and new-planted orchards,
On this side Tiber. He hath left them you
And to your heirs forever - Common Pleasure
To walk abroad and recreate yourselves".

The fruit bats, committed and resident theosophists that they are, would surely agree - even if one of them deposited a gooey heap on my sleeve this morning in token of its contempt at my puerile blog posts.

As I complete and publish this post on Diwali eve, I wish you all a Happy Diwali.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Curzon's Delhi Durbar 1903 & the Photorealism of Mortimer Menpes

There were three Delhi Durbars, the one of 1877, then the 1903 Curzon's Durbar and lastly the 1911 Durbar. The notable thing about them is that they were all held in Delhi. British India may have been ruled from Calcutta upto the time of the 1911 Durbar, Bombay might be Kipling's urbs prima in indis and Madras the oldest of the three Presidency cities but Delhi was rightfully the imperial city. Delhi has a three thousand year history, some of its old buildings boast of a 1200 year vintage and it was the capital of the Moghul empire. In comparison the three hundred plus years old Madras, Calcutta and Bombay are mere upstarts.

The first two Durbars were not graced by the presence of the Sovereign but King George V and Queen Mary were present at the 1911 Durbar. The absence of the Sovereign notwithstanding, Curzon's Durbar seems to have been the grandest, the most colourful and entertaining, not to mention widely acclaimed.

Curzon's Durbar

The British considered a Durbar a distinctly Indian idea, exemplifying the Indian love of fanfare and ceremonial. In fact, a Durbar is no different from a Coronation or Investiture and such ceremonies are universal. For who in the world does not like a little tamasha or fanfare and ceremony with a free banquet or two thrown in. Durbars in India were traditionally held to celebrate the accession to the throne of a King or the marriage of a Prince and similar milestones. So, the 1903Durbar, held on New Year's Day, was to proclaim the accession of King Edward VII. It was intended both as a celebration and as a reinforcement of the idea of Empire and of India's place in it. We kick off with a watercolour, of the Duke and Duchess of Connaught and the Curzons astride their respective elephants, by Sheldon Williams :

Th e moving spirit behind the 1903 Durbar was the Baron Curzon of Kedleston, Viceroy between 1898 - 1905. What makes Curzon's Durbar so interesting, apart from its colourful and grand pageantry, is the personality of Curzon himself. And then there is the pictorial record of the proceedings left for us by the artist Mortimer Menpes.

Curzon loved any form of public display of imperial power. Having initiated the Victoria Memorial project in Calcutta, he was not one to let go of the opportunity to grandstand once again by staging a Durbar. Extremely able and scrupulously fair minded, Curzon's chief shortcoming was to consider as a personal affront, any criticism, modification or veto of his proposals by his superiors.

So, the undercurrents were there from the beginning, two of which involved the India Office and the British Cabinet. And the third notable cause of aggravation was Curzon's handling of the 9th Lancers, a British regiment then stationed in India.

The India Office

The India Office in London had always been a body for the status quo insofar as management of Indian affairs was concerned. The Secretary of State for India was a minister in council, just as the Viceroy in India was a proconsul in council.

And the council of the India Office was made up of retired Indian Civil Service officers. They had served out their time in India, retired as Governors or Lieutenant Governors or as members of the Viceroy's council and the India Office appointments were sinecures for just such loyal and senior retired civil servants. John Maynard Keynes, the economist, worked for the India Office at the beginning of his career (1905) and left in disgust after about a year. Keynes described the functioning of the India Office council as "government by dotardry", observing of its members that "a little over half showed manifest signs of senile decay and the rest did not speak".

The British cabinet was little better. Arthur James (Bob's your Uncle) Balfour had just become Prime Minister.As Curzon watched in amazement, Balfour populated the cabinet with his cronies and schoolchums. While some of them were able men many, like St John Brodrick, were completely out of their depths in the cabinet roles they were given. Curzon knew many of the ministers, inluding Balfour, Brodrick and Lord George Hamilton at the India Office, intimately.

Curzon & the Cabinet Lock Horns

The bone of contention was firstly about a party given at the India Office to the Indian Princes or, more properly, Maharajahs who had attended the 1902 convocation of King Edward. The dotardry of the India Office council decided that the cost of this reception, about Sterling 7000, should be paid by India. Curzon protested : India had contributed handsomely towards the just concluded Boer war, the expenses of the Duke of Connaught's attendance at the Durbar were to be paid by India; so, why could the British Treasury not pay for the reception of the Maharajahs instead of foisting the charge on India?

Curzon had in mind that the Indian press, both English and vernacular, was voluble and alert to such iniquities. The Congress party could, moreover, make political capital out of such a decision. But, above all else, the Viceroy was being totally fair in insisting that India alone, of the colonies, should not be discriminated against in this way.

This protest by Curzon ruffled feathers at the India Office. The normally gentle and placid Lord George Hamilton, cabinet minister for India, took the knuckleduster out. He did not want the Viceroy's protest to go forward to the cabinet and asked that Curzon withdraw his letter. Hamilton wrote to Curzon : " the Secretary of State in Council, who has, by law, exclusive control of Indian revenues, decided, after full consideration .... ...., to incur this charge my judgement the expenditure on the Delhi Durbar and the cost of the India Office ceremony stand or fall together. The greater cannot be justified by impugning the lesser. I have sanctioned both and am ready to defend both". Impugning the lesser - these guys certainly knew how to write a letter!

Curzon refused to back down. The Viceroy's council supported him fully and he wrote back that he was not questioning the authority of the Secretary of State but the fairness of asking India to pay for the entertainment, by the British government, of the Princes in London . Since the expenses of the Duke's Durbar visit would be paid by India, the inequity would be noticed and viewed unfavourably by the Indian press and nationalist circles. The protest now had to be put forward to the cabinet who were unhappy to be pressured in this way by the Viceroy. But there were no logical grounds for turning down Curzon's demand; there simply was no case for the entertainment of the Maharajahs to be passed to India. Curzon won the battle but surely lost goodwill with the cabinet.

A second run in with the cabinet was over the announcement of a fiscal relief as customary in India on the occasion of a Durbar. Curzon wanted to announce a reduction in the tax on salt. The worthies in the India Office demurred insisting that such a measure would be associated with the Sovereign as, after all, the Durbar was in his honour.

Being people who lived by precedent,they were naturally against the creation of a new one. More wrangling and acrimony with the cabinet resulted before a compromise was reached and it was agreed that Curzon, as head of government in India and without taking the King's name, would announce a promise of early fiscal relief.

The 9th Lancers

There was also the incident of the 9th Lancers : two of its soldiers had clubbed an Indian cook to death and the victim had identified them before dying. There were also some other witnesses but the matter was hushed up by the regiment without even a court martial. Curzon was livid when word of the incident reached him and wanted the culprits to be brought to book. Some 84 Indian menials, cooks, batmen etc, had been killed in this way in the previous 20 years by the British other ranks and only two of the culprits had been sentenced. Curzon, understandably, was outraged and demanded exemplary punishment.

But the regiment closed ranks and the chief of the local command, Gen Sir Bindon Blood, supported them.

In the face of this bland insistence that there was no evidence of wrongdoing, the Commander in Chief and Curzon decided to withdraw leave privileges for the entire unit for a six month period, sufficient stricture and indictment for such a proud regiment.(Curzon minuted : " if it be said that dirty linen should not be washed in public, I say'let there be no dirty linen to wash' ".) Because the 9th Lancers was a socially well connected regiment Curzon became unpopular with influential circles in England. It was also at about this time that the scheming and self seeking Kitchener was appointed, at Curzon's request, commander in chief of the army in India. From the outset, Kitchener began fishing in troubled waters and an incident like this was right up his street. He had influential connections back home and spread much calumny about Curzon's treatment of the Lancers.

It was put to Curzon that, given this background, the 9th Lancers need not be part of the review at the Durbar. But Curzon, ever magnanimous, would have none of it believing that the regiment should not be disgraced in that way.

The Coronation (aka Curzonation) Durbar

There were two weeks of festivities, parades, firework displays, banquets and balls centered around the New Yaer's Day Durbar. Curzon personally planned and oversaw the arrangements which included the rigging up of a temporary city : electric lighting, telephony, a light railway, medical services were all provided. There were luxurious, colourful tents and Maharajahs by the drove complete with retainers and campfollowers.

All this in addition to the Duke's party and the British civilians and army officers and their families, the British, Indian and Princely states regiments, elephants, camels, dancers and so on, not to mention the amorphous Indian public which was known to love a grand spectacle.

There were exhibitions of the finest handicrafts from all parts of India, sales of which actually helped recoup a good deal of the expenses of the Durbar. Modern marketing and sponsorship also arrived in India with British companies paying for the right to be the official travel agents, tent suppliers or beverage dispensers.

But I was not there and I had better let Mortimer Menpes bring you the colour and appeal of the Durbar through his eloquent pictorial record. But one incident I must mention is the one about the fox terrier which took it into its head to take centre-stage in the proceedings. On Durbar Day proper, January 1st 1903, the little fellow became so excited as the elephant mounted Curzons rode into the Durbar arena that he cut across to the dais and sat on the Viceroy's throne, barking excitedly.

But a lesser man than Curzon would have faced a greater embarrassment when the 9th Lancers marched past. In the words of Mortimer and Dorothy Menpes : "Just before the 9th Lancers passed, the atmosphere was electric. As the regiment came into view the whole stand rose and cheered itself hoarse; women waved their handkerchiefs .... men flourished their sticks and shouted bravados. .... There is no doubt about it : the fact of the Viceroy's guests standing up and cheering showed exceedingly little tact. .... this was hardly a fitting moment to give vent to their feelings. It was a distinct stab at the Viceroy .... He did what from his standpoint he knew to be absolutely right. For his own guests to choose that moment to insult him seemed hard and ungenerous". Let me add that Curzon had spent Sterling 3000 of his personal money to host these low people at the Durbar.

Mortimer Menpes

Menpes (1855 - 1938) was born in Australia, came to England when about 20 and apprenticed under James Mcneill Whistler the famous American artist who lived in England then. Menpes seems to have been a man of many parts, wrestler, cook, crack pistol shot and interior decorator besides being a highly rated artist and portrait painter. He became prosperous through his art, much of which was published in illustrated book form by A &C Black in London with text by his daughter Dorothy, and from fruit and carnation farming. Menpes also drew some criticism for not being able to draw except from photographs. This is patently untrue or at best true only so far as it goes in that he also sometimes drew from photos. A look at the chromolithographs and portraits in this post will show that at least some of them are based on photogravure. But a look at the Balfour portrait will suffice to understand that Menpes could draw freehand with ease and great skill. He was a truly outstanding artist of his time and was also one of the most innovative in that he also did draw from photographs besides being a highly proficiente etcher and engraver as well as lithographer. Menpes had his own printing press in London which produced all the prints for his illustrated books.

Menpes and Dorothy came out to India for the Durbar of 1903 and the book The Durbar, published by A & C Black, followed later that year with text by Dorothy and a hundred chromolithographs by Mortimer Menpes.

The plates were produced in the Menpes Press under the personal supervision of the artist. Menpes's Durbar drawings are perhaps one of the last instances of the handmade print or engraving making a brave last stand against the advent of photography and photo offset. Menpes is on record about his Durbar and other Indian drawings : "his wish was to capture the brilliancy of Indian sunlight, the dazzling luminosity of atmospheric effects, rather than to make studies of local colour and native types". Judge for yourselves how well he succeeded.

My favourite is this one, titled 'After the Show', a common enough scene even today in our villages and cities. It is night time and the only thing missing from the picture is the chillum pipe but one can imagine that for oneself. The conclave is evidently taking place after dinner and this is where Kipling comes in :

In a turquoise twilight, crisp and chill,
A kafila camped at the foot of the hill.
Then blue smoke-haze of the cooking rose,
And tent-peg answered to hammer-nose;

.... .... ....
The lid of the flesh-pot chattered high,
The knives were whetted and -- then came I
To Mahbub Ali, the muleteer,
Patching his bridles and counting his gear,
Crammed with the gossip of half a year.
But Mahbub Ali the kindly said,
"Better is speech when the belly is fed."
So we plunged the hand to the mid-wrist deep
In a cinnamon stew of the fat-tailed sheep,
And he who never hath tasted the food,
By Allah! he knoweth not bad from good.

We cleansed our beards of the mutton-grease,
We lay on the mats and were filled with peace,
And the talk slid north, and the talk slid south,
With the sliding puffs from the hookah-mouth.

.... ....

I bought my copy of Durbar sometime ago for well under a hundred dollars. I see copies now offered online for prices ranging from $ 500 to 2000 but there are still a very few going at about a hundred bucks. If you wish to own a copy, let me send you here to access the online version and you can decide then.

I have included a selection my favourite Durbar views of Menpes but there are more online : evocative of early 2oth Century India with a feel and immediacy for the costumes, the "brilliancy" of the dazzling Indian light, the colour and the splendid animals. There is also the ugly bear portrait of Kitchener, probably cheering the loudest when the 9th Lancers gave the eyes right to Curzon.

But this post is as much to bring to attention the highminded and fair character of Curzon, possibly the best of our Viceroys, as it is to display the images of the Durbar that Menpes has given us. The Viceroy made sure that over three hundred veterans of the Mutiny were invited to the Durbar and honoured. One of them, long bearded with sword in hand, is shown above. Menpes gave the fanciful title "Akalis Fanatical Devotee" to the picture but he is no fanatic and what is more, a brave veteran of the Mutiny who fought loyally for his British masters.

I have used throughout the pics of Menpes online at the internet archives, not wishing to break up my precious copy. In the hand the pics look even grander since the touch and feel and 'see with the real eye' are everything when it comes to colour visuals.

The Durbar excited the popular imagination in England but the incomparable Saki (H.H.Munro) brought to the proceedings his own uniquely lopsided view which is all about the Durbar and also really nothing to do with it at all. Can not resist including, as a tailpiece, this story by one of my favourite authors. Enjoy!!

Clovis sat in the hottest zone but two of a Turkish bath, alternately inert in statuesque contemplation and rapidly manoeuvring a fountain-pen over the pages of a note-book.

``Don't interrupt me with your childish prattle,'' he observed to Bertie van Tahn, who had slung himself languidly into a neighbouring chair and looked conversationally inclined; ``I'm writing death-less verse.''

Bertie looked interested.

``I say, what a boon you would be to portrait painters if you really got to be notorious as a poetry writer. If they couldn't get your likeness hung in the Academy as `Clovis Sangrail, Esq., at work on his latest poem,' they could slip you in as a Study of the Nude or Orpheus descending into Jermyn Street. They always complain that modern dress handicaps them, whereas a towel and a fountain-pen---''

``It was Mrs. Packletide's suggestion that I should write this thing,'' said Clovis, ignoring the bypaths to fame that Bertie van Tahn was pointing out to him. ``You see, Loona Bimberton had a Coronation Ode accepted by the New Infancy, a paper that has been started with the idea of making the New Age seem elder and hidebound. `So clever of you, dear Loona,' the Packletide remarked when she had read it; `of course, any one could write a Coronation Ode, but no one else would have thought of doing it.' Loona protested that these things were extremely difficult to do, and gave us to understand that they were more or less the province of a gifted few. Now the Packletide has been rather decent to me in many ways, a sort of financial ambulance, you know, that carries you off the field when you're hard hit, which is a frequent occurrence with me, and I've no use whatever for Loona Bimberton, so I chipped in and said I could turn out that sort of stuff by the square yard if I gave my mind to it. Loona said I couldn't, and we got bets on, and between you and me I think the money's fairly safe. Of course, one of the conditions of the wager is that the thing has to be published in something or other, local newspapers barred; but Mrs. Packletide has endeared herself by many little acts of thoughtfulness to the editor of the Smoky Chimney, so if I can hammer out anything at all approaching the level of the usual Ode output we ought to be all right. So far I'm getting along so comfortably that I begin to be afraid that I must be one of the gifted few.''

``It's rather late in the day for a Coronation Ode, isn't it?'' said Bertie.

``Of course,'' said Clovis; ``this is going to be a Durbar Recessional, the sort of thing that you can keep by you for all time if you want to.''

``Now I understand your choice of a place to write it in,'' said Bertie van Tahn, with the air of one who has suddenly unravelled a hitherto obscure problem; ``you want to get the local temperature.''

``I came here to get freedom from the inane interruptions of the mentally deficient,'' said Clovis, ``but it seems I asked too much of fate.''

Bertie van Tahn prepared to use his towel as a weapon of precision, but reflecting that he had a good deal of unprotected coast-line himself, and that Clovis was equipped with a fountain-pen as well as a towel, he relapsed pacifically into the depths of his chair.

``May one hear extracts from the immortal work?'' he asked. ``I promise that nothing that I hear now shall prejudice me against borrowing a copy of the Smoky Chimney at the right moment.''

``It's rather like casting pearls into a trough,'' remarked Clovis pleasantly, ``but I don't mind reading you bits of it. It begins with a general dispersal of the Durbar participants:

`` `Back to their homes in Himalayan heights
The stale pale elephants of Cutch Behar
Roll like great galleons on a tideless sea---' ''

``I don't believe Cutch Behar is anywhere near the Himalayan region,'' interrupted Bertie. ``You ought to have an atlas on hand when you do this sort of thing; and why stale and pale?''
``After the late hours and the excitement, of course,'' said Clovis; ``and I said their homes were in the Himalayas. You can have Himalayan elephants in Cutch Behar, I suppose, just as you have Irish-bred horses running at Ascot.''

``You said they were going back to the Himalayas,'' objected Bertie.

``Well, they would naturally be sent home to recuperate. It's the usual thing out there to turn elephants loose in the hills, just as we put horses out to grass in this country.''

Clovis could at least flatter himself that he had infused some of the reckless splendour of the East into his mendacity.

``Is it all going to be in blank verse?'' asked the critic.

``Of course not; `Durbar' comes at the end of the fourth line.''

``That seems so cowardly; however, it explains why you pitched on Cutch Behar.''

``There is more connection between geographical place-names and poetical inspiration than is generally recognized; one of the chief reasons why there are so few really great poems about Russia in our language is that you can't possibly get a rhyme to names like Smolensk and Tobolsk and Minsk.''

Clovis spoke with the authority of one who has tried.

``Of course, you could rhyme Omsk with Tomsk,'' he continued; ``in fact, they seem to be there for that purpose, but the public wouldn't stand that sort of thing indefinitely.''

``The public will stand a good deal,'' said Bertie malevolently, ``and so small a proportion of it knows Russian that you could always have an explanatory footnote asserting that the last three letters in Smolensk are not pronounced. It's quite as believable as your statement about putting elephants out to grass in the Himalayan range.''

``I've got rather a nice bit,'' resumed Clovis with unruffled serenity, ``giving an evening scene on the outskirts of a jungle village:

`` `Where the coiled cobra in the gloaming gloats,
And prowling panthers stalk the wary goats.' ''

``There is practically no gloaming in tropical countries,'' said Bertie indulgently; ``but I like the masterly reticence with which you treat the cobra's motive for gloating. The unknown is proverbially the uncanny. I can picture nervous readers of the Smoky Chimney keeping the light turned on in their bedrooms all night out of sheer sickening uncertainty as to what the cobra might have been gloating about.''
``Cobras gloat naturally,'' said Clovis, ``just as wolves are always ravening from mere force of habit, even after they've hopelessly overeaten themselves. I've got a fine bit of colour painting later on,'' he added, ``where I describe the dawn coming up over the Brahmaputra river:

`` `The amber dawn-drenched East with sun-shafts kissed,
Stained sanguine apricot and amethyst,
O'er the washed emerald of the mango groves
Hangs in a mist of opalescent mauves,
While painted parrot-flights impinge the haze
With scarlet, chalcedon and chrysoprase.'' '

``I've never seen the dawn come up over the Brahmaputra river,'' said Bertie, ``so I can't say if it's a good description of the event, but it sounds more like an account of an extensive jewel robbery. Anyhow, the parrots give a good useful touch of local colour. I suppose you've introduced some tigers into the scenery? An Indian landscape would have rather a bare, unfinished look without a tiger or two in the middle distance.''
``I've got a hen-tiger somewhere in the poem,'' said Clovis, hunting through his notes. ``Here she is:

`` `The tawny tigress 'mid the tangled teak
Drags to her purring cubs' enraptured ears
The harsh death-rattle in the pea-fowl's beak,
A jungle lullaby of blood and tears.' ''

Bertie van Tahn rose hurriedly from his recumbent position and made for the glass door leading into the next compartment.
``I think your idea of home life in the jungle is perfectly horrid,'' he said. ``The cobra was sinister enough, but the improvised rattle in the tiger-nursery is the limit. If you're going to make me turn hot and cold all over I may as well go into the steam room at once.''

``Just listen to this line,'' said Clovis; ``it would make the reputation of any ordinary poet:

`` `and overhead
The pendulum-patient Punkah, parent of stillborn breeze.' ''

``Most of your readers will think `punkah' is a kind of iced drink or half-time at polo,'' said Bertie, and disappeared into the steam.

The Smoky Chimney duly published the ``Recessional,'' but it proved to be its swan song, for the paper never attained to another issue.

Loona Bimberton gave up her intention of attending the Durbar and went into a nursing-home on the Sussex Downs. Nervous breakdown after a particularly strenuous season was the usually accepted explanation, but there are three or four people who know that she never really recovered from the dawn breaking over the Brahmaputra river.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Airr Commodore Nanu Shitoley, DFC on Hurricane Sorties in Burma

Anatomy of a Tac-R Hurricane Sortie (2) : Mukund Murty Badgers Nanu Shitoley, A Burma Pilot

Mukund Murty returns to complete his account of Hurricane sorties on the Burma theatre in World War 2 (please see his previous post below which is by way of a backgrounder to this interview). I am simply delighted that Mukund has been thoughtful enough to capture for us this account of an Indian pilot in the Burma front; there are too few such first person accounts by Indian officers in spite of the major roles they played in this cataclysm. What is more, once Mukund gets the Commodore going, it turns out to be oral history in the best tradition of Studs Terkel. Read on.


Air Commodore Nanu Shitoley DFC

By Mukund Murty


Nanu Shitoley was kind enough to share his time and hospitality with me one evening in January 2004, thanks to a meeting fixed up by my old family friend and his neighbour, Dincey Muncherjee [IAF transports, who later flew 747-400's for Air India and S'Pore Airlines]. As I walked down the road from my place in Colaba to his, I was terrified at the prospect of reaching later than the appointed hour of 7pm - an extra huff and a wheezy puff ensured that I just made it ! What followed was an hour and a half of the story of a fascinating life, including the sortie to Tamu I have semi-fictionalised at this link [which epitomizes the sheer grit and determination which earned him his DFC]. Alas, his log book is lost [as are photographs], and with it, details of the 300 hours of operational flying which he did in Burma, at the end of which he received his well-earned DFC. What follows is based upon his memory, supplemented, in parts, by extracts from the Official History of the IAF in the Second World War….

Narayanrao Khanderao Shitoley, IND/1841, was born in September, 1923. His mother was a Rane from Goa. His father, Khanderao Shitoley, lost his parents at a very early age and so came to Gwalior, to be looked after by his distinguished uncle, Sir Appaji Rao Shitoley, a member of the Council of Regency in the Princely State of Gwalior. Khanderao studied at the Sardar School in Gwalior and later at the Benares Hindu University, where he had the opportunity to interact with Annie Besant. Upon his return to Gwalior, he joined the Gwalior State Army after the First War and thereafter settled down in his own estate at Nej near Ankli [close to Belgaum].

Nanu is a Rimcollian through and through - the pride at having schooled at the Royal Indian Military College [RIMC] in Dehra Dun from 1935 to 1941 is very evident when he talks about his own time there or about other Rimcollians who joined the services [Nur Khan was a class-mate, whereas Ranjan Dutt and Asghar Khan were senior]. Dehra Dun was even more special, as his sisters were in school at Woodstock, so family holidays were mainly spent in Dehra Dun or Mussoorie itself.

One morning in 1941, there was tremendous excitement at School - an RAF squadron leader had come to recruit for the Air Force ! He took one look at Nanu and selected him for the 11th Course [Biblo Crishna of 10 Sqn was from the 12th Course] - the fact that he was a Rimcollian was in itself enough to get him through the first round of selections [the Air Force had not been getting recruits of very good quality of late, therefore Rimcollians from the RIMC were considered an especially good catch !]. This was followed by a medical lasting 2-3 hours at RAF Station Lahore - here again, they knew all about the RIMC.

Once he'd cleared his medicals, it was off to the Initial Training Wing [ITW] at Walton in Lahore for three months of square-bashing where his instructor was Wg Cdr Hogg, a scout master who'd been commissioned for the duration of the War. The Chief Instructor was Wg Cdr Russell. The ITW was later shifted to Poona, and the course extended from 10 to 14 weeks, and towards the end of 1943, to 18 weeks.

This was followed by a one year's course in Hyderabad where he underwent training as an Observer [1]. Observers, when they qualified, were entitled to wear half-wings with an 'O,' which all of them wore with a greater pride than the later 'N' wings of Navigators. This was because Observers were put through a more intensive course which taught them, in addition to advanced navigation, wireless telegraphy and gunnery, visual and artillery spotting techniques as well. Cecil Naire of 7 Sqn., when I asked if he had been a Navigator, recoiled with Patrician horror and cried "Oh no, I'm not a Nevigaytah, I'm an Observah !!"

Following the course, Nanu was posted to No. 5 CDF, then at Cochin flying Wapitis, in August 1941. He continued there until the end of '41 or the beginning of '42, when, following the Japanese defeat of British forces east of India, Observers who wished to re-muster as pilots were given the opportunity [and, indeed, the encouragement] to do so. Nanu's re-mustering as a pilot coincided with the disbandment of 5 CDF [whose personnel formed the nucleus of 8 Sqn., then forming with Vultee Vengeances at Trichinopoly] in March 1943, and he remembers leaving Cochin to go to Agartala for a month or two, followed by a Signals course at Andheri in Bombay.

At last - No. 1 EFTS [Elementary Flying Training School] at Begumpet in Hyderabad [the other EFTS, No 2, was at Jodhpur], with its palpable smell of young mens' anxiety, competing with the smell of the hot oil/ fabric/ fuel smell of the DH-84 Tiger Moths they flew. The duration of the course was 10 weeks [subsequently extended to 12].

He was then off to No. 1 SFTS [Service Flying Training School] at Ambala for intermediate and advanced flying training. The school was initially divided into two parts, 10 weeks for intermediate training and 11 weeks for advanced training. With the formation of the OTU [Operational Training Unit] at Risalpur [in 1942], the duration of the course was subsequently reduced to 18 weeks in 1943. Here he flew about 150 hours on Harvards. Going from the docile 130hp-engined Tiger Moth to the 550hp Harvard with its retractable undercarriage, variable pitch, strong swing on take-off and predilection to ground-loop on landing, helped the young pilots to master the intricacies of the Hurricane [many pilots like AM DG King-Lee and Hoshang Patel, remember the bite of the Harvard and the later Spitfires like the XIV, but think of the Hurricane as docile…].

Nanu then went to Risalpur where the Hurricane OTU was located [the Vengeance OTU was at Peshawar where, subsequently, the Hurricane OTU also moved]. He remembers that they first had to thoroughly master the Hurricane's cockpit drill - until they did so, they were not allowed to fly. In order to accomplish this, there was a dummy Hurricane cockpit, complete in every respect, in which pilots had to practice, hour after hour, memorising the litany of the check-list [this is a very interesting piece of information, indeed - I have not heard of anyone else speak of a mock-up before].

Finally, Hurricanes…! He flew about 40hrs on this wonderful aeroplane, which was thorough in all respects, consisting of 12 weeks of flying, squadron and gunnery training, including a four-week fighter reconnaissance course. From the beginning of 1944, all replacement pilots for ground attack squadrons were sent to Ranchi for a special 3 week ground attack course - Nanu said that only the better ones were chosen for such flying.

At last, he got his posting - it was to No.1 Sqn at Imphal, where he arrived in May or June 1944. Arjan Singh was the CO, Rajaram commanded 'A' Fight, which Nanu joined - and 'B' Flight was commanded by Raza [Anand Ramdas Pandit was a senior pilot in 'A' Flight at the time]. The Army Liaison Officer [ALO] was Maj. Sam Foster, whom Nanu remembers as someone who "sort of looked down his nose" at the Indians [no one would, by the time the Squadron had finished proving itself in fourteen months of intense action !]. He remembers that No. 1 Sqn. shared the airfield with 28 Sqn. RAF, their old friends from the first Burma campaign [who were also on Hurricanes], as well as a squadron of USAAF Dakotas. There was hardly any interaction with the Americans, however, as they had a different mess and technical area.

At the frontline. Pilots of No.1 Squadron with the CO, Arjan Singh sitting at the drivers position in the Jeep. Last row L to R (Standing on Jeep): K N Kak DFC, A R Pandit DFC. Middle Row L to R (Standing on Jeep): A C Prabhakaran, Rishi, Koko Sen, Major Williams, Arjan Singh DFC, D P , Tutu, R Rajaram DFC, 'Bonzo' (Dog), Pop Rao, Gupta. Front Row L to R (Standing on Ground): Hafeez, Doc Herbert (sitting on step) and Tallu Talwar.

He remembers that they were engaged in almost non-stop Photo Reconnaissance/ Reconnaissance/ Ground Attack sorties, the last two at tree-top height - there was zero margin for error, and he remembers frequently encountering Japanese anti-aircraft fire on these sorties. Although the Japanese air force strength was low, the threat from their superlative fighters was nevertheless there, and so they sometimes used to get an escort from the RAF, usually in the form of two Spitfires, as the Hurricane was at its most vulnerable on such sorties, which he said were typically of 11/2 to 2 hours with long-range tanks. Although some RAF Hurricane squadrons had removed two of the four 20mm cannon from their aeroplanes for improved performance, Nanu does not remember this practice being followed in 1 Sqn. [neither does Hoshang Patel remember this practice being followed in 6 Sqn.]. There was a very real danger from Jap fighters when they used to go on sorties to photograph Jap airfields in the Kabaw Valley - here they needed the Spitfire escort more than ever. Once, he was tasked for a photo-reconnaissance sortie over an airfield in this area. He was alone, escorted by two Spitfires [based out of Tamu]. He was at about 3000' concentrating on the photo-recce, when the Spitfire Leader called out to his No. 2 - there - in the distance - they were being followed by three Japanese aeroplanes ! Inexplicably, they did not attack, and he has lived to tell the tale !

He spoke of how the Japanese targeted transport airfields operating Dakotas [to disrupt the Allies' excellent supply-dropping system which ultimately saved Imphal]. He remembers how, one day, three RAF Dakotas on a supply-dropping sortie near Kalewa were all three shot down.

RAF Dakota landing at Imphal Air Strip , March 44 (L)
An RAF Dakota dropping supplies Tiddim Road (Below)

In Imphal, they all lived in Bashas. The idea of the 'Anatomy of a Tac-R Hurricane Sortie' came from an experience he related to me of a sortie to Tamu. He doesn't remember the name of the Leader of the sortie [who later joined the PAF on Partition], only that he made a safe wheels-up landing at Tamu. He said that while the No.1 or the Leader looked after the navigation, the No. 2 was the Weaver who kept their tail clear. His keenness for flying is evident - he smiled and said that Arjan Singh recently told him "Nanu, I've got you so many times in my log book !" This is further emphasised by the fact that he could make it back to Imphal through severe weather, alone, a mere month after he'd joined the squadron with less than 200hrs of total flying time and only 40hrs on type…

No.1 Squadron at Imphal and beyond

As mentioned earlier, the Squadron flew 354 sorties totalling 466 hours and 45 minutes in August 1944, even though the weather was so bad that they couldn't fly for eight days.

In September, the weather deteriorated even further, and the squadron could only fly 292 sorties totalling a little more than 400 hours. However, the duration of the sorties was getting longer, with the Japanese being slowly but inexorably pushed southwards. The Rivers Mu, Uyu and Myittha were recce'd for signs of traffic. The railway line - this was the Kawlin-Shwebo-Mandalay-Meiktila line - between Kawlin [90 miles SE of Tamu - sortie distances were huge…] and Indaw was carefully observed - although all the bridges had been destroyed, the stations appeared to be occupied ! In a rapidly-changing battle scenario, the position of Allied troops had to be marked as well. One of the most important sorties carried out on the 13th September was the photography of Taukkyan airfield SW of Kalemyo, with its 2000 yard long runway. While several craters were observed, it appeared to be in good condition overall [it was - this airfield is now Kalemyo airport !].

A view of the 'Chocolate Staircase' showing some of the 39 Hairpin bends (L) JAK State Troops attacking the Kennedy Peak (Above Right) A pair of Jeeps on the Muddy Tiddim Road (R)

October 1944 was a momentous month for the Allies, and a busy one for No. 1 Squadron. The fall of Bumzang was quickly followed by that of the critical Tiddim [the three critical points of the Japanese assault on Imphal were Tamu to the south of Imphal, Tiddim to the south-west, and Ukhrul to the north-east] on 18th October. The squadron did sterling work in the Kalewa/ Kalemyo area, more than 120 miles away from their base, flying a record 439 sorties [including three at night !] totalling 779hrs 40' despite bad weather during the earlier part of the month. For this work the Squadron received four congratulatory messages from XXXIII Corps - a mammoth photo-reconnaissance task had been carried out, 9, 555 prints were developed, and the Squadron well-deservedly praised "for skill and speed with which air photographs have been produced and dropped on forward troops."

Work going on in a Mobile Photo Processing Unit

November saw an even greater effort by the 17 pilots of the Squadron who flew an incredible 525 sorties totalling 1000hrs 30' of which 25hrs 10' were by night. Whilst most of the sorties were in the Kalemyo/ Kalewa area, they went further south upto Gangaw and Monywa [almost 200 miles away from Imphal - a glance at the Hurricane's fuel consumption given in Note [2] above gives an idea of the flying being carried out to the very limits of human and aeroplane endurance] and east upto the Mu River. On these sorties they usually went in pairs, but sometimes also singly. They were sometimes provided with a Spitfire escort as there was a very real danger from Japanese fighters on these sorties so far south of Imphal [the 460 mile range of the Hurricane vis-a'-vis the 1864 mile range of the Oscar would ensure that any combat was one-sided !].

The bridge at Hpaungzeik over the Neyinzaya Chaung [chaungs or streams were raging torrents in the monsoons, which would disappear into dusty tracks during the dry months was critical for the taking of Kalemyo, just south-west of it. Reconaissance by day showed that the bridge was unserviceable, but piles of wooden planks stacked along the banks of the Chaung gave rise to the suspicion that these planks were placed on the bridge at night and used for traffic. Sqn. Ldr. Arjan Singh flew over Hpaungzeik on the night of the 3rd November, 200 miles in the dark, and confirmed that this was, indeed, the case ! Kalemyo fell on the 15th November….

November 1944 saw two casualties for the squadron, one fatal. On the 22nd, an aeroplane returning from a recce of the Wetkauk-Naungmana area force-landed after a glycol [coolant] leak. Although it caught fire after landing, the pilot got out safely and, after a three-day trek through hostile jungle, returned home. The other pilot, DF Eduljee, the only AFC holder in the IAF at this time, failed to pull out of his dive whilst strafing some camouflaged bashas in the Shwegyin area.

December 1944 saw the Squadron fly 335 sorties totalling 775hrs 15'. The sorties were getting longer….

December was a crucial month with the opening of the Trans-Chindwin offensive. The principal players were IV Corps under Lt. Gen. Sir Frank Messervy, comprising 7th & 19th Indian Div. & 254 Tank Bde. XXXIII Corps under Lt. Gen. Sir Montagu Stopford, comprising 2nd British & 20th Indian Div., 268 Bde. & 255 Tank Bde. [both Indian].

Lt. Gen. Sir Frank Messervy (Left) was the GOC of IV Corps Lt Gen Montagu Stopford (Right) commanded the XXXIII Corps

In the north, the 19th Indian Div. crossed the Chindwin and despite the difficult terrain and the fanatical resistance of the enemy, rapidly progressed eastwards, capturing Pinlebo on the 16th December, Wuntho on the 19th and Kawlin on the 20th December, a distance of nearly 80 miles.

In the south, the 20th Indian Div, crossed the Chindwin at Mawlaik and took Maukkadaw on the Chindwin on Christmas Day.

Such rapid advances only further emphasized the criticality of accurate aerial reconnaissance in order to determine the position of the Allied troops as also the position and intentions of the enemy. However, this was easier said than done - the terrain was so difficult, that the tracks themselves could not be seen easily from the air, let alone troops. So it was back to basics once again by resorting to the First War system of troops displaying ground signals, these positions marked on the map when the troops were spotted by the low-flying aeroplanes, and the map then being dropped by the pilot onto the Headquarters at Mawlaik.

What about the enemy - what was he doing ? He was withdrawing quickly to the Irrawaddy, there to regroup, but he was blocking the road at frequent intervals with tree trunks, most of these booby-trapped. No, it was not going to be easy…

January, 1945. On the 2nd January, the 19th Indian Div. took Kanbalu, and Shwebo on the 7th. On the 9th of that month, the 19th Indian Div. crossed the Irrawaddy and secured Thabeikkyin. On the 10th January, the 20th Indian Div. had captured the Japanese communications centre at Budalin, and by the end of the month the 2nd British Div. had also reached the Irrawaddy.

Dispositions in Burma on 24 Jan 1945 (L) Jat Machine Gunners at Monya (Above)
Troops from the 4/10 Gurkha Regiment strike a Burmese Village (R)

At last, after very costly fighting, Monywa, the chief Japanese position on the Chindwin, was taken on the 22nd January by the 20th Indian Div. On the same day, other units of the Division took Myinmu, only 40 tantalising miles west of Mandalay after heavy fighting.

What was the squadron doing during this period of intense army activity ? Strangely, there was a lull in their operations "with intermittent flying as and when called for." Upto the 15th January, the Squadron flew only 42 sorties, almost all photo-reconnaissance, over a nine day period. 2nd & 19th Indian Divs. began their push towards Shwebo, which they took on the 7th January, 1945. From the 16th upto the 28th January, no sorties were called for by the army. This well-deserved respite for Nanu and the rest of the Squadron, was, however, all too brief.

The drive to Meiktila was about to begin….

The enemy was, as usual, cunning - he made no attempt to stop the Allies from coming towards the Irrawaddy, but dug into well-sited and well-manned positions on the other side of the river, there to meet the attack with the river at the back of the attackers, a tactic reminiscent of the First Sikh War at Sobraon on the 10th February, 1846…

A section of well armed Chin Levies with a Captured Japanese Flag (L)

Budalin in Flames being attacked (Below)

A direct frontal attack would therefore have been suicidal. Field Marshal Sir William Slim, the Allied commander, decided upon subterfuge, to move IV Corps secretly from the left to the extreme right, gain a bridgehead near Pakokku, 58 miles northwest of Meiktila, and then strike at the pivotal enemy headquarters of Meiktila. To this end, two movements took off in a southerly direction from the main road between Tilin [now known as Htilin] and Pauk - both manoeuvres aimed at diverting Japanese attention from the proposed point of crossing of the Irrawaddy at Nyaungu, 17 miles southwest of Pakokku.

Field Marshal Sir Viscount Slim (L)

Gurkhas clear a village near the Irrawady (Below)

No. 1 Squadron was tasked with the Tac-R requirements of IV Corps. Imphal was now too far from their area of operations, so a detachment of the Squadron moved 175 miles south of Imphal, to the newly-prepared PSP [Perforated Steel Plate] airfield of Kan, 15 miles north of Gangaw [which was 80 miles from Pakokku, one of the points where the Irrawaddy was to be crossed] during the last week of January. The crossing of the Irrawaddy was planned for the 14th February, and the Squadron was to cover the deception movement [towards Tilin and Pauk] of the troops southwards. The area east of the Irrawaddy naturally demanded greater attention, as the crossing of that great river was imminent and everything depended upon accurate information on what the enemy was up to. So the Squadron was busy on reconnaissance and also attacking any target of opportunity, especially loaded carts.

February, 1945. On the 1st February, Lingadaw, on the way to Pakokku, was captured, and on the 3rd, Myaing, on the way to Nyaungu. Myitchie, eight miles north-west of Nyaungu, at the point where the Irrawaddy turns due south, was captured, and the stage was now set for the secretly-planned crossing of the mighty Irrawaddy….

Gurkha Patrol in the Pakokku Area (L)

Trucks crossing a river in the Pagan Area (R)

The 19th Indian Div. had already crossed the Irrawaddy on the 9th January at Thabeikkyin, and this intrepid Division now consolidated this achievement with another bridgehead crossing at Kyaukmyaung, just 40 miles north of Mandalay. Although both bridgeheads had been subject to fanatically furious counterattacks; the 19th had not only stood firm but had, on the contrary, expanded and strengthened its positions. The 20th Indian Div. crossed at Allagappa, 40 miles west of Mandalay on the 12th February, securing and strengthening its bridgehead after severe and heroic fighting on both sides.

A Starting point on the river bank(L)

Stuart Tanks move upto the river (R)

During the wee hours of the 13th February, 1945 the 7th Indian Division began crossing the Irrawaddy at Nyaungu as planned, and on the 24th February, the 2nd Indian Div. crossed the river at Ngazun, between the 20th Indian Div.'s bridgehead at Allagappa and Mandalay - they were now less than 25 miles west of Mandalay….

4/10 Gurkhas moving across the river (L)

A Bridge being built by the engineers (R)

Progress in the 7th Indian Div.'s sector was rapid. After crossing at Nyaungu on the 13th, they took the oil wells of Pagan the next day. The 17th Indian Div. now took the offensive in this sector and on the 24th, Taungtha, an important Japanese maintenance centre fell - the speed of advance can be imagined by the fact that Taungtha is 40 miles north-east of Pagan, from where they had started only eleven days before. The first of the airfields, Thabutkon, fell on the 26th and the 17th Indian Div.'s airborne brigade was flown in from Palel. Meiktila was attacked on the 28th and fell on the 4th March - this success was short-lived, however, and Meiktila was re-taken by the Japanese and it would not be back in Allied hands until the 3rd April…

In keeping with the rapid movement of the ground forces, No. 1 Squadron had to move south from Kan to Sinthe, a PSP runway which had been prepared on the 9th February. Sinthe was about 20 miles north-west of Nyaungu, the place where the 7th Indian Div. was to cross. Living conditions were basic, with the pilots living in tents. Each tent was shared by two pilots, and Nanu had, as his tent-mate, Bunny Cariappa [who later joined Ariana Airlines], Thimayya's brother-in-law.

On the 14th February, the day Pagan was taken, the Squadron flew 28 sorties, and on the 16th February, 32 sorties. The skies over the Nyaungu - Meiktila sector reverberated with the sound of the Squadron's low-flying Hurricanes.

The pressure to take Meiktila was enormous, and it was naturally the centre of the Squadron's attentions. It was also a veritable devil's cauldron of anti-aircraft defences. Four of the Squadron's aeroplanes were hit seriously, and the Squadron had another fatality.

On the 26th February, on a reconnaissance between Taunggon and Mahlaing [25 miles north-west of Meiktila], one of the Squadron's pilots, Norris, "a boy from Bangalore," was hit near his heart. Semi-conscious, with superhuman courage and incredible airmanship, he somehow managed to regain the Allied lines where he actually managed a forced landing. The crew of a tank watched horrified as the aeroplane slewed across the rough ground, ran and gently pulled him out as soon as it had ground to a halt, and rushed him to a field hospital. The boy died there the next day…

Medics at the 5th Indian Division(L)

Surgery on Trestles(R)

Meiktila fell on the 4th March, taken by the 17th Indian Div. This was a disaster, an unthinkable disaster for the Japanese, and they threw everything into getting it back. In this, they had been helped by the rapidity of the Allied advance, as seen by the fact that a strong Japanese column had retaken a dominating hill feature in Taungtha [on the 24thFebruary, Taungtha, an important Japanese maintenance centre fell - the speed of advance can be imagined by the fact that Taungtha is 40 miles north-east of Pagan from where they had started only eleven days before] just after the 17th Indian Div. had victoriously passed it ! The vital airstrip of Meiktila fell soon afterwards, and the 28th East African Bde. was driven back 13 miles to the Letse area.

Frontier Force troops attacking a village at Meiktila (L)

A Howitzer of the 9th Jacob Mountain Battery being fired (R)

March was confusing, with closely-run see-saws between the Allies and the Japanese…

A Map showing the Irrawady Crossings (L)

3" Mortars open fire at Mandalay, while a Bren Gunner keeps cover in the foreground (Above).

For example, Allied tanks and troops were located at Gwebin on the 1st March; on the 18th, Allied troops and vehicles were about three miles north of Gwebin, which meant a retreat ! On the 21st, a battle was noticed near Ywathit, south-east of Letse, two days later, Allied troops were seen in Ywathit itself……! The Squadron flew 618 hours during the month, despite the fact that late at night on the 4th March, nine aeroplanes had been damaged and nine airmen injured [no fatalities, thank God !] when the Japanese bombed the airfield, having flown nearly 300 miles over featureless jungle from their airfields around Rangoon - typical of the enemy's superb airmanship, to say the least….

However, by now the Japanese were thin on the ground, and, in order to reinforce Meiktila, they had to pull out troops from elsewhere. As a result of this, Mandalay [a name which conjured the same magical image for the Allies, as did Paris for the Germans during the First War] fell on the 14th March, and the 5th Indian Div., which had come all the way from Jorhat, re-took Meiktila on the 3rd April.

End of the tour

By now, the Squadron had spent close to fourteen months of intense, sustained action, and on the 26th March, they were relieved at Sinthe by 7 Squadron, who had just converted from the Vultee Vengeance to the Hurricane. No. 1 Squadron, however, continued operations until the end of March.

This brought to a close an operational record few squadrons in any air force can boast of - 4,813 sorties totalling 7,219 hours 45' over 14 months, an average of 343 sorties and 516 hours per month.

This was recognized by Air Vice-Marshal Stanley Vincent [who, as Gp. Capt., commanded Northolt during the Battle of Britain], AOC of 221 Group, who paid this richly-deserved compliment to the air and ground crew of the Squadron " The reliability of their Tac-R and photographic work has remained at a high level throughout, and ground crews have set a record of serviceability of aircraft which is second to none in any Air Force in the World."

This was recognised by more tangible awards. There were DFC's for Fg Offr Rai, Fg Offr AR Pandit, Sqn Ldr R Rajaram, Fg Offr KN Kak, Fg Offr MN Bulsara, Fg Offr PS Gupta, Sqn Ldr Arjan Singh, Fg Offr BR Rao, Mentioned in Despatches for Fg Offr Rao, Fg Offr Kak, Fg Offr Rishi [the Equipment Officer], Warrant Officer Tara Singh [the Armament Officer], and Flt Lt Patwardhan [the Adjutant].

The move to Kohat began - 'A' Flight under Rajaram, accompanied by Nanu Shitoley, Ronnie Noah [from UP] and Bunny Cariappa. 'B' Flight under HN Chatterjee, accompanied by Gupta, Joseph, and one other pilot.

At a forward airfield thats been turned to a quagmire due to the Monsoons, Fg Offr A C Prabhakaran, Flt Lt Ramaswamy Rajaram and Fg Offr S Hafeez pose by one of the Hurricane IIcs. Unfortunately both Prabhakaran and Hafeez were to die in operations later on in late 1944. Rajaram became an Air Marshal and AOC in C of SWAC. But he died of Leukemia in 1966.

Just short of Kumbhirgram, the weather, their old enemy, which had made Hafeez and Prabhakaran collide and lose their lives, which had killed Rajendra Singh when he was ferrying an aeroplane back from Calcutta, which had almost taken Nanu's life some months ago, intervened. When Chatterjee landed at Kumbhirgram, he was horror-stricken to find that his entire flight was missing ! Rajaram carried on towards Kohat, taking Bunny Cariappa with him and leaving behind Nanu and Ronnie Noah to search for the handsome PS Gupta, Joseph, and the other pilot. They gave up after two days of searching - no wreckage, nothing.…

There were two more DFC's - for Nanu Shitoley, who had flown 300 hours on Operations in less than eight months, who had been recommended for the medal in Sinthe itself, and Flt Lt HN Chatterjee - the announcement came in Kohat, where the Squadron had gone for a well-deserved rest.

Post Independence

From 1949 - 1951, Nanu commanded the newly-formed Comm. Squadron. This was followed by a six-month stint, training as an Aircrew Examining Board Examiner on Dakotas at Naisborough in Yorkshire for six months where, apart from the Dakotas, he also flew Ansons and Oxfords. He also qualified as a Flight Instructor at the Central Flying School [CFS] at Dishforth, flying Harvards. Whilst in England, he picked up a Holland & Holland 375 Magnum for 100 pounds [Service Officers were also picking up wonderful handguns like Webleys in India at that time for Rs. 100/- !] with which he used to go duck-shooting in Agra and Bharatpur. There was also neelgai and deer shikar in Agra.

This was followed by a stint in the [again] newly-formed Aircrew Examining Unit in Delhi, where he served upto 1953, where he served with people like Hegde and Bunny Fernandes. In 1953, he gave shape to the CTS [Conversion Training Squadron] in Agra to convert pilots onto Dakotas…

Nanu told me a story during his time in Comm. Squadron. Once, he had flown Nehru to Bombay from Delhi. Before the trip back to Delhi, the crew did a full pre-flight check - everything was as it should be. Then there was an unexpected delay, and unbeknowns't to the aircrew, the ground crew had put the pitot cover back on. They took off - there was no airspeed showing ! What should they do, carry on or return ? Just then, the Navigator called and told him "Sir, I have no airspeed !" to which Nanu phlegmatically replied "Neither have I, old boy !" He had carried on to Delhi and relied on his prodigious flying skills to get them home - returning to Santa Cruz airfield in Bombay would have reflected poorly on the IAF, something that was unacceptable to him.

Another vignette of his time with Comm. Squadron was the story he told of the time when Bhim Rao force-landed a Devon with Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the then Home Minister, on board, on a flight from Delhi to Rajasthan. A huge crowd had collected around the aeroplane after the successful force-landing, and Patel was whisked off in a car. Patel praised Bhim Rao in Parliament for the skilful way in which he had brought the aeroplane back….

Air Marshal Gibbs with DFC Awardees and the Next of Kin of a DFC Recipient. From left to right in the last row are Chatterjee, A R Pandit, Gibbs, Minoo Engineer, Shitoley,Rono Engineer. BR Rao's son is in the front (L) .

DFC recipients Ravindra Rao (on behalf of his father Late F/O BR Rao), RM Engineer, NK Shitoley, AR Pandit, HN Chatterjee and MM Engineer (R)

Nanu says that there was a small pressurised compartment in a Dakota, especially made for Patel, after his heart attack. He also feels that Patel should have become Prime Minister of the newly-independent India, and not Nehru.

Another Comm. Squadron story…one day, Chandan Singh was tasked to fly Krishna Menon to Delhi. There was heavy fog, and no flying was possible. Menon, as was his wont, was pacing up and down and ranting about the delay, when Chandan Singh gently pointed out to him that even the birds were staying on the ground !

Once he had flown Jawarharlal Nehru to Karachi. Some of his old friends who were now in the PAF, invited him to Kohat. As soon as he entered the old Mess in Kohat, the old Pathan Aabdaar [chief waiter] rushed to Nanu and enveloped him in a bear-hug !

In 1961, Nanu went to Los Angeles to the University of Southern California to attend a course on Fight Safety. His course-mates were from the US, the UK, Pakistan, Turkey, and even a distinguished Luftwaffe fighter pilot of the erstwhile Wartime Jagdwaffe, whose name he cannot recollect ! There were two USAF pilots - one white and the other black. He says that the latter did very well at the course. One night, when they had all decided to go to a fancy restaurant for dinner, this pilot very subtly excused himself - only later did Nanu realise that this was probably because this was an exclusive restaurant where a black person may have been made to feel unwelcome - this was 1961, mind, when the Civil Rights movement was in its nascent stage !

He commanded AF Stn. Palam, having also managed to fly [once a fighter pilot…!] Hunters [of 20 Sqn.], Mystere IVa's and MiG 21's. He speaks especially fondly of the Hunters….

He retired in April 1975 as SASO [Senior Air Staff Officer] Southwestern Air Command, Jodhpur, after a distinguished career spanning 34 years in the Indian Air Force.

He is now retired in Bombay with his charming wife and daughters, still very much the flyer, as he describes the movement of aeroplanes in the age-old tradition of the aviator, and grins, and talks about the Hurricane, and Burma….

Webmasters Note [01 December 2006] : Air Commodore Nanu Shitoley DFC passed away on 14 November 2006 at Mumbai.


[1] Email received from K Sree Kumar Nair about Observer/ Pilot courses

In response to one of the questions about wanting details of those early Pilots' Courses run in India that were sent in their entirety to train as Observers: Air Marshal BS Krishna Rao, quoted in "Aviation in the Hyderabad Dominions" by Mrs Anuradha Reddy, says: "1st, 2nd and 3rd Courses, although they were Civil Pilots Licence 'A' holders, were recruited only as navigators [observers as they were called in those days]. The 4th Course was trained as pilots, some were sent to the UK for training and the rest in India. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd course observers were converted in 1940 and 1941 to Service Pilots. ACM PC Lal, AM Rajaram, AVM Sondhi, Air Cdres Atamaram and Lodhi were some of these... [Air Commodore Ratnagar, in his recent recollections to Jagan, says he was classified as 3rd Course, but sent to train as a pilot, and passed out, with 4th Course, starting at RAF Risalpur, 14 Jun 1940 -- also that he was the only member of 3rd Course to train as a pilot. Minor discrepancies apart, can we agree that these two officers' recollections, of 3rd Course, are reconcilable?] ACM Lal also adds, in "My years with the IAF", that he trained initially as an Observer, with the promise that he would be converted to a pilot later. He doesn't identify his Course number in his book, but he started his training, at RAF Risalpur, on 14 Nov 39. So I got the course numbers, and the number of courses, to which this was done, wrong -- but the basic fact, that some of the early Pilots' Courses were sent, in their entirety, to train as Observers, basically right. It'd be interesting to work out which course Cecil Nair belonged to, though based on what he told you he may well have undergone some elements of pilots' training before being sent to train as an Observer. [Again btw, Stephen Ambrose says, in the "Wild Blue", that the USAAC, around that same time, was actually sending the *best* performers from initial training and ground school to train as navigators, not as pilots -- navigators were considered to require more intellectual prowess and mental acuity than the pilots -- a sentiment I know a few retired navigators would agree with!!]


References/ Bibliography

[1] Interview with Air Cmde. Nanu Shitoley DFC and Wg Cdr Hoshang Patel
[2] AP 1564 B & D Maintenance Manual and Pilot's Notes for Hurricane IIA, IIB, IIC, ID, IV and Sea Hurricane IIB, IIC
[3] Pilot's Notes for Tiger Moth Aircraft RAAF. Publication No 416, Feb 1944
[4] Pilot's Notes for Harvard 2B A. P. 1691 D
[5] History of the Indian Air Force 1933-1945, Orient Longmans 1961
[7] British Aircraft - R. A. Saville-Sneath, Penguin 1944
[8] The Illustrated Directory of Fighting Aircraft of World War II - Bill Gunston, Salamander 1988
[9] Hurricane at War - Chaz Bowyer
[10] Hurricane at War : 2 - Norman Franks, Ian Allen 1986
[11] The Complete Air Navigator - D. C. T. Bennett, C. B., C. B. E., D. S. O., Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons 1950
[12] Ground Studies for Pilots Vol. 3 - R. B. Underdown, Blackwell Science 1993
[13] Old photocopies of W/ Cmdr. 'Randy' Randhawa's notes [AP1234?] Chapt. 4 'Pilot Type Compasses'
[14] Actual Instruments/ Equipment in the writer's collection - Type 'C' Leather Helmet, Mk. VIII Goggles and Type 'G' Oxygen Mask, P-8 Compass, Dunlop Air Pressure Gauge AHO E1, SS & S Co Ltd London Vertical Speed Indicator No 148/ 41, Navigational Computer Mk. III D*, Computer; Dead Reckoning Type AN 5835-1, 'Unique' Navigational Slide Rule
[15] Vintage Flying Helmets - Mick Prodger, Shiffer 1995
[16] Luftwaffe Vs RAF Flying Clothing/ Flying Equipment - Mick Prodger, Shiffer 1997
[17] The Royal Air Force 1939-45 - Andrew Cormack/ Ron Volstad, Osprey Men-At-Arms Series 1999
[18] RAF Combat Units SEAC 1941-45 - Bryan Philpott, Osprey 1979
[19] Eagle Day - Richard Collier, Pan 1969
[20] Operational Navigation Chart 1 : 1, 000, 000 J-10 Burma/ Thailand
[21] At them with the Bayonet ! The First Sikh War - Donald Featherstone, Jarrolds 1968
[22] Jane's Guns Recognition Guide - Ian Hogg/ Rob Adam, Harper Collins 1996
[23] The Battle of Britain - Film, Harry Saltzman production 1968
[24] Models of Zero, Oscar and Tojo made by Dhananjay Murty
[25] Last and most important, several incredibly pleasurable hours spent in and around the IAFM Hurricane, Delhi, 1989/ 90 when my son and I used to clean/ maintain/ preserve her and other aeroplanes there t bases.


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