Derek Perry

May 26 2007
Derek and Bev Perry enjoying the learning experience at the 
NASA Space Center at Cape Canaveral Florida

 

Derek has entertained us with many stories of family history His School days and many other very interesting stories-It is all very well written and very interesting--please enjoy ---- 


Mohinder Singh Pujji

A Dedication to Larry Brown

Two Elephant Tales

Andrew Yule get Together

Five Tigers in Fifteen Minutes

Governors visit to Jowai/Haflong

TEA IN ASSAM & THE DELANOUGEREDES

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February 22 2009

Thanks to Derek we have this piece of history for you to enjoy

RAF remembers the role of Indian pilots in WW11

His daring exploits were typical of fighter pilots during the Battle of Britain: he shot down Messerschmitts, was forced down twice and lost a lung flying at altitude. But how many other RAF squadron leaders used to keep a spare turban in their cockpits? Mohinder Singh Pujji was one of 18 qualified Indian pilots to join the RAF in 1940. Now 90 he is the only one left to tell the tale. 
Pujji was treated as a hero in wartime Britain. He was ushered to the front of cinema queues and often treated to free meals in restaurants.

A new permanent exhibition opened yesterday at RAF Museum Cosford in Shropshire, called Diversity in the Royal Air Force. The launch comes in a week when Prince Harry's comments have reignited the debate about racism in the armed forces and the RAF is hoping that the exhibition will help to challenge negative perceptions by celebrating the racial diversity of its history. It features men such as Indra Lal Roy, who fought in biplanes over first world war trenches or Princess Noor Inayat Khan, who served in the WAAF before being parachuted behind enemy lines to become the first woman wireless operator to infiltrate occupied France.Stereotypes The exhibition, in Cosford's fighting planes hangar, tells the story of the role of ethnic minorities in the RAF, using their own words and displays of their papers and medals. 

Hurricane Pujji was the guest of honour at the launch of the exhibition, and tales of his wartime exploits stole the show. "I loved flying and I wanted adventure," he said. "I didn't mind when I was shot at. It didn't frighten me at all." He related that once his dashboard was shattered over France in a dogfight with a Messerschmitt by a bullet that had passed through four layers of his uniform. And in 1941 he was forced to land in the North African desert and was picked up by British troops. Awais Younis, 14, a pupil from Alexander High School in nearby Tipton, asked what plane Pujji had liked flying best.

Spitfire,  He later recounted how his turban had filled with blood when he was forced to land over France. After that he always carried a spare one. But he stopped wearing a turban in the 1960s. "Times changed," he said. Pujji's son, Satinder, said his father's insistence on wearing a turban in combat had cost him a lung. It meant that he could not wear an oxygen mask and so one of his lungs was irreparably damaged at high altitude. Asked if he had faced prejudice, Pujji said: "Only prejudice in my favour. In the restaurants people wouldn't charge me; in the picture houses they would let me go to the front of the queue." He added: "Everyone loved me and l fell in love with England."
Recognition ---Pujji retired to England after a career as a commercial pilot in India and now lives in Gravesend. "Flying is my first love. It's always a pleasure to see the planes I was flying in. In 1945 King George VI approved the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Flight Lieutenant Mahindra Singh Pujji of the Royal Indian Air Force."Source: Guardian  

The desire to fly is an idea handed down to us by our ancestors who looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space on the infinite highway of the air."  - Wilbur Wright (1867 - 1912)

 

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23 December 2007

This page is dedicated to Larry Brown who has reached the age of 70 and his special friend Derek Perry has created a special tribute to Larry with a short foreward by the David the Editor 

David's bit:
Larry Brown has been a tower of strength to me as the Editor of http://www.koi-hai.com/  I thank him sincerely for all the delving for information requested by people who have a family link to NE India but the facts are not often shown on the web site. I had the privilege of meeting Larry at Eastbourne in 2005 but our paths did not cross in N.E.India--He is a wonderful unselfish character who is extremely proud of his family I wish him all the best for the next 30 years !!! 

   and now Dereks tribute to his special friend
Larry
Brown is three score years and ten today 24/12/07

Lawrence (Larry) Brown is an Irishman of 70 years, may he long continue to be one. The Irish are probably the most likeable race on earth. They are affectionate, endearing, erratic, fanatical, kind, loveable, stubborn, pig headed, generous, humorous and loquacious. I know this, my grandfather was Irish and I was taught by the native Irish, the Irish Christian Brothers at Shillong.

I have known Larry for only about three or four years. Our common interest is our experience on tea estates in Assam and the Dooars, although our paths never crossed. We also share a passion for nostalgia and the sense of the absurd. Over those few years Larry has showered me with parcels containing books about North East India, CD's and DVD's of music of the Nineteen thirties, forties and fifties as well as recordings of all the best of Peter Sellars, The Goons, Tony Hancock and other memorable BBC shows. Usually the parcels come stuffed with tea bags from his beloved Madura tea estate in New South Wales. Larry will telephone me frequently to keep me informed with all his latest research and discoveries in the area of our great but dwindling brotherhood of tea planters. It is noticeable that after all his calls there is a sharp rise in the price of Telstra Tele shares.

Here is an example of Larry's thoughtfulness. My wife Bev, goes down to collect the mail from our Maleny mail box, she is handed a long tube of about four foot long and four inches in diameter. It is from L. Brown on the Gold Coast. Mystified she brings it home and we search the contents. From out of the tube we extract a waist high shoe horn for geriatrics, which, to stop any suspicious rattling has been packed into the tube with about 5 kilos of Madura tea bags. Not only does Larry save me from bending down in my old age to prevent jamming my arthritic finger between heel and the back of my shoe but he has ensured that we will never be short of a cup of Madura best blend.

Apropos of nothing, during one of our well into the night telephone calls, Larry mentions that he has found an old print of a celebrated painting titled, "When did you last see your father." The painting depicts a young Cavalier lad standing ram rod like on a footstool, bravely composed while facing his Puritan interrogators. In the background are his mother and sisters with other assortment of females distraught and weeping. I was able to share with Larry that I had seen the original hanging in the London Tate Gallery and also that it featured prominently in a book I had of the Stuart reign and that I had always admired the artists work. Then I thought nothing of it.

A few months later, I met Larry for the first time when he came up to our home at Witta, up in the hills inland from the Queesland Sunshine Coast, to stay the night. It was love at first sight, in a brotherly sort of way, of course. Larry never comes empty handed. From out of the car boot he produces the aforementioned print together with two other period prints of equal interest and a healthy two year old tea plant in a large pot. He names the tea bush "Bruce" in recognition of my yet unauthenticated claim to be a descendant of the great Robert Bruce of Assam tea fame.

When living in England after my tea days were over and again in Auckland New Zealand, I would often fantasise and drool over having a small holding of tea plants from which at maturity I could do my own picking and manufacture of black tea in a rudimentary sort of way. Thanks to Larry that dream is now a reality. I now have 30 reasonably healthy tea plants, my very own tea garden. Below are three latest photographs of this further example of Larry's generosity and help towards his mates. They are suitably captioned.

Happy Birthday Larry

    

A view of the Witta, Sunshine Coast hinterland, Division of the Madura Tea Company.

A healthy example of quality Assam hybrid Betjan tea plant.

    A ‘healthy' example of quality Aussie Runt hybrid tea plant.

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Click Here to read the previous  stories

 of Gentlemen   Jim Harper,   We Three--Memories of Bob Struthers, 
Perry's Folly,  Khowang, St Agnes Convent,  Topee.  Earthquake 1897,  Fading Away, Tea in Assam - Bruce, Chatterjee Babu, Shait

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 October 27, 2007

Many thanks to Derek for sharing with us his usual well written article --Thank you Sir

Two Elephant Tales

This is the story of two gentlemen and the two elephants that crossed their path. Both the incidents were separate, both encounters happened almost to the day, but in widely different districts of India. As far as is known the elephants were not closely related in any way. On the other hand the two gentlemen were second generation cousins, descendants of Pierre Augier and Pierre de la Nougerede.

These two French families immigrated to the French colonies in India, then as Royalist supporters, chose asylum in British India at the time of the French Revolution. That is the popular romantic family version of events which has been perpetuated to some extent down the years. The more probable explanation is that the families moved into East India Company circles at Calcutta to take advantage of the trading facilities available there to use their skills more profitably. The two families inter married extensively; first cousins married second cousins, second cousins married first cousins at regular intervals for many generations. The result is that between these two good Catholic families, the Augiers and de la Nougeredes, managed to spawn many progeny. In recent years nearly fifty or so Augier and de a Nougerede descendants meet in annual reunion from different parts of England and overseas.

The first of the elephant versus human confrontations happened in the Garo hills of Assam between Charlie de la Nougerede and a proscribed rogue elephant. Uncle Charles was one of four de la Nougerede brothers, their sister Mary was my grandmother. One of the brothers, Louis, I have already written about in an earlier story, he of the legendary battle with the feisty Sadiya goat. Brother Louis was a shikari of great renown among hunters in the forests of Assam. His younger brother Charlie tried to walk in his footsteps, as younger brothers often do, but never quite made the grade.

P D Stracey takes up the story and I now quote the climax to this experience from his book "Read Elephant Hunter."

"Charlie was a great believer in the influences of dates and numbers on a person's fortune, and like most people, for some time considered thirteen to be unlucky."

"It so happened that 13th March, 1939, found him tracking a rogue elephant and whether it was the luck of the date or not he certainly had the most terrifying experience of his whole life."

"He had been chasing the elephant for three days, in the Garo hills in very rugged and difficult country, and had just about decided to return to Shillong, when he came to a forest contractor's camp, ten miles north of Sangsak. Here he got the disappointing news that had he been half an hour earlier he would have seen his tusker quarry bathing in the Krishnai river, just opposite the camp. Not to be thwarted when he had got so far, Charlie at once crossed the river and took up the trail. After he had covered about three miles, he heard the sound of breaking bamboo coming from a deep gully. Approaching with due caution, he was obliged to slide down the slope with his heavy 450/400 rifle slung across his shoulders. The elephant, either hearing or scenting him promptly bolted up the little valley, crashing through the jungle until it came to a saddleback, where it waited for its pursuer. Fully alerted de la Nougerede came up, walking delicately to where the elephant stood, and facing in his direction, its head a little down. There was no doubt as to its intentions. Without a sound it charged, trunk tightly curled. Aiming at the base of the trunk and a little low to allow for the slight slope, Charlie fired his right barrel and down went the elephant in a monstrous heap. The thick jungle obscured all vision, but Charlie concluded that the elephant was dead, as it disappeared from sight and he heard no further noise or movement in the bushes."

"He quickly ejected the empty shell and replaced it with a new round, then, standing where he was, Charlie kept his eyes glued to the spot where the elephant had gone down. He was convinced that he stood glued to the ground for ten minutes in complete silence."

"Then, without the slightest warning or indication, the elephant appeared on his left side coming around a clump of bamboos. He was so astonished that he could do nothing. The elephant was not moving fast, in fact it was walking towards him in a deliberate kind of way. It then completely bowled him over before Charlie could react at all. In a second he found himself sitting on the ground, his rifle resting on his knees, watching the hind quarters of the retreating animal as it went serenely on its way. He instinctively raised the rifle to take a shot at its tail, but for some reason desisted. Instead, he continued to sit silent and watchful until the massive bulk disappeared out of sight."

"If the elephant was lucky, so was the hunter. And his luck was to continue to hold. Collecting his wits, de la Nougerede suddenly realised that his left arm was badly smashed, being broken in two places between elbow and wrist. The act of climbing to his feet caused the arm to spurt blood; Charlie twisted his handkerchief round it above the elbow to form a rude tourniquet, and holding this in position with his sound arm, his rifle slung across his shoulder by its leather sling, he made his way with great difficulty back to the contractor's camp. Here he was extremely fortunate to find a lorry driver who had come up from the plains that day for a load of sleepers, and without further delay he was driven into Gauhati, a journey of some hundred and fifty miles."

"Here again his luck held well, for the Civil Surgeon was in the station and came at once to the hospital. After cutting away the bush shirt, his words were 'you are in a terrible mess and I shall have to take the arm off'. By this time de la Nougerede was in no state to care, but the Indian assistant surgeon came to the rescue; he urged postponement of the decision to amputate and begged that an attempt be made to save the limb. As Charlie was young strong and in robust health, the doctors decided to take a chance. They thoroughly cleaned the wounds and set the broken bones. Two days later, Charlie was moved by military ambulance to Shillong where he was whisked off to the Welsh Mission Hospital. Here he spent nearly five months in the care of the well known surgeon, Dr. Roberts. The ends of the ulna had become septic and had to be cut short and then rejoined, so that for the rest of his life he had a permanently short arm. But this made no difference to his subsequent shooting career nor to his wonderful cheerful outlook on life."

"What exactly went wrong, de la Nougerede never could say. He is admittedly short sighted, but he was wearing his spectacles, and that alone could not account for the elephant coming up upon him unawares. He had heard nothing. Why was the elephant not charging according to custom and why, having once knocked him down, did it not turn around and finish him off? The bemused manner in which it disappeared suggested that it was indeed suffering from shock. But how long had it lain in the jungle? The hunter could never tell nor could he offer any guess as to the whys and wherefores of the other unknown factors which had gone to make up the situation. Nor could he work out where he himself had been at fault in his actions. He only claimed that for him the number thirteen is not unlucky."

My uncle Charlie was a most loveable person and I remember him and my aunt, his beloved wife Rita with great affection. Sadly they were not blest with children. Their home was Shillong, they lived there to the end. Charlie was born there in 1890, was educated at North Point School, Darjeeling, and then took a degree in Civil engineering at University in London. He qualified during the 1914 to 1918 war and served with the Royal Engineers. At the end of war, Charlie returned to India and worked on many major construction schemes in the Bombay area. After the elephant episode when war was declared with Japan, Charlie was called up again to serve with the RE's and given the substantive rank of Captain. He was mainly occupied with the construction of Airfields in Bengal and Assam. Following the war he was appointed the resident engineer at Sadiya with the then North East Frontier Agency. As a lad of fourteen in 1949 I remember visiting him at Sadiya with my father where for the first time in my life I heard the history of the family's tea pioneering days in Assam. Charlie had done considerable research having collected many interesting notes in particular with the claim that his mother, Nina Elizabeth was the grand daughter of the famous Robert Bruce.

I suppose in my subconscious this sudden realisation of the family tradition with tea made a significant impact, so that after a few years in England "learning a trade" I found myself following in the footsteps of two generations of grand fathers in Assam. When I was acting manager at Desam, Uncle Charlie came down from Shillong to visit me where he took the opportunity to thoroughly immerse himself with the modern culture of tea and its manufacture. He made a great impression at the Naharkatia Club bar as he sallied forth into story after story fuelled by a goodly intake of his favourite tipple, Rosa Rum. Rather like the 'Ancient Mariner' he had a yarn or two to tell and nothing was going to stop him. Charlie passed away in Shillong in 1969, I had long since left Assam. Sadly all his notes concerning the family histories with tea disappeared.

Clifford Campbell-Martin's mother was an Augier and within the family scheme of things was a second cousin to Charlie. The family's stamping grounds were among districts in Bihar where they had established proprietary interests in mining of minerals, coal and mica in particular. Like Cousin Charlie, Clifford was also educated by the Jesuits at North Point School, Darjeeling. It is uncertain if they were contemporaries because of an age difference of some six or seven years. At the start of World War 1 or shortly after, Clifford was sent to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He graduated and then volunteered for flying service with the Royal Flying Corps. Details are sketchy, as it is not known for how long he roamed the Western skies in search of combat with the Hun. Suffice to mention that he was shot down in an encounter with the enemy. Surviving the ordeal, he was captured and held in a German POW camp at Holzmindon. Significantly, with a group of ten other British and French internees he escaped by tunnelling out with his companions, all of them returning unscathed across the lines to the safety of their bases. Clifford came out of the war a well decorated hero; he was awarded the Military Cross and the French Croix de Guerre. Unfortunately the details of the citations are lost.

Here Clifford's story is taken up with extracts from a book "Out in the Midday Sun" written by his wife Monica. It would seem that after the War, Clifford was made very welcome by an English family whose circles generally feted him as a hero. But in terms of the sedentary change to civilian life, he found the transition difficult. Monica describes the events that found them on a ship bound for India, where Clifford was to start work in Bihar in position with his uncle's Mica mining business.

"Clifford had first come to our house in London when I was seventeen. He was dark and slender, with large brown eyes. I did not notice him much at first. It was exciting for me to have just left school, and to sit down to dinner at night like a real adult. It was still more fun to discover that after I had worked at the Slade School of Art by day, friends from home wanted to take me out by night. The world was my oyster, and I was busy trying to open it."

"Clifford came on the scene when I was having a wonderful time with Canada, America and Australia. Canada danced like a dream and as I was dance crazy, he accounted for a considerable amount of my spare time. Clifford took one look and went off to arrange dancing lessons."

"After that I do not remember having much say in the matter. Clifford knew what he wanted, made up his mind for me and that was that. There was no slackening of the pace until I was at the altar. Then we were on our way to India where life would be more suited to his temperament than anything he could find in England. Up till now nothing had held him for very long to any particular means of livelihood, because city life constrained him, and he needed regular outdoor exercise."

The Campbell-Martins settled into their new lives together with energy, but Clifford's career in the Mica mining business was short lived. After a few years he changed direction taking up a position as a Forest officer administrating the vast territory of lands and forest, the hereditary owner of which was the Maharaja of Bettiah in the State of Bihar. To qualify properly, Clifford was to attend the India Government School of Forestry at Dehera Dun. Then he was to take charge of the Raja's forest domain, lock stock, barrel and elephants.

Among the collection of worker elephants, "Temi Bahadur" was strikingly an outstanding specimen. He was big, sturdy, and intelligent and sported a handsome pair of tusks. Clifford was instantly attracted to Temi and over many years they established a strong bond. On the many occasions that Clifford needed to use an elephant in the course of his work and sporting activities, he unhesitatingly chose Temi for that duty. Then a strange thing happened, once again Monica takes up the story.

"The Broucke family had been lent a block of the jungles for ten days shooting and they asked me to join them but I decided not to go with the party. How much I was to regret this decision later."

"Afterwards various members of the Broucke family told me what happened. The shoot started off successfully with pig and deer which is abundant in that part of the forest. The following day Clifford shot another deer and the party bagged a very large buck, but no news of tiger or leopard."

"After a picnic lunch, the elephants were called up for everyone to mount. Clifford assisted a lady to mount Temi Bahadur and after doing so, noticed that the cartridge bag was lying on the ground. The elephant had risen from his knees. Still standing at the tusker's shoulder, Clifford reached for the bag and was about to hand it up when the elephant swung around, grasped Clifford in his trunk, and swept him off his feet into the air. Other members of the party were mounting the remaining kneeling elephants."

"The elephant flung Clifford up then held him partly in his mouth, but with his trunk still firmly gripping Clifford's body. Clifford struggled, the lady screamed and the rest of the party, all in various stages of ascent, stopped dead. Temi Bahadur was so big and had wound his trunk so firmly that all that could be seen of Clifford were his legs. Temi swung him in the air from side to side. Two men of the party gripped their rifles to shoot the elephant but each time they aimed they were afraid they would shoot Clifford, too."

"The elephant's mahout, cutting at his head with his ankus, managed to gash him on a tender spot. Temi flung Clifford away. For a stunned moment no one did anything. Clifford scrambled to his feet and stumbled towards a tree. The next moment the elephant was on him again. Clifford fell face down. This time instead of picking him up, Temi rammed him with his head. A Mahout flung a short spear at the tusker to distract him. The elephant stopped, and then walked calmly away."

"Clifford insisted on climbing on to another elephant and rode back to camp. Then he collapsed and a message was sent to me. We got him back to our house, but the extent of his injuries was unknown. He was bruised all over and his left shoulder was terribly swollen. He needed a doctor and an X-ray."

"There are no ambulances in the jungle. We sent to Bettiah for one of the biggest estate cars. Clifford was in great pain in any position at all. Making him as comfortable as possible, and telling the driver to go very slowly, we at last reached Bettiah."

"For three days Clifford had been unable to sleep because of the pain. We drove straight to the X-ray room. At Bettiah a stretcher was ready, but the efforts of the untrained carriers only racked Clifford more. He ended by climbing on to the X-ray table by himself. The negative showed that the left arm was torn out of its socket at the shoulder, where the elephant had gripped it. Three ribs had been fractured at the spine. Clifford sat in a chair while the lady doctor and the Indian hospital surgeon tried to set his arm. They appeared to have some difficulty, but finally bandaged the shoulder. The ribs were then strapped. Clifford was now in greater pain than before, but refused point blank to remain at the hospital. We arranged to stay at the large estate guest house."

"Clifford was in agony all night. He could not lie down without torture, so he tried to rest in an arm chair. In the morning I sent a note to the doctor. Both doctors came over and unstrapped the shoulder, and found it had not been properly set. Bandages, of course, had only increased the pain. The doctors went out on to the verandah to confer. At this stage I began to suspect that neither of them knew how to set the bone."

"Clifford whispered to me, 'Pour me out a double whisky neat'. He drank it at a gulp and then, with his right hand firmly gripping the shoulder, he gradually worked the injured left arm around. I heard a click as the bone clipped into place. Clifford sank back with the sweat pouring off his forehead. The doctors returned and bandaged the shoulder once more."

Clifford's recovery was long painful and arduous he bore through it all in stoic like manner. It was seven weeks before he insisted that he was capable of getting back to light duties. Meanwhile the Raja of Bettiah was arranging to get rid of Temi Bahadur, in spite of Clifford's protests. Strangely, there was no explanation offered for the elephant's extreme behaviour. The condition of 'musth' was not mentioned as the cause of its frenzied attack. Elephants have notoriously long memories; some historical slight perpetrated in innocence by Clifford may have embedded it self in the elephant's brain to be unleashed at that critical moment, and now it was pay back time. Clearly those there at the time had no idea. It is a very touching scene described by Monica when Master and elephant make their peace.

"A few evenings following Clifford's return to work, I was startled to see Temi Bahdur in the long file of elephants coming down the drive at the time the elephants usually came to get their sweetmeats."

"When we first came to the forests, we instituted the custom of having the elephants brought to the main lawn after tea, whenever we were in residence. Big candies specially prepared for them would be ready. These candies consisted of broken up brown flour chappatis rolled and made into balls with cane sugar molasses. Each candy ball weighed about a pound. The elephants would hold out their trunks, daintily pick up the sweet with the tip, fling open their pink cavernous mouths and pitch in the candy. Then they swayed and sucked and swayed, flapping their ears lazily to keep away the flies. Drooling with delight they let the molasses dribble from their pointed lower lip and hang in syrupy threads. Each elephant ate about six candy balls."

"That evening when I saw Temi in the line of elephants, I asked if he should not be sent back. Clifford took one look, then told the head mahout to line up all the elephants as usual. Temi stood with the others. To each in turn Clifford gave the candy out of a big basket. He could only use his one good arm so the mahout walked beside him with the sweets. Temi receive his share with the rest. Clifford stood by him as he ate, patted his trunk and spoke to him kindly. When the baskets were empty the elephants turned to leave. With trunks swinging, and ears flapping backwards and forwards like enormous fans, the long grey line disappeared in single file down the drive."

As Clifford's body and injuries began to mend returning him to full fitness, his wife Monica experienced a major break down in health. After many years living in the tropics her immune system may have collapsed and together with the effects of Clifford's trauma, her body could take no more. Also she was missing the more temperate climate of England, where more to the point, their only child, daughter Renee, was in boarding school. Monica returned to England as war clouds loomed over Europe. She concludes her narrative as she makes her recovery, on a joyful note, but she finishes with some brevity tinged by heavy sadness.

"When I arrived in London, I entered hospital. Expert medical care helped me to turn the corner, and to disappoint all gloomy forecasts. After a time the hospital saw the last of me; but complete recovery was a slow process, for to be of use in the tropics I must be not convalescent but fighting fit. I was already a different person, but the doctors had not yet consented to my return to India because they feared a relapse."

"While waiting, I rented a small flat in London. Renee found it a pleasant arrangement to have me so long in England. During her school holidays she now had a home where she could unpack, and where she could bring her friends."

"When the war broke out I was still in England. Clifford and I had discussed the possibility of war so often that I knew what his choice would be. I knew, too, that it would not be enough for him to wear a uniform and sit at an office desk. That was not his nature."

He cabled to say he was leaving for England immediately. As soon as he arrived at the flat, I knew from his familiar pacing up and down, backward and forwards, that he would not rest until he was in the affair up to the hilt. He chose the Royal Air Force, as might have been expected, and volunteered for night flying."

"The forest days were over, for they were to be closed by the Book of Life."

"Clifford was one of the First of the Few"

It did not matter for him if thirteen was lucky or unlucky; dame fortune has a knack of not caring either way. On this occasion Clifford's number was up.

 


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February 21 2007
Below is a photograph of an Andrew Yule get together 



Below are the two halves of the small picture above--this is done in the hope of 
helping with recognition of the faces from half a century ago !!!

Names L to R-- Bob Struthers, Not Known, Edna Smith, Graham Oldham, 
Tiger Tim Rowell, 'Don Juan'Sheikhawat

L to R --Harry Smith, Gerry Halnan, Paul Christie, Alan Gordon, Jean Gordon, 
Surendra Bhasin, Ian McDonald  (lady behind unknown) Jennifer Christie in foreground 

The Andrew Yule Group________________________________
Return to top

 

December 11 2006

"FIVE TIGERS IN FIFTEEN MINUTES "

                            or

"FIFTEEN TIGERS IN FIVE MINUTES"

I have personal recollections of all my three great uncles, Louis, Arthur and Charles and of course my grandmother, Mary, whose father was, Achille de la Nougerede.  They were born in Assam between 1885 and 1890, from time to time they had all lived in Shillong  There could be no more colourful, extrovert a group of characters, yet each one, quite different in personality.  All of them possessed certain mannerisms that suggested they were a cut above the people around them.  In the British India of the day, with their kind of inherited background, this was not an unusual practice.  Yet they were all humane enough to be sympathetic to the needs of the ordinary man, whose rights for justice and assistance where needed, they would uphold with unquestionable fairness.  I hope that I inherited some of those compassionate traits, by putting them to good use when dealing to the needs of the many garden labourers it was my privilege to be associated with, during my time in tea.

Louis Joseph de la Nougerede  1886 to 1961

The legendry Louis is the brother, who made a name for himself in the Forest Service of Assam as the doyenne of wild life in all its form in that region.  He was born in the year 1887, very little is known of his childhood and youth other than that from an early age he was brought up by his father, Achille, to hold a rifle and use it to amazing effect.  Louis had a unique understanding of the relationship between the mechanics of a firearm and its target whatever was on the receiving end.  He possessed an uncanny split second ability to coordinate his mind and eyesight on the object before squeezing the trigger with precise timing, a gift given to very few.  He was courageous and fearless, characteristics, that together with his firearm skills he put to very good use in the sport of big and small game hunting, achieving a reputation second to none in the annals of the Assam Forest Service.

Louis loved nothing better than to be in the jungle pitting his wits against a proscribed rogue elephant that threatened the lives of villagers or tracking down a tiger that had found a taste for their domesticated cattle.

P D Stracey in his book titled, "Reade, Elephant Hunter" says of the Delanougerede brothers and Louis in particular

The Delanougeredes were three brothers, all keen shikaris, whose homes were in Shillong.  One of them, Louis, the eldest was a veteran forest officer when I arrived in Assam in 1930.  The Nimrod of his time, a crack shot with gun and rifle and a man about whom many stories had gathered, he practically lived with a weapon in his hand.  His hobby was to take his .22 rifle and, " just to keep his eye in" as he would say, to try to nail insects to the walls of rest houses where he camped.  When at work his shot gun was always close at hand and in the middle of his job of approving timber railway sleepers, he would catch it up to bring down on right and left green pigeon flying by.

Stracey goes on to describe an incident in a chapter "Kill or be Killed"....Elephants are capable of widely varying behaviour at times events can develop dramatically.  Louis Delanougerede, a great shot, had a thrilling battle with a vicious and determined elephant in the Garo Hills.  He and a friend were tackling a very large makhana which charged them repeatedly.  Preparatory to the charge the elephant would raise his head high, the` trunk coiled up like the tip of tender young bracken, the ears fully spread, and then it would come thundering down upon the hunters.  Louis's companion would take a shot-he was being given the chance by his host who was an accomplished shikari__and then they would both make for cover in the tall grass.  This process was repeated three times.  Then thinking things had gone far enough, Delanougerede finished off the elephant with a shot to the temple.  Why the elephant did not hunt them out of the grass or decamp once and for all is a matter for speculation.

Pat Stracey was a great friend of my parents and once when I was a very young man, he selected me to play for his Cricket XI in a match at the Garrison Cricket ground at  Shillong.  He was a most ebullient skipper directing his troops from behind the stumps with great aplomb.  Pat had then reached the high point of his service career, as Chief Conservator of Assam Forests.

Here is an amusing story from a Louis de la Nougerede contemporary, as told by Harold Cocksedge when they were serving together during the early 1920's in the North East  Frontier Agency of Assam, Sadiya district.  Cocksedge was in service with the P.W.D. (Public works department)  Although in this story Cocksedge, refers to the hero as "Pongo" Ponsonby, I have no doubt in my own mind as to who the real "Pongo" is..  The Cocksedges were also great family friends from Shillong.  I have heard this yarn told many times of an evening well after sunset when the consumption of Hunt's famous Mawphlang Rum began to take effect.

( I am indebted to Harold Cocksedge's son Cyril, for this story.  Cyril and I were in School in Shillong during the early 1950's, our friendship continues to this day, Cyril and his wife Shelia, now live in Sydney.)

THE FOREST OFFICER AND THE GOAT

Thomas Ponsonby-known to all and sundry as "Pongo" had been a forest officer of the Sadiya Frontier Tract in the north east Assam.  He had been banished to the far out posts because he had offended the ‘powers that be' in the Assam Government and in consequence nursed an acute sense of grievance which he attempted to drown in beer during the day, switching to whisky as soon as the sun had set.  There was no doubt that he knew his job thoroughly and in fact might have achieved brilliant success in his career but for his unfortunate penchant for treading on the toes of his superior officers.

On one occasion the Conservator of Forests paid an official visit of inspection to Pongo's Forest division and on their first day of their tour together, they had a violent quarrel.  Arriving at the little outpost of Pasighat, where they were to spend the night, the Conservator curtly warned Pongo that he wished to make an early start next morning in continuation of the tour.  Pongo, however, could not have cared less.  That night he went to dine with the Assistant Commandant of Assam Rifles in charge of the outpost, and after hilarious evening, spent the rest of the night with some other companions drinking until dawn.

In the morning the Conservator was up early, ready to move off as arranged, with all his kit loaded on the elephants.  When Pongo failed to put in an appearance he was furious and eventually had Pongo routed out and although he was still dressed in his dinner jacket, he was made to mount his elephant immediately to proceed on their tour.  There followed a long tiring day in the hot, humid jungle.  But Pongo was tough as whipcord; in spite of not having had a wink of sleep, still dressed smartly but somewhat incongruously  in black tie and jacket, he went through the day without the least sign of distress.

In spite of his foibles, we, the officers of the Sadiya Frontier Tract, were very fond of Pongo.  Added to his other virtues, Pongo was a superb marksman.  He held the record of having shot five tigers in fifteen minutes...or was it fifteen tigers in five minutes ?   a record unsurpassed even in these jungles.  Although quick tempered, he was generous to a fault and was ever ready to help a lame dog over a stile.  But let him be opposed or thwarted and he became a raging demon.

When proceeding on tours of inspection in the Forest Department launch along the forested banks of the river Brahamaputra, which he was obliged to do frequently to check logging operations, it was Pongo's custom to call in at Saikhowaghat.  This small town was located at the end of a single line railway, the only link of the Sadiya Frontier with civilisation.  Leaving the launch at the river ghat he would walk up to the railway station, about half a mile away, to see if there were any newcomers usually a tea planter on a sporting mission, with whom he could meet in the Railway Refreshment Room (or by himself if there was no one) for his invariable bottle of beer or two, before resuming his journey.

On the occasion when the following events took place, it had been raining for several days and the earth roads, which were all that Saikhowaghat could boast of, were churned into a muddy quagmire by the bullock cart traffic.  That day, Pongo had very rashly, as it turned out, put on a pair of brand new crepe soled shoes.  After struggling up to the station in the humid heat through a sea of mud, his temper was not improved by the absence of companions from the incoming train.  So instead of his one or two bottles of beer, our Pongo had about six to drown his disappointment.  Then not quite steady on his legs, he moodily began to weave his way back to the forest motor launch.

However, fate in the shape of an immense goat, was waiting for him.  The goat was a magnificent beast and the pride of the neighbourhood.  It was treated as a pet and kept fed by the local shopkeepers just as they did for the sacred cows and bulls that roamed the bazaar precinct with impunity.  This goat was browsing peacefully by the road side in the bazaar, when Pongo blundered into it.  The mud, the new slippery crepe soled shoes and the excess of beer he had on board made it difficult for him to keep his footing.  In a fit of irritation he aimed a hefty kick at the goat for daring to obstruct his path.  Immediately the universe exploded, the goat put its head down and launched itself like a thunderbolt at Pongo, biff, and down he went, head over heels into the mud.

As already mentioned, Pongo had an extremely quick temper and this immediately flared up at being subjected to such an indignity in the middle of the bazaar.  He got hold of the goat, knocked it down, rolled over it, hit it, kicked it and all but bit it.  Then, leaving it for dead, as he thought, he struggled to his feet covered in mud from head to toe, but scarcely had he done so when the battering ram hit from behind and down he went again.  Once more Pongo wrestled with the goat in the mire.  But he could make little impression, it seemed to be made of  India rubber.  His crepe shoes were of no use whatsoever  in trying to inflict damage to the creature and he had no other weapon beside his bare hands.  Again, and again, after a severe struggle, he left the goat defeated, as he thought, and again and again the goat sprang up and knocked him down.  He just could not keep his footing in the slippery mud against the goat's attacks, nor could he inflict sufficient punishment on the animal to daunt its superb spirit.

By this time both contestants were so covered with mud that it was difficult to distinguish between them and a multitude of delighted onlookers had collected, shrieking with merriment to see the great forest officer sahib of their district struggling unsuccessfully in the mire with their idol.  It was the best tamasha (fun) the local people had ever witnessed, they roared and shrieked with delighted laughter until their sides ached.

At long last, having temporarily got the upper hand after a titanic struggle he sat on the goat and recognising some of the logging contractors amongst the spectators, was forced to seek their help to enable him to get away from the terrible beast.  They held the animal down while Pongo scrambled to his feet and made his best pace back to the motor launch with the cheers of the crowd ringing in his ears.

On his next visit to Saikhowaghat, Pongo took the precaution of donning a stout pair of hobnailed boots.  When he met the goat he looked it straight in the eye and the goat stared back at him, but both decided not to renew hostilities.

Five Tigers In Fifteen Minutes

To the editor of the "Statesman" Calcutta.

Sir,__ 
        The account in the Statesman of March 17 about four tigers bagged in 24 hours by Mr Bowring I G. Police in Mysore, recalls 
an incident which occurred some 7 or 8 years ago when my 
son Mr L.J.de la Nougerede of the Forest Department was in 
the Garo Hills district where he managed to shoot five tigers in 
fifteen minutes.  He was travelling on inspection duty near the village of Damra  when the villagers informed him that a large colony of tigers had their lodgings in a small patch of scrub
jungle and were causing terrible havoc amongst their cattle. He was mounted on the Forest Department elephant which had a young calf with it.  On proceeding to the patch of scrub, a tigress charged out, when he fired and wounded it mortally.  Immediately after he was astonished at the extraordinary sight of a whole 
troop of tigers, lobbing out from all sides.  There were about  
14 or 15, including several cubs about two-thirds grown.  

              Had it not been for his anxiety to prevent the elephants  
calf from being mauled, he would have accounted for several others, but he managed to bowl over four more fully grown animals, all five within the short space of fifteen minutes.  The villagers later informed him that one of the tigers had come 
across a man fishing and killed him.  My son is the Divisional Forest Officer of Nowgong at present and he could verify my statement; but as it is several years since the incident occurred,
 I often wonder whether it was five tigers in fifteen minutes or fifteen tigers in five minutes.  There is a great element of luck in shikar as everyone knows, but such luck as befell my son, is probably unparalleled.
Yours, etc;
A C De La Nougerede
Avondale, Shillong, March, 1926.

This letter written by my great grand father, speaks for it self, and corroborates the real identity of ‘Pongo' Ponsonby in the goat story.  It is the only surviving record of anything written by Achille Claude de la Nougerede, the original clipping is in the hands of 
my cousin Alan de la Nougerede, eldest son of Louis, now living in Surrey, England.

Derek Perry
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 Governor Reid visits Jowai and Haflong 1939 & 1942


Back row  :  L to R   Rev Father deMontini.  Police Chief S.M.Dutt, Mr A.W.Zaman   My father Maurice Perry, SDO Haflong.  Mr Khan.  Mr Pringle.  Mr Bazely.  Mr Bignald

Front row seated : L to R   The Khan Sahib.  Mrs Singh.  My mother Dorothy.  Mr Fletcher, Deputy Commissioner Cachar.  Lady Reid.  Sir Robert.  Mrs Fletcher.  Mrs Pringle.  Mrs Bignald.  Mrs Zaman.  Mr Singh--in Front-The three chokras--Gerald Fletcher, Sheila Fletcher and Derek Perry. 
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1942


Back row : L to R.  Khasi gentleman.  Mr Gunning, Chief Commissioner for Assam.  Governor's Aide de Camp. Mr Jones of the Jowai Welsh Mission, My father Maurice Perry , SDO Jowai.  Sir Keith Cantlie, Deputy Commissioner Shillong.  Mr Gatpoe, (white topee) Anglican Vicar, Jowai.

Front row seated : L to R.  Khasi gentleman, Mrs Jones from the Welsh Presbetarian Mission. Sir Robert Reid.  My mother, Dorothy. Derek (squinting lad)  Attractive Khasi Lady*


The Rulers of the Raj enter Jowai Town 1939'   In foreground Left : Sir Robert Reid, Governor of Assam with my father, Maurice St John Perry, SDO Jowai, striding purposefully through the outskirts of Jowai Town, giving the impression of two celebrity golfers about to approach the first Tee for the start of the Jowai Open tournament.  The hushed crowd of Khasi fans can be seen waiting patiently for the first ball to whistle down the fairway.

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 September 25 2006

TEA IN ASSAM & 
THE DELANOUGEREDES

 (Researched and written by Derek Perry)
     (Research is on going)
                 
  
                 Copyright Derek Perry                                             1848

One wonders at the kind of prospect Rosalie Delanougerede, had to confront, when she first set foot on Assam soil at the makeshift Steamer Ghat at Pandu.  The ghat served the small trading town of Gauhati, also the headquarters of British civil and military presence ?  The year was 1848, here was a young girl only seventeen years of age, a mother already, with several young children to handle, from her marriage to, Louis Delanougerede.  Rosalie probably had no idea herself what to expect and may have decided to philosophically accept things as they came, knowing there was little room for complaint or indeed of turning back.  But, this young lady unprepared for the many difficulties ahead would have experienced a sinking feeling inside her as she visualised life to be lived in a relative state of isolation in this remote back water of British India.  The up-country areas of India during the middle 1800's were seen as the stamping ground, for young men suitably unburdened by marriage, intent on discovering adventure, fame and fortunate, certainly no fit place for genteel Victorian womenfolk.  There can be no doubt that by the standards of her Calcutta comforts, Rosalie, was now stepping into a very Spartan unforgiving environment.  Perhaps she had already experienced a taste of harshness in the form of a similar experience, living on the remoter indigo plantations of Bengal or Bihar, where it is thought that segments of the Delanougerede family had first made a start to their commercial enterprise in India.  So, it may well be that Rosalie was already hardened, at an early age, as a very young bride, of about fourteen or fifteen years, to a lifestyle lacking in basic amenities, relying solely on her Catholic upbringing with love of husband and family to sustain her.  From a life long constancy towards her faith, she would draw a strength that would support her spirit through the many adversities that were to lie ahead.

The critical dates of when the first Delanougeredes came to Gauhati is unknown nor is it known in what number they made their homes there.  There may have been a prior influx of Delanougeredes, followed by Rosalie, as Louis's bride in the year1848.

Quite possibly Louis Delanougerede, together with his father, Louis Matthew, his mother, Adelaide, daughter of Pierre Augier, Charles, his younger brother another brother with the name Henri, cousins Jean and Edwin, may have already secured a foothold to blaze a trail for themselves in the area, by acquiring land in Gauhati and the outlaying districts for the purpose of commencing the cultivation and manufacture of tea.  Excitement generated by the discovery of tea trees growing wild in many thickets covering a wide expanse of the province, had created a demand to buy cheap government land on offer.  The Tea Rush was on and the stakes were high.

The Delanougeredes seem to have chosen Gauhati as their point of residence for some special purpose.  Other players entering the field elected to go further up the valley in the direction of the Dibrugarh and Muttack regions and towards areas already secured by the redoubtable Charles Alexander Bruce.  As of 1839, the Assam Company began to operate successfully areas under tea established earlier by Bruce.  However, although the tea tracts in these areas of upper Assam covered wider areas and produced a better quality product, because of the richer, more alluvial soil, the region was considered inhospitable.  At that early stage of the expansion of tea cultivation, this territory, was seen as no place for European women folk.  It would be another thirty or forty years before the area would be considered sufficiently developed to sustain a European style of family life, with at very least, a basic infrastructure of comfort and social amenity.

Sensibly it seems from a family perspective, the Delanougeredes chose to take advantage of being part of the early development of Gauhati into the British head quarters of Government and Civil authority for the new territory of Assam.  They probably bought good land in prime positions on elevations looking down onto the great sweep of the river Brahamaputura which on good days, provided sublimely wondrous vistas of both sunrise and sunset, the rich gold, reds and pinks of reflected sky, shimmering over the waters.  Some of this land they later donated to Catholic missionaries and the first small church for the worship of Holy Mass, was built on this site.  There is further strong tradition that the family ran an Emporium and General Store that stocked the necessities and some of the luxuries of life, catering for the range of needs to satisfy a growing European community.  All this would have to be imported from Calcutta and transported up by slow river steamer, each consignment to be waited for with eager anticipation.

Meanwhile, the reason for their presence would have been undertaken, the task of searching for tea tracts suitable for cultivation, picking of leaf and its process into black tea.  In order to encourage the taking up of land for tea cultivation, very favourable conditions were offered by the Government, usually granted on fee-simple terms with variable but only nominal rent.  It is doubtful, in those early years, that all tea tracts growing in the wild, would have been discovered, their locations mapped and surveyed.  The absence of this would have meant some tedious exploration and search of the forest areas adjacent to the Brahamaputra and its tributaries along the river bank upstream from Gauhati.  In all probability the Delanougeredes engaged local people to seek and find what they hoped were the best and most suitable tracts on offer.  Once selected, the arduous business of clearing the land to expose the tea trees growing naturally but in haphazard pattern, would begin.  The trees would be pruned down to a height convenient for the harvesting of the young leaves.  Further infilling would follow with young plants grown in nurseries from the seed of the mature trees with the intention of increasing the density area under tea to the ideal of about 4000 bushes to the acre.  Next, buildings would be erected for the purpose of manufacturing the harvested leaf, first by withering on racks followed by a somewhat primitive method of hand rolling with a combination of drying in the sun and a final firing over charcoal fires to eliminate the green leaf moisture content.  The finished product of black tea was then ready for packing into the lead lined tea chests for the long river journey to Calcutta where Agents would purchase the product from the owners.  On average it took from three to five years to break in a prospective tea garden and yield a steady profit.  In all, the Delanougeredes are reputed to have developed at least four tea gardens, which in their hey day were thought to be productive and profitable.  During the period 1850 to 1865 the family fortunes were at their height as they applied themselves to the alchemy of turning green tea into gold.

One may reasonably surmise that several large family bungalows elevated on wooden stilts in the Assamese "chung" style, were built  on those Gauhati prime spots, overlooking the grand river views already mentioned. The wives would in time acquire the positions of burra memshaibs, while their husbands would wander off to pursue the business of tea management.  But in every way it was a mans life, tough, but rewarding.  Their great pastime which, easily combined with the labour of tea production, was the sport of keeping elements of wild life fauna in control.  Big game, small game and fishing was in abundance not least to satisfy the urge to hunt for trophy and the kitchen, but to protect the transient native workers from marauding elephant, tiger and leopard resentful of mortals invading their rightful jungle territory.

There can be no doubt that the brothers, Delanougerede were supplied with all their firepower equipment from the arsenals of their Augier in laws.  The descendants of Pierre Augier  the Cutler and Gunsmith on Cossitollah Road, Calcutta, would have engaged in robust trade on generous family credit terms with Delanougeredes, Edgar, Jean, Charles and Louis. As with the two later Delanougerede generations the initial requirement for protection from wild animals developed into a fierce family competitive culture.  Exaggerated shooting anecdotes would emerge with each searching for the best stories, eager to out do the other with embellished tales of big game encounters.

Family gatherings on festive and social occasions, at Gauhati, would have been notable for high conviviality stoked by grand scale dinners cooked from the plethora of masheer fish out of the rivers, venison, wild pig and game fowl, freshly shot for the table.  The very best available French brandy and wines and liqueurs were on hand to assist the loquaciousness of the moment.  It is probable that from these beginnings the Delanougerede capacity for imbibing liquor grew to legendary proportions.  These family banquets were laid on in the grand manner, with five course meals being the norm.  A story is told of the cook who made a mess of the menu, and in the heat of the moment was strung up by his britches from the ceiling rafters.  The poor cook would have been an import from Calcutta not used to the boisterous up country ways of his masters, those dinner parties could be wild.  I am sure at the end of the day the cook would have survived, but at some cost to his personal pride and one would not blame him if he handed in his immediate notice.

There is the apocryphal story told to me by my father who lived with his great grand mother, Rosalie for nine years until her death in 1918.  The large family house, ‘Avondale' in Shillong was at that time, home for at least three generations of her descendants.

The tale concerns a strange, mysterious Englishman who came to Assam to secure his destiny, living as a  planter on his tea garden carved out of the wilderness near Gauhati.  Lonely isolation in the jungles can do peculiar things to people.  It was reported that the man drank heavily to alleviate his feeling of remoteness and absence from civilisation. His mental condition was so reduced, that it was alleged, he made a pact with the devil, as many a tale of paranormal activity emanated via the bazaar bush telegraph from his bungalow in the wild.  According to Rosalie's story, the man held a magnificent banquet inviting many fellow planters, Government officials and their wives.  During the course of the festivities, the blighted host, in an act of frivolous exaggeration, deliberately emptied the contents of a full glass of champagne over the front of the seated Rosalie's evening dress, then with a maniacal laugh he snapped his fingers so that when Rosalie looked down, to her amazement her lap cradled a magnificent bunch of red roses. 

Very odd things happened in those days. There were many other stories, lost to the memory, relating to Rosalie's psychic qualities, apparently she frequently foretold future events with extraordinary accuracy.  Rosalie was staunchly Catholic, backing her beliefs with the long family inheritance of a deep spirituality forged from many centuries of unconditional love and trust. for their maker.

There were tales of forays down river to enjoy the fruits of metropolitan Calcutta, which began by a river steamer journey of many weeks.  For a period of nearly forty years, fairly regular trips would be undertaken for the purpose of holiday, pleasure, medical and very often child birth. The journey would commence from Pandu Ghat, the river port serving Gauhati.  For those early passengers like the Delanougeredes, it must have been incredibly pleasant to stretch ones legs in a long cane chair on the steamer's upper deck, while sipping a glass of tolerably cool beer.  Certainly they could be excused for feeling pleased with themselves, there was money in the bank ready to be spent on the fripperies of life in the big city.  As the early river steamers only proceeded during the hours of daylight, anchoring each nightfall, the voyages while long were, very relaxing.  A variety of events would enliven the voyage.  There was always the possibility of the steamer running aground on one or more of the hidden sand banks that stretched along the length of the river.  Then, for the Delanougeredes who were never without their rifles, there was always the chance of a shot at wild buffalo on the river banks in the early morning, perhaps even a crocodile or at the clouds of duck and wild geese that flew overhead.  The old European steamer captains would obligingly anchor the steamer, and put out a dinghy with a couple of Lascars in, to retrieve any game that might fall to a successful shot.

Once in Calcutta, the outstanding bills and accounts would be paid or part paid from the proceeds of tea sales held by the brokers or their agents.  Sometimes money from the brokers would be handed over in advance of tea sales or else the over draft with the bank would be increased with one or all the tea gardens as collateral.  Once the spending money became available, it was time to explore the town revisiting old haunts with much revelry and some gusto.  Forget the fact that there were still local creditors at Gauhati yet to be satisfied.  Live for today for tomorrow we die, was the ironic but prophetic Delanougerede adage.

It is not clear if Rosalie was always part of these business and social visits to the great capital of British India, although there is no reason to believe that she with some or all of her brood of nine children might have been excluded.  After all most of her family lived in Calcutta, her parents Mathew and Elise Augier, various uncles and aunts, not to mention her sisters and brothers and many cousins. Her father, Mathew Augier, lived until 1859.  Had Rosalie accompanied her husband and her brother in laws, the other wives may have also joined as part of the family group on the river steamer voyage south to Calcutta and back.  Children would have been in the care of Ayahs, requiring little supervision, however mothers would be very conscious of the constant hazard of their young ones falling overboard into the murky depths of the river.

What is suspected but not known for certain are the number from out of the Augier family, who may have joined the Delanougeredes at Gauhati, opening up tea gardens in their own right .  There is a record of a Charles Augier on the staff of the Assam Company in 1865.  This reinforces the theory of an Augier presence in the area of Assam at the time of the Delanougerede migration.

Family tree records indicate the names of nine children mothered by Rosalie.  It is thought that from her first husband, Louis Matthew Delanougerede, she gave birth to, Achille Claude, 1848-1933, (my great grandfather), Emile 1849-1920, Adelaide Louise,1855-1899, and Ernest Charles.  When Louis died, date of which is unknown, the widowed Rosalie married her brother in law, Charles William 1837-1880.  The children from this marriage are believed to be, Eugene St Claire, Lily Rosalie Marie, Carlos, Emily Perrin, 1853- 1864, and Henry Joseph Mary born, 1874.  At least six offspring died as children and are buried in the family plot at the European cemetery at Gauhati.  However it is by no means certain which of the brothers sired Rosalie's children, many of whom succumbed early in life before reaching adulthood, their resting place being in the cemetery at Gauhati.  My sister, Shirley, is the only living member of our family to have paid a visit to the family plot.  The year was 1954, and she recollects clearly something like a dozen or more graves with headstones in memory of dela Nougeredes and other family, most likely, Augiers.  What struck her as poignant, was the sad number of victims taken away in early childhood by dreaded malaria and kalazar. At the time of writing efforts are being made to identify the names and head stone inscriptions of all deceased Delanougeredes and close family, who lie in the Gauhati cemetery.  It is hoped that these many inscriptions will reveal a wealth of interesting and valuable information so far hidden and forgotten.  My great uncle Louis Delanougerede once mentioned his conviction, based on his youthful memory, that the life events of his grandfather, Louis Matthew, told in brief, on his headstone something about the origins of the family and the Delanougerede name.  Possibly at Rosalie's instructions this was carried out to perpetuate for posterity the historical background of both her Delanougerede husbands. 

Some of the records of birth, marriages and deaths concerning the Assam, Delanougeredes have been discovered from the archives held in the India Office, London.  It is believed that there are more yet to be uncovered providing invaluable detail and information of other deceased members of the Delanougerede family whose last resting place is at Gauhati.  It is to be hoped that a Delanougerede descendant living in England, will one day take on the mantle of a diligent but rewarding search of the India Office records to find the many remaining gaps in the family tree jigsaw.

My great grandfather, Achille Claude, was born in 1848, .and it would seem that after his birth, Rosalie would have borne children at intervals of an alarming rate, although quite acceptable by the standards then of prodigious motherhood, always on the tread mill of child bearing.  This kind of event was not uncommon during the early half of the nineteenth century.  There seemed to be a compelling urge to cheat death by the practise of adolescent marriage and remarriage with a consistent routine of child bearing.  European families lived constantly in the shadow of death, from one form or another, healthy in the morning, gone by evening, buried before nightfall.  Cholera, typhoid, small pox, malaria, heat stroke, snake bite or just by unexpected tragic accident, life was short, only one in three survived to relative old age.  The attrition rate was quite hideous, it is no wonder that people consumed alcohol in excess as a means of dulling their sorrows by anaesthetising the brain while they waited for the next tragedy to occur.

It is clear that Rosalie suffered more than her share of family bereavement, over the extensive years that she lived in Gauhati, and later in Shillong, she would have lost both her husbands, and only two of her nine off spring, Emile, 1920 and great grandfather, Achille, 1933 outlived her before she was called in the year 1918.  But, close family deaths, were not to be the only experience of life's devastating realities. About 1865, the family business fortunes were to suffer major setback from the effects of the first great tea crash.  Rosalie was aged only thirty four, a young woman by any standards and now faced with the grim prospect of her family losing their beloved tea gardens, the fruit of those early years of so much hard work.

It is worth recording a contemporary reflection of the prevailing commercial conditions, that drove the early expansion of tea and the causes and effects of  the first great set back in 1865 to the fledgling tea industry of Assam.

"The movement of individuals capital and speculators into Assam, was not unaccompanied by some of the consequences too often associated with the novel but alluring enterprise on the grand scale.  The "South Sea Bubble" and "Rushes" to reported gold and diamond finds are examples and the spoils mostly go to the few.  The London Produce Market recalls how the four years 1861 to 1864 were periods of enormous speculation in Assam tea, when":-- company after company was formed to plant tea gardens. There was an eager gamble in shares with the usual result.  The Assam and Jorehaut Companies, already in the field, could watch with indifference the hurried formation of new companies and extension of old ones, more often than not under the supervision of men of little knowledge and experience indispensable  for success, and the crash of 1865 was confidentially predicted by all those whose opinions were worth anything.  But before this speculative period, quite a fair number of more or less established gardens, often managed by their owners, had been planted in suitable districts of the province.  One of the results was the settlement there of a considerable European population, which greatly increased as the boom in tea spread eastward.  Professional men, sailors, soldiers and even pensionable Civil Servants, threw up their callings to join the new Eldorado in Assam.

Many of the small privately owned properties were absorbed by the speculative ventures and when the crash came in 1865 the land passed into possession of the banks which had been financing on Fee-simple title deeds.  Some of the private owners however held on grimly through all the hardships of the ensuing crisis, with unshaken confidence in the future of Assam tea.  In some locations these men were able to form little communities, encamped where water was plentiful, and by pooling there resources lived on simple rations supplied by the local people, who treated them kindly, although taking their ponies and other garden stock as security, banks having in such cases ceased all finance.  In more isolated positions the planter lived, and sometimes died, alone in his rough hut constructed of bamboo and sun grass, seldom meeting any fellow European.

Putting aside bogus companies floated as a gambling medium and without serious intention of opening out suitable tea lands in Assam, there were two predominant factors in the crisis of 1865-ignorance of their duties and responsibilities on the part of members of hurriedly formed Boards of Directors in London, and the absence in Assam of any organisation for recruitment of suitable labour for the difficult operation of converting jungle wastes into cultivated tea gardens.  The scarcity of experienced supervisors was only a contributory weakness.  As  it was, chaos soon ruled among the Merchants and Directors in London and Calcutta and with financing banks taking alarm, liquidation of nearly all tea companies followed.

When the storm subsided and Assam settled down to restore its shaken industry, a curious position was disclosed.  Large areas, some containing good land partially planted with tea, had come into possession of various banks which had no direct use for them, and were anxious to sell.  The province was still thinly populated and the Government had wisely determined to concede extensive grants of land for tea planting or any other class of industry likely to attract immigrants on a large scale from the congested areas of Bengal, of a type that would eventually settle permanently on the rich alluvial lowlands, where rice and other cereals could be raised in abundance.  As the tea grants were Fee-Simple, tenure had cost little beyond the necessary survey fees, banks could not compete in sales of land and were in some cases  themselves obliged to undertake the management of tea which had been previously planted.  In some cases they sold back to the previous owners at a not unattractive price to the buyer, merely to be rid of their liability.

It was claimed that the extravagant life style of the Delanougeredes contributed largely to the current woes associated with the drop in demand for tea.  But they hung on bravely, with all the family men women and children working the tea gardens, substituting for the tea duties of their dwindling labour, forced to leave for lack of wages. Despite their most determined efforts, inevitably, they lost one or two of their gardens to the banks and local financiers.  There are tales of Rosalie selling most of her valuable jewellery to keep creditors at bay.  Fortunately the family were able to hold on to the General Merchant store which continued to trade providing some income, in addition, its dwindling stock of tinned food became a source of valuable daily sustenance.  It is believed that Rosalie's strong matriarchal skills prevailed, as she drove the family survival wagon, weathering the crisis, then, gradually the good times returned.

During the two decades following 1865, many of the original family components seem to have just disappeared from Assam with little trace.  Records do exist relating to the family of Edgar Atheline, son of John (Jean) Delanougerede and the family of Charles and Rosalie's daughter, Adelaide, also that of Rosalie and Louis' son Emile. There may also have been a major retreat back to Calcutta to begin new life and search for new employment, following 1865.  However by 1870, tea in Assam was flourishing again and those of the next Delanougerede generation, seemingly led by my great grandfather, Achille Claude, and his brother Emile, prospered once more on the tea gardens of their pioneer fathers.  At a point sometime probably in the 1870's. a decision would have been made to explore the possibility of retreating, at some future stage, from the Assam plains to make a permanent home among the cooler Khasi hills in the new capital, Shillong.  Of Rosalie's two husbands and nine children, only three children, Adelaide, Emile and Achille seem to have survived to this point.

There is a marriage record, dated 1876, for Emile Delanougerede, who is described as a tea planter, marrying Amy Michel.  Also that of Edgar Atheline Delanougered, tea planter, son of  John Francis Delanougerede, marrying Amy Michel's sister Eva Michel, date, 1875.  The father of Eva and Amy, is Henry Louis Michel owner of a tea garden in upper Assam.

It is interesting to note that Henry Michel is of French descent, his grandfather is described as Monsieur Michel of Mont St. Michel who came to Jersey during the Huguenot rebellion.

The predilection for reinforcing French blood into the line as the marriage opportunities arose, continued with the descendants of Adelaide Louise Delanougerede, daughter of Charles and Rosalie.  She first married Arthur Calder, then at his death, Adelaide married Henry James Fredric Michel, 1882, the brother of Eva and Amy Michel.  Then to take it one further, the daughter of Adelaide and Henry, Violet Michel, married Willie Desbruslais, whose ancestry can be traced back to France via the French colony of Chandanagore.  Adelaide, too had a short life, records indicate that she died in Calcutta in 1899, aged 44.

Thackers, Directory 1865-1880 a publication designed as a commercial reference point for the business community of Bengal and Assam, records the following positions relating to the name Delanougerede.  ( Recent research work carried out courtesy of Douglas and Audrey Augier, at The State Library, Melbourne Vic.)

1865/1866/1867/1875/1877/1880            Delanougerede C. W.              Resident of Ann's Hill, Gowhatty and proprietor of Ramasha Tea Estate

1875            Delanougerede A.C.            Asst. Rev dept Kamroop, Gowhatty

1877            Delanougerede A. C.               Manager Ramsha Hill Tea Estate Gowhatty, Kamrup and assistant Rajabarrie Tea Estate,Gowhatty.

1880            Delanougerede A. C.               Manager and Proprietor Burkumh Tea Estate, Gowhatty and Manager ringboom Tea Estate.

1877            Delanougerede E. A.               Manager Tea Estate Gardens Dum Duma, Dibrugarh  

1875            Delanougerede E. A.               Assistant, Upper Assam Tea Co. Dehoojan, Assam

1877            Delanougerede E. L. M.                    Managing proprietor of Kamakusi Tea Estate, Gowhatty and Assistant Ramsha Tea Estate.

1880            Delanougerede E. L. M.             Manager and Proprietor Puthallu Pani Tea Estate,

E. A. Delanougrede is recognisable as Edgar Atheline, son of John (Jean) whose marriage to Eva Michel at Dibrugarh is on record.  The many offspring from this marriage were to later marry almost without exception into the Augier family.

E. L. M. Delanougerede must surely be, Emile Louis Matthew, Rosalie's other surviving son

A. C. Delanougerede is my great grandfather, Achille Claude.  The surprise is the extent of his management and propriety interest.  It seems clear that Achille in the fullness of time, acquired the proprietary and management rights of Burkuna Tea Estate, Ramsha Hill and Ringboom, all situated in the Gauhati, Kamrup district. These gardens are mentioned in Thackers, although the acreage under tea indicate that they were of modest size.

An interesting fact is that Louis Matthew Delanougerede does not feature in Thackers, the conclusion being that he had passed away before the first known edition of 1865, went to print.  It is not known if Thackers was in existence before 1865.

Sadly, the 1890's brought about a second crisis to the Assam Tea industry.  The product was selling in London for less than the cost of manufacture, market recovery was no where in sight.  For the owners of small holdings like the Delanougerede estates this was disaster.  For the Delanougerede interests however, it would seem that the financial difficulties of maintaining their estates had already overtaken them by the early 1880's

 The pages of Sir Edward Gaits' History of Assam provide an account of the causes of the Tea industries woes

In the early days of the industry the prices obtained for Assam tea were extraordinarily high.  The crop of 1839 yielded eight shillings per pound, but prices dropped alarmingly by 1865, but recovered five years after.  Prices dropped again during the 1800's falling steadily so that by 1886 tea was fetching an average of only nine and a half pence per pound, there was still a fair margin of profit.  Between, 1893 and 1898, however, the extension of cultivation was so rapid that the supply of tea quite outstripped the demand, while the cost of placing it on the market was enhanced by the closing of the mints and the increased value thus given to the rupee meant that the adverse conditions caused the prices obtained for tea to fall below the cost of production.  Once more the tea industry fell on a period of depression.

By 1884 or there about, Achille abandoned his interests in tea.  It is believed that the tea gardens were left, holus bolus, into the the hands of creditors who held the deeds of security.  One garden at least was subsequently lost to flood by the Brahamaputra river during a particularly bad monsoon. By then, Achille, had retreated to his home and lands in Shillong to be with his wife and family caring for his mother, Rosalie  Only the Ramsha Hill tea estate in the area of Gauhati, still flourishes today at this time of writing.  It is interesting to note that Achille Delanougerede is listed in the Thacker edition of 1885, as serving as an assistant with the Public Works Division in Shillong.  The Thacker edition of 1885 makes no mention of any Delanougerede or Michel names in connection with the tea industry.  The Delanougerede enterprise with the growing and manufacture of tea was sadly all over.

 It is worth an attempt at reconstructing the reasoning for Achille Delanougerede's choice of  Shillong as their future home.  What is unclear, is the moment of decision, of when exactly the move to Shillong was made and the nature of why only Rosalie and her eldest son, Achille, and wife Nina Elizabeth, chose this course ?  Once again Sir Edward Gait, from the British period of his History of Assam, provides some answer.

The advantages to be gained from a sanitarium in the hills had already been recognised.  David Scott had favoured Nungklow, but that place was found to be unhealthy and liable to mists.  Some advocated the claims of Mairang, while others preferred the table land between the Shillong peak and Nongkrem, and others a site near Serrarim.  The decision was eventually given to Cherrapunji, mainly on the score of its accessibility from Sylhet.  In 1864 this place was abandoned for Shillong.  The Khasi name for the site of this town is Yeddo, but there is another place of this name in Japan, and its founders preferred, therefore, to call it Shillong, after the peak that dominates it.

So, by the middle to late 1860's it would be common knowledge among the European residents of Gauhati that, just 64 miles up into the hills there was a place to escape from the rigours of monsoon and heat, to recover from chronic ailments that beset them.  It is very possible that about the period, 1865 to 1880, Charles Delanougerede (there is no record of when elder brother Louis had passed on) was ailing in health.  The threat of losing his tea gardens, the physical and mental stress involved with surviving through this period may have contributed alarmingly to a deterioration in his physical well being.  It is therefore more than likely that he and with him, Rosalie and perhaps their surviving offspring, sought the healing affects of the cooler climate of Shillong.

The journey then, would take up to three or four days, riding by pony or else the women folk and younger children would be carried on a light inverted conical shaped, bamboo seat with canopy against sun and rain, known as a "thapa", to be transported on the back of a sturdy Khasi hillman.  This mode of transport required many halts during the climb up to 4,500 feet.  The first Delanougerede visitors would have been entranced by the different levels of climatic and vegetational change, conditioned by the altitude rise.  From tropical forest thick with bamboo and sal trees, to the more deciduous type thickets among grassland, until finally reaching the summit to listen to the calming whisper of gentle winds sweeping through the green hills, forested with  pine.  With journeys end, the feeling of that first arrival in Shillong would seem like an unbelievable relief, its salubrious climate a precious change from the sultry plains.  One can imagine Rosalie's rapture and joy at the discovery of this place so far removed from anything else she had experienced during her lifetime in India.  This first visit into those lovely hills would make an indelible impression, carrying with it, a conviction that some day she would return and make it her home.

During the year 1880 Charles Delanougerede passed away at the age of 53, leaving Achille to assume responsibility of some of the tea gardens and more importantly the future welfare of his mother, Rosalie.  However Rosalie was of strong independent nature and it is believed that it was she who took the ultimate course for building a second home in the hills.  By now Shillong had changed its status from a place of  convalescence, recreation and relaxation, to become the capital of the new state of Assam and headquarters of civil and military administration.

When the first crash of 1865, occurred, Achille was aged seventeen, by 1883, he was thirty five.  Achille was now married to Nina Elizabeth nee McNamara, the grand daughter of Robert Bruce of Assam tea discovery, fame.  Their first son Fred was born in 1884, his birth was followed in 1885 by Mary Rosalie (my grand mother) then Louis, 1887.  Arthur Joseph arrived in 1888 then little brother Charles, 1890.  By this stage Rosalie had moved with son Achille to live as permanent residents in Shillong.  For nearly a century, the lovely town of Shillong, the new Capital of Assam, would become the much loved "Shangri La" for Rosalie, Achille and Nina, together with the next three generations of descendants, until the last goodbye in the year 1981.

Land in Shillong was again on offer by the Government on fee simple terms with 99 year lease, very affordable for future development, the Delanougeredes took up substantial areas.  The first home appropriately named "Hopedale" was built of brick stone and masonry.  This small home was outgrown by Achille's burgeoning family and a second home was built on the land next door, they called it "Avondale", possibly because of the small burn that ran close by.  "Avondale" was also built of conventional stone materials to be strong and robust. 

By 1885, Achille would have abandoned what was left of the uneconomical tea gardens to come home to Shillong more or less permanently.  He may have continued to work by contract as a tea manager engaged by the many other profitable private companies keen to utilise his experience.  His love for game sport and shooting was, as always insatiable, a habit he passed on, and eagerly taken up by his four sons, Fred, Louis, Arthur and Charlie.

Rosalie was sixty six years of age, the year 1897, she was back enjoying some modicum of comfort and style in a very pleasant land, the many years of vicissitude behind her, she could be forgiven for feeling that the fates were being kind to her again.  Dramatically, her life once more, was to be turned, literally upside down.  Sir Edward Gait takes up the events.

Assam is well known to be subject to earthquakes of a very severe nature.  In modern times the Cachar earthquake of 1869, which did great local mischief, and the one of 1875, which caused some damage to houses in Shillong and Gauhati, deserve mention.  But all seismic disturbances were completely thrown into the shade by that which occurred o June 12th, 1897.  The focus of this earthquake was not far from Shillong, and in that neighbourhood, the movement of earth attained a magnitude and violence of which those who did not personally experience them can form no conception. To stand was impossible, the surface of the ground moved in waves like those of the sea, large trees swayed backwards and forwards, bending almost to the ground, and huge blocks of stone were tossed up and down like peas on a drum.  In the course of a few minutes, all masonry buildings were overthrown.  The destruction was almost as complete in Gauhati and Sylhet.    Fortunately only a few Shillong inhabitants died from being trapped within the rubble of their homes. Had the catastrophe occurred at night instead of in the afternoon, the loss of life would have been far greater.

I recall my grand mother, Mary, who was at the time of the great earth tremor, aged twelve, telling me that as she watched the walls of "Avondale" swaying, her only thought was to retrieve her precious silver christening cup, wobbling uncontrollably, on its shelf, before staggering out of the house to comparative safety.

Shillong became a ghost town for many months as people lived under canvas, the Delanougeredes were in the throes of surviving, possibly their worst ordeal so far.  They had lost all their possessions, destroyed in the rubble of their homes and ruined by heavy monsoon rain that almost immediately followed the earthquake.  No comprehensive all risk insurance cover in those days.  Yet, in a few short years the Phoenix was to rise again.  The Government introduced a new form of building code for construction, cheaper and lighter, built of wood frame and lined with a lath covered in a plaster.  Once again the family penchant for good business acumen came to the fore, with the opportunity to develop good quality earthquake proof homes.   "Hopedale" and "Avondale" were rebuilt in the new style that looked not unlike a mix of Tudor manor and high gabled Victorian. Many more substantial homes were built on undeveloped land still in title possession of Achille Delanougerede, houses to become much in demand for rent by the growing European population in government and commercial service. The larger more commodious "Avondale" now became the family home of a fourth generation, following my grand father Charles Alfred Stanley Perry's marriage to Achille's daughter, Mary Rosalie, who gave birth to Douglas 1907, Maurice (my father) 1909 and Percy 1915, Gabrielle was born later, 1921.

Rosalie was at last able to live out the last twenty years of her life in relative comfort assuming the position of the Grand Dame of "Avondale".  She became the much loved figure of a tiny little lady, respected and revered.  Proud of her French heritage, she encouraged the use of the language and was particularly firm that my father should be fluent by consistently conversing with him in that language, also, teaching him many quaint French nursery rhymes, to keep him on his mettle.

Rosalie died in her home, "Avondale", Shillong, on 1st January 1918, aged 87 years, 1 month, and 11 days.  I was reminded many times in my youth by the older residents of Shillong, who remembered her, that I should feel privileged to be the great great grand son of so noble a lady.  Rosalie lived a remarkable life, only very briefly touched upon here. Probably her greatest characteristic was the steely ability to face so many adversities without flinching, content that her faith would pull her through.  More than any one, Rosalie, deserved the comfort of her last years, free of  further catastrophe or any serious illness. Rosalie had lived through remarkable times, her personal loss of two husbands and seven of her children was more than most mothers had to endure.  She had been through some startling events of history.  Born during the reign of William IV, she was 7 years when Queen Victoria became Queen.  She lived through the Indian Mutiny, the War in Crimea, the American Civil War, the Boer War and nearly all of World War I.

It could be said that after Rosalie, Achille, would have a hard act to follow, not so, he was every bit his mother's son.  He was a tall gritty man, gentle and charming of nature, he looked at you with piercing blue eyes (so I have been told) behind an unkempt Victorian moustache.  He was tough, but magnanimous always ready to help his fellow man, he was a devoted father and grand father.  Just like his mother, Rosalie, he was dedicated to his Catholic faith and gave generously to their missions.  As a protector of the underdog, he let it be known among the disabled and desperately sick, beggar community of Shillong, that he would distribute alms on a certain day of the month.

Each month a long line of the genuinely very poor would straggle in on to the front precinct of the house at "Avondale" to receive munificence personally by his hand.

There would have been a period when my great grandfather could be said to be one of the larger owners of land and property in Shillong.  For a time he had title over land upon which Government House was built overlooking the Ward Lakes.  He owned much of the hill where the Catholic Cathedral and Grotto stand,  and all of  the hill built over as St Mary's Convent. He owned houses with the names  of  "Peachlands", "Acacias" and "Uplands", in addition to "Hopedale" and "Avondale".

There is very little anecdotal evidence concerning my great grandmother, Nina Elizabeth.  The belief is that she was a silent but strong partner during her life in marriage to Achille.  One can imagine though, that she lived constantly in the shadow of her mother in law, Rosalie.  Sadly she suffered from dementia in later life, she died on the 25th July, 1925.

Achille died aged 85 years in 1933.  His funeral was the largest attended in the history of Shillong.  Perhaps his greatest tribute came from a large group of Shillong beggars waiting patiently outside the Cathedral, to salute him in silence, with their final salaams, as the cortege departed.

Achille left a substantial estate.  Each of his children inherited a large house, Louis received "Uplands", Arthur received "Hopedale", Charles received "Peachlands", the exception was to my grandmother who was given "Avondale" and "Acacias" , this  was to cause rumblings and some resentment among the brothers.  In addition they all received a capital sum which was considerable.  Meanwhile, the Shillong beggars continued to receive their monthly alms at "Avondale" from the hands of my grandfather Charles Perry, perpetuating the old tradition.  On the odd occasions that I was there, as a child, I was allowed the privilege of helping with the distribution.

(COPYRIGHT DEREK PERRY)
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