Robin Humphries


Future of Tea a Hero Crop for 2030

Darjeeling Tea

Tropical Agriculture Association next meting

Unilever's Latest Offering


Tea Tourism Guide

Rickshaw Rookies

Tea is a real Tonic


Sirocco Pamphlet 1958

Spices of India

America's only tea Plantation

Japanese POW's in Burma after World War 2

Indian Railways ask Briton for help

The Battle of Kohima

Tea Tasting in 1931

Cuppa that cheers

A family of three at tea

More on CTC


An Initial Glimpse


February 2014

Thanks to Robin we have the web site address for "The Future of Tea" --A Hero Crop for 2030 please click web address below

December 26 2012

Enrico Fabian for The New York Times

Darjeeling Tea

A woman on the Sungma Tea Estate in Darjeeling, India, where growers have followed the example of Scottish whisky distillers and French wineries in limiting the use of certain geographic names to products from those places.
                                               By JIM YARDLEY

Published: December 16, 2012

DARJEELING, India - Among connoisseurs, few teas surpass a good Darjeeling. The smooth and mellow taste commands a premium price, and the name itself evokes a bygone era when the British first introduced Chinese tea plants here in the Indian foothills of the Himalayas.

To Anil K. Jha, the superintendent of the Sungma Tea Estate, all this would be extremely good for business, except that much of the tea sold globally as Darjeeling is not actually grown here. Foreign wholesalers often put the name on a blend of the real stuff and lesser teas. And in some cases, growers elsewhere simply slap a Darjeeling label on their tea.

So Mr. Jha and other Darjeeling growers have followed the example of Scottish whisky distillers and French wineries, winning legal protection for the Darjeeling label under laws that limit the use of certain geographic names to products that come from those places.

In a decision this year, the European Union agreed to phase out the use of "Darjeeling" on blended teas. Now, just as a bottle of Cognac must come from the region around the French town of Cognac, a cup of Darjeeling tea will have to be made only from tea grown around Darjeeling.

"That flavor, that uniqueness that comes from here - it is nowhere else," Mr. Jha said as he stood among manicured tea bushes on a hillside about 5,000 feet above sea level, near the border with Nepal. "People have tried to replicate it, but have failed," he said.

The uniqueness of Darjeeling as a place certainly seems beyond dispute. On clear days, the white peaks of Kanchenjunga, the world's third-highest mountain after Everest and K2, floats over the hilltop city like an ethereal fortress. Beyond the clamor of the city, many of the steep surrounding foothills are carpeted with tea estates, some planted more than 160 years ago when a British surgeon found that tea bushes thrived in the region's alpine setting.

The mountainous terrain also limits
                                                                          The Darjeeling District has 87 certified tea gardens
                                                                                                                             as they are locally known producing about 20 million
                                                                                                                               pounds of tea every year
production. India produces almost two billion pounds of tea annually, more than any other country, but Darjeeling accounts for only about 1 percent of that output. The Darjeeling district has 87 certified tea gardens, as they are locally known, producing about 20 million pounds of tea every year, and the potential for expansion is almost nil.

That is why local tea growers grew annoyed that as much as 88 million pounds of tea were being sold as Darjeeling on the global market each year.


"Darjeeling tea has always been more expensive," said Ranen Datta, a longtime adviser to local tea growers, noting that the wholesale price is about five times that of ordinary teas. "And we found that sellers all over the world were selling tea under the name Darjeeling."

And not only tea: A French company that makes lingerie has fought legal battles with the Tea Board of India to keep using the name.

"This brand name, Darjeeling, was being misused," Mr. Jha said. "The basic interest of Darjeeling was being killed."

Local tea growers had already fought to save their product from the vagaries of cold war politics. During the era of British rule, Darjeeling tea was shipped mainly to Europe, which remained the primary market after Indian independence in 1947, when Darjeeling's tea gardens shifted from British to Indian ownership

But as India drew politically closer to the Soviet Union, a deal to sell tea to Moscow ushered in a dark period for Darjeeling. The Soviets ordered in bulk and mixed Darjeeling with pedestrian teas from Soviet satellite countries so it could be marketed more widely.

"Russians were not particular about the quality of Darjeeling," Mr. Datta said. "They took it if it was clear and black."

Growers saturated their tea gardens with chemicals and pesticides to maximize output, and annual production rose to about 29 million pounds. But when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, so did the export deal, leaving Darjeeling with a crop it had trouble selling in Europe, where many customers, especially in Germany, were aghast at the chemical use.

"There were no buyers," Mr. Jha recalled. "It took a long time to revive the image of Darjeeling."

The key was to focus once again on quality.  Tea growers began discarding chemicals and shifting toward organic farming practices.  Total production fell, but prices rose steadily, as growers marketed Darjeeling teas according to the seasons, with the greatest demand during the two harvesting times, known as the first and second flushes, which run between February and July.  Growers also developed luxury tea products, particularly "white tips" tea, which is drawn from the white buds of tea leaves. 

But as Darjeeling's reputation was restored, growers discovered that their teas were being repackaged overseas.  Europe had become the biggest buyer again, but some wholesalers there were blending Darjeeling with other teas to bulk up their volume, while continuing to label the resulting mixture as Darjeeling tea.

To fight back, the Tea Board designated Darjeeling as a "geographical indication" for tea that is recognized by the World Trade Organization.   Over time, Indian tea officials negotiated agreements with various countries to ensure that the status of the Darjeeling name was respected.  The European Union resisted for several years, but a deal was finally struck in 2012 to phase out blended Darjeeling in Europe within five years.

"In the case of Darjeeling tea, it was accepted that there was specificity that is unique-and geographically based," said Joao Cravinho, the European Union's ambassador to India.  "Tea produced anywhere else will have different characteristics."

Mr. Cravinho noted that Europe was pushing its own geographic indication cases in India as part of negotiations for a free trade agreement.  For example, while India recognized Cognac as a geographic indication, it does not do the same for Champagne, so sparkling wines from other places can be sold legally in India as "champagne," a practice that the European Union wants ended.

Up on the slopes of the Sungma Tea Estate, Mr. Jha said the believes that the trade protections will not only increase profists for the local industry but also, ultimately, save Darjeeling tea.  The estate is certified as organic by India, Japan and the United States, and it is pursuing a globally recognized environmental certification.

Reaching down to pluck a leaf from a tea bush planted more than a century earlier, Mr. Jha gestured toward the surrounding foothills.


"Here, we are not doing anything,"  he said.  "It is all God-gifted."


 October 18 2011 

 Robin tells us :

The TAA is an association of Tropical Agricultural experts and members who have served at least one year in tropical agriculture.  The South West Branch has a dynamic programme of visits and lectures which recently included a visit to Duchy College of Agriculture in Cornwall, followed the next day with a fully conducted visit around the Eden Project.  In the recent past we have visited farm located bio-digesters producing electricity to be feed into the grid, bulk grain storage facilities, plus a full range of seminars covering topics like,  soil conservation and minimum tillage agriculture, and many other agricultural subjects including reviews on agricultural development in various third world countries.  There are branches in all regions of the UK and overseas branches in existence for instance in India.  Please visit which will better describe the aim and objectives of the association.  

Robin suggests that anyone interested to please consider attending--if you wish more information Robin's  E-mail is [email protected] 






The aim of this seminar is to increase TAA members' and others' knowledge of and interest in commercial agriculture and associated private sector activities in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Here the term ‘commercial agriculture' is taken to mean medium and large-scale production and thereby to not cover smallholder farming, however commercially orientated this may be. The only exception to this definition is smallholder outgrower schemes based on central commercially-run estates and processing plants, such as the Burley tobacco enterprises of Central Africa and the smallholder tea schemes of East Africa.

The main types of SSA commercial agriculture are plantation enterprises (tea, coffee, sisal, sugarcane, tree crops etc), arable farming based on annual arable crops and, often, livestock (e.g. the mixed farming enterprises of Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe and elsewhere), horticultural enterprises (e.g. export vegetable and flower production in Kenya) and ranching. Ranching is not covered in the seminar.

Despite its importance in some SSA countries commercial agriculture has received only limited attention in the TAA. The emphasis has been very much on smallholder agriculture. Since the great majority of the SSA farming population are smallholders, this emphasis is understandable, but SSA commercial  agriculture does merit greater emphasis in TA proceedings than is currently the case.

This is particularly true because some SSA countries are now giving it a higher  priority than hitherto, as in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, for example. Moreover, foreign investors' interest in SSA agriculture is growing, as illustrated by the reported problem of increasing ‘land grabbing' by foreign investors, and the generally heightened international interest in investing in Africa, as exemplified by The Times CEO Africa meeting held in London in late March this year.

One reason for the lack of attention given to SSA commercial agriculture may be the political sensitivity to foreign direct investment (FDI), on the part of donor countries as well as recipient countries. The situation is not helped, of course, by the incidence of land grabbing. Nevertheless, well-targeted FDI can make a major contribution to SSA agricultural production and exports, especially for tea, sugarcane and other plantation enterprises.

The seminar will be held on Thursday October 20th at Lackham College, the agricultural part of Wiltshire College, which is located at Lacock, near Chippenham, Wiltshire (postcode SN15 2NY).

10.00 - 10.30              Registration with tea/coffee.

10.30 - 10.40              Opening of the seminar - Chris Finney 

10.40 -  11.25              Martin Evans, agribusiness consultant and Chairman of Farm Africa: "Agribusiness in Africa: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly", concerning primarily large-scale commercial farming +/- smallholder linkages.

11.25 -  12.10              Hereward Corley, to talk about the SSA tea and oil palm industry.

12.10 -  12.15              Short break

12.15 - 13.00              Bob Merry of Booker Tate, on large-scale commercial irrigation in SSA

13.00 -  14.00              Lunch to be obtained in the college canteen/restaurant

                                    Chairman: Tim Roberts.

14.00 -  14.45              Glenn Allison, to speak on commercial mixed farming in Zambia, including the use of Conservation Agriculture technology.

14.45 - 15.30              Clive Topper, on cashew production, procurement and processing in SSA, with the emphasis on the role of the private sector in post-harvest operations (in SSA the actual growing of the crop is a largely smallholder rather than large-scale commercial farming activity).

15.30 - 16.00              Final discussion with all speakers.

16.00.                          Tea/coffee and biscuits. Departure

Cost and registration:

Cost: The cost of the seminar will be £18.00 per head, preferably paid in advance when you register by cheque payable to TAA SW, mailed to either of the two names below, or otherwise at the door on the day. Lunch to be purchased individually.

Registration: Either with Chris Finney at [email protected] and Varnes, Church Road, Lympstone, Devon EX8 5JT, or George Taylor-Hunt at [email protected] and 19, Abbotsridge Drive, Ogwell, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 6YS

TAA members are welcome to bring non-members to the seminar.


October 10 2011

Unilevers Latest Offering

Free samples of Unilevers latest offering are being sent out to UK households.  Introducing the New Ones from PG Tips! 

See for details on line.

Robin thought Koi Hai members would be interested in this Patented Press Technology.  The Technology is currently under wraps with Unilever/Booke Bond being the patent holders

Currently it is impossible to find out exactly what the new process involves except some form of pressing during the fermentation process for more details! 

Robin and Maxine  will be tasting the samples over the next day or so


 October 25 2010 

This is a lecture given by Robin Humphries to the Purbeck U3A Science and Technology Group in 2009. The contents may be of interest to anyone contemplating irrigating a crop but particularly plantation crops such as Tea

The original was very large and in order to allow readers to open their computers in a reasonable time I have divided it into four  parts.
Please click on the parts below

Part One

Part two

Part Three

Part Four




December 13  2009


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November 13 2009

Thanks to Robin Humphries who forwarded this interesting story from the Daily Telegraph about a visit of 70 foreigners in charge of 25 tuk-tuks? Charles Starmer-Smith finds out as he leads Team Telegraph on a wild and wonderful 10-day ride as a rookie rickshaw drivers

The story is divided into 7 legs as follows

Leg 1 Rickshaw Rookies
Leg 2 Vehicle problems and Veddha people
Leg 3 Hills and Haggling
Leg 4 Tree and Tea Country
Leg 5  From Nuwara Eliya's summit to the sea
Leg 6  Back to Mirissa
Leg 7  Colombo Bound

Rickshaw rookies: Sri Lanka tuk-tuk challenge

What do you get when you put 70 foreigners in charge of 25 tuk-tuks? Charles Starmer-Smith finds out as he leads Team Telegraph on a wild and wonderful 10-day ride as a rookie rickshaw driver. 
 I'm pleasantly surprised by the make-up of the group as we gather at the beachfront hotel in Negombo. Fears that it might be gap-year and bearded types with an overly relaxed attitude to personal hygiene prove unfounded. We hurry outside to get acquainted with our tuk-tuks, which have been "pimped" with maps and garish motifs. I join my team-mates, Barney, a DJ from Kenya, and Mark, who works for a drinks company in London, in number 23, labelled "The Daily Telegraph". Alongside us are teams from countries including Australia, South Africa, India, Colombia and Thailand.



LEG 1 - Rickshaw rookies

Negombo to Sigiriya - 100 miles

With its canvas roof and thin metal frame, the tuk-tuk, still the most common form of tranpsort across much the subcontinent, will never score highly for safety, but few care once orientation lessons begin.Hotel staff wince as we knock over flowerpots. I perform a passable kangaroo impression as I bounce down the track, struggling with the gears. Someone ends up in a hedge. But fast forward to the welcome party and, emboldened by several Lion lagers, everyone is suddenly a seasoned tuk-tuk driver and eyeing the yellow sarongs awarded to the winners of each stage.

I awake the next morning to find the 25 tuk-tuks organised in what looks like a grid for the world's slowest grand prix. Local television crews gather despite the rain.

"Start your engines." We roar out of the hotel as the first rays of sun emerge. But within 500 yards, disaster strikes as our tuk-tuk splutters to a halt. In all the excitement we had forgotten to fill up. It's a long push to the nearest station. Things get worse as we are deceived by the Sri Lankan "figure of eight" head movement. When we ask the attendant if left is the correct way to Digampathana, he does his nod/shake thing, which we decide means no, and plump for right. Wrong. Two hours into the rally, we are back where we started.

I put my foot down, sweeping us through paddy fields and plantations of teak and coconut. The roadblocks I remember from a decade ago are still there, but the soldiers wave us through. We stick to the main roads, but they are not without danger. Trucks sweep us sideways as they blast past. Wild dogs wander into the road. Drivers of belching Leyland buses seem to wait for blind bends to overtake each other, leaving us to swerve or become a human speed bump. But what I will remember most is the look of bewilderment on people's faces at the sight of a foreigner behind the wheel of a tuk-tuk.

Soon it is our turn to gawp when an elephant crashes through the foliage. We dodge it, and arrive at our hotel in 23rd position. The yellow sarong will have to wait.

Leg 2

 Vehicle problems and Veddha people: Sri Lanka tuk-tuk challenge

The Veddha were once found all over the island; now there are only 1,500 of them left

LEG 2 - Vehicle problems and Veddha people

Sigiriya to Dambana - 50 miles

The day starts early with a hike to the top of Pidurangala, a rounded slab of rock that offers us the first indication of the beauty of country ahead. From the summit, we admire the vast, arid plains of Minneriya National Park and the towering ancient fortress of Sigiriya rock. Shaped like a lion's head, this hardened slab of magma is the country's most recognisable landmark with its intricate network of gardens, reservoirs and 5th century citadel ruins.

By midday things are not looking quite so pretty as smoke billows from our engine. We trundle to a halt just outside Polonnaruwa, the former 12th-century capital, and locals rush forward to lend a hand. One twice returns to his home, almost a mile away, for different tools. An hour later, he is waving us off and proudly refusing any payment. But our temperamental tuk-tuk continues to thwart us and Team Telegraph arrives at Dambana three hours behind everybody else.

The Veddha were once found all over the island; now there are only 1,500 of them left, trying, in vain, to resist encroachment from outside. Through the funds collected from the Lanka Challenge, we donate 1,200kg of rice, aware that this is only a palliative.

The tribe perform traditional dances around the campfire, display hunting skills and offer up bush tucker, which we wolf down with bare hands. Then one of the younger boys creeps off to look at the mobile phone hidden in his loincloth

Leg 3
Hills and haggling: Sri Lanka tuk-tuk challenge

Winding up through the central hills, the journey had been the most beautiful yet

LEG 3 - Hills and haggling
Dambana to Kandy - 72

Trying to finding a local fruit seller called Abdullah in Kandy's central market is like looking for a blue anorak at a trainspotters' convention. We have all been given his photograph, but this small mustachioed man, who holds the details of our next challenge (successful completion of these tasks earns a team useful time deductions), looks like every other Sri Lankan here.

It had all being going so well. Winding up through the central hills, the journey had been the most beautiful yet - the landscape rose sharply, while the temperatures fell as the dry heat of the lowlands gave way to an alpine freshness. The tuk-tuk's four-stroke engine juddered with the effort but never gave up.

Just when we are tempted to give up, we finally spot Abdullah talking to a rival team. Smiling broadly he hands over an envelope containing 300 rupees (£1.60) with which we have to buy fruit to sell on local buses - at a profit! We opt for bananas and leap from bus to bus, trying to contain our laughter as we set about selling our wares to the perplexed passengers. Resorting to desperate pleas on bended knee, we finally offload them at a loss of 65 rupees (34p). Mission accomplished (sort of). Amaya Hills hotel, a haven of peace away from the chaos of Kandy, beckons. A great day.

Leg 4
Tree and tea country: Sri Lanka tuk-tuk challenge

Panoramic vistas and deep valleys of vibrant green announce the onset of the central highlands

LEG 4 - Tree and tea country

Kandy to Nuwara Eliya - 50 miles

A rest day gives us time to remind ourselves why we are really here. Following a visit to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy, Buddhism's most sacred shrine, I join a tree-planting project at a local school. Lanka Challenge has donated 200 trees to offset the trip's carbon emissions. Each is to be looked after by one of the infectiously happy pupils.

The following morning, panoramic vistas and deep valleys of vibrant green announce the onset of the central highlands. We climb and fall for 60 miles through verdant tea plantations, stopping to collect samples from different tea factories, whose owners are only too delighted to take us through the complex workings of the plantations. We leave with a dozen varieties and new-found respect for the quintessential English drink.

After negotiating the rubble-strewn Top Pass, we descend into the town of Nuwara Eliya. With its Georgian buildings, neat lawns and manicured golf courses, it is a throwback to the colonial era.

Rounding a corner, we catch sight of a tuk-tuk that has overturned down a steep bank. It is one of ours. We jump in to the ditch to find Nick and Arun, the Indian drivers of "Ulta Pulta" [Hindi for "upside down"] trapped underneath. With the help of passersby, we manage to lift it back on to the road. The day's thrills and spills are soon forgotten, however, as we sit down for a moving presentation by the Red Cross showing the devastation caused by the tsunami and the war. Our trip has financed 140 water-purifying filters for displaced people. It's a drop in the ocean, but it's a start.


Leg 5
From Nuwara Eliya's summit to the sea: Sri Lanka tuk-tuk challenge

Charles Starmer-Smith finds out as he leads Team Telegraph on a wild and wonderful 10-day ride and drives from Nuwara Eliya's summit to the sea.


Regular stops are taken to admire the incredible views

LEG 5 - From summit to sea

Nuwara Eliya to Wirawila - 105 miles

The descent from Nuwara Eliya proves to be a white-knuckle ride - a corkscrew road of hairpin turns, flanked by rocks on one side and certain death on the other. On the descent to Wellawaya, the gateway to Yala National Park, drivers dare not take their eyes off the road, passengers dare not look. Regular stops are taken to admire the incredible views, release clenched fists and cool overworked brakes.

Our destination is the 7th Colony campsite. We find tents grouped around the banks of a lake. We watch fruit bats mass in the trees, while flocks of parakeets sweep over as the sun sets. It is a magical place.


Leg 6
Back to Mirissa beach: Sri Lanka tuk-tuk challenge


The trip represents responsible tourism at its best: stays in local campsites or small owner-run hotels, use of local transport and shops, and money donated or spent where it is needed most

LEG 6 - Back to the beach
Wirawila to Mirissa - 80 miles

We are in trouble. The Ministry of Defence has received reports from the soldiers policing the ubiquitous checkpoints of reckless driving and are threatening to impose fines. They have a point: the Australians' tuk-tuk has become a convertible after taking a corner too fast, while Ulta Pulta seems to be hanging together by a thread. But a greater awareness of our own fallibility is offset by a desire to reach the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.

The coastal drive is glorious, winding past headlands, cliffs and dunes. Near Tangalle, huge breakers pound the palm-fringed southern shore but the water still looks inviting. At Hotel Paradise Club in Mirissa, we ditch the tuk-tuks and head straight for the beach.

Wandering past children playing cricket in defiance of the advancing tide, I dive into the warm waters, but a strong undercurrent forces me back to a sunlounger. I drift off to sleep, waking hours later to find the beach party, fuelled by the local arrack, in full flow. Thankfully, tomorrow is a rest day.


Leg 7
Colombo bound: Sri Lanka tuk-tuk challenge

What do you get when you put 70 foreigners in charge of 25 tuk-tuks? Charles Starmer-Smith finds out as he leads Team Telegraph on a wild and wonderful 10-day ride across a devastated land that's slowly regaining its tourism feet - and its winning smile.

Remote village scenes are gradually replaced by more urban settings

LEG 7 - Homeward bound

Mirissa to Colombo - 95 miles

Both tuk-tuks and saddle-sore drivers may be on their last legs, but the overriding feeling is of sadness that it will soon be over. Remote village scenes are gradually replaced by more urban settings - and shameless posters trumpeting the government's military victory. No one feels much like racing.

In Galle, we stop to admire the ramparts of the 17th-century Dutch fort. In Weligama, we photograph fishermen balancing precariously on stilts in the face of the oncoming tide - a graphic illustration of the sad tales they tell of traditional methods being replaced by modern techniques. Our final stop is at a school set up for children affected by the tsunami, where we are to play a cricket match. The home team, dressed immaculately in whites, appear buoyed by the sight of their flip-flop wearing opponents.

The schoolchildren take up every vantage point, eager to see these Westerners get a good whipping. They are not disappointed - our target of 68 runs off the allotted 10 overs is easily chased down. But the pupils prove delightful hosts and, with news of another academy opening up in the war-torn north-east, it feels great to be a small help in unearthing cricketing stars from the poorest communities.

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November 9 2009
Thanks to Robin Humphries for forwarding this message from the Daily Express

Saturday November 7, 2009


Eight cups of tea a day can boost your heart and brain

Saturday November 7,2009

By Sarah Westcott

A DAILY cup of tea can fight heart disease, boost brain power and even help you live longer, experts said last night.

A global review of research papers on the health effects of caffeine has found that drinking up to eight cups of tea a day offers "significant health benefits", including a lower risk of heart attack and stroke.

Caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and cocoa also have positive effects on mental function, increasing alertness, feelings of well-being and short-term memory. The research even suggested that people who cut out tea and coffee from their diet in a bid to be healthy may be doing more harm than good.

The major review of 47 published studies was carried out by independent dietician Dr Carrie Ruxton.

She found that an optimal intake of 400mg of caffeine a day - equal to eight cups of tea or four cups of coffee - delivered "key benefits in terms of mental function and heart health" without any adverse consequences.

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March 16 2009 Thanks to Robin, he again educates us, this time South India --Kerala
The photograph was in the Daily Telegraph Travel supplement of Saturday 28 February in the
Section 'The Big Picture' and was by Lynden Clarke of Bristol the latest winner of our Big Picture competiiton for this image of a tea plantation near Munnar in the western Ghats India.
 MUNNAR in Kerala Munnar - breathtakingly beautiful - a haven of peace and tranquility  - the idyllic tourist
destination in God's  own country. Set at an altitude of 6000 ft in Idukki district, Munnar was the favored  summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days.  Unending expanse of tea plantations -pristine valleys and  mountains- exotic species of flora and fauna in its wild sanctuaries and forests -aroma of spice scented cool air - yes! Munnar has all these and more. It's the place  you would love to visit -it's the place you would wish never to leave- so welcome -  log on to for all information on Munnar anytime, every time.  MUNNAR - Fact File  Altitude : 1600 Mts to 1800 Mts above sea level Temperature : Min. 0 c - Max. 25 c Clothing : Warm Clothes and Rain Gear Tourist Season : August to March
below is a picture of the slopes of tea

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 November 24 2008 Sirocco Pamphlet 1958
Robin found this interesting pamphlet dated 1958 from Sirocco the  Davidson Company 
from Northern Ireland.
Robin is searching his attic further to find more information fro that era of 50 plus years ago
Thank you Robin---
to see please click below
 Click here
February 23 2008
Robin very kindly let us know about the availability of Indian spices in UK Please read on

Spices of India

  We were trying to locate sources of glutten free foods and this took us to this rather interesting supplier.  They are an fast expanding small company with a very interesting range of food many/most of which are imported from India and from local indian wholesale suppliers.  The supplier is in the retail sector but the business is mainly mail order based.  We believe other members of the Koi-Hai Association could be interested in this source of supply.   Their website is:  

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October 10 2006

  We have to thank Robin & Maxine for their help in providing this report on tea in the USA

Article taken from: Arkansas Democrat Gazette dated: Sunday, August 20, 2006  

America's only tea plantation welcomes visitors once again

BY BRUCE SMITH    ---The Associated PRESS


- Green-yellow tea plants reach into the distance at the Charles­ton Tea Plantation as a green harvester slowly makes its way down one row, gently cutting the youngest leaves from atop the bushes to make them into American Classic tea.

The only commercial tea plantation in North America is in production again, and on May 11 began officially welcoming visitors to see how tea is pro­cessed.

"What we have here is a gem," said William Hall a third-generation English-trained tea taster and partner in the plan­tation.

"I would hope that over time this will become a destination for a lot of tea drinkers and that it will bring a considerable num­ber of people into Charleston," added David Bigelow the co-­chairman of the board of  R.C. Bigelow Inc., the Connecticut tea company that purchased the plantation at auction in 2003.

Visitors are now able to take a tour through a spacious new production building where large-screen monitors explain how tea is processed from green leaves to a finished product.

As many as 50,000 visitors are expected this year, Bigelow said

the property on rural Wadmalaw Island is about 20 miles west of Charleston.

Hall has been with the plantation since 1987 and helped develop the American Classic brand after buying the plantation with a partner from Lipton, which operated the 127 acre property as an experimental station.

At one point, American Classic was sold in more than 1,000 retail outlets, but financial problems caused the plantation to suspend operations for about a year and a half.

Bigelow then purchased the property and has spent three years restructuring the planta­tion into an operating plantation and a visitor attraction.

"We have the resources in this new facility to really make tea important in America," Hall - said. "It would be a shame to see this plowed under and turned into condos?'

The plantation now also has a gift shop selling every­thing from videos on how tea is made to teacups and teapots.  The company would also like to add a restaurant at the plantation, Bigelow said.

"We didn't buy it originally for tourism. We did buy it just  to save it; we truly did.  We just couldn't let the only tea planta­tion in America die," said Lori Bigelow, Bigelow's daughter and the company's co-president. "It was for the country and it was for the tea industry."

Tourism, she said, was a sec­ondary goal.

"It just helps the business, and it doesn't affect our factory work at all," she said.

Bigelow, a family company that was started in Connecticut in 1945, is probably best-known for its "Constant Comment" tea, an orange-spice blend.

Tea at the Charleston planta­tion is harvested from late April through October, with the har­vester gathering in a day what it would take 500 laborers to do by hand.

When tea is not being processed, visitors will still be able to walk through the production facility, see the equipment and watch the monitors to see how  tea is made.

"The income that will come in from tourism will help to stabilize the finances here?' David Bigelow said. "This is not necessarily going to be a profit making venture."

"Making tea alone just selling tea is not going to do it.  So, the tourists are going to have to help us in bringing income in and helping us to pay  for the costs of the farm" he added.

Wadmalaw Island, S.C.; www. or (843) 559-0383.  Wednesday-Satur­day. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sun­days, noon-  4 p.m. Tours are free. American Classic tea can also be ordered from the Web site.

Wadmalaw Island is about 20 miles west of Charleston. Take the Ashley River Bridge (U.S. 17), stay left to Folly Road (S.C. 171), turn right onto Maybank Highway (S.C.
for 18 miles. look for entrance sign on the left.


BIGELOW TEA: www.bigelow

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February 28 2006

This is a story by a mature gentleman 
"who as a young man was there"-- 
he wishes to remain anonymous. 
Robin Humphries and his wife Maxine have worked hard in assisting 
with the editing and cooperating with the author and we thank them 
for all the hard work they have done in  getting the story to the 
internet thro ""


Japanese Prisoners of War in Burma after World War 2

Author's Training and War Service

The following account is based on the recollections of a lieutenant, based on a series of letters sent home in 1946 whilst in charge of C Platoon Tehri Garhwal Field Company, Indian States Forces, 17th Indian Infantry Division, 14th Army.  His final posting was from 19th March 1946 to 13th July 1946.  On 3rd August 1946, he received the authority for demobilisation from the British Army under the Class B Release Scheme for students whose careers had been interrupted by conscription.  He sailed from Rangoon on 15th September and in November 1946 he rejoined the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College, London.  Before starting the account, here is a brief description of his career in the British and Indian Armies. 

March 1943 - conscripted from Bartlett School of Architecture, posted from Cambridge for infantry training at Bury St. Edmunds.  April - posted for sapper training to No. 1 Training Battalion Royal Engineers, Clitheroe.  November - posted for officer cadet infantry training to Wrotham, near Maidstone.  January 1944 - posted for officer cadet engineer training to Royal Engineers Officer Cadet Training Unit, Newark.  August - commissioned as second lieutenant and posted to No. 7 Training Battalion Royal Engineers, Chatham.  7th November - Sailed on S.S. ‘Ranchi' in the first convoy through the re-opened Suez Canal to Bombay.  On arrival there, he travelled by train and he arrived at King George the Fifth's Own Bengal Sappers and Miners, at Roorkee, United Provinces.  He was promoted to Lieutenant on 4th February 1945.  19th April - posted as Assistant Adjutant to Indian States Forces Training Battalion, Roorkee.  These states, including Tehri Garhwal State situated about 100 miles north east of Roorkee, were at that date under British Rule.  (Following the Partition of India in 1947, some States were absorbed by the new Government of India.)  30th April 1945 - promoted to Adjutant.  15th December 1945 - posted via Calcutta, Rangoon and Moulmein to Tehri Garhwal Field Company at Leinmawchan, south of Moulmein, Southern Burma.  8th May 1945 - end of World War Two Europe.  15th August 1945 - end of World War Two Asia.

Of what does engineer training consist?  Infantry training, demolition using explosives, basics of mechanical equipment especially bulldozers, road building, bridge building with timber, bridge building using ‘Bailey' steel truss panels each carried by six men, raft construction some with ‘Bailey' panels, basic shelter building in timber and, finally, basics of hydraulics for water supply.  When it came to training Indian States Forces, one had to allow for culture shock.  These States were on the slopes of the Himalayas.  The recruits came from isolated communities and many had never seen a bicycle, never mind cars, lorries and trains.

Finally, it must be borne in mind that this young man was only 21 when he was put in charge of the completion of the southern thirty miles of the road from Thumbuzyiat to Ye.  He was full of the excitement of this project but had practically no knowledge of the overall military situation.  He does not remember it being discussed.  There were no army newsletters, no radio news, and obviously no television.  It is difficult to remember then in the field that there was no media overkill.  What the lieutenant did know was that the metre gauge railway between the new road and the coast had been so badly damaged by the British forces, that it was quicker to replace it by a through road where none had previously existed.  The road did not continue south of Ye because the estuary was too wide and a ferry had to be used. 

The Prisoners of War

At last, one comes to the Japanese Prisoners of War.  The lieutenant understood that they were not all imprisoned in the South of Burma, because he came across some when the Company moved north to Maymyo.  Thinking about it after all these years, he estimated that about 6,000 could have worked on the road.  Some were highly skilled from docks and shipyards in Japan, because they operated transport on the River Irrawaddy, the main route up through Burma.  He remembers one outstanding incident.  A Japanese warrant officer in the regular Imperial Army, with a lifelong experience in Manchuria and China, directed an elephant belonging to a Burmese contractor so that it could lower a 20 foot long teak log exactly alongside a string guide spanning the river. 

The Japanese lived in self-administered camps.  The huts of bamboo had continuous bed platforms down each side of a central gangway and, above the head end of bed spaces, would hang scrolls of poetry or paintings.  In the work sector under the lieutenant's control there were about three camps for the prisoners.  They worked quite happily on the project, whilst continuing under the local command structure brought with them from the Japanese armed forces.  They understood that if they obeyed orders and worked, they would be shipped back to Japan.  The lieutenant does not recall any trouble or sickness with the prisoners, or what happened when they arrived back in Japan.  Fifty years later (when his son visited Japan), it was learnt that the prisoners families denied that there were any Japanese prisoners of war, believing a soldier fighting for the Emperor would never surrender!

The Journey to Join the Active Tehri Garhwal Unit

The lieutenant sailed on the S.S. ‘Canterbury' from Calcutta to Rangoon over Christmas 1945.  He was taken by army truck from the docks to the transit camp at Insein, four miles north of Rangoon.  On 1st January 1946, he went into Rangoon and listened to a recording of Handel's Messiah in the Church of Scotland, it being a tradition of the Scots to do this on New Year's Day.  On the morning of 2nd January, a shipmate, a lieutenant Bradford of the Indian Signal Corps, called for him in a 15-hundredweight truck, with three Indian other ranks on board.  He packed up his kit, signed out of the camp, jumped on board, and started off on their journey east to Moulmein, the centre of the 17th Indian Division.  They passed along macadam roads, lined with trees and through flat country; then they jogged along twisting rutted roads through thick jungle, with typical Burmese wooden houses on stilts among the trees.  They clanged over ‘Bailey' bridges (assembled from lattice steel panels) and bumped over wooden bridges built by various sapper units.  In the afternoon they arrived at the wide Sittang River, with the large partly demolished railway bridge crossing the river high above them.  They drove the truck onto a landing craft manned by Japanese and went over the river.

At this juncture, a word about the Japanese (called Japs) - there were about two Divisions remaining in Southern Burma, and they lived in camps under the command of their own officers.  They bore no malice and went around without escort in many cases.  They worked on all kinds of jobs and were hard workers.  They were short people, rather of the same height.  Odd ones were just like the cartoon character with the uniform of peaked cap, coat, trousers, long ‘puttees' (calf wrappings), or jack-boots, spectacles and grinning, prominent teeth.  However, very few wore spectacles and others were quite good looking in their own way.  To sum up, they worked well and intelligently without giving any trouble.

The lieutenant and his fellow travellers slept on the Wednesday night in the quarters of an infantry major, having covered over 100 miles, some of it on very bad roads indeed.  The next morning they set off again through mostly bumpy jungle country, and crossed one ferry consisting of a ‘Bailey' raft at the Salween River, the second at Moulmein itself, which involved an hour's trip across and down the estuary to Moulmein.  They drove up to the Tehri-Garhwal Field Company Camp, and discovered only a small rear guard party there.  The bulk of the Company had moved on about 80 miles south.  The lieutenant and his Signals colleague rigged up their beds on the ground floor of the Royal Engineers Headquarters Mess, in the special bar that had been set-up for Christmas.  It was a perfect copy of an English pub, with imitation advertisements around the walls, a lovely bar complete with two beer handles, and small wooden tables and forms.  The title of the Bar was "The Sappers' Arms".  The whole effort caused a great laugh!  After the evening meal, they went along to meet some officers of Number 414 Field Park Company, and the lieutenant met his old Roorkee roommate, Gordon, there.  They were very glad to see each other and chatted over old times while watching a concert by the Burmese in the local cinema.  The show was given by the Karen, Burma`s largest ethnic minority tribe.  (This tribe had been converted to Christianity and some British forces brought home Karen wives.) 

Tehri Garhwal Field Company - Completion of the Thumbuziate to Ye Road

On 6th January 1946, the lieutenant boarded a truck with the Second-in-Command TG Field Company, and travelled south to the beach at Setse, a lovely place, where he supervised off-loading of stores.  They had lunch there, before travelling on to Leinmawchan, Headquarters of Tehri-Garhwal (T-G) Field Company.  He met the Officer Commanding, a major, previously captain at the Indian States Forces Training Battalion, Roorkee.  Drinks followed in the evening with two Captains from HQ, Royal Engineers, Moulmein.

TG Field Company had been given a job by the 17th Indian Division (known as ‘Black Cat') to build a 60 mile-long, two-way all-weather road from Thumbuzyiat to Ye.  This was from North to South in the Tenasserim Division of South Burma.  These sectors of the road were believed to be the last link in a road from Moulmein to Bangkok.  The Company Headquarters was halfway down this section of the road.  The northern 25 miles was in charge of ‘B' Platoon and one British lieutenant, and the southern 25 miles was in charge of ‘C' Platoon and another British lieutenant.  Now the third British lieutenant had arrived, he was assigned command of ‘A' Platoon and was in charge of the Centre Sector, Sections 4 and 5.  Road Sections 4 and 5 were sixteen miles in length through hilly jungle country, a combination of real jungle and wet paddy fields.  He had an Indian Corporal from his Platoon and five sappers, who supervised 1,000 Japanese (Japs) on Section 4, and a Corporal and five sappers from ‘C' Platoon supervising another 1,000 Japs on Section 5.  The rest of his Platoon appeared to be all over Burma.  Some men were at Pegu building a racecourse!  Some were in Moulmein and others were with ‘B' and ‘C' Platoons.  This meant there was only a working strength of 12 sappers.

For instance, on Wednesday 9th January he interviewed his Platoon Sergeant and the twelve sappers in ‘A' Platoon and then drove the ‘Jeep' to look at Sector 5.  He had tea with ‘A' Platoon and then returned to Headquarters.  On Thursday, he visited No. 5, drove north and made a proper engineer's reconnaissance of Sector 4, making a very hard day's work.  He visited a Karen headman in a Burmese village and managed to scrounge one coconut and two eggs!  On the Friday, he made a proper ‘recce' of Sector 5, which entailed crossing a rickety rope bridge over a 300-foot river, and walking along a three inch catwalk over wet paddy for about a quarter of a mile.  The trip was an all-day one, similar to the previous one.  He wrote up his reports on the Saturday and Sunday. 

Referring to a letter sent to his mother on 27th February 1946 he described the following escapade.  Soon after the Indian film started on Saturday night, 23rd February, Gordon turned up from the Field Park Company.  They had a good talk that night, and on Sunday morning, 24th February, they went down with the ‘C' Platoon lieutenant and three sappers to the beach at Lamaing.  They drove along the sands for about two miles, and then got the truck bogged down in some apparently ‘dry' sand.  They tried for two hours to get the truck out, and only succeeded in digging a lot of clay and breaking the winch cable, so two sappers walked the six miles back to Lamaing to get another truck.  They returned about 2200 hours, but could not reach the beach because it was high tide.  Driving through a covered Burmese gateway, they succeeded in bringing half the roof down on his orderly's head.  (Officers' servants in Europe were called ‘batmen', in the field in India and Burma they were known as ‘orderlies', and in the cantonments the civilians were called ‘bearers'.)  So three officers and one Indian sapper slept on the romantic beach that night, each doing two hours' guard duty to keep the wood fire alight.  They had no food, but managed to brew up tea in a small milk tin.  While one was on guard duty, the other three slept under one blanket, the snag being that every time the Indian turned over, he took the blanket with him!  A ‘Jeep' arrived on Monday morning and they returned to civilisation, the truck being rescued from the water's edge later in the day.  It was quite an adventure, though the officers were nearly court-marshalled for this episode!

Sunday 2nd March 1946 - The lieutenant was left in charge at Road HQ.  The major, captain and doctor all went off to Moulmein for the weekend.  He was reading in the afternoon when he heard a crackling sound and, on investigation, it was decided that they had better stand by to fight a jungle fire.  No peace!  They stopped it short of the camp.  After that, he went out and made some sketches of the new road.  The next day, he spent all day with the ‘C' Platoon lieutenant looking at the south end of the road. 

The first sketch shows Leinmawchan Bridge which was just at the rear of the camp,being of standard design with double span making a 40 foot bridge. Note: Japanese working in loin cloths with British 
and Indian with shirt or shirtless in the extreme humid heat. One is the Lieutenant  with his Jeep 
parked near to hand.

The second shows the easiest country with level cross section jungle, out of which the road was cut. A standard bridge is shown in the dip. The red "laterite" in the centre was ten feet wide and dug locally

The third shows typical country in Section 5. This shows the end of an embankment which is fifteen feet high with two culverts, and the beginning of a cutting dug out with bulldozers

Ye is a pretty oriental town with wooden houses, some beautifully carved, women in kimonos and carrying parasols, with lots of trees and a large lake with lilies.  The blitzed railway station outside the town jars on all this.  Beyond the station is the large estuary, which could be crossed by ferry using the Burmese waterman.  That is the end of the road.  The Road Headquarters was in Leinmawchan.  It was pretty busy in the daytime, with some of the Tehri Garhwal sappers and some Japanese in the workshops making tools and bridging stores, and sapper drivers and some Japanese maintaining various kinds of trucks down in the Motor Transport yard.  Also attached to them, were a section of signallers who kept open telephone communication on the road, and a wireless link with Moulmein.  There was a tipper lorry section manned by Madrassi drivers, and a mechanical equipment section operated the bulldozers.

19th March 1946- Ever since entering the ranks of the Royal Engineers, the lieutenant's ambition had been to be a Platoon commander on detachment from the company, with his Platoon around him.  After three years' service in the army, he was about to achieve that ambition.  Now he found himself in a fine wooden bungalow in the large village of Lamaing.  His Platoon was 200 yards away - not ‘A' Platoon but ‘C‘ Platoon.  This is how it came about.  The following day the Division General came down to have a look at the road again.  The Company all went out in the morning to prepare the way for him.  They were told that he would pass at 1220 hours, so they sat down in an Indian camp at 1130 hours to have their food.  The blighter shot past an hour before time!  They did not see him, and he did not see them.  That evening, the ‘C' Platoon commander and the lieutenant had their last talk, and the ‘C' Platoon commander left him, the Platoon and Lamaing, in pouring rain.  He went to Singapore to try for a Regular Army commission.  The lieutenant was now posted from ‘A' to ‘C' Platoon!

Picture a darkish Burmese house behind red hibiscus trees, in a leafy street, slightly raised off the ground, with quite a steep wooden roof.  The place is a bungalow.  His servants were Tehri-Garhwa1 sappers.  There is an entrance porch, a front door straight into a central living room, with a bedroom onboth sides.  There were three armchairs round a coffee table, an office chair and table with telephone, and a dining table and one chair.  Out at the back, approached through a narrow lobby, was a bedroom for the cook and orderly, thenthe kitchen, and out through the back door was the bathroom with a ‘canvas bath'.  (It is thought that this bungalow was a ‘dak' or forest officer's, or similar, residence.)  The sappers were also inBurmese houses, but not quite up to this standard.  The men lived at the end of a 200-yard long leafy avenue, near the large pagoda, which was at the end.  Thursday 21st March was a holiday for the Japanese and for his Platoon.  He went down to Ye in his‘Jeep'.  He paid some Burmese ‘coolies', and looked at a Section that he had on detachment down there.  It was raining on and off all day.  He had a look at the road, but most of his energy that week had been taken up with reorganizing the Platoon.  No two officers think alike and although no ‘blitz' had come about, he had changed some of his predecessor's platoon organisation.  The drivers now knew on which day they did maintenance, the petrol was stored underground, the morning periods were tightened upand numerous other changes were made.  He had also reorganised the Platoon into definite Sections.  Sunday 24th March 1946 was quite busy.  He arranged a Platoon Sports in the morning, inspected the clothing, paid the men, and finally ate food with them in the evening, and saw about fiveminutes of a Japanese camp show.

On 31 March 1946, a Japanese model maker completed and gave the Lieutenant a one inch to four-foot model of the standard twenty-foot span bridge, made like the real thing, of teak. 
On one side , the inscription read 
"Model of 20 foot bridge as built on Ye Road. Burma 1946 by Japanese labour"; 
the reverse label confirmed this in Japanese characters

He wrote to his parents in England describing his life.  He told them hisdaily timetable.  He arose at 0615 hours and, after dressing and shaving, he strolled leisurely up the avenue, to take the morning parade of his forty men there inLamaing.  He inspected them and the Halvidar (Sergeant), followed by ten minutes' drill.  Then the H section was dismissed to the cookhouse, stores and police duties.  The other twoSections went out in trucks to organise the Japanese on the road.  He sorted out some paperswith his clerk, and walked back down the avenue for breakfast in the cheerful, sunny Mess he had made  (flowers, white tablecloth, etc!).  It was quiet inside the house, and the only sounds outside were the birds and the children playing around his neighbours' houses.  This was the life of an engineer officer on detachment in peacetime.  

He then telephoned his signaller, to send down the ‘Jeep', a driver, and a Japanese officer who was his interpreter.  They went down the 30-mile road under his charge.  Defects were pointed out and instructions given on how to correct them,.  He had his lunch with one of his Sections on detachment near Ye, and drove back home himself.  After his bath, he sat under a ‘pull punka' (overhead canvas hanging from the ceiling) pulled by a coolie he employed and gave out the orders for the following day to his Jemadar (Warrant Officer).  Then it was food, a cigarette and to bed.

From a personal viewpoint, there was a tremendous sense of achievement about this work.  The 100-foot wide road and clearing for the 30 miles South of the Lamaing Chaung (river) was his creation.  To achieve this, there were some 3,000 Japs, 1,000 Burmese coolies and bullock carts, 2 timber contractors using elephants (a total bill of 25,000 rupees, about £2,000), to say nothing of his own Platoon of 60 men all who are under his charge.  Also there were 16 tippers of the Madrassi Section, and six 3-ton lorries, four Chevrolet fifteen-hundredweight trucks, two Dodge trucks and one ‘Jeep' of the Platoon transport.

It all felt to be a big responsibility.  The nearest British subject was the ‘A' Platoon commanderat Wekane 25 miles away. 

End of Road Building!

On Tuesday 9th April 1946, he brought in his two Sections out on detachment to Platoon HQ, which was the first time he had seen the Platoon altogether.  He was getting them organised before moving out of Lamaing.  On Wednesday he went down to Ye with some sappers who had not seen the place, looked at the airstrip there by driving along the runway at 40 miles an hour, and returned home in the evening.  He also checked all the Platoon equipment.  On Thursday he went down the road for the last time, to pay coolies, and to load the tools that the Japanese had been using onto the tipper lorries.  Early on the Friday morning he moved his entire Platoon up to the Road HQ without any incident.  They spent the day rigging up their new camp.  Final farewells were made to the project as he went along to the Supply Depot with the Doctor, played volleyball, drank beer, had the evening meal, before returning to base.  On Saturday afternoon he went the 70 miles to Moulmein with the Second-in-Command and the Doctor.  This was the first time he had been there since January.  They attended a ‘conference' at the ‘Sappers' Arms' at 20.00 hours, as invited!  It was a great success, and everyone enjoyed themselves to the full.  He seemed to have a hazy recollection of drifting along to bed about 0100 hours the next morning. 

At this time the famous Burmese Water Festival was on.  As they were on the way up to Moulmein, they had got soaked, so decided to give the Burmese their water festival!  This they accomplished by the ‘Doc' and the lieutenant sitting around a 40-gallon former oil drum at the back of the truck and ladling water into peoples' faces with former beer cans, and a good time was had by all!  They arrived back at the Road HQ, soaked to the skin.

Monday 15th April 1946, he went to Ye, checked the road, and planted a few nameplates. Two days later was the great day, the official opening of the Ye Road.  They drove up to the start of the road near Thambuzyiat, and stood around in the boiling sun until the ‘old boy' arrived.  When the ‘Jeep' was heard afar off, a whistle blew, and the officers and men ‘fell in' on their respective pieces of ground.  Out of a brown staff car stepped Major General Griggs, General Officer Burma Command and Lt. General Crowther, General Officer No.17 Division, together with our Commandant Royal Engineers.  They were given a shocking ‘present arms' by the guard of honour.  Then they came over and nattered to the officers, the Major General learning that one of the party, the lieutenant, intended to be an architect as soon as possible.  The gate was blown open with a detonator, and the General proceeded to belt down the new road as fast as possible, with the Company following behind in the dust trail.  He only went as far as Lamaing.  There they had a most successful luncheon party with cans of beer.  It all went off quite well, and the ‘big boys' returned to Moulmein quickly.  They would probably only remember the beer!  So the road was opened.

The Diary of the Lieutenant for April 1946 recalled that: at the end of the road-building project, the 17th Division was moved from South to North Burma.  That move was never explained to the officers.  The Second World War was over. Japanese prisoners of war were being sent home to Japan.  The Burmese civil administration was taking back control of its country from the Indian Army.  There was no threat of military invasion from Thailand.  There were, however, rumours that Chinese bandits were raiding North-east Burma.  Here is a paragraph from ‘Pears Cyclopaedia 1980' page C34: 

The civil war in China between Chiang Kaishek's Kuomintang (Nationalist) Government and the Communists led by Mao Tse-Tung, was only partially interrupted by the conflict with Japan. It was renewed after Japan's surrender in August 1945, as the communists moved to gain control of the territory formerly occupied by Japan.  To forestall them, the Americans moved 500,000 Nationalist troops by sea and air, to Central and Northern China.  In November l945, the Nationalists launched an offensive in Southwest Manchuria, but at the same time the Communists consolidated their hold over Shantung province (South East of Peking, now Beijing).  In an effort to halt the fighting, President Truman sent General Marshall to China to mediate between the two sides, and a truce agreement was reached in January 1946.  In September 1948, the communists captured Tsinan, the capital of Shantung.'

Editors Robin and Maxine's  Note

Was the road much used by the Burmese and does it still exist?  Was the road ever taken on to Bangkok as originally planned?  It would be interesting if anyone can cast any light on the final outcome of this post war venture involving Indian, Burmese, Japanese and British participation, all working together on a socially desirable project!

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February 22 2006     We are indebted to Robin for forwarding this article from the 
UK Sunday Telegraph--
thank you Robin

Bosses of Indian railway ask Briton to put it back on track
by David Orr in Delhi

     India, whose railway system was created by the British, is turning to it's former mother country for help in restoring its most prized steam locomotives

     The executives of Indian Railways believe that only the expertise of a British railway buff can revitalise the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, built during the heyday of the Raj.

      The Darjeelings ancient locomotives still inch their way up the steep inclines of Northern India but, more than a 100 years along the track , some are screeching to a stop.

     "Its a big job" admitted Rajesh Agarwal, Indian Railways Heritage Director, "Replica steam locos are needed, some of the original ones have to be restored and coaches have to be replaced. When we realised the scale of the task, we knew there was only one person who could help us"

     The Problem of Britain's creaking railways are no secret in India but there are exceptions, and Chiltern Railways is widely regarded as one of them. It just so happened that it's chairman Adrian Shooter, was an aficionado of Darjeeling's narrow-guage railway.

     "Mr Shooter is an extremely successful train operator and was the first person we turned to" said Mr Agarwal in Delhi. "He runs one of the best rail networks in Britain. Not only does it provide good service but the trains are well kept and the stations have been sympathetically restored . He understands the historical and cultural value of railways"

     This is high praise indeed from a railways executive in India, second only  to China in size of network. The Indian railway system carries about 11million passengers per day. The figure for Britain is fewer than two million per day, most of them from the South-East .

     Mr Shooter, 57  is advising his Indian counterparts on the refurbishment and upgrading of the Darjeeling. He brings to the job the inside knowledge of a former British Rail trainee manager, the know-how of a mechanical engineer and the enthusiasm of a committed train spotter.

     His credentials are impeccable: he runs the worlds oldest surviving locomotive around the lawns of his Oxfordshire garden.

"Indian railways are a tremendous operation and the Darjeeling is fantastic" said Mr Shooter, who has returned home after his honeymoon in India "Unfortunately , the Darjeeling hasn't been run as well as it could have been over recent years.

     One of five narrow-guage mountain railways in India, built in 1889 to transport  British officers , colonial administrators, and their wives from the heat of the plains up to the cool of the Himalayan foothills.

     In it's day, the railway has carried Viceroys, heads of state, and kings and queens. Today's passengers are mostly locals with a scattering of foreign tourists , craning their necks out of the windows for a view of Kanchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain, which towers on the horizon of Nepal.

     Mr Shooter has agreed to provide service and maintenance manuals for the Darjeeling's old steam locomotives and advise on the construction of new coaches, replicas but lighter versions of the originals. Staff from the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales will also travel to India to help with the restoration.

     Indian Railways is to commission three new replica steam locomotives and at least 20 coaches, which will be built in India. Four original Darjeeling locomotives  are to undergo restoration and two new diesel engines are to be brought into service. There are currently a dozen original steam trains and two diesel engines plying the route. "Its become a bit run down" Mr Shooter said, "but its got huge potential and I was delighted to be invited to help to bring it up to scratch "

Caption--Man for the job: a narrow-gauge train crosses a 
bridge in Darjeeling, where Chiltern Railway boss Adrian Shooter, right 
will help renovate the service

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January 30 2006
We are indebted to Robin and Maxine Humphries for obtaining the heroic story of a Tommy who
was at Kohima for us all to share--  
author Tom Cattle relates his  experiences.



Extracts from an autobiography by Tom Cattle,

Dedicated to his grandchildren Kevin, Neil and Beth,

Privately published in 2003

When You Go Home, 
Tell Them Of Us And Say,

For Your Tomorrow, 
We Gave Our Today"

This is the story of a ‘Tommy' who was at Kohima


By the end of March 1944 the Japanese had reached the borders of India, and the powers that be decided a stand had to be made and so the 2nd Dorsets, with the other units of the 2nd British Infantry Division, were being scrambled and made ready to go into action, leaving Southern India by train, air and road.  On 21st March 1944, the 33 Corps, of which 2nd Division was a part, was ordered to prepare for immediate service in the North East War Zone - Assam/India Border.

British and Indian troops on the Assam front were at this time stretched to their limits.  The 161st Indian Infantry Brigade of the 5th Indian Division were deployed to the South and East of Kohima covering a 30 mile front, the 1st Assam Rifles were at Kohima and the 1st Burma Regiment at Imphal.  It was decided by the High Command that 161st Brigade would be assigned to hold the Japanese attack at Kohima and so they were withdrawn to Nichiguard, about eight miles South East of Dimapur.  Kohima at this time had been left almost defenceless, with only the Assam Regiment, Indian States Services, the staff of the hospital and convalescent depots left to defend the garrison.

The 161st Brigade consisted of the 4th Battalion Royal West Kents, 1st Battalion of the 1st Punjab Regiment and 4th Battalion of the 7th Rajput Regiment.  By the beginning of April when we arrived at Dimapur, the Kohima Garrison was under severe pressure and the Royal West Kent Regiment only just managed to get into the garrison before the road from Kohima to Dimapur was cut by the Japanese forces. 

The other two units of the 161st Brigade managed to get to Jotzoma, before they also were cut off by the Japs.

The 2nd Division (Transport) moves to Assam from Southern India

The Battalion Transport went by road and, due to the distance involved, each vehicle had to have a second driver.  I managed to crew up with Leo Orchard from Corfe Castle to drive a 15 cwt truck.  As far as I can remember, for about 10 days we travelled all day, stopping at night for rest.  The only thing that happened out of the ordinary during the journey was at a place called Nowgong in North India, where we stopped for the night.  On arrival each vehicle had to be refuelled.  A huge arms and fuel dump was situated at Nowgong.  We had started to refuel when there was a huge explosion and a large cloud of flame and smoke went skywards. We were at once ordered to remove stores such as petrol, oil and ammunition, which were threatened by the fire.  Explosions continued throughout the night.  We did not get much sleep that night and early next morning we set off towards Gauhati.  In the far distance to the north we could see the towering mountains of the Himalayan Range, but we knew our destiny lay to the Northwest where, as we drew near, we could see the hills were quite high and covered in thick jungle. We reached Gauhati, where all our vehicles were taken from us and we were told from now on we would be ‘flamping' (travelling on foot).  We were pushed forward quite rapidly to join up with the rest of the Regiment, who had arrived earlier and were now moving into action against the Japanese.

We had travelled nearly 2,000 miles by road from Belgaum, South India to reach Gauhati in Assam.  We had very little knowledge of the area.  I had learned at school that Cherapungi in Assam was the wettest place in the world, with an annual average rainfall of about 700 inches a year. The highest ever recorded here was 800 inches.

Manipur State, where we were heading within Assam, contained numerous ranges of steep-sided hills covered in thick jungle, with the tops continually covered in rain, mist and cloud.  During the monsoon, which lasts from May to September, the rain is heavy and continuous.  Kohima lies within the Naga Hills, of which Pulebadge Mountain rises steeply to some 10,000 feet above sea level.  The road (there is only one) follows the valleys and along the sides of the hills.  The road was not like ours, with a smooth tarmac surface, but a single track carved from the side of the hill consisting of rock and soil, which was only really a muddy track.  We arrived in this place at the beginning of the monsoon.  Remember, we had no vehicles and everything had to be carried on our backs.  Food and water, as well as ammunition, had to be dropped by parachute from allied aircraft, mainly Dakotas piloted by Americans.  The ‘frontline' was mainly astride the road; the steep jungle-clad hills washed with heavy monsoon rains made it very difficult to advance against a well-dug-in enemy.  Flanking movement up the hills was treacherous and hard work cutting a way through the thick jungle.  In these circumstances, there is little comfort for the poor infantryman in battle, wet through to the skin with only a waterproof groundsheet over his shoulders to serve as a cape, to try and keep off the rain. The hill streams would become torrents, sweeping away large chunks of the road.  Weeks at a time we slept with boots on; rather than sleep, it was more of a ‘shut eye' for short periods. My first brush with the Japs was at Zubza, where we had dug our trenches on the hillside astride the Dimapur to Kohima Road.  It was here that we were machine-gunned by Japanese Zeros (fighter planes).  I also met and made contact with the Naga tribesmen; very stocky and friendly, they were army scouts armed with rifles.  Each one had the head of a Japanese soldier tied to his belt; their bodies were covered in blood, which had dripped from these trophies.

These tribesmen were still headhunters and quite a lot were still only armed with bows and poisoned arrows and long shafted spears.  Their dress was very colourful, the favourite colours being red and blue.  These people were friendly towards us, thank goodness - no one could be more faithful than these people, who fought in their jungle hills against the Japanese and, although when the Japs caught them they were tortured and flogged before being killed, they would not betray the British soldier.  They were, as someone described, the great little gentlemen of the jungle.


From Zubza, we moved forward to Picket Hill, where we were the reserve battalion.  On Picket Hill, I had my birthday - what a way to spend one's 20th birthday! At this time we had left the Camerons and Worcester Regiments, with whom we made up the 5th Infantry Brigade.  These two regiments had moved off towards the left to try and make a flanking movement to Kohima Village.  We became attached to the 6th Brigade to make the frontal attack on Kohima, the 4th Brigade making a right-hand flank attack up the highest hills and thickest jungle.  The Berkshire Regiment, Durham Light Infantry and Royal Welsh had managed to get onto Garrison Hill to relieve the Royal West Kent Regiment and other besieged forces.  The Durham Light Infantry had so many casualties that it was decided to move the Dorsets up to take over from them, to enable them to re-form.  We were now really in the hills, with Mount Pulebadge 10,000 feet up to our right, with a series of lower hills and ridges running down to Garrison Hill.  The Tennis Courts and District Commissioner's Bungalow were being held by the Japs.  We moved off full of apprehension, wondering what the future held for us.  The only way we could move forward was by Bren Gun Carriers to a point just past ‘mortuary' corner - this point was being constantly shelled and mortared by the Japs.  Once past this point, we were out of view of the Japs - we got out of the Carriers and started to climb upwards.  It was steep and slippery, the monsoon having started early.  At the top we didn't hang about.  The whole of Garrison Hill was a death trap and Japanese snipers had been killing a lot of our men.  We took over the defensive position left by the Durhams.  What a desolate place this was.  I was sharing a slit trench with our section Corporal, Des Woolford, and another man.  We didn't have much room; three men in a trench six feet deep, three feet wide and nine feet long.  Thank goodness we had a roof over the trench - we should not have lasted many minutes without it.  The trees were shattered and parachutes shrouded the broken trunks, which stood stark and stripped against the sky.  The earth was churned and uneven, where a continuous barrage of shells forever threw up the soil leaving huge shell holes. The ground was strewn with dead bodies, some Japanese, some British, some Indian and Burmese - they lay where they had fallen, covered by flies and maggots: the air was foul and putrid.  It was not possible to move them, as our positions were in view of the Japs, who were on the ridges to our right and the high ground around Kohima village.  Supplies were very difficult - all had to be dropped from the air by parachute - water, food and ammunition.

My trench was on the South West side of Garrison Hill looking towards Kuki Picket. The ground here fell away very sharply down to the Imphal Road.  Below us on the lowest slope our ‘A' Company had managed to get a foothold.  This was just above the Kohima/Imphal Road.  They were constantly shelled, machine-gunned and mortared and for the next two weeks suffered many killed and wounded.  This Company was in trenches, which did not have any roof cover.  ‘C' Company had also tried to push forward towards the tennis court, but had met well-dug bunkers and defensive positions and they were unable to move forward and were hard pushed to hold the slight forward movement they had made.  We were all in a very precarious position, sitting right in the middle of Japanese positions and unable to move.  We appeared to have Jap 75 mm guns firing at us over open sights - you heard the crack as the gun fired and almost simultaneously the shells exploded in our position - we were unable to move except for necessities during the day and you had to move quickly to avoid being hit by the deadly Jap snipers.  Our trenches were about 20 feet apart and we had ropes between trenches to enable supplies to be pulled along between us. We had run short of water, and we were rationed to a pint each day, if we were lucky.  Remember our supplies were dropped to us by air.  On this occasion, the two-gallon can of water was passing from the trench on our left towards us, being pulled by Cpl Woolford in our trench.  Suddenly he stopped pulling, he cursed and said, "It's caught on a tree stump".  He got up out of the trench to see if he could free it, there was a single shot and he fell back into our trench - he was dead before he fell on us, shot straight through the head. We were stunned and shocked - we couldn't believe it.  Des had been such a popular NCO, and friend of course, to all of us.  We were unable to move him back until dusk.

Expensive and fatal lessons were learned during our first few days on Hospital/Garrison Hill.  They were: 'never venture out of your trench to retrieve supplies after a parachute drop in the daytime.  You would be a dead man if you did'.

One of the stretcher-bearers and Tom Ibell moved him back; what a sad day for us.  That night was no better than any of the others.  We were again subjected to a number of ‘Jitter' attacks, Japs shouting ‘We know you are there Johnny'.  No one fired their weapons at night, but grenades were used to keep them at bay.  We could get very little sleep.

We were continually going out on patrols probing the Jap defences, trying to find his weak points.  These fighting patrols were at night and were murderous.  I called them suicide patrols.  The patrols were to try and find out where the Jap positions were and the only way to do it was to approach the position in darkness and draw fire from the Jap machine gun, rifles, mortars and grenades.  The three weeks I spent on Garrison Hill were the worst days I can ever remember in my life.  I never expected the days to end and I never expected to live through them.  Our Platoon Sergeant, one Yorky Seale, was an old soldier and a very good one but he appeared to always volunteer for these patrols and, of course, we had to go with him.  Thinking back, I suppose it was the training and discipline which had been knocked into us; we carried out orders without question, although you knew you were going on an almost suicide mission.  One I remember in particular.  We were told to try and probe the main position in front of the tennis court and District Commissioner's bungalow; it was in the middle of the night, and the slightest noise could be heard yards away.  We went down the hill through the Regimental Aid Post and ‘C' Company lines.  We knew then we were in ‘no-mans-land'.  We also knew we must be getting close to the Japs' forward position, as we could hear voices as we climbed upwards.  Suddenly, all hell was let loose; machine guns, rifle fire, grenades and mortars were falling around us. Yorky shouted, "Duck and get down".  We slithered back down, and I got down into a shell hole where a grenade landed near my head.  I had got my head down into the soil as it went off, blasting and deafening me.  I was surprised that I had not suffered any injury.  We lay still for what seemed to be hours, but it could have been only half an hour or so.  The barrage of grenades and machine gun fire became less intensive and we were able to retire back to our trenches, and to thank God that we had been able to do so.

Each day became a bit easier than the last; we were slowly winkling out the snipers.  The Jap positions were being constantly bombed and machine-gunned from the air, and barrage after barrage from our Divisional Artillery was churning up the ground around their positions.  The food and water position began to get easier, but still not sufficient for a wash.  We all became louse infested. I had a filthy beard, my face covered in jungle sores and I had boils on my arms, something I had never had in my life before.  I can't remember the last time I had taken my boots and socks off, we stank, but I think the thing that worried me most were the little white lice which had amassed on the hairs all over my body.

Attacks were made daily on the main Jap positions around the tennis court and Commissioner's Bungalow.  We were losing a lot of men, but the attacks had to continue, gaining ground a yard at the time.  We continued to move from trench to trench and for a few days I found myself in ‘The Pimple'.  This was a ‘hill', which had been dug out and was a series of tunnels and from it we were able to look down onto the Japs.  Due to its exposed position it could only serve as an observation post, and was continually being fired on by the Japs; any movement seen by them brought down a concentration of shell and machine gun fire.  I hated this position, as there was only one tunnel exit and entrance.

Thousands of shells from our artillery shrieked over our heads.  There were 7.2-inch howitzer, 25-pounder and mountain guns crashing and exploding on the Jap deep bunkers.  Regardless of all the shells, mortars, rockets and bombs from Hurri-bombers (converted Hurricane fighters), the Japs were not moved, as our next attack on them proved.  Our attacks and Jap counter attacks were causing us to have numerous casualties and we knew we had to take these positions regardless, as there were no troops to relieve us.

We had been getting ready to make the final assault on the tennis court and DC's Bungalow.  Attempts had been made to pull a ‘Honey' (Stuart Light) Tank up into our position with a bulldozer; this failed and the steepness of the hill caused the tank to pull the bulldozer backwards on top of it.

However, they eventually got a Lee Grant tank up to us and, on the 13th May, we moved down and around the hill towards the tennis court.  Our Company, ‘D', were to be used for the attack, and we could hear and see the shells from our artillery falling on the Jap position, the tank moved forward, shells and bullets were flying everywhere, and we were each side of the tank as it reached the top of the terrace which looked down to the tennis court.  It slithered down the bank and then opened up at point blank range at the Jap position.  We knew it was the beginning of the end as the Japs started to run, but they were soon mown down by our firing.  Some did remain in their deep bunkers, but they were soon disposed of.  We had armed ourselves with what we called 'Bangalore Torpedoes', which consisted of explosives on the end of a long bamboo pole and fitted with a six-second fuse, and pushed down into the bunkers to explode and kill the occupant.  We then found the Japs had time to pull the fuses off before they could explode, so we had to cut the fuse shorter to three-seconds, which didn't give the Japs the chance to pull off the fuse and it didn't give us a great deal of time to get out of the way!

The whole battalion then moved forward and the whole of the ridge was cleared, but what a terrible sight.  It was worse than our position on Garrison Hill, and there were decomposing bodies everywhere - Japs, British, Assamese, Burmese and Indians.  The stench of death here was never to be forgotten.  Lt Col OGW White (promoted after the Battle of Kohima) in his book ‘Straight on for Tokyo' said of our Battalion that, on the 14th May the day after the Battle, "It was with great pride that we marched out of the Kohima perimeter all freshly shaven".  His face may have been washed and shaven but mine wasn't, nor any of the rest of the battalion.  I remembered that we hobbled out of Kohima - an unwashed, lousy, wet, unshaven and undernourished group of war-weary Tommies but, yes, proud with what we had achieved - we knew we still had a long way to go before the Japs were beaten, but the tide had turned and they were being pushed back down that long and winding road through Burma.


However, we were to suffer more casualties as we were taken back in 3-ton trucks driven by Indian Sepoys.  The road was, as I have described, a single track of mud with passing places here and there.  One of the trucks carrying our Company went over the side - as it went over, men were thrown out, two were killed and some injured - after what we had been through, we could have done without this tragic accident.

We went back to Zubza, where we had the luxury of hot baths out in the open.  50-gallon petrol drums had been cut down in half and filled with disinfected water, all our clothes and boots were discarded, all the hair on my body was shaved off and, after relaxing in the bath, we were treated with ‘powder', and jungle sores covered with gentian violet liquid.  After a medical check and treatment for our various ailments, we were issued with new clothing and boots.  My feet were blistered and septic, the boils on my arms treated and my arm put in a sling.  Now, we had time to reflect.  Although I was in a mess, I had come through with my life, thank God, and I shall never forget my comrades who gave their lives at Kohima.   Today as I write these words, I ask myself what was it all for?  Those 85 young men of the Dorset Regiment who were left in those Naga Hills, killed during one of the most horrible battles of the war, would never grow old as I have done, but will always be remembered as devil-may-care young men.  With wounded, casualties, and men hospitalised with malaria, dysentery and other sickness, our Battalion was now depleted, having lost more than a Company of men.  The Commanding Officer, Lt Col McNaught (CO during the Battle for Kohima, then promoted to Brigadier), who was to be later decorated with the DSO for the Regiment's success at Kohima, was forced to disband ‘A' Company and continue with only three Rifle Companies B, C & D, all reduced in numbers.

We moved back to Dimapur, where we were to rest and recuperate.  We played football, enjoyed films and ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association).  It would be remiss of me not to mention the visit to the Division by our own Vera Lynn.  What a morale booster this visit was - her singing brought back memories of home.  It was an open-air show, and I still had my arm in a sling.  After Vera's show, while applauding her performance, my signet ring flew off my finger, as it had become very loose.  When everyone had dispersed, my mates and I made a search and, as luck would have it, we found the ring.  That is not the final episode of my signet ring, however.  Though it remained with me all through the remainder of the war, it ended up at the bottom of the Yellow Sea!  Travelling from India after the war in 1946 on the Troopship ‘Cheshire' to Japan and whilst washing my hands, it again slipped off my finger and disappeared down the sink hole to the bottom of the Yellow Sea and there was no way I could ever retrieve it from there.


I often try and visualise what Kohima and Garrison Hill looks like now.  I have seen photographs, but as far as I am concerned it is unrecognisable from the desolate, war-torn and ragged parachute-strewn trees that I had known 50 years ago.  I don't suppose I shall ever go back there as, unfortunately, I cannot travel by air.  I do try to visit York when the Kohima Weekend is celebrated at York's Imperial Barracks and visit the 2nd Divisional Memorial situated in the gardens of York Minster.  The tall stone is a replica of the one erected at Kohima, which bears those immortal words:

 "When You Go Home, 
Tell Them Of Us And Say, 
For Your Tomorrow, 
We Gave Our Today"

 Most of those killed in this Battle of Kohima are buried at the hillside cemetery.  Altogether, there were some 4,000 casualties; more than half of these were from the ‘Crossed Keys' 2nd British Infantry Division.

Whilst at Dimapur, the days seemed to fly past with re-organisation, promotions, kitting-out and a chance to sort out the contents of our kit bags which we had not seen since going into action.


The story continues describing the campaign through Burma and on to Tokyo, where the 2nd Dorsets mounted guard at the Imperial Palace, and about Tom's career after the war.  The start of the story is about Tom's childhood, including pranks, early working career, service in the Home Guard (possibly, at times, a greater danger to the village than the Germans!) and military service before Kohima.

Tom's book is available for £5.00 within the UK (postage being charged at extra cost for overseas destinations).  Please send initial requests to [email protected].  Any profits from the sale will be donated to the Kohima Educational Trust, which was founded in 2003 by veterans of the Battle of Kohima, 1944.  It is devoted to honouring the people of Nagaland through Educational activities.

The following is a summary of the Burma Campaign, as described on the Kohima Educational Trust's pamphlet.


On the 19th of April 1944 a few hundred ragged, exhausted, wounded or dying British and Indian soldiers came down an Indian hill.  For two weeks, barely 1,500 men of the Royal West Kents, the Assam Regiment, Assam Rifles, assisted by Punjabis and Rajputs of 161st Indian Brigade, had held some 13,000 Japanese infantrymen.  It was the first time the Japanese had been stopped in World War II.  These heroes of the ‘Battle of the Tennis Court' (as it is often called), had been relieved by their comrades of the 2nd British Division (comprising British units which included the 2nd Battalion of the Dorsets).

At Kohima in April 1944, the Japanese invasion of India was halted.  By June 1944, the 2nd Division, assisted by the 33rd and 161st Indian Brigades made up from the Queen's Royal Regiment, the Gurkha Rifles, Rajputs and Punjabis, had driven the Japanese out of Kohima.  They then advanced on Imphal to relieve the garrison.

The Battle of Kohima has been described as probably one of the greatest in our history.  Initially it involved two weeks of desperate defence around a bungalow and a tennis court.  It was followed by two months of some of the most-bitter hand-to-hand fighting ever experienced by the British Army.  The Japanese never recovered, retreating all the way to Rangoon, harried by the 14th Army.  Here, they surrendered.  By then, the Japanese had lost more soldiers in Burma than in any other theatre of the Second World War.  For their brave contribution to this campaign, we owe an immense debt of gratitude to the Naga people.


Below is a copy of part of the Burma Star Association's website, which also contains much more information about the 14th Army's Burma Campaign

We are indebted to Derek Lawbuary who has been able to find out the origins of the Kohima Epitaph:-


The Kohima 2nd Division Memorial is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on behalf of the 2nd Infantry Division.  The memorial remembers the Allied dead who repulsed the Japanese 15th Army, a force of 100,000 men, who had invaded India in March 1944 in Operation U-Go.  Kohima, the capital of Nagaland, was vital to control of the area and in fierce fighting the Japanese finally withdrew from the area in June of that year.

The Memorial itself consists of a large monolith of Naga stone such as is used to mark the graves of dead Nagas.  The stone is set upright on a dressed stone pedestal, the overall height being 15 feet.  A small cross is carved at the top of the monolith and below this a bronze panel is inset. The panel bears the inscription

"When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say, 
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"

The words are attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds (1875 -1958), an English Classicist, who had put them together among a collection of 12 epitaphs for World War One, in 1916.

According to the Burma Star Association, the words were used for the Kohima Memorial as a suggestion by Major John Etty-Leal, the GSO II of the 2nd Division, another classical scholar.

Burma Star website at:

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  Tea tasting in 1931 

January 21 2005
Robin kindly sent us this picture of tea tasting as it was -This photograph is of the experts from the Cooperative Society photographed in 1931
With thanks to the Sunday Telegraph

January 10 

  A cutting from the daily Express of Saturday Jan 7 2006 --unfortunately the format had to be changed but the content is the same. Thank you Robin for forwarding the "good" news

By Graham Hiscott Consumer. Editor

YOUNG and health con-scious Britons have helped sales of tea rise for the first time in 30 years.

The nation's favourite cuppa accounted for 34 per cent of the drinks market last year, up

one per cent on 2004   Figures yesterday showed that consumption is rising in almost every

 age group with even  the young shunning fizzy drinks in favour of a cup of tea.

The proportion of men aged 20 to 34 who drink tea at least once a day has risen from 54.3

 per cent to 57.4 per cent in the past year. For women in the same age group it has gone

 from 61.4 per cent to 66.3 per cent.

Tea consumption has been declining steadily since the mid-1970s when it accounted for

more than half - 51 per cent - of the overall drinks market.

But researchers believe the figures show we may well be seeing a comeback for the cuppa

thanks to people seeking healthier lifestyles.

Research has shown that tea provides many health-boosting benefits including protection

 against conditions such as heart disease, stroke and cancer because of the presence of


A recent study from Sweden found that women who drink two cups of black or green tea

per day are significantly less likely to get ovarian cancer

Tea is also a source of the minerals manganese, essential for bone growth, and potassium,

vital for maintaining body fluid levels. Finally, an average cup contains less than half the

 amount of caffeine that there is in coffee. Despite these benefits, Britons for years have been

 switching to coffee, fizzy drinks and mineral water.

Tea accounted for just 33 per cent of the overall drinks market by volume in 2004. But the

 figures from analysts TNS reveal that last year saw the first increase in black tea's popularity

 for three decades, albeit a modest one.


Fruit and herbal teas have enjoyed a massive increase in sales in recent years but still only

 account for just over one percent of all drinks consumed.   Among other drinks, coffee makes

 up 16 per cent of the market, alcohol 15 per cent, and fizzy drinks 10 per cent.

But the research found that alcohol and tizzy drinks have become a victim of the health drive.

 Britons' consumption of alcohol has fallen from seventeen per cent of the market the previous

year  and fizzy drinks from 12%

The biggest tea fans are still older people, with seventynine  per cent of men and seventyeight 

 per cent of women aged 55 to 64 having one or more cups a day.

Bill Gorman, executive director for of The Tea Council, said: "Tea has traditionally been the

 nation's favourite drink, but over the past 30 years that position has been challenged,

 particularly by soft drinks.

"But the data shows that more and more people are becoming aware of the health benefits of

 regular tea drinking." Britons consume 165 million cups of tea a day compared with about 75

 million cups of coffee, according to The Tea Council

The overall tea market in the UK is estimated to be worth around seven hundred million pounds

 in annual sales.


January 10 2005
The Victoria and Albert Museum London

Today is the 160th anniversary of the death  of Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Gory, whose recipe for tea flavoured with bergamor-given to him, according to legend, by a Chinese mandarin whose life he saved - has proved enduringly popular To mark the occasion I have chosen one of the earliest known depiction of English people drinking tea. A Family of Three at Teawas painted by Richard Collins in 1727 and may be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Richard Collins was a portrait painter and topographical draughtsman who lived in Peterborough. little is known about him other than that he died in 1732, and that he was a freemason- According to acontemporary source, he 'initiated several persons of Spalding and other towns in freemasonry'. Perhaps the family drinking tea in the picture were among those 'several   persons
They brandish porcelain tea bowls imported from China, enjoying the novel luxury of a hot beverage from the Far East.

The English teacup with a handle had not yet been invented and they are clearly doing their best not to bum their fingers. The formality with which the tea-table before them is laid, the darkness of the interior in which they sit, and the self-conscious, slightly secretive elegancewith which they prescent themselves to the gaze of posterity, lends the scene the air of a private rite. The silence is broken only by the yapping of a lapdog, who looks as though he would like a sip of tea from the bowl held, so gingerly and deliberately,

The English teacup with a handle had not yet been invented

by the lady of the house. Perhaps it was her custom to let him finish the dregs.    Tea had been virtually unknown in europeuntil the 1650s, when it was popularised by a charismatic Jesuit missionary named Father Alexander of Rhodes. After having spent30 years in the Far East, he returned home to Paris and wrote his memoirs, which included a lengthy discourse on the benefits of tea-drinking. Father Alexander's book also contained the first published recipe for making the beverage-This is the way in which the Chinese take tea; boil the water in a very clean vessel; when well boiled they take it from the fire and put the leaf in They drink it as hot an they can; if it is cold, it is no use. The same leaf which is left at the bottom of the dish can be used a second time, but then It Is allowed to bull with the watts.'

Tea only really caught on in Britain after the restoration of the Stuart monarchy Its sudden, rapid rise in popularity can be at least partly attributed to the influence of Charles  Portuguese bride, Catherine of Braganza. The story goes that immediately on arrival at Portsmouth from Portugal, on 13 May 1662, Catherine demanded a cup S tea. To their great embarrassment. the welcoming party had none. She was offered a glass Swann ale, which she tuned down in disgust

The example set by royalty was quickly followed by the aristocracy and gentry, and the newly established East India Company began importing tea to England in ever-increasing quantities. The English custom of taking milk with tea-note the prominent silver milk jug on the table in Collins's portrait-may reflect political changes in China at the moment when English imports began to accelerate. The Manchu invasion S 1644 ended the Ming dynasty, who considered the addition of dairy produce to tea a repulsive practice. The conqueringTartars had long added milk to their tea, and it was presumably from them that the English acquired the habit.
Collins's portrait  suggests that tea appealed to the upper middle-classes S the early 18th century partly because it furnished a wonderful opportunity for the conspicuous display S wealth. Almost more prominent than the family is the splendid silver 'equipage for serving the tea which they are drinking with such a beady-eyed and serious demeanour. They must have been very proud of that array of gleaming, polished objects.

The historian Peter Brown goes so far as to suggest that 'the groundswell in demand for objects needed to consume chocolate, coffee and tea helped prompt the rise S the industrial revolution in Britain... transforming the country from a largely agrarian culture to one founded on a product based economy.' Which suggests that Collins's Family of Three at Tea is a deceptively peaceful record of English society on the cusp of a great economic shift There is a storm brewing in those elegant porcelain teacups.


September 28 2005
       Here are some very distinctive comments by Robin as regards CTC manufacture, a follow on from previous statements--please look at his previous writings
CTC versus Orthodox (click above to go to position on this page)

    About the 'Original CTC' on which I promised to comment further: F G Johnson wrote in his document, 
The History of the McKercher C.T.C. Machine:  

Extracts from three pages (A4) are copied below:

1930 Season: 'The prototype machine, by the way, was the forerunner of the recently evolved "Cascade" system, consisting of 3 prs. of Bronze rollers, superimposed one above the other and driven by a chain of pinion wheels, only one fast and one slow roller being belt-driven.'

The prototype did produce dramatic results in that first season for Amgoorie: 'However, we had our reward in the end, and when other gardens were fetching 7d - 10d a lb. on the London Market, Amgoorie teas sold for 1/9d - 2/- a lb. and so we hit the headlines.  Planters from all parts of Assam, Dooars, Cachar, Sylhet honoured us with their presence to view the wonder machine.

Those from Upper Assam looked down their noses at our tea areas, factory and leaf houses, etc. and rightly so, as everything left a great deal to be desired and they marvelled at how we could possibly have achieved such results!

The outcome of all this was that everyone was in a frantic hurry to install CTC machines and rush bald-headed into it.  The consequence was a disastrous 1932 Season for nearly all CTC users.  This was mostly due to theorising towards the end of the 1931 Season.  We thought that if we could cut harder by installing 3 single CTC machines instead of one double machine, (we ruled out the double or cascade machine, owing to the difficulty of keeping it clean and the deafening noise from the gear drives) the resultant teas would be stronger liquoring owing to the more drastic bruising and cutting of the leaf, but we made a cardinal error of not realising the difficulty of drying finely cut leaf with existing driers.

CTC machines were scrapped or put on one side right and left and only Upper Assam gardens persevered in their use, and thanks to the efforts of Messrs. McCraith, Macrea and others, CTC teas came into their own again.

We adopted a very modified form of CTC manufacture for several years, which is neither here nor there, and it was not until we obtained sufficient capital to modernise and rebuild our factories and install ample power and machinery, that we were able, from 1953 onwards, to produce teas worthy of the name of the Home of the CTC.'

  Robin's Comments:  

The photograph, said to be 'original CTCs', seems to be of modified Marshall single CTCs common in Assam in the 1950's and other tea producing areas and countries, some examples of which may survive even to this day!  The photo seems to show the Marshall machines, with the rollers mounted on eccentrics to achieve fine adjustment, and the feed conveyor of the early brass tray variety.  The flat belt drive appears to have been modified to accommodate electric motor drives and the second cut machine feed conveyor has been extended to achieve a duplex configuration.  However, this does not rule out that the standard Marshall CTCs common in the 1950s, and as shown in its modified state in the photograph, are not the very next generation of machines produced by Marshall of Gainsborough in the mid 1930's.  However, the original CTCs appear to have been Cascade Machines with noisy gear train drives between sets of second and even third cut rollers.  It is interesting to note the use of brass segments on the original machines.  Maybe others have ideas on this!

These are my reasons for not believing the photograph shows the 'original CTC's' !

This is the photo being referred to

September 29 2005

Larry Brown comments

This is the  photo of the CTC's which was in the Palmer file at Cambridge together with the story on the 1st CTC's but I agree with Robin that they are not the original ones. The originals would have been totally driven from lineshafts. The ones in the picture are a combination of Lineshaft and DC motors and would be late 1950 units. I will contact Naloo Dutt in Calcutta to see if I can get the original correspondence between McKercher and J.M.Kilburn re ordering the 1st CTC's from Marshalls. The 1st CTC indeed went to Amgoorie but at the same time it's twin  went to Dehing Tea Estate,which was part of the Makum(Namdang)Tea Co Ltd situated between Digboi and Margherita.


"Aug20 2004
Most of those who were involved in the manufacture of tea will remember Sirocco products, this piece of history was kindly sent in by Robin and we thank him sincerely for taking the time and trouble to keep us informed"

WORKS, Short Strand

1898-1920s, Currently being considered for listing

Sirocco Works was built to house the engineering firm, Samuel Davidson and Co, which started up in 1881.  In 1999, a 43 acre site, of which Sirocco Works occupies 16 acres, was sold to development giant Dunloe Ewart Plc.  Sirocco

Works in the past employed 1500 people.  It exported a variety of equipment, including cooling fans for industry and tea-dryers to India . Now, the site is central to a regeneration scheme for East Belfast being undertaken by Laganside.

It's due to be redeveloped for housing and commercial purposes. The chimney and the lettered gable facing the Waterfront may be kept, retaining something of the industry's presence for the future.


such as Davidson senior and junior of Sirocco Works - who had a broader vision and ventured around the world; and helped to construct the ships which navigated the world's oceans - or, as in the case of the Titanic, almost!  

Queen's Bridge looking toward Ballymacarrett. Sirocco Works and the
chimney of the glass kiln at Bridge End can be seen in the centre



Extract from article by: Keith Haines
Hon. Sec., East Belfast Historical Society
Brief History History of East Belfast

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Top Row A Rashid, (Hd Mechanic); A.K. Borua; N Barua, (Turner); Balmunda Tanti, (Driver); J Choudhury, (Factory Clerk);
 Middle Row M Gogoi; N.C. Roy; Thom U Lim (Fitter) ; Thom Hock, (Head Fitter); H. Das; Dhanjan; Riasuddin Ahmed, (Head Mason); M Jamir, (2nd Tea House Babu); BD Konger, (3rd Tea House Babu); A. Mukit, (Head Storeman); A Latif; G.C. Gogoi, (Head Electrician). 
Sitting Robin Humphries, (Assistant Manager); Ralph F. Twist, (Estate Manager); Herman Steiner, (Assistant Manager); RS Gogoi, (Hd Tea Maker).
 Sitting on Ground P.K. Gogoi; U.C. Medhi; P. Borah; K.N.Basak, M.K. Tapader (Electrician). Md Hussain (Driver); Aslamuddin, H.K.Dutta, (Factory Clerk).

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Identified Personnel, numbered left to right:

Top Row Nos: 13 MK Tapader, (Electrician); 34 GC Gogoi, (Head Electrician).

Middle Row Nos: 9 J Choudhury, (Hd Store man); 11 BD Konger, (3rd Tea House Babu); 14 Head Turner; 18 Driver.

Sitting Nos: 2 M Jamir, (2nd Tea House Babu); 3 HK Dutta, (Factory Clerk); 5 Rabin Barthakur, (Asst Manager); 6 Maxine Humphries; 7 Ralph F Twist, (Estate Manager); 8 RS Gogoi, (Hd Tea Maker); 9 Mehna Barthakur,;10 Robin Humphries, (Asst Manager); 11 Estate Head Clerk; 12 Estate Doctor; 13 A Mukit, (Asst Tea Maker); 14 A Rashid, (Hd Mechanic).

Note: A Mukit came to serve as Factory Manager and Tea Maker (1969 - 1973) soon after I took up an appointment at Derema Tea Estate, Usambara Mountains , Tanzania .  He completed two tours before returning to settle in Assam .  We corresponded for some years but lost touch about twenty five years ago.

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'October 2003 --Robin tells us:
We know that Ralph Twist was still alive some months ago but suffering from some ear cancer problems.  Herman Steiner is survived by his wife.  We also understand that Rabin Barthakur and probably his wife are alive as we were told they tried to contact us some months ago, but we were away at the time.  For the rest no information in decades'

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Late March 2002

Robin Humphries has sent us   
this nostalgic story of his initial glimpse of Tea--------thank you Robin

An Initial Glimpse

The trooper SS Lancashire was approaching the Inland Sea about six weeks out of Liverpool.  We had been on board the whole time except for trips ashore at Aden, Colombo, Singapore and Hong Kong.  After basic training at Honiton in Devon, I had gone on to trade training near to Malvern as an Electrician Vehicle and Plant.  This had been quite an exciting time, freed from the years at boarding school with all the restrictions imposed by that discipline.

My childhood years had been spent on the South Coast.  My earliest memories had been of soldiers billeted next door, first the British and later the Americans.  Also, the Battle of Britain with lone German aircraft being fired at by the Bofors cannon on the hill between our house and Anvil Point Lighthouse, used at that time by the Germans as a navigational aid.  The planes tended to fly towards our house then veer off towards the Victorian stone Water Tower.  There were four Bren guns mounted on top of this tower.  I cannot, however, remember any enemy casualties from these encounters.  Another vivid memory is of an aerial fight of enemy bombers and our fighters over the sea viewed from Swyre Head, the highest point on the coast in that part of Dorset.  On another occasion, Mother sent my younger brother and myself to the beach for a day out in August 1942.  She thought it was safe!  That was the day we were bombed. We were not hurt but bruised by the experience in which several people were injured and killed.  Our Au pair and we two boys had to have anti-tetanus injections.  We had some slight cuts from flying glass, but that is another story.

The years passed by, going to school, studying, Army Cadet Corps, Rugby, Cricket, cross country running, sports days and so on.  Suddenly, after a late summer at home with my parents (and it was to be the last full one with my father), the papers arrived for a medical and call-up for National Service.  Basic Training at Honiton in Devon, followed by trade training at Blackmoor Camp, Malvern, Worcestershire.  A short time in REME Workshops and the orders for embarkation leave and a posting to the First Commonwealth Division Infantry Workshops at the back of what was known as Gloucester Valley, where the regiment giving the valley its name made one of their famous last stands.

We were exited about reaching our initial journey end, so most of us were on deck soon after first light. The Inland Sea required the ship to be under pilot for 10 hours.  The ship had an exact path to follow, well known to the pilot no doubt.  Having passed around umpteen islands and on each occasion our ship, correcting course to save going aground yet again and to keep to the channel, we suddenly came into more open water, it being (if I remember rightly) near to Hiroshima.

The shoreline was heavily terraced from the top, practically right down to sea level.  It was too far away to get a clear view but the memory has lived on in my mind.  The Tannoy sprang to life - an announcement from the Captain!  The view to the port - yes - you have guessed it - ‘The terraced shore line is tea'.  My first glimpse of what was to prove to be a forty year career (and still on going occasionally), in tea.

Robin M Humphries

January 2002 

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