Tim to Roger – from Bonn in 1953

My Uncle Tim wrote to my Father on 4th August 1953. Tim is writing from 3, Liebfrauenweg, Bonn (OSM), and my father was living in Edinburgh by then.

Auslandsamt der Universität,

Bonn,

Liebfrauenweg, 3

Begun 4/8/53

Dear Roger, this will take the form of a supplement, or perhaps errata to my last letter. As before I shall only deal with what might be of technical interest to you, and will describe my other doings in a letter home.

I was rather dubious when they told me that goats rubbed the bark off the young trees (as reported in my letter) so I checked up and found they use the same word for deer, so they do have deer here.

First general remarks with no particular connection between them, and in no particular order.

During the war apparently a great deal was taken out of the German forests while very little was put back – I expect it was the same in Britain. One often sees tree-stumps about 6 ft. high round here – it means that they have had the top knocked off by a shell or bomb blast. In fact our sickles have often struck bits of shrapnel and occasionally remains of  incendiary bombs etc. Quite a few of the stumps are charred. I am also informed that they had a number of V.1‘s round here (when I speak of here I mean Prüm) and you frequently see great gaps in the woods. Apparently the steering used to go wrong, and they landed sooner than intended.

They have quite a lot of oak here, both the ordinary (European ?) and American Red Oak, which I am told grows more quickly but is consequently not so hard. After the oaks are a few years old they plant beech between them – something to do with keeping down weeds, I believe. The oaks are planted pretty close together – I forget really but I think they were only about 2 feet apart.

There are some rather fine beech woods round here, and natural regen is definitely practised with these – I believe it works out at 2 beech generations to 1 oak generation – I hope you see what I mean.

They have Japanese and European larch also. I have a note about lice and fleas, but I’m not sure if it fits in here. Is larch vulnerable to these horrors ? They have winter and summer limes, they have a flesh-eating plant called ‘Sonnentau‘ (I haven’t seen it) on the nearby Schneifel (I don’t mean they cultivate it !), they have Douglas-fir, of which more anon, and they have a tree with a name like Weimutzkiefer (Weimutz fir) which is also American and grows fast, but I gather it gets diseased rather easily.

I said in my first letter that erosion was quite a problem, but I’ve since been told that it’s not so bad, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to take your choice.

I managed to visit the plant garden during my last day in Prüm. It is surprisingly small – I should imagine only 70 yds x 40 yds or less. It lies in as much of a dip as can be found round here, is is surrounded by a wire-netting fence about 3’6″ high. As I’ve already said, most of the plants come from Halztenbeck when one year old and are replanted in the Pflanzgarten. Only half is being used, the other is full of lupins. (I forget if I’ve told you, but these are about the only thing we leave standing when we go at our larches/spruces/pines/firs). They cant grow from seed here as it is over 500 meters high and during the winter the ground freezes up. The soil round here is primarily clay, whereas I’m told you need a sandy soil for seeds.  As it is always pretty damp here it is especially good for spruce, as they can draw in the moisture through their needles as well as their roots. (Does that sound like spruce ?) The wire netting is primarily to control the rabbits which make a nuisance of themselves during the winter. I know this contradicts what I said in the first letter, but these things seem to depend on whom you ask.

In the Pflanzgarten the Douglas Firs are protected by a wiry sort of shrub which the Germans call “Ginster“. It is unfortunately not in my dictionary and I have no idea what it is in English; we have any amount of it in the plantations in which we work. I gather that its seeds, owing to their high oil content, can lie several years in the ground and then come up again. They are draped over the Douglases and protect them form too much snow and wind. The Douglas firs are supposed to grow twice as fast as the spruces (?), and I saw one wood of 50yr. old Douglases. I was told twice, but I think there must be a mistake somewhere, that Douglas-fir costs DM.160 per kilo. They say it is fine for floors and other furniture.

The young plants are actually planted in the Pflanzgarten with the aid of metal strips with notches at regular intervals. They look roughly like this:

 The insides of the notches are covered with rubber to protect the young stems. The notches are 5cm apart for spruce (?), 7cm for Douglas and 10cm for larch. The distance between the rows is 20cm for the larch and probably corresponding distances for the others. A shallow ditch or furrow is of course made first, then they stretch a piece of string to facilitate alignment.

I forget to include in my list of pests the most persistent of all – the horse-flies. Whatever damage we may have inflicted upon them in Switzerland has certainly been well and truly avenged. Their mortality rate is still pretty high, but in general they draw first blood.

Well I suppose Edinburgh is by now preparing itself to justify its title of cultural capital of the world, and I expect you are more interested in ordering tickets than reading about spruces question-mark and I can’t say I blame you. Has M. or D. told you about my first and true camera love. They say they are going to give it to me for 21st. Whoopee !

Cheerio

Tim

Tim remembers that summer, as in recollection the sun shone every day.

He had been in holiday on holiday in Switzerland with my father, Roger,  in the second half of June 1953. Tim for two weeks, and my father, who joined the Forestry Commission in 1952, so would have had limited annual leave, only for one week. They stayed in a small Gasthaus in Winderswil, and walked most of the local hills. Tim used his RAF boots and nearly wore them out. Tim did his national service in the RAF. They worked out that horseflies like to follow you up a mountain and attack you from behind, so they countered this by walking up backwards, which – precipices excepted – mainly seemed to work.

Many years later, in 1969, I went, with my parents and siblings, on our first foreign holiday. We stayed with Tim, at his flat in Geneva, and then camped near Interlaken. My father, possibly not trusting us to handle precipices, did not let us in on the walking backwards method, but we remember the horseflies, which did their best to attack us between our campsite and swimming in the lake. We were there for the first Moon Landing and heard the news on the radio.

 In July 1953 Tim moved on to Prüm in the German Eifel for 4-5 weeks, where he joined a sort of International work camp for young foreigners, purportedly helping to revive German forestry. This was after his first year at Cambridge and because he was supposed to be studying German he thought it was time he learnt some. They were a group of 15 or 16, all Europeans Tim thinks – he was the only Brit – and they stayed  in the local youth hostel. Tim can’t remember what they were supposed to be doing, but they slashed away at everything and he knows they thought they’d set the German forests back by a decade or so. They were a nice bunch and a couple of the Swedish girls came to the UK later and stayed with the Lines family for a bit at Pickwick.

Tim went Bonn next where the university was running some sort of course for foreigners. Tim remembers that he liked Bonn, which of course was then the capital of the FRG, and he bought his first camera, a Paxette, a modern[ish] 35mm job quite unlike his mother’s bellows-type folding Kodak. In those days you could only take £50 out of the country, so it wasn’t bad to have spent 2 weeks in Switzerland, four or five in Prüm and two or three in Bonn, plus the fares to get from one to the other, and still be able to afford a camera. Tim does still remember my resentment at having to pay what seemed an extortionate sum for laundry in Wilderswil.

Then in the last week of August Tim joined the family [who exactly and how did we travel? Train or car?] for a fortnight’s two-centre holiday in Austria, again mainly walking or probably strolling.  First week on Lake Pertisau, second week in Oetz.

Roger to Jennifer – nice dinners and no homework

My father, Roger Lines, wrote to his sister, Jennifer, probably about 1939. She had been at Croydon High School, and was evacuated to the home farm of Statfield Saye at the start of the war.

Dear Jennifer,
How I envy you on having nice dinner and no homework. Michael and I have been writing a play for Christmas which you are going to be in. It is very cold here and the wind is whistling through the trees and blowing down the leaves. Tim pinched his fingers in the coal tongs and started to scream with anger and then he started to cry & say “Those silly tongs !!”  Love from

Roger

This was probably  written in the autumn of 1939, as Jennifer was probably one of the girls who had been sent away to safe districts before the whole school moved. From the description on the school web site

When Miss Adams arrived to take over the leadership of the school, the Second World War had begun. She had just evacuated the Queen Mary High School from Liverpool and travelled to Croydon to find not 800 but 54 pupils, for many girls had been sent away to safe districts. Miss Adams had to act quickly to preserve the life of Croydon High evacuating part of the school to Eastbourne and part to Llandilo in Wales.

The play was probably “The Green Gang” – one of several Family Dramas written by my father (some with Uncle Michael). The programme can be seen on the Family Dramas post.

This letter was probably after the one in a previous post, from Roger to Jennifer in 1939.

The reverse of the letter has the tail end of a letter from my Grandmother to Jennifer, but unfortunately I do have the rest of that letter.

lot of time and trouble. Have you seen any warships ? We could see dozens of balloons from our drive this morning, but they disappeared later. They were over Croydon. I haven’t heard where Jean Brindley or Sheila are going to school, or seen them.

Rufie sends lots of licks and little gentle bites.

Lots of love from Mummie

Jean Brindley had been a friend of Jennifer’s since they were about nine, and they ended up going to teachers training college at Roehampton together. Jean was in the same house at Froebel as my mother, which is how my mother and Jennifer met.

Sailing with Jeremy and Jennifer, a letter from Tim to Roger.

On 27th September 1953, my uncle Tim wrote to my father to describe the time Tim and my aunt Jennifer spent with their brother, my uncle Jeremy in Poole (OSM).
My father would have been working as a Forester in Edinburgh at the time.

27/9/53

Dear Roger

M insists that I write a page to make the envelope seem fatter. I don’t think you’ve heard about the adventure Jennifer and I had last W/E. I went down to Poole on Friday night, met Jeremy all right and spent most of the evening in the Poole Yacht Club, drinking and soaking in the nautical atmosphere. Saturday morning we took the DYC launch1 along to the club to fetch some ballast which they had used in an attempt to sink the Hornet in its safety tests. Great iron bars, ½ cwt I believe, tho’ they may have been 1 cwt. Anyway we took these back to the yard and even in the launch (a huge battleship of a thing) we got pretty wet – an accurate omen for the future! From there we went to the station to meet Jennifer, did some shopping and then had lunch. After some preliminaries we got the Hornet launched and we were away! After about 2 ½ minutes Jennifer lost her balance as the Hornet heeled over, which made her heel over even worse – then I lost my balance and the next thing we knew was that we were swimming around Poole Harbour while Jeremy, who knew what was happening, had simply done a sort of log-rolling act as Panic went over and was most unfairly still dry. While the boat was approximately in this position

Jeremy begins the salvage operations with: ‘I think the first thing to do is to get the sails down’ – this when they were several feet under water ! And he proceeded to do it. Then with a bit of clever balancing the whole boat turned right way up again and he commenced bailing with an action reminiscent of Sam2 digging. All this time Jennifer and I were holding the bow into the wind. When she was about half empty (Panic, I mean) Jeremy stuffed the spinnaker into the centre-plate housing to keep the water out – this is apparently normal practice and is the chief purpose of carrying a spinnaker. When he had completed bailing we got back in (actually Jen. and I bailed the last bit – the last bit of all is done with the rubber one to save the varnish) and we could assess the damage. This was fortunately negligible. Jennifer had rescued a plimsole as it was floating away on the billows and the only thing broken was the wooden pennant from the mast head.

We then went for a sail which was most enjoyable despite our wet clothes (fortunately the water had been surprisingly warm) and I had a go on the sliding seat

(another diagram) Actually there was a rope to hang on to, but I can’t draw ropes. Jeremy said that on the Round the Island Race a friend of his spent a good deal of the time two feet below the surface (when the boat yawed over) and they hardly saw him throughout the race because he was in a thick cloud of spray!
3

After hauling up Panic and getting some dry clothes on, we had a meal and went to see Genevieve in Poole. Quite funny, but really only one joke. Have you seen it ? (The film I mean). We also saw a thriller which was quite funny because we missed the beginning and were continuously greeted by such hilarious lines as :’So that’s how he knew the tea-pot !’ etc. etc.

Sunday morning there was a race in Poole Harbour. It was too rough for the Hornet (there was a very strong wind and it didn’t lessen all day), but Jeremy said people needed crews and so we all found ourselves in different boats. Jeremy was with a friend in a Snipe, Jennifer with a man in another Snipe and I was with 3 others (including another hopeless type) in an 18ft National. We had a very enjoyable sail, tho’ rather a wet one! Twice round a not very long course. Jeremy came in 2nd. I’m not really sure where Jennifer and I got in – nobody really seems to care where they come in, a rather nice aspect of sailing. All the yachting types then held a post mortem and then went off for lunch. We had sandwiches at the club and stayed some time on the starting balcony, where they have a marvellous pair of binoculars on a stand. There was a terrific wind flowing and nearly carrying us off.

Later we went to Sandbanks by bus and had a very nice time there, coming back in a large motor-boat at least 35ft long, I should think, but by the time we got to Poole we were very nearly wet through again. We returned home the same evening.

Here endeth the chronicle of Poole.

I have bought a developing tank – it’s a Paterson 35. Rather ingenious and nicely made. The spiral is made in 2 halves which can turn in relation to each other. They each have one or two teeth which engage with the perforations in the film – thus it works on a ratchet system and makes the film very easy to load, simply by oscillating the two halves of the spiral. I tried with a film in the shop and it works quite well. If also has one or two refinements which I needn’t mention. Haven’t got room for any more and anyway this must go in M’s so I’ll just wish you all the best for your car? and Cheerish from Tim.

Tim was clearly not put off sailing by his dip, as I remember he had a Sunfish, which he sailed on Lake Geneva. The Swiss regulations were strict and when the boat was inspected it had a have an anchor and similar items.

Jeremy has sent me a picture of Panic.

Panic being prepared for Launch

This picture was taken by Tim of Jeremy and Jennifer preparing Panic for launch.
Jennifer had probably come down on the train for the weekend, from her first teaching job at Ealing.
Tim was 21, and might have been staying at Pickwick with my Grandparents, having finished his degree at Cambridge.
My father’s older brother, Michael was probably in London, married to Fanny, and working at Philips

Notes

DYC Launch

DYC is the Dorset Yacht Company, where Jeremy was serving his boat building apprenticeship. The company was founded in 1938, and still exists, through its history (and more history here) it has built sailing and motor yachts,  including, in the 1960’s the offshore race boat Spirit of Ecstasy, one of a number of boats designed by Arthur Hagg (who was also an aircraft designer). DYC also build HMS Wrentham, a Ham Class Inshore Minesweeper in 1955.  The company was also notable for a court case “Dorset Yacht Co Ltd v Home Office” in which on 21 September 1962, ten borstal trainees were working on Brownsea Island in the harbour under the control of three officers employed by the Home Office. Seven trainees escaped one night, at the time the officers had retired to bed leaving the trainees to their own devices. The seven trainees who escaped boarded a yacht and collided with another yacht, the property of the respondents, and damaged it. The owners of the yacht sued the Home Office in negligence for damages.

Jeremy had moved on by this time to work for Thornycroft. While at Thornycroft he was also doing evening classes to broaden his range of skills.

Sam

The family dog.

Round the Island Dinghy Race

This unique event took place on 6th June 1953. There is an account, from the point of view of someone (I think Ian Proctor) sailing an Osprey at  http://www.ospreysailing.org.uk/cms2/index.php/publications/background-information/19-round-the-island-race-for-dinghies-june-6-1953-cowes.
According to a post on the Classic and Vintage Racing Dinghy Association forum, it was Ian Proctor’s account, and according to a Yachts and Yachting forum post 

The results a quite a who’s who’s of small boat sailing at the time..
Ian Proctor
Uffa Fox
Bruce Banks
Jack Knights
Beecher Moore
Just to name a few.

Here is Jeremy’s account

Earlier that summer I had sailed PANIC with two friends from Poole to Cowes for the Round the Island Dinghy Race organised by Tiny Mitchell. We had about 200 starters, some took 2 days and camped on the southern shore of the Isle of Wight. We had a fantastic sail up to Cowes with a good Northerly breeze so a relatively flat sea, we did Poole to Hurst Castle in 2 hours and about another two to Cowes, we also had on board the launching trolley and a suitcase! The race itself was in fairly light conditions, 60 miles so it took us about 12 hours. They have never had another similar as Health and Safety would go bananas! I remember nearly going to sleep on the sliding seat until the helmsman dipped my head in the sea!

F.G. (Tiny) Mitchell was Vice Commodore of Royal Corinthian Yacht Club from about the 1930’s

Jeremy’s early boating experiences

My interest in boats really started with holidays in Cornwall where I was fascinated by the boatbuilder Percy Mitchell at Portmellon near Mevagissey. We did go rowing on the Thames a few times and before I left school built an 18 foot canvas covered canoe which my friend Brian Culliford and I paddled down the Mole camping each night on the bank. When I started my boatbuilding apprenticeship in Poole I bought a 12 ft sailing dinghy in Christchurch and sailed it round to Poole. It seemed the natural thing to do as no one had cars or trailers in those days! It was called seamanship! After that of course my life was full of boats. I built PANIC in Poole, she was a Hornet with a Sliding Seat, the latest in those days.
Looking back on our trip up to Cowes, it seems madness today as with a good Northerly it would be France next stop if anything had gone wrong!

Jeremy and Brian’s trip down the Mole was probably in 1946, as Jeremy went to Poole in 1974. He remembers that they ran out of water, so had to drink water out of their handkerchiefs, and notnot surprisingly had upset tums for a while!
By an interesting co-incidence Brian (Bryan John) Culliford, like my father, went to school at Whitgift, and then went on to study Forestry at Bangor. Unlike my father, he then went on to work for the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory. As described in his Obituary, he went on to discover a number of important techniques and worked with Universities and other police forces. He was awarded the Adelaide Medal for his contributions to Forensic Science.
As Jeremy says

He was a super chap as you have read.

Jeremy Lines – Yacht Designer

Jeremy went on to design many yachts.

Betty Allen

This gaff rigged ketch was designed by Jeremy in 1999, and has her own web site at http://www.bettyalan.com/. The “It’s about the boat” page has some of the hand drawn designs, and the site has a picture which brings back memories for me, of him up the mast.
 

Up the mast

The yacht is also featured in the July 2014 issue of  Classic Boat

An engaging couple – Roger Lines proposal to Jane Box

My father proposed to my mother on Westminster Bridge so that he was in a convenient place to throw himself off if she said “no”. Fortunately  she said “yes”.  I think the actual proposal might have been on Christmas eve 1955, as my father was in Scotland and my mother in England for most of the run up, however they were clearly keeping in touch, not only with each other, but with the wider family and some of the letters have been preserved.


My father wrote this postcard in Tarbert Waiting Room (B.R.) on Thursday 10th November 1955, to send to my mothers parents.

Dear Mr and Mrs Box,
By now Jane will have let you know our intentions. As I want to ask Jane to marry me to her face it is rather premature to ask for your reactions, as we shan’t  see one another till Christmas Eve. That I love Jane more than anything else in the world will, I hope, be apparent to you. You probably also realise that I cannot offer her riches, though I think I can promise that she will not starve. Fortunately she and I think alike on the essentials, and our love hasn’t blinded us to the demerits of the other. Its just that one half of my life now lives 400 miles away in the South. I hope you will forgive this scrawl and the muddled midnight thoughts.
With Love to you both

Roger

The plantations on the st. are Nevis Forest (F.C.)

 My father’s family must have known what was going on as my Grandfather, George Lines, wrote him this letter.

Pickwick

Wednesday Nov. 9th

My dear Roger/

This is certainly a Red letter day ! I am delighted at your news (however much under a hat at the moment).

Frankly I have always had a tender regard for Jane & admire your taste. Having known her a

    lot longer

than you have – I’m sure you’ll both the very happy. While I think you’re a very fortunate chap, I can’t help feeling that Jane will have a very sweet lad, Mummie and I feel very happy about it all.

We are all very thrilled at the idea of the house hunting – I can let you have the money back any moment you like.

Won’t stop for more now as its rather late  but

with much love

Yours ever Daddy.

My aunt Jennifer, his sister, also sent her congratulations.

Dear Roger,
We are feeling so delighted with The News. I really couldn’t be more pleased, I’ve always liked Jane so much. I’m afraid I can’t help spreading your engagement-to-be about, so if you really want it kept a bit dark at the moment you’d better let me have a list of those not to be told, or the “real thing” will be a bit stale!
If you could send me a note again of what you spent on Nora and Marjorie I would be pleased to settle up with you before I begin thinking of  your wedding present!
We have been much amused at all your financial arrangements, and Daddy is still puzzling over your Income Tax.
The Fiat should be very smart for you at Christmas, (or are you bringing the S.8. ?) and I’m looking forward to having it back. It should be ready before the weekend. I have been going in Miss Large’s S.8. every day and I’m afraid I shall miss the heater.
Don’t write specially, but if you could tell me about the money when you send your washing or something I will get a warrant for you.

Heaps of love,

Jennifer.

 
Nora and Marjorie were college friends of Jennifer’s at Froebel, also housed in The Row, whereas my mother was in Templeton. Nora was from Edinburgh and she and Marjorie were in year below Jennifer and my mother.

The Fiat

Jennifer had the old model Fiat 500 Topolino,

Fiat Topolino – however Jennifer’s was originally pale blue, still with the red wheels, and was repainted green.

The reason Jennifer would miss the heater in Miss Large’s Standard Eight, is that her Fiat did not have one. At some point her brother,  Jeremy, put a funnel behind the radiator with a 2″ hose to the inside. In the summer Jennifer would put a duster into the pipe to turn it off. The main modification Jeremy made was to put an alloy pudding basin over the distributor, as previously, when it rained the car stopped. It worked very well.
The car had a starting handle, and was nominally a two seater, but had a “kind of shelf” where two further passengers could perch, although all passengers might need to disembark if a steep hill was encountered.
Miss Large was head of Juniors as Ashford, the second school Jennifer taught at, and was giving Jennifer a lift to school at this point.
 
 
 

Standard Eight

My father had a Standard Eight, which he probably needed as he travelled the cournty a lot , looking at forests, though earlier he had used a motorbike, and in those days he could also reach places by train.

Standard Eight

Jeremy cleaned my father’s Standard Eight at Pickwick on the morning of my parents wedding.
 

Answering the call – the Military and National Service of 14773046 – Signalman Lines R.

My father, Roger Lines, on reaching the age of 18 in May 1944, was conscripted into the Army, under the terms of the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939.

Training

He was initially send for Officer Training in Northern Ireland, but was not bossy enough, so was sent to train at Catterick as a Radio Mechanic (Signalman). He was in the General Service Corps from 1st June 1944 to 15th November 1944 – this may have been when he was training. He was transferred on 16th November 1944 to the Royal Signals, where he remained until 4th February 1948.

India

He sailed to India on the Empress of Scotland, which had been Empress of Japan until October 1942, when she was renamed. (My notes say renamed to Princess of Canada, but I suspect this is because she belonged to Canadian Pacific).
I am not sure of the date order of some of these snippets as they come from notes from conversations with my mother, rather than some documented narrative.
He was responsible for the big transmitters which covered all of India when he was attached to GHQ in Delhi.
He spent some time at Quetta, up in the hills.
Tim thinks he may have been at Simla as well.
He fell off a 30′ bamboo ladder while putting up Christmas Decorations and received a scar, which was his war wound.
He went to a Gandhi meeting.
He met Pamela Mountbatten, daughter of Lord Mountbatten, serving coffee in the canteen.
He became a Methodist in the Army, as he had to attend services with some denomination, and they had the best singing.
On being sent to a senior officers house, to mend the radio there, he, along with two Indian servants, was offered refreshments, and in the interests of equality, took one of what looked like a couple of pastries, rather than the nicest looking western cake. It turned out to be a curry puff, and the experience left him with a suspicion of curry from that time on.
He also went trekking in the Himalayas with Martin Grey ? and employed porters to carry luggage.

Discharge and return home

His release from the army is dated 20th November 1947, but as he did not leave the Royal Signals until 4th Febuary 1948, I supect it took him this long to return to England. He told me he spent a long time, with many others, in a holding camp in India waiting for space to be available on a ship.
According to Tim

Pretty sure he didn’t return home until demobbed, and when he did he brought chocolate with him, probably unobtainable in the UK and anyway rationed, but in the Indian heat or perhaps on the boat it had all melted and resembled Aero when it re-congealed.

 

Letters

My father wrote several letters home, some of which have been preserved, and these give some information about what life was like.

He also wrote a letter to the BBC, through me, around 31st December 2005, which I reproduce here.

Dear Sirs, I was recently watching a TV Program inviting people to write in or relate their War Time experiences.
I was called up on my 18th birthday and reported to the Beds and Herts camp. I was then posted to Northern Ireland (thankfully more or less peaceful then).
I enjoyed this period and got to know and like the Ulster folk. I was then posted to Catterick Camp to train as a Radio Mechanic. This lasted about 15-18 weeks. My next posting was to GHQ signals in Quetta (Balochistan). Unfortunately I fell onto a concrete floor of the Barracks and thus spent my first Christmas in Quetta Hospital.
Our boat was the first to go to India after the war ended1 and we were not sure whether the Japanese submarines knew that the war had ended.
At Quetta I had the amazing luck to be present at the last Tribal Durbar (which had gone on unchanged since the rule of Queen Victoria.) The Durbar is held out in the desert so no tribal chief is able to take precedence over the others. The first day of the Durbar is devoted to ceremonial. The Governor General is in full Diplomatic dress, his chest is covered in gold braid and his silver sword gleaming. Each chief bows to the Agent to the Governor General, representing the Crown (George VI at the time). The Indian Army laid on a parachute drop – no doubt to impress the local tribes. The next two days were given over to local sports such as camel, horse and donkey racing, tent pegging etc. It was quite obvious that these second two days were for fun, and quite subsidiary to the first day. That is why they were all gathered together here.
From Quetta to Delhi by train I saw quite a bit of North West India, and later managed to have three short holidays in the foothills of India, as far North West as Sandakphu (13,000 feet) and saw much in the way of Buddhist temples.
I was in Darjeeling when Indian Independence Day took place with much celebration as this area is largely Hindu.
I greatly enjoyed my time in India and fortunately escaped the worst of the communal violence. It was only many years later that I read a full account. During this period when I was back in Delhi I went to one of Gandhi’s Prayer Meetings and was able to take photographs of him quite close up.
Shortly after this I was posted to Deolali Transit Camp and so back to Britain after two and half years in India.

Roger Lines

Notes

First Boat

The first sailing of the Princess of Scotland, to go to India after the end of the war was:

  • From Liverpool on 3rd October 1945 to Taranto on 9th October – 2616 miles
  • From Taranto on 9th October to Port Said on 11th October – 964 miles
  • From Port Said on 12th October to Bombay on 19th October – 2973 miles
Other Notes

I noted these asides while the main letter was being written.

  • he left school at 17 and worked for a year as a forest worker before being called up.
  • he spent as much time as he could Youth Hostelling, while training in Northern Ireland.

Christmas letter from Roger in India, 18th December 1946

This letter, shown as number 15 of the ones my father, Roger Lines, wrote to his parents, referred to as M&D. Unfortunately I do not have the others, which would have given some better record of his National Service. Most of the information I have relies on anecdotes from others.

18th ? December – letter 15

The Usual

Wednesday

Night.

Dear M and D,

The reason why you are getting this letter is that I am on Duty Clerk again tonight, and the light is rather poor to read with. Incidentally it is also to thank you very much for your Christmas card and letter of the 9th. In reply to your queries, I have now got my spectacles, but have heard no more about the watch, so I shall wait a few more days before I liven them up. As to this business about presents I shall certainly send some home, as clothes are not yet rationed here. If you don’t think I can afford to pay for things, then say what you need most and when I send it home you can pay the price into my P.O. account. In this way you can get some things cheaper via Quetta, than buying them in London. I recently bought a nice pair of gloves which have a fur lining right down to the finger tips for 12 chips. In England they cost at least 45 shillings. The other lads buy fancy brass ware, cigarette cases and fancy table cloths which are more for looks than use. If you do not write and tell me what you need most, bearing in mind the restrictions of a previous letter, I shall send you a large size brass elephant which can be used to get in ones way and collect the dust.

Woollens and silks, especially the latter are the most expensive things out here, and a made to measure tweed suit cost about 100 chips without a waistcoat. You can get sheets, pillow slips, English Morley socks, towels, dress lengths, silk pyjamas, scarves etc. here, but films are bad and so are rubber goods such as hot water bottles.

The new shoes I have got are quite comfortable, though I only wear them on special occasions, as although shoe repairs take 2 days it costs 7/6d to have a pair soled and heeled with good leather. I sold the others to a fellow here who they fit quite well. Richard wrote to me yesterday and also sent a Christmas card, so I must write back to him as soon as I have finished this letter. He has been over Battersea Power Station, where he was much impressed by the quiet and the way that everything, even the boilers were remote controlled. Quetta is in a plain of roughly circular shape, the size of this plain being about 10-12 miles across. All around is a ring of hills, mountains you would call them, which have about three gaps in the circle. through these passes come the roads from Persia, the Indus basin, and Fort Sandeman. The latter being about 300 miles from here, and one of our outposts. There is a towering range of hills behind the camp and about three miles from it called the Murdar Ghar. At present this range, which is nearly 11,000 ft high is covered with snow, and it is expected to stay like this until next spring, when I shall try and climb it, if I am still here. The weather is colder now and there is much more cloud. Formerly we used to have clear blue skies all day long, but now it is much more like England, although mostly the few rainstorms we have had, come at night. Thank you very much for the description of the Bhotan Pine which I read with great interest. Here’s hoping the pen arrives sometime. I have now got quite a row of Christmas cards, – two from Michael, yours, one from Richard and one from Tyrell-Green. I shall always remember his kindness to me while I was at the Holtons.

Very little of importance has happened since I wrote last except for two things (i) A walk into the hills with Luckock and (ii) My work.

(i) On Sunday afternoon I started out with Luckock across the desert plain towards the hills. It is very difficult for me to describe what we did and where we went without a map, so I shall try and make a rough sketch-map in my next letter. I will also spend part of my time in sketching, although I may not send the results home as they will probably be too awful. We walked across the desert for 2 miles or so, then started up a narrow valley, which rapidly grew narrower, until we were walking along in a narrow chasm, only about six feet wide, and with vertical or overhanging rocky walls going straight up for 80-500 ft on both sides. This crack in the rock, for it was hardly more than that continued for ¾ of a mile until eventually we came out into the sunshine, like moles coming out of their tunnels. We were only a quarter of a mile from the dam wall of the Hanna Lake reservoir. This artificial lake is dried up, but was once a mile square. Now all that is left is the cracked muddy bottom, the marks made by the high water level all around the dam. There is a proper cart track down from the lake, and we were soon on the road back to camp. As we walked along this, four Pathars or whatever they were, jumped off their bicycles and said “Salaam Sahib” (Good Day) so we said Salaam back and we soon engaged in a long discussion in Urdu. They wanted to act as guides while we went out on a hunting expedition (safari) and I tried to explain that we were not “burra sahibs” but just poor Signalmen who couldn’t afford such things. Further down the road another man tried to sell us enough wood (lakfri) for 60 men. They can’t distinguish between the B.O.Rs and the Officers I’m afraid. It all helps to improve one’s Urdu however. I am now in charge of the brigade workshops and they expect all sorts of weird things which didn’t come on the course. If I make too many mistakes I expect I may either get down graded in trade or posted to another unit or both. So wish me luck as need plenty of it. You are probably in the middle of Christmas festivities now so Happy New Year, love Roger.

 Notes

Richard Lines

Richard Lines was my father’s cousin, he was the son of Arthur Lines, the younger brother of my Grandfather, George Lines.

Bhotan Pine

This is also known as Bhutan Pine, is native to the Himalayas, and shows that even before he went off to study Forestry at Bangor my father had a keen interest in trees. Indeed many of the pictures he took in India were of trees.

Urdu

My father clearly occupied him time in India learning Urdu, something which I had not known, though I know my Grandfather encouraged learning languages.

Postcard from Roger – 9th April 1934

My father, Roger Lines, would have been 7 when he wrote this postcard, postmarked Sutton, on the 9th April 1934 (which was a Monday).

We are just sitting on the loggia. The rooks are cawing loudly, I wish you could see them.
I think we are having the rail way out this afternoon  Tudy is just washing and we are just going to have 11’s rather late we’ve just had dinner must catch the post love from Roger.

My Grandparents seem to have both been at Cheam, but Tudy (my Grandmother’s sister) seems to have been with my father. The address is written in my Grandmother’s handwriting, so my father was probably given this card to send home some while he was away. I suspect it was written in stages, covering the highlights (elevenses and dinner) and missing out any activities in between.
Tudy was living at Chipstead in 1934, according to my aunt, and would have been married for a year by then.
Easter Sunday in 1934 was April 1st, so my father could have been staying with Tudy and Tom Keeley for the Easter Holidays, and if he failed to catch the post then the card could have ended up being posted (or collected from a postbox) in Sutton on Monday 9th.

Letter from Roger to Jennifer 1939

This was written by my father, Roger Lines, to his sister Jennifer, who was – for some reason – not with the rest of the family in, I would guess 1939.
Roger-to-Jennifer-elsewhere

Dear Jennifer,
I have not gone back to school yet but all
the others have. Are you lonely yet? and
are you having nice suet puddings. Our air-
raid shelter is nearly finished, the men
have come everyday and the concrete has
just been put on the roof today and
on Saturday Daddy got some wood and
made it into a step ladder which I have
been creosoting today. We are staying up
late tonight as it is nearly 10.15 p.m. now.
Michael has got half the table covered with
his Meccano, Mummy is knitting and Daddy
is asleep, Rufus is biting his leg.
Jeremy is settling down to Chinthurst
and he had carpentry to-day in which
he learnt how to chisel and how to saw
and his headmaster gave him cider for
dinner
   Love from Roger

Jeremy remembers going to Chinthurst, but has no recollection of cider for lunch. He does remember that there were a lot of damson trees so they had damson this and damson that for weeks!

I also remember the swimming pool had been converted into an air-raid shelter by covering it with metre thick bales of horsehair so it was pretty awful in there so we took it in turns to get air at the entrance and I remember seeing one of Goerings special yellow nosed Messerschmidt 109’s being shot down and the pilot coming down by parachute.