Untold lives blog

12 posts from January 2015

30 January 2015

Opening the coffin of King Charles I

King Charles I was beheaded on 30 January 1649 outside Banqueting House in Whitehall. His embalmed body was put into a coffin and taken to St James’s. Parliament then gave permission for the King to be buried in the Chapel of St George at Windsor. Mr Herbert who had been a groom of the royal bedchamber was entrusted with overseeing the interment. 

Charles I's execution

From The Famous Tragedie of King Charles I (London, 1709) British Library flickr  Noc

Lord Clarendon stated that some years later the King’s body could not be found at Windsor. There was a suggestion that King Charles II had re-interred his father at Westminster Abbey. 

When George III built a mausoleum at Windsor, a passage was built under St George’s Chapel.  Workmen accidentally made an opening in one of the walls of the vault where Henry VIII and Jane Seymour were said to be buried. A third coffin could also be seen, covered with a black velvet pall. This was in accordance with Herbert’s description and so it was presumed to hold the remains of King Charles I.

The Prince Regent was told of the discovery and he sanctioned an examination of the coffin. This took place on 1 April 1813, the day after the funeral of the Duchess of Brunswick.  The Prince Regent entered the vault accompanied by the Duke of Cumberland, Count Munster, the Dean of Windsor, Benjamin Charles Stevenson, and Sir Henry Halford.  The pall was removed to reveal a plain lead coffin inscribed with the name of King Charles and the year of his death. An opening was then made in the lid and the covering removed from the head.  Sir Henry reported that the long oval- shaped face with a pointed beard bore a strong resemblance to coins, busts, and the Van Dyck pictures of Charles I.  The head was removed from the coffin to prove that it had been separated ‘by a heavy blow, inflicted with a very sharp instrument’, proving beyond doubt that these were indeed the remains of King Charles.  The rest of the body was not examined and the coffin was soldered up.

None of the other coffins in the vault had an inscription.  The coffin supposed to be that of Henry VIII was six feet ten inches in length and had been damaged, revealing a skeleton.  A smaller coffin, understood to be that of Jane Seymour, was not touched as the Prince Regent did not consider mere curiosity a sufficient motive for disturbing her remains. There was also a very small mahogany coffin covered with crimson velvet laid upon the pall covering King Charles. This contained a child of Queen Anne, still-born when she was Princess of Denmark.

Margaret Makepeace
India Office Records  Cc-by

 Further reading:
Essays and orations, read and delivered at the Royal College of Physicians; to which is added , An account of the opening of the tomb of King Charles I  by Sir Henry Halford (London, 1842)


28 January 2015

Colonial Knowledge: Lorimer’s Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia

John Gordon Lorimer’s monumental Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia – often simply referred to as ‘Lorimer’ by many researchers - has been digitised and is now accessible for free through the Qatar Digital Library.

History, Geography and Genealogy

The Gazetteer’s first volume, the historical section, is divided into three parts:

• Part I (IOR/L/PS/20/C91/1), the ‘Arabian portion’, covers the general history of the Persian Gulf, with histories of the Arab littoral, Central Arabia, Oman and Turkish Arabia (Iraq);

• Part II (IOR/L/PS/20/C91/2), ‘the Persian section’, covers the history of the Persian littoral, including Arabistan and Makran. In addition, nineteen appendices cover subjects from pearl fisheries to the slave trade. Of note is Appendix P, ‘Cruise of His Excellency Lord Curzon, Viceroy and Governor-General of India’, an official account of the 1903 vice regal tour of Persian Gulf ports;

• Part III (IOR/L/PS/20/C91/3) consists of twenty-one genealogical tables for the ruling families of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia.

‘Geneaological Table of the Āl Rashīd (Shammar) Family of Jabal Shammar’
‘Geneaological Table of the Āl Rashīd (Shammar) Family of Jabal Shammar’ (IOR/L/PS/20/C91/3, f. 19) Noc

The Gazetteer’s second volume (IOR/L/PS/20/C91/4) is the ‘Geographical and Statistical’ section and includes alphabetical entries for tribes, towns and regions, from ‘Abdalilah to Zubārah. It also contains fifty-six reproductions of photographs taken by British colonial officers, but also German explorer, Hermann Burchardt, and Raja Deen Dayal and Sons, official photographers to the Viceroy of India.

The entry for ‘Baraimi Village’ in the geographical section of Lorimer’s Gazetteer
The entry for ‘Baraimi Village’ in the geographical section of Lorimer’s Gazetteer (IOR/L/PS/20/C91/4, p. 264)  Noc

The Gazetteer includes two maps: a chart of pearl banks on the Arabian littoral of the Persian Gulf included with the genealogical tables; and a large ‘Map of the Persian Gulf, ’Omān and Central Arabia’ (IOR/L/PS/20/C91/6) produced by Lieutenant Frederick Fraser Hunter in consultation with Lorimer.

Map of the Persian Gulf, ’Omān and Central Arabia’
‘Map of the Persian Gulf, ’Omān and Central Arabia’ compiled by Hunter (IOR/L/PS/20/C91/6, f. 1r) Noc

Mapping Empire and Colonial Knowledge

The collation, systematisation and codification of often scattered historical, geographical and statistical information in the form of gazetteers, handbooks, pilots and maps was of vital importance to modern imperialism. Indeed, the Gazetteer has its origins in Curzon’s official tour of the Gulf in 1903, which marked a seminal point in the shift of colonial policy towards treating the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms as closely analogous to Indian Princely states.

Hunter’s map is a good example of how this was done. As he recalls, it was an innovative map and challenging to produce: ‘Mr. Lorimer, the draughtsman, and myself spent the winter of 1905–06 in the Foreign Office at Simla – a building designed for summer use. We worked from ten to fourteen hours a day, often in overcoats and mittens, with our inks constantly freezing: good draughtsmanship was difficult.’ The map’s innovation was, however, deeply rooted in colonial ideology. Hunter used the same projection and 32-miles-to-the-inch scale as the Survey of India. This enabled the map to be ‘fitted alongside the map of India, thus giving, at a glance, a map of that portion of the world between Burma and Egypt’.

‘A view of Simla, Himachal Pradesh, northern India’
‘A view of Simla, Himachal Pradesh, northern India’ from the Macnabb Collection (Photo 752/1(52))  Images OnlineNoc

The Persian Gulf, therefore, was placed cartographically and politically within the British Raj, creating, as Nelida Fuccaro puts it, ‘new geographies of rule’. These were militant geographies since, as Felix Driver notes, ‘topographical mapping of the empire itself was represented as a device for exercising power’, enabling Britain to piece together the ‘landscape’s inner propensities’ and facilitating imperial control, exploitation and commerce.

Landing at Kuweit - British officals being carried ashore
Detail from ‘Landing at Koweit’, Dane Collection: 'Photographs of Lord Curzon's tour in the Persian Gulf, November, 1903' (Photo 49/1) Noc

Writing in 1996 in Empire and Information, C. A. Bayly remarked that ‘[t]he expansion of knowledge was not so much a by-product of empire as a condition for it’. Indeed, the information found in Lorimer’s Gazetteer was reproduced and reconfigured in countless subsequent colonial reports, policy papers and handbooks. These provided the impetus for further exploration and intelligence-gathering in Arabia and beyond, all of which helped to solidify and extend Britain’s colonial dominance over the Middle East. The impact of this still reverberates loudly today.

Daniel Lowe
Arabic Language and Gulf History Specialist  (@dan_a_lowe)  Cc-by

Further Reading:

Previous blog post featuring Lorimer’s Gazetteer

Anon, ‘A New Map of Arabia’, Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, 42:5 (1910), pp. 362-363

C. A. Bayly, Empire and Information (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000)

Felix Driver, Geography Militant: Cultures of Exploration and Empire (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001)

Frederick Fraser Hunter, ‘Reminiscences of the Map of Arabia and the Persian Gulf, Geographical Journal, 54:6 (Dec., 1919), pp. 355-363

Nelida Fuccaro, 'Knowledge at the Service of the British Empire: The Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia’, in Borders and the Changing Boundaries of Knowledge ed. by Inga Brandell, Maria Carlson and Önver Cetrez (Forthcoming)

James Onley, The Arabian frontier of the British Raj: merchants, rulers, and the British in the nineteenth-century Gulf (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)

Kristopher Radford, ‘Curzon's Cruise: The Pomp and Circumstances of Indian Indirect Rule of the Persian Gulf’, International History Review, 35:4, pp. 884-904

Priya Satia, Spies in Arabia (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)


26 January 2015

Personal gifts from Mr Churchill

This week the 50th anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill is being commemorated.  There has been a flood of articles analysing his role in British history.  Untold Lives would like to highlight three little-known files in the India Office Records which show Mr Churchill’s generosity to men who had been his servants when he was a young officer in the British Army.

Churchill sailed for India with his regiment, the Queen’s Own Hussars, in October 1896.  He was stationed initially at Bangalore. In July 1943 the India Office set its administrative wheels in motion on behalf of Prime Minster Churchill who wished to send a personal gift of 100 rupees to his former servant Mr S Joshua. Mr Joshua was an inmate of the Friend-in-Need Society’s home in Bangalore.  Officials in London and India liaised to transfer the money through the Resident in Mysore to Mr Joshua after he had shown proof of his identity.  Churchill conveyed his thanks from Quebec where he was attending an Allied conference. He sent a cheque for £9 6s 9d made out to ‘Accountant-General India Office’ to cover to cost of the gift and a telegram to India.


  World War II propaganda poster featuring Winston Churchill
World War II propaganda poster featuring Winston Churchill ©De Agostini/The British Library Board Images Online

Mr P Muniswamy wrote a letter to Churchill from Bangalore in December 1946 and again in May 1947 after he heard about the 100 rupees sent to Mr Joshua.  He claimed to be an ‘old old Servant’ who had worked for Churchill when he was stationed in India.  Churchill thought that he did remember a servant of that name some 50 years earlier and asked the Private Secretary to the Maharaja of Mysore to help investigate Mr Muniswamy’s character and circumstances so that he could judge whether or not to send him a gift of money.  Information was gathered locally and sent to England. Mr Muniswamy was about 68 years of age and bore a good character. He was earning 40 rupees a month as a bearer in the officers’ mess of Queen Victoria's Own Madras Sappers and Miners but likely to be discharged in August 1947 when the British officers left Bangalore. His five children were grown-up and his wife was his only dependant.  The three sons were prepared to help their parents financially but Mr Muniswamy ‘wanted a gift from his old master for personal requirements’. Churchill sent a cheque for £5.


  Letter to British High Commissioner about Churchill's gifts
IOR/L/PJ/7/14249  Noc

In December 1948 Churchill received a letter from M A Ranookapathy whose father K M Anthimoolum had been Churchill’s dressing boy and butler. Churchill asked the Commonwealth Relations Office to ensure that a letter in reply reached Mr Ranookapathy safely and forwarded a cheque for £5.  Arrangements were made for the money to be paid into Mr Ranookapathy’s savings account in Bombay.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this story is the personal attention given by Winston Churchill to his former servants in India.   He took time to ensure the gifts reached the intended recipients even when he was carrying the burden of being Prime Minister of a nation at war.

Margaret Makepeace
India Office Records Cc-by

Further reading:
IOR/R/2/Box26/214 Mysore Residency files

24 January 2015

The Death of a Political Agent: Captain Shakespear

Today, 24 January 2015, marks 100 years since the death of colonial officer and Arabian explorer and photographer, Captain William Henry Irvine Shakespear, who died in a battle at Jarrab between the forces of Ibn Saud, the founder of modern-day Saudi Arabia, and his adversary, Ibn Rashid.

Shakespear was well aware of the dangers he faced on his Arabian explorations. A day before his final departure, he wrote to the officiating Political Officer at Kuwait:

‘In case I should get snuffed out in the desert, would you be so good as to post the enclosed two letters as soon as you hear [...] As far as my kit is concerned, it might remain until you hear from my brother - he is my executor […] I think I have left everything squared so as to give as little trouble as possible [...]’.

Photographic portrait of Shakespear and letter from Shakespear to Grey
Left: Portrait of Shakespear, courtesy of Imperial War Museum. Right: Letter from Shakespear to Grey, dated 11 December 1914 (IOR/R/15/5/88, f. 33)   Noc

His death was first taken as rumour, but was confirmed by Ibn Saud in a letter dated 4 February 1915: ‘[…] it is a source of regret that our cordial friend and a rare well-wisher Captain Shakespear, was hit from distance by one of the enemy’s shots and died. I offer you my condolence on his death’.

Concerning Shakespear’s presence at the battle, he remarks: ‘We had pressed him to leave us before the incident; but he persisted in refusing to do so […] Amongst other remarks, he said “I have been ordered to be with you. If I leave you it would be a blemish to my honour and the honour of my Government. Therefore excuse me. I must certainly be with you”. Accordingly we allowed him (to come) in compliance with his wish’.

On 17 February, Thomas William Holderness, Permanent Under-Secretary of State for India, wrote a letter of condolence to Shakespear’s father expressing ‘sincere sympathy on the death of [his] son in action in Arabia […] on an important and delicate mission’ and conveying praise for ‘an able and gallant officer’ from the Secretary of State for India. On 22 February, Shakespear’s father responded on black-edged writing-paper thanking him for the ‘kind message of sympathy on our irreparable loss’.

  Letter from W Shakespear to Sir T W Holderness
Letter from W Shakespear to Sir T W Holderness, dated 22 February 1915 (IOR/L/PS/10/88) Noc

The death made news in the United Kingdom, with the Manchester Evening News reporting: ‘The intrepid Arabian explorer, Capt. Shakespear, whose death is officially announced is believed to have succumbed to wounds received in this encounter on a mission to Anglophile Ibn Saud’. Indeed, Shakespear’s death was significant enough that a question was asked about it in the House of Commons by Liberal MP Sir John Jardine.

Parliamentary Notice regarding Shakespear’s death
Parliamentary Notice regarding Shakespear’s death (IOR/L/PS/10/88) Noc

In the official account of Shakespear’s death written by Sir Percy Cox on 27 July 1915, he admits ‘[w]e shall probably never know more precisely than we do now how he actually met his death’. However, further information from an eyewitness was received and reported in May 1917 by the Arab Bulletin, an official military intelligence magazine founded by T. E. Lawrence. Shakespear was ‘with Ibn Saud’s artillery, looking through his field glasses and very conspicuous, since he was wearing full British uniform and a sun-helmet […] He was therefore easily picked out, and was shot at long range’.

Further, the political significance of Shakespear’s death in the context of the conflict between Ibn Saud and Hussein bin Ali, the Hashemite Sharif of Mecca, is mentioned: ‘His [Shakespeare’s] helmet was taken into Medina, and publicly exhibited as proof to all Moslems that Ibn Saud was a traitor to Islam, and he had permitted Christians into his country. There were great demonstrations in Medina, and the hat is still displayed in the Serai, with an inscription pointing its moral’.

Shakespear’s memorial at the Old Jewish and Christian Cemetery, Kuwait
Shakespear’s memorial at the Old Jewish and Christian Cemetery, Kuwait (photo by Julia&Keld) Noc

Daniel Lowe
Arabic Language and Gulf History Specialist  (@dan_a_lowe)  Cc-by

Further reading:

The Death of Captain Shakespear on the Qatar Digital Library

Shakespear of Arabia  BBC Magazine 

 ‘File E/8 I Ibn Sa‘ūd’ IOR/R/15/2/31

'File 32/6 Estates of British subjects; accounts of death of Capt Shakespear, 1915' IOR/R/15/5/88

'P 632A/1915 The War: death of Captain Shakespear; text of Bin Saud's letter' IOR/L/PS/11/88

‘Fighting in Persia. Enemy Fail and Retire’, Manchester Evening News, 13 March 1915

‘Fighting in Arabia’, HC Deb 09 March 1915 vol 70 c1248

Peter Sluglett, ‘Shakespear, William Henry Irvine (1878–1915)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

H. V. F. Winstone, Captain Shakespear: A Portrait (Jonathan Cape, 1976)

Tales from the other Shakespears


22 January 2015

How to ship your elephant

In the India Office Records there is an interesting story concerning the best way to transport an elephant from India. This strange event was brought about by the death in 1734 of the Persian Ambassador to the Mughals, Mahmud Ali Beg. The Ambassador and his retinue had journeyed to Mughal India in 1732 aboard ships provided by the East India Company at the request of Shah Tahmasp II and his famous deputy Tahmasp Qoli Khan (better known by his regnal title of Nader Shah). The Company had been asked, on news of the Ambassador’s death reaching Persia, to transport two agents, Safi Khan Beg and Mahmud Siah Beg, to retrieve his body and effects. This request was granted by the Company after some wrangling concerning contrary winds and the seeming unwillingness of the agents to leave terra firma. The agents asked the Company to put them on a ship, sail for a couple of days, and then return with reports of contrary weather. Fearing a trick, the Company refused to be part of their deception.

The next we hear about this journey comes from July 1735, when the Company records give an explanation of the issues connected with the return of the embassy’s remaining members and accoutrements. The overriding problem seems to have been elephants. Somewhere on their journey, the embassy had been given or had procured four elephants.  The Company explained that their ships’ decks were much too low to admit such beasts and therefore they could not give instructions for their shipment.

Or 2784 Kitāb na‘t al-ḥayawān كتاب نعت الحيوان [‎136v] (283/534)  View image in Qatar Digital Library

So, if you’re intending to send an elephant to someone by sea, this is what the East India Company advises… “…Such creatures being always transported in Open Vessells, which were filled with their water and provisions, so that they [the Persians] must hire Dingeys [Dinghies] there to bring them…”  .

Peter Good
PhD student University of Essex/British Library  Cc-by

Further reading:
Persian Gulf Factory Records IOR/G/29/5 f.289 Consultation 17 July 1735



19 January 2015

Victorian office moves

For seven years in the mid-19th century, the British governed India from a West End hotel. Barely two years after the administration of India had transferred in 1858 from the East India Company to the Crown, the home civil servants were looking for a home. The old East India House in Leadenhall Street was up for sale; the new India Office in Whitehall was still at the planning stage.  A decision was taken to rent rooms in a brand-new hotel close to the heart of government, the Westminster Palace Hotel. With an imposing façade extending 300 feet along Victoria Street, the hotel advertised its advantages “both to business persons and seekers of pleasure”. In 1860 the India Office took a lease on a 140-room wing at the back of the building, for £6,000 a year. There the administration remained until 1867.

Westminster Palace Hotel
Photo 278/(6) Westminster Palace Hotel, London. National Monuments Record c. 1930s  Noc

The establishment boasted the latest technology. It was the first hotel in London to install hydraulic lifts, to ‘convey the occupant of the highest floor to his resting place with as little fatigue as if he were located on the first floor’. The rooms had nevertheless to be adapted. The Surveyor to the India Office, Digby Wyatt, engaged painters, carpenters, glaziers, upholsterers, and iron-founders, to erect partitions, lay carpets, and install a complex system of messenger bells. Details of the tradesmen and their contracts appear in the Surveyor’s records in the India Office Records; they show that Wyatt drove a hard bargain on the distribution of costs between the India Office and the hotel. The architects of the hotel were proud that the building was able to meet the India Office’s requirements. In an address to the Royal Institute of British Architects, Andrew Moseley explained that the joists on the third floor comfortably supported the twelve tons of books that had been placed on them. For the civil servants, however, the noisy street and the hotel’s dark corridors were irksome. Writing in the Cornhill Magazine, the political secretary John Kaye dismissed the accommodation as ‘the fag end of a public house’.

Attached to the original lease is an unusual schedule: a bill of fare. The lease gave the hotel a monopoly on all food and drink consumed on its premises. A menu for India Office staff was drawn up, the prices pegged at ‘Treasury rates’.  The document gives an insight into the civil-service diet; this was an empire fuelled by meat.  

  Bill of fare for India Office staff

IOR/L/L/2/1462  Noc

The hotel’s Indian connections were briefly revived in 1909, when Gandhi was a guest. He occupied Room 76, which according to Wyatt’s instructions to the decorators had once been the office of Sir Richard Vivian, a former military commander in Madras and a member of the Council of India. Whether Gandhi was aware of the establishment’s first tenants is not known.

In the 1920s the Westminster Palace Hotel was converted into offices and in 1974 the building was demolished. The main part of the site is now occupied by Barclays Bank.

Antonia Moon
India Office Records  Cc-by

Further reading:

J.W. Kaye, ‘The House that Scott Built’, Cornhill Magazine 16 (1867), pp 356-69

Andrew Moseley, “An Outline of the Plan and Construction of the Westminster Palace Hotel”, Papers read at the Royal Institute of British Architects (London: RIBA, 1863)

16 January 2015

In great distress

On 16 January 1838 a petition asking for help was composed on behalf of Elizabeth Mary Hickman of Blackfriars for submission to the East India Company.  She was the widow of Henry Hickman who had worked as a labourer in the Company warehouses for 23 years. When the Company was winding up its commercial operations in London, Henry was made redundant in March 1836 at the age of 55 with a weekly pension of 8 shillings. Elizabeth claimed that he was in a weak state of mind at that time.  Henry deserted his wife in May 1837 and she heard nothing of him until she learned in December that that he had committed suicide in Somerset.  Elizabeth had been forced to sell her furniture, clothing and other comforts to support herself and she was in great distress.  The Company gave Elizabeth a donation of £5.

Local newspapers provide the rest of this story. When Henry left Elizabeth, his fourth wife, he went to live with his son at a cottage in the forest of Neroche near Buckland St Mary in Somerset. In November 1837 he collected the quarterly instalment of his pension from a bank in Barnstaple.  Instead of paying his son for his board, he spent the money on alcohol. His son remonstrated with him, saying that he could not afford to keep his father and support a large family unless Henry contributed to household expenditure as promised.  The next morning Henry came downstairs about 8 o’clock and asked his daughter-in-law for half a pint of water. Soon afterwards she found that he had strangled himself with a noose made from his neck-cloth, garters, and braces tied to the bed.

Poor family - illustration from The Bottle, and the Drunkard's Children
From G. Cruikshank, The Bottle, and the Drunkard's Children ( 1905) Images Online Noc

The coroner’s inquest lasted four hours with the jury unable to make a unanimous decision on whether this was a case of suicide.  In the end, they divided: twelve declared a verdict of ‘lunacy’ and two of ‘felo de se’.  In consequence a verdict of lunacy was recorded. The Exeter and Plymouth Gazette added a postscript to this sad story:

‘It is melancholy to add, that the infatuated man, in addition to his other infirmities, repudiated the idea of the existence of a Divine Being, and always ridiculed the name of God when questioned on the subject, often expressing his entire acquiescence in the pernicious doctrines of Tom Paine, whose writings the deceased had in his possession’.

Margaret Makepeace
India Office Records Cc-by

Further reading:

IOR/L/F/2/26 No.136 of January 1838

British Newspaper Archive: Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser 29 November 1837; Dorset County Chronicle 30 November 1837; Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 2 December 1837; Western Times 9 December 1837

Honest and industrious – petitions to the East India Company

East India Company London Workers


14 January 2015

Letter from an Indian soldier to his father

Over the coming period of the commemorations for the First World War, Untold Lives will be featuring extracts from letters held in the India Office Records written by Indian soldiers serving in France or recovering from their wounds in the Indian hospitals based in England. Today we feature two letters, one from a soldier, and one from worried parents in India.

One hundred years ago today, 14 January 1915, an Indian soldier serving in France, wrote to his father in his native Garhwali:

“It is very hard to endure the bombs, father. It will be difficult for anyone to survive & come back safe & sound from the war. The son who is very lucky will see his father & mother, otherwise who can do this? There is no confidence of survival. The bullets & cannon-balls come down like snow. The mud is up to a man’s middle. The distance between us & the enemy is fifty paces. Since I have been here the enemy has remained in his trenches & we in ours. Neither side has advanced at all. The Germans are very cunning. The numbers that have fallen cannot be counted”.

  Garhwal riflemenGarhwal riflemen, Estaire La Bassée Road, France, 4 August 1915’ Photo 24/(243)  Images OnlineNoc

On the same day, the father of a different soldier wrote from India, in Urdu, to a British officer:

“My son has given full proof of his loyalty. He went six or seven times into action. Now he has been wounded. I trust that your honour of your kindness will have him sent back to the depot, so that he may be well rubbed with oil & make his appearance in the mosque. When he is well, he can be sent to train the recruits or sent on recruiting duty, if he is able to walk. I make this request at the instance of his mother who has been ill & helpless since we heard of his wound”. 

In his report for the week, Captain E B Howell, the Head Censor of Indian Mail, wrote that this letter showed “… that Indian opinion regards the man who has been into the trenches & there been wounded as having very amply discharged his duty & there can be no doubt but that in the majority of cases the prospect of a return to the firing line appears to be regarded with something approaching dismay”.

John O’Brien
India Office Records Cc-by

Further Reading:
Reports of the Censor of Indian Mails in France, Dec 1914-Apr 1915 [IOR/L/MIL/5/825/1, folios 38, 39, 69 and 78] online