This image was uncovered by Captain Karnabahadur Thapa with the intention of including it in the 2023 Nepal Sirmooree. He at first thought it might have been taken at the 1956 Coronation of King Mahendra, but Lt Gen Sir Peter Duffell confirmed that it was in fact taken at some point when the Brigade of Gurkhas Band, which in that era wore the uniform of the 2nd Goorkhas, were playing at the Royal Tournament in London 14-31 July 1965 and several participants were presented to Her Majesty the Queen. The photo shows three Sirmooris (left to right): Captain DJ (Digby) Willoughby MC (later Commandant of the 1st Battalion), Captain (Dinty) E J H Moore MBE (Director of Music 1960-70) and Major (QGO) Pirthilal Pun MBE MC (Gurkha Major of the 1st Battalion 1959-65). A report on the Band’s UK Tour from 20 May to early October 1965 is in the Regimental Journal for 1965 pages 209-214.

Pirthilal et al 1965 Pirthilal-et-al-1965.jpg


The third week of August saw Sirmooree Malleteers once again taking to the lawns at Hurlingham. Mark Pettigrew, Peter and Annie Duffell, John Swanston, David Santa-Olalla, Christopher and Griselda Lavender met up with David and Joanna Thomas for lunch on the Terrace. David and Joanna joined us in between moving flats. And Jo Santa-Ollala happily joined us for lunch and tea. Jon Aslett had discovered his car battery was dead that morning, and only after the AA had replaced this, at some cost, was he able to set off from his home in Roegate. He arrived, undaunted for a nonagenarian, with his daughter Sophie Graham, just as we took to the lawns.

Lunch on the Terrace – a respite for David and Joanna!

It was to be an occasionally showery afternoon – but with Sirmoor Umbrellas aloft we played three rounds of Golf Croquet with various combinations. The competency of all Sirmoorees was at an enviable level – as evidenced by four of the six games ending in 6-6 draws. There were many notable ‘runnings’ of the hoops, but without the roquets and croquets of Association Croquet no peeling of balls through the hoops. Perhaps the most surprising stroke of the afternoon – for Mark at least – was Griselda’ s masterful hit from the boundary line to knock Mark’s ball from the jaws of the second hoop!

What Sirmoor croquet should be all about….

Sirmoor Gathering!

A Family Affair

As usual it was as much the company of other Sirmoorees and catching up with tales new and old that was more of the attraction than whose ball ran the most hoops. But for the record Griselda tells me that Peter Duffell and David Santa Olalla dislodged the Champions of our first outing in July – Griselda and Mark- by 7 hoops to 5!

Cream tea and scones were taken by those whose onward travels were modest in duration, and Christopher was delighted to hear Jon reminiscing with tales of John Caruthers and Pat Carpenter – to name but a few. We lingered willingly for quite a while and then departure could no longer be delayed!

‘What book next Peter’?

Stylish Umbrellas to the fore!

Thus did the Sirmoor Croquet season arrive elegantly at its close. And hopefully for those returning to the Shires we shall not be pursued by Penalty Notices issued by Fulham and Hammersmith Borough Council!

The curious obsession that Hurlingham has with skeleton staff!

What sirmoor croquet should be all about…. The curious obsession that hurlingham has with skeleton staff! Stylish umbrellas to the fore! Sirmoor gathering Lunch on the terrace – a respite for david and joanna! A family affair ‘what book next peter'

Colonel William Shuttlewood, Chairman of the Sirmoor Rifles Association and Sirmoor Club, represented the Regiment at the funeral of Captain Matt Moore at Portchester on 3 August 2023.  Captain Moore was a wartime Emergency Commissioned Officer.  He spent most of his 3 years’ service from 1945-48 with the 5th Battalion on the North West Frontier but latterly, for most of 1947, was Motor Transport Officer of the 1st Battalion at Santa Cruz, near Bombay, before being demobbed in early 1948.  At the time of his death he was the oldest surviving British Officer and would have been 100 years old on 16 September 2023.

The following eulogy was given by a member of his family:

The Tribute to Mathias – Matt

For Kate, Ross and Leon and the family, they in a way inherited Great Uncle Matt as he stepped into the role as the patriarch of the family and became more involved with them. Matt was once described to me as the ‘glue holding the family together’ and whose support was outstanding, making endless visits to Noel and Sheila and just being there for the family.

At funerals, members of the family and friends of the person who has died often discover things about them that they never knew. Fortunately for Matt’s family, in the year 2000, he sat down to write, what he put in his own words was “ a few disconnected jottings of some of the things that have happened to me.” And “It does not pretend to be an autobiography. I wouldn’t dare saddle members of my family with such.” Matt refers to the title of the document: “Me by Me – So it has to be right – Right”. Matt wrote – “I bet that grabbed your attention.” And it did, and yes Matt, I was daft enough to read it!

The document contains many anecdotes of Matt’s long and interesting life and one of the first items you come across is his Curriculum Vitae, which makes impressive reading. I will touch upon it later.

Mathias Edward was born in Manchester to Edward Joseph and Mary (known as Molly); and he was educated in the city. Sadly, Matt’s father died in 1935 aged forty-three, on the day Matt took his scholarship exams, aged eleven. Matt had an older sister, Joan who was born in 1917.

Joan died on the 5th of March 1988 and his Mum died the following day.

Matt’s Dad was a very clever Electrical Engineer who went back to school in his 20s to study. So, was this in Matt’s genes?

Matt’s first job was with the Manchester Evening News as a Copy Boy – a ‘go for.’ He stayed there for a year and then embarked on an apprenticeship as an electrician. As an apprentice, Matt would leave home at 6.30am, work until 6pm and then attend night school three times a week from 7pm to 10pm.

Matt wrote about the early days of the war and the time when he installed an air raid shelter in the garden of the family home, which had to be covered in earth. Matt did this by digging a rather large hole in order to extract the earth. Once completed, Matt eventually got weary of sleeping in the shelter every night and so he took to sleeping in his bedroom. After one bombing raid there was a report of an unexploded bomb, but luckily the authorities found it – in the garden of Matt’s family home. They subsequently discovered the alleged bomb crater was the hole dug by Matt, so he was told off for that and then for sleeping in his bedroom during an air raid. There was another occasion when Matt was shot at by a German bomber and he found refuge by diving into a manhole.

World Wat Two interrupted Matt’s apprenticeship and after failed attempts to join the Merchant Navy and the Royal Navy, he enlisted in the RAF, but his dreams of being a fighter pilot were interrupted by a call up to the Army. As his Army career started Matt attended a talk given by a Brigadier in the Indian Army who was seeking recruits. It appealed to Matt as he had Indian connections – his Mum had Indian Students boarding with her – and after an aborted attempt to serve in the Indian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Matt served from 1941 to 1947 with the 2nd King Edward VII Own Goorkhas Rifles; with the rank of Captain.
Matt wrote: “Joining the Goorkhas was one of the best things that ever happened to me.” And “I don’t intend to write about actual warfare, as there is nothing anybody who has been through it would want to remember”.

Many of Matt’s tales are straight out of Boys Own and he was a part of living history. Here are some examples.

A local tribal leader in Northwest India had managed to obtain a piece of artillery and started bombarding the town where Matt was stationed. Luckily the leader ran out of ammunition. Also, in the area there was a tribe of Pathans who were very warlike. There was a local arrangement to keep roads open on certain days. But Matt wrote: “Very often as you were coming down one side of the mountain, the Pathans would be running up the other side, hoping to fire on you before you got away.”

While having a shave, using a truck’s wing mirror, Matt was shot at. Unfortunately, a donkey was killed. Matt wrote: “It’s surprising how quickly one can get a rush of adrenaline under such circumstances, causing one to move somewhat quicker than usual. The bigger the coward, the bigger the rush and the quicker the reaction. Nobody has ever seen anybody dive under truck as quickly as I did that day. So, you appreciate how innately brave I am.”

Matt celebrated VE Day in India, with the odd drink or two. Matt recalls ordering sixty double gins for himself and a Canadian colleague. Matt awoke in the early hours of the following day, feeling slightly unwell. For the next two weeks, every time he had a drink of water Matt would be drunk again. The men in Matt’s company who put him to bed claim Matt kept turning somersaults in mid-air, something he was never able to repeat. The Canadian ended up in hospital. This salutary lesson taught Matt to moderate his drinking in future.

When Matt was demobbed he flew in a Dakota from Bombay, sorry Mumbai, to Karachi and then by Sunderland Flying Boat to Basra and then onto Cairo, landing on the Nile, then to Sicily. On the way there was a fire in one engine and while flying the flight engineer crawled along the wing to put it out. It was then on to Marseilles and finally to Poole.

Matt got home to Manchester at 6am in snow and saw his Mum through the window, in front of a coal fire, waiting up for him. Matt’s Mum had used up the last of her coal to provide a warm welcome for her son. Unfortunately, Matt was recalled to India after three weeks at home.

Matt was eventually demobbed, completed his apprenticeship and embarked upon his travels. Matt wrote: “There were many things I gave up, but there were things in return. Had I remained working in the UK, I would never have met and argued with presidents, nor negotiated on behalf of countries. Whatever I have done in my life, or whatever I have not done, I certainly cannot complain that my life has been dull.”

As an Electrical Engineer, Matt worked in Iraq, Pakistan, India, Hong Kong, East Pakistan, Thailand, Iran, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Egypt and Sri Lanka. Matt’s working life was the only part of his story to be in chronological order and it makes impressive reading. His service overseas often coincided with regime changes.

Here are some of Matt’s recollections of his working life.

At one point Matt directed a staff of over 4,000; and he had ultimate responsibility for the largest fleet of taxis in Hong Kong.

In the early 50s in Pakistan Matt’s role meant he became ‘the expert’ – often an expert in fields he had no knowledge of, so he would visit the local bookshop – there was no Google in those days.

The multi-millionaire owner of some factories cooked dinner for Matt and Matt wrote: ”It is very doubtful there are many of us who have had a meal cooked for them personally by one of the wealthiest men in the sub-continent and it must be said that for a meal cooked by a multi-millionaire with his own hands – it was truly awful.”

Matt once refused a large bribe in order to sweeten a contract.

Matt nearly burnt down a famous hotel in Peshawar, Pakistan. Matt wrote: “I the Chief Inspector for all the international insurance companies operating in Pakistan; the ‘expert’, advising most of the country how to avoid fire, nearly burned down part of one of history’s most famous hotels.”

In Punjab Matt woke up the Prime Minister in order to ask if he could sleep in the empty state palace as the local ruler was away.

Matt was a good speaker. In the Army Matt talked for forty-five minutes on a subject he knew nothing about but so convinced his fellow cadets he did. Much later, in West Bengal, Matt stopped a riot by 2,500 men with a stirring speech.

It must be said that many of Matt’s attitudes, that would make his family cringe, were of their time and of his generation – this was someone who was used to being called Sahib and had, when living in India, a staff of nine and witnessed a few tribal massacres including an occasion when a group of Sikhs indiscriminately killed Muslims on the train he was on.

I’ve talked about some of Matt’s close shaves and he clearly had the proverbial nine lives as these events from his working life prove.

Matt was once threatened on an airfield in Iran when the sentry, who had been told not to let anyone pass, loaded his rifle despite Matt’s valid pass. (The sentry was apparently illiterate.) At the same time a secret service officer nearly shot Matt; and there was a close shave at Karachi airport when the planes brakes failed. Matt knew how much runway was left as he had worked on its construction.

In the jungle in Sri Lanka Matt came across two Tamil Tiger terrorists. They raised their machetes; went left and so Matt went right – quickly!

Matt was once arrested in Thailand and bent his bail restrictions in order to keep working on projects!

There was clearly an edge to Matt’s character – he was not afraid to stand up for any injustice, especially when friends and family were involved – from assaulting a coal merchant during the war who shortchanged his Mum; to a passport official in Pakistan causing problems for his fiancée; to threatening to have the captain of a ship shot in Indonesia for failing to obey Matt’s orders.

Completely innocent encounters with red light districts and brothels feature in Matt’s jottings and having to be rescued by colleagues.

During his working life, Matt met heads of state. He knew the leaders of the burgeoning Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Matt met Pandit Nehru – the future Prime Minister of India. Matt was an usher to Queen Elizabeth in India and he lent her his light from his bathroom mirror for her dressing table.
For that he was awarded the ‘Order of the Bathroom Electrics’. Matt prepared for the visit of the Indian President to a steel furnace plant and in Sri Lanka he negotiated with the President of the country.

Some more anecdotes caught my attention:

In Calcutta Matt was asked by a Scotsman if he was gay and he said ‘yes’, innocently unaware of what that meant.

In Hong Kong, when asked by an immigration official what he would do in the case of an emergency Matt replied: “Lead out the evacuees”.

Matt eventually retired in 1989. Matt never married. He was engaged to a Corinne Grey in Karachi but she decided not to marry him. Matt wrote: “So now you know why I have always been single. So near and yet….”

Matt clearly made many friends during his working life and in 1996 he embarked on a world tour of nostalgia to meet up with various friends and relatives, and to revisit the places where he had worked.

Matt wrote: “I’m humbly very proud. To have so many truly good friends.”

Matt ended his jottings with:

“If you have been bored to death reading this, it’s entirely your own fault, as I warned you at the beginning that you would be daft to do so. In conclusion, I hope I haven’t offended anybody, but should I have done so, please accept my apologies also, except my assurance that it was completely unintentional. I would have left you in no doubt had it been intentional.”

Matt was described to me as stubborn. He had a ‘can do’ attitude which could be irritating at times but was possibly one of the reasons why he reached the age of ninety-nine. Matt had a wicked sense of humour; and was kind, loving and modest.

I have come to the end of the tribute to Matt and I am aware that I have not done true justice to him. I hope my observations have encapsulated the Matt you all knew far better than me and who you all loved.

The Sirmoor Croquet Season opened on 28th July – just a few days after Robert Fulford of England had won the Association Croquet (AC)World Championship at Hurlingham – surely a harbinger of excellence to come as the Sirmoor Malleteers took to the hallowed lawns.

Peter and Annie Duffell, Christopher and Griselda Lavender, Mark Pettigrew, Bruce Jackman, David Santa-Olalla and David Kemmis Betty made up the eight players, with Carol Jackman and Jo Santa-Olalla joining us for lunch and tea, and adding their support. The Hurlingham Club offered its traditional splendid hospitality, and despite a modest attempt at drizzle after lunch on the terrace, the weather improved and the sun emerged as we took to the lawns.




The First Hoop

We played three rounds of Golf Croquet – a socially more enjoyable format than AC as each player played in succession with no roquets or croquets. With 12 hoops to ‘run’, once a pair had made 7 hoops the game was over. The pairings, which remained throughout the afternoon, pitted David KB / Peter Duffell v Griselda / Mark and Bruce/ David SA v Annie / Christopher. There was some whispering about the keen eyed ‘Cricketeers’ (Bruce and David SA) being paired together – but once positions were taken – combat ensued!

The Duffells started well with both Annie and Peter running the first hoop for their pair. Peter carried on as he started, and with David KB’s deft play vanquished Griselda and Mark by 7 hoops to 6. However, Annie despite a late come back, could not emulate this result and she and Christopher succumbed by 7 hoops to 4 to David SA and Bruce. The spectacular shots of this round were Annie’s hit from the boundary to push David SA’s ball out of the jaws of the second hoop, followed by David’s unerringly accurate 20 yard hit to run the 8th hoop.

Annie ‘on strike’


‘Go left young man.’

The second round saw Griselda/Mark prevail over Annie /Christopher by 7 hoops to 3 and Bruce and David SA prevail over David KB/Peter by 7 hoops to 5. The highlights of this round were Griselda hitting Annie’s ball away from the hoop and so deflecting her own ball to run the hoop. This was followed by Annie running the second hoop from 10 yards. No gender inequalities or discrimination in Sirmoor Croquet!


Sirmoor logistics

The third round saw Griselda/ Mark take on Bruce/ David SA in what would decide the winning pair, and Annie / Christopher attempt to secure a lone victory against David KB/ Peter.  Needless to say no quarter was given as the sun beat down and the noisy aviation activity overhead (flights in and out of LHR and considerable ‘rotary’ activity) interrupted our light hearted Sirmoor banter!

There was no doubt of the highlights of this finale – with first Peter running the sixth hoop from the fifth and then Bruce doing exactly the same – looking to all like a ‘Centurion’ at the Oval (where England were labouring in the fourth Ashes Test) – with Mallet raised to the crowd!


The victors – Mark and Griselda – at play….

….and thinking what to do next!  (PRD’s comment on this photo: ‘Is this a picture from an Edwardian garden party circa 1910 of two elegant socialites enjoying an afternoon game?  I think it must be.)

Thus it was that Griselda and Mark triumphed over Bruce and David SA by 7 hoops to 5 (having run 20 hoops through the afternoon against Bruce and David’s 19). Annie and Christopher meanwhile prevailed by a similar score and so avoided a whitewash!

Sirmoor ‘Kaida’!

The afternoon came to a very pleasant end with well-earned scones and jam on the Terrace.  Jai Sirmoor!

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