Please find attached here a paper submitted by Major Sudan Dewan about Gurkha Families in Asia 1948-1971.

Some photos of his holiday Eastern Dooars in North West Bengal, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and South Sikkim can be seen here.

This article was forwarded to David Thomas by Dr Barry Hannigan, late RAMC, who served in Nepal.

Download (PDF, 3.97MB)

Land of the brave journal 104

Extract from an email sent by John Cross to David Thomas on 11 February 2024:

My news is that my ninth ‘Operation’ book is about to be published and that, plus the eight earlier ones, are being made into a TV series by ‘108 Media’ with a 90-year copyright. The script writers will take a minimum of two years to produce a filmable script. Buddhiman is the copyright holder and has received his first payment of $3000. He immediately ordered two parties, the Lamjung Society and the Dura society, who work on zodiacal ages as for them I became 100 on 31 December 2023.

I managed my 36th lecture since 2002 to the recruits, 336 this year. Standing up for two hours with a break in the middle was tiring. I talk without notes and, with them all so happy having been enlisted (one day earlier) had lots of laughs. That makes 5654 army men and 2301 Continent men, totalling 7955.

January 15th saw the opening session at the sports complex in Pokhara for an international (including Nigeria) 4-day sports meeting. I had been responsible for classes 8, 9 abd10 boys and girls basket ball for the past twenty hears and so I was presented with a Certificate of Commendation for services to Nepalese Sports and Games (lavish in what it has on it ) by the relevant Minister. After the text on the certificate had been read out the Minister gave it to me. I was asked to speak for three to four minutes and I got four laughs and four hand claps from the audience which must have been well over a thousand. I had never heard over a thousand people laughing before so it was a new experience for me.

After obligatory references to the organising committee’s chairman, the Chief Guest, the Special Guest, those called to sit on the dais, organisers, players and journalists, I thanked the minister for presenting me with the certificate and said ‘there is a Nepali proverb that says there is gold in Ceylon but my ears are unadorned. By being given this certificate it is worth more than gold in both ears’ for which I earned my first laugh.

I was kindly spoken to by the new Western GOC and the ex-IGP of the Armed Police Force whom I had first met when he was a schoolboy in east Nepal and had taught him the story of the rhododendron and the alder; it was at a basket ball match in Pokhara when we next met, over 40 years later. He was the Chief Guest. We spoke and I realised I knew his grandfather who was a Subedar in 2/10 GR in Italy with an MC. The IGP was dumbfounded and before I spoke he came, stood in front of me and announced to all in hearing distance ‘he knew my grandfather.’

Otherwise, apart from lecturing the new officer linguists, as I have done since 1998, my next appointment is being interviewed by Disney World on ‘Pole to Pole’, a feature film on how animals and people suffer and survive hardship – as you will have done if you have managed to read this far.

Just to knock the nail really out of sight, my morning routine is a 7-mile walk (100 times round my house with two sticks, dog and ball; I am not allowed out on my own), followed by a cold shower.

This trek report by Barry Hannigan has come to me courtesy of David Thomas and gives an interesting insight into the state of things back then. Brigadier ‘Birdie’ Smith was Commandant of 1/2GR 1965-68.

HQ Brigade of Gurkhas moved up from Calcutta to Dharan in East Nepal in the late 60s.This was a small Nepalese town on the Terai but just a few miles south of the Siwhalik hills and beyond were the great Himals.
As a young medical officer at BMH Dharan I was lucky to be released to go on this pension paying trek with Brigadier Birdie Smith Commander HQ Brignepal.

Rumjatar 31st October 1972.

After much uncertainty the trek finally got off the ground,literally via the STOL.a superb aircraft manufactured by Cessna and flown by ‘J’ a pleasant American pilot lurking behind sunglasses.The stol is hired by the army from the American Linguistics Institute,probably quite innocent but darkly presumed to have something to do with the CIA.The first flight took up the stores and No 1 porter Sukrabahadur with the Brigadier’s batman Kalu and a soldier,second flight ourselves.On the way up to Rumjatar we had superb views of the snows notably Makalu and Katchenjunga and the black cold uninviting face of Everest swept clean of snow by the high winds.One thought of the British Everest expedition cowering on the face.,
Rumjatar airstrip sits on the edge of a pretty plateau where scattered groups of whitewashed houses form a clean and delightful little community.Met by the welfare officer Bhimbahadur Gurung and taken in bright sunshine through millet fields to the Area Welfare Center,a functional building where we will sleep tonight.After a brief discussion with Bhim,we visited the local school (primary and high) where the youngest children sat close packed on benches and on the hard earthen floor learning elementary English and Nepali while the 5th form wrestled with Euclid’s 15th geometrical theroem or puzzled over Wordsworth’s Lucy Grey.From there we visited the local hospital staffed ostensibly by a doctor away in America training,his assistant away in Okhaldhunga and present a very pretty Nepalese nurse who had trained in India.
From the school we went to the house of Padambahadur for lunch in his courtyard where he had laid out tables and chairs (with,amidst all this natural beauty,plastic flowers).Drank ruksi and millet jhar and chatted away happily.Subsequently we wandered along little sunken paths among the millet fields to Bhim’s house.I only had to lift my eyes to see the most beautiful hills rising to 7000 feet in places all around the plateau.From the superb vivid green of the surrounding fields to the stepped paddies on the lower slopes two miles away the eye could rise slowly over the purple and green slopes high up into the sky,the highest hills covered with a little wispy cloud.
In Bhim’s bedroom we sat at a table covered by one of those bright linen cloths from H.K. or Belfast and drank more ruksi.The Brigadier gamely chatting away in ghurkali to the corpulent wily host and his gay little friend Padam,white teeth flashing as old names came and went.One only had to look out of the low little windows to see the orange trees in the garden and beyond,the superb mountains.In the fields Nepali women moved carrying bundles of firewood on their backs and women working away in the courtyards of their clean whitewashed ghars.Bhat was produced at the surprisingly early hour of 1630,the usual huge plateful of rice and meat and chicken curry with sloppy dhal to pour over it.We wandered back as the sun was setting and catching the sides of mountains with bright unnatural clarity,stopping every so often while ex-soldiers paid their respects to the Brigadier as he passed.
So now I sit in the welfare centre at the desk where doubtless Bhim’bdr cross examines various hopeful supplicants after welfare grants,writing this with the shadow of the pen following the words only just visible in the light of the flickering kerosene lamp.

Medical
A small stock of harmless dawai held in the welfare centre and resupplied by the AWO when he goes to BMH Dharan for a conference.Dispensed by one of the welfare staff,BMH trained with help from an old tattered aide memoir supplied by the BMH.General impression of Rumjatar, a clean well kept area,no illness seen.More medicine needed rather to create an impression than to do any good.

1st Nov ‘72
We were invited last night to a khana and cultural show put on by the local school.We entered and sat on the ramshackle school desks facing about thirty dignitaries of all sorts.Their grinning faces lit up by bright kerosene lamps,the wooden rafters in shadow and dust rising from the earthen floor.After our somewhat gruelling day another bout of difficult conversing forced a grim fixed smile onto my face especially when more ruksi,peanuts and dried goats blood appeared.After this yet another huge bhat;everybody awaited us to start and then all was silence except for hungry gobbling and chewing noises from all about.Various worthies came and spoke with us and then the show started,mainly Gurung songs and folk dances.
Bought a locally made blanket weaved from sheep’s wool,taking two women a week or so to make.

2nd Nov
Yesterday we set off from Rumjatar at 0600 and descended from the plateau.We followed the right bank of the Throtne khola high up along the hillside with a fine sweep of valley and hills on the other side.Saw the Dudhkhosi from high up and crossed the river at the Rambna bridge.Walked up the river a little way,looks a good one for fishing especially where the Rawa khola enters a little higher up.However although Kalu had my rod the rest of the tackle was with the porters who left Rumjatar two hours after us so sadly we had to move on.Walked along the valley of the Rawa khola a pretty stream like a salmon river.Difficult going as we had to wend our way through the paddy fields either splashing along the irrigation ditches or balancing on the dividing walls.We had to struggle waist deep across the Rawa khola before Magpa aided by a couple of local fisherboys who had their wicker traps out across the river.This was a difficult feat for Brigadier Birdie who lost an arm in a helicopter crash in Borneo (amputated with a clasp knife by Capt Patrick Crawford RAMC)and has various other wounds and infirmities.We sat on the far bank looking through binoculars hopeful for the porters to come up and just before dark saw them winding through the paddies towards the river much to our relief as with them came food and bedding.The two lads helped them across one at a time and one nearly got swept away.We made camp on the bank,the Brigadier in the tent.Bhim rigged up a poncho basher for me.Kalu cooked a good plain rice dish and with some hot sweet tea and whiskey we felt much better.After dinner I sat resting my back on a rock watching the fireflies drifting over the river and listening to the water swirling around the rocks.After a chat about the hospital and my predicament we went to bed.I spent a reasonable night on the camp bed although kept on moving up and finding my head over the end in the sand.
Rose before dawn at 0450 and pottered about in the dark trying to sort myself out,wash and shave and pack.Moved off at 0530 along the Rawa,then struck off left to begin the climb to Aiselu Kharka.Got a bit lost and crashed about in a small stream bed,eventually reaching the village of Basciri where I now sit looking out across the ridges of hills up to 10,000 feet,a fine sight.

Aiselu Kharka.6,000 feet.
Out of the window of my little mud floored room in the welfare centre I should be able to see the Himalayas if only the cloud would go away.We saw them first as we turned into the village looking up the valley towards Namche,not very far from here.It was quite a steep climb up from the Rawa valley.After the village where we had breakfast,a gruelling two hour climb up and up the steep paths,the rocks at least convenient as steps.But what views! Smaller hills with green terraced rice paddies rising to a miniscule 2000ft,beyond ten miles away the other side of the valley a great distant landscape capped by cloud.Difficult to catch the immensity on film but even more so in words.This village has a pleasant row of houses scattered along the ridge,clean and whitewashed.Its a Newar village,the Nepalese builders and craftsmen,but not warriors so there are few ex servicemen here.(Just been given a glass of ruksi by a keen little fellow ‘doctor sahib —‘ke chha —ruksi chha’.)Ruksi the evil brew made from distilling millet jhar.
I’d better get the medical bits in before I drink the ruksi.

Welfare centre: supplies running out due to the end of the supply year approaching Medical assistant away.
Items available:
Sulphadimidine,sulphaG one jar each.
Aspirin quarter bottle
GV crystals
Chorodyne 1 bottle
One tube Albucid eye ointment
Rusty scissors

Medical register:week kept up.Patients seen so far-186
Main complaints:
Dysentery,worms,abdominal pain
Cuts and bruises,sprains etc
Lacerations often quite severe
Skin infections and scabies
Gastritis and gastric ulcer
Fevers,unspecified.
Conjunctivitis otitis

Medical register should include:
Date No rank name age unit village complaint findings treatment and signature if receiving drugs.

Medical health in Aiselu Kharka looked after by an assistant with two year training in Kathmandu .Amply supplied with medicines but kept in a rather decrepit state.Never regularly visited by a doctor so no supervision,left to own devices.Last visited by a doctor (Japanese)when there was an outbreak of dysentery.Sends complicated cases to Bhojpur (4 days) or to the nearest doctor in Okhaldhunga (2 1/2 days) all carried.He had a vast stock of vaccines eg smallpox,typhoid,either well supplied or not used.

3rd Nov
Had a pleasant bhat well cooked by Kalu,eaten on the first floor at a table with Kumar Singh and the Brigadier.Turned very cold at 7.30 so retired early.My Rumjatar blanket an excellent purchase and a fine mattress.Slept well. Woke at 4.00 tea at 4.30.From my window a fine view of Charbatti (4 sides) a Himalayan peak which I later ‘captured ‘ tinted pink by the rising sun from the East.A beautiful sight.Walked East from the village down to the Liding khola then up a short way and am now waiting for breakfast gazing over the valley at the scattered houses and paddies on the opposite side.

4th Nov
Have just had a splendid wash in a freezing mountain stream running down the Rupakot mountain which we are climbing, to join the Tap khola which we crossed this morning.Now have eaten a splendid breakfast of porridge and egg bacon sausage and beans.Yesterday we had quite a gruelling walk down from Aiselu Kharka across the Lidding khola up again to 5000 ft then down to the Rawa khola then up to 5000ft again to Baksila bazaar.Halfway down the other side we reached Baksila and the house of QGO Dhanbahadur Gurung 2/7 a fine old man of 64,double MC and IDSM,the latter as a naik leading a party of escaping ghurkas across the desert from Tobruk.He was also involved in various other exploits including an ambush in which he only just came out on top but distinguished himself nonetheless.
We had a rather embarrassing incident with a drunken ex serviceman who was very drunk and loquacious,gushing over the poor Brigadier ‘you are my god,my father,my
mother’etc,he was one of those drunks who become an over friendly self denigrating nuisance,and later the Brigadier said he nearly hit him (the first time he would have hit a ghurka) when the chap started to paw him .It later turned out that he was one of the pack holders who will lose his job when medical assistants are attached to welfare centres.
Dhanbahadur’s household must be one of the most well worth visiting in this part of Nepal.It stands on a hillside amongst other scattered whitewashed houses separated by millet (kodo) fields and rice paddies.There are two buildings one large one with kitchen and living room and across a small courtyard with a wall on one side and wattle built cowsheds on the other, there is another two story building with living quarters above an area containing a grain beating instrument.This is a long 8ft bar of wood with a large peg at one end,balanced so that a person standing at the other end may work it up and down and so beat the millet seeds out of their husks,while another person pushes the seeds under the peg and separates the chaff form the seeds by a deft act of throwing them into the air from a wicker tray.When we arrived two labourers were threshing rice against a stone in the courtyard.Dhanbahadur gave us a pint mug of millet jar each on arrival and eventually we managed to get rid of our unwelcome guest.However Diwali has started today 5th Nov so many Nepalis are letting their hair down drinking to excess and especially gambling are permitted.We are worried in case it becomes difficult to keep our porters going.
Eventually the sleeping arrangements were settled. I got the wooden bed outside the kitchen on the porch and the Brigadier got the better bet bed wise but right on top of the millet threshing machine which went on working till 1230 at night.However after rushing about looking at patients,one with a stroke,it became dark and we went into Dhanbahadur’s kitchen and squatted on a rug while the women cooked and he and his fine old wife regaled us.Unusually in this household the women were much in evidence and took an active part in the social intercourse.Both had huge flat gold earrings hanging from their ears and Nepali nose pieces.He had never taken his wife with him to the battalion except the last time when he wanted her to have spectacles and teeth neither of which she needed.We had a good bhat,the porters also eating in the kitchen in the dark recesses .Five ate about 13lbs of rice.After a little more jar we went to bed.

Diktel AWC
Singbahadur Rai.10 day short course with medical pack holder.
Attendance records from 1st July 72.
July—55
August-18
September-52
23 Oct -31st 26
Till 3rd Nov-12
20 September-23 Oct not prsesent -in Dharan.

Dispenses mainly sulphaguanidine,sulphadiazine,aspirins,enterocyl,primulet.

Main complaints
Stomachache-gives SG
Diarrhoea. – “
Sores. -Acriflavine
Headache-aspirin
Gets resupplied when welfare officer goes to Dharan,4 months ago in this case.

Medicines in stock (general state of care good)
Small quantities of SG and SD,aspirin
Enterocyl,Alcopar magnesium sulphate
Benzoyl benzoate,iodine and acriflavine
Bandages,assorted and cotton wool
Nil else of note

Book well kept.Servicemen sign for medicine.Instructed to maintain column for ‘complaint’The local health centre in Diktel has no doctor,but a medical assistant.

5th Nov
On the trail from Diktel to Dilpa.Yesterday walked from Banspani to Diktel,initially a difficult climb but after crossing the last ridge a quite gentle walk around the side of the valley for about four miles meeting a lot of folk just back from or on their way to the bazaar in Diktel.A fairly European landscape on a much larger scale but a pleasant walk at one stage along the stream I had my dip in.Diktel Bazaar built on a ridge,a fairly clean town with few notable points except the gaol which we visited to see an ex soldier who had been sentenced to ten years for murder.The gaol was a frail mud brick built house with a gaoler and a soldier armed with a Lee Enfield Mark 1 and fixed bayonet.We were followed through the village by a long gaggle of people mainly children and in the mud courtyard were given chairs while we spoke to Bukabahadur.He,poor soul,had with a kukri killed one of twelve men who had broken into his shop,but the appeal that he was defending his property had failed.However apparently the case is being pleaded by
the British Ambassador in Katmandu.That night in Diktel welfare centre we had a fine meal cooked by Kalu with ruksi and millet jar and slept comfortably on wooden beds.One or two patients were carried in to see me and I poked around at them in the lantern light with the Brigadier interpreting.
At present sitting on a ridge up which we had a beastly climb,must be 5000ft and am watching the sun set over in the west,beyond eight hazy ridges.Its beauty is only marred by the fact that our porters have not yet arrived and we have no bedding or other essentials with us except a few blankets and breakfast.Below the village of Phalante is composed of houses sitting on the slopes among the paddies and millet fields.We must have arrived here about 4pm.I have developed a large blister on my right foot which makes walking difficult.Anyway we have found a reasonable campsite in one of the fields near a spring so at least we have water and flat dry land.There are three large clumps of bamboo and a rather pretty tree with pink blossom in front of me.Ah! I have been watching the trail and I see the five porters plodding over the ridge.All is well.

6th Nov Dilpa
Walked up here this morning and had fine views of the snows as we crossed the ridge at about 7000ft,took a shot of what I thought was Everest.Spent a pleasant evening yesterday with a little whiskey and chat.It got quite cold at 7pm and the porters went off to the nearest ghar to sleep.I spent a very chilly night under the poncho wrapped in clothes which makes sleeping difficult and had to get up two or three times for the dreaded cherauti had struck.We had sent word ahead from Diktel that we would see some patients here but the runner did not arrive till last night.This morning the pradham panch had gone off to gather any ex servicemen, himself an ex sergeant.

7th Nov
Have just come back from a quick walk around Bhojpur accompanied at a respectful distance behind by the oldest and fiercest looking porter -Buje- with a large khukri stuck in his waistband.A pleasant hill town bigger than any we have visited so far and at present colourfully decorated with flowers for Diwali.All the townsfolk are about the streets with garlands of yellow flowers around their necks and the tika mark on their foreheads,speckles of rice dyed yellow,red or pink and daubs of dye on temples and hair.All the cows have marks as well and most of the animals have been garlanded.Bhojpur has a small establishment for higher education and some of the students,resenting British presence can be a bit rowdy and boorish at times but people tend to show the polite interest in me that I show in them.

Bhojpur AWC Staff away for Diwali Tika

Store in poor state.Dirty.General care of medicines poor.The centre is a good one and the store ideal,therefore there is no reason it should not maintain as high a standard as the less well appointed ones in the hills.

Book.Not dated
Format poor,complaints not given.
Stock issues maintained but offers very little information unless balanced monthly.
F/o ex servicemen not recorded (except one widow)
Ex servicemen 133 since 1/1/72
Main issue is of: SulphaG
Primulet
APC
Entacyle
Albucid
Good Latrine.

8th Nov
Spent last night on the ridge east of Bhojpur.Splendid sunset with views of Makalu and Everest,Kanchenjunga and many minor peaks which can be seen beautifully as one walks along the ridge towards Serong via Charanbi to Leguwa Ghat.As we walked along there were lots of Diwali parties still going on, madals still thumping out the rhythm as drunken dancers stumbled about in circles singing and trying to perform the dance steps.
The views were superb from 5000ft,absolutely clear stood out all the snows, not a cloud or haze at all.If I were to recommend the most impressive trek in East Nepal I think this is easily the one I would choose.

9 Nov
In fact yesterday we went down a left hand ridge rather than right and arrived at the Arun khola much further north at either the Kundale or Kurule ghat,probably the former.
Am now sitting on top of a ridge above the teashop with my back to a stone built shrine,one of the cupola type.The sun is setting behind another ridge to my left in the west and before me stretches a magnificent panorama,much of East Nepal.The Arun winds thousands of feet below and ridge after ridge cap each other until obscured by haze and then Makalu and mighty Everest stand clear and proud above the cloud.Yesterday we crossed at Kundale ghat ferried by Majhi boatmen.They then took me back across the river with Bimbahadur to a spot down the other bank they said was good for mahseer.I fished for an hour in the burning heat of the sun but caught nothing.
We then walked down the left bank of the Arun for two hours and camped at the Piluwa khola,a good site chosen I think by Sukrabahhadur because he knew it to be good for fishing.The Brigadier was complaining at having to go so far.However I fished and caught three mahseer,7,5,3lbs, much to the delight of a chettri squatting on the bank.I kept losing baits in the rocks and he kept on stripping wanting to go in after them but I felt he might be drowned in the swift water so I signalled him to stop.Standing there and catching fish was magnificent with the sunset glinting pink the snows on Everest’s left,seen up the gorge of the Arun valley.That night was warm and tender and I slept well under the poncho with the sound of the Piluwa running by.

10 Nov
Today we were up early and by 6 on the trail.Hot sweet tea with a little whiskey can keep me going well until 9.We stopped at the Leguwa khola for breakfast and I took another mahseer about 6lbs from the junction much to everyone’s delight.Kalu cooked up the fish from last night and they and the porters ate a fish bhat.We will eat this morning’s fish tonight.So at last I have caught mahseer.We left the Leguwa khola at about 11 and walked hard reaching the Mangma khola at 1230.The Brigadier had gone on ahead and had found a man collapsed on the track.His two companions were behind a rock doing nothing.After Diwali he could have been drunk but we got him under the shade of the rock and I saw he had pneumonia.Apparently he had been ill for some days but he and his companions had to go from Chainpur to Pakribas and they had decided to start out none the less.They were Sherpas,a rather fatalistic race and seemed unwilling to do much to help him.I told them to rest him and bring him water but his brother refused to do the latter as he said Sherpas neve gave cold water to the sick.The Brigadier got very angry and I had that irritated feeling I try to control.However the porters came up with the medicines and Kalu raged at the fellow saying he wanted him to die to get his possessions,a possibility.We won in the end and I gave him some antibiotics and aspirin with instructions and off we went.There was a hard climb from the Mangma to here,from 1 till 4 and the men are now preparing camp by the teashop.
The sun is setting fiery yellow and to my right the clouds on the ridges are pink and before me the southwest face of Everest is caught and reflects the sun’s glow.Nowhere In the world have I seen such sunsets as I have seen in Nepal,the vastness of the country is unimaginable and cannot be described or caught on film.It is very,very majestic and beautiful.
Today we passed through some very arid land like Cyprus-the Troodos-and the brown soil supports only cedar trees.But behind is the Nepal I know,great hillsides with steps of rice paddies and little white houses scattered here and there.Landslides too unfortunately.It is getting chilly and I must go and put on some clothes to keep warm (I am very smelly despite swab downs in the rivers)

11 Nov 1972
At the Leuti Tamar junction.Have just caught a small mahseer about 4lb in wt on a 17 gram Eira Rublex silver spoon which seems to be a popular article of diet.The mahseer tend to lie in surprisingly rough water,right where the small khola tumbles into the large river.This is a very small stream and I wish I had been able to spend more time at the Piluwa (bigger than the Leguwa) which had lots of fast water and produced three fish in an hour including my biggest so far.
Anyway,this is the end of the trek.We had a reasonable night under canvas on the 10th and stopped in the early morning at Pakhribas,a pretty village (where Robin McLaren found his Tibetan scroll and started all that trouble) and we had tea at a darham sala,or resting place,very friendly.Beyond Pakhribas there is an area of land earmarked for an experimental farm,quite good looking land with a lot of gullies with streams,well wooded,on the side of a hill.The rice crop on it at present doesn’t look very good.We then went on to Hile and cooked up breakfast in Mike St Martin’s ODA house.He wasn’t there,bored again and gone to Dharan;the Nepalese government don’t seem to be willing to hurry up and pay the compensation they promised to those whose land is involved in the farm.He lives comfortably but simply looked after by some Tibetan refugees (including an intelligent young housekeeper called Yank!)They are making simple wood furniture etc for him but he has very few other comforts.No electricity of course.Since he speaks Tibetan and Nepali (Hile has become a Tibetan refugee centre) having lived with both Tibetan and Nepalese families,he is a fine linguist.His army career was also distinguished so he should be the right man to organise the farm.He loves the country too.
After Hile there was a long descent down to Dhankuta.The country is less wild and the atmosphere changes,the people loosing the honest simplicity of the hillmen and affecting to despise the sahibs while trying to ape them,so although Dhankuta is a pretty town long haired youths with coloured shirts,sunglasses and transistors lounge and sneer.Most uncomfortable and unpleasant.We popped into the BritNepal medical trust house and met Rose the doctor briefly and had a chat.
The trail down from Dhankuta is sheer torture,100 minutes of arduous downhill walking,the toes seem squashed into the top of the shoe.We arrived at the bottom with a bad tempered Brigadier who berated his orderly for not arranging a camp.We settled eventually by the Tamar on the bank nearly under the suspension bridge and ate an egg curry with subjees,dhal etc well cooked again by Kalu.We had run out of whiskey and the Brigadier who likes one or two(like me) I think it dulls his mind a bit as he doesn’t really care for social drinking,got a little tight on my gin.He has had a hard time physically,poor chap and lost an arm and broke a hip in a helicopter crash in Borneo.We do however manage to enjoy a pleasant chat.
It is very pleasant sitting here by the river having eaten breakfast cooked by Sukrabahadur and an orderly,the sun hot,the hills all around,the sound of water,the prospect of another fish.A pity to end it.I should have gone down and spent the night at Trebini junction.

12 Nov Dharan.
Stiff walk back over Sanguri ridge.Yesterday arrived Dharan 1600hrs.Mess and bath.Dinner and bed.
Tomorrow is Remembrance Sunday.

Capt Barry Hannigan RAMC

These caricatures by Dale Hudson (Captain John Hudson) date from the 1960s and were unearthed by Major David Thomas.

 

 

 

 

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Sir Roy Calne was the Regimental Medical Officer of the 2nd Battalion in Norwegian Farm Camp (later called Cassino Lines) from 2 August 1955 to an unknown date in 1956, possibly in March that year when the Battalion moved from Hong Kong to Malaya.

Obituary from the Guardian, 8th January 2024:

Sir Roy Calne

Pioneering British surgeon who carried out the world’s first liver, heart and lung transplant

In the 1960s Roy Calne, professor of surgery at Cambridge University, was gripped by the emerging new science of transplantation to help those with kidney and liver failure.

Calne, who has died aged 93, became Britain’s premier transplant surgeon and researcher, achieving a number of firsts, including the first liver transplant in Europe in 1968, the world’s first liver, heart and lung transplant in 1986 (with John Wallwork) and the world’s first successful “organ cluster” transplant (stomach, intestine, pancreas, liver and kidney) in 1994.

The game changer and his greatest achievement was his use of drugs, including cyclosporine, to suppress the immune system and prevent organ rejection. By 1977 cyclosporine had increased the chance of surviving a year after a kidney transplant to around 80%, paving the way for transplant medicine to become mainstream and a huge expansion in the number of transplant units worldwide.

Sir Roy Calne with a self-portrait that he produced in 1999. Photograph: Cambridge University Hospitals/PA Wire Calne’s interest in transplants began in 1950 when, as a medical student, he was shocked to hear that a young patient on his ward who was the same age as himself would be dead in two weeks from kidney failure. He asked why they could not save the patient’s life with a new kidney. He had never seen a transplant operation, but he thought technically it would not be difficult to detach the kidney from his connecting vein, ureter and artery, and graft in a new one. His consultant batted the suggestion away as impossibly naive. With so little known about the immune system, donor organs were nearly always rejected.

In 1957, while studying for the fellowship exam at the Royal College of Surgeons, Calne took a job at Oxford University as an anatomy demonstrator. There he heard the biologist Peter Medawar talking about cutting-edge research on immunological tolerance.

Medawar had injected newborn mice with cells from a different mouse. The immune systems of the host mice were still developing and would tolerate the cells from the donor, so that if you later gave them a skin graft from the donor mouse, it would be accepted. Afterwards Calne asked if there was any practical application for transplant patients and Medawar replied: “Absolutely none.”

Undeterred, Calne, who in 1958 was a surgeon at the Royal Free hospital in London, was determined that it should be possible to transplant organs and used his spare time to experiment with kidney transplants in animals. Initially he used irradiation to prevent their immune system rejecting the donor organ, but it was too toxic, so he tried the drug 6-mercaptopurine, with limited success.

He kept in touch with Medawar, who helped him get a Harkness fellowship in 1960 at the Peter Bent Brigham hospital in Boston to study with Francis Moore and Joseph Murray, the leading transplant surgeons of the day. In 1954 Murray had successfully carried out the world’s first human kidney transplant – the donor and recipient were identical twins, which overcame the organ rejection problem.

While in the US, Calne continued to experiment with animals (a collie called Lollipop lived for six months following a kidney graft) and also met the scientists George Hitchings and Gertrude Elion from the Burroughs Wellcome laboratory, who had created the immunosuppressant drug azathioprine, which when used with steroid drugs gave good results. When Calne returned to London, he took a job at St Mary’s hospital, where 20 patients had died following unsuccessful kidney transplants. They had been given X-rays to induce immune suppression, but at Calne’s insistence future patients were treated with azathioprine.

In 1965 Calne became both professor of surgery at Cambridge and a consultant at Addenbrooke’s hospital, where he stayed for 33 years. He embarked on a renal transplant programme and set up a tissue typing laboratory and blood bank, operating on his first kidney transplant patient in 1966.

When a woman with a malignant growth on her liver was referred to Addenbrooke’s in 1968, he decided to offer her a transplant. His hospital colleagues opposed the operation as too risky, but Moore, his former mentor from the US, happened to be in Cambridge and supported him, assisting him at what was the first liver transplant in Europe.

Encouraged by this, Calne formed a partnership with the hepatologist Roger Williams from King’s College hospital in London, in which he performed the surgery and Williams took care of the patients. Initially they and the recipient of the liver would have to travel to the hospital where the donor had died, which could be anywhere in the country, and there was only a small window of opportunity while the liver was viable. The situation improved greatly in the 1970s with techniques to keep the liver in good condition and with more blood banks and specialist nursing staff.

But the biggest improvement came with the use of cyclosporine. Employees at the Swiss chemical company Sandoz were encouraged to collect soil samples when they travelled that could be analysed for new organisms that might have a medicinal use. A fungus found in this way gave rise to the immunosuppressant cyclosporine.
In 1977 Calne heard about it and offered to trial it in animal experiments. His team found they got particularly good results if it was dissolved in olive oil, and went on to trial it in humans. It boosted the chances of surviving for a year after a kidney transplant from 50% to 80%. The team also pioneered the use of other immunosuppressant drugs including rapamycin, 5K506 and Campath 1H.

Calne’s transplant programme grew and by the 90s his team were carrying out more than 100 liver and 80 kidney transplants each year. They were even treating children, including Ben Hardwick, who, aged three, was Britain’s youngest liver transplant patient in 1984.

As operations became more complex, Calne was cooperating with other units. In December 1986, in a joint operation with Wallwork and other colleagues at Papworth hospital, Cambridge, he gave a liver graft to a woman who was also having a heart and lungs transplant.

Calne was born in Richmond, Surrey, the elder of two sons. His father, Joseph, who had been a car engineer with Rover, owned a garage and encouraged his son to take engines apart. His mother, Eileen (nee Gubbay), was determined that Roy and her younger son, Donald, should have the chance denied to her to go to university and Roy said “she was a severe tutor to my younger brother and myself”. Donald later became a leading neurologist in Canada.

Roy was educated at Dulwich prep school based in south London, which was evacuated to north Wales during the second world war, and Lancing college, West Sussex, again evacuated to Ludlow, Shropshire. At Lancing, he enjoyed nature and life sciences, and kept a flock of 40 pigeons in the attic of the school chapel.
From the age of 12 Calne, who said he was “fascinated by the human engine”, knew he wanted to be a surgeon. When he was 16 he was accepted to study medicine at Guy’s hospital in London, where his fellow medical students – demobbed soldiers from the second world war – were nearly a decade older than himself.

After qualifying, Calne joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1953 to do his national service with the Gurkhas. His girlfriend Patsy (Patricia) Whelan, a nurse at Guy’s, had also managed to get stationed in the far east with the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Nursing Corps and the couple married in 1956 in Hong Kong. They would go on to have four daughters and two sons.

From childhood, Calne had always enjoyed painting. In 1988 he operated on the distinguished Scottish painter John Bellany, who following his liver transplant made 60 portraits of himself in hospital. He gave Calne lessons and they painted each other. Painting grew into an immensely therapeutic hobby for Calne, who painted many of his transplant patients, finding it brought a different, more humane quality to the relationship, particularly with his child patients. In 1991 he had an exhibition, The Gift of Life, at the Barbican in London.

Calne was elected FRS in 1974, knighted for services to transplant medicine in 1986 and in 2014 won the Pride of Britain lifetime achievement award. He continued to be outspoken on subjects such as transplant ethics, NHS management and the world’s growing population (writing a book, Too Many People, on the subject that was published in 1994).

Following his retirement from the NHS, he became professor of surgery in Singapore. He kept in close contact with other transplant doctors and surgeons across the world, notably the US transplant surgeon Thomas Starzl, and in 2012 Starzl and Calne shared the Lasker DeBakey prize (sometimes known as the “pre-Nobel”) for liver transplantation.

Calne is survived by Patsy, their children and his brother, Donald.

Roy Yorke Calne, surgeon, born 30 December 1930; died 6 January 2024

Sir roy calne

Captain Karnabahadur Thapa, who has recently been in Dehra Dun (see his previous post) has sent the two photos below showing how the Lal Gate has been renovated, specifically by the reworking of the crossed kukris 2GR crest at the top, cleaning of the marble memorial tablets and removal of the unsightly wire and metal fencing.

The Lal Gate as it was…..

and after renovation:

Image0 Image

In November 2023 Maj Narkaji Gurung (Trustee, SRA Trust) and Mrs Renu Gurung, and Capt Karnabahadur Thapa (Hon Sec SCN/Chairman Pokhara Branch) & Mrs Shobha Thapa visited Dehra Dun and the site of the battle of Nalapani.

Maj Budhi Thapa IA Artillery and Dr Lata Thapa coordinated visit to Sirmoor and liaison with the Raja saheb
SM/Hon Capt Tilak Raj Gurung 5/8 GR (Sirmoor Rifles) Chairman 5/8 GR (Sirmoor Rifles) Ex Servicemen Association Dehradun coordinated the wreath laying at the Lalgate Memorial Arch.

The battle of Nalapani took place between 31 October and 30 November 1814. After two costly and unsuccessful attempts to seize the fort by direct attack, the British changed their approach and sought to force the garrison to surrender by cutting off the fort’s external water supply. Having suffered three days of thirst, on the last day of the siege, Balbhadra, refusing to surrender, led the 70 surviving members of the garrison in a charge against the besieging force. Fighting their way out of the fort, the survivors escaped into the nearby hills. Considering the time, effort, and resources spent to capture the small fort, it was a pyrrhic victory for the British. A number of later engagements, including one at Jaithak, unfolded in a similar way; but more than any other battle of the war, the fighting around Nalapani established the Gurkhas’ reputation as warriors. As a result, they were later recruited by the British to serve in their army.

Itinerary of the visit:

24 Nov Arrive Dehradun
25 Nov Drive to Jaithak Fort, Sirmoor Nahan and meet present Raja saheb, Kuwar Ajaya Bahadur Singh. Tea/Coffee then sradhanjali [prayers in memory of the departed] at the Kali Mandir.
26 Nov Memorial service and attend Anniversary of Battle of Nalapanai at Khalanga.
28 Nov Wreath laying at the Lalgate Memorial Arch with 5/8 GR (Sirmoor Rifles) Reps
29 Nov Fly back

Photographs of the visit are shown below:

The painting shows Jaithak Fort on the hill top, built by Ranjor Singh Thapa (son of Kaji Amar Singh Thapa, Governer of of Kumaun and Garhwal and Commander of Jaithak fort) in 1810.

The 7-person group photo shows  Raja saheb, Kuwar Ajaya Bahadur Singh. (Raja saheb said that they adopted BAHADUR as their middle name in admiration to the Gurkhas.  His great gran father also named his sons Amar Sing, Ranjor Sing and Balbhadra.  Theri palace in Nahan is named after Ranjor Singj).  Maj Budhi Thapa IA Artillery and Dr Lata Thapa are on his right

A Kothemora Khukuri was presented on behalf of Chairman and all members  of the 2nd GOORKHAS (The Sirmoor Rifles) Association Nepal.  We presented a 2nd GR Anniversary medal during our first visit in 2016.

Please see below photographs of this dinner held at the Ridi Lounge in Lalitpur. It was organised (and the photographs were kindly provided) by Captain Bharat Singh Thapa Chhetri, Chairman of the Sirmoor Club Nepal, on the occasion of a visit by Major David Thomas and Colonel Nick Hinton. Also present:

Mrs Joanna Thomas
Major Yambahadur Gurung
Major Haribahadur Gurung
Captain Netrabahadur Gurung
Captain Belbahadur Gurung
Colour Sergeant Muktibahadur Gharti
Rifleman Harkabahadur Pun
Major Krishnakumar Ale
Captain Krishnabahadur Rana
Warrant Officer 1 Passang Lama
Warrant Officer 2 Rumbahadur Gurung

It was a great evening and the ‘burho sipahi’ very much enjoyed reminiscing about old times!

Please see attached three photos of me laying a 2GR wreath at the Commando Memorial, Spean Bridge, on 11 November 2023.