Category Archives: Spot Light

OC Vijay Stokes – “The Swadeshi Apple” article

It’s an enviable view that Vijay Stokes has from his family home, Harmony Hall. It crests his very own hill in Kotgarh, 3 hours north-east of Shimla, and on a clear day he can see snow-capped Himalayan peaks ring the horizon while the Sutlej river snakes through the valley below. Pickaxe in hand, and dressed in his customary Pahari kurta and waistcoat, the 78-year-old is reworking an experiment his grandfather, Samuel Stokes, had begun nearly a century before him. And it has to do with an apple which was as much [continue reading…]

First Class Cricketers killed in World War 2 & Some distinguished OCs from 1926-1928

Dear All,

I am taking the liberty of forwarding an interesting piece of correspondence concerning an Old Cottonian, Vivian Chiodetti who passed out in 1912. Please read the exchange of mails that follows this note.

I happened to glance through the list of names from 1864-2004  http://www.oldcottonians.org/ocs1863-2004_listing.htm A quick read is interesting and lists some very distinguished people.

For the year 1926 it lists the name of Dewan Ranjit Rai (for more go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dewan_Ranjit_Rai)  father of Arunjit Raiwhose mother lived just after First Bridge ahead of East Bourne. She was the half sister of our dear friends Sukhinder and Mukhinder Singh. Dewan Ranjit Rai was awarded the Mahavir Chakra posthumously and is listed as one of the officers who saved the Kashmir Valley for India in 1947.

I quote from Wikipedia ”  He was the first officer of the Indian Army after independence to fight a battle on October 27, 1947. He was the first officer to be awarded the Mahavir Chakra. He died on October 27, 1947 in a paddy field near Pattan. Five generations of his family have served in the Indian Army, including his grandson Maj (retd) Shivjit Singh Shergill and great grandson Faridjit Singh Shergill”

The list for 1927 includes the name of Rustom Feroze Boga. I wonder if this gentleman was in any way related to the legendary sports person, Jal Boga, in the 1950’s. Jal Boga is an unusual Parsi because they have produced some of the best academics, lawyers and doctors but rarely an athlete!

That year also lists a few other interesting and charismatic people who made a name for themselves later in life. The Batra brothers both with the same initials R N with one being Rabinder and the other  Rajinder. One of them became a General in the army and it was his son who was in Curzon house having finished in 1966 or 1967. The Batras carry the long life gene!!

This was a distinguished class because it also consisted of Mr E A Cuzen who was the Lefroy Housemaster in 1954 when I joined School. I just discovered that his first name was Edward. He left BCS in 1957 and I am informed his son, Neil, joined the Royal Air Force. They also had a daughter Glenda. Never really heard much about this family after they left BCS. Mr Cuzen taught history and was quite a distinguished batsman and a decent hockey player.

Leslie Sawhny who distinguished himself in the corporate world, leaving the army prematurely, was the brother in law of J R D Tata. Leslie Sawhny, based on the history of the Tatas was intuitive in bringing about the selection of Darbari Seth of Tata Chemicals. Leslie Sawhny was also the man who turned around the fortunes of Taj hotel in Bombay which was at one time considered a white elephant by bringing in a band of good people that included Ajit Kerkar. Leslie Sawhny’s untimely death on the golf course was a body blow for JRD who depended on him almost completely in developing and shaping the Tatas at that time. There are several institutions today named after Leslie Sawhny and it is said that his departure was deeply felt by JRD and the Tatas for a long time.

The following year, 1928, lists the name of Narottam Sahgal better known as the former husband of Nayantara Sahgal, the writer and daughter of Mrs Vijay Lakshmi Pandit. Narottam Sahgal was well known in Bombay as the Managing Director of Ciba-Geigy and he accomplished a major job in handling their  pharmaceutical business and persuading the Swiss multinational to establish a research centre in Bombay when R & D was still not a fashionable word!!

So, we have quite a heritage of distinguished people and there are several others waiting to be written about. It would be a good idea to catalogue the lives of some of these legends. We always feel nicer by association when you have little to crow about !!

Warmly,

Vijay

—– Original Message —–

From: OCA Webmaster

To: Aditya Sondhi

Cc: Ajay Thiara ; Praveen Dharma ; Sukhinder Singh ; roy.robinson7@gmail.com ; vk@devats.com

Sent: Tuesday, April 11, 2017 12:28 AM

Subject: Re: Fw: Fist Class Cricketers killed in World War Two

Dear Aditya

Mr Praveen Dharma who is an Old Cottonian himself and is a Staff Member at BCS Simla was able to look up the records of admission (called the Dooms Day Book!) and found that Mr Chiodetti was at BCS for just one year in 1912. Records appended to this email.

Yes, we are aware of your family Lambas who were at BCS.

Best regards Anil

On Mon, 10 Apr 2017 at 6:26 PM Aditya Sondhi  wrote:

Dear Anil (if I may),

Thank you for writing back. I’m sure this will take Nigel’s efforts further.

It would be a pleasure for me to send your OCA a copy of my book on the alumni of BCBS (http://penguin.co.in/book/non-fiction/the-order-of-the-crest-2/) as also a copy to BCS Shimla. Would the School address be apt for both?

Incidentally, my dad grew up in Shimla but schooled at your rival St. Edward’s. Several uncles (Lambas) went to BCS though.

Warm regards,

Aditya

———-

Aditya Sondhi, PhD
Senior Advocate
Additional Advocate General
State of Karnataka

On Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 10:47 AM, OCA Webmaster <webmaster@oldcottonians.org> wrote:

Dear Aditya

This is fascinating.

Yes, Mr. Vivian Chiodetti is listed as being of the 1912 BCS Batch.

You can view the listing

http://www.oldcottonians.org/ocs1863-2004_listing.htm

We do not have any photos on file though, and therefore am copying Bishop Cotton School Headmaster Mr Roy Robinson to seek his assistance. It could be possible that Vivian Chiodetti is listed on one of the School Honor Boards.  I’m hoping that Mr. Robinson can depute one of the school boys to go look up the Boards and then send us a photo of the same. Maybe a photo of Mr. Chiodetti will also be found in the School records of class photos from for these do date back to 1912…

Best regards

Anil Advani

Webmaster for oldcottonians.org

On Mon, 10 Apr 2017 at 10:14 AM Aditya Sondhi wrote:

Dear Shimla OCA,

Please see the mails below. Would you be able to help?

Warm regards,

Aditya

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

From: Nigel McCrery Sent: Monday 10 April 2017 00:28

To: Aditya Sondhi

Subject: Re: Fist Class Cricketers killed in World War Two

Dear Aditya, Many thanks for the reply. Yes if you know anyone that could help that would be wonderful. It would be a shame to go to print with just that photograph missing. He played several sports for the school including cricket, so I am sure there must be a pic somewhere. Nigel MCcrery

From: Aditya Sondhi <>
Sent: 08 April 2017 08:33:45
To: Nigel McCrery
Subject: Re: Fist Class Cricketers killed in World War Two

Dear Mr McCrery,

A pleasure to hear from you and to hear about your upcoming book. My research suggests that Vivian Chiodetti is from Bishop Cotton, Shimla while my old school is Bishop Cotton, Bangalore. They are not sister institutions, though they are founded and inspired by the Bishop, respectively.

Would you like to try contacting the alumni association of BCS Shimla ? I have an email id for them from some years ago and hope it still works – ‎webmaster@oldcottonians.org

I would love to get hold of your book once it’s out. In my book – The Order of the Crest – sent to the MCC, I do refer to ‎Old Cottonian cricketers martyred in WW1. Should I come across names from WW2, I’d be happy to share them with you.

Do take a look at the book if you find the time.

With warm regards,

Aditya

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

From: Nigel McCrery

Sent: Friday 7 April 2017 21:29

To: aditya

Subject: Fist Class Cricketers killed in World War Two

Dear Sir, Your name has been given to me by the MCC. They think you might be able to help. I am just finishing a book on Fist Class Cricketers killed in World War Two to be called, “The Coming Storm” To be published by Pen and Sword this July (Cover attached). I am trying to get information on an old boy of the Bishop Cotten School, a school I understand you are an expert on. His details are,

Major Vivian Alexander Chiodetti. he served with the 2nd Manchester Regt attached to the 3rd Burma Rifles when he was killed on 17 January 1942. He was also a First Class Cricketer playing for Hyderabad. I am looking for any information on this man and especially photograph. I have been in touch with the school but they have not been very helpful and are I feel a tad confused about what I want. With your links with the school I was hoping you might be able to help, fingers crossed. He was born in Rawalpindi on 31 May 1905 and joined the army in 1925. He played cricket for his school I understand. Any help very gratefully received.  Many thank. Nigel McCrery

 

Letter from Peter Stringer

While I was Secretary of OCA (UK) for over 25 years, I regret now, for not being Internet connected. Slowly catching up with OCA web news I find to have lost opportunities to gather & exchange interesting contacts.

Now old news comments & views from Mike Weatherfeild who was a class mate, in Prep School – we called a ‘nib’ because he was so clever. Is he still around?
I also find – Sept2013- Geraldine Grimshaw whose father Douglas Horner (School Prefect ’44) mentions Douglas often recalls Whitty White & ‘Lumbo’ Peter Evans & the Willy Brothers. A direct ‘late’ response with regard to Lumbo Evans who often asked did I have any news or whereabouts of the aforementioned.

This may be of interest to some readers.

On invitation I often attended the very cordial Auckland House School London Reunions. Introduced to lady visiting from Australia, who at once informed me Peter Evans was her brother. Peter had moved to Holland after losing his wife, lived with his partner & Sheila would be visiting him before returning to AUZ. Peter wasted no time & was in touch with me.
He & Elisabeth came over & stayed with us & we exchanged many visits when he attended our London annual Reunions.

Sadly now Peter passed away 11 March 2012. Gay Niblett, Catherine & John Phillips, Arthur Jones & his daughter Julie, Maggie & I attend his funeral at Muiderberg.

I also have many interesting photographs – BCS connected if you might like to share

I shall be most obliged if you would be kind to post on the web.

Peter Stringer (Lefroy 1943-47)

Lefroy House 1954 and a table tennis game in progress circa 1954

Dear All,
I am forwarding, as attachments to this mail, two photographs forwarded to me by Baldev Hundal. His comments are indicated at the bottom of this mail. Boring table tennis!!
I had requested Baldev to identify the faces in the Lefroy House photograph. His efforts have enabled me to piece a little more in putting the correct name to some of the faces. Some guys are easily recognisable but, others after more than 50 years, remain a blur. These pictures always evoke wonderful memories and the saddest part is to note the name of a dear friend who is no longer alive. It breaks my heart but gives me pleasure to remember that he also walked this earth with me!!

[CLICK FOR LARGER VIEW]

All names from left to right.
Sitting front row: Jagdip Singh (“Tinoo” Roll no 420!), Robin Aurora, Sushil Pershad, Unkn, Unkn, Unkn, Unkn,Vijay Khurana, Yogesh Uberoi, Anil Pershad, Unkn, Arun Jolly & Vijay Jolly
Sitting chairs; R L Sud, V K Bhasin (marathon runner), Unkn,Unkn,Unkn, Davinder Singh, E A Cuzen, V K Agarwal, Unkn,Unkn,Unkn,Unkn,Unkn, (one of them is Katju!)
Third row standing (all sardars!) S S Pasrich, Unkn, Karmjit Dhanoa (Milo), S S Sekhon, Sukhjit Singh(?) (Podgy),Unkn,Unkn,Inderjit Singh (Roll no 56), K S Sandhu, Unkn, Santokh Singh, Unkn,Unkn,Unkn,Balvinder Singh, Unkn, S S Mann, Mukhinder Singh
Fourth row standing: Unkn,Unkn, VK Lamba, M K Sabharwal, Ravi Sawhney, Unkn,Unkn,Unkn, Ravijit Singh, A K Lamba, Mohinderjit Singh (Mini), Unkn, Jasdip Singh, Unkn, Arunjit Rai, Raj Lamba, Unkn,
Fifth row standing: S S Sidhu, Unkn, Baldev Hundal, Rakesh Sawhney, Unkn,Unkn, Inderjit Singh (Badal), Daljit Singh (Chikoo), Unkn, Gurdeep Singh (Horsey), Unkn,Unkn, Durga Prasad, Unkn,, Hartej Singh Sekhon.
My listing is pretty accurate but I open to correction. Naturally. I cannot seem to spot Sukhinder Singh!!

[update:

Sukhinder Singh is seated in the front row. Fifth from the left. I just spotted him. Unmistakable smile! Cheers Vijay]
Would those whose memories have not faded, please assist in filling in the gaps as well. My thanks.
Hartej Singh Sekhon’s father was the I G of Police until 1966-67 when I had the need to visit his father in Chandigarh for a favour. That was the last time I saw Hartej as I entered his well appointed large house with a sprawling lawn. He joined the air force and passed away in a flying accident. Went away very early. Sad.
The amusing story about him relates to his doing exceptionally well in a Hindi half yearly examination way beyond potential and capacity. With his propensity for resourcefulness Hartej had obtained the question paper from the peon in the school office. When Mr Tiwari, the Hindi teacher walked into the class with the answer sheets a few weeks later he handed Hartej his paper with the question, “What does your father do? “
Hartej responded, “He is in the police, Sir”
“Well, in that case the first crook he will ever catch will be you!!” exclaimed Mr Tiwari.
Hartej turned a crimson red. Laughter in the class !!
I think I have narrated this story before but it all becomes so much more vivid when you see a photograph of the principal player in an amusing incident.
Baldev, my thanks again.
Finally a request. Can some one please help me with the details about the lives of Billy Gill and Milo. We do need to honour and remember their achievements. My thanks.
Warmly,
Vijay
From: Baldev Singh
To: Vijay Khurana
Sent: Monday, March 20, 2017 1:04 AM
Subject: Re: Lefroy House 1954 and a table tennis game in progress circa 1954.
I think you have got Devinder Singh’s name wrong. All the Patiala brothers had their name ending with “a”. There was Yatindra Singh (Yati), Rivaz, Harindra Singh, (Harry), Ibetsson, Umindra Singh, and of course Devindra Singh. I used to bump into Umindra Singh, in Patiala. 
 
BH
 
 
 

—– Original Message —–

From: Baldev Singh
To: Vijay Khurana
Sent: Sunday, March 19, 2017 5:26 AM
Subject: Re: Some photos
First row sitting
1. Jagdip Singh (Tinoo) 5th: Sukhwinder Singh, (I think)
2 row sitting: from let to right Sood, 6th Devindra Singh, Curzon, Toti Agarwal, Bhasin,
3: Row: 3: Milo, 4 Sekhon, 11th Phoroo, (sorry, but thats what he was called by the seniors() 14th another Sekhon, 15th  Balwinder Singh, 16th. Simranjit Singh Man,17th: Mohinder Singh.
5th Row: 4th Mohan Sabarwal, 5th: Ravi Sawhney, (how could I ever forget Ravi Sawhney), 9: Mohinder Singh, (Badal’s brother), 10 Lamba,
6th Row: 3. Baldev Hundal, 4: Rakesh Sawhney, (another unforgetable), 6: Nanda, 7:th: Badal, 8: Chikoo, 15th with Turban, Hartej S. Sekhon.
But then its likely I have mixed the seatings, but the names are pretty accurate.
BH

 


From: Vijay Khurana

To: Baldev Singh 
Sent: Sunday, March 19, 2017 1:19 PM
Subject: Re: Some photos

 

Dear Baldev,
My thanks. Greatly appreciated.
Please feel free to address me by my first name. I am more comfortable with people I know of 50 years standing.
Can you name the people, or at least some of them from the Lefroy picture? Would appreciate that to the extent possible.
Cheers
Vijay

 

On 19 March 2017 at 12:33, Baldev Singh  wrote:

Dear Mr. Khurana,
I found these photographs which might be of interest to some OCs.
The group photograph is from 1954 of Lefroy House, and the photo of the table tennis match which we were obliged to watch much to my boredom, is of an interhouse match between Ibettson and Rivaz, I think.
Best wishes,
B. HundalLefroy House 1954 and a table tennis game in progress circa 1954