Tag Archives: History

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)

Long Live Patina! By Peter Stringer

From: STRINGER
Subject: 1943-47

An experience every youth entering a boarding institution carries for life. My entrance to Bishop Cotton Preparatory School, Chota Simla (1943) was alone and with tear filled trepidation. I had never slept in a warm flannel night suit in all of my 10 years. Spellbound and lonely I stood like a statute on the edge of the sports playground gazing with moistened eyes as some bigger boys kicking a football around the goal mouth against the stone wall on the opposite side. It was cold and turning to dusk and, must have been after the awful supper. Hunger soon got me used to the grub another new expression I learnt!!
The passage of time does erode many hapless memories but the outstanding contrast of ones very own investiture as a border is so shocking that it presents remarkable guts; an abiding staunch character for such a school boy. Masters and teachers suddenly and effectively take on a new roll, one of strict parent, or dominating relative or understanding loving guardian. We soon learnt discipline, schooled in manners and rules of the establishment. A remarkable, observation was the few Indian borders of varying beliefs quite readily, without objection, accepted Christian doctrine and the European way of life. Leaving me with an inspiring lesson to coexist from which I have benefited throughout my life. (Having visited the school on some occasions in recent years I have thankfully acknowledged many old tradition still exist; perhaps to a lesser degree, to the school’s credible distinction in modern India.)
Often at evening time, at the very edge of the playing field facing the South Western horizon I would stand with thoughts of home. Sunsets brought on melancholy as I watched some of the most spectacular changes of sky and cloud formation and coloured hues that artists would find divine and difficult to re-produce. Adding to the beautiful panorama the four seasons gave more distinct appeal and richness. Now much later in life each time I have returned to our Dear Patina, I begin to realize how extremely fortunate we pupils were to be given an education in such enchanting surroundings.
My memory has not failed to list all this and starting in Form Lower II, Mr. Fred Brown was class master. We respectfully obeyed and feared him then but I began to love and admire the dear man in later years, finally meeting him in London many, many years later. Sadly now he has joined his Maker. Our House Mistress was Miss Cunningham: over 60 years on and I am still reminded of her sensual good looks and charm.
From the Main School, Headmaster Cannon Sinker’s wife, a very artistic, gentle mild and polite mannered lady would walk up hill to take classes of Scripture and Art. I excelled in both and was among her favourite pupils.
Mrs. Sinker RA. took keen interest in artistic talent and always encouraged me to use mine fully
1945 After the defeat of Germany and ending the war in Europe, I was pleasantly surprised. Now in the main School, sitting in class at my school desk in Form III B, I watched a smartly dressed man in soldier’s uniform march across the First (playground) towards the Administrative Offices. A dark beret covered his head as his shiny boots crunched the gravel, all eyes near the large bay windows turned left to peak. Shortly after the school period bell rang for the morning first break. Before I could leave the classroom I was summoned to the Headmaster’s Lodge. Puzzled as to why? I made my way with mixed alarm, still unaware as to what awaited me. How very strange to meet my brother John, as well stood outside the Headmaster’s study door. Gosh! This must be serious, could we both be in trouble was my initial thought. My mind raced on random in thought as we murmured to each other when suddenly we were ushered in. Helpless with relief, shocked with delight – It was brother Wilfred the smart REME corporal, head beret off sitting in a chair chatting to ‘Bogla’, Mr. Sinker’s nick name. Yes we had won the war and my Big Brother had fought in it and he was safely back, and I was damned proud! We showed him to our dormitories and around the school and introduced him to our chums.
Changes, changes as school life prepared us for what the future would bring. Or as scouts we were taught, “Be prepared, be prepared – Shout, shout Third class, Second class First Class Scout!” “Dib! Dib!” And stories we were told sitting round campfires at Consul Rock above campus among the pines and other boys spending camp life at Taradavi, on the opposite lower mountain range facing the School. Taradavi was a hillside station on the railway line up from the plains. Kalka was the railhead junction where the broad-line rail terminated at the foothills. The winding narrow gauge, steam train then pulled us up to Simla, (the summer capital of the British seat of Indian Government prior to partition).
Archbishop of India, Burma and Ceylon – George Edward Lynch Cotton was the Founder of Bishop Cotton School, Simla East – we were told in 1859. He had served as the promising young master under Doctor Thomas Arnold at Rugby School, (as legend has written in Tom Brown’s Schooldays); later transferred to Marlborough College (Wiltshire). As College Head with distinction he redeemed the neglected near bankrupt Institution. This led to a royal command – Queen Victoria despatched him to India after the Mutiny on a mission of thanksgiving. With money collected from a ceremonial church service in St Pauls Cathedral Calcutta he explored the Simla hills. Aided with a grant from government initially premises were founded on a lower mountain range at Jatogh – 28th July 1859.

We are told as this development gained good recognition the location became inadequate and was moved to its present site at Knollswood hilly spur near the tiny village of Patina, below Simla and Chota-Simla. In keeping with the royal consent, to my knowledge, the Viceroys were automatically patrons of my dear Alma Mater. I witnessed our Speech Days celebrations Chief Guests like Lord Wavell and Louis Mountbattern of Burma as he signed in my autograph book in green ink, and some thief robbed from me.

The full School year lasted nine months, as did other boarding schools scattered along the foothills across the mighty Himalayas from Murree (now Pakistan) in the west to Darjeeling in the east. Our School stands to the south and east of Simla located 31*6’ N latitude and 77*13’ E longitude approximately 7000 feet above sea level and 60 miles by road from Kalka.
The nine months – middle March to middle December was divided into three terms. Opening with the hockey season, followed by cricket and ending with boxing, football and the final year-ending examinations. More meaningful to us younger hungry souls was the December House– treats or as we called them ‘JHUG-DAY CHEWS’ held in our dormitories. Catered and brought in from Simla delicious Indian curries, rices, chapatis and fare. Finally next night senior boys would stage their own productions, in the Irwin Hall. Poetry, songs, plays and short sketches, sometimes ridiculous observations of School life and masters’ eccentric behaviour to a riotous audience. Three more sporting events, due to a shorter duration I cannot remember when they exactly fitted in, were the marathon during the monsoons and the swimming finals as well. I think the athletic Sports Day was held just after the monsoons finished. The Indian Monsoon blown in from the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean usually reached after the middle of June, sometimes late, but never earlier. It started with thunder and flashing lightening of every description drenching the hilly pine-forest ranges till late September and early October.
I also recall our Founder’s Speech Day and Prize Giving fell on the Saturday nearest the 28th July. This was usually well attended by parents and visitors. The chief guest was the incumbent Viceroy or Governor General in this case Mountbatten (1947). After the dignitaries arrived to a formal welcome by the Headmaster, Teaching staff and us boys, they were seated and we were stood in rows placed in front of the main building for the annual School photograph. These heads of government official residence was Viceregal Lodge, Summer Hill across the valley to the west of Simla. Then followed a high tea before we were all ushered into the Irwin Hall. I was also a Treble (terrible) and later an Alto in the School Choir. I missed being with my brother John in the Special Messiah Choir that recorded for All India Radio singing specially Handle’s Alleluia Chorus at Christmas time. Bishop Cotton School was often referred to as Eton of the East, many attributes written in Indian National and International newspapers and magazines.
We have a very proud and unique heritage and have celebrated the 150th Founder’s Year in 2009.
Among the students past were many young princes from the small Indian Principalities, sons of Indian chiefdoms and dignitaries and boys whose fathers served in the armed forces and all other walks of life. We had boys from China, Tibet, Bhutan, Assam and Burma and the Far East and East African Territories and from the British Isles. We had one or two American boys and from France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. From this august centre came forth some very renowned persona scattered even now all over the globe. Many in the roll of honour gave the ultimate sacrifice in both World Wars.
I was a very average pupil, only remembering a combination of statistics. I failed my Junior Cambridge certificate (’47). Played in the Colts Cricket Team, taking five wickets against Sanawar (’46). DLT! Mr. Thompson was my Housemaster (Lefroy), Coach in cricket and taught us Art and Geography in which I excelled with his encouragement. DLT himself was an Old Cottonian and was Captain of School in 1937. 1947 I had been moved up from Lefroy House B dormitory to A. AC Chopra was my classmate and best friend and he really taught me to play Ping-Pong (table tennis). Practice under his tutorship I competed and was closely defeated against my House Captain Fred Plunkett in house tournament.
ACC’s father was a doctor in Calcutta. Sadly we never got to meet after leaving school. He joined the Indian Navy and became a ship’s Captain and I had heard he met an untimely death on a street in Bombay.
The School followed the same English tradition and about the same period, dividing the pupils into four schoolhouses – RIVAZ (Cambridge blue), Ibbetson (Oxford blue): these two were our School Colours – Lefroy (Leaf green- my house) and Curzon (red). During my years in Main School we had roughly a total of 260 to 280 borders with about 8 to 10 day scholars.
The classes ran from Form lllA&B, 1V Form, Remove, Shell (Junior Cambridge), V Form, V1 Form (Senior Cambridge) Upper V1 (Preparation for college). The school was run by 11 School Prefects (one as School Captain) and helped by senior House Prefects. This was a good sound regime overseer smoothly by the four House Masters and Senior Master and then finally the Headmaster.
Discipline was keenly followed and any misbehaviour was swiftly dealt with in order of seriousness. Minor cases were monitored at house prefect level – punished with writing lines, detention or menial jobs. Fetching balls from the khudside hit or kicked over, cleaning or scrubbing staircases or polishing. Serious cases dealt by School prefect or School Captain, caning on the backside – three, four or six cuts, and oh boy did it hurt! Very serious – House or Senior Master and maybe referred onto the Headmaster, and then you were for the ‘high jumps’.
School Captains were very reasonable fellows. They played a great part in the school function, connecting boys with masters and teachers. During the torrential monsoon rains the weather would sometimes be truly dreadful. We would not see the sun for weeks. Suddenly after a heavy rainstorm the skies would clear and the clouds, white and thick, would fall into the surrounding valleys and we would be treated to a miracle fantasy like sitting on top of the world – cloud nine! This was when a good School Captain exercised good relations and influence with the Headmaster to grant us a sunshine holiday. Gosh a loud cheer of desperate relief would echo round the school and at once energies went into like a domestic overdrive. We would air our bedding and clothes and shoes, cleaning off the mildew and tiding up. Massage our aching leg mussels from practising the marathon or catching up on lost time in class. The evening would soon come and we would be back to normal with Prep after supper and then bed and lights-out at 9pm.
Rouser next morning was at 6:30 herald from the bell-shed; the Guntee-wallah (bell ringer and timekeeper) tapping the thick brass disc about 20” diameter, first rapid and gently slowly increasing the striking louder for a whole near minute with the final few stokes ‘dong-dong! Out of bed and on with the gym kit; a splash of water to wake you up and down for a slice of buttered bread and mug of sweet tea in the dining hall. Run down onto the main Second Flat playing field, sunshine or rain, in line with your housemates.
‘Dunda’ Hawkes our PT Instructor – ex-Sargent-major and over 60years old was a true veteran if ever there was one. Built solid and square and muscles the envy of all us young aspiring hopefuls. He was tough with a heart of gold and a rasping loud voice that took us through our morning exercises. Even on cold winter mornings he would appear, smiling in a singlet-vest and long cream-flannels, with his cane under his left arm and sometimes with his brown terrier dog Sally

Saturdays and Sundays we had no PT. I do recall Saturday morning dormitory inspection. Our beds neat covered with a red blanket and well tucked in. A clean towel stretched covered over the foot end with our toiletries on open display. The bed’s bottom sheet, pillowcase, dirty towel and soil underwear, cotton shirt and short-pants bundled ready for the dhobi (laundry collected from the boxroom) downstairs. The whole School attended daily morning Chapel Service after breakfast was a must. Matins Communion for senior boys, only, on Sunday mornings but Sunday Evening Song was for everyone.
Yes! As the midnight hour approached that fateful August day of the year 1947 when the Imperial Raj was split asunder and the formation of INDIA and PAKISTAN as two independent nations were formed. This indubitably signalled the demise of rule and an end of colonial empire, on which the sun never set, as history had taught us, was now destined to abdicate from all responsible authority.
The School’s thriving great history was dealt a mortal blow. Within a few weeks Boys, Staff and Servants whose family and connection were affiliated to the new found country across the border in the Punjab were separated and sent home- to Pakistan. Each one of us remaining underwent much sadness, for some the grief was greater, to know we were parted from our dearest chums forever. In boyish wonder, question why – completely unaware of the political forces at work, undermining the integral Indian peninsular. Even though now many of us are scattered across the globe today those cherished school days still evoke warmth and friendship, having formed School Association chapters in many countries. How truly amazing through this fraternity I have met six old boys from Pakistan who were removed from BCS, and to this day remain in contact.

Still recalling that favourite prayer as it would begin –
When the shadows lengthen and evening comes, the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life over and our work done

In the late evening of my own life these memories are cherished and are mindful as if of yesterday.
BLESS DEAR PATINA

Peter Stringer

Information on past staff and teachers

Gentlemen:

I am writing an article to explore the qualities of outstanding teachers. After much thought and introspection, I decided to use my BCS student experience as a guide for analyzing the qualities of good teachers. Any thoughts you might have on what makes a good teacher would be most welcome—especially if you can draw on your personal experience from your school years.

The purpose of this note is to solicit your help in getting relevant information on the teachers and staff with whom I interacted during my years at BCS from October 1948 till August 1954. Any inputs on my request, including resources that might be able to help, would be much appreciated.

More specifically, the following information will help:

1. The full name of Mr. “Taffy” Jones. The years he worked at BCS—he may have been at BCS at two different times. The classes he taught—I know he was the class master for Upper II. Any biographical information—where he came from, his formal education, … —would be of great help.

2. The full name of Mrs. Nanavati, Matron (Linlithgow)

3. The full name of Miss. Hannah, Matron (Box Room)

4. The classes taught by Mr. and Mrs. Murray and their full names.

5. The classes taught by Mrs. Barker, her full name and that of Mr. Barker (Bursar?)

6. The classes taught by Mrs. Fisher, her full name and that of Mr. Fisher, Headmaster.

7. The classes taught by Mr. & Mrs. Knight (Senior Master) and their full names.

8. The classes taught by Mr. Cuzen (House Master, Lefroy) and his full name.

9. The classes taught by Mr. F.M. Brown (House Master, Ibbetson?) and his full name.

10. The full name of, and classes taught by, Mr. T.P. Paul.

11. The full name of, and classes taught by, Mr. Das Gupta (Art).

Looking forward to your inputs,

And with regards and best wishes,

Sincerely,

Vijay Stokes

Vijay K. Stokes
Rivaz House: 1948-1954

vijay.stokes@gmail.com