BCS in WW2 – by David M. Wood-Robinson

I and my two brothers, Mark & Colin, were some of the large number of boys who came out in 1940 to spend the war in India with our parents; while Europe was in turmoil and even the defeat of Britain seemed a possibility.

Mark & I came out with about 600 other children on a passenger ship with Thomas Cook staff looking after us and arrived in Bombay(!) in September. We started at BCS later that month but due to the large number of ‘new boys’ the Headmaster, George Sinker, took about 20 of us into his house while another similar number of older boys went to a house near the school gate with a matron in charge. These arrangements were only for sleeping and we each belonged to one of the four houses for everything else including inter-house games.

Some of my memories include stealing chemistry lab equipment to make hookahs in which we smoked all sorts of strange things, climbing over the barbed-wire school fence to ‘scrump’ bhuttas which we roasted in the school boilers and fighting with kites with ground-up glass glued onto their strings. Also that some of the older boys had their eye on Joy Sinker, the Head’s pretty daughter! And at the end of term in December, the school train spread a trail of destruction along the various lines to where the boys’ homes were all over India. Why do we always remember the naughty things?

At prize-giving every year the current Viceroy came to preside and I was lucky enough to shake hands with Lord Linlithgow, Lord Wavell and one other whose name I forget. And of course we made many wonderful friendships which I’m glad to say joining OCA has opened the possibility of renewing.

David M. Wood-Robinson
[1940-44 Ibbetson].

[EDITOR
Here is a listing of the boys who joined BCS in 1940/41/42/43/44 –  general information for those who might be interested : [ bcs-list-1940-1944 ]

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7 thoughts on “BCS in WW2 – by David M. Wood-Robinson

  1. P Maidment

    Hi Bob,
    I vaguely remember you. Perhaps if I knew any of your friends I would be able to recall what you looked like.
    Those days at BCS were some of my best memories. I am glad there are other OC’s that feel the same.
    I am still in contact with Dick D’Abreu and Jim Lee and we even speak to each other on Skype. There is nothing more enjoyable than being in touch with old friends.
    Hope life is being good to you.
    Peter Maidmant

    Reply
  2. R.A.Myers

    Delighted to read David Wood- Robinson’s reminiscences, He was in my House when I was Captain of Ibbetson in 1944 and 1945. We were in the same form and took our School Cert exam together in 1944. We both got Grade 1’s but he was clever and, if I remember right he was always top of the Form. We both left in 1945 to return to England.. I went to Cambridge and I believe he went to Oford, but we lost touch. I think 2 or 3 others from our Form also went to Oxbridge. Maung Sein Min was at Cambridge, as was Alan Bapty.
    I also well remember Dick D-Abreu, Pete Maidment (a great singer), his great chum Peter Rollo (whose Mum taught me French !), Jimmy Lee (hugely tall and a great swimmer), Andy Gilmour (I was in the school hockey team with him in 1944), and Ken Magnoni. Apart from Andy, these chaps were 4 or 5 years my senior, as was John Banon from Kulu (Manali). However, John’s younger brother was my contemporary and a good chum of mine. We both boxed for the School and he was in my team when I was captain in 1944 and we secretly celebrated our release from strict dieting after the Sanawar match (which we won) after lights out with a feast of curry and chapatties and Indian sweets which we had illiciyly set up with the Chowkidar in his house just above the main school gates!
    Happy memories and I would love to hear from David Wood-Robinsn or anyone else who remembers me.
    Cheers. Bob Myers (for some reason knick-named Stoneage! No idea why).

    Reply
  3. Dick D'Abreu

    Dear Mr. Raj Prem,

    As Peter Maidment, House Captain of Rivaz in 1943 mentioned, there was a Rivaz House Master in 1942 named Mr Banon. There were also two other Cottonians in Rivaz house I recall in 1937 onwards named Banon, I knew of them when I was in school as a young boy. Could one of them have been your uncle?

    Had a great chat on Skype with Peter Maidment and his friend Jim Lee both OC’s in my era at BCS. Good to look back on those memorable days that seem still fresh in our minds…Cheers…Dick D’Abreu..

    Reply
  4. Peter Maidment

    Dear OC’s,
    Some of you may remember me. I took over being House Captain, Rivaz in 1942 from Peter Rollo, a very close friend, now deceased. Memories of BCS are very dear to me and I can recall most of the things mentioned in the articles. As a matter of interest Dick D’Abreu, Jimmy Lee and I still contact each other by e-mail and on Skype.
    R.M. Banon was House Master of Rivaz and tolerated my dormitory cubicle as a smoking den. You may recall names like Andy Gilmour, and Ken Magnoni who shared this illegal pursuit. Them were the days!!!.

    Cheers, Peter Maidment.

    Reply
  5. Prithvi Raj Prem

    Dear D’ Abreau sir

    Do you remember my uncle Col. R. M. Banon (Rivaz) ? He was there in school till 1942 ! He retired from the army after a chequered carrier and spent the rest of his days in Manali.

    Regards
    Prithvi

    Reply
  6. B.M.Singh

    Just goes to show that not much changes over the years! Boys will be boys even decades apart. Who does not remember bunking down the khud or to Chhota Shimla for eggs in buns and there were a few staff members’ daughters who were the toast of the boys. Sadly there is no khud left to go bhutta hunting. Salaams to all OCs in all parts of the world. BM Singh Curzon (’57-’63)

    Reply
  7. Dick D'Abreu

    Yes, I remember well when the English evacuees arrived at B.C.S.during WW II. Most of the school’s dormitory’s were full, and other accommodation had to be found. I cannot recall many of the boys names, however they were warmly accepted into the school system and taken care of by their various House Masters. Lord Linlithgow and Lord Wavell were both Viceroys of India during the war years with Lord Mountbatten, later known as The Governor General of India. I remember a dormitory named after Lord Linlithgow…The Viceroy would always attend on the School Speech Day and usually gave out the prizes to the most academic students.

    The kite flying season at the school involved most of the boys. I would make my own (manger) kite string by crushing up cool drink bottles to a powder, mixing it with flour and water. I would then run the cotton string several times from goal post to goal post on the Second Playground, then apply the powdered glass to the cotton string and let it dry. This proved very effective when kite fighting with other boys. I remember there was a lot of skill and tactical moves involved in kite fighting.

    When I joined theAustralian Army in 1947, I was stationed at the 1st Armoured Regiment in Melbourne, when we were visited by General Wavell on the parade ground. I was fortunate to speak with him about Bishop Cotton School when he stopped in front of me during his inspection of the troops. He was quite surprised to meet up with an Old Cottonian in Melbourne Australia.

    Best wishes… Dick D’Abreu.. Curzon 1936 – 1946.

    Reply

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