December 1st 1939 – Uttapanayskanna


In camp at Uttapanayskanna. Had a very pleasant 15 mins flight before leaving the Mount. Did everything correct, including take-off and landing, and next time will be landing circuits, if T.B. remembers. Went out with Maitland to Barrington-Smith for a drink, and stayed to dinner. He and Maitland are a pair, and I reckon I am on sufferance only because of Harrow – they talk of English country houses and of English families and listen to me eagerly when I say what I know of the McLean hereditary litigation – but a damn fine dinner all the same, and its the first time I have dined in someone’s house in India, I think.

We leave the Mount on Wed 29th at 2.30pm in two trains. I go in first with Golly, Niven and Beale. We dine at Villipuram, which is dinner for three provided by Spencer’s man, and eaten by four hungry bodies. I meet Spencers man there and have a talk with him. Arrive at Uttapanayskanna at 7am, and I get the Consamer to work on breakfast, which he does fairly successfully. The 2nd train arrives with Reggie Steward and D Coy, whose Indian officers come up and introduce themselves to me.

I then try to pack the Mess on the bullock cart transport which is waiting – QM has allotted one cart for the Mess and BOs baggage – but after much swearing and beating of drivers I eventually get it all off on seven carts. Am a bit worn out as its very hot and then we have to march up here – about seven miles from the station. The road is a cart track, full of red dust, and I walk behind a mule. I find it impossible to keep time with the pipes and drums and their rifle regiment step, and march in step with the mule instead – long, slow and easy. The worst march I ever did, and the hardest worked day since I left Waziristan. The colour of Sahdu Singh’s beard when we arrive is a good sight.

I have a 80lb tent – on hire – and have pinched a mess table. Also have boxes a la Razani so am fairly comfortable. Hills all around here, so it looks like mountain warfare, and the place is being turned into a semi-perimeter camp. We have got (the CO arranged it) a mess car resident at 4 annas a mile, and 12 annas a day for the local driver, or give him bata. Also a frigidaire from detachment in Trichinopoly, which works by parafin and will be a godsend in this heat. The war still goes on I believe.

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