H.E.M. Newman - Caricatures

In 1924, my father was posted to India. After spending almost a year in or near the barracks in Bangalore, he was posted to the remote frontiers of Waziristan and Kashmir where he experienced his first taste of independence together with the responsibility of taking charge of his own troops. He obviously found this an intoxicating experience, since he appears to have spent the rest of his life pursuing independence of outside control.

In March 1925, he wrote a letter to his mother describing some of the people that he worked with and his caricatures of them which he had had printed into a booklet. I don't have the printed book, but have copied the illustrations directly from his original sketch book. The caricatures are displayed below the letter - there is an extra one of Basil Boulden who is not mentioned in the letter. A caricature of himself is also included (also not mentioned in the letter). As a child, I knew five of the people illustrated and apart from Jack Steeman, I can recognise all of them from their caricatures. Indeed two of them (Jack Steedman and Maurice Jeakes) were my godfathers, and Dick Richards was my uncle (my mother's half-brother).


My dear Mum

Glad to hear physical progress continues. I enclose herewith a small book which may interest you. The production I have, as you will remember, mentioned before. The reproduction has taken all this long time to complete. Since the litho[graphy] section at Bangalore is remarkably out-of-date, it all had to be accomplished by hand, traced through tissue paper and thence transferred to stone. Considering the antiquity of the process, they have been done very well, though "some of the inherent charm of the little chef-d'oeuvres" has been unavoidably lost. (Wa, wa!)

A few explanations seem to be demanded if you are to get there at all, and will at the same time serve to fill up space which as the summer progresses becomes with the rise in temperatures, increasingly difficult.

Well shut your eyes - cling to your seats - my boy - she's starting ----------

  1. Colonel Hill the commandant. This is not a defamation as to his behaviour or moral character, but gives a general indication of the reason why dinner late again.
  2. Lt. Col. Broughton R.E. who was C.R.E. Madras district. A man of comfortable disposition with a giggle.
  3. Col. Boileau, late of the Bombay Sappers and Miners, now Colonel on the Staff R.E. Simla, whose job it is to watch over the welfare of the S & M units in general. This is a bad reproduction. He had not cut himself shaving when I saw him.
    (Excuse pencil but my "replacing" fountain pen has not yet arrived, and that steel one I have been driving would just about have dug my grave for me)
  4. This is Lt. Steedman, a senior subaltern, short and round but of exceedingly great toughness, who generally leaves the hockey field in a blood-stained condition.
  5. Major Hamilton, the possessor of a long and powerful American car which he - like Jehu - driveth furiously.
  6. Major Bulckeley who dashes about a hockey field with monocle and knee pads. The medical authorities were appalled at the numbers of casualties due to gravel rash. Major B. invented the preventative illustrated, but was the sole individual to use them. He is of immense weight and used to play in the Harlequins scrum.
  7. Capt. Jeakes: O.C. No 33 Field Troop, who before he got married last year, was shaping exceedingly well for polo. He is now, so they say, growing too heavy. One of the "hearty" types.
  8. Lt. (now Capt.) Tucker who believes in getting the most off his stone.
  9. Lt. Turner who missed (inset) Capt. Pearce as a butt when that individual left for a course at Chatham.
  10. Lt. Ray condemned to push a pen in the Quartermaster's office. A love of baccy and ale.
  11. Capt. Anderson, the adjutant. His was most difficult to produce and was in the original unlike. He rides with an amazing length of leather.
  12. Capt Sleigh.
  13. Lt. Thomson the only owner of a motor bike and an exceedingly raucous one at that.
  14. Cassels. The daily explosion.
  15. St George.
  16. O'Donnell: Assistant Superintendant of the Park. The subtitle is quoted from an old and lewd song beginning:- "Sons of the workshop nustri, sitting on the workshop's wall ……"
  17. Richards: Subaltern in the field troop who issues grain and forage to the officers syces(?) on Wednesdays. The old man was our mali (gardener) ot a syke at all, but served as a model.

Wireless seems an obsession these days. Please refrain from technicalities as I can't follow. I am not a jundi-wala in Indian flag wagger. We are ourselves now being treated to a series of thunderstorms, so perhaps it is as well we haven't got a set here.

Let me know - as the Irishman said - if you don't get this - and I'll send another.

Yours ever affec'ly











Gilbert Cassels "Cassey": farmed in Argentina during the 1950s and retired to Merfield House, Rode (Somerset) in the early '60s, where I sometimes visited his tenant (Col) John Cameron, an O.W. and ex-Sapper of my father's generation, but to me both fellow railway enthusiast and a very good friend.

"Jack" Steedman: Later became Lieutenant General (a very senior rank, one step below full General), and later still to be 'godfather' to me. Lived in Camberley in Berkshire in the 1960s, not far from Wellington, where I used to cycle over to visit him occasionally. I believe he was in charge of (or had responsibilities to) the War Graves Commission, and I recall him taking me to visit Wargrave (near Henley-on-Thames) once - a moving place to visit, especially as an adolescent. Eventually he retired to Dorset or Wiltshire.

Maurice Jeakes subsequently became another of my godfathers. He and his wife Kathleen retired to Ingle Spring, a beautiful house in the village of Stanford Dingley in Berkshire. Maurice died suddenly in 1956; his wife Kathleen never quite got over his loss, but lived on in the house for many more years. I used to cycle from school to visit her every now and again. They had no children.

"Uncle Ray" - retired to somewhere in London. I remember in 1960 (I think) my sister and I staying at his home on our way back from Allargue by train from Aberdeen via Kings Cross (London), with a 'cello and two dead grouse which we were taking home from the Forbes. The grouse didn't survive the journey, but the 'cello accompanied me to school where it and I did battle together for the next four years.