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 Since the litho[graphy] section at Bangalore is remarkably out-of-date, it all had to be accomplished by hand, traced through tissue paper and thence transferred to stone.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 ----------
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.