My early life in India

An illustrated talk by Tony Glyn-Jones

Early Memories of India  -  1940 - 1947”

Tony, a Past President and long-standing member of the Club, gave an evocative, nostalgic and absorbing account of the seven years he spent as a child in India, while his father was a serving officer in the Indian Army there.

This was the period which spanned the later years of the Second World War and the run up to Indian Independence and Partition:  the last years of the British Raj that continues to fascinate the imagination of British people.

Tony’s talk was interesting not only for its content, based as it was on his own direct experience from a child’s perspective, but his visual presentation, based largely on his father’s movie films and photographs of family experiences and life in India at the time. These provided a rare and genuine insight into a lost world of India before Partition, of relationships between the British officers serving in the Indian army and those who worked with them – often surprisingly warm and affectionate, as in a 9 verse poem written by an Indian Supervisor on behalf of all his fellow military and supervisory employees in tribute to Tony’s father when he left his post as Officer Commanding, IEME  509 Command Workshops in Agra to return to the UK in December 1947.

We travelled in spirit with Tony’s father from the then Bombay to the North-West Frontier, to Rawalpindi , Quetta, Ranchi, Darjeeling, Simla and Agra. Coverage ranged from Indian rail journeys, crowded cities, scenes of the everyday life of ordinary Indians, to Service children’s parties and community celebrations, such as that for VE Day in 1945. We saw theTaj Mahal as it was then, with English children playing in gardens empty of tourists and aerial views of the same from a low-flying small plane – an exciting flight for the young Tony Glyn-Jones – plus a sparring match between Tony and the World Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion to be – the unforgettable Freddie  Mills.

All the film was of course originally produced without sound, but for this presentation was enhanced by amazingly realistic, perfectly synchronised sound effects thanks to the technical expertise of Peter Viney, who acted as Tony’s projectionist.

And ever present in spirit was the inspiration for this talk – Tony’s father Lt-Col R Glyn Jones, to whom it was a fitting tribute.

John Beardsmore