When my husband and I began traveling in earnest, we thought that we would never cruise the oceans in those big luxury liners. But, as my husband’s health began to fail, we had two options: stay home or cruise on river boats and ocean liners. During our cruises, I kept a sporadic journal. The following is a journal excerpt from our 2007 cruise on the ocean liner, the QE 2, from Singapore to South Hampton.
One tea-time I met a former British RAF pilot who told me three interesting stories related to the period when India became independent of England ( 1947). The first story is as follows. Toward the end of the 1930’s, the British built several small airfields in and around present day India. These fields helped to move Indian soldiers during World War II. After the war,the former RAF pilot, teller of the tale, was controller of all small airfields from an airport in New Deli (central India). One o’clock one morning, a coded message came in that he was to send a squadron of planes, in secret, to an airport just outside of present day Pakistan. Before dawn, a squadron of planes landed in the prescribed field. No sooner had they landed than a group Indian soldiers rushed on to the airfield and into the planes. The squadron leader, waiting until last to take off, heard the first gun shots before he too, took off with his load of Indian soldiers.
It seems that Lord Mountbatten feared that once the announcement of a divided India was announced, the 700 Hindu soldiers in the area would be attacked by the Muslim soldiers. He was right! By the above secret move 700 men were saved.
Having tea with strangers can be most enlightening. Sometimes the greatest heroes are those who do their jobs well!