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The British Empire & Commonwealth Museum recognises the importance of publishing unique histories on the British Empire, especially in previously unresearched and unpublished areas.

 

Message in a Bottle
The PoW who buried his life story in a jar

Robert Quintus Browne joined the Indian Forest Service in 1922 as an entry- level Officer, but by the time he volunteered to serve in the war he had progressed through many roles and districts to that of Working Plans Officer for the whole of the Madras Presidency. This account of the years he and his wife spent in the Forest Service documents a vital but largely neglected role in our history, with a touching humanity and fascinating depth of detail.

Quintus' regiment was captured by the Japanese in 1942 and he was forced to work among those who constructed the bridge over the River Kwai. It was during this period that he wrote these memoirs on scraps of paper with stolen pencil stubs, and buried each chapter in a graveyard that he tended.

After the Japanese surrender, The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was able to recover almost all of the manuscript and it was then returned to the Quintus family. After dedicated transcription by his daughter, Chloe, a virtually complete reconstruction of the book, and the original sheets, were eventually given to the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum to be published.

Publication Details
TITLE: MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
AUTHOR: ROBERT 'QUINTUS' BROWNE
PUBLICATION DATE: July 2004
ISBN: 0-9530174-6-X
PRICE: £10.95

Was It Only Yesterday?
'The Last Generation of Nigeria's Turawa'

Was it Only Yesterday? bridges the gap between the perceptions and the realities of the last generation of British colonial rule in Northern Nigeria.

The book is a collective memoir, representative of all who worked in Northern Nigeria in the period after World War Two to independence in 1960, and of those who stayed on after independence, and it takes the military coup of January 15th 1966 as the cut-off point.

Features contributions from: surveyors, agriculturalists, vets, foresters, teachers, doctors, engineers, administrators, military and police officers, miners, missionaries and more besides; this is a remarkable collaboration that furnishes the reader with the most complete first-hand account of the last generation of colonial rule in Nigeria that has yet been published.
 
Publication Details
TITLE: WAS IT ONLY YESTERDAY?
AUTHOR: A. TREVOR CLARK
PUBLICATION DATE: JULY 2002
ISBN: 0-9530174-7-8
PRICE: £25.00

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The History of the Northern Rhodesia Police

Tim Wright's history is the first comprehensive account of this unique colonial force, from its roots in the last decade of the nineteenth century and suppression of the Slave Trade, to the birth of the Republic of Zambia in the shadow of the Lumpa rebellion of 1964.
 
Until 1932 the police were Northern Rhodesia's first line of defence, and the book covers the NRP's service in the East African Campaign of 1914-1918 with much new detail. It shows how, despite wars and recession, this was achieved. Wright gives accounts of criminal investigations and civil disturbances after 1932, and explains the different but equally crucial role that the force played in these tumultuous years.
 
This history should be read by those interested in Colonial Administration and the military history of the British Empire in Africa as well as those with direct experience of having lived and worked in what has now become Zambia.
 
Publication Details
TITLE: THE HISTORY OF THE NORTHERN RHODESIA POLICE
AUTHOR: COL. T. B. WRIGHT
PUBLICATION DATE: 14th Decemeber 2001
ISBN: 0-9530174-4-3
PRICE: £18.00 (Plus £3.50 Postage and Packaging [U.K.])

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Voices and Echoes: A Catalogue of Oral History Holdings of the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum

This catalogue lists all the interviews to date collected by the museum's Oral History Archive. It covers a vast range of views, opinions, anecdotes and experience from people who lived and worked in the former Empire and Commonwealth.

Stories from administrators, nurses, foresters, agriculturalists, geologists, explorers, colonial wives... stories about childhood, about war, about life in isolated and hostile areas of the globe. Tiger hunts, parties, justice and injustice all play a part in the remarkable stories of the people who shaped the Commonwealth.

Also included in Voices and Echoes is a listing of holdings in the Sharma archive, a collection ofvideo and audio tapes from film-maker Partap Sharma. Featuring footage and interviews from Indian Nationalists, it is an extraordinary addition to an archive which is leadin the way in its field.

Note: this is not a collection of transcriptions, merely synopses, but would prove invaluable if you are planning a trip to the museum archives or exhibitions, regularly use oral history for research or teaching or if you simply want to know what the remarkable insights are that at your disposal as a general reader of history.
 
Publication Details
TITLE: VOICES AND ECHOES (2ND EDITION)
COMPILED BY: MARY INGOLDBY
PUBLICATION DATE: NOVEMBER 1999
FIRST EDITION PUBLISHED: 1998
ISBN: 0 9530174 1 0
PRICE: FREE (Plus £3.50 Postage & Packaging)

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Life in the Wilds of Central India

Originally entitled "Work and Sport in the Wilds of Central India"; this is a remarkable insight into the world of an Edwardian colonial forestry officer in one of the remotest parts of India.

Born to one of the domiciled British families of late-Victorian India, John Daniel St Joseph went to school at Naini Tal and it was there that he decided to dedicate his life to the conservation and management of the forests of Central India.

In 1891, at the age of 18, St Joseph was despatched by the Forestry Service to Badnur. The solace that he found there sparked his fondness for the jungles which then developed into a 23 year career, only ending in 1914 due to ill health.
St Joseph was on good terms with everyone he encountered, particularly the Bhils, Gonds and Korkus: the native peoples of his region, who saw him as a wise and fair companion whose judgement was trusted on countless occasions.

More than a century after he embarked on his fascinating career, St Joseph's writings have been published by his daughter-in-law, Daphne St Joseph, as a tribute to his life and work, and as a primary source of evidence of a way of life long gone.
The book will be of interest not only to all lovers of India but also those involved in the scholarship or practice of many subjects just as pertinent today as when St Joseph wrote of them: forest and wildlife conservation, anthropology and the rights of tribals, damming, alternative medicines and hunting.
 
Publication Details
TITLE:
LIFE IN THE WILDS OF CENTRAL INDIA (HARDBACK EDITION)
AUTHOR: J. D. ST JOSEPH
PUBLICATION DATE: 1ST JULY 2001
ISBN: 0 9530174 3 5
PRICE: £18.00 (Plus £3.50 Postage & Packaging)

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Forest Families

Against a background of the Forest Service in India as the provider of teak for the early navies of Europe to modern market needs, the author has collected accounts from a number of Forest Families who served in different provinces and added her own reminiscences and those of her parents, Donald and Diana Currie.

This personal mosaic of the Forest Service gives a seldom recorded glimpse of the way of life of this small, dedicated band of men and women, often very lonely and spartan, yet with many compensations and providing one of the most lasting legacies of British administration in the sub-continent.

The author, Mary McDonald Currie, was born in India and brought up as a child of the Forest, as the photographs on the cover and frontispiece so graphically illustrate. She spent the war years in Australia as a schoolgirl and then went on to Cambridge to read Natural Sciences.

This book will be of interest to anyone with a passion for the Indian sub-continent, as well as the scholar or student in history, forestry or conservation. An ideal accompaniment to Life in the Wilds of Central India, a much earlier account of this group of unique individuals.
 
Publication Details

TITLE: FOREST FAMILIES (2ND EDITION)
AUTHOR: MARY McDONALD CURRIE
PUBLICATION DATE: OCTOBER 2000
ISBN: 0 953017 4 27
SALE PRICE: £4.00 (Plus £3.50 Postage & Packaging)

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Panorama of India

Photographers - especially those from England - fell in love with India over a century and a half ago. The early pioneers humped their huge wooden cameras aroung the sub-continent and made richly toned sepia prints from giant negatives. The Victorian patina of those prints somehow still feels right for the subject matter - where else on earth can one sense so strongly what it must have been like to be alive in the nineteenth century?

Noel Chanan, who trained as a photographer before pursuing a career as a documentary film-maker, follows his predecessors example by taking many black and white pictures. Even more remarkable are his colour images, depicting his five journeys to India between 1994 and 1999. Colin Ford, the writer of the introduction best describes the moments that Chanan captures:

"...any visitor to India is above all overwhelmed by its smells and colours... photography has not yet learned to communicate smells, [but] it can nowadays capture all the colours of the spectrum superbly..."


This book accompanied the Panorama of India exhibition at the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum in September 2000, and now that the exhibition has moved on, this accompanying booklet provides a last chance to enjoy Chanan's inspirational exhibition.
 
Publication Details
TITLE: PANORAMA OF INDIA
PHOTOGRAPHER: NOEL CHANAN
PUBLICATION DATE: AUGUST 2000
ISBN: 0 9530174 1 9
SALE PRICE: £1.50 (Lightweight booklet - P& P FREE)

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No Weariness: The Memoir of a Generalist in Public Service in Four Continents, 1919-2000

This book details the career of the author Sam Richardson spanning across four continents in countries such as Sudan, Northern Nigeria, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

As a district Commissioner in the Sudan Political Service, an Arab Sheik of the nomand Kabbabish tribe impressed upon him that in the Service of Government there is No Weariness. hence the title of this memoir, which tells us what effective public administration was about before the advent of computers and information sciences.

Publication Details
TITLE:
NO WEARINESS
PUBLICATION DATE: 2001
ISBN: 0 9541145 1 5
SALE PRICE: £7.45, also available in hardback. (Plus £3.50 + P + P)


 

The Guardian Angel

The Guardian Angel encompasses a panorama of richly textured experience. This is a true story; and it is especially interesting when set against the historical context of the last forty years in certain countries which many of us still regard as remote. Apart from relating a delightful love story, as well as experiences with a strong human interest, the author narrates what was done in Eastern Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, and the Somali Republic) to overcome the scourge of the catastrophically ravenous desert locust.

Subsequently, after a 'Ugandan Interlude' during the traumatic years of Idi Amin, we accompany the author to canada and learn of the historic mission of the International Civil Aviation Organization.

In his final chapter the author explains, from an insider's perspective, some of the practical problems faced by the countries of the Third World in achieving real development; his views are based on many years of direct experience at the working level.


Publication Details
TITLE:
THE GUARDIAN ANGEL
PUBLICATION DATE:1996
ISBN: 1 85863 906 9
SALE PRICE: £3.50 (Plus £3.50 P & P)

 

Bristol Transported

This publication tells the story of how Bristol played a part in the infamous transportation of prisoners to the penal colony at Botany Bay, Australia.

Drawing on fourteen years research into the subject, the author, John Mackeson, a lawyer with a special interest in civil liberty-provides a full account of how Australia was chosen as the new penal colony, and examines life there for the 120 convicts from Bristol

Publication Details
TITLE:
BRISTOL TRANSPORTED
PUBLICATION DATE: 1987

ISBN: 0 948265 86 8
SALE PRICE: £2.95 (Plus £3.50 P & P)

 

A Register of Titles of the Units of the H.E.I.C and East Indian Armies, 1666 - 1947

Chris Kempton's original motivation for producing this work arose from a fairly simple desire to have a readily available and easily understood progression of the titles of the various Cavalry and Infantry Regiments of the Indian Army as they existed after the 1922 re-organisation.

Whilst many lists exist, none were entirely without fragmentation and discontinuity, and as Kemptons undertaking progressed, it seemed only logical to extend it to other areas of the H.E.I.C. and Indian Armies.
 
The end result is the only comprehensive listing of every unit which was raised between 1666 and August 1947, and while it is impossible to give an exact raising date for the majority of the regiments, particularly those formed during the two world wars, Kempton's painstaking researched has defined many dates which have remained open to question.

An awesome resource for the reader of Indian military history, the Register of Titles would be an invaluable addition to the bookshelves of historians, scholars, students, libraries and the self-taught private reader.
 
Publication Details
TITLE: A REGISTER OF TITLES OF THE UNITS OF THE H.E.I.C. & INDIAN ARMIES, 1666-1947
AUTHOR: CHRIS KEMPTON
PUBLICATION DATE: FEBRUARY 1997
ISBN: 0 9530174 0 0
SALE PRICE: £5.00 (plus £3.50 Postage & Packaging)

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An Internment of Western Civilians under the Japanese 1941- 1945

A Patchwork of Internment

Bernice Archer, University of Essex, UK


Bernice Archer's comparative study of the experiences of ther Western civilians interned by the Japanese in mixed family camps and sexually segregated camps in the Far East, combines a wide variety of conventional and unconventional source material, including contemporary War, Foreign and Colonial Office papers, diaries, letters, camp newspapers and artifacts and post-war medical, engineering and educational reports, biographies, autobiographies, memoirs and over fifty oral interviews with ex-internees.
using contemporary personal accounts, the shock of the Japanese victories and the devastating experience of capture are highlighted. This book also covers wider issues such as the role of women in war, gender and war, colonial culture, oral history and war and memory.

Contents

Introduction

1. The prelude to war

2. The Men's Response to Internment

3. The Women's Response to Internment

4. The Children's Response to Internment

5. Conclusion

Epilogue

Appendix: Notes on the Oral History: Method Interviews and Correspondents

 

About the author

Bernice Archer became a mature student in her late forties. A BA Hons in Humanities at the University of the West of England led to a PhD at the University of Essex and the subsequent writing of this book. In 2001 she researched and curated the first ever exhibition totally related to civillian internment in the Far East. It included many artefacts never previously seen by the public and was held at the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum.

 

 

   
For further information about any of the above titles please contact the shop on 0117 925 4980 or foh@empiremuseum.co.uk