This section aims to be an eclectic collection of articles relating to the British Empire. The subject matters are varied and diffuse, but are all connected to imperial history in some form or other. These articles reflect the views of the authors directly and not the britishempire.co.uk website as a whole. As such, space has been provided so that a wide diversity of thought and of experiences can be accessed via this section. The most recent additions are added to the top to allow the visitor to tell what fresh additions have been made since their last visit. If you would like to see any of your own work published here, I would be more than happy to read it over and convert it into a suitable format. Just send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of the articles on this page were previously published by OSPA. These articles can be searched in the following ways: Grouped by Author; Grouped by Publication Date;
Grouped by Subject; Grouped by Territory
Grouped by Title.
- Life in a Camel Station in Bechuanaland
Jill and Des Somerset recalls the realities of life in the remotest parts of one of the remotest colonies of the British Empire. Life was tough in their first posting, it was going to get tougher yet.
- The Nomad in Me
Mervyn Maciel explains his fascination for the Turkana and adds a poem dedicated to their nomadic way of life.
- The Jewish Legion at Crownhill Fort
During the First World War, a fort in Plymouth became the unlikely home for a newly formed Jewish Legion under the command of the famous Imperial Lion Hunter John Patterson. The non-Jewish Patterson had to fight the authorities hard for religious rights and sensitivities for his Jewish troops. Some important people in the history of Zionism and Israel would pass through Crownhill Fort on their way to fight the Ottomans in Palestine.
- Memories of life in Turkana in the 1940s
Mervyn Maciel recalls volunteering to work in Kenya's Northern Frontier District despite its reputation for remoteness and harsh conditions. He recalls the Turkana he came across with particular affection. Separately, Mervyn would also like to remember the ever eager to please Bwana Sasa Hivi who he came across when posted to Marsabit
- Travelling by Ship in the British Empire
Many of those who lived and worked around the Empire recall vividly the long ocean liner journeys required to reach their ports of call. Margaret Reardon provides photographs of some of the ships that she and her family travelled on from the late 1940s to the 1960s.
- A Biographic View of The West
Dr Ian Buckley revisits with the ways the elites of the West’s Imperial Empires fashioned their economies with hopes of dominance as industrialism expanded via the ‘mercantile political economic system’ described and condemned by Adam Smith. He contends that it amplified the disastrous outcomes from vast over-production in general and repeated mutually-destructive wars between the major powers. (c.g., WW1 and WW2). Hence, the system itself became the killer of those very same Empires.
- The Gallipoli Campaign
The Allied attempt to capture the Dardanelles Straits in 1915 was an attempt to seize the initiative from the Central Powers and support their Russian allies at the same time. It ended ultimately in failure, but it had long term consequences for the British Empire, both in terms of providing new found confidence to Australian and New Zealand formations and also almost accidentally placing Britain in a position to fill the Ottoman Empire vacuum upon their defeat. Ironically, this was almost unwittingly unleashed through launching this disastrous invasion of the Dardanelles.
- Maiwand: Tragedy of Errors
P H C Hayward explains how events spiralled out of control for the British forces at Maiwand in the Second Afghan War and how a simple mission cascaded into a disaster. He goes on to draw lessons that should have been learned at the time but might still be applicable even a century pluss later.
- Tales of Colonial Policeman in Northern Rhodesia
Ken Williams gives a frank and honest account of his time in the Northern Rhodesian Police Force in the early 1960s.
- Sai Kung Guerrillas – The 1942 to 1945 Resistance in Hong Kong
Guy Shirra details the story of those Chinese who stood up to the Japanese invaders in and around Hong Kong during the war years. He also explains how their bravery and valuable contributions have been subsequently celebrated.
- The Sha Tau Kok Incident
Guy Shirra recounts an event that occurred just as he was embarking on his own career in the Hong Kong Police. This incident went well beyond normal policing requirements and could well have been a concerted effort by nearby Communist China to test the resilience and response of the British Colonial Authorities along the border of the colony. Sadly five policemen were killed as infiltrators from China resorted to using small arms and machine guns under the cover of demonstrations. Police Emergency Units and elements of the Gurkhas were brought in and managed to regain control of the situation without having to resort to deadly force despite the obvious provocation. This is an event that could surely have escalated into something far more serious if it were not for the cool response from those on the ground.
- An Encounter With Some Of The First Vietnamese Refugees To Arrive In Hong Kong
Ian Lacy-Smith describes the initial surge of Vietnamese Boat People arriving in Hong Kong after the fall of the South Vietnamese Government in 1975. He goes on to explain his own role as a police officer in greeting two fishing boats full of refugees and how they were processed, made safe and in the vast majority of cases aided to a new life.
- A Hong Kong Policeman And Cricket
It is hard to think of two more quintessential elements of the imperial story than policing and cricket. The Hong Kong Policeman Ian Lacy-Smith explains just how and why cricket was encouraged and supported in his particular Colonial Police Force. He goes on to lay out a history of Police Cricket and the range of high quality opposition they might find themselves up against.
- Aerial Photography and Aerial Survey in Hong Kong
Gordon Andreassend explains the history of aerial photography in the mapping and surveying of the colony of Hong Kong. The first aerial photographs were as far back as 1924 by the Fleet Air Arm and the author takes the story up until the creation of a dedicated Aerial Survey unit in 1975.
- The Story Of The Two Elephant Feet From Marsabit
Mervyn Maciel relates the curious story about how he ended up with two feet of this iconic African animal whilst living and working in Kenya. Even more interesting is how he managed to return his African memento back there later in life!
- The History of the EAR&H
Tanganyika Road Services
David Snowden's Father worked for the East African Railways and Harbours (Road Services) in the 1950s and 1960s. The author recounts the contribution that this organisation made to the transportation and communications in the last years of British rule in Tanganyika. The idea was to integrate the roads into the railway and port hubs and to provide an integrated transport infrastructure that would facilitate trade, communications and the movement of people. It became integral in allowing Tanganyika to develop commercially and for it to become plugged into both regional and international markets.
- Nurse in Other Lands
Betty Riddle describes her long and varied nursing career in Tanganyika in the 1950s and into the post-independence period. She was a trained midwife who worked in every form of medical establishment from the smallest medical centre to the largest hospitals in Dar-es-Salaam. She gives an insight into the challenges of medical care with such basic facilities but with such a wide range of demands and medical issues.
- Letters Home
Keith Arrowsmith has kindly made available the letters that he sent to his parents after he arrived to work with the Colonial Service in Nigeria in 1949 and 1950. They cast light and what it was like to start a new job in such an unusual location. He describes the hustle and bustle of the major colonial hub of Port Harcourt as well as the relatively more sedate Ahoada in the Rivers Province.
- Hong Kong Then
Brian Wilson gives his own personal insight into the changing dynamics of the Hong Kong that he grew to know intimately. He saw Hong Kong in its early post-war incarnation having been posted there in 1948. He also witnessed the Fall of next door Nationalist China in 1949 and its replacement by Communist China. Suddenly Hong Kong was propelled onto the front line of the unfolding Cold War. Consequently development was turbocharged and Brian had a front row seat as he saw Hong Kong develop and adapt until he left in 1983. However, he always maintained his soft spot for the more tranquil Hong Kong he first knew. He did return in 1997 and witnessed for himself the handover to China and the end of the era of British oversight.
- Operation Sharp End: Smashing Terrorism in Malaya 1948 - 1958
This series of recollections shows the sheer variety of jobs and situations that members of the Malayan Police had to undertake during the decade of the Malayan Emergency. In many ways the police were more of a paramilitary force with enormous counter-insurgency responsibilities placed upon them. It is also the account of an ultimately highly successful collaboration at all levels although many did indeed pay a high price indeed to keep the Communist threat at bay.
- Heligoland - the Colonial Connection
Peter Fullerton, who had been an administrative officer in Kenya, explains the strange connection between the British Empire in East Africa and a tiny island in the North Sea.
- Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Crocodiles
David Bell recalls the variety of work undertaken as a Geological surveyor in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate in the 1950s. Apart from the challenging topography, it is an area of substantial geological activity. He also recalls the legacy of the Second World War was still playing itself out over a decade after it had finished.
- Odd Jobs and Diplomatic Interludes
Dogon Yaro gives some examples of the sheer variety of work for a Provincial Officer in Northern Nigeria from the immediate Post-War period and on into post-independence Nigeria. Based in Kano for much of that period, he would often take on the role of official meeter and greeter for all the VIPs and myriad other important visitors who were transiting on to other locations in Africa.
Brian Wilson was an administrative officer in Hong Kong for some 35 years explains the destructive nature of typhoons and their often devastating impact. Although typhoons were not uncommon, once a decade or so they were particularly devastating. The Typhoon of 1937 for example claimed the lives of some 11,000 people. Systems and emergency services improved markedly after that typhoon, but they could still be lethal no matter what precautions were taken.
- The Marching Rule Rebellion in the Solomon Islands from 1944 to 1955/56
Chris Cochran recalls the difficult years for British rule of the Solomon Islands in the wake of the upheaval of the Second World War. Many Solomon Islanders were reluctant to see the return of British rule after the American military had swept through the region. There was however one small island which remained determinedly loyal even in a sea of rebels. The rebellion lasted a decade before cooperation replaced confrontation, but it did take a toll on the population and administrators alike before its resolution.
- An African Experience in Retrospect
Malcolm F Anderson spent two decades living and working in Nigeria as a surveyor. The fact that his career straddled the colonial and independence periods has allowed him to evaluate the relative merits of the two systems. He had stayed on in Nigeria with the best of intentions but explains how his professional frustrations slowly increased and undermined the important work he was doing in helping Nigeria to develop and transition to a more modern economy.
- From Northern Rhodesia to Zambia: Recollections of a DO/DC 1962-73
Mick Bond gives a full and comprehensive account of his time between 1962 and 1973 as a District Officer and later as District Commissioner. He gives vivid accounts of the daily routine of a colonial officer with all the responsibilities clearly explained. His time coincided not only with Independence but the author was one of those relatively small number of Civil Servants who decided to continue their careers into the post-colonial era into what became Zambia. Mick Bond also played a pivotal role in dealing with the 1964 Lumpa conflict.
- An Affair With Africa: Tanganyika Remembered
Don Barton explains the life and responsibilities of a District Officer in the twilight years of the British Empire in Tanganyika. He explains the realities of administrating large swathes of this Eastern African country and the steps undertaken to prepare the country for life after the British left. The author acknowledges the limitations of the administrative framework and the missed opportunities to help embed good practice in post-colonial Tanganyika (or Tanzania as it later became). However he has no regrets about his and his fellow colleagues' earnest attempts to provide opportunities and fair government in one of the poorest colonies in the British Empire.
- In The Shadow of Empire: My Life in the Colonies
Martin Lewis had a remarkably varied career in the ways that the British Empire used to enable as a matter of course even if the permutations and combinations of postings and roles available made each of these careers utterly unique. The author experienced a similar diversity of roles in his own jobs as first a soldier and then a colonial servant. He had a first hand view of some of the key battles of decolonisation in Cyprus, Malaya, Borneo and Aden but also served in very different roles in the Solomon Islands and Hong Kong amongst other postings before retiring to yet another imperially-influenced New Zealand. This account provides an invaluable insight into the sheer variety of opportunities that the British Empire used to offer, even in its years of decline and decolonisation.
- Bush Paths: Nigeria 1949 - 1957
Keith Arrowsmith gives an insight into the roles and responsibilities of an Assitant District Officer and District Officer in Eastern Nigeria in the 1950s. He kept a journal during his eight years which forms the basis of this full and frank account of his time as a colonial administrator. He served in the Rivers, Ogoja and Calabar Provinces where he oversaw administration, law and order and development work for large swathes of the local population.
- The British Empire - Was It Different?
Gordon Bridger contends that the British Empire, despite having its flaws and weaknesses was generally a positive force in world history. He concedes that empires and colonialism could certainly be exploitative and selfish institutions, but he thinks that the British Empire was not like other empires and that its conduct and legacy were more beneficial than most. Having travelled and worked all over the world, he believes that the ultimate judgment on the benefits or otherwise should lie with those who experienced British rule firsthand.
- Notes on My Time in Northern Nigeria: January 1948 - August 1960
Robert Longmore has written a full account of his time working as a Colonial Officer in Northern Nigeria in the Post-War period right up to Nigerian Independence. He explains the training received when embarking on a career that seemed to have a longer future when he started than actually occurred in reality. He gives an overview of what precisely were the realities of being a District Officer in such isolated postings. He gives prominence to the increasing importance of development issues and how law and order were maintained in a part of the World which often felt more like the Medieval World than the middle of the Twentieth Century. He also tells the role of sport and especially his beloved polo in helping to establish and maintain relationships with the local rulers and elites and allowed him to tour parts of the country that he might otherwise never have seen. His account reminds us of the realities, the limitations of power but also the genuine hopes for the welfare of the people that colonial officers like Robert Longmore ruled over. It is a glimpse on an era that has vanished forever.
- A Splendid Little Colony: British Singapore 1819 - 1963
Samuel T.W. Wee explains how Singapore, unlike many other post-colonial nations, has retained and even embraced much of its colonial past. He gives a compelling and comprehensive account of the British contribution to the history of Singapore but warns that to downplay or ignore its imperial heritage would do the City State a disservice.
- Bwana Karani
Mervyn Maciel gives a full account of what it was like to be a Goan working for the British administration in Kenya and the Northern Frontier District from the late 1940s until early 1960s. He had a front row seat in the days of both the Mau Mau insurrection and the Uhuru march to independence. In addition to his professional experiences, he also relates the joys and the challenges of establishing and then raising a family in East Africa. He held several varied postings but seems to have found a particular attraction to the nomadic peoples and wide open spaces of the Northern Frontier District.
- Overland to Kano Across the Sahara
Ronald Bird tells the story of how he decided to return to his post in Northern Nigeria after a period of leave via Algeria, Niger and the vast Sahara Desert in 1950. This journey took place when the French were still in control in Algeria and before plane travel began to make these epic overland bus routes largely redundant. He gives a fascinating account of his 15 day journey through the French North and West Africa on a tiny bus in very challenging geographic conditions.
- Aden: The Curtain Falls: The Memoirs of Dick Eberlie: Part 4, 1965 to 1967
Dick Eberlie gives a full account of his time as the Personal Secretary to Sir Richard Turnbull in Aden during the turbulent years of the creation of the The Federation of South Arabia. This was something of an attempt in vain to establish a viable political unit for a fractious and unstable region. A change in government at home combined with too many enemies in the region to undermine the Federal structure and contributed to one of Britain's less successful extrications from Empire.
- The Primrose League
The Primrose League was founded in 1883 and rose to become an important political pressure group. It was an innately conservative group but it was one that used innovative new campaigning methods to bring new supporters to their cause. Their followers were strong believers in the British Empire and the role of monarchy and were particularly influential between the years of 1885 - 1906 on both domestic political and colonial fronts.
- The Winds and Wounds of Change: 1961 - 1965
Dick Eberlie tells the next stage of his career in Tanganyika where he took a front row seat in that colony's drive towards independence as the ADC of Governor Turnbull. As someone who stayed in East Africa after independence was granted, his experience of living and working in the new nation of Tanganyika gives an insight into the realities of the new paradigm.
- Future Constitutional Development in the Colonies Review
The Suez debacle forced a reevaluation of Britain's economic, military and diplomatic strength. The new Prime Minister of Harold Macmillan requested the first ever cost benefit analysis of the British Empire as part of the process of this strategic reevaluation. However, had Macmillan already decided that decolonisation was inevitable and was merely looking for official cover for a remarkable policy U-turn by a Conservative politician?
- District Officer in Tanganyika: 1956 - 1960
Dick Eberlie gives a comprehensive account of his time as a District Officer in late 1950s Tanganyika. He enjoyed a variety of postings but also had to contend with serious health issues in a part of the world that still had basic medical care - even for the relatively privileged HMOCS. This account does give a fascinating overview of the range of responsibilties and tasks that a District Officer was compelled to undertake, and often with the minimum of resources available.
- In Our Defence
John Smith considers just how fairly the history of the British Empire will be considered and points out that even some of colonialism's harshest critics gave credit where credit was due.
- Mutiny by the Tanganyika Army in 1964
K.H. Khan Lodhi gives an account of the role he personally played in arresting large numbers of armed Tanganyikan Army Mutineers with little more than a van with a driver, a single assistant, bluster and a lot of confidence. Although this mutiny took place in independent Tanganyika it was highly redolent of old colonial actions and also saw the British return to help the newly independent nation out in its hour of need.
- Sir Andrew Cohen and the End of Empire
Tommy Gee considers the nature of Britain's departure from its Empire and from Africa in particular and the role played by Sir Andrew Cohen in attempting to make the decolonisation process as smooth as possible. He also wonders how Britain's imperial past will be preserved for future generations to consider and learn from.
- Why did a Conservative Government Signal the End of Empire in Africa?
Thomas Harbor considers why it was the seemingly arch defenders of Empire who actually brought about the end of the British Empire so rapidly in its last bastion in Africa during the Premiership of Harold Macmillan.
- Out on a Limb
Christopher Hanson-Smith recalls a short stint in the unusual role as Her Britannic Majesty's Vice-Consul and Labour Officer stationed on the Spanish island of Fernando Poo. This volcanic island had been notorious for disease, slavery and poor working conditions. The role of the Labour Officer was to ensure that the many Nigerian subjects who travelled to work there in the 1950s were being treated fairly and according to the law.
- The Career of W L Heape Colonial Administrator 1919 - 1958
Colin Heape gives a biographical overview of his father's Colonial Service career stretching three decades from Africa to the Americas. In that career he witnessed many fascinating events and was at the heart of colonial governance in a number of colonies at interesting points in their constitutional development and sometimes in challenging circumstances. The sheer diversity of his professional life and experience helps illustrate the range of opportunities available to the imperial bureaucrat before decolonisation.
- The Cattle-Raiders' Blessing
Charles Cullimore recalls his posting to Kondoa in Tanganyika in the 1950s and in particular a mission to go and arrest 5 Masai warriors for cattle rustling. Taking his wife and daughter along, he was surprised by the reaction of the Masai warriors in question...
- On Tour - but in London!
John Smith gives an account of one of his more unusual tours as a Colonial Civil Servant when he was required to travel to London no less. He was to accompany the Governor of Northern Nigeria to the important 1957 Nigerian Constitutional Conference. This was part of a series of meetings to discuss the constitutional arrangements for Nigeria's forthcoming independence.
- A Geologist in Uganda
Bob Macdonald explains his role in helping to develop, manage and conserve the mineral and groundwater resources of Uganda in the decade up until independence in 1962. His career provides a good example of the expertise and skills that could be provided by the Colonial Service in its later years as it sought to develop Uganda's economy and manage its landscape.
- The Bijou Rest Houses of the North
Malcolm F Anderson explains the realities for a surveyor in finding suitable accommodation in the more remote parts of Northern Nigeria. The humble and often very basic 'Rest House' was the Colonial Government's solution, but the facilities found within these constructs could range from the primitive rustic to the almost non-existent.
- Memories of Colonial Hong Kong
Clive Caldwell recalls the incredible variety and diversity in his job as a Hong Kong Government Executive Officer stretching over 30 years of service in the Colony. He had an insider's view of the government of Hong Kong and came to appreciate the powerful can-do attitude of its officers and workforce. His experience only ended with the final handover of the colony to China in 1997 when he took the 'last boat home' for any of Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Servants!
- Third Time Lucky
Sir Robert Sanders explains how the process of visiting the remote and disparate islands of the Northern District of Fiji could be a real challenge. For one particular island, his attempts to visit the outer parts of his district seemed doomed to repeated failure.
- The Man of the Ulu
The Reverend G D A Fox had been a District Officer in Sandakan, North Borneo in the 1960s. In this article he recalls his time with a larger than life and generous hearted Land Development Officer by the name of Bruce Sandilands. This same officer would later disappear in the harsh and isolated terrain whilst suffering from a fever and being separated from his guides. His body was only discovered months later but it was clear that he had survived for several weeks at least and had come to terms with his imminent demise.
- From Maseru To Rome Via London, Edinburgh & Paris: The Story Of
The 1957 Petition and Constitutional Development in Basutoland
James Hennessy recounts his role in bringing a delegation of Basuto, including the Paramount Chief, to Europe in 1957 in an attempt to protect the small colony from possible inclusion into the increasingly apartheid-minded Union of South Africa. The success of this delegation would later pave the way for an independent Lesotho.
- A Doctor's Wife in Africa
Marguerite Beet explains what family Life was like on an outstation in Northern Rhodesia in the 1940s. A nurse herself, she was married to Eric Beet who would conduct important research on Sickle Cell disease whilst at this remote settlement of Balovale in Northern Rhodesia. This article though is more about the practicalities of living, working and raising a family in one of the more remote outposts of Empire.
- The Kenya Colonial Service
David Nicoll-Griffith gives an overview of the Colonial Service in Kenya and gives an account of his ten years working around the colony from 1952 to 1962. During this time he lived and worked in the Central and Nyanza Provinces, the Northern Frontier District, Mombasa and the Coast Province and in the heart of Mau Mau territory at Fort Hall. His decade of work coincided with rebellion and the preparation of Kenya for Independence.
- Nyanza Watering Place: The Remarkable Story of SS William Mackinnon
Ian Grant tells the story played by his father in helping to get steam ships transported from the Clyde in Scotland to the waters of Lake Victoria in Central Eastern Africa.
- In the Wake of the Germans
Geoffrey Popplewell was sent to work in Tanganyika in 1927 just a few years after a League of Nations Mandate transferred it from German to British control. In this article, he explains the legacy of German control and how he believed the Africans perceived the differences between British and German colonial government.
- Tilbury to Mombasa Via the Suez Canal: The Life and
Times of a Customs Officer
P. B Sweeney recalls the 18 day voyage from Britain to Mombasa en route toa post as a Customs Officer in Uganda. The voyage through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal slowly prepared the passengers to the idea of life in Africa.
- Expedition to Ulu Baram in Sarawak
Guy Shirra recounts an expedition that he took with the Royal Hong Kong Police and members of the Sarawak Royal Malaysian Police in 1989. They travelled overland from the border of Indonesia to the Baram River and then journeyed down the river by longboat. In many ways, its style was redolent of the old expeditions of colonial administrators or of the military during the 1960s confrontation when the author had actually been present in the region with the VSO.
- The Baro Line
Former Colonial Service Medical Officer T.P. Eddy explains how he had to use an old fashioned and rickety 2 stroke rail waggon to travel through tropical Nigeria to visit a sick patient. The journey and his welcome made quite an impression.
- Expedition to Niah in Sarawak
M.W.F. Tweedie provides extracts from his diary from his time as the Director of the Raffles Museum in Singapore on participating in the 1954 expedtion to Niah in Sarawak. This started a series of excavations which eventually discovered one of the earliest known remains of a Homo Sapien.
- The Nigerian Marine's War Effort
Captain Aubrey Dennis explains the important role played by the Nigerian Marine Department during the Second World War. He highlights the setbacks they suffered and the successes scored. He also recounts the role his own wife played in potentially saving his life after she decoded a message detailing the danger to a ship the author was due to pilot.
- Trekking in Northern Nigeria, 1959
R G Lowe explains what it was like to undertake an expedition into the forests of central Nigeria in 1959. He goes into detail about the role of carriers and the kind of equipment they took and how they lived off the land whenever possible. The logistics of a government foot expedition were considerable to say the least. .
- Making Forest Reserves in Bornu - Northern Nigeria - 1956
R G Lowe recounts the practicalities of creating Forest Reserves. Using excerpts from his diaries he recounts the physical difficulties of marking out the boundaries and the lengths that they went to in order to explain the advantages to the local population.
- Naval Action on Lake Tanganyika
E Keble Chatterton gives an overview of the remarkable events on Lake Tanganyika in World War One when the Germans, Belgians and British vied for control of this vast interior lake. A supreme fight of logistics was employed to tip the balance in the allies favour by carrying boats thousands of miles through Southern and Central Africa.
- Letter From West Africa
Greta Lowe volunteered to work in the Methodist Mission Society Hospital in Ilesha, Nigeria in the 1920s. This fascinating letter gives an account of her journey to this remote imperial spot, a meeting with the king of the region and life in and around a mission hospital.
- The Abdication and the Askari
John Lawrie Boyd-Wilson explains the unexpected response of his Northern Rhodesia Regiment troops when the abdication of King Edward VIII was announced. They had firm views on the role of a king but felt that they did indeed have a personal relationship to the king that they served.
- Lord Baldwin and the Leeward Islands
Winifred F. O'Mahony recalls the appointment of the high profile, and controversial, appointment of Lord Baldwin as the governor of the Leeward Islands during the late 1940s. This was a time of unrest that ended up having a very direct effect on the author's family.
- Who Could Have Known?
A T de B Wilmot explains how a secure job for life in the colonial service turned out to be anything but predictable as he saw service throughout the continent of Africa, through war and beyond decolonisation and into independence. The job may not have been as secure as was promised but it was fascinating in its scope and the opportunities it provided.
- Operation Blowfish
N P Hadow gives an account of one of the stranger experiments conducted by the Fisheries Department in Ceylon to see if they could tell if fish caught by the illegal use of explosives could be differentiated from legally caught fish.
- Tales From The African Bush
Joseph Felix Sweeney gives an account of his years in the Education Department in Tanganyika. He was supposed to be working in a Technical Institute but instead found himself being posted to the isolated but surprisingly well equipped Kongwa school. Kongwa had been the base for the infamous Grount Nuts' Scheme, but once that had fallen through the facilities were converted into a school.
- Serving in the Public Sector in Central Africa from 1959 to 1987
David Hoskins expands upon his role as auditor in the Central African Federation, Southern Rhodesia, UDI Rhodesia and then into independent Zimbabwe in a career that spanned nearly five decades in the service of Africa.
- Reminiscences of a Quartering Officer
Gordon Brennan recalls the difficulties of moving government employees out of housing in a colony that was notoriously short of good quality accommodation.
- A Tanganyika Smeller-out of Witches
Robert Greenshields explains how seemingly innocent beliefs and customs like witchcraft could end up both disturbing the peace and even taking on political dimensions. The author explains how steps were taken to quickly stamp out any potential unrest in the dying days of British rule in Tanganyika.
- Don't Encourage the Women to be Lazy
Bill Ramsden recalls how one Basuto tribal chief reacted to development plans to provide fresh water to a village on the side of a mountain.
- Letters from a Long Distance Marriage 1940-1957
Jane Harrison curates her parents' letters between colonial postings like Nigeria and Gold Coast and Britain. War initially separated them but the unhealthy environnent of West Africa made it a difficult place to raise children. The resulting letters though illustrate colonial and domestic issues at a time of war, austerity and a period of decolonisation.
- Danger of Spilling Blood
Humphrey Taylor gives an insight into the difficulties and challenges facing those colonial administrators who attempted to stay on in their positions in post-independence African countries like Tanzania.
- Welcome to Asamuk Leper Camp
Michael Welchman gives details of the fight against Leprosy in Uganda in the 1950s and recalls the visit of Alan Lennox Boyd to the opening of a new leper camp.
- Riot Drill
Eric Bult gives an account of the earliest stages of the Cholo riots and disturbances. In this more 'innocent' phase, alll involved were a little 'naive' to what rioting actually entailed.
- The Provincial Commissioner
M F Harland was an inspector in the Northern Rhodesia Police who had an unexpected meeting with the Provincial Commissioner after a storm in Ndola in 1962.
- Memories of WAP
The Western Aden Protectorate was a vast arid part of the Empire which was politically and culturally distinct from the more famous port of Aden. Winkle Allen gives an account of what it was like to be one of the very few women in this overwhelmingly male dominated society.
- Death by Spearing - Nearly
Graham Edwards finds himself caught up in an unfortunate event that saw his life put in immediate danger. Fortunately bush justice was soon seen to be done and there were no longer lasting repercussions.
- The Day's Work and Odd Jobs: The Rogue Elephant
Ronald Bird gives an example of some of the dangerous jobs that a colonial administrator in Nigeria could be called upon to undertake on any given day.
- Fireworks at Midnight
Buz Trevor recalls the role he played alongside his father in ensuring that the Independence Day celebrations for the new nation of Botswana were to be truly memorable for all concerned!
- Misleading Cases in Colonial Law
Gervas Clay recounts some of the stranger points of law that arose whilst he was working as a District Commissioner in Northern Rhodesia in the early 1940s.
- James Cook: We Come in Peace not for War!
Taylor Benson explains how James Cook's attitudes towards treatment of local peoples was remarkably advanced for its era. He gives the example of the treatment of Tahitians on his first expedition to the Pacific from 1768 to 1771.
- The Transfer of Power: The Colonial Administrator in the Age of Decolonisation
Four District Officers, Terrence Gavaghan, E N Scott, C McLean and C Fuller, explain what it was like as an administrator in the last, turbulent years of British rule in Kenya as the country was prepared for its independence.
- A Kenya Cattle-Breeding Tribe Prospers
Under British Guidance
Sport and Country magazine detailed the work of Terence Gavaghan in helping the Samburu people of Kenya improve the quality of their livestock and their consequent income.
- The Unforgettable Dubas of Kenya's Northern Frontier
Mervyn Maciel recalls the imposing and loyal desert commandos raised by the British to defend the unruly Northern borders of Kenya.
- Call Me Madam
Elisabeth Alley recalls the pleasures of teaching Chemistry and Physics at an Indian Education Girls School in Dar es Salaam on the eve of Tanzanian Independence.
- Survey Work in the Kenya Emergency
Bill Jackson gives an example of how life and work just had to go on despite the Mau Mau Emergency in Kenya in the 1950s.
- Building My Road
Humphrey Taylor gives an account of his oversight in building a road in the very remotest part of Tanganyika. Unfortunately, progress could also have a downside.
- Election Day in the Northern Territories of the
Eirwen Lewis gives an her eyewitness account of how the Legislative Assembly elections were run which foreshadowed the independence elections just three years later. And yet, the influence of the old tribal structure was very much in evidence.
- Agricultural Officer, Tanganyika 1955-65
Liam Murray explains how he joined the Colonial Office expecting a long and fulfilling career only to find that the Suez Crisis and Wind of Change Speech was to cut his career short. Nevertheless, he trained and set off to work to develop Tanganyikan agriculture and help prepare the country for independence.
- Basutoland Diamonds
Professor Peter H. Nixon recalls his role in almost stumbling accidentally on the location for one of the highest concentration of top quality diamonds in the world. It helps illustrate the role played by the British in identifying and developing commercial opportunities throughout the Empire and gives a concrete example of how geology and Western expertise was used to the benefit of this small African kingdom.
- Africa and British Colonialism - Foes or Friends?
As someone born in colonial controlled Uganda but now a British citizen, Sam Akaki considers the balance sheet and impact of imperialism on the place of his birth.
- The Story of Singapore to 1959 and Beyond: Real Truths, Hidden Truths And Forgotten Truths.
David Brent gives his insight into why Singapore and Malaysia's paths diverged in the era of decolonisation and the threat of communism.
- Jungle Patrols
David Brent explains the challenges and difficulties of sweeping the Malayan jungles in the search for Communist Terrorists in the 1950s. He details the cooperation required between the various police, paramilitary and army units in coordinating and conducting these necessary but unpleasant jungle patrols.
- Encounters In Malayan Police Work
David Brent recalls the sounds, sights, textures and smells that he had enjoyed growing up in Malaya and later serving as a Malay Police officer during the height of the Malayan Emergency. He remembers many of the interesting characters he met and worked with and discusses some of the police work that had necessarily been modified by the Communist Insurgency.
- The Malayan Emergency
David Brent explains how and why the British were able to defeat the Communist insurgency that raged in the Malay Peninsula from 1948 to 1960. He emphasises the importance of clear goals, intelligence gathering systems and sensitivity to the local culture and people and their political aspirations.
- Gran Bretana Y El Desarrollo De La Argentina
This is a Spanish translation of the English language book Britain and the Making of Argentina by Gordon Bridger. It is highly unusual to add a foreign language text to this website, but in this case it was felt to be useful for South American readers who now have an opportunity to read about Britain and Argentina's close ties in the Nineteenth and first half of the Twentieth Centuries. If you wish to read an English version I highly recommend the book which gives a fascinating insight into one of the best examples of Britain's 'Informal Empire'.
- Reckoning With The Force: Stories of the Jamaica Constabulary Force in the 1950s
David Godfrey gives an overview of what it was like to be a policeman, Superintendant and ultimately Head of Special Branch in Jamaica during the decade leading up to independence.
- We're off to Nyasaland
David Potter gives an account of his posting to Nyasaland as an education officer in the last days of its colonial rule and the first few years of newly independent Malawi. He adds many other anecdotes about the joys and challenges of living and working in Central Africa in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
- Achievements of the British Colonial Service:
A Retrospective View
Ex-Northern Rhodesian Provincial Administrator Dr Jonathan Lawley explains the positive legacies left by the British as they were hastily rushed towards decolonisation in the 1950s and 1960s. He also compares the British form of colonialism with that of the French and believes that the light touch and cultural sensitivity of the British helps explain why post-colonial relations have remained so positive amongst the majority of Commonwealth nations.
- Some Reflections on "Colonialism"
Ex-Tanganyikan District Commissioner Don Barton gives his assessment to how the history of the British Empire has been dealt with in a post-imperial World. He contends that the Empire evolved, mutated and changed over its long history and believes that the Twentieth Century British Empire of trusteeship and mandated territories does not receive enough credit for what it did manage to achieve.
- New Hebrides to Vanuatu: The Contribution of Keith Woodward, OBE (1930-2014)
Brian Bresnihan gives an appreciation and overview of the life and work of of Keith Woodward in preparing New Hebrides for Independence given its peculiar condominium status between Britain and France.
- The Amudat Story
Peter Cox recounts how the Bible Church Missionary Society established a hospital, dispensaries and schools in a remote area on the Kenya/Uganda border in the 1950s and 1960s. These facilities were encouraged after a Governor was pelted with mud and it was appreciated that the local population only associated the government with negative aspects such as taxation and law and order. Peter Cox explains how development issues were effectively outsourced to missionaries who already had a presence and understanding of the needs and aspirations of the local population and how they set about turning ideas into action.
- The French and British Empires: The Aftermath
G.P.W. considers the differences between how the British and French related to their respective empires and the consequences that flowed from those differences in the post-colonial world.
- Journey to Mongu
B.H. recalls how a journey along a newly constructed road in the Western province of Northern Rhodesia nearly ended in disaster.
- Pioneer Nigeria
A former Colonial Agricultural Officer gives a brief overview of how an inspection regime was developed to help the farmers of Nigeria during the period of British control.
- Autobiography, and Africa too
L.A.H. explains what it was like to travel on safari in Tanganyika with your husband in the 1930s as he was posted to remote corners of the empire. She is even goes on to explain the lengths that she had to undertake to travel to a hospital to give birth to her son in Africa.
- Who's Afraid?
Janet Wimbush recalls her time coming down from Plateau Province in Central Nigeria and coming across a real clash of cultures with tribesmen unused to European women.
- As I Saw It
A. S. Jenkinson gives an account of his arrival in Northern Rhodesia in 1913 when it was still little more than a collection of frontier towns connected tenuously to civilisation by the newly constructed railway line.
- Jungle Trip from Grik to Temengor
in Upper Perak District, Malaya
Mrs. M. C. Barkway explains the remarkable lengths that sometimes had to be undertaken in 1930s Malaya to visit schools in her capacity as a school inspector. She recalls one particular journey which entailed travelling through the jungle with elephants to visit a remote school in the jungled mountains before returning home on a raft down the Temengor and Perak rivers.
- Reminiscences of the Leeward Islands
Winifred K. O'Mahony explains what it was like to live in the Leeward Islands in the 1930s as her husband was sent there to work as a supernumerary medical office. This had the side-effect of the couple being posted all over the chain of islands and experience Caribbean life from a multitude of angles in a fascinating period of its development.
- The Solomon Islands
in the Early and Middle Thirties
R.A. Lever gives a broad overview of living and working in the Solomon Islands during the depression years of the 1930s and before it was transformed by the events of the Second World War.
- Empire Day at Fort Portal
N. F. S. Andrews' extracts of a letter sent home from Uganda in 1926 give an interesting account of how the 'Empire' was celebrated in even the remotest of locations.
- The Bauchi Light
A. S. Webb gives an account of differences between local and western medical treatment along a Central Nigerian railway linking the plains to the plateau.
- Vacancy Tanganyika
J. Lewis-Barned explains how he found himself as a District Officer in Tanganyika in the post-war period and the varied experiences and responsibilities that he soon acquired.
- Goan Contribution to the Civil Service
Rosendo P. Abreo gives a brief overview to how the Portuguese colony of Goa ended up contributing so much to the British Empire in East Africa in particular up until 1963.
- Palestine Railways and Ports
J. Y. Vatikiotis, who used to work on the Palestine Railway, explains just how quickly and extensively the British modernized the railway and port network of their Palestine Mandate in the 1930s and 1940s helping to enable the colony to become one of the most profitable in the Empire.
- The White Man's Grave
'Pat' O'Dwyer explains some of the many dangers that befell Europeans working in Sierra Leone in the 1930s and 1940s and the number of times and ways his health was undermined before he finally succumbed to being blinded and having to leave the Colonial Service after just a dozen years of service.
- Hurricane Janet - Barbados 1955
Winifred K. O'Mahony tells the story of living through what was one of the most powerful Hurricanes to have ever hit the Caribbean and how the colonial authorities attempted to deal with the disaster.
- Famine in Arabia
Mary Fletcher experienced famine in Arabia firsthand in the 1940s. She goes on to explain Britain's response and in particular what happened to a group of girls that found themselves being looked after by the Hadhrami Bedouin Legion.
- Our Side of the Tracks
Dr. T. P. Eddy explains the social divisions that were made apparent to all colonial servants in the inter-war years. He himself though explains how he was able to learn a little more about divisions in English society whilst talking to a locomotive superintendent in the middle of Nigeria.
- The Fulani Boys at Jingari
A. S. Webb recalls the time he was on an inspection tour of the Bauchi Light Railway in Nigeria and was forced to have a layover in Jingari where he met missionaries with a remarkable tale of survival by two local boys attacked by a wild animal.
- The Ramblings of a Wicked Colonialist
Justin Trevor Moon gives an - at times witty but also brutally honest - account of spending time in Trinidad training to be a Colonial Agricultural Officer and then putting that expertise into operation on the coast of Kenya in the 1930s.
- An Outpost
R. H. Fraser tells the story behind the isolated settlment of Fort Jameson in the Eastern part of Northern Rhodesia and the 'interesting' characters it seemed to encourage to settle in and around one of the remotest parts of the British Empire.
- Tulagi: The Capital That Was Abandoned
R.A. Lever explains how a capital was chosen in 1893 for the Solomon Islands but also goes on to explain its development and then how and why it was dismantled as it lost its administrative status to a rival settlement on a completely different island in the archipelago.
- Journey to Yola, 1929
B.A. Babb takes us back to a time in Nigerian colonial history when just getting to a new posting could take weeks of arduous travelling.
- Berkeley of Upper Perak
An account of Hubert Berkeley who was one of the more idiosyncratic imperial administrators in the remote parts of Northern Malaya from 1891 to 1925.
- A Game Warden's Permit for a Corpse: The life and
times of a Customs Officer
Patrick B. Sweeney gives two extracts from his memoirs as a Customs Officer in the Middle East and East Africa. One extract explains his role in trying to levy duty on the addictive 'qat' in Aden. The other extract explains how he tried to control the flow of duty free goods to non-soldiers in the thirsty NAAFIs of Aden.
- Uganda Safari by H.R.H. Prince of Wales
J. E. Gale tells the story of the role he played in ensuring that HRH The Prince of Wales' 5 day journey through Uganda in 1930 went without a hitch.
- Big Trouble
James Tedder explains the perils of sea tranport in a diffuse archipelago and how 20th century means of transport could be rescued by the timeless technology of the local population.
- He Needs a White Cloth
A. S. Webb explains some of the finer subtleties in negotiating local customs when it came to the death of a man in a railway workshop in Nigeria.
- An Adventurous Trip
to Upper Perak, Malaya, in 1950
R. E. Pitt explains the difficulties and pitfalls of travelling around Northern Malaya at the height of the 'Emergency' whilst trying to continue the work of the Public Words Department.
- Canoe Capers
James Tedder recalls the time he had to resort to the centuries old tradition of canoe transport - with all its concomitant hazards - in order to reach some of the outermost parts of the Solomon Islands.
- Missed Again
Ruth Cutler recalls how her parents arranged for her to learn how to shoot before arriving in Tanganyika. However, she was not entirely sure who was more scared at her having her hands on such a dangerous weapon!
- Riotous Assembly
J. Lewis-Barned explains a novel way of democratically electing local council officials in rural Tanganyika in the 1950s.
- Escape from Singapore
Tom Roebuck gives an account of how he managed to escape from the island of Singapore in 1942 as the Japanese forced the British and Empire forces to capitulate.
- A Journey in the Hadhramaut
Mary Reid gives an account of a remarkable journey she was privileged to take in 1963 along the Hadhramaut Wadi from the interior of the Eastern Aden Protectorate to the coastline. The journey was all the more remarkable for being undertaken by a woman in a deeply conservative and traditional part of the Empire.
- From Mister Johnson to Mr. Cary, A.D.O.
Anthony Kirk-Greene relates the true life experiences of the author Joyce Cary and the impact these had on his writings. He goes on to consider if the fact that Mr Cary had been an imperial servant makes his writings any more or less valuable than other authors and commentators.
- Things That Go Bump...
Gerald Moores remembers with a shudder some of the strange and inexplicable noises that he and his co-police had to deal with whilst working in remote areas of rural Southern Rhodesia in the 1950s.
- Saneepa Kohomada
P.C. 49 recalls the pitfalls for prison officers working in Ceylon's largest prison when it came to demonstrating linguistic proficiency. These linguistic examinations could throw up some unexpected information from interviewed prisoners!
- Sports Day
James Tedder explains how he instigated a good old-fashioned Sports Day as a way to attempt to repay the hospitality of Solomon Islanders on the remote Reef Islands when he had been sent on tour there.
- Passage from Mwanza to Kisumu
J. D. Kelsall gives an account of the time that his Lake Victoria Fisheries Service Motor fishing vessel was forced to become an ad hoc sailing ship in order to complete its journey from Tanganyika to Kenya.
- Emergency Days, Malaya 1948 - 50
R. R. H. Horsley recalls the security arrangements put into place whilst working with the Department of Mines in Malaya as the colony attempted to keep its economy going through the darkest days of the Emergency.
- First Foot Ulendo
Ted Wilmot gives an account of being thrown in the deep end by having to go out on Ulendo without supervision within days of arriving to his post in Nyasaland.
- Karamoja Journey
S Nicholl gives an account of just how rapidly conditions could change in North-Eastern Uganda once the rains arrived!
- An Anatomy of the
Tanganyika Administration in 1959
David Connelly examines the qualifications and experience of colonial officials in Tanganyika on the eve of independence and considers if the direction to independence was having a significant impact on the recruits to the service.
- By Motorcycle in Uganda
S Nicholl recalls the difficulties he had in attempting to coordinate himself to be by his wife's bedside when she was due to give birth to their first child. An unplanned and unwanted motorcycle journey proved far more arduous than was possibly anticipated.
R.E.N. Smith recounts the trials, tribulations and delights in having to tour his various districts in Nyasaland as part of his job as a District Officer.
- A Brief Encounter with Vultures:
A 1961 'Blackburn Beverley' Food Drop
John Ainley describes his role in the first airdrop of food in the Tanganyika Mandate with the impressively large Blackburn Beverley transport planes - but which came close to disaster.
- Iron Smelting in Northern Nigeria
H D L Corby describes a novel way of smelting iron that he saw developed in a small Northern Nigerian village.
R.E.N. Smith affectionately recalls his dealings with missionaries in his professional capacity in the New Hebrides, Nyasaland and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. Far from being antagonistic or disruptive, he invariably found them to be hard working and dedicated whilst working in some of the most trying circumstances in some of the most remote locations imaginable.
- Journeying to Cape Guardafui
Colin Everard recalls an eventful journey he had to make in the 1950s to the isolated lighthouse at the tip of the Horn of Africa in order to study Locust migratory patterns. The expedition nearly came to grief on its return leg when a local guide's directions proved erroneous.
- The Day We Lost the Prince of Wales!
Peter G Hough was responsible for chaperoning Prince Charles after the ceremony granting Fiji its independence in 1970. However, the island's sea-faring culture and weather patterns conspired in making the Prince incommunicado for a while at least.
- First Footsteps
John Cooke recalls with pleasure his first assignment as a District Officer to a remote part of Western Tanganyika beyond Lake Victoria in deepest darkest Africa. He also recounts the various ways he conducted safaris as he sought to carry out his duties in such an isolated area.
- Advent of Radio & Broadcasting in Tanganyika:
The African Archers
Taking inspiration from the long running BBC Radio programme 'The Archers', John Ainley describes how he became involved in an African equivalent in order to help disseminate useful agricultural techniques to Tanganyikan farmers.
- Cape Guardafui
S Nicholl relays a strange coincidence concerning the sudden emergency evacuation of a lighthouseman off Somaliland during World War Two whilst living and working in Uganda two decades later.
- A Nigerian Garden
Muriel Barnett recalls the perils, pitfalls but also the pleasures of doing battle with mother nature in the tropics.
- It's a Dog's Life
Duncan D McCormack explains how, as a New Zealander working for the Colonial Service, he and his family were reluctant to be parted with their beloved pet dog. He goes on to explain the complexities of moving his dog to and from Kenya.
- Massa Gets to Speak Propa
Robert Yearley remembers how fellow passengers en route to the Gold Coast put him through a crash course in Pidgen English to allow him to communicate upon arrival.
- The Lap of Luxury
R E N Smith explains the housing situation for colonial officers like himself serving in the Pacific in the post-war period.
- A Sketch of the Origins and Development of the
Police in Malaya from 1786 - 1948
John H Grieve gives a brief overview of the history of the Malayan police force from its inception in Penang in the 18th Century to the eve of the Malayan Emergency in 1948.
- A Tribute to Captain A Gibb, DSO, DCM
District Commissioner, British Somaliland
Roland A Hill remembers the account of one of his more famous and illustrious predecessors as a District Officer in Somaliland. Captain Gibb had lived and served in British Somaliland for over two decades before being tragically cut down on the course of doing his duty.
- Fish Bombs and Copra
Peter Burbrook relays the time that he was requested to clamp down on smuggling operations between North Borneo and the Philippines in the late 1940s. However, the unexpected success of the operation nearly turned into a disaster when the weather turned upon the hitherto triumphantly returning expedition.
- The Malayan Civil Service
Roderick MacLean gives a brief overview of the development and administration of the Malayan Civil Service from its ancestry in Penang in the Eighteenth Century to its culmination with Independence for Malaysia and beyond.
- Call of the Road - an Elegy
Kuldip Rai Moman fondly remembers being on safari in a Post Office Savings Van during World War Two in the wilds of Kenya attempting to raise money for the British war effort.
- Unwanted Fugitives
Douglas Weir recounts the day in Trinidad when some unexpected convicts arrived on the shoreline. They were on the run from French Guiana where they had previously served time on the notorious Devil's Island.
- The Lap of Luxury
R E N Smith explains how basic housing conditions were for colonial officers like himself serving in Nyasaland in Central Africa in the 1950s and the mismatch between the privileged lifestyles people thought they were living and the actual conditions on the ground.
- A Stomach Ache in the Solomons
James L O Tedder recalls how a suspected case of appendicitis could be a hugely complicated medical procedure to deal with amongst the dispersed islands of the Solomon Islands with basic facilities and expertise at best being on hand.
- Not a Wisdom Tooth
Jane Shadbolt recounts how a routine journey to a dentist could turn into an epic expedition with all the concomitant dangers in the rural isolation of Northern Tanganyika.
- Massa gets Transport
Robert Yearley recalls his 'Crash Course' (literally) in driving in Accra, Gold Coast in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Was it a good idea to buy a car before he had a license to drive?
- Railways and Motive Power
Don Owens gives a brief overview of the development of railway infrastructure in East Africa and his experiences working on the trains there and dealing with unique problems such as a rhino charging a moving locomotive.
- The Day's Work and Odd Jobs: In Bornu and Adamawa
Dogon Yaro (Ronald Bird) gives an overview of work as an Assistant District Officer in North-East Nigeria along the border with French concerns in the Cameroons and Chad.
- I remember the Gold Coast
Robert Yearley was sent to the Gold Coast city of Accra in 1948 on secondment from the British Post Office. Yet, within weeks, he was swept up in the wave of riots by ex-servicemen who had been expecting jobs and pensions after having served in the British Imperial forces during World War Two.
- A Chosen Career
David Nicoll-Griffith explains how and why he was motivated to join the Colonial Service over other Civil Service options such as the Foreign Office.
- 25 Years in Slumber
Kuldip Rai Moman recalls his time as a Post Office clerk in the sleepy Ugandan town of Soroti - where on one occasion he happened to come across post that had not been sent for a quarter of a century!
- A War Effort in Tanganyika
John Henry Harris explains how, as a mineralogical expert, he was called upon to help the colony of Tanganyika produce vital (although for him unusual) resources required for the war effort.
- How Not to Learn Swahili
John Henry Harris asked a naive question about the correct Swahili word for a 'dust devil'. He found out that invoking this term, even in a foreign language like English, could have unforeseen consequences.
- On Being a Pacific Sea-Dog: Gracing the Gilberts
R. E. N. Smith recalls his time as a District Commissioner in the Gilbert Islands and in particular his reliance on the marine transport available to keep the islands of the dispersed archipelago in touch with one another.
- Today's UK Overseas Territories
Tom Russell summarises what has become of the remains of the British Empire and how their administration has changed and evolved over recent decades.
- The Story of Cable and Wireless
Patrick Cowan gives an overview of how and why Telegraph and Cable communication became such a vital part of the Imperial Communications architecture and the role played by Cable and Wireless in laying and maintaining that vital network.
- Crown Agents
P.F. Berry explains the role played by Crown Agents since 1831 in raising capital for investment projects throughout the British Empire and Commonwealth.
- The Overseas Services
Nigel Cooke recalls his time at the OSRB and how successful they were at finding jobs for colonial officers as decolonisation forced ideas of second careers on many.
- The Colonial (Overseas)
Audit Department 1910-1971
H P Dickson gives a brief overview of the setting up of the Colonial Nursing Association and how it evolved over time into the Queen Elizabeth's Overseas Nursing Service
- Queen Elizabeth's Overseas Nursing Service
H P Dickson gives a brief overview of the setting up of the Colonial Nursing Association and how it evolved over time into the Queen Elizabeth's Overseas Nursing Service
- The Colonial Service Training Courses Article
Anthony Kirk-Greene explains how the Colonial Service professionalised its recruitment and training programs in order to harmonise and better prepare its recruits for service in the colonies.
- The Colonial Office
Anthony Kirk-Greene explains the role and history of the Colonial Office in providing direction and administration for the colonies and colonial policy across the Empire.
- My Brother Wilfred
Mervyn Maciel writes a tribute to his younger brother Wilfred Maciel. Wilfred's journalism brought him into contact with many of East Africa's leaders of independence movements - some of whom went on to become post independence leaders in their own right.
- The Day's Work and Odd Jobs
Ronald Bird explains the time and effort required to respond to a message that miners were being held hostage on a small island in the middle of the mighty River Niger and how they got there just in time.
- Train to Iganga
Kuldip Rai Moman relays how he was unexpectedly sent to work in a post office in a remote part of Uganda after returning thousands of miles from vacation and a marriage back in the Punjab. He relates the role of the Post Office along the lines of communication in the British Empire and the emotions he felt revisiting his old place of work in post-imperial East Africa.
- Pontius Pilate
As a District Commissioner in Central Africa facing a new cult, J. C. Griffiths could feel sympathy with the plight of Pontius Pilate in being forced to make a choice that he did not necessarily want to make.
- On Being a Pacific Sea-Dog
R.E.N. Smith explains the role of the sea in allowing him to conduct his affairs as a British District Agent in the Anglo-French New Hebrides Condominium. He goes on to compare the respective approaches (and at times - rivalry) between the British and French as they sought to administer this far flung and dispersed archipelago.
- Checking the Books
R.E.N. Smith generally felt well prepared for his time as an imperial civil servant on the famed Devonshire Courses at Oxford and London in pretty much all but one aspect: Book-keeping. He wonders why this was such an omission and the remedies he employed to fill this gap throughout his career.
- Anuta - An Island from Paradise?
James Tedder thought that he had been posted to one of the most isolated districts in one of the most isolated colonies of the British Empire. However, he was to find out that even this isolated district had it's own isolated islands to which he had to travel and administer.
- Wartime Passage
J.D. Hunter-Smith and three Colonial Agricultural Service colleagues found that they had to cross the Atlantic at the height of the Battle of the Atlantic in 1943 to make it to the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad.
- Niger Adventure - 1947
Joan Russell recalls an inspection tour of some of the schools in her district in Nigeria which required that she travel by canoe along the River Niger.
- Mkango - The Lion
Eric Bult explains that a Nyasaland police officer could be called upon to undertake actions that no police officer in the UK would ever have to contemplate.
- The Acquisition of the New Territories
of Hong Kong
B.D. Wilson gives a detailed account of how Britain acquired the New Territories for Hong Kong in 1898/9. Technically, they were leased from China but no money ever changed hands and the British found that they had to fight to claim the land in a brief but potentially dangerous six day war.
- Season of Green Leaves
Kuldip Rai Moman gives a brief overview of his work and responsibilities as an Asian working in the East African Posts Department and how much of Africa he was able to experience as a result.
- Vive Le Royaume Uni!
R. E. N. Smith recalls the strange administrative arrangements in New Hebrides that saw him being included in the State visit of President De Gaulle of France to the port of Vila. He also wonders if it is the only time that the French President uttered the words "Vive Le Royaume Uni!"
- Resettlement of Suspected Mau Mau
Sympathisers in Tanganyika
An Agriculturist's Involvement
John Ainley explains how the Mau Mau did not just have an impact on Kenya. In Tanganyika also, attacks did occur and precautions were taken to attempt to prevent its spread across the border.
- Chapa Sumaku
J.D. Kelsall explains the ingenious methods he had to employ in order to convince fishermen in Tanganyika to switch to using nylon twine from cotton twine. It provides an example of the subtle forms of development within the late British Empire.
- For Better or for Verse?
Anthony Kirk-Greene reflects on the quantity and quality of poetry by those who lived and worked in the British Empire. He is interested in how these lines can throw unusual light on the intricacies of daily life for the imperial servants.
- Ceylon's Contribution to the War Effort
and to the Development of the
John O'Regan details how the authorities in Ceylon prepared for radical constitutional reform in the late 1930s and early 1940s. However, he also explains how the Second World War influenced those preparations as the Japanese threat loomed unexpectedly large.
- The Centurion
R. E. N. Smith remembers the occasion that a fine looking ex-RSM from the King's African Rifles turned up at his door in Nyasaland seeking employment.
- Which Colony?
W. L. Barton recalls the time he came into contact with Alan Lennox-Boyd, the Colonial Secretary, in Kenya and was surprised to find that Lord Boyd still remembered who he was 14 years later when they met again at The London School fo Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
- Four Inches at Waa
A. B. Mason tells the story of how you could be enjoying an idyllic Kenyan beach in full glorious sunshine one day, and be literally swimming in flood water the next!
- Airstrip at Avu Avu (Haimarao)
James Tedder explains the process and stakeholders involved in building an airfield on the geographically isolated and challenged 'Weather Coast' of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands.
- To War down the Zambesi 1914
John Heron Dickson relays the story of how much time and effort was required by his father in Northern Rhodesia to learn of the outbreak of World War One and then the lengths he had to go to in order to report to duty!
- Malayan Tales
David Brent recalls his time in the Malayan Police as they attempted to deal with the opium trade on the East coast of Malaya in the 1950s.
- The Imoten Tree Story
R. F. Hooper explains the lengths that he had to go to when rioting broke out after locals in Nigeria blamed a French trader's wares for causing a hurricane.
- Wullie the Reef Heron
R. E. N. Smith recalls his 'interaction' with the local wildilife in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands with a particularly pushy Reef Heron.
- Black and White: The Chittenden Legend
K. J. Forder illustrates why it was so important to get your order right, if it took six weeks to get your goods from your closest shop in Northern Rhodesia.
- How Government Officers became Official
Opium Dealers in the old Federated Malay States
J. S. A. Lewis, O.B.E. explains the odd series of events that saw British officials become involved in the sale and distribution of Opium throughout Malaya and his own role in permitting and regulating that trade. He further details how and why the government eventually wound down and ultimately banned the sale of Opium.
- The Career of M. P. Porch in
A. R. Allen gives details about the person who actually became the stepfather of Winston Churchill and who had had a less than illustrious career in the Colonial Service in Northern Nigeria. Montague Phippen Porch never seemed far away from scandal, mishap or intrigue in a less than stellar career.
- The Day War Broke Out
J. Ralph Best recalls the day that World War Two broke out whilst stationed in Sierra Leone. He vividly recalls the role played by the 'Marseillaise' and 'Rice Pudding'.
- All In A Day At Lake Baringo
Elsie Maciel recounts the time when a simple family picnic in the wilds of Kenya could become quite a magical experience.
- Wote Timamu, Effendi
Ian D. St.G. Lindsay affectionately recalls the professionalism and loyalty of his Tribal Police Sergeant in Kenya. Suleimani bin Abu Abdulla was an innovative and highly respected policeman and the kind of person that a young British District Officer could rely on implicitly.
- "Uncle" Gerald Reece of Kenya's N.F.D.
The Unforgettable Dubas of Kenya's Northern Frontier
Mervyn Maciel gives a thumbnail biography to an inspirational and influential character who spent much of his career in the Northern deserts of Kenya and whose reputation was renowned far beyond those who met him.
- Escape from Singapore
Lieut. Col. P.A.B. McKerron gives an account of how he managed to escape from the island of Singapore in 1942 as the Japanese forced the British and Empire forces to capitulate.
- A Vignette of Africa, Past and Present
Kenneth J. Forder recalls the issues and responsibilities that faced District Officers in Africa and the role they played in managing the resources and peoples there.
- Coping Without a Resident Doctor in Kenya's Northern Frontier
Elsie Maciel relays the difficulties and hardships of being so isolated from the best doctors and hospitals whilst living and working in Kenya in the 1950s and 1960s. Although help could be found in the unlikely guise of a one-armed pilot!
- The Life And Times Of An Indomitable Goan Lady
Mrs. Mascarenhas Of Kisii
Mervyn Maciel gives a fascinating biographical overview of a resourceful East Asian lady who showed remarkable entrepreneurial flair in Kenya. In many ways, Mrs. Mascarenhas' story shines a light on how new opportunities were granted and seized in the British Empire and how determined, thrifty and hard working people could carve out a successful business for themselves in even the most unlikely of locations.
- From Adam Smith to the Present Mess via Depressions and Two World Wars: A Short History of Economic and Christian Corruption Across the West
"Commerce, which ought naturally to be, among nations, as among individuals, a bond of union and friendship, has become the most fertile source of discord and animosity." Adam Smith, 1776 Dr. Ian Buckley seeks to restore the intent of Adam Smith's teachings and warnings about mercantilism and wealth creation. Adam Smith was one of the British Empire's giants in political and economic thought and a savage critic of his contemporary economic system. However, Dr. Ian Buckley believes that his legacy, writings and advice has been perverted over the years by a number of characters, systems and institutions who sought to use him for their own purposes.
- Escape from Zanzibar
Mervyn Maciel went on holiday from Kenya to Zanzibar in late 1963. Little did he or his family realise that they had arrived on the idyllic island on the eve of a Revolution and a military coup.
- Sinhalese Speakeasy
John Kitching recalls the difficulties in having to prepare and pass the necessary language exams in Ceylon that helped open up promotion and pay increases for the colonial bureaucrats, experts and administrators.
- More Bumps in the Night
J. S. A. Lewis gives a vivid account of some ghostly goings-on whilst a custom's officer in Depression hit Malaya in the 1930s.
- An ADO in Zuru
N. C. McClintock goes into some detail in describing his life as an Assistant District Officer in a remote part of North Western Nigeria in the 1940s.
- Life as a Colonial Service Child in Tanganyika
Debbie Philogene remembers her life as a young child being brought up and educated in East Africa in the 1950s and how hard the transition back to Britain was when it became necessary to relocate.
- Honeymoon in the Wilds
Elsie Maciel recalls the magical experience of her wedding and honeymoon in East Africa in 1952.
- Mapping Kenya before Independence
Duncan McCormack explains the lengths that the British administration went to create accurate maps of all of Kenya even in the midst of the Mau Mau Emergency.
- Education and Political Change
in the Gold Coast
Geoffrey Winter describes working in an Education Office in Western Gold Coast in the late 1940s and early 1950s during a period of transition towards independence.
Brian Wilson explains how the Chinese fascination and enthusiasm for fireworks and firecrackers had to be tamed and tempered by British authorities during their period of administration.
- To Lodwar I'm posted
Mervyn Maciel explains what it was like as a Goan to be posted to the 'Closed District' of Lodwar in the North West of Kenya and about his admiration for the Turkana tribesmen of the region.
- The BSIP (a "complicated country") Police Force
Alan L. Lindley explains what it was like to serve as a police officer in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate in the 1950s. He details the diversity and cultural sensitivities required in working in such a diverse archipelago.
- With The Pastoralists Of Kenya's Northern Desert Once More
Mervyn Maciel explains the tribes he would encounter and their customs whilst on safari in the Northern Deserts of Kenya.
- Memoirs of a Frontier Man
Mervyn Maciel gives a fascinating insight into the contributions of the Goan community in the Administration of Kenya through his own experiences.
- Historical Background to Boko Haram
John Hare explains how the North-East of Nigeria was no stranger to religious upheaval and radical Islamic influences. In fact, this instability was one of the reasons that the British were to create the colony of Northern Nigeria in the first place.
- Nigeria: Life with Algar Robertson
Marjorie Lovatt Smith gives a candid account of her time in Nigeria in the dying days of Empire as she witnessed first hand as Britain prepared to hand over responsibility and authority to the Nigerians. She also recounts part of the role played by Algar Robertson in helping establish a central overseas civil service, with its own pension scheme, for officers serving in the colonies.
- Uganda Long Ago
John Vernon Wild CMG, OBE and Marjorie Lovatt Smith give a fascinating account of colonial government particularly between the years 1950 and 1952 from the point of view of two very different government actors; John Wild was the Assistant Chief Secretary whilst Marjorie was a stenographer.
- Dawn of Empire: The New World and Beyond
Lacey Baldwin Smith explains how England went from an insular island to becoming the foremost naval pioneer during the reign of the Tudor monarchs during the Sixteenth Century.
- British Empire Article: The Presence that Changed the World
Stuart Legg attempts to quantify the impact of the British Empire on the wider World and also how the Empire changed Britain.
- Philatelic Imperialism
Eric Cunningham explains the evolution and importance of stamps in binding the far flung empire together and reflecting its changes over time.
- A Brief Spell on the Frontier
Russell Jones recounts what it was like patrolling the Malaya - Thailand border in the late 1940s.
- Wanderings among the Nomads
Mervyn Maciel recalls the magical experience of living amongst the Turkana in the North-West of Kenya in the late 1940s.
- Wind of Change in Songea
Alan Hall describes the experience of cooperatives in Tanganyika in the 1950s as successive British governments attempted to prepare the colony for economic self-sufficiency after independence.
- How the Road came to Choiseul
John D. Field explains the somewhat chicken and egg problem of what to do with a new Landrover on an island with no roads!
- Legacies from the former Colonial Audit Service
Professor Jeffrey Ridley describes the establishment of the Colonial Audit Service and his own role in Nigeria before discussing the legacy to the wider Commonwealth of this organisation.
- An Introduction to Ysabel
John D. Field recounts being sent to reopen a government office in the war ravaged and isolated island of Santa Ysabel in the Solomon Islands in 1950.
- Agricultural Officer in Uganda
Dick Horrell explains what it was like to be a hard-up new Agricultural Officer freshly posted to Uganda helping to develop the country before its handover in 1962.
- I Remember Mbulu District, Tanganyika
Tony Lee gives an overview of the Africans and British who lived and worked in this district and how they sought to help, develop and manage the local area.
- Alice Lenshina and her Lumpa Church
John Hannah was very much the 'man on the spot' when Alice Lenshina and her Lumpa Church followers brought violence and chaos in Northern Rhodesia in 1964.
- A Reluctant Tax Collector
John Pitchford describes the onerous duties of collecting money in the far flung Gilbert and Ellice Islands - although the job did have its compensations.
- How a Tanganyika District ensured a
Sustainable Supply of Firewood
and Building Poles
Don Barton considers how a novel approach to conserving wood on Ukerewe Island in Lake Victoria was reached.
- A Tribute to Ukiriguru and James Peat
Geoff Dickin considers the pivotal role played by the Empire Cotton Growing Corporation in helping Tanganyika to successfully move into the world economy via the skills and expertise nurtured at the Ukiriguru Agricultural Station.
- Ghosts of the Past
Brian D Wilson relates how he had to resort to implementing traditional Chinese practices after receiving complaints of a government building being haunted by ghosts.
- The 'Bush Telegraph' brings Royal News
Ted Saggerson remembers the way that he learned that Britain had a new Queen whilst in the depth of the East African Bush.
- Queen Elizabeth's Coronation Day
Keith Arrowsmith explains his attempts to celebrate the national holiday called in Nigeria to celebrate the crowning of Queen Elizabeth.
- Nigeria and the Colonial Experience
Reflections of a District Officer
Sir Francis Kennedy analyses the, at times, contradictory contribution made by colonialism in West Africa and its legacy in the post-colonial era.
- Malaya - A Magical Experience
David Brent explains how even the most mundane police duties could be transformed by the magical quality of the nature and fauna of Malaya.
- My Introduction to African Roads
Stan Pritchard recalls a journey along the Great North Road in Tanganyika which amongst other things, resulted in an interesting brush with baboons - all in a day's work!
- Stopping a Tribal Clash in Tanganyika
David Nickol describes how he had to deal with a potentially serious clash between Masai and Chagga in Northern Tanganyika over cattle and grazing rights.
- When Northern Rhodesia invaded Tanganyika
Robert Wise recounts the events that saw a Northern Rhodesia District Commissioner incensed enough to seize a Tanganyikan who had fled across a lake to what he thought was safety.
- Remembering Agricultural Development in Somaliland
Andrew Seager recalls how a development project he had been involved in during his time in Somaliland Protectorate was still up and running decades later.
- Quality instead of Quantity:
an Agricultural Officer's aim
George Brookbank explains the role of the Agricultural officer in Tanganyika in attempting to encourage local farmers to produce better quality goods that could be sold for higher prices.
- Flight From Danger
Ted Claw had an unexpected brush with stampeding cattle whilst on safari in Tanganyika and gives advice on how one might deal with such a predicament.
- The Day's Work and Odd Jobs:
The Queen's visit to Jos
Ronald Bird remembers how he was expected to 'fit in' when the Queen came to the town where he was posted for a break from her hectic 1956 tour of Nigeria schedule.
- Political Officer at work,
Eastern Aden Protectorate
Michael Crouch explains what it was like working as an isolated 'Assistant Adviser Northern Deserts' in the vast and querulous Eastern Aden Protectorate.
- Go Away and Think About Hong Kong!
Dan Waters explains how unlikely it was that he ended up in Hong Kong, the old fashioned journey to take up his new post and how he ended up remaining there for over a half a century!
- Rescue at the Boma in Utete
Donald J G Fraser recounts how guile was used to disperse a large and threatening crowd camped outside a Boma in Utete in Tanganyika in 1952.
- Solomons and Ships
James Tedder gives a potted history of the ships and vessels that enabled trade and administration to be undertaken throughout the Solomon Islands archipelago over time.
- A District Team in Action
Robert Wise gives an example of how the expertise of a District Office Team in Tanganyika could be used to analyse and instigate a developmental solution to a community in trouble.
- Did colonial government neglect development?
David Nickol challenges comments by the Tanzanian President that colonial government just wanted to exploit the resources of the countries it ruled.
- Cutting out Expedition to Fernando Po
Ronald Bird recalls the role played by the Nigerian Colonial Government in World War Two for capturing Axis ships from the neutral Spanish colony of Fernando Po.
- Remembrance of Things Past
John Gullick considers the selective memories that have made it difficult for people to appreciate the constitutional contribution made by Britain to modern day Malaysia.
- The Jester
John Gullick recalls the stories of 'Old Sinister' better known as Arthur Frederick Richards, 1st Baron Milverton from his time in Malaya
- Colonial Law and Local Custom:
The effect of customary practices on prostitution
and juvenile delinquency
W. A. Ramsden, Q.C. explains how some long held African customs could come into conflict with the responsibilities of parenthood and caring for the young in Southern Africa.
- The Volcano
David Browning thought that he was part of an elaborate April Fool's Day joke in the New Hebrides when he discovered that he was involved in a much more sinister plot.
- Curtains in Kaduna
Ruth Holmes recalls accompanying her husband to Kaduna in Nigeria in the 1950s and attempting to use local materials and fabrics to decorate her house only to discover that one pattern in particular had an alternative and already established association.
- Malawi's Pioneering Role
in the Development of Land Husbandry
Anthony Young explains the revolutionary approach to conservation and yield increase during the transition years from Nyasaland to Malawi.
- First Posting in Kenya
J A Nicholas Wallis recalls his first posting to Kenya when he had to give a tour to a visiting American dignitary which ended up ticking off most of the stereotypes Westerners had for East Africa at the time.
- A Replica Pagan Temple in Fiji
Gwyn Watkins explains what it was like to supervise the construction of the old-style Fijian temples which had been the location for executions!
- Serengeti 1954
John Cooke recalls what the Serengeti was like for a D.O. before it was an internationally renowned national park.
- Colonial Law and Local Custom:
Marriage and Divorce in Basutoland
W. A. Ramsden, Q.C. gives a detailed account of the intricacies of balancing British views of justice and rights with those of existing African customs which had also to be honoured in the courts.
- Major O'Driscoll
Manus Nunan explains the character of Major O'Driscoll who served in Kaduna in Northern Nigeria.
- Meeting the Governor
Gwyn Watkins explains the formalities (and informalities) of meeting with the governor of Tanganyika on two different occasions.
- "Uh, uh! D.O. done come!"
John Adshead recounts how Hugh Sackville-West showed the soft power of British rule in Nigeria in quelling disturbances tactfully and with a minimum of fuss.
- My First Weights and Measures Prosecution
Clive Howard-Luck remembers his very first excursion as a Trading Standards Officer in the Rift Valley in Kenya and the speed with which justice could be achieved!
- Le Ministre
Manus Nunan recalls the time that he went from British administered Nigeria to French administered Chad and considered the differences in approach to imperial rule in West Africa.
- Marking a Boundary and Heighting a Mountain
Harry Threlfall explains the role he played in marking out the boundary between Tanganyika and Kenya and how he went about remeasuring the height of the mighty Kilimanjaro.
- Cadet to Governor
Peter Lane gives details of the parody board game played by his parents in Tanganyika charting the potential ups and downs of a career in the colonial administration.
- High Court Capers
Eric Bult recounts how a serious High Court affair in Lilongwe, Nyasaland descended into a comical scene of counsels and officials started recreating the crime scene with innovative props.
- Rusty Buckle
Ronnie Anderson gives an amusing biographical overview of one of the old time colonial administrators in Nigeria: William Alexander Crawford Cockburn. His exploits were the stuff of legend for those that followed him in the Nigerian service.
- Re-housing in Hong Kong
Brian D Wilson explains how the Hong Kong administration had to respond to the massive influx of refugees with the fall of Nationalist China in 1949 and find housing for a swelling population in a territory with finite and limited land resources.
- The Inebriates of the South Arabian Political Service
Michael Crouch recounts the antics of some of those political officers who over-imbibed despite living in an Islamic part of the world which looked down on the drinking of alcohol. However, a combination of heat, loneliness and boredom could result in some people turning to drink for company.
- Foreign Office Administration of African
Walter W Bowring explains how the British attempted to deal with the North and Eastern Italian colonies that they had seized control of during World War Two and attempt to organise them into viable political units.
- Radio Bechuanaland / Botswana
Ian Kennedy details the instrumental role he helped play in establishing a radio network to cover the last years of British rule in Bechuanaland and for the newly formed Botswana.
- The Day's Work and Odd Jobs:
Rough Games in Gwoza
Ronald Bird recounts how he had to administer justice between two warring and rambunctious villages in post-war North-Eastern Nigeria.
- Signed, Sealed and Delivered
John Gullick recalls his role in ensuring that the Negri Sembilan rulers could sign and seal the 1948 Federation of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.
- Slave Trade
Reg Collins understands why Britain is ashamed of the ruthless efficiency in which it pursued the slave trade, but wonders why it does not always get credit for its later role in suppressing the trade in the face of international hostility and recalcitrance.
- Crichton Ian Gavin: A Man Vindicated
R G Anderson sees how this Nigerian colonial administrator was one of the early victims of the authorities pandering to local politicians who did not appreciate Gavin's efficiency and honesty.
- How the Colonial Service helped build Israel
Michael Crouch explains the role that colonial officers in the Western Aden Protectorate played in assisting the ancient Yemeni Jewish population to reach the newly formed state of Israel.
- Setting the Record Straight
Alan Forward credits Andrew Roberts' account of how so few British administrators governed with the consent of so many. However, he also contemplates the exceptional case of the murder of the unfortunate Harry St George Galt in Uganda in 1905.
- Safari - Old Style
J D Hunter-Smith recalls going on what already felt like an old-fashioned style of touring his district in the Uruguru mountains in Tanganyika in order to promote soil conservation.
- The Human Crocodile Man
Christopher Bean recounts an unusual court case he became involved in when one criminal in Nyasaland took another to court for failing to honour payment for murdering a young girl.
- Television to Brunei
Maurice Freeland remembers how useful it was to be able to speak Malay whilst installing television transmitters outside of Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei.
- Singing for my Supper
David Angus explains that when you are the ADC to a Governor-General and he asks you to sing unaccompanied to a party of over 100 dignatries in Northern Nigeria, you do exactly as requested.
- A Learning Experience
Eric Cunningham explains how he saw his role as a colonial educational officer change radically in 1950s Gold Coast as the colony was fast-tracked to independence.
- Moving the Maasai - What were the Conditions
David Forrester takes issue with Lotte Hughes' strong criticism of the Government of British East Africa for relocating the Maasai tribe between 1900 and 1912.
- New Gubernatorial Profiles and Pedigrees
Anthony Kirk-Greene explains the best publications and resources for finding out more about the governors and administrators of British colonies. He also explains how to find out about post-colonial governors and various heads of mission.
- Bwana Miti, Rongai, Tanganyika
N S Casson explains life as a Forest Officer in the small settlement of Rongai on the Northern slopes of Kilimanjaro in the 1950s.
- Ernest Hemingway Lost in Uganda
J R F Mills recalls the time that he was told that one of the most famous authors in the World had gone missing in a light plane and may well have ended up somewhere in the Murchison Falls National Park he was working at.
- The Mongu Walk
Valentine Setzkorn talks about the time he undertook a very old-fashioned tour of the route taken by migrant workers to get to and from Northern Rhodesia's busy mining industries.
- MV Ilala 2
W W Summerscales recounts his role in preparing the communications systems on Motor Vessel Ilala which was the descendent of Livingstone's steamer on Lake Nyasa. Amazingly, Ilala II is still in operation on the lake all these years later.
- The Dinner Party
John Grieve explains the finer subtleties and intricacies of arranging the seating plans for a formal dinner when a diverse set of guests have been invited to dinner with the Governor of Hong Kong.
- A Matter of Understanding
Simon Templer explain how as a young customs officer he had a rather major misunderstanding with a refugee fleeing from the Belgian Congo to the British Protectorate in Uganda.
- An Experiment in Democracy
John Gullick explains the role he played in helping to organise and run the first general election in Malaya in 1955 and how it helped embed a post-colonial transition of power.
- How to Kill Locusts: Chapter 2
Arthur Staniforth's account prompted Andrew Seager to reminisce about his battles against locusts in the British Somaliland Protectorate and how he used that experience in the World Bank years later.
- How to Kill Locusts
Arthur Staniforth recounts how he attempted to control locusts from swarming in remarkable surroundings in Sudan in 1945.
- Dura Camp
James Lang Brown gives an account of the time he had to travel to remote West Uganda to assess the environmental impact of miners in the forest and how he incidentally became the first paying customer on the newly opened Western Extension on the Uganda Railway.
- Rain Stimulation in East Africa
B.W. Thompson explains how as a meteorologist in East Africa in the 1950s he was expected to help the rains to fall from the sky!
- Supermarket - Island Style
James Tedder explains the practicalities and processes of getting access to food and shopping in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate.
- Mail Day in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate
James Tedder explains the importance and relative reliability of the mail system in even the furthest flung and remotest part of Britain's Empire.
- Ufiti: Witchcraft and Law in Nyasaland
R E N Smith explains the medical role played by practitioners of witchcraft in 1950s Nyasaland and how difficult it became to disentangle medical negligence in the colony's legal system.
and Empires: A natural evolution
David Brent puts the history of Britain's empire into context with other empires and evaluates just how much it deserves its negative image amongst certain commentators and writers.
- A Piano, a Buffalo and Kidneys in Red Wine
Patricia Jacobs explains some of the more interesting trials and tribulations facing the wife of a District Commissioner in rural Uganda.
- The Resident, Rivers Province
Manus Nunan explains how he helped set up the first Crown Counsel's Chambers in Port Harcourt in Eastern Nigeria and his dealings with an old-school British Resident.
- Big Bang near Kilimanjaro
Graham Edwards explains a novel if unconventional way to remove vast numbers of swarming birds and help protect local wheat crops.
- More Condoms Please!
John Pitchford discovered that the people of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands had an innovative use for condoms!
- Two Knights and a Chief in Central Africa
Brian Reavill recounts a meeting between two key figures in Northern Rhodesian and what their tastes in art may have informed their understanding of justice.
- The Story behind the Story:
An Airfield Inspection
L J Holliday gives an account of what really happened at a fire at an airfield in North Borneo - as opposed to what the press had reported had happened.
- Trial in Perim (1955)
Bill Wickham explains how unusual it was for the British to become involved in judicial issues on the Island of Perim at the end of the Red Sea.
- The British Return to Malaya in 1945
John Gullick explains his role in accompanying the British invasion of Malaya in September 1945 and attempting to reassert control in a land torn apart by war. He also explains how he had to deal with their recent allies turned rivals the MPAJA.
- The District Officer in the African Colonial Novel
Anthony Kirk-Greene examines how Colonial Service in Africa was reflected in literature and how the officers of Empire provided inspiration for this genre of writing.
- ODTAA: One Damned Thing After Another
Eric Cunningham recounts a journey of his from Kumasi to Accra in the Gold Coast which seemed to take a dark turn.
- The Royal Visit - Aden 1954
Bill Wickham gives an account of the visit of HM Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to Aden in April 1954.
- Bussa Rapids
Ronald Bird explains how he tried to revolutionise communications along the River Niger's most notorious stretch of rapids by attaching an outboard motor to the traditional boats that plied the waterways.
- Agricultural Reconstruction in Sarawak
John Foster explains how he helped to rebuild and develop the Sarawak agricultural economy in post-war Sarawak.
- Agricultural Enforcement in Nyasaland
R E N Smith recounts how he helped modernize and improve the efficiency of agriculture in one of Central Africa's less developed colonies.
- Memories of The Malayan Emergency
Brian Stewart remembers his time in Malaya working for the Chinese Secretariat (or Chinese Protectorate) which became an unexpectedly important institution in the fight against the Chinese rebels during the Emergency.
- About Cricket
L.J. Holliday illustrates the importance of sport to the colonial workforce by explaining how he had to travel over 500 miles by boat and plane from Sarawak to Borneo to play a return game of cricket.
- Lamu Town
Peter Lloyd explains what it was like to be sent to this ancient Arab trading town (and now a UNESCO World Heritage Centre) on the East Coast of Africa as a young District Commissioner in the 1950s.
- Police Eyes in the Sky in Hong Kong
Tony Bennett recalls flying over Lantau Island and Castle Peak from the open hatchway of the, even for then, aging Auster planes used by the Hong Kong Auxiliary police
- Love and Mixed Marriage
C.D.A. Cochran explains what it was like in 1970 in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate for a Briton to marry the grand-daughter of a renowned local chief.
- The Joy of Bushbashing
Reverend John Jeremy Collingwood explains the difficulties of traversing Northern Rhodesia whilst attempting to map the territory.
- A Kenya Journey
B.W. Thompson remembers a journey taken along the Mombasa to Nairobi road in 1952 which illustrated the best and worst of undertaking road trips in colonial Kenya.
- The Raj Re-Visited - A Study Trip to India's Capital
Dr Robert Carr takes his students to revisit the old imperial capital in Delhi to trace the legacy of Britain's connection to its Jewel in its Crown
- From world-empire to global umpire?
Quentin J. Broughall analyses how Britain has changed its relationship to the rest of the world from the end of the First World War to the modern day. He believes that Britain has successfully adapted its role in the face of decolonisation and alongside the expansion of various international institutions. He argues that Britain managed to ensure that Britain was able to maintain considerable diplomatic and global influence despite the dissolution of most of her formal empire.
- Empire in Your Backyard; Imperial Plymouth
Plymouth was a key port that played a vital role in the imperial story. This article examines how Plymouth shaped the Empire, but it also examines the effect that the Empire had on Plymouth. This article uses Plymouth as an example to chart the impact of Empire on a specific locality. It focusses on the hidden Imperial heritage that is often overlooked or white-washed from memory. It shows how macro events could effect a micro community and vice versa.
- Sigiriya: The Most Remarkable Fortress in the World
This account by Percy L. Parker and suggested by Rohan Fernando details the discovery and archaeological excavations in the 1890s of the Lion Rock in Ceylon which uncovered beautiful frescoes and a long lost settlement in a real life Indiana Jones story.
- V P Menon - The Forgotten Architect of Modern India
Rohan Fernando presents a profile of the man who provided key Constitutional Advice to the final three British Viceroys and did so much for the creation of the Indian State in the form that it took.
- How the Empire has been taught in British Schools
Stephen Luscombe tracks the way that 'Empire' and 'Imperial Themes' have been taught in British schools over the last two centuries and explains how we have arrived at today's political and educational attitudes to the subject.
- The Cullinan Diamond
David Buckerfield visits the mine where the world's largest ever diamond was discovered in the Transvaal.
- The Victoria Falls
Peter Roberts explains how David Livingstone became the first European credited with discovering these magnificent Falls in the midst of the Dark Continent.
- The Anglo-Zulu War
David Buckerfield provides another photo essay visiting the iconic sights of the Anglo-Zulu War; namely the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift.
- Cyprus Emergency
Jim Herlihy discusses the emergency which affected the island of Cyprus from 1955 to 1960. Jim served in the Special Branch of the Cyprus Police from Jan 1956 to Oct 1960. He served at Kyrenia, Lefka and Nicosia.
- Kenyan Independence
Jim Herlihy, who was in Special Branch in the colony, looks at the events leading up to Kenyan Independence. Jim served in the Special Branch of the Kenya Police from Sep 1960 to Oct 1963 in Nyeri and Nairobi.
- Burma's Last Days
Jim Herlihy explains the final stages before Burma was hurriedly handed its independence in 1948. From Aug 1946 to Jan 1948 he served as the Assistant Superintendent of Police, Armed Police, Myaungmya and also as the Assistant Commandant Burma Frontier Constabulary in Taungyi and Pyongyang.
- Churchill's Capture, Imprisonment and Escape
David Buckerfield has taken his motorbike and followed the movements of a Young Winston Churchill who was captured by the Boers in the Boer War. His subsequent escape was something of a sensation at the time and helped raise Churchill's profile.
- The Aden Emergency
Jim Herlihy was Superintendent of Police, commanding the Counter Terrorist Group of the Aden Police Special Branch and was one of the last British people to leave the colony in 1967. In this article he writes a candid description of the intelligence battle that lead up to the abandonment of the colony. He served in that capacity from Mar 1965 to Jan 1968.
- Learning from Adam Smith
Dr Ian Buckley wonders what lessons could be learned by decisions makers today from the Empire's most influential Eighteenth Century economist.
- White Mischief: Central Africa and Civil War 1953-79
Dr Robert Carr examines the role of the Central African Federation on the decolonisation process for the colonies of Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia. He discusses the reasons for its failure and why it left one of the more unpleasant colonial legacies.
- "Am I not a man and a brother?"
Jonathan Wooddin investigates British attitudes to black West Indians in the Nineteenth Century. Where their attitudes racist, pure and simple? Or were they more subtle than that?
- An Informal Empire?
Neil Simpson considers just how successful the British Empire was in establishing informal links with nations such as Egypt and Argentina.
- Australia's Foreign Wars: Origins, Costs, Future?!
Dr Ian Buckley considers how a clearer understanding of how wars of the past began might well improve our ability to handle contemporary security concerns without such resort.
- A Gap Year with a Difference
Matthew Showering resisted the idea of a Gap Year until he decided to use one with a purpose. That purpose was to see how the ex-colonies and dominions had coped since their independence. India is his first destination...
- The Evangelical Empire:
Christianity's contribution to Victorian Colonial Expansion
Dr Robert Carr examines the role of religion in disseminating Western ideas and justifying the evangalical zeal of missionaries as they sought to spread their influence around the Empire.
- A Case History: Britain,
Empire Decline, and the Origins of WW1: Or, Might the Lessons of the
Boer War have 'Saved the Day'?
Dr Ian Buckley considers whether the carnage of the First World War might have been predicted, and thus avoided, by a more careful analysis of the style of warfare engendered by the Boer War.
- Jerusalem Lost: Britain's Zionist Fiasco 1917-1956
Dr Robert Carr examines Britain's relationship with the Jewish Zionists from World War One to the Cold War. He tracks the deterioration of a relationship that got off to such a promising start in 1917.
- Faith and Family in South India
David Gore tells the story of three generations of a family of Christian missionaries who worked among the poorest of the poor at the southern tip of the subcontinent, showing why, more than a century later, they are still remembered there today.
- Concession & Repression: British Rule in India 1857-1919
Dr Robert Carr traces the delicate balancing act between moving towards home rule and/or crushing dissent by successive imperial governments.
- Don't Put Imperialism on Trial Stupid!
Lee Ruddin explains that we all the problems of the present Middle East should be laid at the door of nineteenth Century colonialism. Imperialism is an all too easy excuse to hide behind.
- Pashto Under the British Empire
Dr Ali Jan explains the influence that the British had on the Pashto Language.
- What Mr Sanders Really Did
Veronica Bellers has very kindly allowed us to print the manuscript of her book detailing life in Colonial Africa.
- Missionaries in Northern India
This is the story of two families working on behalf of their faith on the fringes of the Empire.
- Gladys' Story
February 29th, 1880. The hazards of 19th century travel: this is the story of a shipwreck that occurred off the west coast of India as related by a young passenger on the ship.
- The House that Byrd Built
David Gore considers William Byrd (1674 - 1744) of Virginia, the founder of Richmond, one of the most remarkable colonists of his day. Traveller, scholar and writer, Byrd had influence on both sides of the Atlantic which he crossed ten times. The great Georgian mansion he built on the James River, his diaries and the witty, satirical accounts of his expeditions reflect the early history of the State of which he was one of the founding fathers.
- With the 17th Lancers in Zululand
This is the transcript of a lecture given by a participant of the campaign some 100 years ago.
- My God, Maiwand!
This battle was one of the most serious setbacks suffered by a British/Indian force on the Indian subcontinent. David Gore describes it here using first hand accounts of survivors and, with background notes, he examines the circumstances that led to the defeat about which there is still controversy although more than a century has passed.
- The Abyssinian Campaign
This campaign to release British hostages held in the interior of the African continent was regarded as an excellently executed classic Victorian 'Little War'.
- Death on the Pale Horse
Some sixty years after the British left India, David Gore recalls the courage and eccentricities of a Scottish dynasty that served there across two centuries.
- Churches of India
One legacy of the Imperial Raj are the buildings that the British left behind. The churches shown here are direct descendents of one of the most important institutions in the empire; religion.
- The British Press and the Indian Mutiny
The Indian Mutiny was a massive shock to all levels of British society. Why were they so rudely awakened by this event and what role did the press play in warning, covering and evaluating the Indian Mutiny.
- The Indian Caste System and the British
Today, people think that the rigid caste system operated in India is the result of ancient requirements of religion. But just how much of this rigidity was due to their religion? Or how much was it due to a conscious direction by the British to create artificial divisions in order to make it easier to divide and rule the sub-continent and its people?
- Mulligatawny Soup
Recreate the days of the Raj by trying your hand at cooking an authentic Anglo-Indian meal.
- Bureaucracy on the Wires
A witty look at the importance of clear communications to effective governance.
- The last goodbye!
When Hong Kong had passed into Chinese rule, the sun had finally set on the British Empire.