This is an excellent personal narrative of the varied Colonial Service career of the
author, whose first experience was in Aden in 1935, when he accepted a temporary post
with the commercial firm of A. Besse & Co., whilst his application to the Colonial Office
was being held over. His descriptions of his work there, the people he met and his trips to
the hinterland make his first chapter fascinating and full of interest, especially to anyone
who, like me, knew Aden well in later years. John Morley, now 23, was then appointed to
the Colonial Administrative Service and in 1937 arrived at Sokoto in Northern Nigeria.
His accounts of his daily duties as an A.D.O., the places he visited on tour and the persons
he dealt with are absorbing, detailed and entertaining; all enlivened by extracts from his
After home leave he was posted to Lokoja, at the confluence of the Niger and Benue
rivers, where the people and environment were quite different; but are again described with
clarity and skill. In 1940 he was called up and, after initial military training, was
commissioned into the 12th Battalion Nigeria Regiment at Kano. Here he was involved
with recruit training and in teaching Hausa to British Officers and N.C.Os; but there
seemed at that time little likelihood of the RWAFF being involved in active service. And so
on his next leave, when he also got married, he applied for secondment to the Occupied
Enemy Territory Administration of the former Italian East Africa; and, on his return to
Kano, found himself accepted and posted to Massawa, on the Red Sea coastal plain of
Eritrea, arriving in May 1941.
Here he was involved in the new Civil Administration as it took over from the military,
and clearly enjoyed himself in the exciting new situations and surroundings. Late in 1942
he was sent to the Central Highlands and based at Asmara, travelling widely into the
agricultural areas to the south, bordering on Abyssinia; and over the northern plains on the
Sudan border with their nomadic pastoralists. Once again his accounts of the different
inhabitants, their way of life and respective faiths, are informative and beautifully written.
In mid 1944 he was back in the U K when he heard that plans were under way for a future
British Military Administration in Malaya, for which he then applied and was accepted.
After the Japanese surrender he arrived in Singapore in October 1945 to deal with the
complex problems of a great, run-down city. In due course normality resumed, his wife
joined him and he was to serve in Perak State and Kuala Lumpur; his work as usual being
clearly and concisely recorded.
By 1951, as the author wrote, "1 had given my heart to the Colonial Service and enjoyed
myself immensely .... with some modest success"; but felt from a family viewpoint that he
ought soon to retire. So he secured a posting to the Gold Coast, where Independence was
expected shortly; and his final two chapters tell of his work there from 1952-56 as
Commissioner for the Development Corporations and Marketing Boards. But life became
difficult as policies were subordinated to personalities and dishonesty and corruption crept
in; with his departure being soured by a pending Inquiry into the Cocoa Purchasing
Company, which later cleared him of any blame. I much enjoyed this book, illustrated with
excellent pastel portraits by his wife, but missed an index and the lack of photos and maps
of the various territories he served in.