The British Empire Library

When I Was Younger: A Forest Officer's Memories of Uganda in the Thirties

by W. J. Eggeling

Courtesy of OSPA

Review by R.S.F.
The sub-title "A Forest Officer's Memories of Uganda in the Thirties" will no doubt catch the interest of those who served in a professional capacity in the territory over 80 years ago. The starting point is the author's graduation in Forestry at Edinburgh University in 1930, his appointment to the Colonial Office and his posting to Uganda at the age of 21 as a probationary Assistant Conservator of Forests.

In his account, year by year, to the outbreak of war in 1939, the author describes in detail his work in the field. Readers with an informed interest in forestry, botany and natural history will enjoy the descriptions of the findings and sightings on the seemingly continuous round of safaris which made up a Forestry Officer's work.

The general reader would perhaps welcome more about the social life and the off-duty scene in provincial Uganda in the days before the BBC World Service (the author had early news of the death of King George V, courtesy of a local chief with access to a finely tuned set of drums!) But there are in the book numerous anecdotes, incidents and adventures involving the author and his colleagues and these help to give the general reader something of the flavour of the life-style in Uganda in the period 1931-39.

The author tells of his return to Uganda at the beginning of the war after leave in the United Kingdom, cured of bilharzia (thanks, possibly, to the unorthodox clinical practice of a Skye doctor). At that point, as the author says, there was "a new chapter of life about to begin". Perhaps he will carry his story forward in a further volume and tell us more about life as it was lived in Uganda in his time there.

British Empire Book
W. J. Eggeling
W. J. Eggeling
Books by W.J. Eggeling


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