I was so taken with this blog that I had to share it – the connection with Africa being that Indians served in Africa during World War 1 and that Kitchener and Barrow (mentioned in the blog) were at loggerheads determining where the Indian troops in 1914 were to go: Europe or Africa…
My initial reactions were mixed: from ‘the poor chaps – having to have their holidays organised and overseen when they’re about to become officers in the British Army’ to ‘it makes sense – London can be a big and frightful city, a guide would be helpful.’ Another interpretation is paternalism – in those days, it was believed that men from the colonies, especially men who were not white, needed looking after, but contrast this with 1963, when African officer cadets were being looked after by the KAR Club during the holidays – little had changed from 1920, to more recent personal visitors one might have, irrespective of background, from places which were previously colonies: how different has been all the guidance and offers to accompany them to certain places? I recently overheard a tube station employee advise a couple of white elderly ladies about how to keep safe at the station they were getting directions to – in the East End of London.
Another thought which crossed my mind is how many, if any, Indians who served in Africa during the war, were sent to Sandhurst in 1920 to train as officers? I hadn’t realised Indians were admitted to Sandhurst so early on. When were black Africans first admitted? A video from 1962 shows some Rhodesians on a junior leadership course, as does TJ Lovering, while Timothy Parsons (p174) has a date of 1957. It looks like more digging will be needed to answer these questions – and that will have to wait for another day, including more on Edmund Barrow. It looks like Sarah Stockwell might have some of the answers in The British End of the British Empire.
Sandhurst today is home to a memorial for the King’s African Rifles.