E.J. Rudsdale Talk

I will be giving a talk as part of the Chelmsford Ideas Festival on E.J. Rudsdale's Journals, entitled 'Creating History: A Civilian's Experience of the Second World War in Essex' on Thursday 30th October from 7.30-9.00pm at Anglia Ruskin University. Tickets are free. Book your ticket here. Many thanks, Catherine Pearson

6th April 1942: Easter Monday

Bright and sunny, coloured clouds driving across the sky before a strong S.W. wind. What an ideal day it would have been in Regents Park! [for the Van Horse Parade]

Office, looked at the letters, and found Spencer there, industriously doing the time-sheets. Air-raid alarm at a quarter past 10.

As I went up Mersea Road I met the Indians coming along by the Abbey Wall, off for a route march with all their horses. Their uncouth and bizarre appearance never fails to delight me. The horses with their swaying packs ambled along in pairs, the sergeants riding, corporals walking, stretcher bearers and various odd men all strolling along exactly like some caravan leaving an eastern city. The men wore full equipment, and steel helmets, which gave a weird effect with dark complexions and full black beards. There appeared to be only two white Officers in the whole lot.

It is typical of this narrow minded little town that we allow these strange and fascinating men to live amongst us for weeks, without making the slightest effort to find out anything about them or take any interest in them at all. [The Indian Army had arrived in Colchester in October 1941]

Spent most of day working (gently) in the paddock.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Catherine

How curious complains about the narrow minded of Colchester with regard to the Indian soldiers, having commented that Their uncouth and bizarre appearance never fails to delight me.
Perhaps he did not consider describing them as 'uncouth' put him with the rest of the population!

Mike Dennis

E J Rudsdale said...

Hi Mike, Yes - I think it's a bit of a case of double standards on EJR's part here! Like his fellow Colcestrians, he hadn't made much effort to find out about the Indian soldiers either! However, I'm glad he made this record as the Indian army must have been a magnificent site as they made their way through the town. CP

Barbara Critchley said...

What a delightful description of the Indian army on the move. I was listening to an Indian version of "Just a Minute" recently and the Indian contesters sounded as eccentric and anarchic as the Indian army in Colchester must have looked to EJR in 1942. This is an "on the spot" description in a personal diary written honestly and without any late 20th century "politically correct" restraints. India was not granted independence until 1947. These were empire troops from thousands of miles away, helping Britain with the war effort and marching through Colchester in a way which struck EJR as "uncouth and bizarre." No wonder he feels they should have excited more interest in Colcestrians.

E J Rudsdale said...

Many thanks for your comment, Barbara - this is a well made point and puts this diary extract into context perfectly. I had a sense that EJR admires the lack of conformity in the Indian Army soldiers and he is always appreciative of their horsemanship. He gives us a vivid description of the spectacle of the Indian army in Colchester - an incident which would otherwise be forgotten. CP