Archive / Papers / Cowley Papers


Given by W. Cowley.

Small Collections Box 7

Punjab 1939 – 1947

  1. Autobiographical memoir entitled¬†Peacocks Calling: one man’s experience of India. 1939-1947.
    Background to trying to enter ICS, from High School and Cambridge. Fails interview at first attempt. Goes abroad for a year’s walking in Europe. Gets through interview at second attempt. S.O.A.S. and Gray’s Inn for Probationary Year.
  2. Sails for India September 1939.. Background of other ICS probationers on board.
    Appointed to Rawalpindi. D.C. Arthur Williams. Sees Hindu festival of Dussehra. Describes different ways of keeping order by ICS and police. Lives with D.C. and wife.
    Gazetted 3rd class magistrate. Describes first months of work and country – bearer – riding on tour with D.C.
    Describes first tour alone; incidents in social life with Indians and English. On tour in Khyber. Officials and others met; interspersed with historical anecdotes both distant and recent. Describes Mardan; work of Tahsil H.Q.; relaxation. Takes exam and is gazetted 2nd class magistrate.
    Leisure pursuits. A week in Kashmir with Phil Talbot before going to Murree for Treasury training.
  3. Murree: combines Treasury and court work, both in the town and in country.
    Takes another trip with Talbot up the Sind Valley.
    Basic economics of a Punjab villager, and comparisons with other individuals.
    To Gurgaon for Settlement Training. Sent to Chainsa for practical training. Rides 30 miles there. Describes Settlement Work. Account of the villagers and individuals he gets to know.
    Interesting society of Aligar. Meets Freddie Young of the U.P. of dacoit-hunting fame.
    Vivid descriptions of the countryside.
    Meets the Boy Scout movement through Thomas Tull near Sohna and is obsessed by the Movement.
    Transfers to Ferozepore as lst class magistrate. Description of district and work, Sir Douglas Young, M.R. Sachdev and F.L. Brayne.
    H.Q. of Scout Movement, Punjab, there.
  4. Description of Scout social services during Hindu pilgrimages to Lake Kurukshetra where conditions had previously been indescribable.
    Acted as Hogg’s P.A, riding official elephant. Description of tussle with crowd when removing objectionable sadhu.
    Trek with certain scouts from Kashmir to Dalhousie. Hospitality from nomad family when benighted at 12,000 ft.
  5. Transfer to Hissar on famine duty: relief money for villages: camels for transport..
    Applied to join the Indian Army.
    Sent on mission to Patiala to arrange supply of water channels.
    Transferred to Jullunder to preside over tanning factory enquiry.
  6. Description of Jullunder; living with the McNabs in commissioner’s house, once John Lawrence’s.
    Attempt to climb the Dhaulidhar. Description of scenery and flowers.
  7. Two men only freed from ICS for Armed Forces – Tull and McPherson.
    Cowley sent to Calcutta to train for Civil Defence.
    Transfer to Multan. George Brander as D.C.
    Dacoiti hold-up on Kalka-Simla railway. Hogg – builder of the Scout movement – and his son murdered.
    Cowley asked to take over Youth Movement and Boy Scouts.
    Remarks on the difference between the Punjab and other provinces in its non-racial, non-communal government – until 1946.
    Week in Baluchistan. Accounts of the Bhanot household, tribesmen’s jirgas, games, feasts and the scout camp.
  8. Lahore: takes over scouting and other Youth Movement duties: is member of strict film censor board.
    Scout office H.Q. staff of six. Moti Lal, outstanding secretary.
    Field staff headed by Sirdar Sahib Sardar Hardial Singh. Circuit organisers mentioned with high praise: Iqbal Kureshi, Sita Ram Mahindroo and Mohammad Latif.
    Description of hill training centre, Tara Devi, near Simla.
    Larger grant for Scouts achieved.
    A tour with Sir Sikandar Hyat Khan and John Eustace combining War Front,
    Scouting and Civil Defence rallies.
  9. Enlargement of Tara Devi centre.
    Descriptions of scenery on further treks.
    Visits CMS Mission School in Srinagar run by Tyndale Biscoe.
    Camps in Kashmir: the great beauty of the Gurais Valley. (In 1947 the cease-fire line between India and Pakistan where the closing of passes caused the starvation of many nomads and their flocks.)
  10. Work at Tara Devi.
    Inspection of all thirty-one Punjab districts.
    Having drawn up memorandum on Youth Movement, is granted 4 months home leave to study British youth movements.
  11. Marries. Achieves study project.
    Returns to India but unable to obtain passage for wife.
  12. Completes report: his schemes are accepted for creation of Young Farmers’ clubs, students’ camps etc.
    Wife joins him and helps with cub and scout work.
    Account of visit to Coleyana, huge estate of Sir Edward Cole, breeder of race-horses.
    Another attempt to climb the Dhaulidar.
    More money obtained for the Girl Guide Assoc.
  13. Building of large youth hostel at Tara Devi.
    Account of a trek from Rampur to Kulu.
    A trek up the Liddar Valley and an attempt on Kolahoi.
  14. Winter touring from Lahore.
    Sent to arbitrate in an Electricity Company dispute.
    104,000 scouts now in the Punjab. 10,000 more in training.
  15. Official visits to Simla Hill States.
    An attempt to climb Banderpunch.
  16. Tragic illness and death of Cowley’s wife.
    Given a change of job: posted to the. Supply Dept.
    Senses the unease now in the province. Scout help in refugee camps.
    Is granted leave.
    Gives a summary of the political events and their appalling results.
    Terrible problems of divided Punjab. His return to India in 1957 with Himalayan expedition.