Archive / Papers / Gunn Papers: Box 1


Lent by W.A. Gunn

MS copy of diary kept by Mr. W.A. Gunn during his first trip up country in Burma where he was with T.D. Findlay & Co.

  • 6 December 1923. describes the journey to Holai by cart and car as a young man not knowing the language. Journeys by night largely because of height and heat. Finds station etiquette tiresome. At Loilem sees rebels in jail with whom he sympathizes.
  • 24 December. at Holai, and hears he is to be sent to inspect ‘girdling’ operations south of Mawkmai. Leaves for jungle
  • 3 January 1924. from Pan Tong . Meets caravan from Trans Salween 150 bullocks loaded with betel nut. Starts girdling teak trees from camp in jungle. Lances headman’s inflamed arm. Working in forest. Plays Chinlon. In the ravine girdles 257 trees average 7 ft. girth.
  • 16 January. Moves camp to Ta Pung Ko to girdle in theHwe Pungleng. Works six miles from camp. Trees scarce. Joined by 2 other forest officers. Large camp. Gets poisoned legs and is laid up for over a week. Goes on working.
  • 13 February. Finishes ravine and moves to next thankfully. Girdled 1,092 trees since 3 January.
  • 18 February. Moves camp again. Heat increasing. Mail oncea week. ‘ Extremely difficult country. Eclipse of the moon, which causes the Shans great excitement. Sandflies, great heat, little game. Fever. Very long walks to girdling area. Stores running out.
  • 22 March. Girdling finishes having done 2,477 trees. Joins Stearns and they return slowly to Holai, with stores running out. No shooting, close season and Reserve.
  • 24 April. Arrive Holai. Goes shooting with the Sawbwa (local king) and they entertain him to breakfast afterwards. Leaves Bolsi. Inspects elephant camps and stores.
  • 17 May. On tour again. Near Kadugyi meet a hill tribe called Toungoos. Preparations for a very big pwai.
  • 19 May. The rains begin. Measuring timber.
  • 22 May. Sees the end of the pwai.
  • 24 May. Foster-mothering in elephants.
  • 27 May. Touring and camping in heavy rain. Flying ants.
  • 6 June. Leave Holai for jungle taking 16 elephants and young, having prepared to be there until about October. Glad to leave after inactivity.
  • 7 June. Camp life described vividly. Mad dog, flying ants, torrential rain
  • In the Pan Valley. Description of propitiation of nats or local spirits and  deities. Watch elephants working on tikes. Description of logging. Rogue elephant attacks the camp in the night in search of rice. Logging begins again on 27th. Second rogue elephant attacks the camp. Old elephant goes musth. Logging timber at headwaters of the Pan. Logging continues, moving camp frequently following loggers. Sandflies, mosquitoes, rain and rogue elephant, and  fever. Same daily routine.
  • 24 July. Entry about different qualities of teak logs. Difficulties of working during the rains in swollen rivers. The Pan rises to greatest height on 21 August – teak logs float 100 yards from river bed. Desoription of Shan huts and method of living. Incident of man going temporarily mad from drinking raw spirit and slashing another. Returns to Holai. They take Karen boy with dislocated hip with them — On holiday . Go to Tounggyi where the Karen is examined. Nothing to be done. Go to Kalaw, where they go to the club. Dancing, golf, bridge etc. Most people there are Eurasian. Goes to Reho and takes Burmese examination and passes with fever. Bad bout of fever. On trek again, but in bullock cart because of  weakness.
  • 27 November. Starts on his own to the Leng. Different country from the Pan and difficult. Misses colleague, and therefore without knowledge of the country. Ranger has not called on him, he cannot call first. Ranger doing bad work in girdling. Arrival of the Forest Officer, Brown. Description of camp life, when joined by others and the depression when they leave. Description of different ways of camping. Brown’s enormous retinue. Orange groves. Salween River. Sees villagers, making paper and weaving. Gets orders to do a trip down the river Pawn counting the-logs that have not gone into the Saiween. Very pleased. Volume ends.


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