Archive / Papers / Hall, M. Papers


Microfilm No. 43

Memoirs by Mrs Margery Hall. 2 volumes.

Mrs Hall’s husband, Henry Hall, served in Simla, U.P., Bombay, Delhi and N.W.F.P. between 1938 and 1945. From 1946 to 1962 he held posts in Sabah and Sarawak.

The two volumes, And the Nights Were More Terrible Than The Days and Brief Encounters In a Land of Sea and Sun, comprise a vivid, if gossipy, account of experiences encountered in various parts of Empire. Chapters on Jacobabad in Volume I and on treatment of mental patients in a North Borneo hospital in Volume II are of particular interest. Her response to people and surroundings in each place is unusual. She sought to involve herself in social work wherever they lived, often at risk of ostracism by local Europeans.

She makes penetrating observations on the effect of Indian and Colonial life on British men and women, summed up thus: “The Colonial Empire took …more than it gave to most of its servants”.

The names of the people and places described are fictitious. A glossary of the real names has been made by Mrs. Hall for the Archive but is restricted.

  1. Ch. 1. Goes to India on holiday; stays Simla and Delhi; most interesting viewpoint of social life and the conventions. (1937-38)
  2. Ch. 2. Voyage home on German ship and consequences of Munich crisis. (1938)
  3. Ch. 3. Return voyage to India 1939 to marry; detailed description of a young couple setting up house, and how; marriage.
  4. Ch. 4. Outbreak of war; her husband joins army in Poona; economics of life as a married subaltern; background of social etiquette of a hill station; Anglo-Indians; stories of experiences in India very illustrative of European life in India.
  5. Ch. 5. Domestic life in India.
  6. Ch. 6. Minnie ? the mongoose.
  7. Ch. 7. Background to life during the war.
  8. Ch. 8. Life at Staff college, Quetta; journey there.
  9. Ch. 9. Delhi; wartime in Delhi; rabies.
  10. Ch. 10. Life in Babat and Pinwar; Afghanistan.
  11. Ch. 11. Life in Phutipura, Sind Desert; a very vivid account of seventeen months in a dreadful place.
  12. Ch. 12. Life in Phutipura, continued.
  13. Ch. 13. Life in Pinwar: these chapters are sprinkled with tragic, amusing and very revealing anecdotes.
  14. Ch. 14. Pinwar continued; voluntary Red Cross war-work; picnic on borders of Afghanistan; rationing; life after the end of the war; beginnings of civil strife; home.
  15. Ch. 15-16. Homeward journey and end.