Archive / Papers / Ross Papers


Given by Mrs. E. Ross

United Provinces 1941-1946

Letters written home when, as Miss E. Croydon, she left England to nurse in India with the Methodist Mission.

  1. 31 March 1941: Freetown , Sierra Leone, where she was landed after the ship Britannia, on which she was travelling to India was torpedoed and sunk. Experience of being in a lifeboat and rescue. Loses all belongings. 8pp.
  2. 24 April: Women’s Training College, Freetown, where she and others remained temporarily. 6pp.
  3. 14 April: At sea again, sailing to Cape Town. 1p.
  4. 23 April: Cape Town to Durban by train. 3pp.
  5. 5 May: At sea again. Gets an offer to be a fourth wife to an Indian merchant. Does Hindi lessons. 4pp.
  6. 22 May: Methodist Mission, Bombay. 7pp.
  7. 29 May: Landour U.P. in Himalayas at the language school, learning first Urdu and then Hindi. Journey by rail from Bombay to Landour. Changes at Delhi into 2nd class. Met at terminus, continues by rickshaw and dandy which she hates. Lives with a family. The news is of other missionaries and of reorganizing life having lost all baggage. 7pp.
  8. 4 June: Receives tremendous kindness from Americans and Australians who give her numerous gifts as a survivor. Works very hard at language. 5pp.
  9. 14 June: Has to speak to the school about her experiences. 9pp.
  10. 21 June: Personal, social life; proposals for trek in mountains. 8pp.
  11. 30 June: News of social life – entirely European and American in Landour. Goes on trek in the mountains with party for 5 days, staying at Dak bungalows. Takes bus to Rishikesh and stays in beautiful inspection bungalow. They are taken by an Indian to a Hindu Temple to a service, with which she is favourably impressed. They also see ashrams, and she comments on them and sadhus. Meets Swami Sivananda of the Divine Life Society. Sees Ganges for first time. Comments on the people carefully and acutely. 10pp.
  12. 5 July: Preparations for friend’s wedding. Goes to tea with nurse to a Rajah who had lost her son on Brittannia. 5pp.
  13. 12 July: Talks about friend who is marrying a man working in Waziristan. More about mutual friends. 5pp.
  14. 20 July: Local and family. Has tea with woman who has adopted 10 Indian orphans. 4pp.
  15. 26 July: Local and family. 3pp.
  16. 3 August: Local and family. Goes to dinner with her munshi, a Sikh – she describes in detail. Finishes stocking up with household goods and clothes. Goes weekly to a play hour for soldier’s children. Very poor rainfall. Hears of cholera, and also fear of famine. 5pp.
  17. 10 August: Local and family. Attends cook’s little son with convulsions and finds that servants’ quarters are appalling. 5pp.
  18. 17 August: Monsoon breaks. Very heavy. Describes bathrooms. Second munshi invites her to dinner. Accepted as a member of the Trained Nurses Association of India ? which has railway concessions. 4pp.
  19. 24 August: Is to be sent to Akbarpur to nurse instead of Benares. Queries how she will react to a life with only a few English-speaking people. Goes to an Indian film. Nurses measles. Working hard at language, and also has a gay social week. 7pp.
  20. 31 August: Plans for the future. News of the servants who are all ill. Opinion on the system that pays such low wages and creates such a low standard of living. 5pp.
  21. 7 September: Starting trek with another girl on road to Simla. News of Indian friends. Goes to dentist in Mussoorie. 5pp.
  22. 14 September: Description of beautiful trek towards Simla. Take 3 coolies who look after them. Walk to Chakrata in two days. Bus to Dehra Dun and Landour – Local and home news. Hears of other survivors from Britannia. 6pp.
  23. 21 September: Recap of previous letter lost in post, about arrival in Bombay and journey up to Mussoorie and Landour. Tells she has been appointed to take charge of a small hospital at Akbarpur, in the jungle. 2pp.
  24. 28 September: Methodist Hospital, Akbarpur. Dist. Fyzabad, U.P. Local and family. Description of visit to Delhi. Visits St. Stephen’s hospital. Visits the hospital at Akbarpur where she will work. Description of hospital and staff.
  25. 3pp.

  26. 5 October: From Azamgarh Hospital – is set to nurse straight away as there is an emergency. Description of social life, and daily timetable. 2pp.
  27. 8 Octoberl: Azamgarh. 1p.
  28. 12 October: Azamgarh. Learning various techniques etc. in hospital. Has active social life. Language study. Local and family news. 2pp.
  29. 18 October: Local and family. Works in hospital learning more -stethoscope, dispensing etc. Get all necessary medical books. Azamgarh has quite a large English community. 2pp.
  30. 26 October: Akbarpur – takes over from Miss Chapman who had been there for 17 years. Local and home. Outlines hospital’s possible future and her work. 2pp.
  31. 2 November: Further description of hospital life especially patients’ and nurses’ relatives who stay there too. Visits Tanda, a Muslim village for dispensary work to the women. 2pp.
  32. 9 November: Meets purdah ladies when visiting the Judge’s house. Goes to Tanda regularly. Sees cow-dung dressing for the first time. Mentions problem of poverty and wages. 3pp.
  33. 16 November: Domestic problems. Despair over all broken rules of hygiene etc. Beginning to see the enormous problems of health and education in India. Goes into village to treat the people. 3pp.
  34. 23 November: Home and local. Village visiting, where she has more shocks through disease and poverty. 2pp.
  35. 30 November: Home and local occasions with the orphan children and also the nurses and teachers in the Mission. 3pp.
  36. 7 December: From Lucknow staying with Methodist chaplain. Goes to a dance and shops. 2pp.
  37. 14 December: Christmas preparations – Personal. Does some dentistry in the village. 2pp.
  38. 21 December: Christmas preparations. Local news. 3pp.
  39. 28 December: Description of Christmas Day. 2pp.
  40. 4 January 1942: Personal and home (Censored). 4pp.
  41. 11 Januar: At the Synod in Benares. 2pp.
  42. 15 January: Local and personal. 4pp.
  43. 25 January: Akbarpur. Local and personal. 3pp.
  44. 1 February: Preparation for being alone at the hospital with her friend and evangelist Blicqui after the missionary couple leave. Difficulties of knowing a little of the language.
  45. 8 February: Compounder is ill – she takes over. 1p.
  46. 15 February: Goes to Hindu wedding local news and home. 2pp.
  47. 22 February: Comes up against caste tradition and prejudice in patients.
  48. 1 March: Has been killing pi-dogs. 3pp.
  49. 2 March: Airgraph.
  50. 8 March: Wedding of one of Mission girls who is a nurse. Working very hard at language for exams. 2pp.
  51. 15 March: Wants to make alterations in the way the hospital is run. Conflict with the doctor. Begins to make enquiries into hospital organization. 2pp.
  52. 22 March: To Sarnath – Personal. 2pp.
  53. 29 March: Delivers baby of the daughter-in-law of the local Government doctor, at home surrounded by relatives and local midwife giving advice. 3pp.
  54. 5 April: Difficulties of getting grant from the District Board. Describes impossibility of keeping hospital tidy and patients nursed properly. 2pp.
  55. 8 April: Airgraph.
  56. 12 April: Missionaries beginning to come out of Burma. 2pp.
  57. 19 April: Owing to delayed train (24 hours) from Azamgarh visits catechist’s family and spends night there. Discomfort of the Loo wind and dust storms. More difficult hospital cases. 3pp.
  58. 26 April: Describes Mohammaden wedding. 2pp.
  59. 3 May: Passes oral and written language examinations well. Holds first aid classes to Hindu purdah women. Local news. 5pp.
  60. 10 May: Incidents in hospital life showing the difficulties of European/Indian attitudes. 2pp.
  61. 17 May: Hot weather and its effect. 1p.
  62. 24 May: Airgraph from Landour.
  63. 31 May: Landour. Personal. 3pp.
  64. 7 June: Starts 2nd year language. Personal and home. 2pp.
  65. 14 June: Domestic and social life in Landour. 2pp.
  66. 21 June: Monsoon breaks. Heat on plains has been up to 127ยบ. Plans for reorganizing hospital finance at Akbarpur. Personal and domestic. 2pp.
  67. 28 June: Landour/Mussoorie – First idea of drinking saline in hot weather instead of water. Local and personal. 2pp.
  68. 5 July: Akbarpur. News of hospital – flying ants – domestic. 2pp.
  69. 12 July: Account of another problem in attitudes towards illness and death in hospital life. Starts lectures for nurses. 2pp.
  70. 19 July: Monsoon breaks. The Mission takes a blind child. Whole problem of disabled in India. 2pp.
  71. 26 July: Change in policy of doctor-in-charge at Akbarpur. Local and domestic. 1p.
  72. 30 July: Airgraph.
  73. 2 August: Nursing another missionary in Fyzabad. 2pp.
  74. 11 August: Tremendous rise in cost of living – Result of Congress being declared illegal on rural industries started by Gandhi, in particular the very good ashram opposite the mission. She is very sad about it. 2pp.
  75. 16 August: More about Congress arrests and disturbances. Comments. 3pp.
  76. 23 August: Problems – attitudes towards sick children. Coping with monsoon rains. 2pp.
  77. 30 August: Amusing story about resolution of a court case. 2pp.
  78. 2 September: Airraph.
  79. 6 September: Personal. News of mission. 2pp.
  80. 19 September: Personal. 3pp.
  81. 27 September: Local mission news. 1p.
  82. 4 October: Description of train travel to Calcutta. Good description of daily events of mission life. 2pp.
  83. 11 October: Local and personal. 2pp.
  84. 18 October: Personal. 1p.
  85. 25 October: Example of the hopeless poverty. 2pp.
  86. 31 October: On short holiday at Azamgarh. Personal. 2pp.
  87. 4 November: Airgraph: personal.
  88. 8 November: Personal. Review of what has been achieved in the hospital. Starts further projects for teaching the poor people to be clean. 3pp.
  89. 15 November: Personal.
  90. 22 November: Personal. 3pp.
  91. 29 November: Account of sickness, prejudice, and mission life. 3pp.
  92. 6 December: Personal. 2pp.
  93. 13 December: Lucknow – Fyzabad; the leper home described. 2pp.
  94. 19 December: Personal and mission news. 1p.
  95. 19 January 1943: Great deal about personalities and the way the mission is run. 3pp.
  96. 24 January: Personal and mission news. 2pp.
  97. 31 January: Personal and mission news. 1p.
  98. 7 February: Personal and mission news. 3pp.
  99. 14 February: Mission news. 2pp.
  100. 21 February: Personal and mission news. 2pp.
  101. 28 February: Incident of grateful father of sick baby. 2pp.
  102. 3 March: Personal. Airgraph.
  103. 14 March: TB and sickness in hospital – condition of people, and their inability to cope. 2pp.
  104. 21 March: Goes to Benares for the language examination. Passes. Mission news. 2pp.
  105. 28 March: Plague season begins in nearby village. What purdah means. 3pp.
  106. 4 April: Inoculations – Mission and personal. 2pp.
  107. 11 April: Inoculations. 2pp.
  108. 20 April: Airgraph. Planning extension and alteration to hospital.
  109. 25 April: Planning to close for hot weather. Reluctant as so many outpatients – increase on previous year. 2pp.
  110. 2 May: Personal and mission, 2pp.
  111. 16 May: Leprosy. Personal and mission news. 2pp.
  112. 19 May: Airgraph. Personal.
  113. 23 May: Naini Tal. Life on holiday – social activities. 2pp
  114. 30 May: Personal. 2pp.
  115. 7 June: Has been staying in Ranikhet. Doctor has resigned at hospital.
  116. 13 June: Personal and mission. 2pp.
  117. 27 June: Personal. 2pp.
  118. 8 July: Airgraph.
  119. 18 July: Personal, Hospital news. 2pp.
  120. 25 July: Hospital life, patients, daily life. 3pp.
  121. 2 August: Hospital life, pariah dogs, orphan baby, social life. 2pp.
  122. 8 August: Mission and personal. Childrens’ home.
  123. 15 August: Difficulties of nursing in India. Hospital news. 2pp.
  124. 22 August: Amusing incident of disposing of a corpse. 3pp.
  125. 29 August: Consequences of doctor’s resignation. 2pp.
  126. 5 September: Daily life without a doctor at the hospital. 3pp.
  127. 19 September: Mention of famine. Wishes to adopt two orphan children. 2pp.
  128. 26 September: Very difficult delivery of baby faced alone without doctor. 3pp.
  129. 3 October: Hospital news in general: problems. 2pp.
  130. 10 October: Personal. 1p.
  131. 17 October: Mission and personal. 2pp.
  132. 24 October: Personal: maternity cases. 2pp.
  133. 31 October: Diwali; Mission and hospital organisation difficulties. 4pp.
  134. 7 November: Fire at the mission. 2pp.
  135. 14 November: Personal – from Lucknow.
  136. 21 November: Description of Lucknow activities – visits Isabella Thoburn College. Indian women’s status. 2pp.
  137. 28 November: Personal, mission and hospital news. 2pp.
  138. 6 December: Personal, mission and hospital news. 2pp.
  139. 12 December: Personal, mission and hospital news. 2pp.
  140. 19 December: Wedding of driver – children and Christmas preparations. 2pp.
  141. 26 December: Description of Christmas at the hospital. 2pp.
  142. 2 January 1944: Personal, hospital news.
  143. 9 January: From Azamghar at Synod meeting. Account of Synod business which shows how mission is run. 3pp.
  144. 16 January: Synod, hospital and personal 3pp.
  145. 23 January: Hospital news. 2pp.
  146. 30 January: Hospital cases. 4pp.
  147. 6 February: Hospital news including story of starving child. 3pp.
  148. 13 February: Azamghar. Description of hospital midwifery cases. 3pp.
  149. 19 February: Left entirely alone in charge at Akbarpur. 2pp.
  150. 26 February: Personal and mission. 2pp.
  151. 5 March: Hospital cases. Difficulties with personnel. 3pp.
  152. 12 March: Mission station difficulties, news. Personal. 2pp.
  153. 19 March: Attacked by bees: heavy work in hospital and mission; cases illustrative of difficulties of the people.
  154. 26 March: From Benares for weekend leave. Mission news. 1p.
  155. 2 April: Bad weather for harvest. Prices rising. Plague patient. 2pp.
  156. 9 April: Unwanted treatment: minor operations: food shortages. 3pp.
  157. 15 April: More cases of treatment refused. Mission news; difficulties in hospital.
  158. 3pp.

  159. 23 April: Dinner with local Raja, meets District Commissioner for the first time. Helpful. 1p.
  160. 30 April: Cases. 3pp.
  161. 6 May: Hospital difficulties. Personal. 3pp.
  162. 14 May” Personal. 1p.
  163. 20 May: Landour, Mussoorie for hot weather. Feeling better. Personal. 2pp.
  164. 28 May: Landour, Mussoorie. Personal. 2pp.
  165. 4 June: Landour, Mussoorie. Personal. 4pp.
  166. 11 June: Landour, Mussoorie. Activities during leave. 4pp.
  167. 18 June: Landour, Mussoorie. Account of a musical evening. 2pp.
  168. 25 June: Landour, Mussoorie. Mission problems and difficulties. Buying stores for return. 1p.
  169. 2 July: Akbarpur. Cutting down on staff as she is alone. News of patients and work. Staff. 2pp.
  170. 9 July: Mission news. 1p.
  171. 16 July: Mission news. Goes out with Punjabi woman whose husband is in prison for Congress activities. 2pp.
  172. 23 July: Case of superstition in child-birth. Tremendous need of a competent doctor.
  173. 30 July: Hospital news. Dinner with Spt. of Police. 2pp.
  174. 6 August: Azamghar. Doctor resigns. Preparations for third language examination. 1p.
  175. 13 August: Akbarpur. Takes a labour case to hospital in Fyzabad and travels third class. 2pp.
  176. 20 August: Hospital and personal. 1p.
  177. 27 August: Proposed pig farm – personal and mission. 2pp.
  178. 3 September: Personal and mission. 2pp.
  179. 10 September: Fyzabad – Personal. 1p.
  180. 17 September: Akbarpur. Has taken oral language examination in Lucknow passes with 85%. Mission difficulties. Personal. 2pp.
  181. 24 September: Describes the great loneliness of Mission life. 1p.
  182. 1 October: A week of real difficulties in hospital organization of personnel. No doctor available. 2pp.
  183. 8 October: Takes written examination. Piggery really starting. Personal. 2pp.
  184. 15 October: Mission reorganisation- possibility of being alone on the Mission. 1p.
  185. 21 October: Fyzabad for weekend. Mission rearrangements. 2pp.
  186. 29 October: Mission. 1p.
  187. 5 November: Doctor leaves. Her work to be done as well as the nursing and hospital organization. Enormous amount of work. Piggery not going well.
  188. 12 November: Mission and personal. 2pp.
  189. 20 November: Mission and personal. 1p.
  190. 26 November: Mission and personal. 2pp.
  191. 3 December: Benares for weekend. Akbarpur – piggery a failure. 1p.
  192. 10 December: Non-arrival of new doctor – Mission. 1p.
  193. 17 December: Doctor not coming – no notice. 2pp.
  194. 24 December: Christmas preparations. Passes Urdu examination, 2nd class. 1p.
  195. 31 December: Christmas Day. Hospital news. 2pp.
  196. 7 January 1945: Personal. New doctor appointed – mission to remain open. 1p.
  197. 14 January: Hospital and Synod. 1p.
  198. 21 January: Grant from Silver Jubilee Fund made by Inspector General Civil Hospitals, U.P., to Akbarpur and Azamghar hospitals – Plans for a hospital for women in Tanda. 2pp.
  199. 28 January: From-Lucknow. Visits the American Methodist Isabella Thoburn College. Very impressive. 1p.
  200. 4 February: Akbarpur Mission news. Another orphan added to number. 1p.
  201. 11 Febr: Akbarpur Mission news. 1p.
  202. 18 February: Preparing a health play – Mission news. 1p.
  203. 27 February: Hospital affairs. 1p.
  204. 4 March: Hospital and personal. 1p.
  205. 12 March: To speak to girls’ school on nursing as a career. 1p.
  206. 18 March: The hospital really proving worthwhile at last. 1p.
  207. 25 March: Hospital tremendously busy. Giving plague inoculations. 1p.
  208. 2 April: Goes to Muslim wedding at the judge’s house. 1p.
  209. 9 Apri: Plague season. has started. Visited by the wedding party after dark as they are purdah women. 1p.
  210. 15 April: Airgraph. Very brief – mission and personal.
  211. 22 April: Personal. 1p.
  212. 30 April: Description of midwifery case and reactions of Indian women. Sees cholera for the first time. 1p.
  213. 6 May: Cholera in a .village – Epidemic. 2pp.
  214. 13 May: Sends children in orphanage to Benares because of cholera. Victory in Europe celebrations.
  215. 20 May: Ranikhet for the hot weather staying in The Manse ? Leave news.
  216. 27 May: Leave news.
  217. 3 June: Ranikhet – Leave news.
  218. 10 June: Earthquake shock. Leave news.
  219. 17 June: She has to hand Muslim orphan baby to Muslim orphanage. Nehru released from jail passes through Ranikhet. Congress flags everywhere. Rumours that British will be ‘out in a decade’.
  220. 24 June: Leave news.
  221. 1 July: In Bareilly at American Mission hospital on the way home.
  222. 8 July: Akbarpur. Back at work again. Grain difficult to buy. Cloth unobtainable without a permit.
  223. 15 July: Hospital news.
  224. 22 July: Attends men struck by lightning – uninsured bullocks killed. Also attends injured Major on railway platform; putting in stitches in front of huge crowd.
  225. 29 July: Hospital news.
  226. 5 August: Hospital news. Studying Hindi for examination.
  227. 12 August: Sends in resignation from M.M.S. Would return to India as a doctor, not otherwise, and not as a missionary.
  228. 19 August: News of end of war. Celebrations.
  229. 25 August: Victory celebrations in Akbarpur. Distribution of cloth to the poor. Appalled at the poorest people who come.
  230. 2 September: Personal. Resignation accepted. All-India Synod arranged for February.
  231. 9 September: Old missionary attacked by hornets.
  232. 18 September: Gets through Hindi examination very well. Is very thrilled at possibility of surplus Red Cross Stores for her hospital.
  233. 23 September: Staff nurse leaves. Mission news.
  234. 30 September: Mission and personal.
  235. 7 October: Hospital news. Repairs and painting after the rains.
  236. 14 October: Personal: reasons for leaving mission. Hospital
  237. 21 October: Awaiting the visit of Methodist Mission Secretaries.
  238. 23 October: Personal.
  239. 28 October: Mission Secretaries’ decisions: Akbarpur hospital not to be closed down – Permission to add to hospital buildings – very understanding.
  240. 4 November: Cases – difficulties about ritual uncleanness. Takes children to the bazaar at Diwali.
  241. 11 November: Hospital and personal.
  242. 20 November: From Delhi, at Trained Nurses of India Conference.
  243. 25 November: Account of being shown round Viceregal Lodge by the housekeeper – Gardens looked after by 250 gardeners. Shopping and booking passage.
  244. 2 December: Mission head going to leave. Hindu family becoming Christian.
  245. 12 December: Akbarpur. Birthday with no European companionship and everyone rejoices in Indian fashion. Plans for future.
  246. 16 December: Car accident. Driver killed and nurse injured. Car wrecked therefore no outside mission work.
  247. 23 December: Influx of visitors. New missionary determined to live more simply. Only one other lives approximately at Indian village standard and is consequently beloved by all his Indian colleagues.
  248. 30 December: Christmas news. Mad dog scare. Akbarpur needs young Indian minister.
  249. 6 January 1946: Azamgarh ? for Synod. New young Indian minister coming to Akbarpur. New staff nurse. The mission will probably be entirely Indianized when she leaves.
  250. 13 January: D.C. and wife see hospital and the wife promises to try and help with their needs – sends R.500 following day and local Raja sends another R.500.
  251. 20 January: Difficulties of getting passages home. Personal.
  252. 27 January: Goes to Lucknow on a trip to dentist, with a friend. Travels 1st for the first time. Possibility of getting a new car for village work. Personal.
  253. 3 February: Hospital and mission news.
  254. 10 February: Hospital news – Personal.
  255. 17 February: Visitors leave and she is very lonely. Plague season has started again but people are, for the first time, coming for help. Hear of troubles in Calcutta.
  256. 24 February: News of the Bombay naval mutiny. Political tension mounting. U.P. elections coming. No more plague but rats have started dying again.
  257. 3 March: Says country in a very restless state and the British are much hated. Says she is O.K. in Akbarpur where everyone knows her. Is going to be Female Ballot Officer for Women at the U.P. elections. Goes to Fyzabad for the day to spend it with D.C. and wife. Learns about political situation which is quiet in U.P.
  258. 10 March: Experiences as female Ballot Officer very hectic. New Indian minister from South, saying how advanced Christians are there. Personal.
  259. 18 March: From Benares, finding out about future of the mission. Plague spreading slowly – refusal of purdah women to be inoculated, and her anger at this.
  260. 24 March: Burns monkey that died from plague in compound. Englishwoman turns up – a friend who helps with inoculations. Another missionary also staying.
  261. 31 March: Visits Government Plague hospital. D.C. asks for statistics of plague work being done. Also gives money and food for hospital and is the most helpful and generous official she has met. Difficulties of leaving. No staff to replace – offers to stay longer.
  262. 7 April: Whole village burnt to the ground. D.C. sends money. Local Raja who owns village does nothing, so she goes to see him. New outbreak of plague.
  263. 15 April: Uses new apparatus for giving saline intravenously and man recovers from cholera. Hospital cases.
  264. 21 April: Does a big plague inspection of rural hospitals with the D.C. Has to decide whether to stay on as there is no one to take her place.
  265. 28 Apri: Very torn about leaving because of the people. Raja sends R.2,000 in currency notes.
  266. 5 May: Great difficulties at hospital. Doctor to leave, possibility of closing. Indecision over her own future.
  267. 12 May: Hospital to be closed until another sister can be found. This means almost the end of mission work there. One of nurses married from hospital. Sadness of closing.
  268. 19 May: Closed down and packed up all hospital and equipment. Sad farewell service. Mrs. Lakshmi Pandit visits hospital. Large crowd gathers to greet her.
  269. 26 May: Ranikhet. Recovering from great tiredness of closing hospital. They hear of political unrest but nothing in Ranikhet.
  270. 2 June: Leave news. Personal. Hoping for passage home.
  271. 9 June: News from Akbarpur. Hoping for passage. News from Ranikhet. Far fewer troops. Personal.
  272. 18 June: Has passage booked for home, leaving on 20th from Bombay. Stays at Mission. Shops full. Personal.
  273. Undated. Personal.