RETURN TO GEORGE BODDY
In January 1876, Private George Boddy was on a march from Mhow (Bombay) to Neemuch, arriving at the latter camp on 11 January 1876. George continues his memoirs. [Editorial comments have been placed within square brackets.]
A Soldier's adventures in India.
I was once in a marching rgt. in India we were on the march from -- to -- and as every one knows who have been in India you always march early in the morning, before the sun gets to hot, generally starting about 4 am and arriving in the company ground between 7.am - 9-am, according to the distance
Well after the march is over, you fritch [freshen?] yourself and get breakfast afterwards if not for duty you can go where you like for the day.
Well on this day it was some time early January 1876, that I and several other men, set off jungling as we used to call it. There were some very old hands at hunting with us but I was a novice and so I wanted to show my ability with the gun, and being so eager to find something worth shooting I wandered about never thinking about my comrades as I could hear now and again reports of guns but imagine my surprise when I got to the top of a hill and looked around I could not see one of them.
Then my ardour began to cool as I had not the slightest idea which was the way back to camp and I knew if I met a native it would be 10 to 1 if I could make him understand as I did not know Hindustani well, I sat down and had a smoke thinking I might hear the reports of their rifles or perhaps see them, but after waiting for a long time and not hearing or seeing them I thought I would try and find my way back so turning about and going the way I thought I had come I wandered on and on weary and footsore over great hills then down in great dry plains seeing neither native nor his hut and not knowing wheather I was going right or wrong and feeling so sick at heart, and so vexed with my self that I had been such a conceited ass, as to think that I could find game better than older and experanced men if ever man's pride had a fall mine had. I now began to feel very hungry and thirsty and I also thought it was a very cur... [?curious] thing that before I lost my comrades we saw plenty of streams but now I could not find one and another thing that prayed upon my mind was, the sun was going down fast, and I knew it would soon be dark (as there is no twilight in India) so I climbed up into a large tree, to look around and see if I could make out the directions of the camp (and I may say here that a sure sign of a camp is if you see a lot of Hawks soaring about one place) but I looked north East south and west but not a sign of bird or camp, as could be seen any where and I was now getting very tired and i must own it also a little turned.
Well I came down the tree and sat down to consider what was next to be done and I thought if I stayed where I was untill morning I might either find my way or else meet a native who understood English so leaning my gun against a tree I commenced to gather some wood to make a fire for although the day's are warm in India in January the nights are cold and I had another aim in view in making a fire I thought when they missed me at the camp they would come and look for me as is always the case when on the march in India in the rgt they always put up a beacon in the shape of a lamp on the top of a long pole. When I had gatherred enough wood as I thought I sat down to think and a more miserable man (I do believe) there was not on the face of the earth I was lost in the jungle night coming on surrounded by tigers hyenas cheetahs Wild boars snakes (as I had seen several cobras during the day) and to add to this I was nearly dying of thirst I put a little pebble in my mouth to ease me a little (which is a very good thing) I sat and thought first of one thing and then another until it began to get dark, then I lit my fire and became a little more cheerfull I thought many had been placed in such a perdicument before and were always found then I thought of all the horribale tales I had read, about things stealing up behind one and putting the fatal roomal [a native silk or cotton fabric, used to strangle people] around your neck until I got fairly frightened, then all at once I heard such an unearthly yell just behind me, then it was taken up it seemed like thousands all around me and I could hear the bushes crackling first on one side then on another then I could here such a scampling and rushing through the bushes that I rearly believe my hair stood upright although I knew there were only jackals and would not hurt me I think any one will admit they were anything but pleasant visitors well just as I had made up a good fire to frighten them away and they had become a little quite I sat down again and was just wondering how my comrades would be talking and wondering where I could have got too when there arose such a roar as it seemed close to me that I fell completely over, and in rolling over I knocked my gun down and one of the barrels went off causing such a .... among the jackals and birds that I dont believe there was ever such a noise heard before and of one thing I am certain there never was such a poor frightened mortal either before or since every living thinge in the jungle seemed to ... with each other in seeing which could make the most noise, I did not know what to do I was in such a fright but pulling myself to gether I threw all the big logs I could find on the fire and climbed up the tree as fast as I could determined not to come down untill daylight in fact I dont believe all the wealth of India would have tempted me out of that tree after I got into it, All was again quite for a short time and I began to think my fire would keep the wild beasts away, now I began to feel drowsy, I fastened myself to a bough of the tree, with a strap I had around my waist to keep me from falling,
[six pages here are missing. Shortly after this incident, George became Lance Corporal (1 March 1876). George later became Corporal (12 January 1878), then Lance-Sergeant (7 September 1878). The Regiment arrived at Mian-Mir (Bengal) on 8 November 1878, and here his memoirs continue, in mid-sentence.]
and we soon found out that we had changed for the worse again, we had no sooner got there than one after another was taken with fever and we were soon reduced to as bad a state as the 63rd it pulled the men down something awful, we had as far as 400 in Hospital at one time, and we also suffered with Cholera here very bad too, it is the worst station in India we had to go under Canvas about 40 miles from Meean Meer [Mian-Mir, Bengal] in the middle of Summer and it was very hot, 124 in the shade, and not a breath of air. I thought someone would be sufficated.
[Whilst at Mian-Mir, George Boddy became Sergeant, 5 April 1879]
We went to a place called Changa Manga [15 May 1879] - up the Moaltan line, I never saw such a place as Meean Meer. it is the two extremes in the Summer Burning hot in the winter bitter cold we have fires in the winter and you want them too We found [formed] a Det [Detachment] at fort Lahore during the time we was there, and one for a short time at Moaltan and we found [formed] a Bodyguard to the Viceroy Lord Lytton during his stay in Lahore, we should have taken part in the Affgan War but for our sickness, instead we had the Mortification to see all the Regts Passing through to the front and us left behind we took part in the gathering of the troops after the war at Meean Meer but we had not gained such distingtion in the field and we felt it, there is nothing much to see at Lahore the Capital at the Punjab except the fort and that is not of much account, it was taken from Ranjat Sing the old Lion of the Punjab --- -- ---, they are all sikhs who live about here, we stayed here 2 years and plenty long enough too, we then went on the march to Meerut, it is a very long march too though a very good road all the way we had to cross the River Beas in Co... Boats, which took us nearly all day, we passed through some very nice places on the road, Amritseer with its golden temple in the Centre of a lake, it is a very nice place, then we halted at fellunder, another very nice place, also at Umballa where the 9th Regt gave us a very nice entertainment, we had Christmas on the march and it was a very good one, we arrived in Meerut in due time [5 January 1881] and the 1st R.D.G. [Royal Dragoon Guards] gave us a Breakfast, Meerut is the best Station in India, a very nice place, I never saw a place in India where the people were so sociable as here we had plenty of amusements here we found [formed] a Det at a place called Fatehgarh [4 December 1882], a very quite out of the way place, a small Gun Carriage Factory in a small fort on the Banks of the Ganges, in fact the Ganges flows close to the Barracks Plenty of alligators, but nothing to see in Fatehgarh, but the people here are very sociable, it is close to a place called Furrickabad, a large Native City and about 80 miles from Cawnpore we stayed 2 years at Meerut and Fatehgarh then went by train to Allahabad We called at Cawnpore which is always --- --- for the prominent position --- --- [and arrived at Allahabad 29 October 1883].
[the memoirs finish here in mid-sentence]