The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

Typescript, J.P. Mills, Tour Diary, March 1927, with comments by Ursula Betts, 1986

caption: Wartime experience of orphan eventually cared for at Maibong Mission
medium: tours
location: Maibong
date: 4.3.19271942-1943
person: Betts/ UrsulaMills/ J.P.
date: 3.1927
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: [UGB: By 1942/3 there was a small group of nuns here. When I was invited there with a small troup of Naga dancers, the nuns were educating and caring for a number of girl orphans, refugees from Burma. One case was particularly tragic. An Anglo-Burman child of eight, nearly blind and using thick pebble-lenses, she set out with her elder brother to try to reach India. I do not know that happened to their parents. Fairly early in the journey her brother left her asleep and absconded with all their food and money, leaving her alone and penniless. She was befriended by successive British male refugees, (all the women having been sent out earlier). By this time the Japanese advance had cut the western escape routes through Manipur, and the only way was over the Hukawng Pass into North Assam, an almost impossible route. One after another her male protectors succumbed, and when she was eventually rescued she was carrying the papers of five men. She then fell in with two British soldiers, who cared for her until they met some Japanese, who bayoneted the two soldiers in front of her. They then deliberately smashed her spectacles, so that she was virtually blind. Since she could not see to walk, she then crawled. Conditions on this route were appalling and she not infrequently found herself crawling over corpses - a situation confirmed by other survivors. At last she was found and brought in by one of the rescue-patrols operating from Upper Assam. The nuns, sensibly to my mind, had encouraged her to talk quite freely of her experiences, without any stress on its horrors. When I met her she talked about it quite casually, as though it was something which might happen to anyone and was just to be forgotten, and didn't matter. I only hope this was so.]
text: [UGB: Mills did not much like the Missions, and I am afraid I came to be rather of the same opinion.]
text: As the Subdivisional Officer's staff consists solely of opium sodden Kukis. I took with me a Naga dobashi kindly (5) lent me by the Deputy Commissioner, Naga Hills.