The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: 'V' Force - 'watch and ward'
caption: Chapter twenty-five. The Colonel
medium: books
person: Wright/ Col. RawdonDinekamba
date: 8.1942
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: (180) In early August I heard from Haflong that a Colonel Rawdon Wright was coming to see me.
text: One could, from the bungalow, see a strip of the road beyond the village. It must have been about noon or a little later when we saw a shirted figure, unmistakably European, descending it with attendant Nagas in front and behind. I sent a man down with a note to ask the visitor to lunch.
text: He returned in an hour, with the note but no guest. Scribbled in the note's margin was :
text: " So sorry, but I've got a gammy leg. I'd better go straight on down to the rest-house."
text: The messenger, who was Dinekamba, confirmed. The Sahib was very lame, and going slowly. I called Namkia, and we went down by the east path, expecting to meet the party at the bottom. They weren't there.
text: We looked at the road for tracks. There weren't any. We followed it back towards Asalu. Turn after turn we passed, and still no sign. We weren't far from the mouth of the western path when at last we saw them. Then I understood why. The Colonel's leg was straight; he couldn't bend it. There was a broad stretch of bandage showing between stocking and shorts. Nor was he young.
text: We shook hands in the middle of the road and Namkia and I led on down to the rest-house. It was late by then, so instead of my lunching him, he lunched me. We ate sardines and bread in the long, cool, concrete veranda.
text: " I've heard a lot of you," I said. " You knew Mr Jeffery, didn't you ? "
text: (181) There were a host of mutual friends, Mr Mills not least. The Colonel had met my parents, too, casually, in the country at home. He'd had a job joining up again when war broke out. He'd retired, and there was his gammy leg, which he'd collected in the Kaiser's war. There was an open wound in it still. He got into the R.A.F. in the end, in a groundjob. Then the war came near Assam, his old stamping-ground - he'd been in the Assam Rifles between the wars. He began to raise heaven and earth to get out again. He did, in the end - but only for desk-work, when he'd wanted to get back to the hills and his men. And as to what he was doing now - -
text: I heard about that next day.
text: He belonged to a guerilla organization, a unit known as " V " Force, whose job it was to recruit the hill-tribes for service as scouts. It was now nearly the end of the Rains and the Japs were standing along the length of the Burma border. Behind us, in India itself, the Congress Party had stirred up widespread internal trouble, apparently to coincide with a Japanese invasion in force in the near future. It was only to be expected that the Japs would press forward as soon as they could. The fact that they had not moved yet might be because they were watching the Congress Party's rising. If it scored more success than it had at present, or even if it did not and they felt themselves strong enough, they were likely to attack India at the first chance. " V " Force was therefore actively interested in the border areas, and among them North Cachar and that part of Manipur which lay in front of it. Several tracks crossed this stretch, converging at Haijaichak and thence running to the railway; the district would be of importance if invasion came, and mean- time it was as well to stop spies and agents from reaching the enemy through it, as they could easily do from the wayside stations. What did I think about recruiting a Watch and Ward ?