The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

Typescript copy of extracts from letters from J.P. Mills to Mrs Pamela Mills (in England), 1936

caption: Unpleasant weather; view from highest known village; officers' attitude to Nagas; Alarm Stations drill
medium: letters
person: Smith/ Mr.Williams/ Maj.
ethnicgroup: ChangYimsungrKonyakSangtam
location: Helipong Kohima Mokokchung
date: 17.11.1936
person: Mills/ J.P.
date: 1936
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Mills Ms.
text: (5) Camp Helipong
text: November 17th, 1936
text: It was really rather a blessing the letters were got off yesterday. I have had far less time today. We all had rather a disturbed night.
text: The wind blew half a gale and the tents rocked and flapped, the roofs were blown off the poor coolies' lines and the rain came in on them.
text: However, we were away at 7.30, all cheerful and with no sick. We went up and down shoulders and crossed about four streams. The bridges in these parts are single logs, which I hate to climb, and the water ice-cold, snow water.
text: We then started the main climb about 3,500 ft., most of it as steep as it is possible for a path to be. We got right up into evergreen forest at over 7,000 ft., and then the mist came down and the rain with it. It was a gloomy bit of marching. Then the sun came through and we emerged in the open here.
text: This is a little Chang outpost, right up against the Yimsungr.
text: There was a village here which was wiped out by Yimsungr some years ago, and this is a refoundation by their permission. It is the highest village there is, only 20 houses and very poor. They have no rice at all, only millet and Job's Tears, and even they don't always ripen, rather like oats in Scotland. But the view is beyond description.
text: You can see from the Burma boundary to the Plains. They have just been sending a Heliograph message through to Kohima via Mokokchung to say we are all well though rather chilly. I loved every minute of the view, for I saw for the first time villages I had heard of for years. I could see from the Konyak country I visited in the north, to the Sangtams I have been to in the south. But it is cold. At the moment I am in a very snug tent, all glowing from a very hot bath. But when we arrived!!! I got a dry shirt and vest as soon as possible, but of course one's socks are soaked with sweat and one's feet freeze. Sandwiches were no good to get the blood going through our veins, so we had bully beaf and baked beans, very good indeed. I slept a little in the afternoon and then I went and saw the chiefs who had come in. Smith rather annoyed me by retiring to bed instead of meeting the chiefs as he should have done. He hardly ever goes into the villages and seems to have no great interest in anything. He was very bad with the coolies today, I thought, cursing and damning the Section Headmen and saying they were hopeless. Really they are first-class, but he will not learn that the fewer orders one gives the better. People are far better left to get on with their own job, so I took a hand this evening.
text: We had our first practice at Alarm Stations. I had only to explain once about lining the perimeter and standing-to, and then we made them do it, and Williams and I went round. It was first-class. There was too much noise in one place, and the men were not properly spaced out in another, that was all. Then we had the usual stand-to for a "Retreat" and it was perfect. No noise and everyone in position. Smith was not allowed to have anything to do with this, but he took the hint and has just been to my tent to tell me on his own that he does not intend to give the coolies such detailed orders in the future.
text: The practice was because we go more carefully tomorrow, with a strong advance guard, and pickets when we get into camp. I don't think there is the slightest danger of trouble, but the people here are wild and woolly, and one doesn't want to take any risk at all.