The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript - memoir of time in the Naga Hills as a Deputy Commissioner, 1919-1920

caption: posting to the Naga Hills
medium: articles
person: HuttonMills
person: Cantlie/ Keith
date: 1919-1920
form: private collection
refnum: loaned by Dr Audrey Cantlie
text: 1919
text: I wired to the Chief Secretary of Assam enquiring where I should go. A reply came that I was to be Deputy Commissioner, Naga Hills as Hutton had gone on leave.
text: Arriving at Manipur Road railway station with my boxes stored in Grindlays Bank during the war in Calcutta I found a letter from Mills S.D.O. Mukokchung acting as D.C. temporarily at Kohima and Huttons pony and the Police got me a bullock cart for the 5 day journey to Kohima. Near Manipur Road Station in those days was a large telegraph office manned by Eurasians receiving telegrams over the wires from Burma and transmitting them to India. A tiger had killed a cow near the travellers' bungalow and as my own gun was being repaired in Calcutta I borrowed a new gun from a telegraphist. The Sub-inspector of police had made a platform on a tree close to the corpse and the tiger was expected to return on that evening or night. I lay on it until night fell when I could not bear any longer the bites of the mosquitoes in that malaria infested jungle. I got down but dropped the gun in doing so. It fell on a large soling stone left near the road in the jungle and the barrel was dented. The telegraphist was furious next day but partially mollified by my offer to pay expenses for sending to a European gunsmith in Calcutta who would remove the dent. The next day the bullock cart started on our 5 days journey doing 10 miles a day. On the first day a huge boa constrictor lay across the road and enjoyed the sun so much that he would not move. We could have cut bamboos in the forest and attacked his head as the boa is not poisonous in bite but had no knowledge how quickly they could move if he came at us. He moved away at last. The charm of the green forest after the deserts of Mesopotamia filled my mind. The leaves do not fall from the trees in winter. Every ten miles was a brick built bungalow with two rooms and a verandah. I had rice and dal and the chowkidars of the bungalows could usually produce a chicken and eggs. There were no villages on the road save a small one at Piphima half way up to Kohima because the Nagas did not like to live below 5000 feet because of the malaria.