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Manuscript Letter & Photo Archive - WWII Nurse with First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) Serving in Southeast Asia
India 1944 - India, Ceylon, 1944-1945. Archive of 33 letters and 12 snapshot photographs by Deirdre Jenkins, an adventurous English woman in the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (F.A.N.Y.) serving in Southeast Asia. Letters are dated from November 1944 to August 1945, mounted or placed within a scrapbook album. Most are on Royal Air Mail stationery, with postally used India or Ceylon postage stamps. Three letters and one photograph have censorship stamps. Photographs vary in size, the largest measuring approximately 9 x 6 cm, the smallest measuring approximately 5 x 5 cm. The lot in very good condition overall, an interesting and personal wartime archive. These letters present a most uncommon glimpse into overseas life with F.A.N.Y., (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) an all-female nursing unit with specialized training, which during wartime provided the critical service of frontline rescue together with medical aid, much like today's combat medics. The units being independent from the Royal Army, a wide range of roles were required for full camp operations. Miss Jenkins' first letter is penned 16 November 1944 when she was based at Meerut, northeast of New Delhi, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, and worked as a switchboard operator. [Meerut is famously associated with the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British East India Company.] Her letter of 22 January 1945 announces that she has moved to Ceylon. There she started and managed a hair salon for the unit, also extending grooming services to the men of the RAF. The letters are addressed to her mother, in London, and as such are rather personal and comments unreserved. She describes in detail the conditions under which the women of F.A.N.Y. lived, in her case for the most part in the isolation of a heavily guarded camp in the jungles of Ceylon. Having the privilege of select guided outings, and the unique opportunity to mingle with the men of the British Army, we learn that on Saturday 16 June 1945, in Calcutta, she married Major John Blackall-Palmer, Indian Army Frontier Force Rifles, MBE, born into a wealthy family of rubber plantation owners in Burma. The Major's service in Burma, since 1937 presents another dimension of interest to the war letters, with mention of battles against the Japanese, and looting the corpses. One of the photographs, evidently taken by Major Blackall-Palmer, shows Japanese troops marching through the Kabaw Valley in the highlands of in northern Burma (Myanmar) February 1945, captioned to verso. In India, four are of the Taj Mahal, one shows workers harvesting a high altitude tea plantation, and one is taken at a public washing basin. Excerpts from the letters : 16 November 1944, Meerut, India. ". I wish very much you could come out here - The animals just walk around the road & hedges. The children are all barefooted and always salam you & salute you when you go by. The women carry colossal things balancing on their heads just as they used to in the Biblical days, and wear the same robes. you only ever see a horse & cart. bullocks & carts. the other day I saw a naked woman to the waist walking along unconcerned & the other side of the road was a dead man stark naked on the way to his burial. We are having a lot of issue with our uniform of which have to pay ourselves. George (the captain) has given me a zanbar skin which he shot himself. it looks very effective on my stone floor - No men are allowed to the bungalows at all but they can come to our mess on personal invitation." 22 January 1945 [Sri Lanka jungle camp] "I have moved to another country. I was indeed very sorry to leave Meerut. things are so awfully cheap in India and so terribly expensive in Ceylon. They don't have tongas in Ceylon, only rickshaws. The country itself is not so poverty stricken.even the children can speak a bit of English." 3 February 1945 ". Commander Merriman, the head of the F.A.N.Y.s out here told me that as this camp is such a long way from town - we are 12 miles out right in the jungle
      [Bookseller: Voyager Press Rare Books & Manuscripts]
Last Found On: 2015-09-27           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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