chapter
13 Pages

Introduction

I make no apology for purloining the title of E. M. Forster's classic novel of the clash between two cultures for this brief sketch. My 2passage to India was under somewhat different conditions from those of his heroine: in 1943, not yet 19 years of age, with 3,000 other troops on the lower decks of a converted luxury liner. My detachment was, it has to be said, officer material and so our deck was above the waterline, at those times, at least, when the seas were not too rough. Above us were the commissioned officers, both the new boys going out for the first time and the hardened campaigners from the Burma Campaign, regulars returning to the battlefield after home leave. Below us, the rank and file, the workers-turned-soldiers for whom India was a large red piece of the British Empire on the maps that had hung on the walls of the elementary schools they had left eagerly when they became 14.