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 The Author  Justine Dowley-Wise  aged 17 years.
Calcutta 1943

Born in Calcutta in 1926 to British parents who lived an opulent lifestyle that was so typical of that age when India was the Jewel in the Crown of the Empire. Brought up by nannies and ayahs whilst they enjoyed a social life at the clubs and nightly dinner parties.

'At an early age I was taken up into the Himalayas during the hot season to the escape the heat of the plains, and left in the care of missionaries. Whilst still very young, I was sent away with my younger sister to a convent boarding school in Darjeeling, where we had to suffer a 9 month long term of deprivation and loneliness, ‘to prepare us for life in a boarding school in England’. This was the inevitable fate of all children born to British parents that lived in India.

In England, separated from our parents for years on end with no one to love or care about us, and with no relatives or friends to go to during the school holidays, we had to endure hardship, bullying and loneliness, and for me, sadistic punishments. In 1939 my mother returned to visit us, but when war was declared and with the escalation of hostilities and the threat of invasion, it was decided that we should return to India, and to my father who was by now a total stranger to me.'

'As the only teenager, travelling back to India in an enormous convoy on the troopship S.S ORION with 5,000 soldiers aboard on an 8-week hazardous voyage, chased by U-boats for most of the time, it was a traumatic experience.'

'On arrival in India, I was sent off again for a 9 month long term to continue my education at another school called HEBRON in South India, but during the second term, as this was interrupted once again by a threat of Japanese invasion of Ceylon, I eventually completed it in SHERFIELD, a "finishing school" in Simla., in the Punjab.'

'Returning home to Calcutta, I worked with the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) amongst the forces, but later, was selected for a top-secret post with South East Asia Command (SEAC ) de-coding secret ciphers.'

' In 1944 I met and fell in love with a handsome young British officer in Wingate’s Chindit Army, who was fighting behind the Japanese front line in the Burma jungle, and we became engaged.'

'Due to the strife in Bengal and particularly in Calcutta, I had to return to England to start a new life, and when my fiancé eventually returned from Asia, we were married in 1948. In October this year, 2007, we will be celebrating our 59th Wedding Anniversary. We have two daughters and have lived in Surrey, England, for the past 57 years.'