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IndiaIntroduction (Click on the place names to view images).

UTTAR PRADESH – state of India (former United Provinces plus three princely states) bounded N by Tibet; N.E. by Nepal; E and S.E. by Bihar; S by Madhya Pradesh; W by Rajasthan, Madhya Bharat, Delhi, and Punjab. In the north are Himalayan peaks, some exceeding 25,000ft. In the south are hills of the Central India System; in between is part of the Ganges Plain. Most of the places mum lived were in this region.

AGRA – city of Uttar Pradesh (United Provinces) on the bank of the RiverJumna, 138miles S.S.E. of Delhi. Population 1951 census – 284,149.

Mum lived here on more than one occasion as her dad moved round in army postings. It was an important railway and commercial centre; during 1566 -1658, it was the capital of the Mogul Empire. A fortress at Akbar (1566), it had a wall one and a half miles in circumference and seventy feet high; it contains the palace of the Shah Jehan who in 1650 built here the famous Taj Mahal (q.v.) as a tomb for his wife. M.M.Kaye, author of the far pavilions wrote ‘it was a green, quiet town living on past memories of the great moguls and brooded over by the pearl of pearls, the Taj Mahal’.

ALLAHABAD – city of Uttar Pradesh. Mum’s brother, Basil Robert Mason was born here. (1918 -1989). The city lies on the left bank of the River Jumna where it joins the Ganges. It is 565 miles N.N.W. of Calcutta and was the former capital of Uttar Pradesh (superseded by Lucknow)
There were many fine government buildings, a public library and museum, Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals, a university and Muir College. There is an underground temple in the fort. The pillar of Asoka inscribed with an edict of that emperor still stands. As a holy city, Allahabad is a place of pilgrimage. Population 1951 census - 260,630

CALCUTTA – it is the largest city of India where Mum did her nursing training, met Dad and also gave birth to my brother John in 1936. It lies on the east bank of the River Hooghly, eighty miles from the sea. Capital of the state of W. Bengal. Until 1912 when it was superseded by Delhi, it was the capital of India. Calcutta shares with Bombay, most of India’s overseas trade. The university of Calcutta (founded 1857), modelled on the University of London has over 4,000 students. Population (1951) with Howrah on the opposite bank and other suburbs was 4500,000. N.B. Mum and Dad lived in a flat in Howrah following their marriage in 1935.

CHAKRATA – Uttar Pradesh. Mum’s brother Michael Francis Mason was born here in 1922. A hill station in the Himalayas, close to Mussoorie where Mum spent most of her childhood at the convent of Jesus and Mary.

DARJEELING – home to Mum in her final year at a convent run by German nuns. She was not a boarder at this convent and told me this was her favourite home. District and town of W. Bengal at the foothills of the Himalayas. Bounded by Sikkim on the north, west by Nepal, and north - east by Bhutan. A great tea centre. Rice, cotton, maze and jute also grown. Darjeeling town situated at an altitude of 7346ft, has a temperate climate Population (1951) – district 376,400; town 2,600.

DEHRA DUN – another of the foothill stations where the army families spent the summer months. I am not sure whether mum ever lived here but she often used to talk about this place. Here's Father Luke, a Travelling Roman Catholic Priest here at Dehra Dun.

FIROZPUR – I could find no reference to this place other than in the atlas. It was the place where Mum and Dad got married. It was a small, private affair attended by the bride and groom, the bride’s parents, Brother Basil and a couple of dad’s work colleagues. Mum’s older brothers were away on the North West Frontier, serving in the army. Presumably Michael, the youngest was still at school.

LANSDOWNE – Uttar Pradesh. Situated at the foothills of the Himalayas. Mum’s brother William Mason (Bill) was born here on 15.10.1914. (died 1946). The town was probably named after Henry Charles Keith Petty Lansdowne who was viceroy of India 1888-93.

MEERUT – Uttar Pradesh was the place where the Indian Mutiny broke out.
It was the birthplace of Beatrice Mary Mason 26.03.1910 – 1998 (mum) and also her brothers John Mason 1911-1941 and Peter Mason 1912-1958

MUSSOORIE – situated at the foothills of the Himalayas. This was the place of the convent of Jesus and Mary where most of Mum’s childhood was spent at boarding school.

ROORKEE (no image) – most of Mum’s family Christmas’ were spent here at her maternal Grandfather’s house.(Granddad LYS)

SIMLA – Capital and inland holiday resort of Himachal Pradesh. Situated in the Himalayas at 7,500ft. About 170 miles by railway north of Delhi. On Mount Jakko (8048ft) is a temple to the monkey god Hanuman. Winter population 2,500; summer 92,000. A place often mentioned by Mum but again I don’t know whether she ever lived here.

The Mason family also spent time in Mamyo, Burma where Mum’s father took an army posting. This period was sometime after she finished college and I would assume the three oldest boys had also finished their schooling. It was possibly the only time when the family were all together. When Mum returned to Agra with her parents and brothers Basil and Michael, John, Bill and Peter had all enlisted in the army during their time in Burma.

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The Story of Beatrice Mary Mason. Written by F. J. Louis | Copyright © 2009