For four years during World War II, my father-in-law served in RAF Squadron 159 in India.
We knew very little about this period of his life until the death of my mother-in-law in 2004. Soon after this he began to talk more about his experiences, firstly travelling aboard ship and being in India for four long years in various locations.
He also produced some black and white photographs in regard to his service, some of which I have included here for illustration in these several pieces.
It became a fairly common trait among servicemen on all sides after that war, and also post the Great War of 1914-18, to be reticent about their time in service, especially about describing more traumatic events. It must be remembered that back then there was little in the way of counselling after experiencing such action.
It must be said, however, that my father-in-law didn’t see active service during that time, arriving on the subcontinent at the age of twenty one. He was part of the ground crew, a critically important role for missions. They had been sent onto India in the first half of the year, before the arrival of the aircraft; the plane of choice for the long distance raids eastwards was the B-24 Consolidated Liberator, a four engine bomber produced in the United States.
The reason for the deployment of this squadron (among others) was to defend the then British Empire from Japanese incursions into south east Asia, threatening Burma and even India itself. India was strategically well placed for such operations to halt and repel this advance.
Miguel Serrano, a Chilean diplomat and writer was certainly a man with some controversial opinions.
However, I didn’t let that stop me from reading this rather charming yet deep little book documenting his friendship with two 20th century European notables, namely the writer, poet and painter Herman Hesse and psychologist Carl Jung, who both lived in Switzerland.
Serrano didn’t get to know them well until they were in their final years. He includes correspondence with both of them. Herman Hesse was a highly influential author of books like ‘Steppenwolf’ and ‘Siddartha’. His main concern was for the individual to find himself by breaking established rules. Serrano is clearly enchanted by Hesse’s sensitivity.
But it is perhaps Serrano’s late relationship with Carl Jung which is the most significant of the two. Serrano is completely in awe of Jung’s towering intellect and spirituality, and with good reason. Jung is perhaps the nearest anyone has come to achieving a true scientific spirituality by utilising hitherto controversial methods (to some), such as astrology, to gain insight into an individual’s psyche. Bearing this in mind, the lightning bolt which struck Jung’s favourite tree on the day he died seems to gain in significance.
In just over a hundred pages, the author has managed to convey the essence of these two important minds, and he seems to have been blessed with genuine affability to allow him to form deep, significant friendships. Our overall understanding of these two men is all the better for it. I would certainly recommend this book.
There are a lot go reasons why one should experience trekking and this trek especially – the forests, the birds, the fabulous mountain views, the experience of living in a tent at 0 Celcius, Overall adventure, etc. For three days, you trek through dense rhododendron, maple and oak forests. On the fourth day, you trek […]