Cloudesley Seddon, Evelyn Cottam (Oral history)

Catalogue number
  • 24736
Production date
Subject period
  • whole: Duration 120, Number Of Items 4
Alternative names
  • object name: Oral history
  • object category: IWM interview


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Object description

British civilian member of Women's Voluntary Service in Bombay, India, 1939-1951

Content description

REEL 1 Background in GB and India, 1912-1939: family; sight of Zeppelin during First World War; details of musical and singing training; reputation as 'the girl with the golden voice' in Bombay during 1930s. Recollections of period as member of Women's Voluntary Service in Bombay, India, 1939-1951: details of setting up Shandy Tavern canteen in Bombay; background to involvement in charity work prior to 1939; description of charity concerts given to support canteen; situation for Anglo-Indians; how voluntary public health group became a political party; how she took over running of Adams and Wiley Leper and Beggars Hospital; story of how she had to deal with dead bodies and casualties during Partition. REEL 2 Continues: description of car she used; story of setting up of Banda Retreat convalescent home; situation regarding payment for home; relations with convalescent troops; staff used; daily routine; dealing with American missionaries tortured by Japanese; state of Polish children who had arrived from Russia; nickname husband received for financial support; memories of patients; entertainments; effects of explosion of SS Fort Stikine in Bombay harbour, 14/4/1944. REEL 3 Continues: need to remove badly behaved Dutchmen from home; support received from senior officers; story of visit to church and praying for children; reasons for not accepting gifts from Indians; how she broke bounds by inviting Indian doctor to sleep in her home; sighting of Japanese submarine off Bombay; daily routine; welfare work in London during 1950s; service provided at Shandy Tavern; cooking 1000 eggs and Christmas dinner; memories of husband. REEL 4 Continues: further details of people she met through her work; Canadian nuns who helped out at convalescent home; nursing malaria cases; aid received from Red Cross; rat problem in Bombay; need for medical professionals at time of Independence; rumour that Indian doctors and nurses had disappeared to join Indian National Army at time of SS Fort Stikine explosion, 4/1944; story of taking disbelieving Indian plumber to see how many deserted babies she was caring for; incident of being caught in riot during Partition; opinion of Lord Louis Mountbatten understanding of India; how Archbishop Roberts claimed credit for Banda Retreat; award of Kaiser-I-Hind; news publicity received in Daily Mirror and Chicago Tribune; attitude to work.

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