- Title: SO THIS IS INDIA - AIRMEN ON LEAVE IN DARJEELING [Allocated Title]
- Film Number: ABY 105
- Other titles: ROYAL AIR FORCE OPERATIONS IN SOUTH EAST ASIA DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR [Allocated Series Title]
- Summary: Another instalment of 'So This Is India' sees airmen Paddy and Jock on leave in Darjeeling, Bengal Province, India.
- Description: Reel 1: Airmen Paddy and Jock sitting in a train compartment. They lean out of a window. Paddy leans from a window to buy bananas from a local girl. Scenic shots of the Kangchenjunga mountain range. The two airmen under a gazebo. The pair go up to a Tibetan antique shop and speak to the dealer's wife. She unsheaths a very large kukri and the men admire it. Shot of Darjeeling market; covered stalls in the foreground with buildings behind. The two airmen examine some clothes before wandering around the market. They pass a sweetmeat vendor but decide against trying any. They continue through the market and pass a group of women with large wicker baskets on their backs. Outside the Post Office with a knife-grinder in the foreground. Close-up of the knife-grinder at work. The airmen talking together on hillside. They pass a sign advertising pony rides, a poster for the film 'Vishkanya' (director Kidar Sharma, 1943) and a sign advertising the services of a military tailor. Street vendors sitting on the ground. The airmen walk down a lane and arrive at the entrance of a small shrine. Local devotees place offerings inside an altar before processing around it with their hands clasped in prayer. View of the shrine's elaborate drapery. The airmen pass two statues of the shrine's guardian tigers. Drapery and bunting blowing in the wind. View of the Kangchenjunga Range; Paddy and Jock enter foreground and Jock takes a photograph as a local woman passes. Local people leading ponies. The two airmen talking to an RAF Wing Commander mounted on a pony. Jock mounting his pony. The party riding out of a remarkably European-looking town square. Second take of this. The group trekking along a hillside path with taller airman lagging somewhat behind. Further along the path the group pauses before rounding a bend at a canter. Rounding a second bend the group has been joined by two women; one named on the dopesheet as 'Cecilie' wearing a checked jacket and riding a grey pony, the other somewhat younger and mounted on a brown pony. Mountainous terrain in the background. The woman on the grey pony leads the group along a track on a wooded hillside. Her pony negotiates a small downward step in the path, followed by Jock, who looks rather less than comfortable in the saddle. The younger woman follows. Close-up of the horses' hooves. High shot looking down on the path and overlooking a small monastery; the riders enter shot from the left. The younger woman has dismounted and attends to one of her stirrups. The Wing Commander dismounts and joins her; at first it looks as if he is missing an arm, but later appears to have it in a sling under his shirt. Close-up, framed by the pony's saddle across the base of shot, of the Wing Commander using his teeth to hold a leather strap while attending to the tack with one hand while the 'dreamy[-]eyed lass' looks on. Close-up of the two airmen exchanging a wink. Close-up of Cecilie turning to look round at the airmen. The party passes a Tibetan Buddhist pagoda. Shot of the pagoda's ornately carved roof. The group ride along a road by a brook and stop to water their horses. The dreamy-eyed lass' brown pony drinking while a local Indian boy holds its head. View of the town from hill track; Jock leads the group followed by Cecilie, then Paddy and the dreamy-eyed lass. Racehorses (or rather ponies) pass through a local village at the end of a horse race at Lebong racetrack, which is apparently both the smallest and highest in the world. The starting gates at the racetrack with a British and Indian crowd in the background. Paddy and Jock cheering as the ponies pass them. The two airmen trying to place a bet with a bookmaker while being jostled by a large crowd of locals. One of the crowd is a Nepalese Gurkha, wearing the uniform of the Bengal Police, but does not appear to be on official business. Reel 2: Horses passing the finishing post of the Governor's Cup Race at Lebong. Seated jockeys with Paddy and Jock behind. The ponies on parade in an enclosure. A man in Tibetan dress places a bet. A woodland path; a group of men walk away from the camera down a slight slope. One of them appears to lose his footing and very nearly falls over. Men walking down a hill towards the camera pass a group of local Indians from whom they ask directions. One of the party wears civilian dress. They crest the brow of a hill. A house and garden with tea party in progress; the men arrive and are greeted by a British woman named on the dopesheet as Mrs Reed. Men seated around a garden table; a local domestic servant approaches with a tray of tea which Mrs Reed serves. Also present are a young child and the family dog. Mrs Reed leads the party of Europeans on a visit to a tea plantation (Mrs Reed presumably either the owner, or wife of the owner, of this plantation). She picks a sprig of tea to show the men while a local woman picks tea in the background. Shot of the tea picker at work and a close-up of her face. A train carriage. Paddy opens the carriage door and beckons to a local female bearer. Close-up of the crest of the Darjeeling and Himalayan Railway. A sign reads 'Darjeeling Elevation Ft. 6812'. Paddy walks across a bridge with his local bearer trailing some distance behind. Interior shot; Paddy enters an office and a clerk behind a desk gestures for him to sit down. External shot of Paddy entering a building followed by his bearer. Close-up of the bearer. Jock sitting on the lawn with Darjeeling in the background; Paddy comes in to meet him and a local servant brings a chair. The two chat. Paddy enters a doorway marked 'RAF Leave Bureau'. Second interior shot of office; a Leave Bureau clerk gives Paddy information. Scenes of an aircrew trek through mountainous Himalayan terrain to the State of Sikkim, on the border with Tibet. A mounted RAF officer, wearing a flying jacket, is followed by a column of various local bearers. Close-up of the column passing the camera. A local bearer in profile. The column proceeding uphill. Close-up of feet stepping over a stream. The officer, now dismounted, walks with the party silhouetted against the sky. The sirdar (cook and guide) points out Mount Everest, apparently visible only at dawn at this time of year, to an airman who takes a photograph. Kangchenjunga Range with a small bungalow in the foreground. The party walk through a petrified forest. View of very rugged terrain; a road twists to follow the contours and clouds drift past. The local bearers stage a simple dance and invite the RAF officer to join in. He obliges with perhaps more enthusiasm than coordination. Close-ups of dancing feet and grinning bearers. Officer paying a Tibetan man for the hire of the horse. Paddy and Jock watch a Gurkha marching band of the Bengal Police complete with drums, bagpipes and kilts. They march and countermarch. The band playing in a circle. Close-up of Paddy and Jock watching the band; they lean on a dandy, a sort of man-pulled rickshaw. The band turning on the march very close to camera; a good view of their uniforms and insignia and a drummer swirls his beaters as he marches away. Shot of the bandsmen's feet. Landscape shot; Lebong racetrack can be seen. On board a light railway locomotive; the funnel puffs smoke as the engine pulls away from Kurseong village (a hill station 19 miles from Darjeeling). The engine rounds a bend and on the opposite side of the valley terraced fields can be seen. A car passes in the opposite direction. One of the engine's drivers leans out from the engine to drop sand onto the rails. Air Marshal Hollinghurst arrives to open the 'Bagmarie' club for Allied services' other ranks. A sign reads 'Club opens Monday May 7th at 11am'. The Air Marshal is accompanied by an unnamed Army officer and they are greeted by a Mrs Van Aaken. Interior shots of the club (rather dimly lit) showing Hollinghurst giving the opening address. Paddy and Jock talking with the Air Marshal. Jock talking with the Air Marshal. Repeated shot of the aircrew trek setting out.
- Access Conditions: IWM Attribution: © IWM
- Featured Period: 1939-1945
- Production Date: 1945-05
- Production Country: GB
- Production Details: Air Ministry, Directorate of Public Relations (Production sponsor) Royal Air Force Film Production Unit (Production company) Goozee, S (Production individual)
- Personalities, Units and Organisations: Royal Air Force (regiment/service) Bengal Police (regiment/service)
- Keywords: Darjeeling, North East India, India (geography) Welfare and recreational activities and services, Burma 1942-1945, Second World War (event) Royal Air Force 1939-1945 (theme) Far East 1939-1945 (theme) India 1939-1945 (theme)
- Physical Characteristics: Colour format: B&W Sound format: Silent
- Technical Details: Format: 35mm Number of items/reels/tapes: 2 Footage: 1891 ft; Running time: 22 minutes
- Notes: Darjeeling was a popular destination for servicemen on leave from the front. Besides its cool climate and great natural beauty the local tea planters were known for their hospitality, which this film illustrates well. Dopesheet amusingly describes scene of Wing Commander fixing stirrup as follows: '(4) LS of ladies in trouble by a monastery. Party of three ride in and offer to help. L-r. (5) Wing Com. gets off his pony and advances to the attack. (6) Wing Com. attacking with tooth and moustache to repair stirrup as dreamy eyed lass gives the boys a freezing glance and looks on with admiration at the Wing Com's. technique. (7) C.u Paddy gives Jock a knowing wink, silently saying - "Oh to be a Wing Co. now". C.u Cecilie with an air of defence looks around - "I wonder if those BOR's [British Other Ranks] are following me now"'. Date on dopesheet 21 June 1945 but shooting date likely to be early 5/1945, due to time lag in processing film at base in Calcutta, and the sign seen at the 'Bagmarie' club This film part of a series of films entitled 'So This Is India'. See related items below.
- Link to IWM Collections page:
Related IWM Collections Objects:
ABY 73 (SO THIS IS INDIA [Allocated Title]) ABY 74 (SO THIS IS INDIA - ADDITIONAL FOOTAGE [Allocated Title]) ABY 90 (SO THIS IS INDIA - AN RAF THUNDERBOLT SQUADRON MOVES FROM BENGAL TO IMPHAL VALLEY, INDIA [Allocated Title]) ABY 91 (SO THIS IS INDIA - AIRCRAFTMAN MURRAY GOES FORWARD [Allocated Title]) ABY 79 (SO THIS IS INDIA: ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVICE IN PAGODA AT SADAUNG, BURMA [Allocated Title]) ABY 109 (SO THIS IS INDIA - TRAIN SEQUENCE [Allocated Title]) ABY 92 (SO THIS IS INDIA - AIRCRAFTMAN FLOWER ARRIVES AT RAF REDHILLS LAKE, MADRAS, INDIA [Allocated Title]) ABY 165 (SERVICEMEN GO RIDING IN DARJEELING [Allocated Title]) APY 37 (LIFE IN AIR COMMAND SOUTH EAST ASIA [Main Title])