Henry Raymond Edmunds MBE

Wedding Kalimpong
Homes magazine - Honours   Homes magazine - Obituary




Homes magazine - Henry and Ethel   An account from Eddie Lamb, an OGB (Old Girls and Boys)

Henry Raymond Edmunds

Henry has the distinction of being of the very first pupil to leave with the old St Andrews Colonial Homes. This was early in 1904. He must have lived in the only cottage (Woodburn) which was opened at the end of 1901, since, according to what he once told me, he spent just over two years studying agriculture under the very first farmer -- a Mr Leighton, a Scotsman. He said he joined the Homes Farm when he was 18 years of age after having been educated in Calcutta.

I knew Henry's two children -- Freddie and Anita from his first marriage to an Anglo-Indian lady from the plains, they were not educated in the Homes school. This was in the keeping with the man in the government service who could well afford to have them educated in other good hill schools which did not mark the pupils with the stigma of illegitimacy which was a very strong characteristic of the Homes. Nevertheless he was loyal to the Homes throughout his life.

There is some entry in one of the old Homes magazines which names Henry as one of a small band of Old Boys who appealed to other OGBs (Old Girls and Boys) to donate regularly something to help the Homes care for more neglected Anglo Indian children.

I was pleased when I went up to the Homes for the International Conference in the November 1995 to see his gravestone in the cemetery. I snapped it as a memorial.

I know all that Henry planned his retirement in Kalimpong even when he was manager of the Demonstration Farm 'down the hill', has he had built a bungalow which he called MORNINGSIDE, a few years later he sold this and built a more modern one, which in keeping with his ordered way of doing things he called 'EVENINGSIDE'.

I heard from one of the residents in Kalimpong that he sold the bungalow to finance his retirement in Scotland where he had planned to join the second family, but that ill health had prevented this.

Henry started at the lowest rung of the ladder but reached the highest post -- that of (actually deputy director, DME) Director of Agriculture Bengal. I remember chatting to him for I spent some of my first leave up in Kalimpong (1937) and when I told him my job was only temporary, he advised me most strongly to stick to it.

Had I taken his advice I would not have volunteered for service with the ROYAL NAVY at the outbreak of war and would have ended up as General Manager of the Sugar Factory where I had worked. But having volunteered to do my part in the war, the fellow who worked under me who stayed on was rewarded with what would have been mine -- that of GM. So Henry's advice would have stood me in good stead, had I but taken it.

Henry was the one OGB whom Daddy Graham was really proud of. When he got the King Emperor's Silver Jubilee medal in 1935 he was the envy of every European in the district. This was soon followed by the award of the OBE or MBE. (I shall have to check with one of the old Homes magazines).

I know that Anita was engaged to a young fellow named Johns who worked for Mr Paton of the Darjeeling Radio Service. When I last met him in Darjeeling just before the outbreak of war in 1939 he told me that he and Anita had got engaged. I do not know if they ever married.

As to Freddie, I heard that he was commissioned during the war and that he got married. Where he or Anita ended up I cannot tell.

It is by a strange route that I came to know David. Malcolm Smith, Honorary Treasurer of our Kalimpong Association told me that a Miss Colquhoun (a former missionary worker in the Homes) had approached him at the Home's Edinburgh Sale in July 1996 to put out feelers among the OJBs in the Association if any one knew the burial place of Henry Edmunds. He approached me, I immediately wrote to Miss Colquhoun enclosing a copy of the snap, which I had taken of Henry's gravestone during my visit to Kalimpong at the end of 1995.

It was not long after that I received a very nice letter from Mrs Jean Edmunds, wife of a Mr Henry Forbes Edmunds thanking me for the snapshot. Her husband happens to be one of Henry's sons from his second marriage.

Through the family grapevine I came to hear from the second son David. Hence the call on me made by him and his elder son Scott on the 15/3/97

Eddie Lamb
London March 1997

Henry with maize

Mr Maize - As he was known to the people of the region, Henry believed that Maize was an alternative to rice for people without access to paddy fields in the Himalayas regions of India. It is fitting that this picture shows a background of a field of maize.

He was known as Mr Maize to the people he worked with. His MBE and Jubilee medal were awarded for the work done at the Government experimental and demonstration farm at Kalimpong. In the North -East of India the wide variety of maize grown today is one of his lasting legacies.