CHIT-CHAT ~ 2016


Well, one city, Brisbane, and one wee town in Scotland - Dollar. So, the December weather has hit both, severe early summer storms in Brisbane and early winter snow in Dollar. Certainly the Brisbane variety is more spectacular whereas the snow in Dollar has yet to reach the golf course! Thanks Alison McLennan for the Brisbane picture, it looks quite scary wheras the Dollar effort looks quite gentle. Generally, it seems Christmas is celebrated similarly in Brisbane as it is in UK, the difference, of course, is the weather and, as a consequence, how one spends the time. Alison (daughter of Fred Tomkins) has put together her views, thoughts and likely activities in Brisbane during this (2016) festive season.
Click here to read them
T. Young December 2016.

Professor Colin Baker
Colin, pictured left at the Nyasaland Police Memorial Dedication, continues his writing with the publication of Volume 5 of his collection "‘Expatriate Experience of Life and Work in Nyasaland’. In this book the broad general pattern of the preceding volumes is followed with some new sections with fascinating articles on 'Amateur Dramatics' and 'Sewing and Needlework' among them. The articles are designed to inform, remind and amuse but they have a more lasting value and purpose forming a repository of basic, factual and largely personal accounts of what life was like during the relatively short period, only seventy-three years, in which a foreign power - Britain - governed an African country
Click here for further details
T. Young November 2016.

Mfumu Kachindamoto
Like just about all of us, no doubt, Margaret Burdon cherishes her memories of our time in Nyasaland and how our interest continues in that country and the Nyasa people who we remember with great affection. However, not many of us take to the social media as Margaret does via Facebook and its "likes" to express her views on Africa, its people and its wildlife. For instance, in her latest "like" she draws attention to the actions of Chief Kachindamoto (left) who has been brave enough to stand up against the long held practices of taking child brides and the detrimental effect it has on the lives of those girls and, ideed, the country as a whole.
Click here for details as set out by the website "Global Citizen". See also Wikipedia.
Origin: Margaret Burdon via Facebook - November 2016

Chingwe's Hole
There has always been speculation about Chingwe's Hole on Zomba Plateau which is now, I believe, something of a tourist attraction. Legend has it that it is a bottomless pit into nothingness. It is said, too, that local Village Chiefs disposed of their enemies by throwing them down it. Well, I can say that in about 1958/60 I went down it with John Burdon and, if my memory is correct, Trevor Gwyer (or was it Heber Russell) was there tending the rope at the top. It was disappointing, it didn't go down far and there was nothing of interest at the bottom. That is not to say that over the years it might have fallen in to some extent covering up what legend suggests might be there.
"Glory be to Chingwe's Hole", a poem by Jack Mapanje -
Click here to read it.
Terry Young - October 2016

Peter Hewitt R.I.P.
It is sad news to hear from his wife, Altan, that Peter passed away on the 30th September following a very short, sudden and unexpected illness. Peter was aged 88, he joined the Nyasaland Police in September 1959 with previous service in Cyprus and Kenya. Click
HERE for more of Peter's life on the "THEN & NOW" page. Further, Peter was a member of the "Honourable Order of Bootless Bobbies" having been on the scene at Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre on 26th January 1960 when there was a 'disturbance' during the visit of British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Click HERE for the full details and pictures of that memorable occasion.
Origin: Allan Hewitt - October 2016

The Indian Juggler
Who was the Police Officer, stationed at Karonga in 1961, who was detailed, presumably by an officer in the Federal Immigation Office, to board the Illala and check the residential status of a reported passenger - described as an "Indian juggler". Our man borrowed a bicycle and as instructed visited the ship lying offshore at Kambwe. Did he find the Indian juggler?
Click to read the full story and a lesson well learnt!.
Origin: Mary Brill - October 2016

    Crossing Bridges
I'm sure we all remember the perils of negotiating some of the old Nyasaland bridges, a relatively high speed in an effort to negate the effect of the corrogated road on approach followed by a juggling of the steering to line up the two crossing planks and some relief on making the other end. Well, Mary Brill has sent in a few pictures of some of the bridges she encountered during her time in the country and these have been added to the
Police Days Extra Gallery.
Origin: Mary Brill

Early Shipping on Lake Nyasa
In 1971 the Malawi Govt (Dept of Antiquities) produced the guide 'Lake Malawi Steamers' by P.A. Cole-King. A document of some historical interest and the pictures and details of these early vessels are reproduced via the link below. By way of Cole-King's introduction to this guide it was Dr Livingston who first showed the possibilities of missionary and trade enterprise of the waterway to Lake Nyasa via the Zambezi and Shire rivers. Following his lead European missionaries, traders and settlers came to the country bringing with them a variety of boats. Those dealt with in the guide all had one thing in common, they had to be dismantled into loads small enough to be carried or dragged by porters over the 40 miles of Shire river cataracts. By 1891, when a British Protectorate was declared over the country, the waterway was well established and with passengers and goods transferred at the mouth of the Zambezi shallow draught river steamers took them up to the foot of the cararacts. After a land journey of some 60 miles through Blantyre to Matope or Mpindi on the upper Shire it was river steamer to Fort Johnston where transfer was made to a lake steamer. The Zambezi and lower Shire route was gradually phased out from 1908 by building of the Shire Highlands Railway and an effective road syatem to Fort Johnston during the First World War. The lake has continued throughout to be a well used waterway. In the years after 1935, when the railway was extended to Chipoka, Nyasaland Railways took over goods and passenger services on the lake making Monkey Bay its lake service HQ and chief port.
Click here for the pictures/details of these early vessels and click on each picture to better reveal text.
Origin: Malawi Govt (Dept of Antiquities)

Chauncey Maples - updated - click the dates to view recent video recordings:
5 April 2010
15 December 2012

Anyone for yet more Cricket?
The Lilongwe cricket team in about 1962, it is unlikely that they were all Police but can you name any those pictured (L-R) or correct any of those already listed?

Back row: Keith Watson, Bill Dodd, Glynn Spurgeon, Don McCarry, Tom McVay, Alan Dew, Arnold Woolley.
Third row: Peter Lowe, Colin Limb, Bob Carr, Reg Brill, Norman Garbutt, ???, Les Antrobus, Jack Burge, Toby Teece.
Second row: Philip Finney (Umpire), Pony Moore.
Front row: Cynthia Nuttal (Scorer), Rod Berry, Alan Nuttal, ???, ??? (Umpire).
(Email corrections and/or indentifications to
Note: An expanded picture can be found in "Galleries" - 'Police Days'

Origin: Police Days

Mary Dennison
With great regret I have to advise of the death of Jon Dennison’s wife Mary on 14th August 2016. Had she lived until November of this year (2016) she and Jon would have been married for sixty years. I have passed on deep condolences from the Association to Jon and his family. Her funeral was on Monday 22nd August at the Borders Crematorium, near Melrose. She will be sadly missed by her family and all who knew her.
The story recounted to me many years ago by Jon as to how they met is as follows. In 1955 Jon attended a Senior CID Course in Wakefield. Whilst on the course Jon made the acquaintance of Mary who at the time was secretary to the head of the West Riding CID. When the Chief Supt heard of this development he called Jon into his office and had the effrontery to warn him off. Those of us knowing Jon can well imagine his reaction and the Ch.Supt. must surely have got the “bud” treatment - which Jon still uses. Needless to say the Ch Supt got his just desserts because Jon married Mary and took her back to Nyasaland. So the Head of CID still lost his secretary to the wild Colonial boy!
Christopher Bean - August 2016.

Anyone for Cricket?
The Nyasaland Police Cricket team in the late 1950s or early 1960s. How many do you recognise?
Back row (L-R): ?? ??? (umpire), Mike Bowery, Toby Teece, Trevor Gwyer, John Palliser, Robin Gorham, Pop Hodder (umpire)
Front row (L-R): Frank Chevalier, John Yates, John Mullin (Commissioner), Jeff York, Ollie Lodge, Reg Brill.
Origin Mary Brill - August 2016.

(Thanks to those who have provided corrections and/or indentifications via email to and otherwise)

All at Sea
David O'Neil, as a member of the Sea Cadet Association, sensibly accepted the invite for a day cruise with the cadets on the Association training ship "Royalist" sailing off the west coast of Scotland. Manned by a professional crew the "Royalist" is a two-masted Brig with associated sails. The cadets first duty is to go 'over the top' - climb up oneside of the rigging and down the other. For young and active kids the training is designed to give them discipline and self reliance; if they never sail again, what they learn during their six days aboard will serve them throughout their lives. When it is possible they invite us old fogies to have a day cruise, to introduce us to the cadets, as representing the sponsors of the charity that allows them to train as they do. A reward, he says, for the oldies who can enjoy mucking about in a real tall ship, without actually having to do the work associated with running it - a bunch of big kids? However, is his contact with the Sea Cadets and tall ships reflected in his comprehensive knowledge of maritime matters apparent in his many seafaring novels?
Note: The Sea Cadets is a charity - Click here for further information.
Origin David O'Neil - August 2016.

New Gallery
Moira MacMurray has come up with a few photographs of her time in Nyasaland where her father. Hugh "Paddy" Nolan, was OC of the Signals Branch. The pictures go back to 1949/1950 a mere 66 years ago and reflects her father's interests, outside of radio communications, of duck shooting on Lake Chilwa and fishing in Lake Nyasa. He is also pictured, in February, 1958, at Govt House, Zomba, having received the CPM from the then Governor, Sir Robert Armitage. Thank you Moira for these historic pictures.
Click here to view.
Origin: Moira MacMurray - July 2016

The pictures taken during the 2016 Reunion at the Holiday Inn, Coventry, on Thursday 14th July are now available on the 'Galleries' pages of the website where they can be enlarged. "Thank you" to those who sent in their photos but there is plenty of room for more - so if you have any please let us have them.
Click here to view the current set.
T. Young - July 2016.

The Nypol Lads
Nypol poetess Kathleen Carr (left) is clearly a keen observer of mankind and having married Bob sometime after he left Nyasaland, a country then unknown to her, she looks on those assembled with a more neutral approach and, perhaps, some wonderment as to how these "likely lads" worked together so many years ago. So, for the 2016 Reunion on 14th July she put together her latest poetry - The Nypol Lads - reflecting her thoughts as she attended the Association reunions over the past few years.
Click here to read and enjoy.
Origin: Webmaster - July 2016

Mini Reunion, 7th June 2016 ~ Nyasalanders by birth Ken Brill and Isabel Young with Nyasaland Police veterans Mary Brill and Terry Young enjoy the sunshine on the Tay estuary at Dundee.
Origin: Ken Brill/Terry Young - June 2016

Temporary Diversion
Having looked at the website figures over the last month there are a lot of hits recorded from Australia. This obviously reflects the number of our members who, on the break up of the colonial life, opted to settle there. Was it the weather that was the main attraction, one wonders, but how many have lost their British accents and can now say "I am Australian". For those in doubt perhaps Mirusia Louverse can go some way to help them make up their minds. Mirusia was born in Brisbane of Dutch antecedents but her impassioned rendition of this song clearly settles her identity beyond question.
Make sure you have the sound on and click here to hear her sing.
Origin: Webmaster - June 2016

Dr W A S Lamborn ~ Travelling Entomologist in East Africa
At the end of The first World War a new initiative against the tstse fly was launched and, in about October 1914, the Nyasaland Govt appointed medical entomologist, Dr William A. Lamborn, to study the problem and to offer practical suggestions for dealing with both the cattle disease trypanosomiasis and human sleeping sickness. In this capacity Dr Lamborn travelled extensively throughout the country on ulendo on foot or by bicycle. He based himself at Fort Johnston where he took up residence after retirement. He was a well known character in the area, Mary Brill has spoken of him elsewhere on this page and here John Wilkes (pictured left) recalls his memories of this remarkable individual during his time as OC Fort Johnston in 1954/55.
Click here to read this extract from the John Wilkes' memory bank
Origin: John Wilkes - May 2016

In the dock Insp Arnold Woolley, prosecuting officer Supt Les Acton, the charge "Failing to stop for the Prime Minister and his escort". This case was reported in the Rhodesia Herald on 31 December 1963 and it was unusual not only because a Police Officer was being prosecuting but that that Police Officer, Arnold Woolley, was the first person charged with this offence to enter a plea of "Not Guilty". It is reported that the Magistrate, Mr G Empson, adjourned the case to allow time to get the somewhat complicated evidence of witnesses recorded.
Click here for the full newspaper report
Click here to read Arnold's version of events and the outcome of the case
Origin: Geof Acton & Arnold Woolley - May 2016

Les Acton takes retirement
Pictured left is a headline in The (Malawi) Times of 16th September 1966 and it leads on to an informative article about the Police service of Les Acton. However, it describes Les, apart from one other, as the "longest serving European Officer" - presumably as at the time of the article. Les served for some 17 years and that one other? Was it Danny Morrison who joined in March 1940, some nine years before Les - but when did he leave? There are other expatriates, too, who joined before Les but were they still serving at the date of this article - the question remains open for comment.
(Note: Paddy Adair gets a mention in the attached cutting as adding to the "Irish Stronghold" in Mzuzu and, according to the reporter, his "Scottish Country Dancing has to be seen to be believed!")
Click here for the full cutting
Origin: Geof Acton - May 2016

The Big Parade ~ Mzuzu

1966 ~ As smart as ever, Kevin McCann, OC PMF Mzuzu, takes the Presidential Parade in 1966. Immediately behind Kevin is the OC Northern Division, Les Acton.
Origin: Geof Acton - May 2016

Life in Fort Johnston
Pictured left is a Hotchkiss gun taken from the Gwendolen, the gun boat which patrolled Lake Malawi from 1889 to 1940. It points across the Shire river in Fort Johnston, a town where Mary Brill was pleased to live in the 1950s. Mary, at the age of 92, continues do demonstrate her amazing memory and her IT skills to record details of her life there. As in her previous submissions to this website I think her piece illustrates the colonial way of life devoid of modernity - no TV, no internet, no electricty, etc - but which is replaced by a spirit of "make do and mend" and a community life of contact with neighbours, friends and family. Mary clearly adapted well to this way of life and her contacts she names are remembered by many of us and we can surely share her memories.
Click here for her description of life in the "Fort"
T. Young - April 2016

Voluntary Service Overseas
Dennis Hawkes went to Malawi with Voluntary Service Overseas in 1965 teaching engineering in the University of Malawi Polytechnic. Apart from teaching at the University Dennis was involved with Likhubula Bible Institute and briefly with Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. Free time saw visits to Lake Malawi and Mulanje Mountain. This book contains some memories of that time with VSO prompted by a reunion held in December 2015 and aided by a diary and old slides. The diary was kept during a period helping with the first Malawi Census when the author was in the north of the country. The book was published with no charge in case it helped others looking into the early history of Malawi. I'm sure that those members of our Association who were there during this period well remember the VSO volunteers and their dedication and will no doubt find much of interest in this book and where the pictures will trigger so many memories.
Click here to read a sample of this free book
T. Young - May 2016

Time on your hands?
Following on from the Deutsch history of early days in Nyasaland this publication, printed in 1922, is the "Full Monty". 314 pages plus 36 of adverts, it is a remarkable document which must have entailed a great deal of work. It covers in detail the early history of the country up to and including WW1 and subjects as diverse as "Constitution and Government" to "Animal and Bird Life". Although patchy in places with blank pages here and there plus endless lists of statistics there is a great deal of interest to be found in it - how Capt Maguire met his end for instance, the warring activities of the Yao chiefs, detailed information on every district with adverts at the back of the book which are themselves a veritable history lesson. The full text is here but it might take you a while to take it all in!
"A Handbook of Nyasaland" -
Click here for the full text
T. Young - April 2016

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
During a tour of duty in Germany in 1990 I was given a book as is pictured left by a German acquaintance. Unfortunately my German is limited but translated it is basically "German work in Nyasaland". The book was written by Alexander Merensky (1837-1918) - pictured right - published in Berlin in 1894 and written in old German script. Alexander, orphaned early in life, joined the Berlin Missionary Society in 1855. He was sent out to South Africa in November 1858 where he helped set up a number of mission stations. In 1890 he travelled to the northern shore of Lake Nyasa to an area that he knew as "Kondeland" - clearly that part of Karonga district occupied by the Nkonde people - where he founded two mission stations, "Wangemannshöhe and Manow". Whereas it has little to do with our association I'm sure it has a lot of historical interest if the pictures are anything to go by. So, any of our members who can speak or read the language are welcome to borrow it.
Click for the pictures
T. Young - April 2016

There are Tigers in Africa
Just like the tigers of Asia the African variety are striped, they have lethal razor-sharp teeth, they are aggressive and very capable predators - albeit they are fish (Hydrocynus vittatus). For anglers in Nyasaland they are found in the lower Shire, entering the river from the Zambezi and but for the falls they would be in Lake Nyasa to decimate the fish there. They are a particularly prized game fish with Lake Kariba a favourite for competition anglers. The association have a number of members who are or who have been keen anglers - Ray Punter has made a virtual career out of Rainbow Trout, many of us have fished the Lake to feed ourselves but top of the leader board where tigers are concerned has to be our man Christopher Bean.
Click for more Tigers and other fish
Origin: Tony Drynan & Christopher Bean - March 2016

"A Man of Kent"
The Curator of the Kent Police Museum in Maidstone reports that in process of sorting out artefacts she found a number of documents relating to our "Specials". They include a 'Special Constables Force Official Handbook', an identity card and a booklet of instructions for officers all dated 1952/1953. The warrant card is made out in the name of Richard (Ten??ant) Miller, date stamped "Superintendent of Police, Southern Province - 7th May 1952" and signed by Dougie Lomax. Who is or was he, and how did these documents come to be in the possession of the Kent Police Museum?. Can anyone shed any light on this, remember the individual or anything relating to him that could be passed on to the Curator in Maidstone.
Origin: Curator, Kent Police Museum - March 2016

"Mkango the Lion"
Pictured left to right are the warrant card photos of Eric Bult and Mike Costello - in 1954 they were stationed in Blantyre and received a signal from a railway station down on the lower Shire river indicating that leopards were taking animals of the villagers in the area and sought Police action to deal with it. Ever ready for the thrill of the hunt they armed themselves and deployed to the troubled location. The unexpected outcome came much later!
Click here to read all about it.
Courtesy of the "Britsh Empire" website - March 2016

An aircraft for all seasons
Pictured right is a Beaver aircraft flying over the Vipya Plateau and like the Ilala this aircraft, generally known as a bush plane, provided a valuable link to the outlying districts where airport facilities were less than sophisticated. Mary Brill who was familiar with both the aircraft and the Vipya has put together her memories of her time with Shell Oil at Karonga and her travel over the scenic Vipya plateau.
Click here to read on.
Origin: Mary Brill - February 2016

The Scottish boat that helps feed Malawi
I'm sure we all remember this fine vessel which plied the lake from north to south, served good meals to some of us lonely bachelors out in the sticks and often provided some interesting evening company. So, it's very pleasing to learn from the BBC website that the Ilala is still in service and now providing much needed help in Malawi which has been badly affected by the current draught in southern Africa causing crops to fail with many facing hunger.
Click here to read this BBC website article.
Origin: Bill Warren - February 2016

Who is Nyasacolin?
Whoever he is (and it's not Colin Baker), he has put together a remarkable collection of pictures of Nyasaland on his Flickr pages. They are as most of us remember the place -
click here for a flood of nostaglia.
Origin: Ron Morgan via Tony Drynan - February 2016

The Nyasaland Police 'Specials'
Lacking further information it would seem that The Nyasaland Police 'Specials' were hastily enlisted individuals for service during disturbances in the country in 1953 and 1959. If they were lucky they were issued with the uniform and equipment shown, if they were very lucky they may have got a warrant card as well ~
click here for more.
For a copy of the Specials 'Handbook' click here

T. Young January 2016.

A Personal Matter Pictured left is the warrant card photo of Les Acton. Very experienced, Les was a most meticulous Police Officer not given to rash or unduly hasty action and consequently his measured decisions commanded much respect. That he was a good judge of character is beyond doubt and the attached letter shows a degree of compassion and understanding that in his professional approach was not always apparent. The letter was written to Heather Dwyer in December 1994 on the passing of her father Danny Morrison and those who knew Danny will endorse his words of condolence. Thank you Heather for passing on this letter, it is these items of personal memorabilia that adds that extra insight into those indivduals often seen as merely working colleagues.
Click here to open the attached letter.
T Young - January 2016

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