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A Soldier’s Story: The Memories of a British Officer in the Indian Army, 1933-47

Readers might be interested in a lunchtime lecture due to be held at the National Army Museum next February.

A Soldier’s Story: The Memories of a British Officer in the Indian Army, 1933-47

Penny Kocher

2 February 2012, 12.30pm

This illustrated talk tells the story of John Archibald Hislop’s life in the Indian Army from 1933-1947.

Based on his memoir, the talk covers Hislop’s postings to the Khyber Pass and the border of Afghanistan, as well as his time fighting the Japanese in Burma from 1943-1945. It will give an insight into what everyday life was like for an officer in the pre-war and wartime Indian Army. Many evocative photographs as well as maps are used to illustrate the talk.

Penny Kocher, John Archibald Hislop’s daughter, was born in India in 1946 and returned with her parents to England in 1947. She spent most of her early life, not exactly indifferent to her father’s military career, but certainly more interested in the pop culture of the ’60s and ’70s.

After finishing her training at St Thomas’ Hospital in 1968 and pursuing a nursing career for ten years, she spent time at home with her children where she began her academic career: first, through the Open University and then at the University of Sussex where, as a mature student, she gained a BA (Hons) in International Relations in 1986 and then, in 1996, an MA Social Policy at the University of Brighton.

Much of the latter part of her career was spent in community development and she specialised in working with and for carers, both locally and nationally, for example, at the King’s Fund in London on the project ‘Carers Impact’. Thereafter, she pursued a research career at the Health & Social Policy Centre at the University of Brighton and then as a freelance social policy research consultant.

After retiring in 2006, and faced with her father’s 180,000 word hand-written memoir, which had lain pretty much untouched in a tin trunk where he had placed it shortly before he died, she decided to take an academic approach, verifying and researching the background and context of her father’s story. She not only published her father’s memoir, she has also become something of a military history enthusiast, especially of the Indian Army and the Malayan Campaign, something that would have surprised her father and, she hopes, would have pleased him!

Penny is a member of the Indian Military Historical Society, the Royal Society for Asian Affairs and the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia.

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