The Kings Gora-Wallahs - Synopsis
This is a story set in British India of the 1920's and although written as fiction the majority of events are true. Adapted from personal interviews with ex-soldiers who served in India in the period written of, or drawn from fact closely researched over two years. The story centres in the main around a British battalion serving in India, hence the title, 'Gora-Wallahs', which is the name native Indian soldiers called the British soldiers. Even though some of the leading characters are officers and soldiers, the story is not confined exclusively to the role of the military in service in India, there are other main characters.
Robert Christie, born in India and now returning to take up a career with the Indian Civil Service. Adjudged autocratic during its reign, the Indian Civil Service is now recognised as the most even-handed governmental administering body the world has ever seen. Although tyrant ruled, it was based on benevolent tyranny, the tyrants at all level of governing were raised and educated with such high moral integrity that they could neither lie nor commit a disloyal act. They exercised their positions in the belief that they were there to protect the rights of the common man and to that end they were unsurpassed.
Emma Schofield, a doctor for many years in charge of a mission hospital on the Northwest Frontier. Living from day to day, because of the ever present lawless Pathan tribesmen, in the shadow of violent death.
Kishna, a Rajput Princess who Robert Christie falls in love with. Rose Rickman, the niece of the battalion regimental sergeant-major who takes up nursing and upon being kidnapped by Pathan bandits becomes embroiled in a Border war.
On reading, the book may seem at times too fundamental, the values of the characters too forthright. This, it must be remembered, were the days of the British Raj where correctness before the native Indians was of all importance. Even the soldiers of seventy years ago were of a more temperate mind, much improved on their predecessor. Before 1914 the British Army in India was riddled with drunkenness and venereal disease. The Great War swept that all away to be replaced by a younger generation broadly schooled and overall prouder of their chosen calling.
Regardless of the fact, unbeknown at the time, that the British Empire in India had only another few short decades to run, the country still contained many of the vices and virtues that were there when Alexander the Great first ventured onto its furnace hot north-western plains. Then, as now, the words used to describe India's temperaments and features would hardly have changed. Vibrant, mystifying, secretive, poverty, pageantry, savagery but for those who arrived from cold, misty north Atlantic shore lands, to see with their hearts as well as their eyes another word sits far about the others; beguile.