75 years ago-endgame in Europe-1

The Corona Virus pandemic may well be the worst disaster since World War 2. So it is useful to look back 75 years to the closing stages of the war in Europe.

28/04/1945: Mussolini, his mistress and other Fascist leaders killed by Italian partisans.

Hitler marries Eva Braun.

29/04: Hitler writes his will, designating Admiral Karl Donitz as his successor.

30/04: Hitler and Eva commit suicide.

01/05: Goebbels and his wife commit suicide. They also murder their 6 children.

02/05: The Battle of Berlin ends in a decisive Soviet victory.

04/05: The bulk of German armies surrender at Luneberg Heath in the Netherlands.

 

 

For railfans-the Fergusson papers revisited

This is primarily for railfans interested in lists of stations on railway systems across the world. Some explanation is necessary.

The Fergusson papers on the link given below are compiled by an Englishman named Jim Fergusson, who has been collecting timetables from all over the world since around 1950. He has got hold of timetables from different time periods ranging from the 19th to the 21st century.

Most of those reading this will be interested in the Indian railway system.  The systems of all our neighbours (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and even Myanmar) are covered. He seems to have drawn largely from the Indian Bradshaw which has been published since the 19th century but seems to have vanished a few years ago.

Update: in early 2020 he has added sections from India, covering the NFR and ER/ECR. It appears that he will be gradually covering the rest of India.

Have a look at it here:

http://www.railwaystationlists.co.uk/

Hidden stories of the Khyber Railway-4

Concluding the series with an attempt to answer the question “Where did the Khyber Railway end?”

Anyone familiar with this line would know that

The line up to Landi Kotal was opened on 3 Nov 1925,

and was extended up to Landi Khana on 3 Apr 1926

and the section from Landi Kotal to Landi Khana was closed on 15 Feb 1932.

There is no mention in the Annual Reports of IR of that period (up to 1931) about any further line being opened beyond Landi Khana

Now see this map (presumably prepared by Bayley and Hearn) which is part of the papers they read at the Institution of Engineers.

Khyber map

Beyond Landi Kotal there is the reversing station of Tora Tigga, and finally the “terminus” at Landi Khana. This too is a reversing station from where a line appears to proceed to a point on the Afghan border.

However, there does not seem to be any explicit mention of the tracks being laid beyond Landi Khana. In their paper it is mentioned that Landi Khana is a reversing station from where there is a short distance to the border.

Richard Wallace, who has studied this line in detail, says that tunnels were built beyond Landi Khana but rails were not laid.

Probably this brief writeup by Andrew Grantham sums it up:

http://www.andrewgrantham.co.uk/afghanistan/railways/khyber-pass-railway/

In particular: “An alignment was cleared for a extension of the line from Landi Khana to the Afghan border post, although it is uncertain whether any tracks were ever laid on this final section of the route.”

One interesting thing I found was in this map which was part of the 1930 NWR timetable:

NWR-1930 map

This shows “Torra Tigga Nala” beyond Landi Khana. Perhaps this is where the tracks were supposed to end. I have not come across this name anywhere else. It may well be an error connected with Tora Tigga, or the place where the rails were expected to end.

This extract from the 1930 NWR timetable shows the trains running to Landi Khana.

Landi Khana 1Landi Khana 2

It is a little hard to read the footnotes. But they mention that the trains ran 7 days a week (both ways) up to Landi Kotal and continued beyond to Landi Khana on 2 days. In the last days of the Khyber Railway there was one pair of trains a week to Landi Kotal.

Finally-it may not be too difficult to locate the mythical tracks beyond Landi Khana. See this video from 2017 where the visitors walk down to the station from the highway:

 

Even the water column still works!

Closing with old pictures of the station, which must be from before 1932:

Landi Khana campLandi Khana camp-2Landi Khana station

 

The world’s oldest (and oldest living) Test cricketers

First we look at the longest-lived Test cricketers:

From Wikipedia:

Longest lived Test players

Only one Test cricketer crossed a century here, South Africa’s Norman Gordon (1911-2014). He played in 5 Tests against England in 1938-39. He is also 4th on the list of the longest-lived first-class cricketers.

Then there is this list from Cricinfo’s records section (not Statsguru):

https://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283740.html

Screenshot of this on 24 Mar 2020:

Longest lived Test players-2

If you consider “famous” players who played in 25 or more Tests, the oldest would be Wilfred Rhodes (95/252) followed by Syd Barnes (94/251) and Bob Wyatt (93/353).

The oldest Test player from India is MJ Gopalan (94/198) followed by (the strange case of) C Ramaswami  (93?) and MK Mantri.

Next we look at the oldest living Test cricketers today:

From Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_oldest_cricketers#Oldest_living_Test_cricketers

As on 24 March 2020:

Oldest living Test crickters

Again, this includes some lesser-known players. For a better idea we go to Cricinfo again:

https://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/records/283742.html

Screenshot of this  on 24 Mar 2020:

Oldest living Test cricketers-2

Taking a minimum of 25 Tests, the oldest well-known player is the last of the 3 Ws (Everton Weekes) at 95+ followed by John Reid at 91+, Neil Harvey at 91+ and Colin Macdonald also 91+ . The last two played in Laker’s Test in 1956.

The oldest from India are Datta Gaekwad (91+), CD Gopinath (90+) and CT Patankar (89+).

However, I know that there are errors in Cricinfo as there are at least two players who are shown as still living whereas their deaths have been reported. These are CK Singh (WI) and Rajinder Pal (Ind).

 

Hidden stories of the Khyber Railway-3

Here we look at the abortive line which was started in the 1900s to link Peshawar to Afghanistan, which even had some train service for a short while before it was suspended. The actual line through the Khyber Pass came later.

This gets rather complicated, so I will be giving details of the references for those who are interested in more details.

A quick summary from Andy Grantham here:

http://www.andrewgrantham.co.uk/afghanistan/railways/kabul-river-and-khyber-pass/

Here is a station list from Fergusson, which covers the Peshawar-Landi Khana section:

Khyber line station lists

The line was completed up to Jamrud in 1901. There was an intermediate station at Kacha Garhi which soon vanished from the timetables. (Islamia College was there until the 1930s).

Main references:

  1. Gun-running and the Indian North-West Frontier by Arnold Keppel (1911), can be found in pahar.in and archive.org   Cheap reprints also available on Amazon etc. It has useful insights on the NWFP in those days. The latter part deals more with the places around the Persian Gulf.
  2. NWFP Administration under British Rule (1901-1919) by Lal Baha, 1978. Found in pahar.in. Chapter 4 deals with railways and roads.

Kacha Garhi is where the new line started. The line to Warsak was completed by 1907 and, according to Keppel’s book, had one pair of trains a day from Peshawar to Warsak. There were also trains from Peshawar to Jamrud, end of the line until 1925.

Here we see the junction at Kacha Garhi, from the Baedeker guide of 1914 (which had become outdated by then):

txu-pclmaps-khyber_pass_1914

This extract from the official railway map of 1906 may be more useful:

Peshawar area 1906

You should be able to just make out the line going north from Kacha Garhi to Warsak and a little beyond.

This extract from 1911 is a little better:

Peshawar area 1911

Here we see the line going north of Kacha Garhi and then turning west. The experts in the government were still divided between going directly west through the Loi Shilman valley into Afghanistan, or by going by a more roundabout route along the banks of the Kabul river. The construction was sanctioned up to a point where the two alternative routes would diverge. But the construction seems to have halted a little beyond the westward turn.

Also there seems to be a wrong place-name here as Skhakot (Flag) is actually the name of a station on the Nowshera-Durgai line (near the latter).

One more map from Keppel’s book:

Peshawar map from Keppel's book

If you look carefully, you will see the line going north from a point between Peshawar and Jamrud, and turning west after reaching the river. That point is Warsak, which can be found on current Pakistan maps on Google Maps etc. The end point of the line is similar to the 1911 map above.

Also note the “other” Warsak further west near the Afghan border, and the projected terminus at Dakka across the border. Briefly, the Loi Shilman route involved a tunnel from this Warsak going further west towards Dakka. The river route can also be imagined here, continuing from the end-point here, up to Palosi and down to some point near Dakka.

Finally, see this from a report on Lord Minto’s time as Viceroy:

Minto note on Loi Shilman route

Coming next-where exactly did the Khyber Railway end?

 

 

 

The world’s oldest living first class cricketer

See this updated list of the longest lived first-class cricketers:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_oldest_cricketers#Longest-lived_first-class_cricketers

Snapshot of this on 19 Mar 2020:

Oldest f-c cricketers

For several years John Manners was the oldest living first-class cricketer. He died on 7 March in England. After this the only living first class cricketer aged over 100 is Vasant Raiji of Mumbai, who turned 100 on 26 Jan this year.

And John Manners remains the oldest ever MALE first class cricketer.

There is an older FEMALE Test player still living in England:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eileen_Ash

Eileen Ash is going strong at 108+, being born on 30 Oct 1911 (a few months after Ronald Reagan). Links to various articles about her can be seen from her Wikipedia page given above.

The longest-living Indian first-class cricketer was Professor DB Deodhar (1892-1993) who lived to be 101/222. Mr Raiji could theoretically surpass this in September 2021.

Only one Test cricketer has crossed 100, South Africa’s Norman Gordon (1911-2014). Will take up long-lived Test cricketers shortly.

A related post:

https://abn397.wordpress.com/2020/01/26/indias-oldest-living-first-class-cricketer/