Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: His name is Rupert: Baldwinians to honour World War-II veteran, who worked with RAF & Indian Railways

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

His name is Rupert: Baldwinians to honour World War-II veteran, who worked with RAF & Indian Railways

 (Above) World War-II veteran Rupert Menaud (85) with his daughter Karen. Photo Nagaraj. (Below) Young Rupert, during his stint with Indian Railways. 

By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: When 85-year-old Rupert T. Menaud walks into the Taj Vivanta Hotel in Trinity Circle on Saturday (November 19), holding his daughter Karen-Ruth Meneaud’s hands to receive a rare honour, he will probably carry priceless memories of an era, often seen by you and me in Sepia colours.
He along with his friends from Baldiwn Boys’ School were picked up on every Sundays by a military truck and dropped at the Garrison Military Church (now called as Trinity Church) for their choir. “We got four Annas every for the choir every Sunday,” recalls the 6.2-feet-long, trim and handsome Rupert when City Express caught up with him at his abode on Gospel Street in Thomas Town.
Rupert, a World War-II veteran, is the oldest living Baldwinian (1934 to 1942) and the alumni are honouring him during a special reunion in the presence of N. Achutha Rao, DG&IG of Police, Karnataka and DCP (East Zone) M. Chandrashekar. There will be music, wine and dance, all dipped in emotion and sandwiched between stories. And, there be Baldwinians and Baldwinians!
Rupert’s story is inspiring in many ways as he was hired by the Royal Air Force during the WW-II. “It was 1943 and I just finished by +2. WW-II was waging badly and I saw an advertisement in Madras Mail English daily. The recruitment was held at Bezwada (now Vijayawada) and we were trained at Jalahalli for three months. My first posting was at the Air Gunnery Training School in Bhopal as an aircraftman,” Rupert captured images from the past with such ease, clarity and speed. “I have a good memory, you know,” he said.
When the war became history, his brothers returned to the UK and the young Rupert, then 22, decided to make a safe landing. He jumped on to a rail wagon, straight from air! “For every year of War service, we were given one year of railway service. I joined the Indian Railway at Rajahmundry as a fireman and was promoted as a ‘Special A Grade’ driver over the years,” he said. Rupert graduated from trains running on steam to diesel to electricity. He drove them with tones of passion and at a max speed of 110 km per hour, for long 39 years, till his retirement in 1984. His route: Vishakapatnam-Vijayawada, Vijayawada-Madras.
On Rupert’s VVIP guest lists are former Presidents Fakhruiddin Ali Ahmed and V.V. Giri in 1977. “In 1972, Fakhruddin came to inaugurate the second Godavari rail-cum-bridge. After the event, he called us to his salon (coach) for a cup of tea. He greeted us and said – Well done. Today’s trains are much faster, you know,” he says.
Suddenly, Rupert decides to change tracks and stops his memory wagon at Baldiwn Boys’ School. “I was a good boy who loved racing pigeons. I was caught once for throwing stones at a colonel’s house so that I could see his pigeons flying all over my head. I loved it. His house was next to boys’ toilet and I excused often from the class to check pigeons.”
He religiously practices, what he learnt from Baldwin School as a border boy. He polishes his shoes every day, he makes his bed after getting up at 5 in the morning and he cleans his brass and silver cups. When Rupert lost his wife Olive Barnes while he was 80, there were still some marriage proposals pouring in through a Railway marriage bureau! “Well, it happened and I said no,” Rupert said, looking at Karen, who bursts into laughter.
He stays with his daughter Karen, who works with TCS. His son Marcellus works with Oberoi as a senior captain. Karen says her father loves country music, simple food and plays around with their one-month old kitten Miget. “I love Miget and I am always engaged now,” signs off the smart Cancerian of 1926.
(Copyright City Express/The New Indian Express)

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