Our Parents Were Shot In Front Of Us When We Returning To Kashmir


Seventy years past, a young British couple was shot dead at a mission hospital in geographical area, creating orphans of their 3 sons – one solely time period previous. To mark the day 2 of these sons, currently white-haired, created a private journey to the spot.
“I feel terribly emotional to be here,” says Doug Dykes, standing yards from the gallery wherever his mother and father suffered fatal bullet wounds once he was 2 years previous.
“I saw my folks being killed – that is what i have been told. My father tried to prevent the attackers approaching the nuns and he was shot. I ran screaming towards my father. My mother ran when ME – then she was additionally shot.”
There’s a bit of anguish in his recollections – a way that he could in how are liable for the death of his mother.
We square measure standing by his parents’ graves during this remote corner of the geographical area natural depression, the headstones shaded by recently harvested apple and walnut trees.
It may seem to be a tranquil spot, however Tom and Biddy Dykes, a military officer and his mate, were killed within the gap salvos of the geographical area crisis – and seventy years later the conflict continues to assert lives on the subject of each day.
In all, six folks lost their lives at St Joseph’s Catholic mission within the riverside city of Baramulla on it October morning in 1947. Jose Barretto, the husband of the hospital doctor, tried to avoid wasting the nuns World Health Organization ran the mission and was place up against a tree and shot. A nurse, Philomena, died seeking to shield the patients. Motia Hindu deity Kapoor, a patient, was injured to death in her single bed.
The Franciscan Missionaries of Mary additionally lost one in every of their own – Sister Teresalina, a newly-arrived Spanish nun in her 20s. She leapt before of the convent’s Belgian abbess, taking a bullet meant for the older lady. She is buried within the nuns’ burying ground on the opposite aspect of the mission grounds.
All were dead by armed tribesmen from Islamic Republic of Pakistan World Health Organization invaded geographical area to do to forestall the princely state turning into a part of Asian nation when nation withdrawal – and to require away the maximum amount loot as they might carry. As they empty St Joseph’s on twenty seven October 1947 the primary Indian troops were landing in geographical area to repulse the invaders – and that they are here ever since to forestall the region being confiscated by Islamic Republic of Pakistan, that claims it as its own.
Security issues were the most reason why the oldest of the 3 Dykes kids, named Tom like his father, ne’er managed to return Baramulla before his death in 2003.
When I met him a number of years earlier his recollections of the attack were terribly vivid.
“I will keep in mind awakening, and there was shot all round the place,” he told ME.
“Then these fellows that had raided the hospital began to batter down the door of the area we have a tendency to were in. The splinters began to fly across the area, and that i might see the wild faces through the cracks within the door.
“The tribesmen were pillage the place, they were pull everything apart, and swing their dirty money into sheets that lay on the ground and were created up into bundles.”
A family servant managed to require the five-year-old removed from the marauders. to a small degree later they came to check if they might realize Tom’s family.
“We went back to the central a part of the hospital, a garden space with a path around it. and that we discovered these bodies, lined with blood. And sitting on prime, howling his eyes out, was my blood brother Douglas.”
I found this story once, twenty years past, I met the last remaining nun World Health Organization had survived the ordeal. Sister asterid dicot genus, an Italian, recounted however the tribesmen had climbed over the mission walls, smashed through secured doors and manhandled a number of the nuns. when they killed her friend – the new Spanish sister, Teresalina – asterid dicot genus thought she too was near to die.
The hospital pass by the sixteen nuns had a high name. Biddy Dykes – a motherly lady with a “round, happy face dark hair and a stunning smile”, within the description of another army mate – went there to present birth to a minimum of 2 of her sons.
Their father was a Sandhurst-trained soldier from a family with a convention of service within the British Indian army. He married Biddy, a military nurse, at Agra, the town of the Taj Mahal, in 1940, and had up to the rank of lieutenant-colonel by the tip of war 2. once nation force out of Asian nation in August 1947, he united to remain on for a number of months as a political candidate within the Indian army’s Sikh Regiment to assist the transition.
The family has AN tormented letter Biddy Dykes wrote ten days before she died, shortly when biological process to her third son, James. the protection scenario was forbidding and he or she was urgently looking forward to her husband to show up and acquire them out.
“Hells Bells, i might provide something to check Tom get into tonight,” she wrote. “He aforesaid in one letter that he’d be over here these days. however i do not assume there’s AN earthbound likelihood.”
In fact, Dykes did create it to Baramulla however was unable to induce his family to safety.
A letter has emerged that he wrote when his arrival to a British officer within the Kashmiri capital, Srinagar, simply thirty miles away. In it he explains that he has come back to gather his family solely to be “overtaken by the current events”, in his surprisingly tasteful words. In clipped military fashion, he writes: “I ought to be most grateful if you’d send a vehicle here to Baramulla to gather US.” With AN invasion afoot, the evacuation was impractical. 2 days later, he and his mate were dead.
The 3 unparented Dykes boys beside regarding seventy others were command captive in an exceedingly single ward for ten days, whereas war raged around them. The Indian air force repeatedly bombed the mission, that the Pakistani invaders were victimization as a transport and provides depot.
The two older boys eventually came to kingdom by boat. James, the baby, was therefore weak he wasn’t expected to survive. He was ab initio cared for by woman Messervy, the mate of nation general World Health Organization had become the primary commander-in-chief of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan army, and slowly began to enhance. When, a number of months later, he was to an adequate degree to create the journey home, he was taken in by a special wing of the family. He did not see lots of his older brothers as they were growing up and at eighteen he emigrated to African nation.
“We ne’er talked a lot of regarding our folks – we have a tendency to knew the clean facts of what happened, however we have a tendency to were inspired to not hesitate it,” says Doug Dykes, a brewer by profession World Health Organization lives in fowl, simply outside London. it had been only I created contact with the family, sent photos of the graves and wanted their testimony, that the brothers began to speak among themselves regarding their recollections and feelings, he tells ME.
St Joseph’s lies at the western finish of Indian-administered geographical area, wherever the mountains begin to shut in on the natural depression. The road from the Kashmiri capital, Srinagar, is lined by Indian army bases and packed with the incessant movement of the massive numbers of troops deployed to make sure that neither Islamic Republic of Pakistan nor Kashmiri separatists prise the region from Indian management.
Today there square measure thirteen nuns at St Joseph’s, all Indian – tho’ none Kashmiri. In 1947 all except one were from Europe. also because the tiny hospital – currently, as then, specialising in maternal and women’s health – they run a nursing institute that is presently coaching sixty seven native Kashmiri women. The nuns recount however occasionally in recent years, because the security scenario worsened, they need been inspired to tug out of Baramulla. however they need insisted on staying. The service they supply to the area people is clearly appreciated, as is that the evident compassion with that they conduct their mission.
For the seventieth day of the killings, the nuns took it on themselves to organise a memorial mass, candle-bearing processions and therefore the giving birth of wreaths to honour those that lost their lives. They invited the 2 extant Dykes kids to attend and asked if i’d come back on too.
The army has togged up the graves for the occasion – barely of whitewash, a number of further pot plants and camouflage sheets to shield those gathering round the graves. The quiet of the occasion is broken by the whirr of a military police work drone overhead, keeping a watch out for intruders.
Col Dykes lies within the solely Commonwealth war grave in geographical area, and therefore the superior Indian general within the space places a wreath, as will the diocesan bishop and therefore the provincial head of the nuns’ order. The Dykes sons each lay wreaths too – Doug makes a degree of honouring his mother.
For Doug and James Dykes, the heat of the welcome from the nuns and therefore the poignancy of the ceremonies is overwhelming.
James, World Health Organization stayed in African nation and created a career as a tax adviser, is in a position to go to the area wherever his mother gave birth to him, also as seeing the spot his folks were buried simply time period later.
“I’m surprised by it all. I simply cannot realize the words,” he says.
“I ne’er expected to create it here.”
Neither of the extant brothers will be guaranteed to create it to geographical area once more. it had been a precious likelihood – presumably a final likelihood – to induce near the young couple World Health Organization died here, and whom they need considered all their lives.

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