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John Wright from Wymondham who, with his wife Jacqueline and daughters, Philippa Oram and Juliet Penaliggon, travelled back to India where he lived as a boy whilst his father Francis was chief police constable. Photo: Sonya Duncan
Friday, December 13, 2013
When he left home as a 10-year-old boy, the second world war was drawing to a close.
John Wright had enjoyed a carefree childhood cycling along country lanes and being close to nature in one of the most colourful countries in the world.
And now, almost seven decades later, the grandfather-of-six from Wymondham has made an emotional visit back to the home where he grew up in India.
Mr Wright, along with his wife Jackie and their daughters, Philippa and Juliet, flew to India in October to celebrate his 79th birthday.
The retired engineer, who lives in Chapel Lane, was the son of Frank Wright OBE, who was the senior assistant general of police of Nagpur in the 1940s and was responsible for Gandhi’s arrest in 1942. He died in 2000 at the age of 97.
Mr Wright lived with his father, mother Dorothy and younger sister Sylvia, while two of his older siblings stayed in the UK where they lived with their grandmother.
Armed with an obituary, the family tried to locate the house where Mr Wright grew up.
“I spent the first 10 years of my life in the central provinces of India,” he said. “We lived near the main police station in Nagpur. There were about 50 or 60 police stations around the countryside and they all reported to that one.
“Bespoke police houses came with the job and I wanted to see if we could find the one I grew up in.”
They met city police chief KK Pathak, who showed the family around Mr Wright’s former home.
“It was exactly as we had left it. I remember the main lounge area clearly and the swimming pool was still there.
“We didn’t have air conditioning so we would get a big mattress made from straw and bamboo and lean it up against the door.
“We would then throw water on it and it would deliver a cool breeze throughout the house.
“But it also brought in frogs and snakes.”
They also visited a local leisure club where Mr Wright’s parents played tennis and won several titles.
Mr Wright left India in 1944 and three years later, his father returned to the UK.
Their quest also earned them a spot on the front of the Times of India newspaper while they were out there. “We spent two nights in Nagpur,” he added. “It was wonderful to go back, as soon as I saw the house I started recognising things.”