James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Work in India

Map showing places in the Far East referred to below.

It took several days by train and ferry to get all the equipment to its destination but before construction was completed Gwyn suffered yet another malaria attack and was evacuated by road to a field hospital at Gauhati for a week before being transferred by river steamer and rail to Bareilly for a further two weeks treatment. Here he met Peter Sunder, a Muslim turned Christian, who became his bearer for the going rate of one rupee a day. He proved a helpful and loyal companion for well over a year and Gwyn helped him to learn to read and write English. After three weeks recuperation in Naini Tal, Gwyn returned to Calcutta.

For just over a year Gwyn was the only Canadian on a station, 247 AMES, at Elliotgunge near Commila, south of Dacca. His English companions on the station were good company and were very interested in Canada but simply scanning the sky for possible air raids on Calcutta was fairly boring work. However it was here that he learned to drive. There was also an interesting incident when he had to refuse a senior HQ staff officer permission to view the then highly secret radar equipment. He spent leaves back in the same Langham House he had previously occupied in Naini Tal. He also a wonderful two weeks in Darjeeling and made several visits to wing HQ at Chittagong.

In January 1944 Gwyn was posted to Bangalore for a five-week course to familiarise himself with the latest microwave (cm) radar equipment which led to his being appointed at HQ as technical liaison to the new cm. mobile chain that had been established down the Arakan coast; reaching the southernmost station at Tek Naf took two days by jeep over difficult jungle terrain. After a couple of months he was assigned a small detachment near the main camp at Base Signals Unit at Belgaum in western India where new replacement personnel from England were introduced to tropical radar. Just prior to this Gwyn underwent the new ‘blanket treatment’ for malaria, taking massive doses of a new drug for about a week in the hope it would finally rid him of the disease.

Through much of his time in India Gwyn had been attached to the RAF but in 1945 the newly established Canadian HQ in Bombay confirmed his long-overdue repatriation and a promotion that the RAF had failed to confirm six months earlier.