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Stan on Leave in Nainital & Talital, Uttarakhand, India

Stan Sharrad’s photographs of Nainital and Talital in Uttar Pradesh, India, are by far the most numerous collection in his flight bag. Taken when on leave from RAF squadron 159 based as Digri in West Bengal, they are a mixture of street scenes, landscapes and informal portraits. The photographs are very small (less than 10cm on the longest side) but they scan very well and, in contrast to some of the other photographs in the collection, are generally in good condition. Stan was on leave in the Himalayan hill towns of Nainital and Talital from August 31st to September 9th, 1945. He appears to have paid 30 rupees to stay at the ‘Tali Tal Leave Hostel’. Was this money well spent? We can only speculate.

There is no easy way for me to identify many of the scenes shown here. If you are familiar with the area, I’d be very interested to hear from you, especially if you can pinpoint any of the locations (or people!) shown. It’s worth noting that I may have incorrectly tagged some of the photographs – please do let me know if that’s the case. I have assumed that the shots of Stan and his friends on a lake are taken here, but it is hard to ascertain this for certain. None of the pictures in the Nainital/ Talital collection have captions on the back.

Also included in Stan’s flight bag are some receipts, which help plot his movements on leave. I’ll be adding these in due course.




1 Response

  1. Matt Poole says:

    Tom, these are going to thrill people from Nainital who are part of a Facebook group called Nainital:Nostalgia. I have posted photos from other RAF men who spent their leaves at this glorious hill station, so far removed from the challenging weather conditions and squadron responsibilities back in West Bengal. Stan’s photos offer even more insight into a golden age for Nainital, before overcrowding and pollution and silting of the lake.

    On that Facebook page, search on “Matt Poole” at upper right (I think it’s there), and you should see all of the photos of Nainital that I have posted so far. Incidentally, I’m told that Nainital was at one end of the lake and Talital at the other.

    A couple of Stan’s images are identical to those of another RAF airman, so my guess is that Stan purchased prints or postcards when on leave. Some of Stan’s show the aftermath of a heavy snow, but it seems he was there before the storm, too, based on other photos. And what is confusing right now is that you said Stan was there between Aug 31st and Sept 9th 1945 — when it snowed? Someone on the Nainital:Nostalgia Facebook group will be able to enlighten us about the timing of snow.

    One friend with whom I’m in contact was raised in Nainital and has offered to caption each of your photos.

    These photos are going to knock the socks off of Nainital lovers. They are passionate about their home, and to see rare glimpses into its past just plain wows them. I know this from my posting of photos on the Facebook site.

    I’ll be in touch via email. Cheers from Matt.

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