1936 - 1937 Mission Diary

The official diary of the Gould mission to Lhasa sent by the British government. Read more about the mission diary.


see photographs below


After a consultation early in the morning it was decided to leave Nepean and Dagg, the wireless set with its batteries, charging engine etc., the big 35 mm cinema projector, and the broadcasting apparatus, behind at Gyantse, because all these things require a large supply of electricity from our batteries, which cannot be charged because the petrol engine of the charging set will not work properly at over 10,000 feet. In fact here at 13,000 feet it will not start or run at all.

This is a most unsatisfactory situation and upsets all our arrangements for high class and interesting entertainments for the Tibetans at Lhasa, as well as the more serious deficiency of wireless in the event of Gould having to march beyond Lhasa to meet the Tashi Lama. The army wireless equipment issued to the signal Officers is apparently ineffective at high altitudes, and if the Mission had been made aware of this earlier, other arrangements might have been made. As it is, we now propose to send Dagg back to Kalimpong to endeavour to obtain a petrol engine charging set used by the Mount Everest Expedition this year, specially designed for and used at heights up to 20,000 feet. It was left with other Everest equipment at Kalimpong and is we believe for sale. But a telegraphic enquiry elicited the answer that all the Everest equipment had just been shipped to England. In consequence arrangements were made to send Dagg to Calcutta to endeavour to get made locally, a hand power charging set for use by coolies.

Neame and Chapman went to the town and Jong to take photos, and found many interesting subjects. At the Jong they were received by the Eastern Jongpen, Tendong, and shown round, and entertained to "Tibetan tea" by the Lama of the principal one of the numerous temples in the Jong, and to ordinary tea by the Jongpen. One requires an infinite capacity for absorbing tea if one is to cope with all the ceremonial visits etc.

The outer walls of the Jong have in many places crumbled away and the whole of it is in pretty bad repair except the chief temple, which is reputed to be 300 or 400 years old. The view from the top of the Jong perhaps 600 feet above the Gyantse plain is very striking. Curious little ' buildings are built tier on tier up the steep hillside, the general appearance being very similar to the Island of Mont St. Michel off the coast of Brittany in France.

There were not enough ladders to go from one storey to the next, and near the top the ladders had to be hauled up behind Neame and Chapman and raised up to the next storey and vice versa on descending. There was a very weird little temple or shrine at the top dedicated to the spirit of the Jong, and in it in nearly pitch darkness sat the attendant lama producing deep muffled booming noises from a large drum. Later Neame went to the British Trade Agent's post to discuss some military problems with thee Officer Commanding Escort.

In the afternoon every one was busy making arrangements for our departure.

We all went to dine at the British Trade Agent's post, but just before dinner the Jongpen of Shigatse arrived to see Gould, having ridden over, a two days journey. This Jongpen is the most important one in Tibet, and his Jong or district is in especial promin-ence at the moment in view of the impending return of the Tashi Lama to his great Gompa at Tashilumpo, close to Shigatse.

There is unlimited space for an aerodrome in the Gyantse plain, but no where usable without a fair amount of work on levelling small irrigation bunds. There is plenty of local labour.

Author: Philip Neame [see handwritten annotations in Diary by Hugh Richardson in MS. Or. Richardson 2, Bodleian Libary, Department of Oriental Collections, University of Oxford]

Page Reference: Pt III p.1

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