1936 - 1937 Mission Diary

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

August 29th, Saturday, Lhasa.

see photographs below

We had a number of interesting -callers to-day and also the Mission returned the calls of three of the Shapes at their private houses and gave presents. The fourth Shape (Kalon Lama Shape) is absent from Lhasa.

The following visitors called:

(i) Kusho Chapay. Fourth rank Official and Assistant to the Commander-in-Chief.

(h) Kusho W. N. Kyipup, City Magistrate.

(iii) Kusho Rupon Phurpa Dhondup.

(iv) Kusho Kyipup of Gyantse, elder brother of No. (ii).

(v) Abdul Rashid.

(vi) Lama Commander-in-Chief (also Clerical Grand Secretary)

(vii) Kunsangtse Kusho.

The Assistant to the Commander-in-Chief was very obliging in giving military information, and hinted that officials had been instructed by the Kashag to talk to us freely and without reservation.

As the result of a long conversation between Neame and Kusho Chapay, who in his younger days had done many years service as Depon in Kham (Eastern Tibet), the following information was cited. This was modified in details by a talk with the Lama Commander-in-Chief later in the day, and the combined results are given here. Both officials were capable and clear headed.

There is a feudal system of recruitment for the Tibetan army, every official with an estate has to produce so many men. Some estates are specially feed or encumbered with providing a large number of soldiers, in fact they are military estates.

Local militia are raised from the villages with their own local armament of prong gun match-locks, etc., for internal security in districts denuded of regular troops

Kham, i.e., the Eastern Tibetan frontier province has absorbed all the regular Tibetan forces in recent years, leaving only the Bodyguard of about 600 in Lhasa and 400 armed police and also 300 machine gunners from 4 or 5 regiments under instruction at Lhasa. There are a few regulars left on the Nepal border, otherwise all the remaining provinces Gartok, Rudok,, etc., depend entirely on local militia with ancient armament for internal security.

The system of promotion is via, the ranks, Naik, Havildar, Subedar, to Rupon (major). Appointments to Depon-(General), the next rank above Rupon are all made direct from the nobility without previous experience or training, except for one or two Depons who in past years received military training in India, and also one or two special promotions from Rupon to Depon made by the late Dalai Lama, but none of these exceptions are now serving.

In Eastern Tibet, there are now 9 regular regiments, two of 1,000 men with two Depons in charge of each, two of' 600 men and the remainder of 500 men with one Depon in command of each, a nominal total- of 5,700 regulars.

There, are in addition, 11 regiments of local militia of 500 each, about 5,500 militia or 10,200 embodied troops in all.

There are in Kham 4 British mountain guns, also some captured Chinese guns, and most of the regiments have one Lewis gun apiece. The mountain guns are in one regiment (or battery) and are alloted as required The troops are all armed with 303 rifles with plenty of ammunition.

There are 6 or 8 mountain guns in Lhasa with the 300 men under training, and none with the field army. But reference should be made to previous re-marks by Depon Jigme Tering regard-ing the inefficiency of this training.

The troops in Kham are scattered along the frontier in some 20 detachments, each under a Depon and each responsible to the Kashag at Lhasa. But Kashag has authorised the Commissioners of Kham (one lama, and one lay, both of Dzasa rank) to make decisions But all routine matters are referred to the Military depart-ment in Lhasa or to the Kashag. It takes 10 days for the most urgent message to reach Lhasa by messengers riding night and day. Ordinary post takes a month.

Orders have recently been issued to prevent troops living on and batten-ing on the local villages in Kham, and the pay of the army to include rations has recently been raised to Rs. 4 a month per man in Kham and Rs. 3 a month per man in Lhasa. The rations comprise about a pound of unhusked barley a day per man, and a small quantity of butter, salt and tea.

The uniform of the troops in Kham is very mixed, some Khaki, some local village clothing; some wear "topees" some turbans (puggaris), and some Tibetan felt or fur hats.

From 10-30 AM to 1-30 P. M. the Mission called in turn on Bhondong. Shape, Tendong Shape, and Lungchungma Shape. All were very affable and pleasant, sat with us on European chairs round a table and discussed matters freely. Bhondong and Tendong are experienced men of the world, pro-British and up to date in their ideas. Lungchungma is a nice old- man, very old fashioned, won't have electric light in his house, only drinks Tibetan tea, and was a protege of the late Dalai Lama’s.

Gould had some useful talks with Bhondong and Tendong in which among other things they expressed a desire to obtain wireless sets of their own, for use in Lhasa or in the field so as to be independent of the Chinese.

The Political Officer has quickly got on the best of terms with these two influential Shapes, who undoubtedly appreciate a British representative of his experience

These visits, tea drinking, and continual talk through an interpreter are pretty tiring in the course of a long day.

A notable feature of the religious activities here is the booming of the Gompa trumpets three or four times a day. They reverberate from all points of the compass as there are Gompas scattered all round the Lhasa vale.

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 IV p.5




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