My dear companion, Raymond Golsworthy, married an Australian sister, Joyce White, on the 29th November, 1941. (Read how Fred reacted to Raymond’s wedding plans in appendix 3.) They left for Australia in the spring of 1942, to meet Joyce’s family. However, they were captured by a German raider in the Indian Ocean and handed over to the Japanese. They were interned in a Japanese POW-camp for the next three and a half years. World War II had also begun in our part of the world.
I was called to military service from June 1943 to July 1946 and served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in an Indian General Hospital in India, Assam and Burma. I was so happy to remain within the Indian ranks and I had access to the Indian troops in their lines. This was not usually allowed; British and Indian ranks were kept apart. But my Commanding Officer gave me permission.
My unit reached Rangoon just after the Japanese surrender. The Bible Society premises had been destroyed by bombs. No Bibles were available anywhere. I started ordering Bibles in English and other languages from the main centres overseas. As a result I was summoned to my sergeant-major’s office one day, for there in a corner of his office were seventy-six large parcels of Bibles and Gospels. As sergeant-majors usually do, he roared at me, “What are you going to do with them?” I was rather embarrassed, but I said, “I will remove them, sir.” There were two YMCA Centres in Rangoon to which I went and asked if they could keep them for me. I told them they could use them as they liked. I, being a private, had only bed-space and no place to keep the parcels. They readily agreed and the Indian YMCA said they would lend me a truck to bring the Bibles from my hospital in Rangoon. So, my problem was soon solved. In the course of my eleven months in Rangoon I had 1,100 Bibles and 18,000 Gospels to distribute, which I did. How gladly they were received and how happy I was they should have them. There were five hundred very nice, small pocket Bibles in English for the English boys. I got 4 or 5 different languages to distribute. I was invited also to army camps so I filled my sack with Bibles and went out most evenings to one or other of these Indian camps and had a meeting with the people who had gathered. In one place, I was called to the office in the commanding officer’s tent and he had a padre there, an Indian. The commanding officer told him something about this chap who was doing Christian work in the camp. Normally, as I mentioned before, British ranks were not allowed to mix with or go to the tents of the Indians. But I got permission to do so.
The Padre said to me, “Are you Roman Catholic?” “No, I’m Protestant.” I wasn’t satisfied with my answer. I should have told him more simply, “I’m a Christian.” I made a mistake there. Put on the spot, sometimes you do make a mistake. But I was active wherever I was and the Lord was good. I was happy to be witnessing wherever I could and sharing the Bible when I had the opportunity.
I was in the Royal Medical Corps. I refused to carry arms, but I said, “I’ll clean the gun if I carry it for a parade; I’ll carry one, but I don’t want to use it. To have a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other is not very consistent.” They agreed to that and I never had to use the gun, nor even had to go into any action, as I was in the army medical corps. And that proved to be another field of activity.
I was appointed to a hospital and I was on the surgical ward as a nursing orderly. I said to myself, I must get some opportunity here. After a week in the ward I said to the boys, after my service had finished at 8 o’clock, “This is Sunday. We have been able to have a gramophone. Suppose we have a little singing together?”
“Alright, certainly, go on!”
So we had a meeting off the record. I had a concertina at that time and so I used that to help us in singing and then we had a short service. I didn’t know that a nursing sister was hiding behind the wall. She was on duty, but she hid while I was conducting this unappointed service and she reported it to the matron, who was a Roman Catholic. She wasn’t in sympathy, but the fact also got to the commanding officer and he was in sympathy and encouraged it. Eventually, after I had conducted three or four of these impromptu services, he said, “You could have permission to have a service in the surgical and medical wards.” But it wasn’t the same. When it was unofficial and spontaneous, it was so much better than when it was official. Somehow it lost its beauty; however we did have opportunity in the services. So, whether in the army or in the army medical corps, we took the opportunity and the Lord blessed it.
When I was demobbed I could return to fellowship with those Indian brothers particularly in Madras where we began. In the mean time the work had grown and there was more than one church now. I couldn’t say how many. But I did go to a different place, Ahmadabad, in Gujarat. We had special meetings there. Five years later, I went again to that place and they whispered among themselves, “Balaam’s ass has come again.” That was because I had preached on previous occasion about Balaam’s ass, so they called me Balaam’s Ass. I didn’t mind it.
After the war, in 1947, Raymond and Joyce Golsworthy were in London together for some time. I was there too. Like me, they regarded India as their home and the place where God had sent them and blessed them. Geographically we were not together often after our return to India, but we were never in any degree estranged from one another. The Lord put us together and there was a real bond and a mutual appreciation. He could do things which I couldn’t do and I could do things he couldn’t do. The Lord fitted us together very wonderfully. It has been the Lord’s wisdom to separate us physically, because it would have been impossible to move about as two couples. It would have been very embarrassing and difficult for accommodation. The Indian brothers and sisters always accommodated us very nicely. Wherever we went there was no question about accommodation, they made the adjustments that were necessary to accommodate two people and to feed us, and so on.
Because of the health problems of Joyce, the Golsworthys were not able to stay in India continually; she suffered from asthma. The situation in Manila was no doubt healthier for her. They felt much at home among the Chinese there; she even learned Chinese. Raymond Golsworthy was invited to many places, so they went to many places I never went to.
I give thanks continually to the Lord for our time together in India and the lovely fellowship we have had. Not talking so much together, but enjoying one another’s presence. Raymond and Joyce came to India very often and always travelled together.