‘A sad story from Meerut Cantonement cemetery, India’ by K.J.S.Chatrath


I had visited the Meerut Military Cemetery in Boulogne, France two months ago. Last week I went to see the Meerut Cantonement Cemetery, Uttar Pradesh, India.  Besides the graves of British soldiers and officers maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission there, ‘The British Association of Cemeteries in Asia’ has also helped in the maintenance of this cemetery where a large number of civilians also lie buried.  While walking through the vast premises, I came across a particularly sad story. It is the story of a young lady named Rosamond Carew.

meerut-2016-067-copy-640-50Rosamind was born on 7th November 1894. She was the eldest daughter of Lt. Col. Carew Smyth, of Royal Engineers.

meerut-2016-068-640-50At the age of 19, she got married to Balfour Oliphant Hutchinson of the 7th Hussars on 1st November 1915.

She died on 2nd November 1916 aged only 20, just one year after her marriage.

meerut-2016-069-copy-4-640-50I could not find out about the cause of her death.  The young British ladies died in India mainly during the monsoon months as they could not stand high heat and humidity. As Theon Wilkinson in his book The Two Monsoons has explains, the British found it difficult to survive the first two monsoon seasons in India, and hence the title of his book ‘The Two Monsoons: The life and death of Europeans in India’. But after that, they got a bit acclimatized. Incidentally Theon Wilkinson set up BACSA, which has done a commendable job in preserving old cemeteries in India.


Another possible reason of Rosamind’s death could have been childbirth, which also claimed a number of young British ladies in India.

A good number of British men, women and children died in Indian in very early age. This was one of the prices that Britain had to pay for colonization.

meerut-2016-071-copy-2-640-50This grave has the following inscription at the bottom:

‘In life two things stand like stone- Kindness in another’s trouble and courage in your own.

“The peace of God which passeth all understanding.’’

Rest in Peace Rosamond Carew.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *