Photo to left - Gillian & Diana Lovie, Shillong 1947 / Photo to right - Helen Lovie pre shoot 1939

John & Helen Lovie’s Wedding Day, Dibrugarh Dec. 1937

John Lovie & R.B Clark, Dirai T E 1932

John Lovie & Nappit

John Lovie on shoot

Lovie - John (Diana Hunt)

Lovie - John Massie

Born 7th October 1909. Died in 1985
Married Helen in l937 - Assam
3 children, Gillian, Diana and Valerie, who sadly died of malaria shortly after her birth in 1947

My father, John Lovie, initially trained in marine construction with a company called Alexander Hall & Co. in Aberdeen.  In 1930 at the age of 21 he was recruited by Duncan Macneill.  On the ship out to India, he was joined by 4 other trainee planters.  On arrival in Bombay, those 4 were returned to the U.K., poor chaps.   It was in the middle of the Great Depression and the company decided it could not afford to keep them on but my father fortunately, was kept on due to his engineering skills.  His first garden in Assam was Pithagooti T.E., a sister Estate to Dirai T.E. (see photo) in the Moran district. 

His second garden was Oakland’s T.E., and over the years quite a few other estates followed where he was acting manager - Greenwood was one of them.  Eventually, he was made manager of Subong T.E., in the district of Cachar in the early ‘40s  and in 1953 was posted from there as manager of Dirai T.E., Moran, until his retirement in 1962 - so full circle!  In the early days he took up photography, developing and printing his own photographs - I have so many to go through.  He never regretted his days in Assam.  Having left tea, he went on to work for Hailsham County Council in East Sussex as Planning Enforcement Officer - seemingly mostly trying to keep the peace between ‘warring’ neighbours! Retiring in 1977.

My father met my mother on board ship.  He was returning to India after his first home leave and my mother was on her way to nurse in Malta - they knew each other for less then 2 days(!) corresponded and married 22 months later in December 1937 (see photo) in St. Paul’s Church, Dibrugarh.  When she saw him next, my mother was shocked at his appearance - almost skeletal.  He did not tell her Macneills had refused to pay her passage to India - the company did not approve him marrying at such a young age - he was 26.  To save money for her passage, he gave up his horse, with only rare visits to the club, and lived on fruit, rice and the odd jungli murghi.  So he was half the size of the man she remembered!  They were very happily married for 48 years.

During WW11 my father was sent to work on the Ledo Road, having to leave my mother and their new born baby, my elder sister Gillian, on the garden.  Eventually she made her own tiring and trying journey by train from Assam (accompanied by an ancient German Mauser which she was ready to whip out, should she come upon a Japanese soldier - I should think one’s imagination runs riot on occasions like this!) to the safety of Darjeeling where my father had arranged for her to stay until the war was over.  A book was written called ‘Forgotten Frontier’ by Geoffrey Tyson, ‘being an account of the part played by tea planters of North-East India in the civil evacuation of Burma’ with a superb Preface by Viscount Wavell. My father was, like hundreds of others, presented with 2 copies of this book by the Indian Tea Association ‘to accept it as a small token of their appreciation of your share in that great work’ - my father’s name is under Ledo Road Project with other planters at the back of the book.

My sister and I went to Loreto Convent in Shillong (see photos of Helen + Diana & Gillian) before being sent to further our education in England in 1953.  So ended a blissful childhood spent in India.