PAST MEETS PRESENT
THE PHOTO THAT BROUGHT TWO
There’s a popular quote that says, ‘Don’t cry over the Past, it's gone. Don’t stress over the future, it hasn’t arrived. Live in the Present and make it beautiful.’ My Son Anuj who is home quarantined in Jhansi with his Naniji discovered how the ‘Past’ can make your ‘Present’ beautiful. He left Borivali in mid-March to spend a week in Jhansi. The arrival of Anuj was a pleasant boon for the Veer Nari, Mrs Urmila Bakhshi staying alone in the Cantonment Bungalow. Both are having a whale of a time enjoying the present lockdown.
Leafing through an old Navy magazine ‘Varuna’ of 1962, he came across an article on the heroics of his Nanaji, Late LtCdr VP Bakhshi NM(Gallantry), who having joined the RIN in 1945 as a Boy of 15 in Karachi, was among the first batch of Naval Divers of Indian Navy. On the large wall of the drawing-room adorned a few photos of that bygone era. One old framed photo of 1958 caught his eye. The group-photo of the divers in uniform with Lt WG Knapp, then OIC Diving School. He spotted the OIC’s teenaged Son behind the Venduruthy Lifebuoy. His photo was tagged as ‘Paul Knapp’.
Anuj googled through Facebook for ‘Paul Knapp’. After an extensive search, he located him. Paul’s page too had the same old group photo that adorned the wall of Jhansi bungalow, the difference being the later had names tagged of all persons in the photo. Anuj sent the link of Paul’s page to his Mom Meena, who immediately sent a Friend request to Paul and mentioned about her Dad being in the Photo on Paul’s page. Paul responded and confirmed his identification. He remembered then Petty Officer VP Bakshi as a young energetic diver, whom Lt WG Knapp considered as his right-hand man. He was sad to hear about his demise 2 yrs ago and expressed his condolence. He mentioned that his own Dad had expired in 1978, due to excessive Helium inhalation over the years in the diving profession. Paul Knapp was Born in 1944 and studied in Breeks Memorial School Ooty, when his Father was posted in Kochi. He joined the Royal Navy and has been a former Leading Seaman UC-1 before converting as an Aircrew Diver. He served in HM Naval base Portland. Post-retirement he settled down in Weymouth Dorset.
Here’s Paul Chat with Meena, “Hi ya Meena, Please call me Paul, that is my first name. Of course, you are welcome to use any of my photos and material. If you scroll down through my FB page you will see lots of material from our time in India. My Dad died in 1978. He never really recovered from the Cholera and Amoebic Dysentery he contracted when he and the Diving Team were searching for gold in Calicut. Eventually his lungs "packed in" from breathing Helium and Air mix, on deep dives. When Dad died my Mum moved down to Weymouth, to be nearer us. She died in 1994. When we returned to the UK in 1978, I finished my schooling and then joined the Royal Navy. I spent two years as a seaman and then volunteered for helicopter aircrew. During my flying years, I spent four tours in Malaya and North Borneo during the Confrontation with Indonesia, and a year in Northern Ireland during "the troubles". On leaving the Navy, I've done various jobs,(too many to list here), and finally retired in 2009. I have tried to send you" Calicut Gold" as an attachment, I hope it comes out OK. My laptop is getting ancient now, and doesn't always do what I want it to! A bit like me! xP”
Paul then forwarded on FB messenger some of his Pics over the years and a write up on his Dad Lt WG Knapp, then OIC Diving School and Meena’s Dad about Operation ‘Calicut Gold’ in which the Divers fetched over 30 Kg Gold for the Govt treasury. Click the link below for a detailed account.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, wasn’t that a chance encounter of the Past bringing joyful moments for the Present. That Group photo of Diving School bringing the two families together after 6 decades. A bond has been affirmed. "Thanks, Paul Knapp for sharing the Fantastic write-up on Calicut Gold. Here's wishing you A very Happy 76th Birthday today."
Shano Varuna … Jai Hind
A PAGE FROM VARUNA-1962
NOVA - 1958
DIVING MANDATORY REFAM
LT KNAPP WITH DIVER CRUSTO
LT WG KNAPP WITH HIS DIVING TEAM
PO VP BAKHSHI, LT & MRS WG KNAPP
with PAUL KNAPP
LATE LT WG KNAPP - 1978
LATE LTCDR VP BAKHSHI & MRS URMILA BAKSHI