Mr. D.J. Madan, from Mumbai 400 026, India, send a delicious Letter to the Editor, in this Saturday's FT regarding an old graveyard in Goa for British soldiers ("The Goan cemetery and the activist prime minister"). He recalled a visit to the area in 1983 from Mrs. Thatcher, who fumed when she realized in what poor shape the graveyard was. The iron baroness-to-be ordered HM's High Commissioner to do something about, no later than immediately. Writes Mr. Madan:
" There was much speculation as to who these British soldiers were and how they came into a territory that was Portuguese from early in the 16th century, particularly as there is no record of warfare betweeen Britain and Portugal in Goa. A clue can be found in an old Bombay Gazetteer which records that although Bombay was cede to the English by the Portuguese in 1641 following the marriage of Charles II to the Infanta Catherine of Portugal, the local Portuguese and their priests who had been in possession of Bombay for a century or more, refused to part with the territory putting forth all sorts of procedural difficulties.
Some of the English ships, which had come for the takeover, sailed back but a couple were sent off to Goa where they were denied entry and the crew banished to an unoccupied island, Anjandiv, "12 leagues to the south of Goa" where they are said to have perished one by one in a few years, due to lack of proper food and an unfamiliar climate. It is possible that the graveyard the then prime minister visited was of those unfortunate sailors."
I rush to calm the Right Honourable Reader who might have found himself under the impression that this blogger of yours cannot disguise his nostalgia for Imperial times. This story merely represents a very proper and well-behaved way to remind a lost era, when crews of ships of Her Britanic Majesty could be banished to the Anjandivs of this world by Europeans less choosy in their dietary habits and less susceptible to climate-change...