Getting into Sandhurst
My father went through a great deal of anxiety before getting into Sandhurst, the army training college for young men aspiring to be officers of the British and Indian Army. He writes in his memoirs:
“All candidates had to have passed the School Certificate before taking the entrance exam. [...] One's Headmaster had to submit a report on one and could allot up to 30 marks and one could also receive up to 30 marks from the Interview.
Of the 15 or so boys taking the entrance exam in my school I believe I received the lowest Headmaster's marks and the highest Interview marks. Strangely enough I became quite friendly with the Headmaster after the war but while I was at the School, he did not realise the strain I was under worrying whether my father would be able to afford to send me to Sandhurst.”
Remember unlike the image one might have of an Indian Army officer’s family, John’s family was not a wealthy one; to supplement his army pension John’s father had become a clerk in a coal merchant at £10 per week and could only afford to pay the minimum fees of £15. John writes:
"£15 a term does not seem very much in the 1990s but it was very different in 1932. My father's [army] pension was £256 a year and he had savings of £250.”
My grandfather would have had to spend £150 from his savings for John’s uniform and equipment and was also expected to give John pocket money of £3 a month. My grandfather told John that unless he was granted the minimum grade of £15 a term there was little hope of getting to Sandhurst. However, John writes
“The post arrived one morning & a few moments later my father darted into my room with a letter in his hand, saying 'John, John, you can go to Sandhurst'. The delight in his eyes & on his face showed how pleased he was. I had got in at £15 a term [...] where I arrived on 17th January 1932.”