Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM

Conner, Shaun


Book ID 963

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 01
Extract Date: 1947

I thought there might be some interest in my late Uncle, Colonel T.S. Conner DSO. KPM, (known everywhere as "The Colonel"), so I thought I would let you have a small history of his and my families life in Tanzania, together with names I remember from the 1960's and 70's. I am also attaching some photographs which I thought maybe of interest.

The Col and his American wife, Jo, arrived in Mombasa from India in 1947 en route to South Africa following his retirement from the Indian Army. They had an American Willis Jeep which they had brought from India and set off to explore East Africa for a few months before departing for SA. However, they decided to stay and purchased a small farm somewhere not far from Nairobi. A short while later the Col heard that farms were being offered to soldier settlers in Tanganyika with the help of a loan from the Land Bank. He put his name forward and though questioned about being a little old (52) he was granted 3 lots as one farm in Oldeani, which he named Kongoni Estate. He and his wife then set about farming the land of which he had little knowledge save for being apprenticed to a Tea Planter in India before the First World War!

He farmed coffee wheat and barley as far as I can remember. He also had a fine heard of cattle. Sadly in 1950 Jo died in America of cancer. She had gone home to have a thorough check up, both unaware of how ill she must have been, but she never returned to Tanganyika. She did however organise to have all sorts of much needed farming machinery shipped over to Africa and in the following years, the Col together with his manager Van Wyke built up one of the most successful farms in Tanganyika. Success allowed him to buy 3 other farms, New Brandon Estate in Oldiani, Swiss Estate in Arusha and Little Kongoni Estate at Weru Weru, just 9 miles from Moshi. The Col offered many members of his family the chance to change their lives and come out to work for him.

In 1952 his niece Eileen and her husband Paddy Purchase arrived. Paddy built a house for them on the farm and their 3 children, Melody, Rosemary and Nigel, spent their early years in Oldeani before they moved to Arusha and Dar and then Kenya.

Extract ID: 5522

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 02
Extract Date: 1950's

the Delamere Cup

During the 1950's and early 60's the Col entered his Wheat into the Nairobi Show and for 7 years in succession won the Delamere Cup for the best wheat grown in East Africa. This was quite an achievement when you think he was up against the big Kenya farms. In fact he won the cup so many times that they gave it to him after Independence and he replaced it with a new one, which he promptly won! He entered hs wheat into the World Cup in Toronto and it came 15th. This shows the agricultural potential of Tanzania and i believe that they were growing two crops a year in Oldiani.

During this period my Uncle also invited his sister Eileen Conner to join him on the farm during her retirement years and she lived at Kongoni until her death in 1964. His other sister Marjory and her husband Lionel Hodgson also worked for him for a while before getting a job with the TCGA i think, (Tanzania Coffee Growers Association?) and they lived in Moshi until the late 60's. Their son Christopher Hodgson, my cousin, also gave the Col 3 years on his farm before he went to Kenya and worked at the Mount Kenya Safari Club.

Extract ID: 5523

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 03
Extract Date: 1967

Last elephant shoot

The Col had been a tremendous sportsman during his Army days and continued with his interest in Tanzania by supporting their Olympic hockey team. He went with them to the Olympics in Rome, Tokyo, Mexico and Munich, also attending Commonwealth Games in between, Jamaica and Edinburgh, all at his own expense. He was on the Olympic Hockey Appeal Jury.

On his trip to Rome he was accompanied by the former Olympic runner Bob Tisdale and his wife, they were also farming in Oldiani.

The Colonel was also very keen on hunting and shooting, as you might expect from 35 years in India and though its politically incorrect now, then, it wasn't. He went on his last elephant shoot in Tanzania in 1967 and amongst the photos attached is one of him on that trip. I remember the name of Royce Buckle which i have seen on your website and i know my Uncle used to shoot with him. In another shooting photo attached there are several people somebody might recognise. My father is immediately on the left of the photo, only just in it and on the far side is Van Wyke

Extract ID: 5524

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 04
Extract Date: 1963

Car Accident

My father, Major Eric Conner, the Cols brother, came out in 1963 to help run the farms and my mother Freda and I joined him in 1964. We lived at Little Kongoni Estate at Weru Weru and I was sent to Arusha School which I loved and have corresponded with you about before.

In 1967 the Col decided it was time to leave Oldiani. Many of the original farmers had sold and left some years before and he wasn't getting any younger. His manager of 25 years, Van Wyke, wanted to go back to SA and so he sold up and bought the much smaller Ogaden Estate, just outside Arusha on the Moshi road. This farm is now owned by Edward Mtee who was the Tanzanian Finance Minister and we visited him there in 1988 whilst attending a wedding at the Marangu Hotel. Ogaden Estate was purchased from a Col Minnery who was returning to the UK and I believe the farm had been named after his Army experiences in that part of Africa.

My father and my Uncle modernised and ran this farm but in 1968 my father had a bad car accident whilst driving into Arusha to collect the wages for the farm workers. It was a foggy morning and he was suddenly confronted in his car with a lorry that had stopped completely and he veered off the road and was thrown from the car. He ended up hours later in Arusha Hospital with a 10th of an inch from having a completely broken neck and a friend of theirs, a retired Nurse called Jane Hodgson, visited him, took one look and brought him home to her house and nursed him to recovery.

My father never doubted that she saved his life! Jane was married to Charles Hodgson (no relation to the Hodgson's mentioned earlier) who i believe opened Barclays bank branches all over Africa, a delightful man, who when i knew him, was badly crippled and walked with two sticks.

Extract ID: 5525

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 05
Extract Date: 1970

Sadly however, my father had to return home to the UK and died later that year from complications following an operation. The Col continued to run Ogaden for another 2 years and then decided that aged 75 he should move to live in Nairobi where Paddy Purchase was living and where he had many other friends through his interest in Sports etc. [phrase deleted by nTZ editor] ...his great friend Charles Withers Payne. Charles was a lawyer who at some point had blotted his copy book but was able to practise in Tanzania. A lovely old gent who drove an American Chev he called Queen Mary and who was well known by the farmers and who in later years as you read on, you will learn was honoured for his work in trying to get the Tanzanian Government to stick to its promises to the farmers.

Eventually the Colonel sold Ogaden to somebody else but the money of course was stuck in a Tanzanian bank. Thus in 1970 when he was told there was a farm for sale in West Kilimanjaro, 2000 acres next to his old friend Piet Hugo he decided to buy it. He put a manager in place and commuted down as often as he could but of course during the early to mid 70's, Tanzania had closed its borders with Kenya due to a dispute over East African Airways and Tourism amongst other things. This made his visits difficult so his friend Charles Withers Payne helped him get the necessary paperwork as a land owner to avoid too many questions from the rather difficult border officials on both sides. He developed a system of arriving at Namanga in his car and appearing very old and doddery and exaggerated the use of a walking stick! He was by then getting on for 80 anyway. This usually got him through but hidden in his car were supplies for the farm and requests from friends as at this time it was difficult to get many basic things in Tanzania. He also always attended the St George's Day Dinner in Arusha if he could get down.

Extract ID: 5526

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 06
Extract Date: 1975

compulsory purchase

The purchase of this farm turned out to be very wise and beneficial as though he bought it because he found it difficult not to have a farming interest and realised there wasn't much point in having the money sitting in a Tanzanian bank, when the Government announced in 1975 that they wanted to compulsory purchase 26 arable farms in West Kilimanjaro, the British Govt offered compensation to the British farmers which could be paid out of the country. Of course if you were one of the many non British farmers then you were paid in Tanzanian shillings and the money was virtually worthless. It was for his work in helping all these farmers that Charles Withers Payne was awarded an OBE.

Thus ended my uncles farming life in Tanzania. He would have liked to have bought a farm in Kenya but as he was not a Kenya citizen he was not able to buy land, only a residential house. He had spent 28 years farming in Tanzania, nearly as long as his first career but he retired to Nairobi, supported the Rugby, Hockey and Cricket teams had many friends and visited the UK and SA every other year to see his family. In fact he lived for a further 19 years and died 2 months after his 99th in 1994. I am pleased to say that i went out for his 99th Birthday and though he had given up driving a few months earlier and was suffering from the ravages of old age, his mind was as sharp as ever. The Col was a tremendously loyal friend and he never went to the UK or SA or anywhere else without visiting old friends from Tanzanian days. He regularly saw Piet Hugo in SA who of course was very depressed as he had been treated so badly having been thrown off his farm and kicked out of the country with 24 hours notice to leave. It was a case of mistaken identity!

In 1988 he took Jonathan Scott the Photographer, writer and now TV presenter, who he had befriended through Rugby in Nairobi, on a long safari introducing him to the game parks of Tanzania and used the opportunity to visit Oldiani again. He was by then, 93 years old!

Extract ID: 5527

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 07
Extract Date: 1980

friends from the Tanzanian days

Among his friends from the Tanzanian days, whose names I remember, are

Olivia Duncan who farmed and indeed may still be, in Oldiani at Ben Du Estate.

I remember, Jock and Cise Taylor,

Mr and Mrs Koch who farmed Silverdale Estate at Weru Weru, next to us,

Bill and Joan Forder, we loved their swimming pool at there house in Moshi.

They were very kind to us and Jackie Forder, their daughter is now married to Seamus Brice Bennet and they own and run and Marangu Hotel in Moshi.

I remember Spookie Speight from Oldiani, Sidney and Marisha Meyer from Arusha,

Polly Bloom, who was a man so must have been a nick name,

Doug and Beryl Haig, farmers at Oldiani who went on to run Lodges and may still do!

Ken and Lorna Pugh I knew in the UK but Ken was a surveyor and I believe surveyed the Oldiani farms in the 50's early 60's.

I remember Vic and Joyce Stuchsbury, I think Vic was an Accountant in Tanzania but we met many times in the UK after they left and the Col visited them.

From West Kilimanjaro i remember the names of Paddy Fox, Michael Wood, the Flying Dr and Piet Hugo.

Extract ID: 5528

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 08

school friends at Arusha

Among my school friends at Arusha I remember,

Simon Stevenson, whose parents I met years later as they were farming at Nanyuki in Kenya and Alan Miles.

Other names in my autograph book seem to omit the surnames!

As for Teachers I remember, the Headmaster Bryn Jones, Mrs Parry, Miss Aggarwal, A.G. Goswell and Mr Rushbrook who I seem to remember kept snakes and fed live mice etc to them, to our fascination!

I also remember the lovely Matron, Mrs Toft who was very kind to me as a 7 year old border!

A few years ago i was contacted by a member of the Aggarwal family from Arusha and discovered that it was their family who purchased Kongoni Estate off my Uncle and they still owned it.

I hope this is of some interest for anybody who might remember my Uncle or any of the names i have mentioned some of which are not on this site until now. Its as accurate as i can remember and i may well have spelt names wrong but its basically how things were, i hope. I would welcome any feedback.

Extract ID: 5529

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 09

My Uncle on the right with Van Wyke on the left and various cups won at the Nairobi Show. Taken about 1962 ish, i would guess

Extract ID: 5530

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 10

My Uncle outside our house at Weru Weru

Extract ID: 5531

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 11

A hunting photo and i have no idea who they are except immediately on the left and almost out of the photo is my father

Anybody know who the others are?

Extract ID: 5532

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 12

me on the left and Alan Miles together with my mother, taken on a day out from school in 1965 in Arusha.

Extract ID: 5533

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 13

photo of Arusha with a good view of the New Arusha Hotel in the early 60's

Extract ID: 5534

See also

Conner, Shaun Memories of Colonel T.S.Conner DSO KPM, 2007
Page Number: 14

my Uncle on his last shoot in 1967.

Extract ID: 5535