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Johnian magazine issue 51, autumn 2023

Letters – what you’re saying

1 min read

Cambridge West Pakistan Project, 1963

In May 2023 a dinner was held to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of an overland expedition in which four Old Salopians (three Johnians and one from Magdalene College) drove from Cambridge to West Pakistan during the long vacation. We were supported by St John’s with a Sir Humphrey Davy Rolleston travel award. The trip involved a month in the CMS hospital in Quetta and the collection of anthropological data for various Cambridge departments. In Quetta Hospital we helped in a small way by testing blood and urine samples, repairing broken equipment like anaesthetic machines, and filing data for the local government statistics. We also had an open invitation to watch the surgeon superintendent Ronnie Holland performing a wide range of operations including many cataract removals.

The 12,000-mile journey was undertaken in a bright red ex-MOD Land Rover, crossing Europe, Turkey, Iran (then Persia), West Pakistan and back through the Khyber Pass and Afghanistan. We were fortunate that in 1963 we were able to travel safely through these countries, sleeping under the stars. The journey from Quetta to Lawrence College was along the North West Frontier with Afghanistan which was the most lawless area through which we travelled. The children herding goats were armed with Lee Enfield 303s, which reminded us of our days in the Combined Cadet Force.

We look forward to more anniversaries and opportunities to reminisce.

John Bolton (1961)

Express your thoughts on this issue, tell us about your latest projects or share anything else the Johnian community may like to know about. You can email your letters to with the subject ‘Johnian letter’. Letters may be edited for length and are published at the discretion of the Editor.