John Robert Dewar, CBE

John Robert Dewar, CBE

Male 1883 - 1964  (81 years)


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A letter written by John Dewar to "The Magazine of the Survey Departments of Malaya" 1 year after his retirement.

Information researched and compiled by Ly Mok in Singapore and kindly provided for publication here.

The Magazine of the Survey Departments of Malaya

Vol. 1. No. 2. January 1939. - p 61


My Dear Surveyor General,

I do not know whether it is your kind self or the Editor to whom I am indebted for the first issue of The Malayan Surveyor which I received this morning but may I express my very sincere gratitude to whom the credit and kind thought are due. (The S.G. helped the magazine finances by buying several copies for forwarding to retired friends.—Ed.)

It is quite impossible to overstate the pleasure I have received in eagerly devouring news of you all. Tinged with the joy there is however a very sad note deep down. It is now just over a year since I left but I have not lost any of my fond memories for the Department and my old friends in it, and my thoughts drift back to the happy days of the past.

This is only one more instance where one’s mistakes are unearthed. On at least two occasions I was approached with the suggestion to publish a magazine but did not proceed with it. Now when I see this successful issue I realise how dense I was and I heartily congratulate you on being so much more far sighted than I was. And so our mistakes accumulate and are piled up behind.

I will look forward with immense interest to future issues and enclose a money order to cover the cost for a period, and I will be grateful if I may be advised when replenishment is due.

With reference to Lowinger’s “immobile monster” I do not know if I ever mentioned the “mobile tree” I once encountered in Pahang.

It was on the Jelebu Road a few miles from Karak. I had to re-establish a boundary in very dense bamboo country and the only way was to set out a bearing and cut the line. After cutting had gone on for some time my mandor came back and said that there was a huge tree ahead. Taking a look round I could see nothing but as the bamboo was so thick and high the tree might still have been there. However I sent the mandor back to go on cutting until he actually reached the tree and I went on with some calculations in the meantime.

In less than a quarter of an hour there was the devil of a disturbance of coolies yelling and bamboo crashing and real pandemonium was in the air. The “big tree” just visible in the distance was one of a large herd of elephants! The sequel was however fortunate because the herd broke off in the opposite direction while I was hastily boxing the instrument and wondering what sort of pulp I would make.

As this may reach you about Xmas I will conclude by wishing you and all members of your staff every good wish for a prosperous New Year and every success for the new magazine.

         Yours very sincerely,
          J. DEWAR.

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