[Robert Cole.] Around 260 Autograph Letters Signed to his parents in England, describing his life while working in the Malay Fisheries Department; with 20 letters from his wife Cicely to Rosalind Cole.
The archive contains around 280 letters, two packets and negatives, various postcards, brochures and a driving licence. It contains around 260 letters from Robert Cole to his parents in Littlehampton, Sussex, England during the time he took up a Government position with the Federation of Malaya Fisheries Department in 1952 (Penang and Malacca, where he worked, remained Crown Territories within the Federation); and about 20 letters from his wife Cicely to Rosalind Cole. Cole sailed on the P & O ship 'Carthage' together with his wife Cicely and children David and baby Anne, bound for Penang. The ship made various brief calls during the trip via Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Algeria, Port Said, Suez, Aden, Colombo and Penang. On arrival he was booked into the Eastern and Oriental Hotel until his residence at 34 Udini Road in Penang was ready. He mentions the advertisement for his job 'Vacant Fisheries Post due to the fact that the last holder was eaten by a crocodile whilst bathing'. He was later promoted to the post of Fisheries Officer for Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Selagor and South West Johore. His task was to encourage fishermen to become more efficient in increasing their catch by joining up together in small fleets and by the introduction of village ponds where string could be farmed. Being a keen sailor himself he takes a deep interest in the local sailing craft and the type of fish caught locally. His letters back home to his father are full of fascinating detail as they have fishing and sailing interests in common. (Early on he writes: 'We have not finished last in a race for some weeks now but we are still always in the bottom half of the fleet.') The correspondence is also interesting for the description it gives of the day to day life of an English colonial official. Local politics are often mentioned as there is trouble in Dutch Borneo from Indonesia and similar difficulties in the area. On 6 December 1957 Cole writes from Penang: 'The Indonesian situation does not look very good at the moment, they are a pack of absolute bastards in every worst sense of the word. They cannot even keep their present vast territory under proper control so I do not see what they want with Dutch Borneo which has no real link of any kind with the Indonesians. The people there are of a different racial type & have never been controlled by Indonesia. My own guess is that it's merely an attempt by the shaky Indonesian Government to find an issue on which they can unite their own very feebly controlled masses. Again, a lot of the trouble is communist inspired, […]' Cole and Cicely remained for many years in Malaya and travelled extensively, visiting Uganda, Maldives, Egypt, Aden, India and Malta.