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India - Poona

Sassoon Hospital, Poona.
Sassoon Hospital, Poona.

Poona (now known as Pune since independence) was where Cyril Sladden was in hospital for a time in 1916.

Poona is the second largest city in the state of Maharashtra after Bombay (now known as Mumbai).  It is situated 1,837 feet above sea level on the Deccan Plateau.  Under British rule, Poona was under the administration of the Bombay Presidency (an administrative sub-division of British India) and the British built a large military cantonment to the east of the city.  A railway line from Bombay reached the city in 1858.

When Cyril Sladden was wounded in Mesopotamia in April 1916, he was sent initially to a hospital in Bombay, and then to the Sassoon Hospital in Poona, where he remained for about a month.  He wrote letters from the hospital on 3rd May and 1st June 1916.

The hospital opened in 1867 and was named after a Jewish philanthropist, David Sassoon from Mumbai, who made a generous donation.  At one time it was known as the Sassoon Hospital for Europeans.  It is still in existence today and is known as Sassoon General Hospital.

In a letter of 6th June 1917, Mela Brown Constable mentioned a college which had been started at Poona, since the war started, for training young Indian war widows to earn their own livings.  This may have been an initiative under the auspices of St Mary’s School, which was founded in 1866 to cater to the education of the daughters of officers of the British Indian Army, and was run by the Sisters of the Community of St Mary the Virgin, an Anglican order.  Coincidentally, over 50 years later, Cyril Sladden’s niece, Katherine Sladden (daughter of his brother, Jack), a missionary in India, was based at St Mary’s Training College, Exhibition Road, Poona, for about a year.

Letters mentioning this place: