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CIMA Gallary

Funds clue to mystery of missing Briton

Jorhat, Nov. 29: A New Zealand television crew trying to trace the history of a British officer, who lived here in the 1920s and had subsequently gone missing, believes his disappearance could have had something to do with some money belonging to the Jorhat Race Committee going missing.

Albert Douglas Masters, the missing Briton, was the secretary of the committee when the cash disappeared. He also ran a garage here.

“Masters went underground soon after some funds of the race committee went missing. He fled to England where he changed his name to Alec St John Masters and remarried,” David Lomas, producer of a TV series called Missing Pieces in New Zealand, told this correspondent today.

Lomas and his crew are trying to unravel the mystery of the missing man who used to stay in the bungalow of the present manager of Cinnamara Tea Estate with his wife and three daughters.

Lomas and his crew arrived here on Tuesday, started filming recorded documents regarding Masters yesterday and will leave tomorrow for London en route Calcutta and Singapore. Lomas said the episode on the Britisher is scheduled to be complete by March next year and would be aired in 60 countries across the world. The Telegraph had reported about the expected visit of the TV crew from New Zealand in an article published on November 8.

Lomas said Masters’ youngest daughter, Veronica Jeen Masters, 84, who lives in Auckland now, had approached him for help to find out what happened to her father after he went missing in 1932.

“It’s been four months now that we are working on this. We will be going to England from here to probe further,” he added.

Masters was a member of Assam Valley Light Horse Infantry and the Jorhat Masonic Lodge. His wife and three daughters had returned to England in 1932 and he was supposed to follow after wrapping up things in Jorhat. However, his family never heard from him again. His wife, who was left destitute, then approached the Masonic Lodge in London for help. The organisation agreed to pay for the education of her three daughters.

Lomas said Masters wrote his last letter to his three daughters — Jeen, Pam and Angela — on July 15, 1932 from Cinnamara. “That was probably the last letter from Masters to the family and it mentioned how a storm damaged a cowshed in the bungalow where a calf was injured,” he said.

The New Zealander said investigations have revealed that Masters remarried a British lady, Florence Wild, who was then a nurse based in Calcutta. “Shipping records revealed that he sailed back to England but we are yet to find out when he married for the second time and when he came in contact with Florence.”

Lomas said Masters, who owned about seven horses, was the secretary of the Jorhat Race Committee in 1932. Records of that year show that the committee had to borrow Rs 3,000 from other sources to run the races because of shortage of funds. “This was the time when Masters went missing. The exact amount that went missing from the committee’s kitty is not known but would be a minimum of Rs 3,000 as it had to borrow that amount to run the races that year. Masters may have fled with more than Rs 3,000.”

He said it was not known where Masters had his garage in Jorhat but he could possibly have worked in a garage of the Allied Forces at Rajabari, where the Industrial Training Institute is located at present.

“This was the place where the Allied Forces had a garage in those days and several British officers used to work there,” Lomas said.


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