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"I had some interesting times in Karachi because in my usual way I was more interested in interacting with Indians than with other soldiers." (Video Interview, Part 2, 25:30)

   John Carson Rather
Image of John Carson Rather
John Rather, India [5/3/1944]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army Air Forces/Corps
Unit: Army Airways Communication System (AACS)
Service Location: Atlantic City, New Jersey (basic training); Chanute Field, Illinois; Allahabad, Gaya, Karachi and Bangalore, India
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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Fresh out of Amherst College in June 1942, John Rather joined the Army and parlayed a course he had taken in school to become a specialist in cryptography and cryptanalysis. (His interview explains the difference.) His first duty station would be Allahabad, India, best known as the hometown of that country's emerging political leader, Jawaharlal Nehru. The four men in his group sent and received coded transmissions regarding the movements of the Air Transport Command, the American planes flying "over the hump" to and from Burma. Rather used his free time to make friends with the locals and immerse himself in the culture. He contracted polio but did not suffer grievously and remained in India until he was pronounced cured.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (7 clips)
» Part 1 |  Part 2 |  Part 3   (123 min.)
  Photos
»Photo Album (2 photos)
More like this
»China, Burma, India
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (7 items)
Working with the chain of supply for troops fighting in Burma and India; interacting with Indians; playing chess with a local; becoming a cryptographic chief; not much traffic for sending messages; duties of a cryptographer. (12:36) "The critical thing that altered my whole career in India;" developing a mysterious fever; sent to nearest military hospital, then to Karachi; confined to Section 8 ward; making a fuss and sent back to duty in Bangalore; there for two years. (09:60) Difference between cryptography and cryptanalysis; his lack of contact with any physical danger. (02:39)
Describes the two photographs in his collection as a way of dating his experience with polio. (07:60) His life and work after he was released from the hospital. (07:11) How little the war affected individual Indian citizens he met; clashes in bars with British and Australian soldiers. (04:14)
Typical work day for him; typists making surprisingly few errors; mechanisms of cryptography; work flow; nature of the messages he dealt with. (08:34)  
  
 
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  October 26, 2011
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