Colin Metcalfe Enriquez was born on October 3rd, 1884. He was the only child of Colonel Albert Dallas Enriquez and Florence Adela Metcalfe. He was born in Fyzabad, India where his father was stationed at the time.
He was sent back to England for his schooling. He attended Kings College and also the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, passing third in his class on his 20th birthday.
He was commissioned as an army officer in October 1903 and joined the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment as a Second Lieutenant in Peshawar, India. In April 1905 he transferred to the Indian Army and joined the 21st Punjabi Regiment in Multan on the North West Frontier of India.
At every opportunity he traveled and explored. The information he gathered soon became the inspiration for his first book, A Pathan Borderland. Though writing was frowned on by the army, he was grudgingly permitted to continue as ultimately his books were considered “useful” material for the army.
Realm of the Gods was also born out of his experiences in the North West Frontier. One other book that made him famous was the novel Khyberie, The Story of a Pony on the Indian Frontier.
On his first furlough he took leave for one year and toured around the world. A record of his travels is amongst his unpublished diaries.
When an opportunity occurred to join the Military Police in Burma he made up his mind that when he returned from his world tour, he would transfer to the cooler, greener surroundings of that country.
As Divisional Recruiting Officer for Burma he traveled the length and breadth of the country on horseback and voyaged along the waterways of the nation.
He became fluent in Burmese and in the different dialects of the country. He familiarized himself with the traditions and customs of the people he met, and of the topography of the different regions including the flora and fauna of the countryside. An important reference volume that came out of these experiences was Races of Burma.
On one of his tours he met his future wife, a Burmese girl named Ma Tin. Their daughter Alice was born in 1921. They also adopted a son, John.
When the Major was posted to Malaya 1926 he used the opportunity to research for his books Malaya, An Account of its People, Flora and Fauna and also Kinabalu: The Haunted Mountain of Borneo.
At the age of 42, the Major retired from military life to the town of Mogok in Upper Burma. He built a large home which he called Lone Spur. He concentrated his efforts on writing and on his favourite occupation – travel. Along with the books he published he wrote columns and articles for various newspapers under the nom de plume Theophilus.
He was well known around the world and people from many countries visited him in Lone Spur. The house itself was considered important enough to appear on a map of Burma at that time.
In 1937 the Major planned a year’s vacation to Japan. He had been studying Japanese and wanted to practice his language skills in that country. When he returned in early 1938 he was fluent in the language.
Major Enriquez was 58 years of age in 1942 when the Japanese invaded Burma. He felt it his duty to re-enlisted in the army. He was appointed Assistant Commandant in the Mandalay Battalion of the Military Police.
His book Burma Invaded documents the events of the first five months of the invasion. It describes the devastation of Burma and the crushing retreat of the British Army into India. While in exile in India, the Major supervised the monitoring of Japanese radio broadcasts for the British Ministry of Information in Delhi.
When the war ended in 1945 the Major returned to Mogok. To his amazement he found that Lone Spur was one of the very few homes that had not been plundered and burned.
This miracle could only be explained by what the Major had done four years earlier. On his return from Japan he’d arranged for one hundred cherry trees to be planted on the three huge terraces that surrounded Lone Spur. When the Japanese armies arrived in Mogok they were overcome at the sight of Lone Spur. The cherry trees, the house filled with Japanese art and ornaments, the library shelves stacked with books on Japan, and the Major’s diaries recounting his 1937 adventures – Lone Spur reminded them of their homeland far away. Throughout the three year occupation, only generals and superior officers were allowed in the house and on the property. The house was safe as long as they were there.
However, when the tides of war changed, and the Japanese left, Lone Spur lay empty and unprotected. A gang of hoodlums from the town were about to loot the place when in the nick of time the British Army arrived and took over the protection of Lone Spur till the Major’s return.
In 1948 the political situation changed when Burma gained independence from British rule. Many of the Major’s European friends returned to England. He, however, chose to stay on in Lone Spur, the house he loved.
By this time he was 68 years of age and still continued to write for the newspapers. Copies of all his books and writings and journals were sent out to other parts of the world, including to his daughter Alice in England. He wanted to ensure that copies of his works were preserved in locations other than in Lone Spur. He had a premonition that Lone Spur might one day be destroyed. He was correct.
He was eighty years old when one night in May of 1965, the dreadful foreboding became a reality. An inferno lit the skies above Mogok. The teak timbers of the beautiful old home were engulfed in flames. Major Enriquez barely escaped with his life.
But for his wisdom and forethought, a lifetime of literary works too would have been destroyed.
The stresses of life were taking their toll. In 1969 while visiting his son John in Rangoon he became sick and was hospitalized. On May 29th, 1969 he quietly passed away. He was eight-four years old.
The Major lives on through his many books and journals. We hope this site will be a source of information and enjoyment for those seeking to capture a glimpse of a time and world now past and as seen through the eyes of a great and extraordinary human being, Major Colin Metcalfe Enriquez.