Sir Peter Scott went to India as part of the Indian Civil Service in September 1940. In September 1946 he joined the Viceroy's office as assistant private secretary - and he held that post until independence in August 1947. He dwells on the negotiations preparatory to independence, and remarks:
I suppose to me - as a young man it seemed that I'd gone to India that at the very limit I might get twenty years. By then it was quite plain that if it was another two that would be as far as we were likely to remain, and that the Indian services ... who'd served Indian well, and most of whom had had almost no leave at all for something like eight years, were not likely to be able to last much longer
Scott was in Delhi on independence day, 15 August 1947, which he remembers as a 'splendid fine hot weather day':
The impressions I had, which I'm sure was the impression of everybody else who was there, was of enormous happiness, joy by the pound, quite extraordinary. And I having no position at all was able to borrow a lift from somebody to go down to the maidan ... down beyond the WW1 war memorial where stands had been set up and a great flagpole set up and so on. And the Viceroy was going to come past and be received by Mr Nehru and his cabinet and the flag of India would be broken. And the great parade was already in place ... I walked part of the way to try to get as near what was happening as I could. The crowd was extremely good tempered ... and then one of the stands collapsed ... People were terribly happy but they weren't really paying much attention. ... There were people climbing up the sepoys' legs; there were babies all over the place; there were people picnicking almost between the ranks. It was really a very disorderly performance. And the officer commanding the parade, an Indian brigadier, must have had a devil of a job to get anybody to attention at all. ... The Viceroy approached. The parade was drawn to attention - but no further words could be heard, so he drove down towards the saluting dais. ... And a good tough Punjabi policeman came and beat us all on the head with a lathi and I fell over with two other people. ... And we all sat down on a very fat Hindu behind us. (laughs) ... We sat on the ground ... and watched. The Viceroy eventually appeared ... and by then the Viceregal carriage ... was full of refugees. And by the time he got to the saluting dais, Nr Nehru stepped on the steps of the carriage to salute the Viceroy and was quite unable to get back onto the ground again because of people under his feet and all over the place. And so in the end ... the prime minister was invited to get into the hood, which he did. He got into the hood at the back of the landau (laughs) with Lady Mountbatten and the Viceroy in front of him ... So they drove away: no parade, no salutes, and nobody as far as I remember broke the flag.
This interview was conducted by Clare Jenkins on 22 July 1996 - in part on my behalf, though it was not used in my radio series India: a people partitioned as I eventually decided to focus on the lived experience of Partition rather than the diplomacy leading up to it.
The Mountbattens on India's independence day, 15 August 1947, with Nehru sitting in the hood of their landau