AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH. Written 1930
Nasib Haratoon Simon formerly Artin Haratoon Baklavadjian? Armenian Born 28th July 1903 in Instanbul.
I was born in Constantinople, the Capital of Turkey, on the 28th of July in the year 1903 and received my primary education in my vernacular until 1914 when the Great War broke out.
Belonging to the Christian faith I was sent away from my home, leaving the whole of my estates in the hands of the Turkish Government, and it still remains unclaimed.
Out of the family of eleven only my eldest brother and I have survived. He is at present in Bulgaria.
I was amongst the Armenian refugees for nearly two complete years, roaming the mountains and plains, being driven away by the uncivilized Turkish nation and Kurds; later on by the Bedouin Arabs in the heart of the Arabia desert. Unmerciful torture was our lot at their hands.
Before reaching Mosul, I with others was left in the desert to perish, not being able to proceed with the rest any further through starvation for over three months.
Here I remained for two or three days when a Turkish Troop arrived camping there for their rest. The Turkish General commanding the troop learnt of our presence and very generously rescued us. We were taken care of until we came to Baghdad with the army. When they left Baghdad for the battle at Kut Al-Amara, (poss. 28 September 1915) I was given to a Turkish gentleman to be adopted. When the Armenians came to know of this, they took me away and gave me to a well to do Armenian family.
For over six months I was kept in the house under the care of an experience doctor who helped me to regain my natural form and health as I was but skin and bone.
Nearly a year elapsed when I was sent to the Armenian school where I finished studying my mother tongue.
The British captured Baghdad a while after, and I was taken to Basrah, staying there for one year. I went to a Roman Catholic school, known as St. Albert’s School where I commenced to learn the English language, French and Arabic. I was not kept here for a long time to master the French and Arabic languages.
In the year 1917, I left Basrah for Bombay arriving on the 13th December. In Bombay I was under the care of my foster uncle for a year. At the beginning of 1919, I joined the Cathedral Boys’ High School as a day scholar, but when my guardian left Bombay for Mesopotamia I became a boarder.
After five years, during which time I completed my school education and represented the school, captaining the school teams, in all branches of sport and also being the Head Boy, I joined Davars College of Commerce.
Here I studied commercial subjects comprising Banking, Higher Accountancy, Commerce and Finance, Business Organization and elementary Advertising. In the year 1928 I appeared for the London Chamber of Commerce Examination in the above subjects and passed.
1926 saw me accountant the Bombay Diocesan Council, I worked-here for four years. When Rev. G. F. Harvey found out my ability and since there were no prospects for me in that office he recommended me to Messrs. L. A. Stronach & Co. (India) Ltd., as an Assistant Accountant. I Worked. there for 18 months. Owing to trade depression Mr. Stronach reduced his staff of which I was one of the unfortunate ones. He, however, gave me his personal assurance that he would do his best for me. Immediately after this I managed to secure a job at the B.B. & C. I. Railway offices in the Audit Department, where I was to take charge of the Publicity accounts from the commencement of 1931. In the meantime I received a letter from Messrs. J. Walter Thompson Company asking me for interview, in reply to my application I made previously. I interviewed the Manager for India (Mr. Frank R.J.Gerard) who very kindly offered me a position in his office commencing from the 1st December 1930. This being more prospective I asked leave to resign from my present office who, although reluctantly, have very kindly granted it.
Nasib Haratoon Simon 1930
Documents and Photographs from the attache-case:
1934: 23rd December, St Thomas’ Cathedral Bombay
writing on the reverse side of each:
In 2016 these 3 enigmatic photographs from 1938 were the only link our the lost remnant of the Baclavajian family that was split in 1914. Where was Sammy’s brother and what became of him? Who were the two young men in the image – sons? The hunt for this information was a challenge.
We started by establishing where that seaside view was. The pier in the background was relatively easy to find, and the stone ballustrade still existed in 2017 on the promenade at Bourgas on the Eastern coast of Bulgaria. After that a trawl of the internet came up blank for any combination of Baclavajian names – with a variety of spellings. It didn’t help that Sammy had changed his name a few times since the 1920’s.
Then a chance search of the internet for the name Baclavajian o.g. ( in Armenian Баклаваджян, О. ) resulted in me finding a very old research paper that appeared to be the work of one of the sons – Ovanes Baclavajian. At that time this was the only published paper by Ovanes – a study of the Physiology of Kitten Brains, re-published in a Russian Technical Journal in 1966.
This led to a dead end as there was no link beyond 1966. I was stuck for finding a way to locate him. So I focussed on the co-writers, who most likely were junior staff or students in 1966. I chose the most obscure name and tracked him down to present day Chicago where he was still working in a research capacity at a University. I guessed what his email address would be, and wrote an email to him on the off chance he was the same researcher. Within a few days he called me – and confirmed that he had worked with Ovanes but sadly that he had died in the 1980’s. However he still had a contact with Ovanes’ family in Bulgaria and sent off my email to them.
A week later we received a reply and that was the start of reunification of the families of the two brothers separated at Instanbul in 1914. 70 years of separation ended with a meeting in the UK – where the Baclavajian’s visited to meet the side of their family they did not know existed.