BBC Radio producer Tom Alban's godfather Charles Searle spent three months as a medical officer in the Tibetan hill fort town of Gyantse in 1940. His memories of marching across the high mountain passes into this extraordinary country were familiar to close family but it was only when the Dalai Lama spoke of the importance of what appeared to be 'colonial' memories that they took on a new life.
In this programme Tom gathers the memories of the few remaining British people who visited Tibet before the arrival of the Chinese in 1950, including Dick Gould, son of Sir Basil Gould who served in Tibet and Col Alan Jenkins who travelled there in 1947.
While the recollections of the Himalayan vistas and rugged high-altitude plains of the so-called 'roof of the world' are dramatic, it's the details about the food, the basic transport systems, the juxtaposition of poverty and ceremony and the friendships made with Tibetans themselves which makes this so much more than the Hollywood version of the mystic land featured in films like 'Seven years in Tibet'.
Producer: Tom Alban.