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John Masters was a soldier before he became a velist. Born in India, he was sent to England to complete his education before attending Sandhurst. It was there the rumour began about his ancestry, that (in the language of the time) he 'had a touch of the tarbrush'. This encounter with racist bigotry would be turned to good effect in his most famous vel, BHOWANI JUNCTION (later filmed with Stewart Granger and Ava Gardner). At Sandhurst it just made him more determined to succeed. John Masters joined a Gurhka regiment on receiving his commission, and his depiction of garrison life and campaigning on the North-West Frontier has never been surpassed.
John Masters was commissioned into the Gurkha Rifles on the eve of the Second World War and rose to command one of the Chindit columns fighting behind the lines against the Japanese in Burma. He left the Army after the war to pursue a very profitable career as a novelist.