Col. J.H.H. Coombes was first principal of cadet college petaro
Sadly, Col. Coombes decided to return to England in 1965. This news was received by the students and the college staff, with a heavy heart. Commander Feroze Shah took over the charge of Principal from him. I still remember the day when Col. Coombes had finally said adieu to the college. A befitting farewell party was held and all the participants were tearful. In his farewell speech, Col. Coombes said:
“A day comes in life of every one when he has to leave the place which he likes the most. It has been my baby whom I have nurtured with affection and love. I am happy to see that it is growing now and has already acquired the fame of being one of the best educational institutions. This place has been like a family to me and all of you are my children. Now that I am leaving this place for good, I wish you all the best in your careers ahead of you. I want to tell you that I have built a house in the outskirts of London and it is named as Petaro house. This house is almost a replica of my house here. I invite you all to come to my house and be my guests whenever you happen to come to England. And now when I am finally leaving this place, let me tell you that I have cherished every moment of my stay in Pakistan which is a wonderful place to live. When I am gone from here, please rest assured that my heart and my soul will still be here with you.”
I had received the news of Col. Coombes leaving us for good, with a heavy heart and I decided to meet him in his office before his departure.
“Sir! It pains me to think of parting ways with you. You looked after me when I was admitted in hospital and you didn’t make me feel the absence of my parents at that difficult time of my sickness. You were the one who taught me how to speak English and encouraged me to speak out whatever was in my mind. And now when you are about to leave us for good, I find it difficult to digest this sad news. I don’t know whether we will have the opportunity to meet again. But just in case if you happen to have buffalos or cows at your home in England, please feel free to call me and I will do the milking part for you.”
What a hypothetical proposition that was! I could see a couple of drops rolling down his cheeks. We were certainly his children and he was also sad as much as we were. I couldn’t go to England but those who had visited him were amazed at the hospitality shown by Col. Coombes. He is an icon and as long as this college is there, his name will always be associated with it.