04 - Return to India



by Margaret du Plessis




Preparation for India:

General William Booth arranged for Commissioner & Mrs Tucker to visit the following towns, presumably to conduct meetings and say farewell. The tour included August 9 – Bath; August 20 – Cheltenham; August 11 – Chester; August 12 &13 - Oldham. In addition they accompanied the General to review the troops at Bristol from Saturday to Monday (5, 6, 7 August). This was an incredibly busy schedule for both Louisa Mary and Frederick Tucker. They would have been getting ready to sail for India.

Last month a lovely description of the energetic and gifted Louisa Mary Tucker was shared with the readers under the title ‘The Soldier Lady’. Taken from ‘The New Dispensation’ it was published in the Indian War Cry – January 10 1883.

Mrs Major Louisa Mary Tucker was totally committed to the task of evangelising India and this is clearly understood when reading about the farewell meeting in England. Her testimony was summarised in the London War Cry 24 August 1882.

General William Booth bid farewell to the Indian pioneers in a “Great Demonstration” held in Manchester, England in August 1882. First the group sang a Hindu song and later gave their testimonies. 

Mrs Major Tucker’s testimony:

Mrs Major Tucker was returning to India, this time as a Salvation Army officer, and she gave her testimony: - ‘I am going to India. Jesus has been precious to me the last fifteen years. Satan has been at me, asking what if the Mohammedans come and kill you; but that won’t frighten me. When in India the native women used to get me to sing to them. They wondered at my tears. I shall trust the Lord for fluency of speech. I expect to see India lit up from one end to the other.’

Travel to the Railway Station 1882:

“Mrs Tucker’s start for India was remarkable indeed
Amid the hurry of the last packing arrangements some confusion had arisen as to the conveyance to the railway station, and rather than risk being too late, Mrs Tucker mounted a green-grocer’s cart, with some of the baggage, and so rode in state through the City of London to Fenchurch Street railway station. This same energy of character and action, this same readiness to adapt herself in a moment to circumstances, described her throughout all her India experience”. [2]

Sailing to India 1882

The Indian Pioneers boarded the ship S.S. ‘Ancona’ and sent regular messages back to IHQ. These included descriptions of evangelism -

From Gibraltar: -‘Describing an attack upon enormous crowds gazing from balconies and streets’

From Malta: - ‘Grand attack, police kind, crowds, splendid victory’

From on board S.S. Ancona (August 28).

“Sea-sickness all over, and still saved is the experience of each of the expedition. Have had some rough sailing. Yesterday was our first Sunday on board, and we commenced with the usual knee-drill, and at 11.30 the Salvation Army went to church, marching single file Mrs Tucker leading the procession into the large saloon.It was nice listening to the reading . . . . . .In the afternoon everyone on board expected that we should have a meeting, and you may guess that they were not disappointed – two tambourines. . .a cornet. . .a concertina . . .”

Return to London and Back to India:

When Sister Jennings became ill on board the S.S. Ancona, Tucker asked his wife to accompany her back to England. Being a well travelled woman, Louisa Mary at once agreed to do so, and to return to India on the next available ship.

Major Tucker regularly kept in touch with IHQ, and sent news and messages almost daily to London. The IHQ War Cry published the Indian news.

Under the title ‘Processions’ he writes “Probably our first request will be to allow a procession on arrival of my wife, and I should think they would hardly refuse, though they may object to music.”

Under the title ‘Funds’ he writes “we are almost run out of money now . . .I think we shall be able to hold on till my wife comes out. We hope she will be here by the mail (ship) which arrives on the 18th or 19th, but we are still in the dark as to whether she comes by P. and O. or other (shipping) line, by Brindisi or London. Perhaps this week’s mail will give us the news.  

Arrival of Mrs Major Tucker:

“Bang go the signal guns, and away hurries the Major (Tucker) to Apollo Bunder. A boat is now chartered and carries him with a native brother alongside the S.S. Brindisi.

There she stands at the top of the gangway. Strange to say her presence does not appear to strike terror into the hearts of the passengers and ship’s officers who are standing around. On the contrary, all seem on good terms with our Majoress.

Even the arrival of the Major in native uniform did not seem to make anyone’s face grow pale, nor their voices quiver.

It was different as they returned to the shore as familiar yellow banded brass knobbed helmets were peering over the parapets of the Bunder to watch the arrival of the dreaded ‘reinforcements’ and to suppress ‘with a high hand’ any attempted demonstration.”



[1]  The War Cry, London – 24 August 1882


[2]   The Salvation Army War Cry, International Headquarters, London March 12 1887


[3]   The Salvation Army War Cry, International Headquarters, 7 September 1882


[4]   The Salvation Army War Cry, International Headquarters, 4 November 1882


[5]   The Salvation Army, Indian War Cry, 25 October 1882 page 11