JAMES B. MUFF (1916-1977)

(CNAC 1944?-1946)

In the 1943-45 log book of Don McBride, James listed his home address as:

3037 -0 39TH AVE. S.

February 5, 2001
I received the following photo and e-mail from Nancy Muff, daughter of J.B. Muff.

Eddie Quin and JB Muff
The picture was taken with one of their Jamair planes,
but I am not sure if it was taken in Jamnagar, Bombay,
or Calcutta. Could have been almost anywhere!
(Photo Courtesy of Nancy Muff Ryba)

My dad was born in 1916 in Minot, North Dakota and died in Calcutta, India in 1977. He was a member of CNAC by the time he married my mother in 1944, and before that he had worked for Pan Am in Africa. According to my mother's letters to her parents during those years, he left CNAC in 1946 along with Eddie Quin, the pilot listed as "Australian" on the CNAC web page. Eddie, my father, Henry "Hank" Smith (pilot), Les Ellsworth (CNAC purchasing agent?), and Kiwi Mueller (another CNAC employee) left CNAC to form an airline company with the Maharaja of Nawanagar - his palace was in Jamnagar, India. In late 1946 Hank, Les and Kiwi left the company and Eddie Quin and my father continued the airline. They eventually bought out the Maharaja and moved the company headquarters to Calcutta. My parents separated in 1957 when my mother, older sister, younger brother and I moved back to the US. By the time my father died, the Indian government had taken over many of the most profitable routes that Jamair Company flew and were in the process of nationalizing the airline.

According to my mother, Eddie Quin was anglo-Chinese (his mother was Chinese and he was born in China), but is unsure of his father's nationality. He met my father while flying for CNAC, and both he and his wife, Betsy Anderson, became close friends of my parents. My mother believes that Betsy's sister lived in Australia, but does not remember if that is where Betsy grew up.

My parents were also friends with "Jock" Goldie from Scotland and Frank Gifford, from Australia, both of whom she thought were members of CNAC. Robert Moss ("Moose") was another early CNAC friend who left India and moved to Doe Run, Georgia.


August 8, 2005

Hi Tom:

Here's an edited version of my original emails to you. You're welcome to post this if you think it would add any information to the website.

I just saw your message concerning the Ed Quin/Eddie Quinn dilemma and I'm sorry to say we don't have any documents from the early days of Jamair Company that would shed light on the spelling of Eddie's surname. My mother has always maintained, however, that "our" Eddie Quinn, meaning my dad's partner in Jamair, was half Chinese and that he spelled his name both ways, "Quinn" and "Quin." So, although I suppose there could have been another fellow in CNAC named Ed Quin, my guess is that Ed Quin and Eddie Quinn are the same guy.

My parents were divorced when I was eleven (meaning in 1958) and my mother left India, bringing us children to the States. I didn't see my dad again until many years later when I had finished college and returned to India to teach nursing for a year. And, needless to say, my mother has no records from Jamair or from India.

In the past few years, however, through an old business associate of my dad's, I have tracked down his (my dad's) burial place in Calcutta. (We never knew whether he was buried or his ashes were scattered, as he desired, in the Himalayas. Apparently, his wishes were not honored and he was buried.) Through the business associate, we are trying to have the grave repaired -- it was in pretty bad shape, I guess -- and a headstone placed to identify the burial spot.

The Jamair Company story is rather a sad one. Originally, JB (as my dad was known) and Eddie Quinn developed the freight airline in the city of Jamnagar, for the maharaja of Nawanagar State. (The company derived its name -- Jamair -- from the title of the maharaja, who, in Nawanagar, is called the Jam Sahib.) But shortly after the royal families of India became defunct, JB and Eddie moved Jamair to Calcutta. It is not known for certain whether the Jam Sahib remained a silent partner, but we believe that JB and Eddie bought him out. Then, sometime in the late 1950's, Eddie Quinn died. For a time, JB continued to operate the airline, but it was nationalized by the Indian Government in the 1960's and, although JB maintained his title of "Director," his influence was severely curtailed.

The Jam Sahib, whom my parents called "HH" (short for His Highness), died in the 1960's. Hoping to learn more about the early days of Jamair, however, I have recently tracked own the current Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, Shatrushalya Sinhji, the son of the man who was JB & Eddie's partner in Jamair Company. Jam Sahib tells me that he is still living on the palace grounds, in "Muff Bungalow," the house that his father built for my parents when I was born. The earthquake in Gujarat a few years ago made the palace itself uninhabitable (see: http://www.conservationtech.com/india-UNESCO/Kathiawar-subweb/2-Jamnagar.htm) but the royal archives are accessible and Jam Sahib has invited my siblings and me to visit him and to go through the archives to retrieve any documents and photographs from the early days of Jamair.

I'm not sure when we'll be able to make such a visit -- I should probably get off my butt and "just do it" but the political situation has been so iffy in the Middle and Far East that I've had a hard time convincing my husband that we should travel anywhere except to his hometown in Vermont! What I will do, however, is write immediately to Jam Sahib and ask him whether he has any records at hand which might solve your Quin-Quinn quandary. I may not get an immediate response -- it took almost two years for him to respond to my initial letter -- but I'll work on it.

Meanwhile, I hope all is well with you, and I enjoy receiving the CNAC messages.

Janet Muff

September 28, 2005 - Here are some pictures from JB's daughter Janet Muff. Thanks Janet, Tom.

(from left to right), taken, I believe at the Outram Club in Calcutta (photo dated 2 Sep 1956)
Fette Muff, James B. Muff, Betsey Quin, unknown, and Eddie Quin.

Taken at Eddie's "investiture" or whatever it's called as Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge in Calcutta (photo dated Feb. 1957).
I believe Eddie followed my dad's tenure in this position. (Eddie is seated in the center and JB on the right.
Not sure who the other people are in the photo.)

February 6, 2006

Hello Tom,

I thought you might be like to share some info' I have on Jamair, founded by Eddie Quinn and James Muff.

This has come about through my interest in Indian Airlines and my friend Capt Vijay Fernandez who used to fly for Jamair. He now flies for Air India and I used to work for AI at London-Heathrow between 1971 and 1982, though we don't recall coming across each other in those days. We got together a year or two back after he saw my feature article on Air India's history in the UK aviation magazine "Aviation News". Since then we have become firm friends, I gather he also knows Peter Goutiere.

Anyway, here is the data plus a photo of a Jamair DC-3.

Formed circa 1946 by James B Muff, former Chief Engineer, CNAC and US-Chinese CNAC radio op/pilot, Eddie Quin(n) backed by Maharajah Jam Sahib Nawanagar of Jamnagar (DC-3 VT-CEI registered to the Maharajah 4.46). Later they bought out the Maharajah's interests and moved based to CCU in 1948. Operated air supply missions in NE Frontier and Assam, also CCU-BOM scheduled service. After nationalisation of internal routes in August 1953, reverted to being a private charter company until 1977, when ceased ops on the death of the founder at CCU.

Douglas C-47A: VT-ATT bt 10.64 w/o near Gauhati, Assam 26.3.71 off-course, struck hill ; ATZ bt post-1953, fate unknown; AZV bt 4.51 wfu c 7.54 after total engine flre after t/o due fuel starvation, Amritsar 7.7.61 ; CEI reg'd to the Maharajah 4.46, to Indian Airlines Corp 8.53; COU bt 10.47 fate unknown; CQL bt 12.47 to IAC 8.53, CTR bt 5.48, in storage CCU by 1977, CZC cr after No.2 eng failed following fuel starvation Delhi 5.12.70 (poss on loan/charter to Bharat Industries), DGO leased from Hindustan Aircraft w/o Surgaon 15.5.54, high landing approach, u/c retracted ; DTQ bt 2.65, in storage CCU 1977.

Lloyds Confidential Record 3.49 -
Based Jamnagar, fleet 1948 1xDC-3

Accidents reported to Lloyds Insurers 1948-1969:
VT-CTR DC-3 dmgd by cyclone Santa Cruz BOM 21.11.48
VT-AZV DC3, overshot cr into wall lading Barrackpore in bad wx, dbr circa 7.54, presumably repaired.
VT-CQL DC3 u/c struck ridge attempting land Newlands airfield W Bengal Flight returned to CCU, belly landed, badly dmgd 24.10.53
VT-DGO DC-3 (regd Hindstan A/c) overshot & cr single eng appr Saugaon W
VT-CCU DC-3 Cr landed Gouripur 2.4.64 on freight svc total loss Bengal, CCU-Saugaon, Total loss 15.5.54

A 1977 listing shows the company as still operating with C-47s VT-ATZ & DBQ, plus C-54 DIB on passenger and cargo charters from CCU to Agartala-Purnea-Jaipaiguri and Jalpaiguri-Telepara-Grassmore-Newlands W Bengal, Silchar and other points in eastern India.

I surmise, though I've no proof, that perhaps Muff and Quinn, met their Maharajah at Boris Lissanevitch's 300 Club in Calcutta while on R and R. I gather it played temporary home to many transient WWII servicemen who mingled with members of the Indian nobility, otherwise precluded from membership by dint of their race of the city's other smart watering holes. I have heard the story that James Muff had an artificial leg and while visiting with the Maharajah of Cooch Behar, his host was astounded when his tame big cat went for Muff's leg, but was amazed when Muff stood his ground apparently unfazed. An amusing tale, but that's the stuff of legend!

Well there it is, hope it may be of interest.

Very much enjoy visiting your website - a fascinating chapter in pioneering air transport history.

Regards and Best Wishes

Maurice J Wickstead
Aviation Author & Specialist on Airlines of India for Air-Britain
E-mail mwavauth@tiscali.co.uk

March 5, 2006

Dear Mr. Wickstead:

I saw your posting on the fate of the Jamair planes at the CNAC website, in the section pertaining to my father, James B. Muff. I'm not sure if these would be of any use to you, but I have several photos (and newspaper clippings) concerning the crash of VT-CZC in Delhi in 1970. I was there at the time and have saved the clippings. (The photos only are included here.)

The above photograph of CZC shows my father on the left, walking through the wreckage.

In addition, I have a newspaper clipping, without photograph, of the crash of VT-ATT at Gauhati in 1964, which my father sent me in a letter.

Should you wish to have good copies of these, or any other information I would be happy to send them to you.

Finally, would you please ask your friend, Vijay Fernandez, to contact us if he knows the whereabouts of other Jamair personnel. Because we were children when we left India, we have lost contact with many of the people who were our friends at that time and would love to reconnect with them.

With all good wishes,

Janet Muff

If you can share any information about J.B. Muff
or would like to be added to the CNAC e-mail distribution list,
please let the CNAC Web Editor, Tom Moore, know.

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