The funeral procession began from the Aitchision College where rich tributes were paid for his contribution in the education sector. Bishop of Lahore Rt Rev Irfan Jamil led the funeral prayers. Dean of Lahore Cathedral Rev Shahid Mehraj and Rev Azeem David also prayed on the occasion. The funeral was attended by friends of Major Langland, his students, educationists and prominent people from different walks of life.
Langland was born on October 21, 1917 in Yorkshire, England ten minutes younger than his identical twin brother John Langlands. He was lucky to get free education at Kings College, Taunton, in Somerset, England and started teaching Class 2 at a private school in Croydon.
Major Langland was buried beside the grave of former Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr Justice Cornelius. He was buried in a coffin wrapped with the flags of UK and Pakistan. Guard of honour was presented by a 16-member contingent of Chitral police led by inspector Sher Wazir. A psalm was also sung on the occasion.
Federal Minister Pervez Khattak, who is also his student, speaking to Academia paid glowing tributes to his mentor. “He always considered himself as Pakistan and was proud of his students who loved him so much. He was honest person and was a role model for everyone. May his soul rest in peace,” Khattak said.
Bishop Irfan said Langland was a legend and his contribution to the education sector in Pakistan will never be forgotten. “Though he had no immediate family but you can see how sad is everyone here on his death. He lived a meaningful life and we must thank God for that,” the bishop said.
Student of Major Langland, Dr Yaqub Bangish, said all the students loved him. “Today a chapter has ended. After partition he did not go back to England even for one time. He was bestowed top awards from the UK government but he never went to London to receive them. The Queen would herself had given him those awards. He preferred to stay in Pakistan,” Dr Bangish said.
When the Second World War broke out in September 1939 Langlands joined the British Army in the ordinary rank and became a sergeant. In 1943, he was commissioned as a Captain and volunteered for service in the Indian Army. In August 1947, he was stationed in British India, where he witnessed the bloody partition of the Subcontinent at close quarters. Stuck on a train filled with refugees, he came under fire.
He was transferred to Pakistan’s army, which he willingly accepted. In 1953 General Ayub Khan, then commander in charge of Pakistan’s army, sent for him and asked him to stay in the country, by which time he had become a Major.
Langlands agreed and Gen Khan had him hired as a teacher of English and mathematics at Aitchison College, Lahore. Soon after, he was made house master of Kelly House.
In 1954, he acted as headmaster of the Prep School of Aitchison and in 1974 was confirmed as official headmaster.
In 1979, it was demanded of him by the then Minister NWFP to give up his comfortable job at Aitchison and take on a more challenging job at RAZMAK Cadet College, deep in the Tribal area as its principal.
He took the uphill task, and was even kidnapped by tribesmen who held him hostage, but his captors treated him decently, even insisting he join them for some rifle practice.
Maj. Langlands would say, “It wasn’t bad, they were very polite once they found out I was 71 and before I left they insisted on their photo taken with me.”
In 1989 he took over as the Principal of Sayurj Public School Chitral.
Maj. Langlands was awarded the Sitara-i-lmtiaz, HiIilal-i-Imtiaz, Order of St. Michael and St. George, Order of British Empire, OBE by the Queen of England.
“Woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
Major (Retd) Geoffrey Douglas Langlands had these words inscribed outside his house in Aitchision College. He desired that these words should be inscribed on his epitaph after his death.