- Contributed by
- People in story:
- S E Ali
- Location of story:
- Sylhet, India and Greenock, Scotland
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 30 June 2004
This story was submitted to the People’s War website by Annie Keane of the BBC on behalf of Mr S E Ali and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.
A child in Sylhet
I was 9 year years old and living in Sylhet, India at the time. I remember seeing a dogfight between an Allied and Japanese plane above our school. The Allied plane saw the Japanese off. We had an air raid siren and we all had to go to the trench, I didn’t want to go in and was punished by the headmaster.
Many Allied Soldiers (Indian, Australian, American and English) made a camp in a field of our school, we used to talk to them. They took over the High School to make a hospital for the injured soldiers. The pupils came to our school and we had to go in shifts. We went 7-11am and then the other students came in the afternoon.
There were so many military trucks passing through our town, we couldn’t cross the road, they were on their way to Burma (about 200 miles away). By my uncle’s house was the main supply route to Burma, lots of wounded soldiers were brought back in Red Cross trucks.
The British government took all the food for the war effort. This had a bad effect on us prices were very high and people couldn’t buy food and I saw many people dying in the streets.
My Uncle’s fortune
My uncle, Mr Ali was living in London at the time, he had a boarding house in Victoria (5 Star) and one in the East End which got bombed. He went to Glasgow in Scotland and got another building in Greenock which was a Seaman’s Boarding House. There were between 2,000 and 3,000 seamen staying there, including men from China, Burma, Malaysia and India.
He was a millionaire at the time, in the Asian community he was the richest person here. He once had a near miss when a bomb landed nearby and sent a telegram to my father saying ‘I’ve had a lucky escape, pray to Allah’.
After the war King George 6th went to visit the hotel and meet my Uncle
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