RAF EMERGENCY INSIGNIA Photo courtesy A. Lane, U.K.
LOST IN RANGOON
An R.A.F Pilot lost in a Japanese occupied Burmese City
By Irene Than Pe
Permission to publish by WorldWar2BurmaDiaries.com
I am an Anglo- Burmese lady who was born in Rangoon. I was educated at the English Methodist High School and later became a boarder at the American Baptist English Girls’ High School in Moulmein. At the outbreak of the war I returned home to be with my mother and within a short space of time my life abruptly changed. Japanese bombing killed my mother, who, before she died, put my hand into our neighbours’ son’s hand. He was a stoker with The Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and we were married at the Immanuel Baptist Church. Within months my husband was killed at the Rangoon Docks during a bombing raid, so I went to live with my Mon-speaking mother-in-law.
It was then that I experienced this strange encounter.
Late in the year 1942, around October, after the death of my husband Than Pe of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, I lived near Pazundaung Creek at the eastern side of the city of Rangoon, with my mother-in-law, Daw Pwa Kyin.Strangely enough one evening there was a tiny, poorly-dressed, unkempt European who was about five feet tall, very good looking with pretty blue eyes, standing in front of our front door. He was not in military uniform but was dressed in civvies, wore a wide brimmed hat which was too big for his head and was pulled down over his eyes, and he spoke English to my surprise and asked, “Do you speak English?” My mother-in-law , who could not speak English, asked me to speak to him and quickly invited himinto the house, although she was startled to see a foreigner and it was war time and we were under Japanese occupation (since March 1942).
As for me, I could not speak because I was stunned to see a foreigner appear out of the blue. He spoke very slowly saying he was an R.A.F pilot and wished to return back to England and gave me his address card, whichI read and returned to him, but I remember his name was Albert. When he saw my baby on the table he asked, “Whose baby is that?” To which I replied that it was mine yet my youth and diminutive size puzzled him.He asked me if I could direct him to the Mingaladon Airport, so I asked my cousin who was upstairs to please take him and not by the main streets. My cousin took him and left him, late in the evening, close to his destination.
I never enquired if he was a downed flyer or an escaped prisoner-of war and I wonder what became of him. Did he survive? Was he captured by the Japanese?
Recently my Australian husband wrote to the Royal Air Forces Association in the UK with my story; however they could not help without the pilot’s surname or Service Number. Similarly, my query on the Burma Star website aroused no interest.
I wonder if, in RAF records, a computer search could narrow the search to look for a five foot tall pilot named Albert who served in the WW2 Burma combat zone and went missing in about October,1942.
Copyright 2008 by Joseph Alwyn Valu. All Rights Reserved.