Following in Grandad’s footsteps, Penang

January 26, 2016


It’s been a while since I mentioned this, way back in May last year in fact, just after the earthquake!

Quick recap of the background: My paternal grandad served for over 4 years in the RAF from 1944-1948. He was stationed in India and then Malay (Malaysia), Sumatra and Singapore, briefly passing through Burma (Myanmar) as well.

This is what I originally wrote before we left.

We went to Allahabad in India, which was one of the places he spent a lot of time, and we would have liked to go to Calcutta as well if the earthquake had not diverted us.

This is what I wrote about the Allahabad journey.

But in Penang we once again crossed his path as he was stationed at RAF Butterworth from July 1st 1946 to December 7th 1946. Butterworth is on mainland Malaysia but you could literally see Penang Island from where he was based.

1946-135-Penang Island November-EDIT


This was the Flying Control & Met Station where he worked, which he says was far more pleasant than his previous post in Medan, Sumatra.

1946-137-RAF Butterworth Flying Control-EDIT_small

His job here was recording weather data, but he was also studying for the London Matric Exams so he could continue his education when he returned to England so his spare time was fairly limited.

However he does refer to a lot of good times on Penang Island.



This was a family that he befriended on the Island.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 19.38.46

He also met the Khoo family who he describes as ‘a well established Penang family’. They certainly are; we visited their Kongsi, a family clan house that showcases the success of the family and worships their ancestors. It was one of the most impressive buildings we saw, and we even met a member of the family who had come to pay her respects.


She showed us how the degrees of the Khoo family were proudly displayed in one room. Ancestors who lived in a time when a degree was unusual, especially from another country, have a large plaque to commemorate their achievement. Nowadays people get added to a small, equally gold, list.



My Grandad helped with setting up a Boy’s Brigade on Penang (you can see him, fourth from the left on the second row back),


and from this note he received afterwards it sounds like his help was very much appreciated!


A few of the Khoo family have signed the note.

It’s so amazing to think that again we were in exactly the same place, but at very different times in history. It’s good to hear that the variety of cultures in Penang was apparent to him back then.

Here he is hanging out on a boat (although I’m not sure this photo is from Penang).


See you soon Grandad.