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Life in Burma

In 1919 the newly married Gladys Emily Knight set sail for a new life in Rangoon where her daughter Olive was born in June 1920. Her husband Alfred Robert was older by about 20 years and was well travelled through his work as a marine engineer. He spoke five languages, among them Arabic. He had been severely injured during the Great War when his ship was sunk by a German torpedo. After spending several days in a freezing lifeboat he was picked up and eventually found himself in Greenwich’s Dreadnought Hospital where he narrowly avoided having his leg amputated. Following that he worked in Woolwich Arsenal but after the Armistice employment was hard to find and he decided to seek work in Burma. In Rangoon the living conditions were not ideal and neither was the work situation. He took up various jobs as an engineer both on land in the rice mills, oil fields and saw mills and also on board ships plying the Irrawaddy and the local coastal waters. Both he and his son Leslie spent their last weeks in Burma in hospital suffering from life-threatening typhoid and once they recovered in 1930 he decided to return to England with his family due both to those health worries and the scarcity of work and died in 1933.

Recollections by
Leslie Knight
Left : Leslie. Centre : Olive; and together with their ayah (Right).
Leslie, Olive, Gladys and Alfred Knight.
Leslie and Olive in the family garden and finally a studio portrait taken in Rangoon.

Leslie Knight.