Gong Gong says

This is a posthumous blog of our father's (Lim Kok Ann) life. When our father passed away on 8 March 2003, he left behind an unpublished autobiography. We'd like to celebrate his life by sharing his autobiography through this blog.

"I have dredged these anecdotes from memory just to pass the time; if they amuse my grandchildren their purpose will have been served; if they provide any instruction, it will be a happy coincidence; that they are disjointed is probably to be expected.

Aurora was the name of my grandfather’s house in Kulangsu.   Amoy, where I spent the first five or six years of my life.   I still have vivid memories of events that took place when I was barely three years old.

Lim Kok Ann
October 1996"

Sunday, July 20, 2008

1: 25 Fast Boat to UK. I left Singapore on 28 July, 1939, heading for Edinburgh University where I was already enrolled as a student by the Colonial Office in London who would be my guardians. Lian Chye was on the same boat heading for London to study medicine. Another passenger who joined the boat in Penang was Lim Phaik Lin, daughter of Lim Cheng Ean, who was going to England for further studies. She had Iwo brothers in England, Kian Hock, already a doctor, and Kian Chye, a law student in Cambridge. I knew of Kian Chye from Rosie, for he was the boy-friend of one of Rosie’s mates at Holne Chase.

The boat made record time to London, the last week in a dash through the Bay of Biscay to reach port before war broke out. We had heard of trouble in Europe, but being unschooled in politics had no notion of the conflict brewing between Nazi Germany and the Western powers. I was so politically naive, that when asked, in the interview to receive my passport, “Which side would you fight for if England goes to war with China?” I had replied, “The question does not arise, for I can see no reason for England to go to war with China.” This might have been all right, but I must have caused great amusement when I gave as a reason for my remark, “for there is nothing that China has, that England would want”. And indeed, in the 60 years since then England has had no occasion for going to war with China, not even over the return of Hong Kong to China.

While we were on the high seas in the month of August, Poland had fallen, and we arrived in London barely ahead of streams of refugees from Europe. When Kian Hock, Phaik Lin’s brother learned that I was enrolled in Edinburgh, he told me I might as well get there as soon as possible, for war might break out any day. “War? What war?” we asked unbelievingly. We did not know that German tanks had entered Poland, ignoring the guarantees France and England had given Poland. Without wasting any time, Kian Hock put us on the train for Edinburgh. Us, being myself and Phai Lin, who had decided she might as well study in Edinburgh if England was going to be at war.


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