William Robinson Clarke

‘Boat reunited smitten couple who met in the war’

1925 - 1982

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It was the Second World War and despite Trinidad’s flourishing oil industry and a USA military base offering the ‘Yankee dollar’, young Andrew Mowlah-Baksh had already decided that his future lay in England.

He enlisted into the RAF towards the end of the war and was posted to RAF Predannack in Cornwall, then to RAF Castle Bromwich near Birmingham. It was at a dance in the Moseley area of the city that he met his wife-to-be, Dublin-born Kathleen Theresa Healy. Kathleen was serving with the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the British Army, having enlisted in Ireland.

After the war they each returned to their own countries but resolved to reunite as soon as possible and marry in England. That is why 22-year-old Andrew was on board the Empire Windrush in May 1948.

Andrew Llewellyn Mowlah-Baksh, known as ‘Knolly’ to his family, was born in Sangre Grande in Trinidad on August, 4 1925, one of seven children. His parents, Edward, a law clerk, and Cecelia, died when he was still a boy and his older siblings migrated to southern Trinidad to work in the oil industry and the expanding rail system.

He was one of five Windrush passengers and the only male who gave their occupation as ‘typist’. He spent his first few nights in England in temporary accommodation at the Clapham South Deep Shelter in London before travelling to Birmingham to see his bride-to-be once again.

The couple married in Birmingham in 1949 and would go on to have five children. Kathleen’s sister, Esther, with whom she had served in the war, also married a West Indian, Leonard Norris. They too settled in Birmingham.

For several years, the Mowlah-Baksh family lived in Norfolk Road in the Erdington district of the city. In 1955, they were living in Turnley Road, Stechford, Birmingham, with Andrew’s brother, Winston, better known as Lance. Andrew worked as a clerk and then a progress chaser in the offices of car firm Rover and Hardy Spencer.

In March 1958, the family sailed tourist class from Liverpool to Trinidad with a view to settling there permanently. However, they returned to England on the ocean liner, RMS Ascania, in October 1959 with a new member of the family on board, Joseph, who had been born in Trinidad and was four days away from his first birthday. The address they gave on that occasion was in Land Street, Birmingham.

The family went back to Trinidad once more in 1970, but returned to Birmingham two years later. Andrew died of a heart attack in Birmingham on June 12, 1982.

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