Former British soldier looks for lost love in Penang

Warren Holbrook, who went back to England in 1968 after his stint with the army ended, said it was his biggest regret not marrying the girl. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Warren Holbrook, who went back to England in 1968 after his stint with the army ended, said it was his biggest regret not marrying the girl. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A 69-year-old former British Army Dental Corps corporal is in Penang looking for the fiancee he left behind more than 47 years ago.

"I last heard from Wan Jamilah Wan Hussein on Jan 24, 1968, when I received a letter from her saying that her father had agreed to our marriage.

"It was the very last time I heard from her. She was the love of my life," said Warren Holbrook.

Recalling the first time he met Wan Jamilah, also known as Fiona, he said he was at a farewell party at the Mount Pleasure Hotel in June 1967.

"The party was for a fellow army mate who was being posted back to the United Kingdom. Then, she walked in with her sister Nora and three guys. And she took my breath away. I was just wowed.'' Holbrook said.

"They were dancing and I later found her sitting by herself. I asked her for a dance and we just clicked.

"We danced to the song Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham & Pharaohs," he said, adding that Wan Jamilah did not have to work as she came from a well-to-do family.

"Her father owned a successful taxi business. She had her own car and everything."

Holbrook, who went back to England in 1968 after his stint with the army ended, said it was his biggest regret not marrying the girl.

"Back then, it was rare to have mixed marriages as it was frowned upon. Also, it would have been selfish of me to uproot Wan Jamilah," he said.

Holbrook, who never married, said both of them dated for about five months and were engaged in October 1967.

"But as soon as my superiors found out, they sent me to another army base in Kluang, Johor. A white man in the army was not allowed to marry a local back then," he said.

Asked why he took so long to reconnect with Wan Jamilah, he said he went to the family's last known address in Jalan Tanjong Tokong nine years ago but they were no longer living there.

"I would really like to see her again," he added.

Holbrook stayed in the army until 1972 and then started a job as a sales representative in England until 1979.

He then moved to Scotland and taught people how to fish for 20 years until 1999. He then became a golf course manager until his retirement two years ago. He will be leaving Penang on March 23.

Anyone who knows the whereabouts of Wan Jamilah or her sister Nora can contact Holbrook on 011-2375 1132.