Mohamed AHSAN [1907-1979] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Mohamed AHSAN [1907-1979]

Birthplace (town, state): 
Waisa, Attock (Pakistan)

My grandfather, Mohamed Ahsan, came to Hong Kong in approx 1920, aged 14. He studied at Ellis Kadoorie School for 2 years, and then went onto Queen’s College. Once he graduated he obtained a job as a Clerk at the General Post Office. His brother Mohamed Yousif joined him at the GPO shortly after. I have been told that one of his duties was to intercept mail that was coming from Japan, things like pro-Japanese propaganda, gold, money etc. This was apparently intended for the people that the Japanese had ‘planted’ in Hong Kong before hostilities began. 

In his British passport (date of issue 1932) he is listed as a ‘Launch Officer’, and I also have a picture of him on a ship in full naval uniform. My father told me that he mentioned he also used to intercept shipments that were being sent from Japan, so maybe this was an extension of his Post Office duties. 

I also have a Hong Kong Reserve Police passport style I.D that was issued on 22.06.28, with his ‘Rank and Number’ listed as R253.

He was arrested in 1944 together with John Power and his brother Yousif, and imprisoned in Stanley Jail. They were severely tortured but released on parole. As we know, Mr. Power did not survive the torture (see My grandfather and his brother continued their activities until my grandfather’s second arrest. This time he was imprisoned in ‘No.7 Police Station’. He remained there for many months and was released when the Japanese surrendered.

Both brothers gave evidence at the trial of Kanao Inouye, who was their chief torturer. Below is a newspaper article mentioning their contribution to the trial:

Our family name is Khan, so his name would have been Mohamed Ahsan Khan, but in all of his documentation at that time, including his British Passport, it is listed as Mohamed Ahsan, so I am assuming any info on him would come under the name of Mohamed (First name), Ahsan (Second name). He was known as Ahsan by most people. I think the same thing applies to his brother, Mohamed (First name), Yousif (Second name).


Here are links to some of the places your grandfather would have known:

A search for Ahsan at HKGRO returns several results. Most are the lists of civil servants, with the earliest match from the 1929 list. He appears on pages J156 and J158 as "Mohamed Ahsan", showing that:

  • He joined the civil service on 7th Jan, 1926.
  • In 1929 he was working as a 6th Class Postal Clerk, first appointed on 1st March, 1926
  • He also worked as a Launch Officer (also a Post Office job), also first appointed on 1st March, 1926.

It looks as though there were several years between graduating and starting work at the Post Office, so there were likely other jobs in between.

For more about his wartime experiences, have you looked at the War Crimes Trials collections at and

It looks as though the original records of the trials can be read at the UK National Archives in Kew, London, so if you're able to visit there you might find statements from your grandfather, for example.

If you can share any more memories and stories of his time in Hong Kong they'll be valuable to read. It'll also be great to see any photos you can share of his time here. (Here's how to upload a photo: