Leading Aircraftman Youssif Ali

Youssif Ali, son of Mahammad Cassie Ali and Babe Ali, a Bengali born in Sylhet (now Bangladesh) came to England in the early 1920s. He was the last soldier buried at the Muslim Burial Ground on 12 May 1947.

As a young man, Youssif Ali regularly travelled between India and London aboard merchant ships. After meeting and marrying Ethel Emma Wallace in London during the late 1920s, he no longer travelled. Instead he became a Court interpreter for Indian seaman apprehended for various misdemeanours. He also worked as a doorman, dressed in full colonial style regalia with an elaborate turban at the Veeraswamy Restaurant in Piccadilly, London. A job from which he was later sacked when a photograph in a newspaper identified him amongst a crowd surrounding Mahatma Gandhi on his arrival for the second Round Table Conference on independence of India in 1931.

Because of her marriage to Youssif Ali, Ethel's family disowned her. Attempts to reconcile with her family failed when they refused to meet her husband nor would they allow their grandchildren into their home. Mrs Ali was a woman of spirit and loyalty and could never even contemplate such conditions.

During the 1930s times were hard. Youssif did whatever he could to make ends meet and support his family. And so he enlisted at the outbreak of the Second World War. By the end of the war, he was serving with the British Air Forces of Occupation in Germany, Belgium and then France where he died in service.

Ethel was left a war widow at just 37 with four young children; Peter, Edward, Sheila, and Sophena. Mrs Ali and her children regularly visited the cemetery until they were reinterred at Brookwood Military Cemetery in 1969.