A Bradford resident has become the first Asian member in 50 years to join the city’s Royal British Legion after signing up in honour of his father.
60-year-old Raja Tariq Mehmood says he is ‘extremely proud’ to wear the 13 medals, obtained by Subh Ali Shan from both British and Pakistan governments, and hopes his new membership will only carry on his father’s legacy.
“My father was as beautiful as his name was,” Mr Mehmood said. “It translated into a beautiful morning and I remember him as a fantastic person.
“He was very young, about 17, when he first joined the British Indian Navy in 1941. He was with them for about six years until ‘47 when Pakistan became an independent country and so he joined the Pakistan Navy.”
Subh Ali Shan was a highly decorated member of the Navy who collected 13 medals throughout his 33 years of service before finally retiring as a Lieutenant Commander in 1979.
Unfortunately, he sadly passed away just five months later yet Mr Mehmood says it is now up to his family to keep his father’s memory alive.
He explained how he joined the Royal British Legion in hope of bringing ‘warranted attention’ to his father’s achievements.
“I didn’t know how to make use of these medals but luckily read an article about somebody honouring their father’s medals so did some research,” he said.
“I was put through to a number in London and ended up speaking with the MoD (Ministry of Defence) who then put me in touch with the British Royal Legion, and the next morning I got a call from them saying they wanted to see me.
“I went down to the Bradford branch and they said it was a ‘privilege’ to have me and my father’s medals on board.
“I attended my first meeting earlier this week and I loved it, it was very enjoyable. Everybody is so respectful and it is an honour for me to be with them.”
Mr Mehmood’s father was awarded five medals from the British Navy: Atlantic Star, Pacific Star, War Star, and two Memorial Medals; as well as eight more from Pakistan including several for fighting in four wars with India, and a Ten-year, 20-year, and 30-year service medal.
Mr Mehmood added that he had hoped to carry on his father’s legacy through joining the forces yet was unfortunately only able to complete one year before having to leave.
“It was always a dream of mine to be in the Navy or the Air Force,” he explained. “When I finally joined up in Pakistan I was told a little while later that I had to return to England or lose my citizenship.
“I was never able to go back to the services in Pakistan but am extremely proud to be able to wear my father’s medals and keep his legacy alive.”