SOAS University of London

Guy de Moubray

Guy De Moubray studied Japanese at SOAS in 1942. He is one of the Dulwich Boys that boarded at the College and travelled to SOAS on a daily basis. He was a translator during World War II.

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Alumni Spotlight: Guy de Moubray, 1942-1943

Guy de Moubray was born in Kuala Lumpur, March 1925. His father was a civil servant in Northern Malaysia and an expert in Malaysia dialects. At the age of five, like most sons of civil servants, Guy was sent to Europe to attend school.  While living in Belgium, he attended a Montessori primary school and experienced his first new language - French.

In December 1941, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbour during the Second World War, the UK government realised the nation had a severe shortage of Japanese speakers. Guy decided to take part in a newly launched government scholarship scheme for young boys, aged 17. The boys could leave school early to complete an intensive course in Japanese, Turkish, Persian or Chinese.  

When they arrived at SOAS to start their course, the boys were treated to a reception in Senate House that was attended by then Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden. Those boys learning Japanese lived at Dulwich College and travelled to SOAS each day by train. As a result they were known as ‘The Dulwich Boys’.

The boys mastered their chosen languages in just five terms and were then placed into military postings. Guy was placed in the intelligence unit of the Army and in June 1944 was sent to India. Three out of four members of his unit sent to intercept Japanese radio messages were on his course at SOAS.

When the Japanese surrendered, Guy asked to be part of a group sent to free Singapore.  Guy was the first soldier on shore in Singapore. Guy was also reunited with his parents when the war ended, after they were freed from a prisoner of war camp.

After the war, Guy went on to do a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford. Following that, he worked in the Treasury and had a distinguished career in the Bank of England where he retired as the Chief Economist.  

Guy de Moubray 1942 press cutting
A newspaper article from 1945 about the release of Guy's parents from captivity