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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 May, 2004, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Ho Chi Minh worked in London pub
Drayton Court Hotel
Ho Chi Minh worked in this hotel in West Ealing
The Drayton Court looks like a normal hotel on the outskirts of London - but it has rather an unusual claim to fame.

Former Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh once worked in its kitchens, as a cleaner and dishwasher.

Before playing a key role in Vietnamese history, driving out forces from Japan, France and the United States, Ho Chi Minh spent part of his youth in London, cleaning up after diners in West Ealing.

Ho Chi Minh was born in May 1890 in Hoang Tru, in central Vietnam.

In 1911, he began work as a cook on a French steamer, enabling him to travel to the US and Europe.

He arrived in London in 1913 and spent several years there before moving on to Paris, Russia and China.

But little is known about Ho Chi Minh's time in England, according to Quynh Le from the BBC's Vietnamese Service.

"His time in Great Britain is among the least documented of his life. We don't know exactly when he worked at the pub, or how long he was there," said Quynh Le.

"He wasn't very political at that time," he added.

In his autobiography, Ho Chi Minh also said he worked as a snow sweeper and boiler operator, before moving to the Drayton Court Hotel, a busy establishment near the railway.

He then went on to work at the Carlton Hotel in Haymarket, which has a plaque commemorating his time there.

Country profile: Vietnam
11 May 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Vietnam
27 Jan 04  |  Country profiles



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