1914 Hong Kong views

1914 Hong Kong views

This is one of 2 cards, sent home by my great-grandfather Major Sir Walter Barttelot on his way home from Australia in 1914.

Date picture taken (to nearest decade for older photos): 
Thursday, January 1, 1914


I see your great-grandfather has an entry in Wikipedia.

Thanks for sharing the postcards with us. Did he leave any record of what he throught of Hong Kong?

Regards, David


For some reason this comment reply has slipped through the net, so apologies.

You are right, Walter Balfour Barttelot, my great-grandfather is indeed in 'wiki' and most of the story is accurate.

His views on Hong Kong from his letters in 1914 are as follows:

Sunday, 21st June 1914.    HONG KONG


    I slept on board the KWONG TUNG and landed at 9.a.m. intending to breakfast with the Captain of the KUM SANG, as previously arranged. 


Unknown to me however, the KUM SANG had gone off to sea on Saturday, owing to the typhoon warnings.  I spent the morning trying to find her, my wanderings including a visit to Kowloon, on the mainland, returning by a filthy Chinese ferry. 


I lunched with the General and Mrs Kelly and then we went off for a bathing picnic to Repulse Bay; Colonel J. Irwin (Director of Medical Services) and Mrs Irwin, Mr and Mrs Agassiz, (she is a sister of Sydney Buxton) Hon. Mr Severn, Colonial Secretary at Hong Kong, Lt. Colonel F. Moberley, D.S.O. and Mrs Moberley were of the party.


    We went on board a Government launch and an hour’s run brought us to Repulse Bay, were we all undressed, and dived off a spring board into (literally) hot sea water, swam ashore, then back to the launch and after a few more dives, tea and cherry brandy, we steamed home a different way, passing a picturesque fishing village called Aberdeen. 


Here I noticed curious long, thin, black and white sticks attached to the top of many junks.  The Chinese believe that the devil will probably try to board a junk when she sets sail, so he puts this thin stick at the top of the mast in order that the devil may sit on it, causing it to bend and throw him into the water.  For a like reason, they always let loose a small paper junk before sailing for the devil to make use of.


    Mrs Irwin told me of the high degree of education of many of the Chinese girls of good family, who speak and read English, French and German and adopt European ideas in all ways, except in dress and food.  She also said that the women who live on junks and sampan are a much finer and better looking race that those who live on land, though they are looked down on by the latter.


22nd June 1914


    It thundered all night and poured with rain this morning; there was a dense mist, hot, stuffy, damp and sticky.  I went by the Peak Railway up the Peak, then by chair to Government House to lunch with the Mays. 


It was hot and rainy and I could not see my hand in front of me, which was most disappointing for the view must be lovely from the top.  Lady May was charming, so bright and cheerful, so also was the eldest Miss May, who sat on my left.  Opposite, was Colonel Tewson of the D.C.L.I., a particularly nice man, and finally the Governor himself who was most interesting with his views as to the employment of Indian labour in Australia; he quoted Fiji as an example. 


His tales of China, where he says the woman are fast becoming suffragettes, is most amusing.


    The only thing I could see at Government House were the masses of beautiful hydrangeas.  I had tea with Wheeler at the club and the rain having stopped, went to see the race course and golf course at Happy Valley.


    At dinner at the General’s, were Major A. McHardy (G.S.O.) R.A., and Mrs McHardy, also Lieut. Barker, D.C.L.I..



23rd June    R.M.S. EMPRESS OF JAPAN


    I went off with the General and McHardy to inspect the 74th Punjabis, just arrived from India, at their barracks at Kow Loon; it was most interesting to me as I have never seen a native regiment before. 


We also saw the Hong Kong, Singapore, Regiment of Garrison Artillery, which is also Indian.  Then I said my goodbyes and came on board this ship, which sailed at noon.  And so farewell to Hong Kong, with its razor-backed, dark green hills and big brown houses, its docks and steamers, wharves and junks, sampans, and boat women – the last of the chain of fortresses (Gibraltar, Malta, Aden, Colombo, Singapore, Hong Kong.) connecting England with the Far East.