Soldiers | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong



Came across the picture in family archive. Man second from left is identified as J. Olson who was my grandfather. Was this the local defence force as the picture was definitely taken before, during or just after the First World War?

I know that as my grandfather left HK in 1923.

Can anybody identify any of the others who might have living relatives who I might contact for further research? Also where was the picture taken?

Many thanks,


Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Saturday, January 1, 1910


Sean - The location is almost certainly outside the main entrance of the HSBC headquarters (no more than a guess of course, but perhaps at least one of the fellow soldiers was an HSBC banker). See, for example, the following photo from Wikipedia:

The soldiers belonged to the Volunteer Corps and as bunce indicates the photo was taken outside the main entrance to the HSBC (2nd Generation) on Queen's Road Central.

The first indication that J. Olson was a member of the Volunteers was in 1899. He was a gunner and belonged to the No. 1 Company of the Hong Kong Volunteer Artillery.



Thanks to you both. Especially you moddsey. Another bit of info for the family record!


Sean, if you want to check the records yourself, you can go to the HKGRO website and search for 'volunteer'. You don't need to check all the documents, just look for one each year with 'report' in the title.

An interesting connection is that the 1899 report that shows J Olson for the first time, also lists C E Warren. In fact Warren appears in the lists from 1895 onwards. Could this be where the families first crossed paths?

In WW2 we think of the volunteers fighting as infantry, but that came later. In the 1890s they were divided into a Field Battery and a Machine Gun Corps.

Both Olson and Warren were in the Field Battery, which may explain the interest in artillery shown in the 'Guns' photo.

The reports show who else was in the Field Battery at the same time. That will give a starting point to identify the other soldiers in the photo.

It could be worth contacting the RHKR Association to see if they have any records from that time. eg if you could find out the members of the troop (is that the right word?) that Olson served in, that could be another route to identify people in the photo. The RHKR would likely be grateful to have a copy of the photos, and may be able to help identify other people in this photo, and/or give some idea what the guns photo shows us.

Another rabbit-hole to head down! Please let us know if you find out more about the photo.

Regards, David

Wow! All this sort of thing takes my breath away. Everytime I think I can close the book it opens again.

Fascinating that Warren was in the same outfit. Undoubtedly they go back that far. Possible John introduced him to his eldest sister who was to become his wife! At that time Warren was a Nuisance Inspector with the Sanitary Department..

On the subject of the gun pictures I wonder could there be a Japanese connection? John2 of the above picture, my grandfather , seems to have had extensive dealings with Japanese businessmen between the wars when he lived in the UK. He certainly had Japanese business interests while in HK. Is that any help.

I will get in touch with the RHKR Society and see where we go from there.

Thanks again for everything,


Could any of these soldiers be C E Warren?