Philip HARDING KLIMANEK [1883-1965] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Philip HARDING KLIMANEK [1883-1965]

Harding Klimanek
Birthplace (town, state): 
Austro-Hungarian empire, currently Czech Republic
Cause of death: 

Philip Harding Klimanek (1883-1965) was born in the Czech Republic, at the time his place of birth was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. In ca. 1905 he started to work for Holland-China Trading Company, in Hong Kong.

In 1939, when Charles Gesner van der Voort arrived in Shanghai to work for the company, he was Charles' superior. In a letter home he wrote: "Played chess with Klimanek in the French Club" [translation Pieter Lommerse, the French Club was Le Cercle Sportif Français, a fashionable place to be in the 1930s and it still exists today].

Philip Harding Klimanek was also a juror for the Hong Kong judicial system, which can be found in, for the last time in 1941.
His grandson wrote to me: "Though he had been based in Shanghai before the war we know he was captured in Hongkong on 24th Dec 1941 during the “Battle of Hongkong”. He had been a volunteer with the “isolated Tytan Godows of the Food Control from November to the end of December 1941” We assume he was involved with food conservation as the Japanese were approaching."

"He was beaten up on capture and needed medical treatment. He was in and out of Stanley camp until the Japanese surrender in 1945. As he was of Austro-Hungarian decent after the war his nationality was hard to determine as his papers and all his possessions had been lost, his health was very poor as a result of how he had been treated during the war. Eventually he managed to get a temporary Czechoslovakian passport in 1948 issued in Nanking China. After a short period in the UK looking for work he returned to the HCTC and was traveling between Shanghai and Hongkong. He retired in Hongkong and returned to England 31st Dec 1950."

Philip Harding Klimanek was a close friend of Willem Kien, another early HCHC-employee, later to become director of the company. Willem Kien's daughter in law recalls seeing him during visits in The Netherlands, together with his wife Zoia and daughter. Also Anneke Knüppe-de Jongh, daughter of former HCHC-employee and director Frans de Jongh, has warm memories of the family, which her family stayed closely in touch with.

Courtesy Harding-Klimanek family archives

Photos that show this person


Netherlands Population Records 

Philipp Klimanek birthdate 28 October 1883

 England and Wales Index of Wills and Administrations
Philipp August Harding Klimanek otherwise Philipp Harding Klimanek otherwise Philip August Harding otherwise Philip Harding of 19 Bury Meadows Ricksmansworth Hertfordshire died 13 August 1965 at Napsbury Hospital St. Albans Hertfordshre. Administration to Zola Harding Klimanek widow

“isolated Tytan Godows of the Food Control from November to the end of December 1941”.

I guess he spent that time at Godowns (warehouses) that stored food for emergency use. You can see other examples of this type of godown listed at

I haven't heard of any at Tytam before, but there may well have been some there. The location was probably bypassed by the attacking Japanese, which explains why he remained there until the end of December.

Dear annpake,

Thank you for retrieving the dates of birth and decease. A note for the record: his wife's name was Zoia, the England and Wales Index of Wills and Administrations have a misspelling, I've checked with correspondence with their grandson.

Kind regards,


Dear David,

Many thanks for the information on shelters in Hong Kong. If more is found out about these Tai Tam godowns and the emergency food program, Philip's grandchildren will be happy to read about it.

Kind regards,