Reginald Charles Spencer & Geoffrey William Spencer

Submitted by Bill Peacock on Sun, 07/18/2021 - 16:15

The above named people are my maternal uncle & his cousin respectively. Both served in the Royal Engineers in Hong Kong, to where my Uncle Reg was posted on 16th October 1937. Both died on the Lisbon Maru when it was sunk on 1st/2nd October 1942. In researching my family tree, I have gained lots of knowledge about their deaths and broad information about their military service. The gaps in my knowledge concerns their lives in Hong Kong before it fell to the Japanese. I do have some newspaper cuttings about Reginald winning a boxing tournament during that period (30th March 1938). I imagine that army officers would have had more contact with HK civilian life than those at the level of Sapper (Reginald) & Lance Corporal (Geoffrey) would have had, however, there must have been some interfaces. My question is whether either or both of them appear in any local records? How would you advise me to research this aspect of their lives please? Thank you and best wishes, Bill Peacock

Hello Bill,

A few ideas:

 - Look in the newspapers for mentions of "Spencer" in those years to see if you're lucky, or otherwise for mentions of "Royal Engineers" to give an idea what events they might have been involved in. SCMP via Proquest is best if you have access to it, otherwise use HK Public Library's MMIS.

 - Look in the image galleries showing photos from the 1930s and 40s to get an idea of Hong Kong life at the time:

 - Check Tony Banham's extensive bibliography at the bottom of page for any books written by men of the Royal Engineers. They'll be mainly about their wartime experiences, but early chapters will likely cover life in HK before the war.

 - Army units would often publish some type of newsletter about local events. Are there any from Hong Kong at that time in the RE Museum?

Good luck, and please let us know if you find anything interesting.

Regards, David