Hong Kong Cemetery Damaged By Historical Typhoons & Landslides

Submitted by Orestes on Thu, 01/19/2023 - 07:32

I've been doing research on the Hong Kong Cemetery and the whereabouts of my great grandfather's remains.  Samuel Osborne Pickthorne died in Hong Kong Habour while on the ship he was the Chief Steward, on March 25, 1900 and records show he was buried in Section 4 of the cemetery.

However, records show that when his gravesite was exhumed (because there wasn't a grave marker for his site), no remains were found.

So my question to the forum - and I'm just searching right now - is this - has the Hong Kong Cemetery been subjected to any landslides or subsidences in the cemetery as a result of heavy rainfalls and/or typhoons between 1900 and 1975 that could have resulted in the earth shifting to a degree that would have added additional earth to certain parts of the cemetery?

Are there any records, reports or research that demonstrates this damage?  Thank you everyone!

Thanks T - I have done the research on the construction of the Aberdeen Tunnel between 1975 and 1983 I believe.   You're right, that was a major disruption and caused irreparable harm to the cemetery.  But Section 4, one of the older Sections in the cemetery, was only partially impacted by that.


I was a member of the Traffic Division of HK Island in the Royal Hong Kong Police during the construction and opening of the Aberdeen Tunnel during the early 1980s, and with respect I must take issue with your assertion that the project “caused irreparable harm to the cemetery.”

At risk of sounding flippant, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. The authorities decided that the construction of the Aberdeen Tunnel was a very necessary project with regard to the development and population increase of HK island, and unfortunately that decision resulted in the loss of a number of graves.

However the project was handled as best it could be by those involved, in my humble opinion. Many of the exhumed remains were placed in an ossuary within the cemetery, where they remain. Incidentally, some interesting stories came out when graves were excavated - including one which involved the finding of the remains of a horse as opposed to a human in one grave!

Thank you Tideswell27 - I very much appreciate your comments on this and I appreciate your perspective as a retired HK police officer.  The project planning around an event such as the Aberdeen Tunnel construction was monumental and everyone involved, from the Project Management Team down to the workers having to dig the graves up, had a huge and daunting task ahead of them. 

As I stated in my initial post above, I am simply the great grandson of the man who was supposedly buried in Section 4, Row 5 of the cemetery back on March 27, 1900, and who is trying to understand why, when his grave was exhumed, no bones or grave site marker were found.  As a result, no bones were place in the cemetery's Ossuary. 

But I have been unable to determine when that exhumation took place and who did the actual contract work.  I'm sure that daily project contractor records would reveal more than I have been able to find out, if the records still exist somewhere.

The Hong Kong Government Records Service is an incredible resource and one that I'm sure may still be able to shed some light on my quest.