Charles Gesner van der Voort had started his career in Rotterdam, at Holland-China Trading Company (HCHC). In 1938, he went to Shanghai for the firm. The Japanese interned him, and most other Dutch nationals, from 1943-45. In camp, he met his wife Nancy and they married after the war. After a leave in The Netherlands, they returned to the Orient, where Charles continued to work for HCHC in Hong Kong.
Twenty years before Charles started, in 1918, a photo album was made of the Hong Kong office and office staff.
1256 N.V. Internationale Crediet- en Handelsvereniging Rotterdam/C.V. en N.V. Wm H. Muller & Co. (Internatio-Muller N.V.) 1402 Foto album van kantoren in China.
In Shanghai, Charles had a colleague named Frits Kien (1904-1987), related to the director of the Holland-China Trading Company, Willem Kien. He was experienced when Charles arrived in 1939, and taught him the trade. Fortune was favourable, when I was offered his autobiography, to lend as a source for my book "Charles in Shanghai". About traditional Chinese clothing, Frits Kien commented:
"I noticed that the old-fashioned Chinese were adapting their clothing to the climate very practically. During summer loose fitting clothes, and a fan in their hand to wave cool air to themselves. During winter they wore several pieces of clothing on top of each other. The clothing was made of very delicate fabric. In the 1930s, the change towards Western clothing began. Which I found sort of regrettable. It was a majestic sight if those old-fashioned people came to the office."