Cyril Munro FAURE [1897-1968] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Cyril Munro FAURE [1897-1968]

Cyril Munro
Birthplace (town, state): 
Birthplace (country): 

[3 Oct 2016 Update: I previously wrote that C M Faure was the editor of 'The Hong Kong News' but in the comments below Henry Ching says that isn't the case.]

C M Faure worked for the English-language newspaper 'The Hong Kong News' that was published during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong.

There are several comments about him at this time in the Stanley Camp Discussion Group.

Later sources show him working at the South China Morning Post in 1961, and as a translator based in in Wanchai in 1967.

He died in 1968, and is buried in the Hong Kong Cemetery in Happy Valley.


The question has been raised as to how Cyril Faure was able to avoid internment alongside the rest of the British community in early 1942.

The history of the South China Morning Post makes it clear that he was one of those asked by the company to carry on working to try to safeguard its interests - but the others in this position were Indian or Eurasian so wouldn't have been interned anyway. I think the answer as to how Faure stayed out is in Franklin Gimson's diary (p. 19 recto and verso).

While working on the Japanese paper The Hong Kong News, Faure was arrested on a charge of spying in February 1943. After the usual interrogations, beatings and threats he was released into Stanley Camp in early July 1943. Gimson went to see him with SCMP editor Ben Wylie - and he noted that somewhat to his surprise Wylie resented his questions as to whether Faure was a British national. He made enquiries and came to believe that there was some doubt as to the question. He discovered that on the Murray Parade Ground - where the British gathered before being sent to hotels and then to Stanley - Faure had asked Wylie to make a statement about his nationality. Gimson rightly suspected that Wylie had planned for Faure to safeguard the SCMP's interests, but there are a number of pieces of evidence that make me think Faure was actually British (he'd been an officer in the Royal Navy, for example). However, I think Wylie probably told the Japanese he was French - his name and family orgins would have made this plausible, and he was a highly educated man who likely spoke the language. (His father was Paul-Jules and his aunts Suzanne-Louise and Jeanne Lucy, which I take as prima facie evidence of French provenance.)

Henry Ching's diary records that Faure's 'family' were moved out of their accommodation in May 1942. In October 1945 the SCMP announced his forthcoming marriage to a Chinese lady - if in 1942 he was living with her as husband and wife, perhaps with a child,  this would have been an extra reason for the Japanese not interning him, as they were always impressed by this proof of lack of racial 'pride'.

Henry Ching writes:

Cyril Munro Faure worked for the Hong Kong News, but I don’t think he was editor. The editor was a Jap. Suspect the incorrect reference to his being editor comes from Wright-Nooth’s book “Prisoner of the Turnip Heads”.

Here's Wright-Nooth's description of Faure in his book "Prisoner of the Turnip Heads":

[The Hongkong News] was a two or three page sheet produced by the Japanese for propaganda purposes which circulated around Stanley [interment camp]. For some time it was edited in town by a former Royal Navy Commander called C. M. Faure, who many considered a flagrant collaborator. His was a sad story. He had been in command of a gunboat on the river at Canton in the 1930s when Chinese mobs attacked the European settlement, the Shameen. He opened up on the crowds with his machine gun, for which he was dismissed from the service. He came to Hong Kong and "went native" as we used to say, in a low-class Chinese slum. Nevertheless, his editing of the news sheet was not treachery as he was able to put across the rumours, half-truths, and exaggerated Japanese war victories in such a way that it was obvious to an English reader what was fact and what was fiction.

Henry says that Faure's dismissal from the Royal Navy would have been a point in his favour with the Japanese.

Ian Gill has kindly pointed out that Ben Wylie was managing director of the SCMP not editor.
Cyril Faure wrote a regular column for the Hongkong News. It's theme was the influence of non-European cultures, particularly the Egyptian, on early European thought. He was, for example, an early supporter of what is now sometimes known as the 'Black Athena' hypothesis - that classical Greece borrowed much of its culture from Egyptian sources. 
Mr Faure probably did other things for the paper as well, but, as Henry Ching points out, he was never editor - that was E. G. Ogura, who an American journalist described as 'a gentleman, in any language'. I don't know who replaced him when he was killed in an American air raid, but by that time Mr Faure was in Stanley Camp.

In June 1925 Mr. Faure was in temporary command of H. M. S. Robin, an anti-pirate vessel, because the commander had been wounded. He was in charge of a Lewis gun unit that fired on demonstrators, killing some of them, but he did not leave the navy until 1928 and then at his own request. However there is a June-November hiatus on his record card - in June his position on the Robin, which included duties as an interpreter, was 'superseded' - I think that's a neutral term which simply means it came to an end - and in November he was assigned to a different ship.

On the other hand, about a week before the 'Shameen Incident' Mr Faure intervened in the aftermath of armed conflict in Canton and, using his fluency in Cantonese, possibly saved the lives of some victims of mob violence.

Sources: Matthew Heaslip, Gunboats, Empire and the China Station

Cyril Munro Faure: digitalised record cards available from the British National Archive

About a hundred men were called before the Compulsory Service Tribunal.

"C. M. Faure said he was already in the Naval Reserve and employed in the South China Morning Post. He was assigned to the essential services."

Source: Hong Kong Daily Press 27 January 1940.

1911 Census

Westminster School London Cyril Munro Faure age 14 pupil  born Zurich  Switzerland

He was the son of Paul-Jules Faure and Margaret Robertson Munro. and had brothers Charles Auguste Munro Faure, Paul Hector Munro Faure and Douglas Munro Faure.

Medals List 1914 - 1920 He was awarded Star Medal, Victory Medal, British War Medal.

His wife is buried with him in Hong Kong. Irene Faure 1924 - 2011.

His grave refers to him as Lieutenant Commander  R.N. born 10 January 1897, died 17 November 1968.

Witness at the trial of Colonel Noma Kennosuke