Lilian May FORWARD / SOO / MCGOWAN (née FITZGERALD) [1892-1943] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Lilian May FORWARD / SOO / MCGOWAN (née FITZGERALD) [1892-1943]

Lilian May
Forward / Soo / McGowan
c.1892-03-01 (Month, Day are approximate)
Birthplace (town, state): 
West Ham, Essex
Birthplace (country): 
Cause of death: 

Barbara Anslow:

She lived in Block 5, [Married Quarters, Stanley Internment Camp], with husband,and 2 children from her previous marriage - Betty and Jacky FitzGerald, both of whom were half-Chinese with American connections, and were repatriated with the Americans in June 1942.

We knew Betty (about 17 in 1943) as Betty McGowan and both she and Jackie (then about 14) are listed as such in Greg Leck's book; but in the Stanley list that Gwen Priestwood took out of camp, they are listed as FitzGeralds.   Mr FitzGerald was probably American Chinese which was I guess how the 2 children were able to be repatriated - with the Americans who left in 1943, not the first lot who left in 1942.  Both children were Eurasian in appearance.

Lilian died in Stanley of cancer the following year.

Mr McGowan worked for Hong Kong Government.  He was killed in a car accident in Kowloon in 1947/8.  



Henry Ching notes that in Greg Leck’s “Captives of Empire”, Mrs McGowan is listed as Lillian Mary McGowan, ie Mary not May. It isn't clear which name is correct.

He adds:

Her children, Elizabeth Evelyn and John Allan, were in Stanley with her but under the name Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald was their mother’s maiden surname.  Their father was Chinese Canadian, and it was as Canadian nationals that they were repatriated.

I learned this from the daughter, Elizabeth Evelyn and friends of the family.  Elizabeth Evelyn was a member of our Hong Kong Volunteer and Ex-POW Association in New South Wales before she passed away a few years ago.  We knew her as Betty Williams (Williams being her married name).  Betty Williams was a fairly successful actress, and so was her daughter who also passed away some years back from cancer.  

Thanks to Barbara Anslow for this extra information:

I don't mention her full name in my diary, but Geoff Emersons book lists her under deaths as Lilian May.

Looking thru my diary, I see I have inserted at some later date that Betty and Jack, as John was known, were repatriated in summer of 1942.  I think that insertion is incorrect.  Greg Leck lists them as 'American' repatriated 23rd Sept 1943.  That ties in with their Mother Lilian's death on 5 December 1943... 
She had terminal cancer but didn't want the children to know and refused to go into hospital until after their repatriation.

I had also assumed that FitzGerald was the name of the children's Chinese father,.. It seems I was wrong. Sorry!

And to Henry Ching, who has found several more conflicting entries for Mrs McGowan's middle name:

She is given as May in Geoffrey Emerson’s “Hong Kong Internment, 1942-1945”,  and in the UK Foreign & Overseas Register of British Subjects (a second entry gives simply M).  She is shown as Mary in Greg Leck’s “Captives of Empire”, in Tony Banham’s “We Shall Suffer There”,  in the UK WWII Civilian Deaths list on and in the Find A Grave Index.
Incidentally, Greg Leck’s list shows two entries for the children Elizabeth Evelyn and her brother John. They are shown under McGowan and described as American. They are also shown under Fitzgerald and described as Canadian.

Marriage 24 November 1945 Clark County Washington

Groom Llloyd R Ellison

Bride Elizabeth E Soo age 21 stenographer Eurasian born in England. Daughter of J C Soo and Lilian Soo. Mother's maiden name Fitzgerald

Her mother here is recorded as plain Lilian.

UK WWII Civilian Deaths 1939 - 1945

Lilian Mary McGowan age 47 wife of J F McGowan 3 December 1943 [her date of birth was in fact 1892]


Passenger List London to Hong Kong 6 December 1930

Chong Soo 39 laundry proprietor uk address 147 Green Street London E 7

Lilian M Soo 38

Norman F K Soo age 9 [birth regsistered Quarter 1 1921 West Ham]  [not interned in Stanley]

Betty E Soo age 6 [ birth registered West Ham Essex 1924] married Ellison and Williams

John A F Soo age 3 [birth registered Quarter 3 1927 West Ham Essex]

Norman Kenneth Soo aka Norman Kenneth Fitzgerald occupation surveyor married and went to live in Australia

Marriage Woolwich 1916 Lilian M Fitzgerald married Sydney W S Forward. He died in 1917.

Marriage West Ham Essex 1921 Chong Soo to Lilian M Forward

Birth Lilian May Fitzgerald West Ham Essex Quarter 2 1892