Aileen WOODS [1886-1970]

Submitted by Admin on Mon, 03/05/2012 - 18:18
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Twin sister of Doris.

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The Woods twins, Doris and Aileen, were born in Sydney in 1886 and were well known in the early 20th century as a singing duo. They toured Australia and New Zealand, were based in England for a time and during World War I moved to Asia, where they appear to have stayed. They were billed as "the New Zealand Twins" even though they were Australian. They seem to have attached themselves to the New Zealand and South African rugby union teams in Britain in 1905 and 1907 respectively; there is a photo of them with one twin wearing an All Black jersey and the other, a Springbok one. They seem to have been in Hong Kong in December 1941 and apparently interned at Stanley Internment Camp. I have not been able to find what happened to them after that. Did one or both die in the camp? Did they survive the war and if so, where? Any help would be much appreciated.

Ron Palenski      


There are a number of extracts from Aileen's diary during the 1941 fighting in the Stanley Camp Chronology. You could start here and move forward through the days  for a couple of weeks if interested:


I think there are also references to the twins in Barbara Anslow's diary but I don't know if there in the parts that are currently available on Gwulo. Barbara's given a vivid account of their accomodation in Stanley here:

Thanks very much all for very helpful links. All that remains now is to establish when they died. You'll all cleared the trail nicely.

Many thanks


I don't remember much about Aileen and Doris Woods post-war. I think one of them had a weekly programme on the radio ZBW, presenting (ie choosing and playing) gramaphone records.

They owned a flat in Kowloon (I think in Nathan Road) which was rented to a friend of my Mum's and this friend let Mum stay there with her in late 1946 til Mum got other accommodation. (Perhaps the twins hadn't then got back to Hong Kong).

i remember them well from my girlhood in Hong Kong. They were quite the fixtures, living there well into the fifties and posibily the sixties.

The South China Morning Post should have a record of when they died. i believe at that time they were well known the the vast number of cats they had as pets.

Hi, I remember AILEEN very well in the mid 50's I believe. She was working with RTHK on a music programme playing songs from musicals and music hall.
I was into Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy and somehow, I don't remember how, I contacted her. Probably I rang up RTHK. I was maybe 14 - 16 years old at that time. She invited me to visit her.
I remember it was a 2 storey house just off Boundary Street, in Kowloon Tong, opposite Christ Church/Maryknoll.
AILEEN would lend me McDonald-Eddy 78 rpm discs not commercially available in shops, which I would return a few days after.
Aileen was a very gentle and genuinely friendly person, offering tea and biscuits on my visits - and I was just a very young boy.
I MUST stress kind and friendly because on one visit, I was trembling with fear and embarrassment. I went to return a few 78 rpms, and I had chipped Nelson Eddy's Tramp Tramp Tramp from Naughty Marietta. It was irreplaceable, it didn't even belong to AILEEN, but from the RTHK music archives!
As it turned out, there was tea and biscuits, and the welcome to return for more!
A wonderful lady INDEED.
Felix Chanduloy

Thanks to Graham Fletcher, who writes:

I read the piece about Aileen Woods, and recalled having listened to her radio programmes in the '60s.  Then I found this -  if you haven't already discovered it for yourself.   Click on the picture of Aileen, and you'll hear the speech given by 'DB' (Director of Broadcasting) which suggests Aileen passed away on 13th March 1970, at the age of 83. 

The link also plays Aileen's last show, recorded shortly before she died.

China Mail 5 November 1924

Before coming on to Hong Kong, Miss Doris Woods disembarked at Penang and joined her sister Aileen in Sumatra where they have been giving remarkable successful demonstations together of the Ball room "Tango", "Blues" (which is now so popular in London), Fox Trot and Waltz.

Their appearances have evoked great interest among the community, the Dutch Press commenting in the highest praise of the Twin Sisters' dancing as being poetry of motion and acme of grace combined with that pretty sliding movement so essential in the Ball room now. Miss Doris hopes to commence her tuition next week. Miss Aileen remains in Sumatra.

Passenger List arriving Eillis Island New York 9 November 1911

Maud Woods 48 widow  born London occupation none

Aileen Woods 22 occupation singer born London

Doris Woods 22 occupation singer born London

Passenger List Manila to Vancouver arriving June 1928 


Maud Woods 67 born Melbourne Dancing Teacher

Aileen Maud Woods born London 39 Dancing Teacher (date of birth c 1889)

Doris Kathleen Sheila Woods born London 39 Dancing Teacher (date of birth c 1889)

Alien Passenger List arriving Los Angeles USA 11 October 1929

Doris Kathleen Sheila Woods 39 Teacher born London temporary visitor .Visa issued Hong Kong last residence China (dob c 1890)

UK Birth Records

No record of  births of either Doris Woods or Aileen Woods 1885 - 1895.  Not sure of the significance of giving their place of birth London or whether their surname might have changed.

Noted a photo of Miss Aileen Woods receiving her MBE from Governor Black in the China Mail dated 11 December 1958. 

In the citation: Miss Woods joined the staff of Radio Hong Kong in 1946 as Programme Assistant. With her experience in the entertainment field and her boundless energy and zeal, Miss Woods has made a major contribution to the post-war development of English broadcasting in the Colony.