Eric Herbst MACNIDER [c.1911-1969] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Eric Herbst MACNIDER [c.1911-1969]

Eric Herbst
c.1911-01-01 (Year, Month, Day are approximate)
Birthplace (country): 
c.1969-09-01 (Day is approximate)
Cause of death: 
Heart attack

Eric Mac Nider's nephew Keith talks about Eric on this thread:

Some extracts:

  • My grandparents died fairly early in the lives of Eric, Gladys and my father Stanley. Their father was an American called Stanley Corwin MacNider and their mother a German woman called Adelina Herbst. My father, Eric and Gladys were all born in Hong Kong.
  • My Uncle Eric Mac Nider and his sibling Gladys Mac Nider were interned at Stanley. Both survived. My aunty kept living in HK until her death and my Uncle died in Adelaide, South Australia.
  • My father and mother, Fay Mac Nider, were interned in Shanghai during the war. They went to Melbourne for a year or so where my matenral grandmother had moved and where my sister Fay was born. Then they went to Singapore and back to HK. My father became a police officer and we lived at Stanley! i was born in Devon when my father took leave. We came out to Australia in 1960.

Siblings of Eric Herbst MACNIDER [c.1911-1969]


I asked Keith if he could tell us some more about his Uncle Eric, and he kindly sent the following reply:

Eric MacNider was my uncle. I don’t recall seeing him in HK. I knew him more from when we moved to Adelaide in South Australia in May 1960. I was almost eight years old when we arrived. 

Eric was a year younger than my Dad and was born in 1913. He, my father and Aunty Gladys were all born in HK. HK was deeply woven in my father, Eric and Gladys. 

Their father was an American - Stanley Corwine MacNider who obtained a degree in engineering from Cornell University. He had come to work in HK in the shipbuilding industry. My father told me that his father and mother married in Singapore. His mother was German and called Adelina Herbst. Hence Eric’s second name was Herbst.

Both parents died early and my father and his siblings were brought up by their maternal Uncle known only as Uncle. He was a meticulous man who went to work in a rickshaw every day leaving at the same time. He seems to have provided a welcoming home for the young Macs. 

I know Eric was a journalist before the War, and I understand that during the war he kept morale up. After it he went to England and worked in Coventry in a bakery. My mother told me that he fell in love with a woman there but that eventually the relationship collapsed. She added that it had caused Eric deep sadness and may have been a factor in him losing his way a bit in life.

Alas Eric’s life had tipped towards alcohol. Perhaps it had become the language of his pain. I saw Eric quite distressed a few times. I can’t recall seeing him tanked up. It was more a steady drinking. 

Eric had lived in Brisbane before we arrived in Adelaide. He asked my mother whether he could move in with us but my mother, mindful of what would now be called PTSD suffered by my father, his nightmarish sleeps, hallucinations was wary of having another person in the household needing extra care. I suspect my parents thought that Eric when he came to Adelaide was too brittle, that he’d lost something of the inner lining of living. Perhaps their discord found different ways to appear - moodiness, flare ups, distance, relentless smoking of cigarettes, alcohol. So he’d visit us most weekends with his sparse range of clothes, and often came on holidays with us as my parents loved to go camping, and in those days, free camping. 

When I knew him - and I loved him - he lived in the Salvation Army hostel in Whitmore Square in the City area of Adelaide. Indeed in September 1989 he suffered a heart attack in the adjoining park and died. I still remember going with my father to identify Eric’s body. There he lay on one of those gurney type things a towel over his privates. My father leaned towards Eric and closed his eyes.

He had a great sense of humor and I’d enjoy my father and Eric having hour long conversations putting in different accents. 

He gave me one of the greatest gifts of my life. It was a pictorial dictionary which had some etymology as well. From it came a love of words which led to my poetry and PhD.

I hadn’t realized Eric’s journal written during the war years was in the War Memorial in Canberra.  I am glad that his voice is still present. 

As Herbst is an unusual name, I searched on Gwulo to see if we had any matches. One of interest is an entry for 6th Feb in the 1910 - St. Johns Cathedral - Baptism, Marriage and Burials. It lists the marriage of Stanley Corwine MacNider and Adelina Gerhardina Helena Herbst.

A look through the newspapers around that date show that the wedding was actually on Saturday 5th of Feb, not the 6th as recorded by the cathedral. The only paper that adds any detail is the Hong Kong Daily Press, 1910-02-07. On page 2 it has an article:


Three weddings were solemnised in the Colony on Saturday, two were in St. John's Cathedral, the contracting parties in the first being Miss Adeline G. H. Herbst and Mr. Stanley C. MacNider. The Rev. F. T. Johnson officiated. After the reception which took place at the King Edward Hotel, the happy couple left for Macao on their honeymoon.

So it turns out they were married in Hong Kong after all.

Passenger List arriving Southampton from Hong Kong 9 November 1945

Eric H MacNider 32 journalist address in UK left blank

Gladys M MacNider 34 stenographer address in uk left blank

Electoral Register

Eric Macnider  journalist 28 Stanley Street South Brisbane

Australia Death Index

Eric Herbst MacNider died 5 September 1969 South Australia


Stanley and Fay?

Passenger List Hong Kong to London 1956

S M MacNider 44 civil servant born  27 January 1912 c/o West Comybeare Bay Northam Devonshire

F MacNider  born 1 August 1917

F MacNider    born 28 August 1946

K S MacNider born 28 June 1952 

Ancestry Tree shows

Stanley MacNider born 24 January 1912 Hong Hong died May 1987 Melbourne Australia