Morris Abraham COHEN (aka Two-Gun) [1887-1970]

Submitted by Admin on Mon, 04/23/2012 - 21:57
Morris Abraham
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(Day & Month are approximate.)
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Morris Abraham 'Two-Gun' Cohen, born 1887 (possibly August 3 but this is uncertain) in Radzanow, Poland.

Fought in WW1, went to China in 1922 and worked for Sun Yat-sen as a bodyguard/aide de camp/military trainer. After Sun's death in 1925 worked for various nationalist leaders, and as an arms dealer, sealing most of his deals in Hong Kong. Became involved in the anti-Japanese struggle after 1937. Worked with the Chinese nationalists in Hong Kong countering Japanese-sympathising Chinese in the days after the December 8, 1941 attack. Interned in Stanley, repatriated as a Canadian in September 1943. Died in Salford, England in 1970.

A brief overview of those primary source materials, both official and popular, which had enabled senior British intelligence operative and respected multiple biographer, Commander Charles Drage, together with his reputable publisher, Jonathan Cape Ltd of London, to publish, with confidence and with certainty, the fact that the subject of their publication, Two-Gun Cohen (1954), had been born in England during the year 1889.

"A Short Discussion on Maj.Gen. M.A. “Two-Gun” Cohen’s Date and Place of Birth", by Michael Alderton (essarem) - In this “Age of Information” that we have only relatively recently entered into in ample measure, professional and amateur researchers alike are able to gain easy access to numerous machine-readable databases that are readily searchable on-line. Some of these databases store popular sources such as the historical newspapers of the world, while others store international official material such as travel and immigration documents. The picturesque General “Two-Gun” Cohen did, during his notable lifetime, quite understandably attract reams of attention from the world’s press. Spanning many years, the numerous resulting newspaper articles, which principally reported on his involvement in important current events, do in some cases provide a measure of backstory describing his remarkable life to date. In this process there is little written of his precise date of birth, but it is very often mentioned how he had been born in London. On the other hand, the international travel and immigration documents from Britain, Canada, and the United States do provide a date of birth, which rather frustratingly ranges between 1887, 1888, and 1889; but in all cases his place of birth is given as England. On the basis of the plentiful documentary evidence that is available from the popular and official sources mentioned above, it is quite clear that General Cohen had been born in England; and it was only the year of his birth that reasonably remained in doubt. When senior British intelligence operative and respected biographer, Commander Charles Drage, was faced with this uncertainty while conducting research for his book, Two-Gun Cohen (1954), he consulted the Thames Police Court Register for mentions of the young General Cohen. Here he discovered that the subject of his biography had appeared before two different magistrates on four separate occasions during April and May 1900. In each case the court officials, with time, resources, and professional experience at their disposal, had determined an 1889 date of birth for the young truant. With this reliable documentary evidence now at hand, Commander Drage was able to publish with confidence, and without risk to his credibility, the certain fact that the subject of his biography had been born in London in the year 1889.

Further to this:

1923 - "Morris Abraham Cohen is a British-born Canadian. Birthplace London" Extracts from a July 1923 official communication sent from the Special Branch of London's New Scotland Yard to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ottawa.

1925 – “Mr Cohen was born in London. It was in America he first met Dr Sun Yat Sen some 15 years ago. Since then he has been closely connected with the activities of the Kuomintang.” Extracts from a British Consul-General at Shanghai’s 31 August 1925 appraisal titled Memorandum Containing So Much of Cohen’s History as is Known Locally.

1930 – “Name: Cohen, Morris A. Status: Government Official – Advisor to Chinese Minister of Railways, Nanking. Nationality: Great Britain. Race: English. Place of birth: London, England.” Extracts from a U.S. Immigration Document dated October 9, 1930.

1931 – “Morris Abraham Cohen was born in London of Jewish parents. He now considers himself to be a Canadian.” These are the opening sentences to a comprehensive 26 June 1931 Royal Hong Kong Police intelligence report on Morris Abraham Cohen, “A.D.C. to the Nationalist Government of China at Canton”, who is presently “negotiating with Hong Kong Government officials.”

1935 – “Name – Cohen, Morris A.; Status – Diplomat; Occupation – Advisor to Canton Govt.; Nationality – Britain; Place of Birth – London, England.” Extracts taken from a U.S. immigration document. New York 27 Oct 1935.

1943 – “Name – Cohen, Morris Abraham; Place of Birth – London, England. Nationality – Canadian; Profession – Banker; Employment Status – Employed; Property left in Territory Under Enemy Control – Shares in China Light & Power Co. to Value of Can$40,000; Interned Stanley Civilian Internment Camp from Jan 1942 to Sept 1943 as an Official.” Extracts taken from Canadian immigration documents. Ottawa, October 1943.

1954 - "Throughout his life Morris Cohen had never wavered in his loyalty to England, the country of his birth." Senior British intelligence officer, Commander Charles Drage (1954)

1956 – Commencement of a Jan 1, 1956 Report to the Director, Commonwealth Investigation Service, Canberra, Australia authored by A.G. Tilton, Investigator (formerly Special Branch Officer, Shanghai Municipal Police): “Re: Cohen, Morris Abraham – born London, England. His activities were of interest to the Shanghai Municipal Police during my service in Shanghai, 1927 – 1941.”

1970 - "Morris Abraham Cohen. Retired army general (Chinese army). Place of birth - London. Date and place of death - 7 Sept, 1970. Salford, Manchester." Extracts taken from Register of Deaths in the District of Salford, Manchester.

2024 – Numerous further mentions of General Cohen’s London birth can be found in various texts accompanying: Photos of Morris Abraham COHEN (aka Two-Gun) [1887-1970] | Gwulo

See also: Alderton, Michael, “Notes on General Morris Cohen’s Date of Birth”, 2002.

A conservative contribution to the recently ignited (1997), revisionist-driven debate, which surprisingly postulates, on the basis of selective and unspecified latter-day "family" speculation, that General M.A. Cohen had been born in Poland, rather than in Britain as had been historically recorded in numerous international official documents and countless contemporary popular sources


Birth  registered Quarter 2 1890 Whitechapel London


1891 Census UK Mile End Old Town

Joseph Cohen 25 Tailor where born Russian Poland

Jane Cohen 26 where born Russian Poland

Rose Cohen 4 where born Russian Poland

Morris Cohen 1 where born Russian Poland


Poor Law Hospital Admissions and Discharges City of London 

City of London Union Workhouse Infirmary 

Morris Cohen age 3 lost child admitted 12 July discharged 13th July 1892 collected by a friend

With reference to the 1891 Census extract for the Joseph and Jane Cohen household at 53 Plummers Row, Mile End Old Town cited above, it could be misleading to assume that the Morris Cohen listed there and the young General "Two-Gun" Cohen, generally known during his childhood years as Abraham Cohen, are one and the same person. It is quite possible that Morris Cohen, eldest son of Joseph and Jane Cohen, had died in Mile End Old Town during the fourth quarter of 1892. This could explain why Morris Cohen's name does not appear as a member of the Cohen household in the Census listings for 1901; and why, in the 1911 Census, Morris was enumerated in the sections of the census titled "Number of children born alive" and "Number of children who have died" as the only one of eight offspring born to Joseph and Jane Cohen who was no longer alive at that time. The real nature of the family relationship that flourished after 1901 between the future General "Two-Gun" Cohen, a destitute ward of London's Jewish industrial school, and Joseph and Jane Cohen, the Cannon Street Road Synagogue "gabbai" and his charitable wife, started out as one of caring, part-time foster parents and developed, over the years, a truly filial dimension as Abraham, in Canada, assumed the name and role of Morris. (Michael Alderton).