Edith BATLEY [c.1921-????] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Edith BATLEY [c.1921-????]

c.1921-01-01 (Year, Month, Day are approximate)


We can deduce that Edith was an older sister of Olive Batley, and daughter of Mrs W.Bately. 

Olive we recall was the young 24 yr old hostess later killed in the 1949 Cathay Pacific crash at Braemar reservoir, and buried in the Colonnial Cemetery at happy Valley. 

The funeral report in the South China Morning Post on monday 28 Feb refers to Olive being survived by her mother and 3 sisters. (including Ivy and Edith)

The part extract from the Stanley War diaires below refer to Edith. So we can see some or all of the family was interned at Stanley.

19th JUNE 1945

Still in hospital.  Miss Batley (either Edith or Ivy, don't remember which) in hospital because of eating berries of castor oil plant.  On Sunday last, we had MEAT - wonderful.   To Rosary with the RC nurses in Operating Theatre on last 2 evenings, and Holy Communion on two mornings.  Heaps of people besides family came to visit me, Doreen in particular.

A Mrs W. Bately (Ediths mum) posted a thank you notice in the SCMP shortly after the funeral on 2 March 1949

The SCMP report also refers to Olive having attended The Italian Convent in Hong Kong and a school in Shanghai.

So it seems the Batleys relocated to HK from Shanghai at some point pre-war, survived being interned at Stanley, and continued to live in HK for a least a number of years after the war...

I also read somewhere that all 3 sisters were working as air hostesses for different airlines, so they were obviously quite a progressive family for the time, involved in the early years of civil aviation.

Anyway thats as far as I can get.

Have not found any reference to Mr Batley as of yet...



Batley, E. 20, Saleswoman, Dairy Farm, 117 Sai Yee TKH

Batley, I. 22, Ms. Insurance Agent, 117 Sai Yee St. TKH

Just found out the TKH acronym stands for Tai Koon Hotel - an early holding point (and alleged Chinese brothel) for european detainees, prior to their transfer to Stanley.

Its covered at the link below


I wonder what Sai Yee St. is referring to.  I thought it must be talking about Sai Yee Street in Mong Kok, but then the Tai Koon Hotel was on Des Voeux Road.  What is the missing link here?


Yes that puzzles me too Breskvar.

I'm inclined to think it might have been the family home prior to being interned first at Tai Koon Hotel, then Stanley?

Was there much of a European community in Mongkok pre-war?

We know the family relocated from Shanghai, and perhaps in a hurry...

We can deduce Ediths date of birth must have been 1921 if she was 20 in 1941 at the time of her incarceration.

Equally Ivy must have been born in 1919, and Olive in 1925

Interestingly the girls must have changed career post war.

The SCMP crash report in 1949 states 'her (olives) parents are living in Hong Kong. She has three sisters, one is in Australia, another is a T.A.A. hostess, and the third is a hostess with B.O.A.C'

Was T.A.A. another fledgling airline?

Reading the Hong Kong War Diary, and considering the actual experiences of this one simple family it is sobering, to think what dramatic tumultuous lives these people endured, and I am sure they were by no means exceptional.

From fleeing Shanghai to Hong Kong, the horror of war and internment, release, rebuilding lives, getting involved in the earliest days of commercial civil aviation...and of course the tragedy of losing their youngest sister in an air-crash just a few years after the war.

They were surely made of 'sterner stuff' in those days...

Hi there,

T.A.A. might stand for Trans Australia Airlines.

Best Regards,


If flying local service the airline could have been Trans Asiatic Airlines Inc of Siam who flew services between Thailand and Hong Kong. Otherwise Trans Australia Airlines, but they were confined to Australia. BA Heritage Archives might reveal more about the daughter who flew for BOAC. There would not have been many local BOAC Far East hostesses in 1949. BA Archives accept email enquiries. Check-out their website.

1948 Trans Asiatic Ailines Advert

1948 Trans Asiatc Airlines Advertisement

Certainly some interesting leads there to follow. Many thanks.

I'm guessing it might have been Trans Asiatic, if Edith was operating out of Hong Kong - she alone attended her sisters funeral with her mother. If Ivy was flying with B.O.A.C then its conceiveable she was overseas, and unable to get back in time.

The flying boat pictures from IDJ are wonderful too. It would be great if they could be linked to this thread, for continuity, but I'm not sure if, or how that can be done?

Can you imagine flying into the harbour in one of those! Must have been even scarier than landing at Kai Tak...


A couple of options, you can just paste in a link like this:


Or you can include the photo like this:

BOAC Air Hostess-1949

Here are instructions on how to include a photo into the text: http://gwulo.com/node/1929

Regards, David

In response to "Was there much of a European community in Mongkok pre-war?", Henry Ching replies:

The Batley sisters were Eurasian. Their mother was, I believe, Chinese. I think she was called Mary, and I think that she is buried in the Colonial Cemetery under the name Ah Li Batley.  I seem to recall Mrs Batley and daughters lived in Sai Yee Street in Mongkok.

Barbara Anslow also notes that the sisters were Eurasian in her diary entry for 20-22 Dec 1941.

I'm not sure Mrs Batley was named Mary, as the initial given in the reports above is "W". I believe Mary is the name of the fourth Batley sister, as the inscription on Olive's gravestone reads:

erected by her loving mother
sisters - Mary, Ivy and Edith

Regards, David

Isn't it funny how one thing leads to another.

Great detective work, tying all these little pieces of information together and already building up quite a detailed picture.

Yes I think Edith's mother had the initial W, and therefore Mary seems to have been the sister in Australia.

Thanks also David for updating the various dates of birth.

Chapter 26 I think of Patricia Lims 'Forgotten Souls' sheds some interesting light on the Eurasian community in HK, and it seems the Batleys were very likely part of this community.

Indeed we see quite a mixture of English sounding and Portuguese, Filipino and other surnames among the attendees at Olives funeral - Boder, Trestrail, Carnack, Egan, Gardner vs Ribeiro, Spingk, Fernandes, Venetsky, Deme, Castro, Machado.

Eurasians (of mixed western and chinese and other relationships) had a difficult time in HK from earliest times it seems. particularly pre-war. Often stigmatised and shunned by both the Western and Chinese communities.

It wasn't uncommon for the mother and children to live apart from the father as a result.

The Batleys seem unusual in that there were four girls in the family, born 3-4 years apart which seems like a stable and planned family.

Intriguingly the SCMP article on the crash states both Olives parents were living in HK? Though we can find no reference to Mr Batley even at the funeral.

They must have been of some standing in the community by the standards of the time, to be buried in the Colonnial Cemetery.

Of course there were some very successful Eurasian families, and still are by all accounts in HK, including Sir Robert Ho Tung among others...


Mary was my grandmother, Ivy lived in Australia. I don't know that my grandmother ever did. Would be very interested to know any further information you may have available. Thank you.

Here are the pages we have that mention your family:


I'm curious to know where Ah Li Batley fits in to the family tree. Was she the mother of Mary and Ivy?

Regards, David

Henry Ching writes:

I remain of the view that Mary was the mother whose Chinese name was Ah Li.  I note that she was referred to as Mrs W. Batley, but it was the common custom in HK for married women to use their husband’s name in this way – my mother was always referred to as Mrs H. Ching, the “H” being for Henry, my father’s name.  I think it likely that W. Batley was the girls’ father, but I am unable to verify this.  Interesting that there was a W. Batley who joined the Chinese Maritime Customs in 1914,  and who apparently died in Shanghai in 1932.
Is there any other evidence that there were four sisters (including Mary) and not three? I think the inscription on Olive Batley’s grave could be interpreted as “created by her loving mother/sisters – Mary (i.e.the mother) Ivy and Edith (i.e the sisters)”. 
I believe only Ivy and Edith were interned in Stanley, but not Mrs Batley and not Olive. Mary, if she was another daughter, was also not interned? This seems unlikely.
Lucius Burns says Mary was his grandmother and was never in Australia.   I wonder if she was a maternal or paternal grandmother? 

Ther's a note that there were four sisters in total in the comments above:

The SCMP crash report in 1949 states 'her (olives) parents are living in Hong Kong. She has three sisters, one is in Australia, another is a T.A.A. hostess, and the third is a hostess with B.O.A.C'

Hopefully Lucius can shed some light on your other questions.

Regards, David

Luc,  I just learned today about this site and am fascinated to discover that so many people are interested in our family's history... Hoping to learn more about Olive, Edith, Ivy and Mary, as well as their parents, William and Ah Li...

-- kim

Hello from Alaska! I have just learned today about Gwulo and am amazed to discover that so many others are interested in my family's history. My name is Kim (Wilber) Branson and I am the granddaughter of Mary Dorothy Bately (26 Jun 1918-16 Feb 1997), daughter of William and Ah Li (Mary) Bately and oldest sister of Ivy, Edith and Olive.  Mary Dorothy was my late mother's mother; she passed away in Homer, Alaska, was cremated and her ashes scattered over Reindeer Mountain in Cantwell, Alaska. Mary Dorothy had three children: Carol Mary (Burns) Wilber (my mother) - b. 27 Aug 1938-d.03 Jan 1994; Shirley Ann (Burns) Morra - b. 07 Mar 1951-d. Nov 2008 and William Lucius Burns Jr - b.24 Apr 1952 - d. Jan 2001.
Mary Dorothy's sister, Ivy (Bately) Cutler (b. 26 Jun 1919) married Ronald Cutler and moved to Australia. Ivy has three children, Heather, Fleur and Stanley, who all live in Australia.
Mary Dorothy's sister, Edith Batley died mysteriously in London, I believe, though I don't know the date or exact location. Officially, her death was ruled a suicide, but my family has forever suspected that foul play was involved, though it could not be proven.

My great-grandfather, William Batley, was indeed with the Maritime Customs and did die in Shanghai - I have a copy of the last letter he wrote to his family, a few weeks before his death (I believe it was from pneumonia)

Most of my information about my family is sparse, so I am hoping to learn more through reading the posts and articles here on this site. FYI - the poster, Lucius Burns (above), is my first cousin, son of Mary Dorothy's son, William L Burns, Jr.

Could someone please explain how to attach a photo here? I would like to share a photo of my grandmother, if possible. Thank you.


Hi Kim, it's good to hear from you. You'll see there was some disagreement earlier over which generation Mary belonged to. You've answered that by showing there were two generations named Mary.

I see you used both spellings, Batley and Bately. Did it change over time?

Here's how to upload a photo to the website: https://gwulo.com/node/2076

Regards, David

Alfred William Battley (later, spelled Batley) was born in London, 22 Jul 1888, the son of William Battley and Mary Ann Quinlan Battley, and the eldest of three boys. In December 1907, he signed up for a 12 year term of service with the Duke of Cornwall corps. He was married to Ah-Li Ching on October 27, 1920 in Canton, China. He was employed as a Chinese Maritime Customs consul. They were the parents of four girls. In July 1931, he and his wife and their youngest daughter Olive moved from Santuao, Fujian on the South Coast, to Shanghai. He died from pneumonia on 11 April 1932, in Shanghai. Probate, 7 Jun 1933 at London, England: Effects 108 pounds, 10 shillings, 6 pence in England, to Ah Li Batley, widow Of his elder daughters, Mary (Burns) eventually settled in Alaska, Edith (Santley) settled in England, and Ivy (Cutler) settled in Australia.

Hi there, I am the grand-daughter of Ivy Batley (Cutler) and I have this photo of Alfred William Batley from my grandmother's albums. it was labelled Wiliam so i am not certain if that was his preferred name. 

View 1 William Batley. Ivy's father.jpg
View 1 William Batley. Ivy's father.jpg, by Aleisha Hobson