George Stacey KENNEDY SKIPTON [c.1898-c.1982]

Submitted by fivestar on Fri, 07/20/2012 - 19:49
George Stacey
Kennedy Skipton
(Year is approximate.)
(Year is approximate.)

I came across some references to a George S. Kennedy Skipton, who was a colonial office cadet in pre WW2 Hong Kong.

It appears that when Hong Kong surrended he produced an Irish Passport and avoided internment. He subsequently was dismissed for disloyality.

Does an Gwulo reader know anything about this story. 

I looked at Tony Banham's lists but he does not appear under any nationality unless I'm looking in the wrong area.

any information appreciated.


Photos that show this Person


A search for skipton on HKGRO shows several pages of results from 1923 til 1941. He worked in many different areas of the HK government over the years.

A search for kennedy skipton in the local newpapers from 1940 onwards shows less results, but there's a good summary of Kennedy-Skipton's side of the story on page 6 of the China Mail for 1948-01-21:

  • He was not interned because he was Irish.
  • At the time of the surrender in 1941 he was living at his home on the Peak with a number of refugee families, mostly Americans.
  • The Japanese would let them continue living there if they'd volunteer for civic work.
  • He offered to continue his pre-war work promoting the use of the city's night-soil as fertiliser in the New Territories. This was accepted.
  • He smuggled a message to the UK government via an American who was repatriated in July 1942, telling them that many of the government's secret files had not been destroyed.
  • He escaped to Free China in January 1943.
Regards, David

thank you for your prompt reply.

I knew him in the sixties-(I was 10) I have always remembered the rumors about him being a traitor.. thanks to the internet and facebook I have started looking for more information. there is an opinion that what really ended his career was his views on the rights of the HK chinese and the fact that he had married a chinese. I am particularly interested in the trial transcript and knowing what happened to him

Many thanks David, I spent most of yesterday sarching the local papers and HKGRO site with 0 results. I will try again to see how its done as you found the info there.

An interesting story, whould be interesting to learn the HKG Govt grounds for dismissal.

One has to feel sorry for the guy, he escapes to Chungking where he is given a letter of dismissal.

I came across references to Kennedy-Skipton in reading the BAAG documents of Sir Lindsay Ride Private Papers (Australian War Museum Folder 10 Series 33).  Kennedy-Skipton, a Cadet Officer in Hong Kong, escaped and arrived at Wai Chow Advance HQ of the BAAG on 27th Jan 1943. He escaped alone without his wife and two daughters aged 12 & 10.   He obtained help from some local Chinese (probably Guerrillas) and went from the Taipo Orphanage, hiked to Lai Chi Wo; then by boat to Tai Mui Sha; and overland to Wai Chow by the usual route via Ping Shan & Tam Sui. It would appear that an appeal was made by the BAAG to get him to leave Hong Kong (where he was working for the Japanese, asserting 3rd (Irish) nationality).  However, no help was sent to him; apparently the BAAG did not deem it fit to deploy resources for him.  He was debriefed at AHQ upon his arrival and provided some information on the conditions of Internees at Stanley Camp.

I have impressions of other references, including some connecting his wife to one of the top BAAG Agent No.68 Lui Ka-yin, as well as mentions of the Taipo Orphanage in the BAAG papers.  However, I could not recall them without further research.  

The BAAG papers might be a source of information throwing some light on how he was regarded when he was working in Hong Kong under Japanese  occupation.




Very interesting, as always.

As his wife was American she must have declined repatriation in June 1942. I wonder if she was offered it in September 1943 and, if so, accepted.

Perhaps you'd be kind enough to update us when you return to the relevant papers. I'd be fascinated to learn, for example, the nature of the contacts between Mrs. Kennedy-Skipton and Agent 68.

Hi Brian,

An earlier comment says Mrs Kennedy Skipton was Chinese, which seems to disagree with your comment that she was American. Does it mean she was an American citizen, and Chinese by race?

And any idea if she was interned at all, or stayed out of the camps?

Regards, David

Hi, David.

His wife is documented American - I think her maiden name was Tow, but I need to check that. He was said to have two Asian concubines as well (Philip Snow, The Fall of Hong Kong, 139).

Unless she had a really good reason for staying she could well have gone back to the USA on the second repatriation ship (September 1943). If she didn't perhaps she joined Gingle in Ma Tau-wai! I don't know of any mention of an American woman and her children entering Stanley in 1943 but it's certainly not impossible.

Hi, Fivestar.

I think these articles are about the pre-war evacuation to Australia, not the wartime repatriation to the USA (and later Canada). The first of these was June 29/30, 1942 so she must have declined if she was still in Hong Kong with her children when G K-S escaped.

I agree it's strange that he was willing to leave behind his wife and children. The National Archive contains some notes he made after arriving in Free China and perhaps the answer's in there.

I had a chance to revisit my notes and failed to establish my earlier impression that Mrs. K-S was somehow associated with Agent 68.  According to my notes, a Wai Chow Intelligence Summary in Feb 43, reported the sinking of a ship "Shantung" in the harbour at the Kap Sui Mun end suspected to have hit a mine.  The report was made by Agent 68 and corrobrated by Mrs. K-S.  I failed to establish any connection between the two sources. 

It could have been that Mrs. K-S arrived at Wai Chow by this time as a refugee, and was debriefed as usual.  Pure speculating - if she was ethnic Chinese, she could have left HK by crossing the border with the two kids without much trouble or suspicion.  Bringing the two kids to walk the distance of the Escape Routes would have been overwhelmingly difficult; hence K-S left this way before them.


Thanks, Lawrence.

She seems to have been from an Iowa farming family called the Tows.

Is it certain that she confirmed the sinking in person, or could she have done so through a message sent by an agent? Or even through her husband who made some notes on Hong Kong conditions in March 1943?

This is the source for the Iowa farming family claim:

In her appeal before the evacuation tribunal she said that she wasn't 'of British race', which might have meant she was American, or, indeed, that she was ethnic Chinese. Do you have a source for this?

I'm afraid I'm unabe to tell the circumstances the source (attributable to a Mrs. Kennedy-Skipton) provided the information based on my notes.  The report I read was the Waichow Intelligence Summary, not the original report.  G.K-S was not of much interest to me in my research of the BAAG stories.

Whether Mrs. K-S was ethnic Chinese or not (regardless of her nationality), is purely my speculation based on impression gained so far reading this thread. 



There is listed in the UK Death records, a Helen Tow Kennedy-Skipton who passed away in Camden, London in 1982.

Also listed as resident in Newham is a Henry George Kennedy-Skipton which is possibly GKS's son as he was named Henry. together with an email address.


I've put together some of the material on this thread and in other sources to try and reconstruct the story: 

I hope that one day someone will find a transcript of the 1948 tribunal because  without that some important points remain open to speculation - in particular, I'd like to hear Franklin Gimson's explanation as to why he acted as he did.

In any case, it's a very interesting story so thanks to Fivestar for raising the question.

A well produced article, with a lot more research than I have done. GS.KS must have had a son born circa 1940 since there is a reference in the China Mail dated 9th July 1958 [ref Skipton] of him leaving HKG to attend Trinity College Dublin and to represent HKG in the Empire Games, unless there were two KS families in HKG at the time.

This still leaves the question how did Mrs.KS with 3 children?, escape HKG in 1943 if she was American ie caucasian appearance?

The real thanks has to go to MarkB. Mcintosh, who originally resparked my interest.

Sunday Herald 27 October 1940

Mrs. H. Kennedy-Skipton's application (including her two children) for exemption from evacuation was dismissed by the Evacuation Advisory Committee.  During her appeal, she had admitted travelling under a British passport but at the same time insisted that she was an American citizen.

I have a note on my file that he remained outside Stanley Camp (Irish nationality)  and a report prepared by Col Ride BAAG indicated he was working for the Gendarmie as an Adviser with a salary of Yen 50 per month. He stayed out of internment  partly because of his family (wife and two children) and his two concubines (BAAG Report) and although he escaped to free China he was dismissed for disloyality. I see Mrs Helen Kennedy-Skipton with two daughters returning to England on Highland Monarch arriving Nov 1945. shows returns for a Helen Kennedy-Skipton and a Helen Tow Kennedy Skipton. One thread mentions that the latter died in 1982 ? but the former is still on electoral rolls living in Primrose Hill in 1984. Maybe these arte two different people ?  There are other references under the name Skipton in other accounts which I am checking. Best rgds, Philip Cracknell


Here's an extract from a letter by a returning US repatriate on Gripshol -" Being near the military hospital, military barracks and just above the waterworks, we knew that this was just the beginning of our tribulations.  Peggy felt a bit heroic and phoned Laetitia Skipton of our wild night. 10  Later Helen Skipton, Laetitia's mother, phoned me and suggested that we come up and sleep in their living room that night.  Best rgds, Philip Cracknell


@ Phil,

I note in the list that there is also a George Kennedy-Skipton listed. Was he on the same vessel and arrival date as Helen and Laetita KS.

I was under the impression there was only a daughter Laetita and a son Henry. What is the name of the other daughter listed as being on the Highland Monach?


Hi Fivestar: I was just reading a very interesting account written by Sarah Alice Refo on board Gripsholm on her journey back home as a US rapatriate. She was staying with George and Helen Kennedy-Skipton as indeed were the Sewells ("Strange Harmony") in George and Helen's home in Mt Cameron Road. She writes that Helen was a Quaker from Iowa. The account is quite a long (some 17 pages) and was posted on Stanley Email Group. She refers to them as the Skiptons. He comes across quite well in her account.  It's quite mystery .........was he really a willing collaborator collaborator - wasn't everybody to some extent albeit under duress. Did he really work for the Kempetei - seems hard to believe.   Also after he escaped to free China what happened to Helen and the two children who were repatriated on Highland Monarch in 1945. He was not on Highland Monarch (but there was a G Kennedy) but I dont think it was him inless he went back to HK in 1945 after the capitulation. I'm just going to take another look at  manifest. Best rgds,  Phil Cracknell



The G Kennedy on Highland Monarch was Gerald L Kennedy (who gave a Dublin address). Helen is there with her two daughters Anne L D Kennedy Skipton and Enid C Kennedy-Skipton. I think if he had a son it was not from Helen (as far as I can tell). Philip

Hi Fivestar:

We are using same data source but I dont see GS K-S on the Highland Monarch manifest - I only have Helen and her two daughters. I suppose George could have re-entered HK from China and boarded HM or have boarded in Bombay  but I dont see his name. I was also puzzled by your ref to Vernon Skipton.   Philip


Vernon is only there because his name came between George and Laetitia and I could not crop him out. I note he disembarked in Liverpool. I am only assuming George was on the ship as he is in the same list as the other three family members. What appears if one hits the VIEW Records for George?  Do you know on what date the Highland Monarch sailed from HKG to UK?

At least we now know GKS lived in Mt. Cameron Rd and not Middle Gap Rd.

Do you have a link to the Sarah Refo account?

rgds - Michael


I think the best way to get the Sahar Refo account is to join the Stanley (email) group/forum.

If you go to Yahoo Email Groups on this link.

You can then apply to join after which you can access files which include this account.

I think she refers to them as do some other accounts as the Skipton family.

One of the members of this group who was interned as child still remembers them too.

Philip Cracknell




many thanks, will do.

I note the Highland Monarch sailed from Hong Kong on the 5th Otober 1945, stopped at Singapore on the 9th Otober and arrived in the UK on the 9th November 1945. In the UK it anchored at Southampton, London and Liverpool.

Have just read this in the Stanley diary thread on Gwulo.  Was this the root of Kennedy-Skipton's dismissal?
Does anyone have details of Gimson's rationale for his standpoint?
rgds - Michael

Chronology of Events Related to Stanley Civilian Internment Camp

Date of events described: 

Fri, 1942-10-02

At a Council meeting today Franklin Gimson speaks in opposition to a Camp petition  calling on the British Government to arrange for repatriation from Hong Kong.

 He states that those involved must be prepared to answer a charge of 'disloyalty'. His words cause a sensation in Camp and Gimson is eventually forced to explain himself at length to try to dampen the outrage.

 Source:  Geoffrey Emerson, Hong Kong Internment, 1973, 67

It's certainly another example of how important loyalty & disloyalty were to Gimson.

It doesn't seem likely this case (opposition to a Camp petition) would have been linked to Kennedy-Skipton though, as didn't he stay out of the camp?

Regards, David

I agree David, the following link gives another example of this:

My comment regarding Kennedy-Skipton[KS], was more on the lines of how Gimson perceived disloyalty. KS, REPORTED to Gimson in the Colonial Service and he probably expected KS to follow orders and report for internment.

I know there were a number of others who also stayed out, which begs the question, why did Gimson particularly have it in for KS?

rgds - Michael

Hi, Michael, David.

I don't think it's certain that Gimson told Kennedy-Skipton to enter Stanley - he himself wasn't there at the time, and he doesn't seem to have thought it was wrong in principle to stay out (in June he was to ask the American Chester Bennett to leave camp - and to turn down repatriation - to help the internees). He seems to have told Kennedy-Skipton to 'desist' from his activities, but it's not certain exactly what activities he disapproved of.

Kennedy-Skipton's basic work was trying to increase agricultural productivity to address a food crisis that was leading to the death by starvation of some of the Chinese population. It's hard to see that this was very different from the public health work of Selwyn-Clarke and his team which was also going on out of Stanley in early 1942. Selwyn-Clarke had the permission of the one man who outranked Gimson, Governor Mark Young, but this cuts both ways as far as Kennedy-Skipton's case goes: as far as I know, he had no such permission, but it would be reasonable to assume that he would have got it if a Japanese officer had thought to ask on his behalf (which is what happened with Selwyn-Clarke).

But, according to a newspaper article by a supporter of Kennedy-Skipton, which appeared just before the post-war tribunal, the case against him was based on an admission he himself had made of some 'trivial' services he'd performed for the Japanese in order to get their support for his agricultural work. The only indication as to what these services might have been comes in two BAAG documents kindly sent to me by Elizabeth Ride: 1) providing information about the Tung Wah Hospital (source: Dr. Fehilly, who escaped in October 1942); 2) suggesting ways the occupiers could raise extra revenue through taxation (Source: Charles Hyde, banker and BAAG agent).

At the moment, I've not been able to find any document which is more specific and/or gives Kennedy-Skipton's side of the story.

As a child of 10 years old I was caught up with the group and first took shelter in the Kennedy-Skipton home on Wednesday 10 December 1941, at the same time as the Sewell family. The house we all stayed in was located at 11 Coombe Road on Mount Cameron. I am pretty sure that an Irish flag was predominantly displayed at the house, which I feel was to avoid conflict by the Japanese and ensure safety of her "guests". I also remember Laetitia and Enid, and their Dad, but have no memory of Helen Kennedy-Skipton, except that she was very active in protecting her "guests" under fire. I might recognize her if I saw a photo. As far as I know, Helen was an active Baptist and was highly regarded by those in contact with her.

I too was on the Highland Monarch, but disembarked at Southampton in November 1945.

I hope this information will be of interest.



Dear Bob,

Thank you very much for those notes. I never expected we'd hear from someone who was actually there!

So yes, definitely of interest - in fact anything you can tell us about your experiences in Hong Kong during those years will be of great interest.

Regards, David

Hi Dave,

Thank you for your kind comments. I will be more than happy to share my experiences with you and any of your readers any time. I am preparing to write a book, and one chapter is devoted to the period between 1939 to 1945, and of course 1941 to 1945 is a big part of this chapter. The final book may have a total of nine chapters, so a lot of work is ahead of me.

Hope to meet you in Hong Kong if possible sometime in early November.



Many thanks Bob, for this information.

In February 1941 GKS, is mentioned as residing in 565 The Peak which is now 19 Middle Gap Road.

In December 1941 he is residing in 11 Coombe Road. Which The Peak number is this?. Looking at David's 1938 Peak map, I would have to guess 525 The Peak?

any other ideas/views?

rgds - Michael

Those who frequented the Lantau Mountain Camp just below Sunset Peak in the 1960s and early 1970s will remember Kennedy-Skipton.  He owned cabin no.3.  Over the years, he contributed much to the maintenance of the trails up to the camp and was reputed to have an excellent knowledge of  tracks down to the various pools and waterfalls between Sunset Peak and what was then the farming village of Tung Chung although on my last hike with him  in c1971 we got a bit lost.    He was a bit of a recluse - the story I was told was that he had escaped internment on account of his Irish nationality but that his family had ended up in Stanley.  When I knew him I think he lived in Hung Hom and was still ekeing a living teaching English

My brother reminds me that in the 1960s (when Kennedy-Skipton was in his sixties) he still participated in the annual long distance walking race on Hong Kong island and I am pretty sure he did the cross-harbour swim as well.  He was a remarkable man for the times.