George Stacey KENNEDY SKIPTON [c.1898-c.1982] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

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

Names
Given: 
George Stacey
Family: 
Kennedy Skipton
Sex: 
Male
Status: 
Deceased
Birth
Date: 
c.1898-01-01 (Year is approximate)
Death
Date: 
c.1982-01-01 (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.

rgds.

Comments

Andrew,

I was aware that GS was on the DBS Board in the late 1920s, but was unaware he was a Board member in the 1950s.

I have also seen some references that he taught at DBS in the 1950/early60s.

Michael

Apologies - my mistake

Andrew, no need to appologise, you may well be correct.

Having read all this trail and the fascinating account of his war years I just wished I had spoken more to him,  but I was young and he was, by then, a man of few words.  It would have been surprising if he hadn't felt a great sense of injustice, not helped by the misrepresentations about what had happened under the Japanese which, as I witnessed, were still being repeated in the sixties. By then, he seemed to me to be a lonely, sad and eccentric figure and the sort of person that things seemed to happen to - I have been reminded of the time a cow (of course unaided) ended up inside his hut on Lantau and when the morning paper reported that he had been disqualified from the Island speed walking race for "running". To a cruel teenage mind, these seemed amusing at the time.

 

I became interested in the Kennedy-Skiptons some years ago when I discovered my first cousin twice removed, Ruth Newton Bowes, married Horace Kenneth Kennedy-Skipton at Mountsorrel, Leicestershire, England on 5 June 1918.

 

Horace was born 14 May 1886 in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland to Henry Stacey Skipton (no Kennedy-Skipton yet!) and Mary Amy Thetis Carlton Plane who were married 29 or 31 July 1882 in Swindon, Wiltshire, England. Three daughters were then born to Henry and Mary, two born in Beverley, Yorkshire, England and one in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England. One child, indicated on the 1911 Irish Census is enumerated in the total child count but had died at sometime during the marriage. Their last known child, George Stacey Kennedy-Skipton, was born 31 August 1898 in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England. He was the first child to be registered in England with the new name Kennedy-Skipton.

 

George Stacey Kennedy-Skipton (Brother of Horace), Wife and Daughters

 

The Irish connection that arose later in George Stacey Kennedy-Skipton’s life is that his father Henry Stacey Skipton was born 24 or 25 January 1853 in Londonderry, Ireland and most of the recorded dates in this narrative are from Burke’s Irish Landed Gentry. The Kennedy-Skiptons enjoyed a socialite life in Cheltenham in the Edwardian era but little has been found regarding George Stacey Kennedy-Skipton until his departure for Hong Kong late January 1921 leaving Liverpool for China on the SS Pyrrhus. His previous address on the shipping manifest was TrinityCollege, Dublin, Ireland (where he had studied since 1916). He had the right to apply for Irish (Free State) citizenship but the consensus of opinion is that he did not because how could he have realized that it would be beneficial twenty years later when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong. Secondly it would have been unwise as an employee of the Hong Kong Government to try to change his nationality. And thirdly by the time the Japanese were set to invade it would have been too late.

 

Other writers have surmised that George and his wife Helen Tow did not live together after the war. Certainly new sources indicate that they separated but perhaps did not divorce. The worldwide newspapers published his problems of alleged collaboration with the Japanese but Helen was not involved with that.  The last record found (so far) of George and Helen mentioned together was in 1961 in an Engagement Notice in the London Times of the engagement of Enid Connolly Kennedy-Skipton and David LeBrun Jones. Parents of the future bride were George Stacey Kennedy-Skipton of Hong Kong and Mrs Kennedy-Skipton of London. At some time their other daughter Laetitia Kennedy-Skipton was in America and met Stephen S. Yeandle, a New Jersey born American. They probably married in America. George Stacey was believed to have died in 1982 but in fact died in 1980 in West Kilbride, a village in  North Ayrshire, Scotland. Located on the west coast by the Firth of Clyde, West Kilbride looks across the waters to the Isle of Arran. George “Stacy” [sic] Kennedy-Skipton was 82 years old when he died.

 

Helen Tow

 

Helen Tow was the daughter of Ole Tow and Anna M. Norland. She was born in Norway, Benton County, Iowa, United States, 15 October 1892. Helen was barely 7 years old when her father died. He was born in Norway, Europe and died in Norway in Iowa. In 1913 when she was 21 Helen Tow was in Canton, China and Hong Kong part of a team under the direction of their Quaker leader, William Warder Cadbury MD, working for the “American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions”.  William Warder Cadbury was an insatiable diarist and letter writer, and his writings contained many day-to-day items of interest. He comments on Helen Tow’s help as an organizer and bridesmaid at his own wedding in China in 1917. He acknowledges Helen Tow’s report to him when she worked at the Congregational School for Girls in Canton during the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, and finally in 1924 he states that “Helen Tow is getting married to an English man”. On 23 August 1924 Helen Tow married George Stacey Kennedy-Skipton [Burke’s Directory]. The marriage was probably in Hong Kong but possibly in Canton.  In 1913 and 1917 Helen Tow is included in the Annual Report of the "Foreign Missions". The 1913 item announcing she had just arrived in Canton as a new missionary. Helen Tow did die in 1982, Camden, London. The English/Welsh death index for that year includes her birth date – 15 October 1892!  

 

 

 

Thanks Barry, that adds some useful detail.

Regards, David

Thanks very much for this interesting and carefully researched piece. Very useful indeed.

This website claims that 'Kennedy-Skipton' was an alternative name for the family in the late eighteenth century:

http://www.derryjournal.com/news/local/now-it-can-be-told-the-story-of-the-skiptons-1-2147155

It's a good story, perhaps suspicously so!

Many thanks Barry, I understand that at the bequest of Helen, George lived with Henry [George's son] in West kilbride, Scotland from 1974 to 1978 and thereafter moved to a Nursing Home near Irvine where he died in 1982.

Laetitia's husband has now passed away but she lives in Garrett Park, Maryland, USA

To try and keep all about GKS in one thread.

Kennedy-Skipton.

Hyde states and I quote:

"Kennedy-Skipton left here on the 24th and s'pose he is your worry now. He is a stupid "tammy" ((spelling?)) but make no mistake about it he did a great many people a lot of harm since the surrender. He willingly co-operated with the enemy when there was no necessity to do so and put into their minds many ways of getting a great deal of money, which they did in the form of back crown rents and such like taxes which they might not have thought of.Night and all of us here think alike on this subject. He is a man who thought that things would never be as they are now and had his silly eye on the main chance."

Hi Michael,

I recommend you also include a mention of where the information came from, eg "Source: Waichow Intelligence Summary #18, 12 Feb 1943, see http://gwulo.com/node/14768"

It'll make it easier for new readers to follow the trail of interesting research you've been doing. (I often find it's a help for myself too, as when I look back at pages froma few months ago, I've already forgotten where I found the information I've quoted!)

Best regards, David

Thanks David, will do.

I still trying to rediscover the comment that Georges wife lived out the war at their Peak residence after he escaped.

all the best - Michael

Hi Michael, That comment is at http://gwulo.com/node/14681#comment-23357. I found it using the "what links here" links on top-right corner of the page.

Regards, David

Many thanks David. I may be in Hong Kong 12th to 17th March 2013 and will let you know.

I’ve found part of another account of the experiences of the 30 or so people sheltering with the Kennedy-Skiptons during and just after the hostilities. This one is from American Missionary Marion Dudley. Ms. Dudley worked for the Young Women’s Christian Association in Kwantung and Hong Kong 1927-1931, and in 1938-1941. She returned to China 1943-1947 (Archie Crouch, Christianity In China: A Scholar’s Guide To Resources, 1989, 298). Comparison with Sally Refo’s letter (available to members of the Yahoo Stanley Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stanley_camp/messages) makes it clear that the events described here took place on December 26, when the group decided to try to get back to the Kennedy-Skiptons’ house on Mount Cameron – they’d left it for a safer place on December 22:

Our men kept guard all night but no one came but the dog from the K. S.’s home. The men went on a reconnoitring tour and came back to say all was quiet on the Peak. We decided to try for home. That was a queer cavalcade – the two cars making a sandwich with the thirty people, so that they would not be so easily confiscated. The children were played up prominently as they are always well treated by the soldiers. Our main thought was, what will happen when we meet the first Japanese? Such a silent smoking city we looked down into as we slowly circled around down the road – empty harbour, empty streets. A car went by full of Japanese officers who stared at us as if we were ghosts.

Alan Birch and Martin Cole, Captive Years, 1982, 21-22.

Ms. Dudley wrote a short pamphlet on her repatriation (Hong Kong Prison Camp, 1942) and this might contain a longer account.

 

Very interesting, someone has to make contact with laetitia Yeandle [George and Helen's daughter], who resides in Garreth Park, Maryland, USA to hear more about these times and how they survived in Hong Kong during the occupation.

Tony Banham has just posted a link to a complete scan of the Hong Kong Fellowship Newsletters:

http://www.hongkongwardiary.com/

This includes the 'missing' issue number 8 , the one that the Yahoo Stanley Group members don't possess, and the account of the last meeting of the HKF before the end of the war allows us to locate Kennedy-Skipton in London in July 1945.

He spoke to the meeting about the possibility of sending money to certain Chinese people in Hong Kong who would then buy provisions for parcels for the camps. However, he warned that anyone caught doing this would be severly punished and the inmates would also be liable to collective sanctions.

The meeting was also addressed by Hong Kong escaper Freddie Guest. I know that my grandmother and one of my uncles spoke to Captain Guest at a HKF meeting, so this was probably the one.

most interesting Brian.

So GKS escaped from Hong Kong in February 1943 to ChungKong and in July 1945 ends up in London. In late1947/early 1948 he is back in Hong Kong for his tribunial hearing.

One has to ask how he travelled on these trips?, also one would have to assume as he was already in London he assisted in his wife and daughters' repatriation to the UK on the Highland Monarch in October 1945 before returning to Hong Kong.

Some how one has to make contact with Laetitia Yeandle his daughter who lives in Maryland,  USA, to fill in these gaps before it is too late.

Henry Ching notes that KWIS #29 talks about William James Carrie who, like Kennedy-Skipton stayed out of internment camp by claiming Irish nationality.

Henry writes:

Kennedy-Skipton was eventually dismissed the service for disloyalty, but as far as I know no similar action was taken against Carrie. This would seem to indicate that Kennedy-Skipton’s offence was not that he avoided internment, but that he worked for the Japanese.

Have read all the posts. It seems the impact of Kennedy-Skipton's (K-S) working for the Japanese is overblown considering his focus was on food. Everything written so far seems to point to him being the victim of a grudge on the part of Gimson, who had powerful enough friends to besmirch K-S’s reputation. Loyalty, or the lack of, regarding Colonial Office servants is the key issue here, not collaboration with the Japanese.

I would also add that most Irish Free State passport holders (including my uncle) working for the Colonial Office, trading houses, etc,  joined the HKVDC and faught with distinction. K-S’s neutrality didn’t go down well at all with volunteers who put their life on the line for Hong Kong, while up on The Peak K-S was flying the Irish flag declaring his neutrality to the Japanese.

A reference in the POW diary written by my uncle John B.P. Byrne >> Diary of War: Private John "Barney" Bernard  Patrick Byrne (HKVDC #4732) - Irish Prisoner of the Japanese in Shamshuipo and Sendai (1941-1945) << (Source:  http://nialljoreilly.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/niall-and-barney/) throws some light on the depth of feeling suffering POWs would have felt towards K-S and other ‘third nationals”.    

In it Barney refers to a trial of French traitors as giving “us Hong Kong men some ideas about a similar purge when we get back there. And we won’t have any shortage of candidate for the rope provided the local loyal Chinese haven’t forestalled us!”

We have also read posts recounting the experiences of families who sheltered in his neutral house. None refer to him informing the Japanese. Far from it, he saved them from the Japanese.

What I am curious about are the secret files he discovered which hadn’t been destroyed. There is no evidence he informed the Japanese about the contents of these file. In fact, he went to extraordinary efforts to inform the British Government of their existence.

However, the receipt by the British government of the message would have been preceded by the Gimson / BAAG grapevine noting that one of their own had gone over to the Japs, and was therefore branded a collaborator.... which as pointed out earlier was pretty much the same label everyone who claimed neutrality and worked for the Japanese occupation government was tarnished with.

In conclusion, IMHO there is no evidence that K-S was a collaborator in any shape or form. He just chose to declare his Irish neutrality, at a time when he was working for the colonial government when most of the Irish living in Hong Kong were fighting for Hong Kong.  

No evidence that Kennedy-Skipton was a collaborator... w.r.t George Stacey KENNEDY SKIPTON [c.1898-c.1982]

"It seems the impact of Kennedy-Skipton's (K-S) working for the Japanese is overblown considering his focus was on food. Everything written so far seems to point to him being the victim of a grudge on the part of Gimson, who had powerful enough friends to besmirch K-S’s reputation. Loyalty, or the lack of, regarding Colonial Office servants is the key issue here, not collaboration with the Japanese.

 

I would also add that most Irish Free State passport holders (including my uncle) working for the Colonial Office, trading houses, etc,  joined the HKVDC and faught with distinction. K-S’s neutrality didn’t go down well at all with volunteers who put their life on the line for Hong Kong, while up on The Peak K-S was flying the Irish flag declaring his neutrality to the Japanese.

 

A reference in the POW diary written by my uncle John B.P. Byrne &gt;&gt; Diary of War: Private John "Barney" Bernard  Patrick Byrne (HKVDC #4732) - Irish Prisoner of the Japanese in Shamshuipo and Sendai (1941-1945) &lt;&lt; (Source:  http://nialljoreilly.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/niall-and-barney/) throws some light on the depth of feeling suffering POWs would have felt towards K-S and other ‘third nationals”.    

 

In it Barney refers to a trial of French traitors as giving “us Hong Kong men some ideas about a similar purge when we get back there. And we won’t have any shortage of candidate for the rope provided the local loyal Chinese haven’t forestalled us!”

 

We have also read posts recounting the experiences of families who sheltered in his neutral house. None refer to him informing the Japanese. Far from it, he saved them from the Japanese.

 

What I am curious about are the secret files he discovered which hadn’t been destroyed. There is no evidence he informed the Japanese about the contents of these file. In fact, he went to extraordinary efforts to inform the British Government of their existence.

 

However, the receipt by the British government of the message would have been preceded by the Gimson / BAAG grapevine noting that one of their own had gone over to the Japs, and was therefore branded a collaborator.... which as pointed out earlier was pretty much the same label everyone who claimed neutrality and worked for the Japanese occupation government was tarnished with.

 

In conclusion, IMHO there is no evidence that K-S was a collaborator in any shape or form. He just chose to declare his Irish neutrality, at a time when he was working for the colonial government when most of the Irish living in Hong Kong were fighting for Hong Kong.  

I also recall a conversation I had in the late 1990s with an eminent Hong Kong LEGCO legislator on the very sensitive subject of collaborators. Naturally given the depth of rage, anyone, irrespective of race and background, who had by hook or by crook avoided the hardship of the Japanese occupation, profited from the turmoil, or who had recently returned to Hong Kong from Macau to be part of and benefit from the Post War reconstruction effort would have been branded a traitor. In order to maintain law and order, and perhaps keep the degree of treachery under wraps, the colonial government would have taken a conscious decision to classify the wartime records of many collaborators.

A well written viewpoint which I would concur with.

It is a pity that any records of the " one day" Tribunial held in January 1948 against him cannot be located. I would have thought that somewhere there had/has to be some written record of the Tribunial.

I was recently in the UK and managed to look at some additional documents relating to G. Kennedy Skipton’s (GKS)  behavior in early 1942.

Without going into too much detail the following facts have emerged:-

January 5, 1942,  On this day all civilians from the “Allies” were ordered to assemble in the Murray Road Parade Ground for registration and internment. GKS went to the Executive Council’s office in Princess Building asking permission to be excused from reporting for internment. This request was turned down by the four officials present namely F.Gimson[Colonial Secretary], R.A.C. North [Secretary for Chinese Affairs],H.R.  Butters [Financial Secretary],  C.G.Alabaster [Attorney General].

February 7, 1942, GKS left a letter at  the Exec.  Council office, stating that he was Neutral having an Irish Passport and had obtained work since January 5, 1942 with the Japanese as an Agricultural Adviser. The Exec  Council officials agreed that this was contrary to the instruction given to him on the 5th January 1942 and he should henceforth be suspended from HM Govt’s service  unless he follows the previously given instructions . GKS was requested to meet with the Exec Council on the 9th February 1942.

February 9, 1942, GKS attended the meeting  and was informed that  he should immediately cease working for the Japanese and should report for internment as per the instruction given on the 5th January 1942.

GKS replied that  the order to report for internment had come from the Attorney General and not the Colonial Secretary.

GKS was requested to reconsider his attitude and to reappear for another meeting on the 10th February but he did not appear till the 11th.

February 11, 1942. The meeting essentially was identical to the February 9, 1942 meeting.  When he was informed that he was suspended from the Colonial Service, KS stated he did not recognize the Colonial Sec’s authority and would appeal to the Governor. (One interesting side note is that Gimson was able to send a message to the Secretary of State in the UK about the action being taken).

March 5, 1942. There is a report that GKS had been dismissed by the Japanese but had returned bowing and scraping and was reemployed as basically a Messenger Boy.

In January 1943 GKS “escaped” to Waichow/ChungKing where he was again informed in writing that he had been suspended from HM’s Service.

After WW2 had ended  there were actually two inquiries regarding KS’s activities. The first in July 1946,  the  second in January to March1948. Two interesting side comment s from the second inquiry, 1] the inquiry consisted of the Attorney General( J.B. Griffin), D.F. Landale and a Chinese who seemed particularly intelligent. 2]  that GKS would be permitted to resign with his pension.  One can only surmise that GKS rejected this Offer and was thereafter dismissed with no pension.

Thanks for this extra information. It fills in the missing pieces to explain why GKS was suspended.

If the material is open to the public please can you give the reference to the source, in case others want to read the full documents.

Regards, David

This has been a fascinating discussion and the topic has been well covered by many contributors. Yes, I was in the group as a 10-year old at 11 Coombe Road, which I believe belonged to the KSs. Yes, Mr. appeared to be a very austere man, but full of energy. Sally Refo's narrative covers KS activities quite well as her husband and KS often went into town during the fighting - somehow it seems that KS was involved in some kind of housing activities for displaced people - this is only conjecture on my part. Another very interesting source of information is contained in Emily Hahn's book titled "China to Me". She and Helen were both Americans and great friends, and this relationship is covered in considerable detail.

I also know that Helen and the two girls (Enid and Letitia) used to visit the Italian Convent on Caine Road, presumedly to contact some of the refugees living there, as often did Mr. Sutter , a Swiss national, who I believe may have been connected to the International Red Cross.

Hope these observations will lead to further discoveries.

Regards,

Bob

The National Archieve reference number for this file is FCO141/15554. It covers the statements given by the four Executive Council Members concerning GKS.

I tried to find information about the actual inquiries, but was informed these files were still held by the Foreign Office. maybe they will be shortly released.

rgds.

Philip Cracknell has a new post which adds more details to Kennedy-Skipton's story:

http://battleforhongkong.blogspot.hk/2014/11/the-strange-case-of-mr-kenn...

(Correction of dead-end link on Niall O'Reilly's May 2013 post above):  http://nialljoreilly.com/2013/12/07/barney-byrne-irish-prisoner-of-war-p...

Kennedy-Skipton stood for the Hong Kong Labour Party in 1967:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong_municipal_election,_1967

 

After arriving in the UK - via Calcutta - he tried to enlist the British Labour Party in his support, painting the conflict between him and the Colonial Secretariat as one between new liberal thinking and the racism of the 'old guard'. 

 

Kennedy Skipton also ran for the 1952 Council as an Independent

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong_municipal_election,_1952

 

 

Pages