Johan NIELSEN (aka The Old Master) [1885-1963] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Johan NIELSEN (aka The Old Master) [1885-1963]

Alias / nickname: 
The Old Master
Birthplace (town, state): 
Birthplace (country): 
c.1963-11-15 (Month, Day are approximate)

A Norwegian pastor at the Norwegian Seamen's Mission in Hong Kong during WW2.

Johan Nielsen had a central part in providing help and assistance to all Norwegians in Hong Kong during the occupation.

Norwegian Seamen's Mission had regularly services on Sundays at the church at the Peak before the Japanese occupation.

War time 

Nielsen provided the Norwegian prisoners of war at Sham Shui Po Camp with packages, and later on he did the same for the civilian internees at Stanley Civilian Internment Camp. The Japanese authorities did not request internment for Norwegians above 60 years and missionaries, giving Nielsen a crucial role in caring for the Norwegian community during the occupation.

He made an important contribution to the Norwegian War Time Committee.

Nielsen also lived and worked in the French Hospital until the bombing in 1945.


The Sailors Mission

Nielsen worked for the Norwegian Seamen's Mission in Hong Kong from 1938 to 1955. The Mission was a meating point and a place for all kinds of support to the Norwegian seamen at dock in Hong Kong. 

He established the mission on the 1st floor in an appartment building in Nathan Road, Kowloon. Despite this location was not ideal being far from the harbour, the Mission stayed here for three years until 1941.

In 1941 the Mission moved to a new location, an old house in Chatham Road (uncertain information). Later Nielsen and his assistant Ling Pao had to leave this house by orders of the Japanese occupational authorities. 1943 he held services in Rosary Hill after request from the Red Cross.

Before setting up the Norwegian Seamen's Mission in Hong Kong, Nielsen had worked in Shanghai from 1933 and had to escape in 1937 due to the Japanese attack on China.

In October 1945 he was sent to Sydney due to his medical conditions, and after six months there he went to Shanghai and did not return to Hong Kong until 1947. There he startet to, once again, build up the Mission. The reinauguration took place on August 26, 1951.

Work in Japan

Dispite having mixed feelings after the war time experiences, Nielsen accepted the assignment given to him by the Mission in Norway: to go work in Kobe, Japan. While in Japan, Nielsen took on an 18 hours journey to the western parts of Japan to personally show his gratitude to the Japanese reverend Samejima who served in occupied Hong Kong. Nielsen appreciated highly the care and considerations Samejima had given the European prisoners in Hong Kong


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