Julia RAKUSEN (née GARDNER, aka Julie) [1902-1981]

Submitted by Admin on Wed, 03/13/2013 - 21:33
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Hong Kong
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I wonder if anybody knows whether Julie Rakusen was wife to Norman Rakusen who was a S/Sgt in HKVDC. I have seen passenger manifests showing a Mrs N Rakusen (DoB 29/5/89) travelling with Miss B Rakusen (DoB 8/3/23

Best rgds,

Philip Cracknell

I can see that Julia was interned with her son Ronald in Great Western Road Camp in Shanghai. I also note there was a Dr Charles Percival Rakusen interned at Pootung Camp, Shanghai. Wheeas Norman Rakusen was interned at SSP POW Camp and later in Japan.

Best rgds,  Philip Cracknell

Hi Phil,

A search for rakusen in the local papers returns 11 matches over 1934-1941. Nothing that answers your question unfortunately, just mentions of "M. N. Rakusen" on the sports pages. He must have had a good eye for the ball, as he was KCC billiards champion, and also local champion of lawn bowls.

One exception is that in "The China Mail, 1941-08-15", the bowls news mentions "Arthur Rakusen". I'm not sure if they're the same person.

Henry Ching adds:

I believe she was the wife of S/Sgt M.N.Rakusen of the HKVDC. I do not know if S/Sgt Rakusen was known as Norman, but the on-line Carl Smith catalogue gives his full name as Manassah Nat and also mentions a Julia Gardner. Incidentally, S/Sgt Rakusen was a Major in the RHKDF after the war (OC Pay Section).

I'll change the name here to Julia.

Regards, David

David:  Thanks for going to that trouble. Still a bit of a mystery. I understand Ron Rakusen has contrinbuted to Gwulo - he was interned with Julia in Shanghai (Julia under the name of Rakusen). If we could reach him - I'm sure  that would help solve. 

Best rgds,

Phil Cracknell

I note all the comments about Julia Rakusen (nee Gardner) and Manasseh Nat Rakusen.  I am Ronald (Ron) Rakusen, their only child.  Some of the comments about the family are correct, some are incorrect.

My father was a champion Billiards player and also won the Hong Kong Singles Lawn Bowls Championship on the day I was born in 1940.

My father was a S/Sgt in the HKVDC Pay Corps and was interned initially in Sham Shui Po Camp and then transferred to Sendai No 2 Camp in Japan where he worked in the coal mine there.  He returned to Hong Kong via Manila after the war.  He was awarded an MBE for his efforts during and after the war and also an ED and was a Major in the RHKVDC when he retired.  He died in 1966 and is buried in the Jewish Cemetery in Hong Kong.

My mother was able to claim neutrality as she was from a Portuguese/German family named Gardner, and she and I were not interned at Stanley. She and I went to Shanghai in mid-1942.  I do not know exactly when or on which ship and am therefore very intersted in seeing what the manifest that Philip Cracknell shows.  Certainly the Mrs N Rakusen and the Miss B Rakusen are odd - no one of those dates of birth exist in our family tree or with those initials.   My mother's DOB and DOD are 1902-1981.  She died in London.

My mother and I stayed initially with friends in Shanghai but were later in 1943 interned in the Great Western Road Camp - which had been the American Columbia Country Club.  We were reunited with my father in Hong Kong after the war - but again I do not know how we got back to Hong Kong or on which date.

There was a Charles Percival Rakusen resident in Shanghai for many years.  He was a relative of my father and an eminent Opthalmologist.  He was in Ash Camp in Shanghai at the end of the war.  He died in Shanghai in 1958.

There was no Norman Rakusen in Sham Shui Po Camp - I can only assume it was a misnomer for my father - who was always called Nat - and maybe the initial "N" was assumed to stand for "Norman".    

If anyone has more information or wishes to ask ne any questions, please contact me through David Bellis.

Thanks for the extra information.

A few years ago I went along to an exhibition at the Ohel Leah synagogue which showed some of the Kadoorie family's records related to supporting Jewish families during and after the second world war, both in Hong Kong and Shanghai. I wondered if any of those records (held at the Hong Kong Heritage Project) would shed any light on your journey to Shanghai in 1942, or your return to Hong kong after the war.

You may well have checked them already, but here is some information about them in case it is relevant:



Regards, David

Thanks David.  I was not aware of the Heritage Collection hkding Jewish documents and will look into it.  The pall bearers at my father's funeral in 1966 included both Mr H Kadoorie and Mr L Kadoorie.

Dear Ron:  Thanks for that information which has helped clarify things for me. I think Norman must have been a typo somewhere along the line as he is listed as M N Rakusen  Serial No 4167 and S/Sgt during war period. Your grand father and grandmother (Julia Gardner's mother) had a very large family - I counted 18 children ?  There are a number of passenger manifests in the Rakusen family name and of course for your father - one I was looking at showed MN Rakusen travelling to SAn Francisco on SS President Coolidge arriving SF on 23rd May 1938 and giving Cm Mc Whorter as a friend (I guess in California).  With regard to B Rakusen could it be Besy Rakusen  also born in Leeds (as I believe your father was ) or Florrie Bessie Rakusen.  I can provide more detail on this for you - I would love to learn more about your fathers memories of the war time period.  I assume he wuld have been based on the Peak during the fighting. I can be reached by email on Philip.G.Cracknell@gmail.com.

Best rgds,  Philip