George MERRIMAN [1901-1969] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

George MERRIMAN [1901-1969]

Names
Given: 
George
Family: 
Merriman
Sex: 
Male
Status: 
Deceased
Birth
Date: 
1901-10-30
Birthplace (country): 
Death
Date: 
1969-01-31
Cause of death: 
Heart Attack

Hello everyone,

I'm new to the forum, but have been enjoying the site for several weeks.

I'm researching the activities of my father, George Merriman, who was interned in Stanley from the fall of HK until liberation. He told us very little of his memories, probably because he was Deputy Head of Station for Hong Kong MI6, serving under Alec Summers. He would have felt restrained by the Official Secrets Act, I suspect. (I met Alec Summers when he came to NZ to visit Dad in about 1960...)

He confided some stories to our Mum, who later passed them on to us, but it is, at best, a sketchy framework.

I've just finished reading George Wright-Nooth's account of Stanley, where several references to Dad appear. At the end of June 1943 he and Summers escaped arrest by bluff and luck, then buried their radio - I have a vague memory from something Dad said that it was later recovered and used again. I have no facts to support this, so will watch with close interest the ongoing transcription of R.E. Jones's diary for indications that news was reaching camp in later 1943 or 1944.

Dad survived - just - with beriberi and severely impaired eyesight, in his later life becoming almost totally blind. He was evacuated to Wellington, to Hutt Hospital, and there met my mum, a house-surgeon. After his repatriation to England, she worked her passage as a ship's doctor to join him in London, where I was later born. The family emigrated to NZ in the early 50's.

So if anyone in the forum can give me any further information, I'd be delighted to hear from you...:)

Cheers,

George

Comments

Hi, George, Welcome! I'm sure you will also get loads of information from the Stanley Group Site, if you haven't already found them. I have found  them incredibly helpful. My late grandfather, Charles Mycock, was also evacuated to Hutt in N.Z. I wonder how many other internees were sent there?

Thanks for these interesting details of your father's life.

A search of the HK Government Records online reveals that he was in the Naval Volunteer Force.

He was promoted from Probationary Cadet to Acting Sub-Lieutenant with effect from December 2, 1936 (HK Government Gazette, January 8, 1937)

He was further promoted to Sub-Lieutenant with effect from Ferbruary 16, 1938 (HK Government Gazette, March 4, 1938).

I can find no record of his transfer to the Essential Services Group - do you know if he saw action during the hostilities?

According to the Government Gazette issued on 25 January, 1940 he was enrolled in the Essential Services Group. The info is available online at the HKGRO. However, there is no record for George Merriman in the same Gazette.

Hi George,

Hello, and thanks for sharing what you know. Fingers crossed some more information will turn up.

The Stanley Camp discussion group also has the full R E Jones diary available to download, so is well worth visiting. That and other resources are listed at:

http://gwulo.com/Stanley-Civilian-Internment-Camp

Regards, David

PS I've changed this page to be a 'Person' so it fits in to the rest of the site better. If you click the 'Edit' tab at the top of the page, you have the option to add in some more information about your father.

Page 60 of the 2012 edition of Peter Hall's In the Web tells us that George Merriman's secretary was Mabel Hall (nee Gittins). Her husband (also George) describes the difficulty of getting from Kowloon to the island on Decmeber 8, 1941:

After many attempts, Mabel got in touch over the telephone with her boss, Mr George Merriman.

It's not clear of Mr. Merriman smoothes the way, but soon after a police launch takes the family over. Mabel obviously goes to work:

Returning at about 1800 hrs I  found a chance to phone Mabel, who was with the children at  No. 455, The Peak, Barker Road (tel: 29036).

Peter Hall explains:

This was Charles Drage's house, where George Merriman was stationed and where messages were being coded and forwarded to the Naval Wireless Station on the Peak, for onward transmission to Singapore (where Drage and Victor Gittins were operating...) and thereafter onto the UK.

Hi Lee,

My Dad was (as far as I know) evacuated out on the SS Maunganui, a hospital ship. According to Victoria University of Wellington records (Medical Services in the NZ & Pacific), some 362 liberated POWs and internees were landed on Oct 8th 1945 in Wellington for medical care and recuperation before being repatriated to England on Nov 25th.

Cheers,

George

Hi Brian,

I know he was later promoted to Lieutenant, I think around 1940, and later still Lt.Commander. That was the rank he told us he held, and we have a photo of him wearing the appropriate uniform for that rank.

As far as I know, he was so involved with his MI6 duties during the Battle of HK that he'd have not seen naval service.

He was rushing around the island destroying radio facilities and equipment just before the fall, and collected a small shrapnel wound in his ankle...!

Many thanks for the info about Mabel - that's a strand I knew nothing of at all! And having Dad's address on the Peak is very useful, too. At that time he was married to Sarah G. Merriman, whom he divorced right after the war. I so far haven't found any trace of her, except a reference that she was in the HK Auxiliary Nursing Sevice, at St Paul's Hospital (source: HK War Diary).

Cheers,

George

Thanks moddsey - please see my reply to Brian on this. His activites during the battle are rather vague...

George

Hi David,

Thanks for your help - I'd looked at creating a "Person" page, but then wasn't sure what to put in it...lol!

I've read right through both Barbara's amazing diary, and also R.E. Jones's and the Events relating To. The R>E Jones diary seems to end in early 1943 - or are there more pages to come?

I've also borrowed Wright-Nooth's book from the library - it makes grim reading. I think my brother Harry has a copy of your book, but if he hasn't, I'll buy a copy.

I managed to download and read Geoffrey Emerson's thesis, which also gives  lots of info, so my researches are creeping forward...

Cheers,

George

Thanks for that, my Grandad was on the same ship. I would guess that the POWs outnumbered the internees by quite a margin. NZ must have  seemed like paradise after all that they had suffered. I must look at the Victoria Uni records. Best wishes, Lee

Sarah Gemmell Merriman was according to Camp Records born on 15 Jan 1896. Therrefore slightly older than George  (30 Oct 1901). They were both In Block 3 Room 18 at Stanley Camp. I see both George and Sarah on a passenger manifest (HK - UK) 24 Sept 1938 where the UK address given was Tower Hill, Box's Shop.   Sarah must have got off repatriation ship in Wellington or Sydney as she appears on a manifest for SS Moolton sailing from Wellington and Sydney to Southampton on 10 Feb 1946 by herself and address given is 56, Castelehill Rd, Ayr. At this time she was 51 yrs of age. It is not clear from the alignment of docs whether she started in Wellington or Sydney.  

Best rgds,  Philip Cracknell

George:   One other piece of information which may be of interest. Is that George and Sarah shared a room (3/15) with Alec Summers and Clifton Large. Clifton married Barbara's sister Mabel Redwood. Best rgds,  Philip Cracknell

Thanks Lee - yes, I'm sure you're right. There were about 2500 internees liberated from Stanley (I think), and the POWs would have easily outnumbered that figure..

 

George

Hi George, If you could fill in the dates of birth & death for your father, that would be useful to know.

R E Jones diary keeps going - just needs me to add it to the site. Which reminds me I haven't done April yet, so must get on with that!

Regards, David

A million thanks, Phil! That info is marvellous, and fills another piece of the jigsaw puzzle. As far as I know, my Dad reached NZ on SS Maunganui, on Oct 8th 1945. He was sent to Hutt Hospital, near Wellington, for recuperation.

It could be that Sarah was with him here in NZ, and their marriage came apart when he met my Mum, who was a House Surgeon at Hutt Hospital when Dad was admitted there. Or maybe they split up before, and she landed in Sydney, then returned to the UK in Feb '46...another mystery.

I'm greatly impressed by your source of information - can you tell me where you are finding these details? I've searched all over the web, with not much success...sigh!

Cheers, and thanks again,

George

Hi David, yes, will do, and I'll look forward to reading more of R.E. Jones' diary when it appears. The diaries and books have given me a really great feel for what life in camp was like. Dad told us very little, and I had a completely distorted idea of the lives of the internees..

Cheers,

George

 

Hi George, coincidentally I received a couple of documents from Elizabeth Ride about radio sets in Stanley. I've typed them up and posted them at:

http://gwulo.com/node/15505

No mention of your father, but may still be of interest.

Regards, David

Thanks David,

I seem to remember Wright-Nooth's book mentioning no less than 4 radios being operated in Stanley before the crack-down, one of which was the one run by Dad and Alec Summers. I do recall Dad saying that spare parts (particularly valves) were smuggled in "through the wire", so the method described was probably one such ploy!

Cheers,

George

Barbara very kindly contacted me - with her permission, here is the text of her email:

It's interesting to get an email from a descendant of another Stanley internee!   I knew your Dad George and his wife in camp.  They lived in what prewar was an amah's room in the Married Quarters Block 4 on the first floor; my mother sisters and I lived  on the first floor in Block 3 which was joined to Block 4.

My younger sister Mabel (now aged 90, lives in Brisbane) had a boyfriend in camp (they were married just after war ended) named Clifton Large, then in his early twenties.   Clifton shared an amah's room with Alec Summers in Block 4, next to George's room.   When next I phone Mabel, I will ask her for memories of George in camp, as she spent a lot of time with Clifton, who, I discovered after the war, had a revolver he had brought to Stanley and kept stuffed out of sight in a neighbouring boiler alcove.

The amah's rooms were prized accommodation, as the original amahs' double bunks remained, altho they took up most of the room; at least the occupiers had privacy!
Barbara