Lydia Elizabeth VERIGA [1944- ] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Lydia Elizabeth VERIGA [1944- ]

Lydia Elizabeth
Birthplace (town, state): 
Stanley Camp
Birthplace (country): 


Lydia Elizabeth Thirwell age 1 travelled with her mother and widowed grandmother arriving in Liverpool in  October 1945. Her surname was shown Thirwell not Veriga.

This message was smuggled out of Stanley in a Japanese cigarette packet:

Dear Dr. Valentine,

Lydia Thirlwell is 7 months old & too big for her cradle & so has to sleep with her mother who has no mosquito net. She has been badly bitten & I have spoken to Dr. Montgomery who suggests perhaps you could help. She is a lovely baby & it would be a pity should she get malaria.

Many thanks.


M. Wilson I. Q. {=Indian Quarters} Baby Clinic


Source: Alan Birch: Hong Kong: The Colony That Never Was  p.79

I don't have a copy of Alan Birch's book - does he give any more information about how he knows the message was smuggled out of camp?

All the people mentioned above were inside the camp, so it seems more like an internal message. Writing paper was in short supply, so old cigarette packets were often used to jot down notes & messages. I wonder if it was later imagined that the use of a cigarette packet meant it was something smuggled?

A couple of candidates for M. Wilson are:

Given the tone of the message, I'd guess it was from Margaret, the matron. 

Good point. No, Birch doesn't say why he believes the message to have been smuggled, and you may well be correct in thinking it's an internal message.However, I've not been able to document Dr Valentine in Stanley after December 1944 so it's also possible that Birch is right. Margaret seems like a good candidate for "M. Wilson'.

Looking at, I see a diary entry from 9th April 1945 showing Dr Valentine was still in camp at that time.

The April 9th 1945 reference is to John Valentine, Dr Valentine's son. Alan Birch reproduces both the message on cigrarette paper and the packet itself, which features the HSBC building - he credits the HSBC with having provided the items. I can't see any need to put an internal message on cigarette paper inside the actual packet. However, I agree that an internal message is still a possibility - probably only to be resolved by evidence as to Dr Valentine's whereabouts in April 1945.

Thanks Brian, my mistake - I had the diary page linked to the wrong person. Fixed now.