Robert CUNNINGHAM (aka Bert) [1900-1977] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Robert CUNNINGHAM (aka Bert) [1900-1977]

Alias / nickname: 
Birthplace (town, state): 
Cause of death: 

Photos that show this person


Born 27.6.1900  Enlisted HKP 27.2.1922  as PC.    From 27.12.1927 until 1.10.1928 was seconded to the Supreme Court as Clerk and Usher,Sub Insp 1.9.1934,CPLSM 1940, Insp 15.12.1941 ,

Chief Insp 1.5.1046.

Date of Promotion should read 1946.

Photo with Police Dog - possibly immediately post war,he is not wearing any campaign medal ribbons and has Inspector's badge of rank.

He was married to Agnes Cunningham and shared a billet (5 P4) with her in Stanley Camp. I was always puzzled by the age difference. She died in Camp but date of birth was 1877. She had  an married daughter in Camp Mrs M J Stuart). Robert and Mrs Stuart both protested the age stated in the Medical Rocords (which I have seen). Best regards,  Philip Cracknell

Thank you for solving a mystery! It was only on finding my parents' Marriage Certificate that I learnt my Dad had been a widower but no details were ever divulged to me. I presumed, perhaps, she had died in the Camp. I did learn, just very recently, from Anna Kinloch, widow of Wallace, that his wife had been considerably older. Anna seemed to recall that Bert had initially stayed in lodgings where he was very friendly with the young lady of the house only to eventually marry her mother. I believe it was quite a 'talking point' at the time! Regards Marion Allan

Wallace Kinloch, mentioned in my previous comment, was also interned with my Dad in Stanley. After the war I believe Wallace worked in The Gambia. He spent his retirement, along with his wife Anna, in the same town as my parents - Blairgowrie, Perthshire. They remained great friends and I knew them both well.

During my upbringing, I met several of my parents' friends, also interned in Stanley:- 

Sandy & Ena Cochrane, and their two children, Graham & Fearne, both born in the camp. Bert McVey, his wife and daughter, Audrey, who lived in Grangemouth. (Bert was best man at their wedding in 1946).

I have a vague recollection of Bill & Jean Todd and a Mr & Mrs Fowlie - I think there was a Hong Kong connection (?)

How interesting Marion. I always thought I had made a mistake there because Agnes was born 11/March 1877 according to Camp Records which would make her around 64 when war began whereas Robert was born in 1900 and was 41. Here's an extract from my notes regarding Agnes's demise:

"Died aged 67. Scottish.  Her DoB is Given as 1877 and her next of kin is stated to be R. Cunningham in Camp as her husband. She also had a daughter in Camp Miss M J  Stuart (Block 5 Room 20). She died from nutritional Enteritus and Anaemia. There was also a suggestion of senility. On the Medical records there is a letter from  R Cunningham - (Police Inspector) - who inter alia writes: "Age is not in accordance with the facts supplied by me  ........I query  the primary cause of death (senility) as my wife's mind was perfectly clear and normal until the course of her illness affected it. Mrs MJ Stuart (sic) associates herself with me in this protest". 

Block 5 was Married Quarters and is still extant and still being used by Correctional Services Officers familes.

Best regards,  Philip Cracknell

Marion:  Here are some notes I have on Wallace Kinloch:

Had originally been part of the escape group but dropped out and was replaced by Kenneth Bidmead. Wright-Nooth (Page 104 of POTTH describes him as "a courageous and extrovert Scot".  "He had started out in the Scots Guards, before joining the Shanghai Municipal Police in July 1938. In 1939  he was on patrol  in Shanghai  when he spotted a large group of Japanese police which had no right to be there. Kinloch dismounted from his armoured car and told the Japanese to move off. As he returned to his vehicle he was shot in the back. He instinctively swung round and sprayed the Japanese with a long burst from his Tommy gun. Four Japanese were killed and five wounded. The Japanese admiral of their fleet put a reward on his head, but after a short stay at the BMH he was smuggled out of Shanghai by the Police Special Branch. In HK he joined the Police and in 1948 , after his sojourn in Stanley, was awarded the CPM for gallantry in attacking an armed robber on Castle Peak. After spells in Malaysia and Gambia he retired to Scotland." (Page 259  POTTH) "and with us on the truck (Z Force)  we had two police volunteers Sgts. Watt and Kinloch"  Extract from McKewan's  (Z Force) Diary .   "Two squads under Lance Sgt  A142 Kinloch proceeded to Kowloon with Mr Fay Asst Supt of Police, Sgt A 25 Gowans and Sgt A169 Forrest  on a Star Ferry vessel to help round up European evacuees and stragglers. Sgts Gowans and Forrest  returned on the Ferry  with evacuees  while Mr Fay and Sgt Kinloch proceeded to the Peninsula Hotel and offered passage across the harbour  to Europeans in the lounge  (a few accepted)" (Police War Diary 11th Dec 1941 - evacuation of Kowloon). "On return from Kowloon  Lance Sgt Kinloch  dealt drastically with a 5th Columnist  found signaling  with a torch  from the OSK Shipping Office, St Georges Building." (Police War Diary 11th Dec 1941) "1000 The first Japanese Peace Mission arrived – present at Queens Pier were Mr Wright-Nooth, Lance Sgt Kinloch (A142) and Lance Sgt Sullivan (A 74)" (Police War Diary 13/12/41)

Best regards,  Philip Cracknell

Philip - thank you for your replies which I find very interesting and enlightening! Do you have any further information on Agnes Cunningham - her maiden name or place of birth? His second wife, Donella, on asking how they had met, told me he had been very friendly with her cousin! It seemed to me to be a sensitive subject.

Philip - how wonderful to learn all this about Wallace. He certainly was aptly described as 'extrovert' - very much so!

I believe Wallace had a romance in the camp with a lady (a nurse I think) by the name of Jean King, resulting in a daughter being born in the camp. She was in contact with Wallace and Anna in later years.


I think war time romance in Stanley Camp was quite common as married ladies on their own felt a need for 'male protection' and some quite strong bonds were formed - many split up after liberation and returned to their pre-war spouse. I suppose they knew it was for the duration. Also a number of single women were married in camp.  I think the romance that Wallace Kinloch had was with Joan King who had a baby at Matilda Hospital on 24  Dec 1941 during the heat of the battle. Her husband James Joseph King was a member of HKVDC and was a POW in Hong Kong (SSP Camp). Joan had a second child in Camp in November 1943.  Philip

Marion:   Strange story isn't it with the age difference perhaps she was very glamorous and well preserved (unlike me).  Checking the Camp Log I see I had an error in my records ......her daughter in Camp was Marjorie Jeannette Stuart.......and she was not married. So Agnes maiden name is Stuart. Philip


Philip - once again, thank you. Yes, that would be the connection. Marion

I note there was only a six year age gap between Robert Cunningham and Marjory Stuart his step daughter who was born in 1906 and was a School Teacher.  Philip

Philip - from the account given to me from Anna, Wallace knew her very well and that description of the lady in question does not appear to be apt. All in all, it was a strange situation! Marion

Philip - According to Anna, there was initially a romance with Marjory, but he married her Mother, Agnes - to everyone's great surprise!!  Marion

Marion:  I think Stuart was her previous married name not sure yet her maiden name. Philip

Marion: Do you know whether she had a brother in HK James Stuart Buchanan Bang Stuart - quite a mouthful ....who was a prison officer ?  Philip

Philip:I was just thinking the same - that Stuart may have been her married name previously. I have other avenues I am now going to explore and will keep you informed if I find anything. Marion

Philip: Sorry no, I have no information about that whatsoever. 

If I am able to find any details about Agnes Cunningham's first marriage, something may come out of that, in which case I will let you know.



I have on board my good friend and genealogist, Christine Calder, who is helping me find out more about the above Agnes Mary Cunningham (Stuart) and her daughter, Marjory Jeannette Stuart. It's proving difficult - I wonder, therefore, if it is possible for you to provide us with the following information which would be much appreciated and assist us greatly.

# Date and place of marriage of Robert Cunningham to Agnes Mary Stuart - Scotland or Hong Kong?

# Date and place of birth of Marjory Jeannette Stuart - Scotland or Hong Kong?

Thank you Philip.

Marion Allan

Good Morning Marion:

Date birth of Marjory Jeannette Stuart was 30 June 1906. She died aged 92 in Devon. She had been a school teacher in HK before the war. She gave a UK  address in 1932 on a return visit to UK as 11, Porchester Terrace, London, W2.........oh and she travelled First Class. I don't think she ever married. I am not sure of place of birth or where she taught in Hong Kong. I suspect she was born in Hong Kong. 

I am not sure where Robert and Agnes got married or when but I suspect Hong Kong. 



Good morning to you too, Philip.

Thank you for your prompt reply, which is most helpful and which I have passed on to Chris. We are now awaiting her Death Certificate which should give us the names of her parents! I will keep you posted. Thank you again.

Marion Allan

Phil I have now received the aboves death certificate for 29/12/1998 at Moorlands Hotel, Chagford Devon. She died of myocardial Infarction and Ischaemic heart disease 

Good morning Philip:

Perhaps Chris has already posted this information to you -

Agnes Mary Kelly was born on 11 March 1877 in Edinburgh. She married (aged 26) Charles Stuart (aged 25) Furniture Salesman in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh on 31 October 1903.

Their daughter, Marjorie Jane Stuart, was born 30 June 1906 in Edinburgh and died (aged 92) in West Devon 1998.

So, in spite of the dispute previously mentioned on the occasion of her death in the camp, Agnes' date of birth was correct after all. (She must have led Bert astray in more ways than one!!)


There's a Mr and Mrs Fowlie listed among the civilian internees at Stanley, and I wonder if they may have been the same couple you met? While sorting through various family papers earlier today, I came across a letter of condolence written by Jean Fowlie to one of my aunts, after my grandfather's (Robert Taylor, Green Island Cement) death. He was one of the survivors of the Bungalow C bombing, and  Mrs Fowlie mentions that he shared a small room with her and her husband, Francie, while the bungalow was out of bounds.  Apparently Mr Fowlie shared his one and only dish with Grandpa: eating his rice, then washing the dish so that Grandpa could go and line up for his own rations at 11 am and 5 pm.  Mrs Fowlie also says: 'I brought home the small thistle shaped crystal vase out of which we were able to drink a teaspoonful of whisky when times were bad.  I had taken a small hip-flask of whisky with me in my handbag when hostilities started.'

I know nothing else about the Fowlies, and there's no-one left in our family who might be able to shed any further light on this.  At the time of writing, I see that Mrs Fowlie was living in Maud, near Peterhead.


Could refer to F.W.Fowlie, b 1502.1902   enlisted in HKP 27.11.25,  Interned Stanley,promoted Sub Inspector 24.01.1941,awarded CPLSM 27.021943 as Inspector, Retired 1953

Thank you very much!  That looks spot on - I'll try to do some delving in the coming week.


I've made pages for Mr F W and Mrs M J Fowlie to collect any more we find out about them.

Yes I can confirm this is the same Mr & Mrs Fowlie I mentioned. They lived in Maud, Aberdeenshire. I know they came to visit my parents, Robert and Donella Cunningham, when we lived in Blairgowrie but I was a little girl at the time (over 60 years ago) and have no real memory of them. My parents spoke very fondly of them and I am only sorry I can't give you any further information. I wish you well in your search.

Marion Allan

Brilliant, thank you!

Bill Todd and his brother Murray served in the HKP after the war and well into the 1960s. Bill took great interest in the Police rugby team in the 50s and 60s; He was a very pleasant man and, I think, retired as a Senior Superintendent. I seem to remember that he was overjoyed when the Police team defeated the Club team, a rare occurence, at the old HK Sports Club in Happy Valley in the early 1960sa