Hong Kong Telephone Co Murder | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Hong Kong Telephone Co Murder

Hi All

I'm doing some private research into the death of Florence Ryder who was murdered in Dec 1966. The crime took place in her apartment on The Peak and at the time she was employed as the secretary to the GM of the HKT co.   

I'm very interested in any background about Florence or the company / HK around this time.  She's buried in the Hong Kong Cemetery, the HK PRO have records of the Coroner's inquest but there's nothing to suggest the perpetrator was ever brought to justice. 

I was first made aware of this crime in the mid 80's by her late brother who was my dentist..  I subsequently spent two postings to Hong Kong but aside from fairly basic newspaper searches I've been unable to find out much more .   

I'd be greatful for ANY information.  




Hi, Ian ..... did your newspaper searches confirm the murder or reveal any more details and does the Coroner's report state how she actually died ?




I don't have access to report.  But contemporary newspaper accounts say she was beaten with a length of metal pipe.  They speculate she must have disturbed an intruder.  




Thanks for that, Ian. Perhaps a 'gwulo' with access to the archives of the SCMP or HK Standard for the period 4/5/6th December 1966 can shed more light on what appears to have been a particularly gruesome murder.

I believe the HKTC General Manager at the time was Charles Male who retired to South Africa in 1974.


Is this the same Florence Ryder who has been mentioned on gwulo before as one of the former occupants of Erinville: http://gwulo.com/node/13659


comment here: http://gwulo.com/comment/23791#comment-23791

thanks H 

Yes any articles would be most welcome from these publications. From around the time of the murder or the subsequent a police coronial enquiry. One imagines it would have received fairly comprehensive coverage.  I was interested to note, as suggested elsewhere on this site this GM retired to South Africa with his then secretary. 

Is much known about Charles Male?



Hi philk, well spotted.  

While it's possible, I have no proof of any direct relationship.

What I do know is that her father & mother arrived in Singapore in 1922 where her father practised as an engineer.   He served there until c1952 when he retired to Melbourne.  The two children were educated in Melbourne and I'm not sure what happend to the family during the Japanese occupation. 

With respect to her accomodation, it was mentioned that she lived on the Peak. I understand that HKTC owned an apartment building for staff so I'm assuming that she lived in that building.   



The apartment block on The Peak owned by the HKTC around that time was named 'Modreenagh',  Plunkett's Road.


Hi H

I beleive I've located a picture of the apartment block in question.  I've posted it at the following link.




It is a different Florence Ryder. The Florence Ryder whose parents lived at Erinville before the War was Irish not Australian and was born in 1900. Best regards, Philip Cracknell


Hi Ian , My name is Brian Ryder, Florence was my Aunt , sister to Len and Vic . Vic is still alive at a retirement home at Tweed Heads aged 91.   This has been a mystery to me all my life , I am now 61 and remember the day we heard the news about Florence, she had recently been in Australia and in a car accident in Geelong. Interesting what you have discovered and the shooting in Singapore. Any info you have would be awesome and I would be happy to answer any questions about our family.

cheers Brian


have discovered a little more about this mystery, the shooting was not in Singapore but Malaysia and the details are very interesting.

Florence was a friend of my lae wife who was devastaed on hearing of the murder when we returned from leave in 1967. My wifew was interviewed by the late Chief Inspector John Floyd  about Florence and her friends but could give no reason for her murder.  The suspicion in 1967 was that she had been murdered by an American sailor on R & R after they met, but where and why still is a mystery.

The Police will still have an unsolved crime file on the incidsent, but whether they will allow you to examine it is doubtful

Hi and thanks for some more snippets of information.  The home invasion previously in Malaya was by geurilla style terrorists and Florence somehow shot one dead with a hand gun,  (according to my father who I spoke to recently about this)  all news to me.

So how is a young woman capable of this type of action?  Her car was smashed in Geelong at an intersection which put her in hospital for a number of weeks, as you would know Florence knew how to drive a car. this happened in 1966 I believe. So many questions.  I have not heard the US sailor theory.  I would love to know more about my aunt. thanks again Brian

I was still a primary-school pupil in 1966, but a search on the Net, I found the above article.


I hope these newspaper clippings will help

Florence Ryder The Sydney Morning Herald Page 3 Sat 3rd December 1966.jpg
Florence Ryder The Sydney Morning Herald Page 3 Sat 3rd December 1966.jpg, by eurasian_david
Florence Ryder The Sydney Morning Herald Mon Page 8 5th December 1966.jpg

Florence Ryder The Sydney Morning Herald Mon Page 8 5th December 1966.jpg, by eurasian_david

Florence Ryder The Age Page 2  Mon 5th December 1966.jpg

Florence Ryder The Age Page 2 Mon 5th December 1966.jpg, by eurasian_david

Florence Ryder The Age Page 2 Sat 10th December 1966.jpg
Florence Ryder The Age Page 2 Sat 10th December 1966.jpg, by eurasian_david
Florence Ryder The Sydney Morning Herald Page 22 Sun 11th December 1966.jpg
Florence Ryder The Sydney Morning Herald Page 22 Sun 11th December 1966.jpg, by eurasian_david


Florence Ryder Times Colonist Page 39 Sat 29th June 1968.jpg

Florence Ryder Times Colonist Page 39 Sat 29th June 1968.jpg, by eurasian_david

Florence Ryder Nanaimo Daily News Page 2 Sat 29th June 1968.jpg
Florence Ryder Nanaimo Daily News Page 2 Sat 29th June 1968.jpg, by eurasian_david


The facts of what happened in Singapore:


The attack took place in a car off Clementi Road, Singapore at about 6:30 p.m. of 5th April 1953

The three Chinese attackers were: Tan How Kheng (17 years), Lim Kheng (23 years) and Chua Kah Tia (23 years)

Weapons used were: Knives and a gun

Reason for attack: Attempted armed robbery

The two victims were: Mr. John Edmund (Edmonds) Pitcher (24 years) and Miss Florence Esther Ryder (21 years) who were seated in a car.

Injuries: Mr Pitcher was stabbed in the left side of the chest and in the axilla. Miss Ryder was slapped, punched and kicked in the hip. Tan How Kheng was shot in the thigh accidentally when Mr Pitcher grabbed the gun, which went off.  

Sentence in the Singapore Assizes on 11th August 1953: Lim Kheng and Chua Kah Tia both were sentenced 8 years imprisonment and 12 strokes of the rotan each. Tan How Kheng was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. The punishment stood as sentenced as the Court of Appeal dismissed each of the three men’s appeals on 25th September 1953.


The Straits Times, Page 1, 6th April 1953



The Straits Times, Page 7, 29th May 1953



The Straits Times, Page 16, 11th August 1953

“Man denies knife attack on couple”


The Straits Times, Page 4, 12th August 1953

“Two get 8 years and a flogging”


The Straits Times, Page 5, 26th September 1953