Family Tucker | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Family Tucker

Hello,

I'm researching my father in laws family and I've hit a wall early on. His father was Ronald Edward Tucker, born 1932 and he lived with his family in Hong Kong for a while. We don't know much about them; my father in law knew that Ronald thought for years that his grandmother was his mother, and biological mother his sister.

What I have found so far is this:

Nancy (born abt.1889) and Edward Tucker (abt. 1890) had a daughter called Margaret. She was born around 1914. She was unmarried when she had Ronald at about 18 years old. No father named on Ronalds birth certificate.

On a passengerlist from 1932 when Edward, Nancy and Margaret travelled to the UK, under profession, Nancy and Edward are listed as 'Warder' and Margaret as 'Teacher'.

-- Off topic question: if someone was a warder in Hong Kong around 1930's, would that person be working at a prison?--

I think they went back to the UK to have the baby (Ronald was born 3 months after they arrived) and 6 months later, they went back to Hong Kong (1933), without baby (I think; no mention of infant on the list).

Edward Tucker died 23 Nov 1939 and is buried at Happy Valley cemetery in Hong Kong.

At some point Ronald arrived in Hong Kong because he and Nancy travelled to Fremantle, Australia in 1945 with the ship HMHS Gerusalemme. This ship was used for Recovery of Allied Prisoners of War and Internees (RAPWI). Ronald was 13 years old when they left Hong Kong. No mention of Margaret on that list.

Anyone know anything of this family? Or any suggestions where I might find more information?

 

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There are some resources you can check listed at: How to research people who lived in Hong Kong

Yes, "Warder" most likely means he was a Prison Warder. He might be mentioned in the Blue Books (mentioned at the link above), which show government employees including prison staff.

Do you know where Ronald & Nancy spent the war years? 

Thank you, David. I had a look at the bluebooks and I've found Edward Tucker listed as Warder of the prison department. He lived in the Quarters and Date of First appointment was 22 Sep 1923. Does that mean that he started the job as warder in 1923?

I have no idea where Ronald and Nancy spent the war years. Ronald, the father of my father-in-law, was not a big part in his life. But I guess they were in Hong Kong.

Yes, the date of first appointment will be when he started work as a civil servant.

I don't see the Tucker name in the lists of internees in Stanley Camp. The list isn't 100% accurate, but it's also possible they were interned elsewhere in Asia.

If they were held in HK during the war, you could look in the SOAS archives. More information on how to do that here 

E-mail from Henry Ching:

I grew up with Ronnie Tucker.

We were neighbours before the Japanese attack in 1941, and for some years after the war ended. Ronnie lived in the ground floor flat of 7 Village Road, while I lived in the 1st floor flat of 9 Village Road (where I was born) next door with my parents and siblings. In about 1943 he moved across Village Road to the ground floor flat at 4 Fung Fai Terrace opposite. He was born in 1932 and I was born in 1933, so we saw a lot of each other being of about the same age.
 
Ronnie lived with Mrs Tucker (Nancy) whom we knew as his mother, with Margaret whom we knew as his sister, and with Margaret’s husband named O.Guttinger – he was a Swiss gentleman and I think the O stood for Oscar or Otto.
 
For some reason they were not interned during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong.   I suspect this was either because of the Swiss connection, or because Mrs Tucker may have been Irish.  We continued as neighbours until some years after the war.
 
During the Japanese occupation, Margaret worked as, I think, secretary to the doctor in charge of the Yeung Wo Hospital.  I recall that because of this Ronnie was given a daily glass of milk.  My sisters and I would accompany him to the hospital kitchen in the morning and watch while he guzzled his milk. We were never offered any, but we didn’t really expect it – it seemed enough to watch his enjoyment.
 
When the war ended conditions in Hong Kong remained difficult for some time, mainly because of the lack of foodstuffs. The Government’s policy was to encourage people to leave.  Not only those interned were repatriated. My parents came from Australia where they were born, but for a number of reasons we were not interned. We joined the vast majority of the Eurasian community that called itself Third Nationals and remained free to fend for ourselves during the Japanese occupation. But in October, 1945 we were loaded onto an escort carrier, HMS Arbiter, and shipped to Sydney (minus my father who remained behind for some months to help get the Morning Post on its feet).  Mrs Tucker and Ronnie were similarly shipped, to Western Australia – Margaret remained in Hong Kong, I think, and continued to live at 4 Fung Fai Terrace.
 
I returned to Hong Kong at the end of 1946 and enrolled at the Diocesan Boys’ School.  Ronnie remained in Australia for longer, but finally returned and joined me at the DBS in about 1948.  I recall he was a boarder. He had been to school in Australia, and had been a member of the cadet corps.  School uniforms had not yet been re-introduced in Hong Kong, and I remember Ronnie strutting about in bits and pieces of his cadet uniform. He returned from Australia with a bicycle, and I had done the same, so we used often to go for long rides during holidays exploring Hong Kong – there was very little motor traffic then.
 
I left DBS and went up to the University in 1951, but by that time Ronnie had left. My memory is vague about that period, but I think he must have left Hong Kong in about 1949/50. Margaret remained at 4 Fung Fai Terrace for some years afterwards.  My father did not have a car at that time – our car had been requisitioned in 1941 and destroyed.  But Margaret had a friend who had a car, and at times would kindly invite my younger brother and myself to accompany them to Repulse Bay for a swim.

This is amazing! May I ask where you found this? Thank you very much for sharing.

I searched for Margaret and Oscar Guttinger (found his name in Jurors Lists) in Carl Smith collection and found Margaret but with the last name Drysdale. I've seen this name before on the passenger list to Australia in 1945; under address behind Nancy and Ronald's name it says: "c/o Cpl. Drysdale. 26, Australian Works Co. Fremantle"
Also when the family Tucker went to the UK in 1932, the people who were living at the proposed address on the passengerlist, were Eric and Esther Drysdale. So I suspect it's Nancy's maiden name or Nancy was married before to a Donald.

I also found an immigration card belonging to Margaret Amanda Drysdale when she visited Rio de Janeiro in 1949. Address listed is 4 Fung Fai Terrace in Hong kong. Also that she is divorced and she got the card at the Swiss embassy in Hong Kong. Born 27-9-1918 in Manchester to parents Donald and Nancy Drysdale.
I've uploaded the card to an image sharing website which you can see here. It also shows a picture of Margaret: http://tinypic.com/r/kce39w/9

This creates more questions for me. If Margaret was born in 1918 it's almost impossible for her to be Ronald's mother, yet on Ronald's birth certificate, Margaret (Tucker) is the mother...

Again thank you very much for the suggestions that have been given here and for sharing the memory written by Henry Ching.

I believe Margaret was the secretary to Dr Li Shu-fan.  "The widowed mother of my secretary Margaret appealed to me for a letter testifying that she was of Irish ancestry. I gave her the statement …….it secured exemption for her and her son" (Page 141 of Hong Kong Surgeon - Li Shu-Fan).

 

Best regards,  Philip Cracknell

Marianne, Henry Ching is a regular correspondent and after seeing your post he sent the message by email, which I pasted into the comment above.

Philip's quote from Dr Li Shu-Fan matches Henry's note that "Margaret worked as, I think, secretary to the doctor in charge of the Yeung Wo Hospital." Dr Li owned Yeung Wo, and Fung Fai Terrace was near to the hospital which explains her address. (See Yeung Wo Nursing Home and Fung Fai Terrace on maps.) 

Thank you again for posting the email from Henry, David. And I'm sure my father-in-law (Ronald's son) will be very pleased to hear about it.

In case Henry wonders what happened to Ronnie:
Ronald was in the Royal Australian Navy for a while (1950-1953), he got married in 1953 and had 2 children (my father-in-law and his sister). Marriage didn't work out and Ronald lost contact with his children for a while (hence we know so little about his life).
He moved to New Zealand and became a NZ citizen in the late seventies. He married two more times. At some point he moved back to Perth and he past away in April 2014 at the age of 81.

Philip's quote also matches the Irish ancestry part. It will help me narrow my search down location wise. I still haven't found parents/other family from Edward and Nancy, or country of birth.

E-mail from Henry Ching:

I am most grateful to Marianne for letting me know what happened to Ronnie Tucker. It is somehow comforting to know that he eventually had his own family.
 
I am grateful to her also for the photo of Margaret.  This served to confirm two things in my memory – the first that she was a very pretty lady, and the second that  she was Eurasian (I may in fact be wrong on this one, but to me that is how she looked). 
 
I recall one occasion when I was on the roof of where we lived at 9 Village Road, and Margaret emerged from her house in Fung Fai Terrace opposite all dressed up and in high heels.  For no reason at all I picked up a lump of earth about the size of a golf ball and threw it. I was only about 10 or 11.   Missed her by a good ten feet, but she was shocked and returned to the house.  Unknown to me, my father was on the verandah just below me, and saw it all. I was given a good scolding and told to get over there and apologise. I was expectant, thinking that if I was sufficiently contrite I might get a peck on the cheek for being a good boy. Ronnie answered the doorbell, took my apology, and returned to say that Margaret  had said “Tell him it’s all right, but don’t do it again”. Not even a pat on the head.  Disappointing.
 
The surname Drysdale rings a bell, but in connection with Mrs (Nancy) Tucker rather than Margaret, though I note that Margaret’s name given on her birth registration in 1918 (as shown on the immigration card linked above) was Margaret Amanda Drysdale. daughter of  Donald  and  Nancy   Drysdale.  So I suspect that Drysdale was Nancy’s married name.  Ronald’s birth registration gives no father’s name, but his mother’s maiden name is given as Tucker. So I suspect Nancy’s maiden name was Tucker, and married name Drysdale.
 
I note that Ronald eventually enlisted in the RAN. Puzzled, though, that the official record I see on Ancestry.com appears to show he enlisted during WW2.
 
Regards - Henry