John Hubert BOTTOMLEY (aka Jack) [1899-1964] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong
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John Hubert BOTTOMLEY (aka Jack) [1899-1964]

John Hubert
Alias / nickname: 
Birthplace (town, state): 
Baildon, Yorkshire
Birthplace (country): 
Cause of death: 
Heart Attack

John Hubert Bottomley (Jack) was born in Baildon, West Yorkshire in 1899, the oldest of four children of Fred Bottomley and Elizabeth Tyson.   As a young man Jack served in World War I and was gassed as well as receiving serious shrapnel wounds in Flanders. He was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

After the Great War he studied engineering at Bradford Technical College (now Bradford University).  He passed the Oxbridge exams but the family could not afford to send him to Oxford or Cambridge.

He left London for Hong Kong aboard the P&O ship “Malwa” on 23 May 1924.  In Hong Kong he was employed as a Government architect with the Buildings Ordinance Office of the Public Works Department (PWD). 

He returned to Yorkshire in 1928 to marry his long-time sweetheart Mildred Victoria Rhodes and they returned together to Hong Kong. Their three children were all born in Hong Kong: Marjorie Elizabeth Bottomley (married name Bray); Frederick David Rhodes Bottomley (David) and John Victor Rhodes Bottomley.  They lived on The Peak at both Peak Pavilions and the Homestead Government Flats on Mount Kellett Road, Jardine’s Corner.

The whole family (including their widowed amah Wan Lau) were on leave in the UK when war broke out in Europe in 1939.  Jack returned to Hong Kong for work, but the rest of the family and the amah were trapped in the UK for the duration of the war.

Jack was a Major with the Field Company Engineers in the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps.  He was a POW in both Shamshuipo and Argyle Street camps.   His family did not know whether he was alive or dead until they heard news from the Red Cross around 1944.  As it turns out Jack nearly did die in camp and was amongst the first to leave HK for treatment in Australia on the British Royal Navy hospital ship “Oxfordshire” on 3 September 1945.

When he was well enough, after about 4 months at Concord Hospital in Sydney, Jack returned to his job in Hong Kong.  The family didn’t join him there until late 1948.   Jack and Mildred stayed in HK until Jack’s retirement in 1956.  Jack was dogged by ill-health, including diabetes, for the rest of his life and died of a heart attack in Hest Bank, Lancashire in 1964 at age 65.  His two older children Marjorie and David remained in Hong Kong with their families for three more decades whilst youngest son John and his family travelled the world with Cable & Wireless including one stint in Hong Kong in the 1970s.