Long lost family from Hong Kong in the 1950s

Submitted by JoshHutchings on Thu, 06/20/2019 - 23:43

My grandfather Gordon Hutchings was a young British soldier who fought in the Korean War around 1952 and was stationed in Hong Kong around the time of his service. After he died in 1981, his wife, my British grandmother, found some pictures in his possession of him stood next to a Hong Konger lady named Shingping Lai (黎倩蘋) who was holding their supposed baby (links to pictures at the end of post). Since this was kept a secret, we have had no contact whatsoever with this relative of ours, although we would very much like to.

Unfortunately, we are completely clueless as to how to begin the search. We are hoping that putting our story up here, we could possibly have some advice and recommendations for how to go about this difficult task. Our only possible pathway to finding this sibling is the postal address on the back of the letter from my grandfather's lover (written July 28th, 1956): 
Shingping Lai
℅ Dr C. L. Siow 
P.O Box 1784 
5 Merlin Street (ground floor) 
Hong Kong

We have tried to communicate with the above address, although to no avail as it's now a restaurant where the staff don't speak English. We have emailed a few companies on Merlin Street, but it appears they are all commercial now. Are there any Gwulo followers that know this area at all? I am based in Vienna, Austria currently and am sadly not visiting Hong Kong any time soon. 

Do any of you have recommendations for how to find this relative? How about DNA websites that Hong Kongers use for health/ancestral lineage/family finding? Are there forums for Chinese-born military children? Are there any investigators we could hire? Is there anything we can glean from Shingping Lai's name? For example her ethnic background? The region she may have been from? We have a portrait photograph of her, as well as the envelope she sent the pictures in that includes a love note written in Cantonese - We have already translated this lovely farewell note.

I apologise in advance if this forum is not meant for this kind of post, it's just we really are unsure how to further trek this path. 
Thank you for taking the time to read this post by a curious and hopeful grandson,
Josh Hutchings

Portrait of Shingping Lai:

IMG_20190404_153509_01.jpg, by JoshHutchings
Farewell letter:
IMG_20190404_154638_01.jpg, by JoshHutchings

There's a good possibility that this lady was an employee of Dr. C.L.Siow. You can try to track him/her down from the medical registrar or the U of HK medical school if he/she was a grad there. The surname Siow seems more Singaporean/Malaysian than Hongkongese to me.

You can post to the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/HK60s/  with the detail for help. Some people there may have gone to school with the said baby and recognize the mother's photo.

Guy Shirra has helped on similar cases, so it'd be worth talking to him: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sherriffinvestigations/?originalSubdomain=hk

Could you also tell us more about which part of the British Army your grandfather served in? You may be able to reach some of the men who served with him, who could add more information about the events.

The Red Cross tracing service is another possible source of help: https://www.redcross.org.hk/en/tracing_service/faq.html

Good luck, and please leep us updated of your progress.

Thank you very much for responding so quickly and for the recommendations, David. 

I have contacted Guy Shirra by email and he is willing to pick up the case. I am in contact with him now concerning the details of the situation. 

re: my grandfather's position in the military, I have called my father in the UK and asked him for any information he may have on this, although we do believe documentation on his military whereabouts may be missing. I am under the impression that he was possibly with the Wiltshire regiment, or possibly an Essex-area regiment. He fought in the Korean War, and we have pictures of him stationed in Japan and Hong Kong. He was witness to the nuclear bomb experiments and he passed away aged 48 from organ failure. That's the limited information I have to hand. 

I will keep this forum updated with whatever happens! Thank you again for the recommendations. 

Thank you for the response there tkjho, it's very kind of you to write so quickly. 

You make a great point concerning Shingping Lai's connection to the c/o of her letters, Dr C L Siow, that she may have been working for them. I never considered this and always wondered how she might have had this Dr as her c/o. I did a quick google of the HK doctor's register but I believe it may only be active doctors registered on there, as I could only find one Dr Siow and they were registered in 1987. 

re: the FB page for HK in the 1960s, I joined the group and have been accepted. I will make a post on there now with the pictures I have. 

Thanks again for responding, I'll keep this forum page updated with any information.