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Subject

R. K. Burns

R. K. Burns

War dead  Male  Born 31/8/1889  Died 10/11/1943

Categories: War Memorial WW2

Countries: China/Hong Kong, Scotland

CN Co. C'E Chengtu. Andrew Behan has researched this man: Chief Engineer Officer Robert Kirkwood Burns was born on 31 August 1889 in Greenock, Scotland, the son of Robert and Martha Burns. His father was a Sail Maker. The 1891 census shows him living with his parents and four elder sisters at 18 Sir Michael Street, Greenock. The 1901 census shows that he, together with his parents, one elder and one younger sister, was living at at 13 West Stewart Street, Greenock.

On 28 March 1918 he left London as a passenger aboard the P & O Steam Navigation Ship the S.S. Malta bound for Shanghai, China. His occupation was recorded as a Marine Engineer. He married his wife, Jessie McVicar, and he was employed by the China Navigation Co. Ltd and their address in the UK was 24 Nelson Street, Greenock. In 1941 he was the Chief Engineer Officer of the S.S. Chengtu  a London registered passenger/cargo vessel owned by the China Navigation Co. Ltd that was scuttled on 25 December 1941 in Hong Kong to avoid capture by the Japanese forces. He was also a Private in the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps and was attached to their Hughes Group that was a section made up almost entirely of 'retirees' and acted as an auxiliary unit to their Special Guard Company to protect women and children.

He was made a Prisoner of War and held at the Sham Shui Po internment camp. According to the Merchant Seaman Deaths index cards held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich and the Foreign & Overseas Registers of British Subjects records held at The National Archives, Kew, he died, aged 54 years, on 10 November 1943 as a prisoner of war at the British Military Hospital, Bowen Road, Hong Kong. His certified cause of death was Acute Exacerbation of Chronic Amoebic Dysentery and was buried in Grave 197 at the Bowen Road Cemetery. On 14 February 1946 he was re-interred in Plot 1, Row A, Grave 40 at the Stanley Military Cemetery, Wong Ma Kok Road, Stanley, Hong Kong.

Andrew adds that: Burns' parents headstone claims he died at the Sham Shui Po Camp, but the Merchant Seaman Deaths index cards held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich and the Foreign & Overseas Registers of British Subjects records held at The National Archives at Kew both state that he died as a prisoner of war at the British Military Hospital in Hong Kong, so I have gone with the records rather than the memorial.

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R. K. Burns

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Swire war memorial - 1

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