Sunday, 27 June 2010

A Scout's Funeral

One of the high tiers within the cemetery is the last resting place of Thorvald Emile ANDERSEN, a young Scout Cub Master. During the First World War most Scout leaders had been called up for military service resulting in the decline of the Movement. In 1920 one of its founders, Lt. Col. F.J. Bowen returned to Hong Kong and reorganised the Hong Kong Branch of The Boy Scouts Association and the first Scout Rally was held at the Murray Parade Ground at Garden Road on 8 January 1921. The Prince of Wales visited Hong Kong in 1922 and on 6 April presented a Banner bearing his own Coat of Arms to the Hong Kong Scouts as a trophy for the winner of a Colony-wide scout competition. These were momentous occasions and Andersen was almost certain to have attended.

By the middle of June summer had arrived in the Colony and one Saturday afternoon Andersen took a party of Scouts to the bathing beach at Stonecutters Island. At 7pm all the Scouts apart from Andersen were back on board their launch for the return home. Andersen had seen some friends on another launch and decided to join them – he told the Scouts to go off without him and started swimming towards the other launch. Suddenly he was caught with cramp and sank below the water. Mr. Knight of the American Express Co. was aboard the other launch and immediately jumped in (fully clothed) to try to help the young man. Unfortunately Andersen did not surface and it is thought that the strong current carried him into deep waters. The would-be rescuers searched and searched but were forced to give up when darkness descended. The police recovered the body early on Monday morning at Shamshuipo.

Andersen, 19 years of age, was an apprentice at Kowloon Docks and Cub master of the St. Andrews Troop of Boy Scouts. He lived with his family at Orient Buildings and was a popular young man. His father had previously worked for the Kowloon Godown Co. but had recently moved to Shanghai where his family was due to join him.

The funeral was held late on Monday 19th. June. The coffin draped with the St. Andrew’s Troop colours was carried to the ferry by members of his troop.

It was transferred to the hearse on arrival at the Hong Kong wharf and then the cortege slowly made its way to Happy Valley. The cortege was due to pass the Monument at 5.40 and it was here that the procession was swelled by a large number of friends. Walking immediately behind the hearse was the deceased’s mother and younger brother.

Scouts carried the coffin to the graveside where the Revd. Lindsay of St. Andrews Church, Kowloon conducted the burial service. Andersen was described as being a clean straightforward worker and the Scout movement had lost a keen and zealous worker. The Last Post was sounded by Bugler Lim of St. Andrew’s Troop.

The troops represented with their commanding officers were: St. Andrew’s Troop (Scoutmaster Farrell), Wesleyan Troop (Assistant Scoutmaster Williams), Murray Troop (patrol Leader Westlake), 5th. Troop (Cub Master Fenton), Ellis Calorie Troop, Saiyingpun Troop (Scoutsmaster Leung), and 8th. Troop (Scoutsmaster Wong), The St. Joseph’s Troop was represented by Scouts not in uniform.

The memorial inscription reads: In loving memory of our dear son, Thorvald Emil ANDERSEN, born 20th. October 1902, accidentally drowned while bathing off Stonecutters Island on 17th. June 1922. Erected by his sorrowing father and mother.

For a search of my Hong Kong Cemetery index please e-mail:

For photographs of Hong Kong Scouts during the 1920s please refer to the HK Scouts website.