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Notes on life of Hugh McIntyre

Hugh McIntyre was my wife's grandfather. He was born in Hobart in 1892 and went to New Zealand in 1895 when his father took his family to Dunedin for health reasons.

His father was the Reverend Isaac Kirkir McIntyre born 5 April 1848 in County Antrim, Ireland, the fifth son of Rev Hugh McIntyre Loanends, County Antrim. The Rev Hugh McIntyre is noted for being a Seceder, a group of religious persons involved in the Free Church of Scotland, a breakaway group from the state sponsored church, who went to Northern Ireland to establish a Presbyterian Church there and a contributory source to the troubles that exist there today.

At least two sons, Isaac and John Brown King McIntyre, known as JBK later became Ministers in the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland. JBKs family branch went to Canada whilst Isaac at the behest of the Church was sent to Hobart, Tasmania where he met and married a Miss Ethel Lucy Simmonds on 25 January 1890. Together they had three children one of whom was Hugh McIntyre. In 1895 the family moved to Dunedin, New Zealand, where Isaac was inducted into St Stephens, North Dunedin.

Hugh McIntyre became a teacher in Otago/South Canterbury. Family Folklore suggests Waimate and Clyde. There is a record of a Hugh McIntyre at Waitohi Flat in 1906 (See http://shadowsoftime.co.nz/teachers3.html) and another for Glenavey School in 1909 but these are unlikely and most likely refer to another Hugh McIntyre because he would have been only fourteen when at Waitohi Flat.

Hugh met and married his first wife, Jane McGuckin, in 1914 and had a daughter, Ethel Margaret McIntyre in 1915 (my wife's mother). He also had a son Hugh Kirker McIntyre. Jane McGuckin came from a successful family of women whose father operated mines before selling up and becoming the proprietor of the Commercial Hotel in Omakau. Although married, Hugh volunteered for the Army during WW1 and went to England in 1917 as a member of the New Zealand Riflemen.

Sadly Jane McIntyre died, reportedly of Tuberculosis, at an early age in 1924. Hugh is also reported as having suffered and recovered from TB. A year after Jane died he married a widow, Isabella Hall-Watson, who was eleven years older than Hugh and whom, family folklore suggested, was his housekeeper. Information now casts considerable doubt on that. Apparently with the death of their mother, Hugh Junior was passed around relatives, whilst (Ethel) Margaret went to live with a McGuckin - Aunt Scotty. This could explain why Isabella was not remembered kindly.

Isabella had been married to a very successful mining engineer who died of Blackwater Fever in 1920, and as a result she was left very comfortably off. Hugh apparently 'abandoned' her, and went to the USA where he was enrolled at the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, between May 1936 and December 1937. What happened between 1925 and 1936 is difficult to determine because there was no census or other data for 1931, and only electoral rolls for 1928 and 1934 to trace movement. What has been established is that he did not divorce Isabella and she retained the McIntyre name as Nana McIntyre until her death in Auckland in 1957.

Whilst in the USA he met an English girl, supposedly just two years older than his son, a 'Thea' Foster-Brown mentioned in the records of the sinking of the SS Kuala and who subsequently followed him to Singapore where he went following graduation from Palmer College and where they were married. It would now seem it must have been bigamously. We now know that 'Thea" was Dorothea Mary Brown born in Nottingham in 1904 who sailed from Southampton to New York on 8 August 1936 to go to the Palmer Chiropractic College where she obviously met Hugh. The marriage took place in Singapore on 10 August 1939. The original name confusion is a result of her mother Emily Newton Brown (nee Edwards) remarrying a Robert Foster in 1913.

It was in Singapore that Hugh got caught up in World War II and was interned in Changi Prison. His wife Thea was evacuated from Singapore on the "S.S. Kuala" which was attacked and sunk by the Japanese in 1942. Survivors were then transported on a small boat the "Tanjong Pinang". This was also attacked and sunk by the Japanese and most of the passengers were killed as a result including, Thea McIntyre. See http://www.cofepow.org.uk/pages/civilian_ss_tanjong_pinang.htm

Sadly Hughs two sisters, Dorothy whose husband was Frank Ball, and Lucy, who married Dr Penseler, the son of the German Consul in New Zealand, were also killed with Thea, Frank Ball was also killed whilst Dr Penseler was interned in Changi with Hugh and died of throat cancer there.

Hughs time in Changi has been well documented in his evidence to the Double Tenth Tribunal, and he undoubtedly acquitted himself well whilst there, providing help and assistance to fellow prisoners and suffering unspeakable torture from being part of a group accused of being involved in the Double Tenth episode. The accusation arose because of his involvement in the secretive Changi newspaper. A story is told that he used a ring to buy additional food for the people incarcerated with him during the Double Tenth torture period that is credited with saving the lives of prisoners. Some of the fellow prisoners tried to thank him by offering to give money to Hugh after the war, which he refused. The ring was apparently given to him by Thea, and it is said was a bit ostentatious for Hugh, who had it modified. Nonetheless it must have been reasonably valuable in the eyes of the Japanese guards to be able to buy food for several prisoners. (One wonders if it was a Palmer College ring, which is a custom in the USA)

Hugh McIntyre was repatriated to Bangalore, India (See paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=EP19450915.2.80&l=mi&e=-------10--1----0--) then Bombay before being repatriated to England on the Llandovey Castle, arriving in the Southampton in October 1945 where he went to live at 49 Beechwood Avenue, Sherwood Rise in Nottingham. In about 1946 or 1947 Hugh was awarded the OBE for his activities helping prisoners in Changi. This was reported in many newspapers in Australia. (See example at:- http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/2794855?searchTerm=%22hugh%20mcintyre%22&searchLimits=)

In England he met a (Gladys)Mary Miller) nee Burchnall who nursed him whilst he recovered from his time in Changi. There is no information on where he met Mary who had been married to a (Henry) Stanley Miller and whom had been blinded in WW1. Information suggests that Stanley was Marys first boyfriend, and Mary was encouraged to marry him by her father. Unfortunately it seems Mary did not enjoy the marriage and as a result Stanley found another partner, resulting in the divorce.

Mary decided to move to Western Australia to try her hand at farming, and Hugh followed in 1948 when he sailed to Perth in Western Australia where they met up again and married. According to a press article in the West Australian in October 1954, Hugh and his wife Mary returned to the UK that year after five years in West Australia where they had supposedly been pig farming. Some time thereafter they ended up in Spilsby, Lincolnshire, where he died in 1975.

The above information has been found using internet resources and cooperation from various family members and persons located during the research who were involved, or descended from people touching the life of Hugh. My thanks goes to their generous assistance.

Sadly details were never discussed during visits in later years by my wife and I when we visited Hugh in Spilsby, Lincolnshire, UK on several occasions in the 60s and 70s until his death in 1975, and thereafter Mary, until her death in 1986.