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SOURCE p 16-17 The History of the Hongkong Shanghai Bank, Vol III. Frank H.H. King. Cambridge University Press, 1988

Branches in the immediate post-war period -case studies


All during the war, Newton Stabb had, as it were, held his breath relative to the Lyons agency. The agent, François de Bovis (East in 1872, Chief Manager 1891- 1893), was ageing and Stabb had no one to replace him. Nor was the solution any closer to hand in 1919. There is desultory discussion in the files as to whether the only Britisher on the Lyons staff, the Accountant, W.D. McCullagh (East in 1903), was qualified to take over. McCullagh was beginning to receive promotion; he had been acting Accountant in Hankow and in charge in Iloilo before going Home on leave in 1921/22. It was from leave that he was seconded on temporary assignment to Lyons.

The Bank had to be prepared for an emergency and, in view of the curious hesitancy concerning McCullagh's suitability, Stabb concluded that R.E.N. Padfield, then a London Sub-Manager, could be sent in an emergency.

This was as far as Head Office cared to go, and most discussion of the Lyons agency in the immediate post-war period is concerned with the implications of the French unitary tax and the possibility of establishing a separate corporation in France. This matter was not pursued, and it is probable that the Bank's passive approach to business in Lyons had an impact on the level of taxes assessed.

By 1922 the problem of management had still not been resolved. At this point François de Bovis had a motor accident, forcing a reconsideration of McCullagh}. The latter's reactions, however, suggested to Stabb that he was 'not right in the head' and the subsequent investigation of affairs in the agency by H.D.C. Jones, the junior London Manager, suggested that McCullagh's breakdown had not been without good cause.

Jones described the Lyons agency as being staffed by old men with old methods. McCullagh's attempts at change had been on the right lines, but he had been resisted. Lyons society was closed and McCullagh had been almost an outcast, a situation which preyed on his mind and led him to suspect conspiracy and personal danger. The experience finished his career; after only twenty years in the East he had to resign in 1923 on grounds of health.

(Footnotes in the above text refer to Stabb Letters - Stabb to A.H. Barlow, 3 August 1922, Group Archives & H.D.C. Jones to Stabb.)

NOTES: Service record of W.D. McCULLAGH (From HSBC Group Archives)

1900 Joins London office of HSBC

1903 East to join Hong Kong Office

1904 Manilla

1908 March. On leave

1909 March. Hong Kong

1913 Manilla

1914 June. On leave

1915 Singapore

1919 Hankow (Now called Wuhan)

1920 Iloilo, Philippines, temporarily in charge

1921 August. Seconded to Lyons, France

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