Michael William Turner was born in 1905, in Winchester. His father Skinner Turner had been the Chief Judge of the British Court in Shanghai. His son maintained connections with the Far East throughout his life by joining HSBC bank.
By the time Michael arrived in Shanghai he was past his playing prime and played just a few games between the years of 1936 and 1939. Forty-six years after the event, his wife Wendy, who was living in Shanghai remembered first meeting her husband when he visited Shanghai with Hong Kong to play in 1934. She recalled that, 'I was only eighteen and officially not out. In those days you did have a coming out ball… so my mother was adamant that I was not allowed to go out and about unless I was in a party… I was asked to a cocktail party by my sister, and I was told very firmly by my mother that I could go on the understanding that I didn’t go out with any of the rugger team afterwards on my own. Mike, needless to say, did ask me out on my own, and I did go on my own, and apart from the fact my father was practically standing with a shotgun on the doorstep when I got back, that was the practically the end of my debut in Shanghai.’
Mike had not impressed his future wife and she thought that ‘he wasn’t my type at all.’ It seems that Mike was hard to pin down and it took some while for the relationship to blossom. They were eventually married in November 1938 at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Shanghai with Mike’s Hong Kong team mate who was by now also living in Shanghai, W H B Rigg as his best man.
Mike left Shanghai in November 1941 to take on a new role in Singapore. As things turned out he had left the frying pan only to get into the fire. Despite being thought impregnable by the British, Singapore was soon overrun by the Japanese and Mike was interned in the infamous Changi prison camp in Singapore. Despite having stayed in Singapore long after most wives had left, with a second baby on the way, Wendy left Singapore with her eighteen month old son less than a week before it fell in February 1942 and eventually arrived safely in England.
She did not see her husband again until October 1945, by which time he had lost 81 lbs in weight, lost his teeth and gone prematurely white. He eventually recovered enough to return to the Far East, to a devastated Hong Kong.
His career flourished and in 1953 he was running HSBC and was instrumental in turning it into a global bank. His career success led to a knighthood in 1961. He retired as the Chief Manager and Chairman in 1962. He died in October 1980.
Sir Michael William Turner (1905 - 1980)