Arthur Morse

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For the historian, see Arthur D. Morse.
Arthur Morse

Sir Arthur Morse (Chinese: 摩士) (25 April 1892 - 13 May 1967) was the head of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation during and after World War II. He was a British banker born in Tipperary in Ireland. He has worked in Shanghai, London and Tientsin and finally many years in Hong Kong. He rebuilt HSBC and did much to revive Hong Kong after the war.



By 1940, Hong Kong was under the threat of Japanese invasion with the majority of branches in East Asia already in the hands of Japanese. Morse was sent to London by the then-Chief Manager of the bank Vandeleur Grayburn, to lead the bank and shift the headquarters to London to avoid the reserves being frozen in New York and San Francisco by the American authorities in the case of a Japanese take over in Hong Kong. On 16 December 1941, 9 days before Japanese occupation, Morse was appointed as the Commissioner and General Manager of the bank.

During the war, most of the staff in the East became prisoners of war and hundreds of them died. The Chief Manager, Sir Vandeleur Grayburn and his designated successor David C Edmondston died whilst prisoners in Hong Kong.

In 1943 the London Advisory Committee were empowered to act as a Board of Directors and he became the Chairman and Chief Manager of the bank.

In 1946, he moved the headquarters of the bank back to Hong Kong and the bank resumed its role as the central bank in Hong Kong. He involved himself in the revival of the infrastructure of the city, as well as the bank, his success in the latter task shown by the improving financial position of the bank starting a trend which continued after the end of his service in the bank in 1953.

His was succeeded by Michael Turner. Turner had been interned in Singapore at Changi Prison during the war.

Public services[edit]

Arthur Morse has participated many public bodies in Hong Kong and was an unofficial member of the Executive Council of Hong Kong during his stay in Hong Kong after the war.

Places and buildings named after him[edit]

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Sir Vandeleur Grayburn
Chief Manager of Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Turner