MIKE TALAMO 1925-2018

10 Jul 2018

Mike Talamo 1925-2018

The Hong Kong Rugby Union is sad to announce the passing of Mike Talamo aged 93 in the early hours of Sunday morning the 8th of July 2018, in no pain and at home with his family.

Mike moved to Hong Kong in March 1951 having been posted by British Oxygen Company as Plant Engineer to the then recently established China Oxygen & Acetylene Company. Towards the end of his three year tour in the Far East he was posted to Singapore.

Wishing to return to Hong Kong he sailed back from the UK to Hong Kong in October 1954 with his new wife Laine, whom he had met in Hong Kong, to join the electrical and mechanical engineering company Inniss & Riddle (I & R) as a Sales Engineer. One of his first assignments was the supply and installation of the floodlights at So Kon Po government football stadium. He was appointed Managing Director of I & R in 1967, serving in this post for the next 10 years. The company was acquired by Davie Boag & Co, subsequently becoming a subsidiary of Hutchison International. He then joined Deacon & Co Ltd to develop their import business where he worked until his retirement in 1986. After which the family returned to the UK in 1988.

Mike was one of only two known survivors of the first Hong Kong rugby international tour in 1952 to Japan. An extract from his memoirs follow. He was finally presented with his colony cap in 2017, which he wore with much pride.

Mike was a founder member of the Hebe Haven Yacht Club where he served on the committee for 25 years from 1962. He was a talented painter and member of the Hong Kong Arts Club where he met his wife of 64 years Laine. He was Hon Treasurer, Secretary and Chairman of the Hong Kong Engineering Society and an active member of the Hong Kong Motor Sports Club from 1954 and served with distinction in numerous other organisations.  

He was one of 65 founder members of The Rugby Union Club, in Hong Kong, who in 1983, each donated HK$2,000 to fit out and decorate the new HKRFU offices and Club bar, after their move to Watson’s Estate, North Point.

He is survived by his wife Laine, who until 1988 owned and managed the Peninsular Flower Shop, and son Nigel.

Source ‘Lucky Nose’ auto-biography Mike Talamo

Memories of the 1952 tour Mike Talamo

Mike Talamo 2nd row 4th left

I first arrived in Hong Kong early in 1951 and joined the Hong Kong rugby club later that same year and was lucky enough to be selected to be part of a Colony representative side to tour Japan. Also in the party flown to Japan apart from a few civilian players from the HKRFC were players from the Services.

I still remember the rather beaten up old 'plane’ that we travelled in and the following is an extract from my 'memoirs' describing the tour

“Understandably every day in Hong Kong provided completely fresh experiences for me. First of all I happily discovered that there was a flourishing Rugby Football Club and so lost no time in joining the HKRFC. Members were drawn from young expatriates like myself employed in the Colony and there were also teams from the Hong Kong Police, Army, Navy and RAF who were our usual opponents. However, in January 1952 a tour to Japan was organised made up from representatives from all these clubs and I was lucky enough to be amongst those chosen to go.

This was the first time that Japan had had a chance to play against teams from outside Japan since before the war and although they were extremely keen and fit they were short of stature compared to Europeans. We played firstly against Meiji University, then All Kanto, which covered the Tokyo area and also All Kansai which covered the area around Kobe and which included many tough chaps employed in the steelworks there. Our final match was played against a scratch team of ‘foreigners’ who had found themselves in Japan, this comprising employees of local branches of British companies leavened by several Commonwealth servicemen who were in Japan for ‘rest and recreation’ after serving in the Korean war. Many of these were New Zealanders who played to a high standard and this match was the only one, which we managed to lose!

Our Japanese hosts entertained us splendidly and introduced us both to the pleasures and rituals of Japanese eating with kimono-clad Geisha girls in attendance to feed us, I must confess though that we all found difficulty in sitting cross-legged on the tatami matted floor for any length of time became very uncomfortable despite our fitness. We were also treated to the pleasurable experience of the Japanese bathhouse where the personable young ladies in attendance would soap us down and scrub our backs while we stood waist deep in hot water filled wooden tubs, our initial embarrassment at this new experience soon wearing off! “

As a new arrival in Hong Kong I lost no time in pursuing my other interests and apart from rugby I joined the HK Art Club as I was a keen amateur painter and a happy outcome of this was that at one of our weekly meetings I met my future wife Laine and we have recently celebrated our 62nd anniversary with son Nigel arriving in 1955. It will be seen that playing rugby thus would no longer be my main priority although I continued to play and was included in the HKRFC side to play against the Commander British Forces side early 1953. I only played occasionally after our marriage and I do not recall ever having received a Rugby Cap; perhaps they were created after my playing days!

Mike Talamo 8th September 2016


Mike was presented with his cap in 2017