Morris Abraham COHEN (aka Two-Gun) [1887-1970] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Morris Abraham COHEN (aka Two-Gun) [1887-1970]

Morris Abraham
Alias / nickname: 
c.1887-01-01 (Month, Day are approximate)
Birthplace (town, state): 
Birthplace (country): 
c.1970-01-01 (Month, Day are approximate)

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Morris Abraham 'Two-Gun' Cohen, born 1887 (possibly August 3 but this is uncertain) in Radzanow, Poland.

Fought in WW1, went to China in 1922 and worked for Sun Yat-sen as a bodyguard/aide de camp/military trainer. After Sun's death in 1925 worked for various nationalist leaders, and as an arms dealer, sealing most of his deals in Hong Kong. Became involved in the anti-Japanese struggle after 1937. Worked with the Chinese nationalists in Hong Kong countering Japanese-sympathising Chinese in the days after the December 8, 1941 attack. Interned in Stanley, repatriated as a Canadian in September 1943. Died in Salford, England in 1970.

A brief overview of those primary source materials, both official and popular, which had enabled senior British intelligence operative and respected multiple biographer, Commander Charles Drage, together with his reputable publisher, Jonathan Cape Ltd of London, to publish, with confidence and with certainty, the fact that the subject of their publication, Two-Gun Cohen (1954), had been born in England during the year 1889.

"A Short Discussion on Maj.Gen. M.A. “Two-Gun” Cohen’s Date and Place of Birth", by Michael Alderton (essarem) - In this “Age of Information” that we have only quite recently entered into in full measure, professional and amateur researchers alike are able to gain easy access to numerous machine-readable databases that are readily searchable on-line. Some of these databases store popular sources such as the historical newspapers of the world, while others store international official material such as travel and immigration documents. The picturesque General “Two-Gun” Cohen did, during his notable lifetime, quite understandably attract reams of attention from the world’s press. Spanning many years, the numerous resulting newspaper articles, which principally reported on his involvement in important current events, do in some cases provide a measure of backstory describing his remarkable life to date. In this process there is little written of his precise date of birth, but it is very often mentioned how he had been born in London. On the other hand, the international travel and immigration documents from Britain, Canada, and the United States do provide a date of birth, which rather frustratingly ranges between 1887, 1888, and 1889; but in all cases his place of birth is given as England. On the basis of the plentiful documentary evidence that is available from the popular and official sources mentioned above, it is quite clear that General Cohen had been born in England; and it was only the year of his birth that reasonably remained in doubt. When senior British intelligence operative and respected biographer, Commander Charles Drage, was faced with this uncertainty while conducting research for his book, Two-Gun Cohen (1954), he consulted the Thames Police Court Register for mentions of the young General Cohen. Here he discovered that the subject of his biography had appeared before two different magistrates on four separate occasions during April and May 1900. In each case the court officials, with time, resources, and professional experience at their disposal, had determined an 1889 date of birth for the young truant. With this reliable documentary evidence now at hand, Commander Drage was able to publish with confidence, and without risk to his credibility, the certain fact that the subject of his biography had been born in the year 1889.

"Throughout his life Morris Cohen had never wavered in his loyalty to England, the country of his birth." Senior British intelligence officer, Commander Charles Drage (1954)

See also: Alderton, Michael, “Notes on General Morris Cohen’s Date of Birth”, 2002.

A conservative contribution to the recently ignited, revisionist-driven debate, which surprisingly postulates, on the basis of selective latter-day "family" speculation, that General M.A. Cohen had been born in Poland, rather than in Britain as had been historically recorded in numerous international official documents and countless contemporary popular sources


Birth  registered Quarter 2 1890 Whitechapel London


1891 Census UK Mile End Old Town

Joseph Cohen 25 Tailor where born Russian Poland

Jane Cohen 26 where born Russian Poland

Rose Cohen 4 where born Russian Poland

Morris Cohen 1 where born Russian Poland


Poor Law Hospital Admissions and Discharges City of London 

City of London Union Workhouse Infirmary 

Morris Cohen age 3 lost child admitted 12 July discharged 13th July 1892 collected by a friend

With reference to the 1891 Census extract for the Joseph and Jane Cohen household at 53 Plummers Row, Mile End Old Town cited above, it could be misleading to assume that the Morris Cohen listed there and the young General "Two-Gun" Cohen, generally known during his childhood years as Abraham Cohen, are one and the same person. It is quite possible that Morris Cohen, eldest son of Joseph and Jane Cohen, had died in Mile End Old Town during the fourth quarter of 1892. This could explain why Morris Cohen's name does not appear as a member of the Cohen household in the Census listings for 1901; and why, in the 1911 Census, Morris was enumerated in the sections of the census titled "Number of children born alive" and "Number of children who have died" as the only one of eight offspring born to Joseph and Jane Cohen who was no longer alive at that time. The real nature of the family relationship that flourished after 1901 between the future General "Two-Gun" Cohen, a destitute ward of London's Jewish industrial school, and Joseph and Jane Cohen, the Cannon Street Road Synagogue "gabbai" and his charitable wife, started out as one of caring, part-time foster parents and developed, over the years, a truly filial dimension. Michael Alderton.