For the descendents of Richard Dearie and his son John Russell

The three documents below concern the argument that Don Russell had with his brother Bob at the end of the war with Japan over the re-supplying of equipment to Malayan Collieries.

The first two are typewritten notes now in the possession of Michael Russell which were written in 1944 probably for discussion on Don's first visit to KL after he had recovered from his internment. The letters referred to in them have been lost.

The third document appears to be the draft of a letter to be sent to Malayan Collieries. Michael has the original document containing several corrections.


J. A. Russell and D. O. Russell formed partnership of J. A. Russell & Co. in Malaya.

The firm floated Malayan Collieries Ltd. in 1913 and acted as General Managers throughout its life and are responsible for its success.

R. C. Russell later joined his brothers, also acted as alternate director on the Board of Malayan Collieries Ltd. for J. A. Russell. In 1920, J. A. Russell and D. O. Russell purchased the business of W. R. Loxley & Co. and the latter administrated the business. At the same time the London branch of W. R. Loxley & Co. was appointed London Agents of Malayan Collieries Ltd. Under the managership of J.A. Russell & Co. Malayan Collieries Ltd., which was formed originally to work a coal mine, extended their activities by entering into the manufacture of bricks, tiles and plywood; wood distillation and marketing of its by-products.

In April 1933 Mr. J. A. Russell died and all his assets were concentrated into a Trust Fund and J. A. Russell & Co. turned into a limited company – J. A. Russell & Co. Ltd. Mr. H. H. Robbins, who had been Mr. J. A. Russell’s right hand man for many years became Managing Director of the firm and Chairman of Malayan Collieries Ltd. Mr. R. C. Russell was appointed a director of Malayan Collieries Ltd. In March/April 1937 the London representation of Malayan Collieries Ltd. was altered and Mr. A. Beattie, who had resigned from W. R. Loxley & Co. in February 1937, was allotted certain duties – see letters 2/4/37 and 27/5/37.

At the end of 1937, Mr. R. C. Russell was asked to resign from J. A. Russell & Co. and he retired to Canada.

In April 1941, W. R. Loxley & Co. were requested to advise shareholders regarding dividends until conditions were normal again (see letters dated

Last communication was a cable dated 19/1/42 from H. H. Robbins at Singapore stating that all Malayan Collieries property and Russell Company assets lost to enemy.

Directors of Malayan Collieries Ltd. at fall of Malaya were H. H. Robbins, J. Drysdale, A. J. Kelman, F. Cunningham, A. M. Delamore. Messrs. Robbins and Drysdale who were also directors of J. A. Russell & Co. were captured by the Japanese at Singapore and Mr. H. H. Robbins has since died in internment camp. Mr. Drysdale is still interned.

Malayan Collieries Ltd. registered in England 30/9/44 with business address at 4 Queen Victoria Street, E.C.4. Directors given as

A. J. Kelman

A. Beattie alternate for A. M. Delamore

G. M. Dalgety alternate for F.Cunningham

R. C. Russell

A. M. Delamore

F. Cunningham

J. Drysdale



Established in 1872 by W. R. Loxley. Bought by J. M. Beattie date unknown – thought to be about 1900. Later brothers A. Beattie and M. P. Beattie joined the firm. Business sold to J. A. Russell and D. O. Russell in 1920 and under the agreement A. Beattie became Manager of the London branch.

J. A. Russell died in 1933.

London floated as private company (W. R. Loxley & Co, (London) Ltd.) in 1935. £15,000 Capital.

Shareholders : D. O. Russell 14998 shares also Director

A. Beattie 1 Share also Director alternate to D. O. Russell

A. L. Ballard 1 Share also Director

A. Beattie resigned from Company February 1937.

A. L. Ballard appointed Manager. A. J. Baker appointed a director, also A. Beattie’s share transferred to A. J. Baker.

D. O. Russell was captured at Hongkong and interned in a British Civilian Camp at end of 1941.

A. L. Ballard died in December 1942 and A. J. Baker became manager.

F. H. Taylor, E. R. Abbott, and O. Russell were appointed directors in January 1943.

F. H. Taylor resigned his directorship in September 1944 and his firm appointed auditors to the Company.


A. Beattie started in business with J. E. Hardwick in 1937 under Business Name Andrew Beattie. J. F. Hardwick was later replaced by H. D. Thomas, the firm then taking the name of Andrew Beattie & Co. In 1943 the firm was registered as a private company under the style of Andrew Beattie & Co (London) Ltd. with a paid up capital of £1,000; and carries on the business of Import and Export Merchants.

Re MALAYAN COLLIERIES LTD. letter 21/9/44.

1. Agree we had no Agency Contract but we certainly had implied powers for acting as and being known as the London Agents of Malayan Collieries Ltd.

2. Malayan Collieries Ltd. did not use both firms for various purposes, but for quite definite functions of which ours was buying and paying for all machinery and anything incidental thereto.

3. We dispute emphatically the statement in third paragraph. Firstly Andrew Beattie & Co., later Andrew Bettie & Co. (London) Ltd., only came into existence in 1937 and it was only at a very much later date that this firm did any buying for the Collieries ant then only in connection with fittings for Plywood Chests. Hence “the long association of both firms with Malayan Collieries” had not been a fact. We have served the Collieries for over 20 years without complaints in regard to service and as late as 1941 we were requested to assist in work in connection with shareholders’ dividends. We should say therefore that had there been any question of concentration upon one firm, it would not have been Andrew Beattie & Co. (London) Ltd. to the exclusion of W. R. Loxley & Co. (London) Ltd.

4. We challenge the statement re the new Board. Strictly speaking it is the old Board without Mr. H. H. Robbins, because Messrs. Beattie and Dalgetty are alternate directors only for directors who held office prior to the fall of Malaya. Thus they should be carrying on the policy already laid down. The only reason for change such as the change now suggested could only emanate from self interest.

5. The members of the Board state they appreciate what we have done and go on to state that Andres Beattie & Co. (London) Ltd. have done likewise, but no consideration seems to have been given to the fact that there is no comparison of the amounts involved by the two firms.

6. We do not agree that the Board can say on the one hand that all arrangements the Company had entered into ceased to exist at the fall of Malaya and then on the other hand state that they are responsible for liabilities contracted on its behalf. Obviously as the Company was not dead – otherwise it could not be resuscitated – all the liabilities and arrangements remain.

1st November, 1944

J. A. Russell and D. O. Russell in partnership as J. A. Russell & Co. founded Malayan Collieries Ltd. in 1913 and managed same as General Managers and Secretaries.

In 1920 J. A. Russell & Co. purchased the business of W.R. Loxley & Co. from the Beatties. The firm of W.R. Loxley & Co. had a branch in Hongkong and also in London and under the terms of the purchase, Andrew Beattie became Manager of the London Branch. Also in 1920 J. A. Russell & Co. appointed W. R. Loxley & Co. as buying agents in London for Malayan Collieries Ltd. For this Loxley & Co. received a retaining fee and commission of all plant purchased. Where very technical knowledge was required and reference to technical engineers was necessary, Loxley’s commission was reduced to 1 ½ %. The engineers retained by J. A. Russell & Co. on behalf of Malayan Collieries in this connection were O. Foster Brown, later Sparks & Partners Ltd. and latterly Mr. Baguley. Mr. Baguley was attached to the firm of Sparks & Partners Ltd. and when Sparks & Partners Ltd. gave up business, Mr. Baguley was retained to carry on. Meantime Mr. Beattie in his capacity of Manager of Loxley & Co. was naturally in close touch with all the affairs of the Company, but his actual work in connection with Malayan Collieries Ltd. was in engaging staff and matters relative thereto, the actual buying of plant, etc. being done through an export department controlled by Mr. P.G. Beales.

Mr. Beattie had been well regarded by the partners of Loxley & Co. for a number of years, but this regard gradually diminished owing to the continual disappointments occasioned by yearly results not being up to estimates at the beginning of each period.

In 1933, Mr. J. A. Russell died and a reorganisation of the businesses took place. Messrs. J. A. Russell & Co. was turned into a Limited Company and Mr. D. O. Russell purchased businesses in Tientsin, Hongkong and London and formed them into private companies, viz.

Perrin Cooper & Co., Ltd., W. R. Loxley & Co. (China) Ltd., and W. R. Loxley & Co. (London) Ltd., respectively. There had been some hesitation on the part of Mr. Russell in purchasing the London business as results for the previous years had been bad, but on the assurance of Mr. Beattie that certain profitable business could be carried on, Mr. Russell decided to make the purchase. The Company was floated in 1935. Despite Mr. Beattie’s promises, however, the business continued to wane with resultant losses and in 1937 Mr. Russell’s patience became exhausted and Mr. Beattie was asked to resign.

Naturally, during the period of time that Mr. Beattie had been with Loxleys, he had been in close touch with the executives of J. A. Russell &Co., Ltd. and had created a certain amount of goodwill with them. When Mr. J. A. Russell died, Mr. Robbins, who had always been a very close confidant of Mr. J. A. Russell, took over as Managing Director of J. A. Russell & Co., Ltd. and the Chairmanship of Malayan Collieries Ltd. Mr. Robbins, while holding Mr. Beattie in quite high esteem as fas as service was concerned, had no illusions as to his business qualifications and it is thought the he was instrumental in advising Mr. D. O. Russell to proceed to London to look into the affairs of W. R. Loxley & Co. (London) Ltd. Mr. Beattie on his discharge from London, wrote to Mr. Robbins almost a begging letter implying that his means of existence had ceased and requesting any assistance possible. Mr. Robbins, feeling a little sentimental towards Beattie, arranged that he should attend to Malayan Collieries’ matters (see letter from Collieries dated 27/5/37), in connection with engagement of staff and a number of other matters which might be regarded as of an unremunerative nature, for which the original retaining fee of £500 per annum was devised. In this connection it was agreed that £300 of the £500 should be handed to Beattie as his remuneration. Some months later it was decided that as Mr. Beattie’s work had increased, the whole of the agency fee was to be paid to him as from the 1st December, 1937 (see Collieries’ letter of 26/10/37).

When Mr. Beattie left W. R. Loxley & Co. (London) Ltd, Mr. A. L. Ballard was appointed Manager of the firm and all the arrangements made were honourably carried out and all the assistance given to Mr. Beattie whenever it was required. In fact, business proceeded on quite amicable terms until the fall of Malaya. In 1941 owing to the disorganisation of mails from Malaya, due to enemy action, Malayan Collieries Ltd. requested W. R. Loxley & Co. to attend to details in connection with the distribution of dividends (see Malayan Collieries’ letter 22/4/41).

At an interview in May 1944 with Mr. Beattie, it was learned that coal was to be first priority when Malaya was liberated and the Government were anxious to organise for the reopening of the mine. At this interview, Mr. Baker pointed out to Mr. Beattie that Loxley & Co. (London) Ltd. were the Buying Agents for Malayan Collieries Ltd. and any purchases of machinery should be made through them. Mr. Beattie in his turn stated that he had done a lot of work in connection with the preliminaries and was not agreeable to handing the whole of the buying to Loxley & Co. and eventually a compromise was arrived at by which buying commission was to be shared. As however the whole affair was very much in the air, it was decided that further interviews should take place when concrete matters could be discussed. Mr. Beattie also at this interview undertook to notify Loxley & Co. of any developments which might take place in connection with Malayan Collieries Ltd. Later Loxley & Co., still having a quantity of frustrated exports unsold in England and also a large quantity of diverted cargoes in Australia, submitted the details of these to A. Beattie & Co. (London) Ltd. for them to submit to the engineers with a view to their being incorporated in the specification of machinery required for reopening mine. In reply to this a letter was received on paper headed Malayan Collieries Ltd., signed by R. C. Russell as Secretary.

This letter heading showed the name of Andrew Beattie & Co. (London) Ltd. as London Agents, and made no reference at all to W. R. Loxley & Co. (London) Ltd. This omission is considered very important as far as W. R. Loxley & Co. (London) Ltd. is concerned and can have far reaching results in view of the fact that Mr. D. O. Russell owns the shares of W. R. Loxley & Co. (London) Ltd. Furthermore, he is interested in J. A. Russell & Co., Ltd. who, up to the fall of Malaya, had acted as General Managers and Secretaries for Malayan Collieries.

It was then discovered a Board of Directors for Malayan Collieries Ltd. had been formed in this country and that they are endeavouring to resuscitate the Company in England for which purpose they have registered an office at 4, Queen Victoria Street. The Directors now registered are Andrew Beattie, alternate for F. Cunningham; G. M. Dalgety, for A. M. Delamore; R. C. Russell, A. J. Kelman and J. Drysdale. The previous Board of Directors consisted of H. H. Robbins, J. Drysdale, F. Cunningham, A. J. Kelman and A. M. Delamore. Of these Directors, two only could be considered working Directors, viz. Messrs. Robbins and Drysdale who were also Directors of J. A. Russell & Co., Ltd. Unfortunately both these Directors were captured by the Japanese. Mr. Robbins has since died in internment and Mr. Drysdale is till interned. Also at this juncture it is pointed out that Mr. D. O. Russell, referred to previously, was also captured by the Japanese and is interned in Hongkong.

The active members on the reconstituted Board are Mr. Andrew Beattie and Mr. R. C. Russell, the others being just names or unable to act. The two gentlemen mentioned have grudges against Mr. D. O. Russell. Mr. A. Beattie by reason of the fact that he was virtually discharged from W. R. Loxley & Co. (London) Ltd., Mr. R. C. Russell who was a principal of J. A. Russell & Co., to the end of 1937, by reason of the fact that he also was asked to resign. In this latter instance Mr. Robbins was responsible for the resignation, but would have obtained the agreement of Mr. D. O. Russell.

Mr. R. C. Russell having lost his money in retirement came to England in 1943 to get a job and has since linked up with Mr. Beattie in the reorganisation of Malayan Collieries Ltd.

On receipt of the letter dated 25/4/44 Loxley & Co., knowing the self-interest of these two gentlemen and with a view to protecting the interests of Mr. D. O. Russell (who of course, being interned, is unable to take action himself), decided that the question of their London representation of Malayan Collieries Ltd. should be brought into the open and wrote a letter to the Board of Malayan Collieries Ltd. with a copy to each of the known Directors (copy attached). A reply was received in a letter (copy of which is attached) which in a lengthy manner stated that W. R. Loxley & Co. (London) Ltd. were no longer to be considered the London Agents of Malayan Collieries Ltd. This letter is a distortion of the facts as the attached comments on the letter dated 21/9/44 show and cannot be accepted as the real reason for altering the status quo.