In the premature deaths of Post staff, men's warfare and nature's violence have been the chief culprits The South China Morning Post has dealt with its share of tragedy over the years. In particular, the second world war and Hong Kong's unpredictable climate have taken their toll, claiming the lives of some of the newspaper's brightest stars. Inclement weather was responsible for the premature deaths of two of the Post's best-loved members of staff on Sunday, June 12, 1966. That morning, a torrential rainstorm killed 38 people, among them the paper's deputy night editor, John Stuart, and senior sub-editor, Kevin Murphy. They were swept away by floodwaters and washed down the Peak Tram cutting. A reader called the Post's offices that day to say he had been watching the deluge from his window when he saw one of the men lose his grip on a rope. Both were swept away when the second man made a grab for him. They were trying to get to Viewpoint, the residence for senior Post staff on Bowen Road and John Stuart's home. The last person to speak to them was sub-editor Jack Bennett, who was with them. He had refused to go beyond Garden Road when they had to abandon John Stuart's sports car at the junction of Magazine Gap Road; the two men who died decided to try to complete the journey on foot. 'I said it was madness, but [John Stuart] wanted to get home to [his wife] Cristina,' he said later. Mrs Stuart was seven months pregnant at the time with the couple's only child, Freddy. John Stuart was 31 when he died. He had just put the Sunday Post-Herald to bed when the three men left the office. Born in South Africa, but with British nationality, he joined the Eastern Province Herald after a year as a medical student, spending several years at the paper. He was bitten by wanderlust, operating a converted German U-boat out of Tangier for a while, and also travelling from Port Elizabeth to London, South America, Canada - where he worked on the Windsor Star - and Spain, before coming to Hong Kong in 1963. His friend Carl Myatt, sports editor at the time of his death, paid this tribute: 'John was such a great bloke, quiet and self-effacing. He was sharp as a tack, but never tried to stick his opinion down anyone's throat, though heaven only knows he knew more about most things than most journalists of our era.' His colleague Kevin Murphy was only 24 at the time of the tragedy. An Australian, he worked at the Post for just nine months before his death. As a sub-editor, whose job is to correct and refine reporters' copy, his patience and determination to help them improve made him popular with junior members of staff. He seldom rewrote stories, preferring instead to work with young reporters and coax the stories out of them. He taught many the art of writing 'good intros' by cajoling and guiding them towards the right opening for their stories. He was an expert on Chinese customs and festivals. After coming to Hong Kong, he developed a keen interest in old Chinese village life and spent most of his days off visiting old villages on both sides of the harbour. The second world war also caused members of the Post's staff to be taken before their time. Reg Goldman was a Post reporter who 'laid down his pen to take up arms and wrote his name indelibly'. These words commemorate a journalist who fell in the defence of Hong Kong against Japanese invasion in December 1941. They were engraved on a brass plaque housed in the editorial department of the paper's first Quarry Bay offices. Goldman fell on December 18 on Mount Parker, while serving with the Hong Kong Volunteers. He was in his late 30s. Goldman died when the Japanese surrounded the pillbox he was in and threw a hand grenade through the air duct. Also during the war, Norman Stockton, a former editor of the Hongkong Telegraph, was killed over Germany. He was a war correspondent at the time. Another victim of an air accident, in this case a peacetime one, was sub-editor K.P. Pillai. He died in July 1962, aged 41, when a plane he was travelling in crashed into jungle north of Bangkok. An active member of Hong Kong's Indian community, he had arrived in the city 10 years earlier from Kerala, south India.