Edmund Hamilton Brazel T516 from Wolverhampton
Edward Brazel was employed employed by the international traders and shipping agent Jardine Matheson & Company in Hong Kong and along with all the un-mobilised Navy Volunteers received his mobilisation orders on the morning of Monday 7th December 1941 with immediate effect. 
Edward served on HMS Cornflower, the HKRNVR depot ship initially, with the rank of Seaman, Gunner. On the 11th he transferred to the 895 ton APV Indira, ex HMS Kildysart, as a gun trainer and engineer but was sunk while alongside in Aberdeen Harbour on 15th Dec by the IJA. "Once again I was appointed to another ship as engineer and gun-layer. But this time I had to run the ruddy engines myself as well as fire my own boilers, even the officers off-watch assisted in stoking when we were at sea. On the 19th we received orders to scuttle. The skipper, first officer and myself proceeded to carry out orders. We flooded the deck with fuel-oil, opened the sea cocks and set a depth-charge to go off at fifty feet in the magazine and then jumped into the remaining lifeboat and rowed like b*****Y, when we had got about fifty yards away the ship began to sink and soon after a terrific explosion took place and the good old vessel broke in two and quickly slipped down to her ocean grave.
We were ordered to join the Canadian troops in the hills, so Jack Tar prepared himself for hill-fighting."
On 21st Dec the HKDYD wanted volunteers and Eddie was appointed to the 150 ton diesel berthing-tug Polly, C.410, along with a former Jardines colleague and Master Mariner, Lt Douglas Pethick RNR, operating night patrols running ammunition to Stanley Point. Eddie escaped in the Polly from Aberdeen on Christmas Day with Commander Montague R. N. and joined up with Admiral Chan Chak's escape party at NanAo, deep behind enemy lines in China.
The 1st engineer declined to join the escape bid, and went ashore to await his fate leaving Eddie to master the engine alone. While being familiar with the "National" diesel engine, as Jardine's were the agents he was not that familiar with the engine in C-410.
Photo from the Brazel family collection ©
When the escape party arrived in Kunming towards the end of January, Mr Urquhart, the agent for the international traders and shipping agent Jardine Matheson & Company in their Kunming office took on Eddie Brazel and Eric Cox-Walker along with two other former employees. They were needed to staff new inland regional offices being set up due to the loss of China's southern ports. The demand for silk was at an all time high, not for the luxury hosiery market, but for parachutes. 
Eddie described in great detail his escape in C-410 from Aberdeen and the trip through China in a letter to his brother Bill.
Guiyang Medical centre 25th January 1942
Left: ??, ??, Lt-Cmd Yorath RN (Rtrd), Lt Ashby, Warant-Officer Morley-Wright, Sub-Lt Brewer, Lt Collingwood, with ratings. A/B Jack Holt is 3rd from left with Edmund Brazel front row right.
Photo from the Hide collection ©
Lieutenant Commander Gandy R. N. (Rtrd) had prevailed against all the odds, and triumphed over adversity to deliver all his people back to safety without loss of life or serious injury after evading capture and escaping from Hong Kong on Christmas Day 1941.
PO Prest: "We travelled by cycles, lorries, junks, and donkeys, but mostly we walked. It was a case of march or die"
Buddy Hide: "On the whole, the moral, spirits, and courage of the party was magnificent. I think it was the shear thoughts of beating the Jap's, and the prospects of getting home after three years, some of us four years from home, that made us carry on."
Banknotes signed as souvenirs by escape party members in Liuchow on 20th January 1942 while waiting for a train.
Among the signatures on this 10 Yuan banknote belonging to Lt Parsons HKRNVR are;
D S Pethick
E H Brazel
A L Marchant
Photo from the Hide family collection ©
The banknote under belonging to Lt Kennedy RNVR is signed by;
R R W Ashby
C J Collingwood
SPO Buddy Hide son Richard & Donald Chan the son of Adm Chan Chak at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, the spiritual home of the HKRNVR in January 2010 with the ships crest of HMS Cornflower on which Eddie Brazel served. The ships launch was used by the escape party when they were shot up in Aberdeen channel on Christmas day 1941.
Research and web publication by Buddy Hide Jnr ©
Audio by Lion Rock Films
Music; Wild China by Barnaby Taylor and performed by Cheng Yu and the UK Chinese Ensemble
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Research and web publication by Buddy Hide Jnr ©
The contents of this web site led to a considerable number of escapee families contacting me and now each other, and remains the principle source of contact and private information for the spin off projects that have followed. The personal accounts enabled me to record the complete and true account of this remarkable episode of Sino-British war time co-operation. The information compiled here has directly resulted in a museum exhibition in Hong Kong, a re-enactment of the escape in Hong Kong and China, with a movie drama and documentary in the making.
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