Alfred Burrows - Escape from Hong Kong


Admiral Chan Chak in Kukong;  
  Click here to read more ©Alfred Burrows marching through China. Photos from the Chan Chak & Collingwood & Ross collections © Admiral Chan Chak arriving in Waichow   
  Click here to
  Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©


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Alfred J Burrows; MTB 11 of the 2nd MTB Flotilla, Coastal Forces Hong Kong

Alfred Burrows, MTB 11, in Waichow.   
  Click here to return to the Waichow photo.   
  Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©


Coxswain A/PO Alfy Burrows[C/SSX19415 ] MTB 11 ( Ipswich, Suffolk)

Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

MTB 07, with PO's John Prest and Buddy Hide at the controls, under fire.  
	Photo from Hong Kong 1941-45 published by Osprey Publishing. 
	Illustration by Giuseppe Rava. 
	Click here for more information

The flotilla took a beating during the battle for Hong Kong.
When the Japanese invaded Hong Kong Island, the 2nd MTB Flotilla was ordered to attack and expend all ammunition shooting up everything in sight. Unbeknown to the flotilla, the Japanese had already established a beach head on the Island west of the Sugar Refinery at North Point.
Guns to the left, guns to the right, guns to the front and cannon from above, on they sped into the fiery jaws of the oriental dragon itself. This was the maritime equivalent of the charge of the light brigade in the Crimea.
Lt Ronnie Ashby whose family motto was "Be Just and Fear Naught" led the flotilla with Jix Prest & Buddy Hide at the controls of MTB 07. Pressing home the attack under withering fire from land, sea, and air, they suffered heavy losses in the process. Only three MTB's survived to limp back and come alongside HMS Robin in Aberdeen. Lt Kennedy on MTB "09" towed the stricken "07", peppered with 97 holes and two dead bodies in the engine room, back to base. The flotilla had lost 40% of its attacking force. The attack was arguably the most daring daylight MTB attack of all time, and was referred to as The Balaclava of the Coastal Forces world wide. They were hailed "The bravest of the brave."

Lt Kennedy RNVR: "MTB 11 returned alone from the harbour with her coxswain wounded. There was a long silent pause as we strained our ears to catch the sound of distant engines, but none came. It was a dark day for the flotilla, and for the whole island." [9]

Alfy Burrows replaced Coxswain PO Spirit wounded by shrapnel during the action, and admitted to the Queen Mary Hospital, subsequently becoming a Japanese POW. Spirit died during the infamous Lisbon Maru incident.
Alfy stayed on in Burma along with Lt Collingwood, S. P. O. Moore, and Stoker A/B Jack Thorpe probably onboard an R.I. N. Sloop on refugee relief as Collingwood was fluent in Hindi.

Alfy along with the eight other remaining ratings in Akyab eventually left Bombay on 14th April and arrived back in the UK 1st June 1942.[82]

Lt Collingwood stayed onboard the Danish ship "Heinrich Jessen" and proceeded to Akyab, eventually flying out from Chittagong to Calcutta on the 18th April. From there he went on to Ceylon before returning to the UK.

The remaining nine ratings in Akyab eventually left Bombay on 14th April and arrived back in the UK 1st June1942.

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."

MTB 11 alongside HMS Vernon 1938 ©

The MTB Incident.

MTB 11 being worked up at HMS Vernon after completion in July 1938

MTB 11 dropping depth charges in Hong Kong

MTB 11 laying depth charges

Log entry:

10.36; Dropped depth charges; 9 seconds.
10.40 -11.10; Fishing





Alfred Burrows in Kukong 6th Jan 1942.     
    Photo from the Ted Ross collection ©

Lt-Cmdr Gandy with his back to the camera, A/PO Burrows, A/B Lenny Rann,
L/s Les Barker, & P.O. Carr falling in to march into Kukong on the 6th January 1942

Photo from Ted Ross's collection ©

Lt Collingwood RN and hid dog with Alfred Burrows arriving in Kukong 6th Jan 1942.   
  Run the curser over individuals to identify.   
  Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©

A/P.O. Al Burrows, A/B Lenny Rann, P.O. Charlie Moore, & Lt Collingwood & his dog Bruce, P.O. Buddy Hide is in the background with the escape party at Kukong

Photo from Adm Chan Chak's collection ©

MTB 11 Crew in Hong Kong   
    Photo from the Thorpe family collection ©

The crew of MTB 11 ??

Back row: A/B Jack Thorpe, PO Rob Stonell ?, A/B Alfred Burrows ?, A/B Alex Kelly ?.

Front row: A/B Lew Whatley ?, A/B Ken Holmes ?, A/B ? ?

Photo from the Thorpe family collection ©













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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