Lewis Bush - Hong Kong


MTB 08. Photos from the Collingwood & Hide collections ©


Sub-Lt Lewis William Bush 2nd MTB Flotilla Hong Kong



Lt Kilbee with Sub-Lt Lewis Bush Bush & crew on MTB 08 in Oct 1941 ©

Left: Lt Kilbee with his dog and crew. Sub-Lt Lewis Bush with his dog, Joan, is also front row 2nd from the left.

Lewis William Bush was married to a Japanese woman, Kaneko whom he called Kane and spoke fluent Japanese himself having previously been a teacher in Japan. Lewis stayed behind in Aberdeen to liaise with the Japanese for the surrender. Author of "The Road to Inamura" and Clutch of Circumstance" which details his life. Lewis also featured in the acclaimed documentary "The World at War" episode 6 Banzai!

Lewis also left an oral recording at the British Imperial war Museum

Lewis Was ordered to remain in Aberdeen when the Flotilla escaped with Admiral Chan Chak on Christmas Day to liaised with the Japanese for the surrender of Aberdeen. Lewis, along with his wife Kaneko, were interrogated as spies by the Japanese and in late January 1942 Lewis was sent to the civilian camp at Stanley where he remained until March 1943 when he was taken to Samshuipo camp, Kowloon, and put in charge of the Naval unit. Lewis was not there long as he was embarked on board the Manryu Maru with a draft of 300 Canadian and 200 imperial POWs sailing on  August 15th 1943. They arrived at Osaka on September 1st 1943, among his fellow POWs was his PO Coxswain from MTB 08, they were together until the cessation of hostilities in 1945. All survived the voyage. Following the Japanese surrender in 1945 Lewis setled in Inamura, Japan and was a columnist for "The Japanese Times" as well as hosting broadcast radio. [91]


For more information on Laurence Kilbee click here.

Sub-Lt Lewis Bush a POW in Tokyo 1943





Sub-Lt Lewis Bush standing 5th from Left















Lewis Bush with his wife Kaneko in Tokyo 1960 
  Photos from The Road to Inamura ©





Lewis Bush with his wife Kaneko in Tokyo 1960

Photo from The Road to Inamura ©













MTB 08 Crest. Caudae Spiculum Caveo (Beware the sting in the tail)


One of two ships crests salvaged from the 2nd MTB Flotilla.
MTB 08 blew up on the slip at Aberdeen when hit by a bomb splinter as the IJA targeted HMS Thracian in the dry dock on 16th December 1941

The ships crest was salvaged by Sub-Lt Lewis Bush HKRNVR who in turn gave it to the PO Coxswain, W Mitchell, in Japan. It was sold by David Bond, an ex Clearance Diver in Hong Kong and now specializing in maritime artifacts.

The other crest was salvaged from MTB 09 by Sub-Lt Brewer HKRNVR on 26th December during scuttling off Nanao in Mirs Bay.

Lewis Bush recorded his experiances as a teacher in Japan, as 1st officer MTB 08 and POW for Thames Television in 1972, it is held by the British Imperial War Museium.







MTB motto: Caudae Spiculum Caveo (Beware the sting in the tail)

MTB 07 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 motto was "Be Just and Fear Not" led the flotilla in MTB 07 with Jix Prest & Buddy Hide at the controls, pressing home the attack under withering fire from land, sea, and air, suffering heavy losses in the process. Only three MTB's survived to limp back to base 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 Sea.by 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]







MTB 08 covering the measured mile in East Lama Channel 1941
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

Lt Kilbee transferred as C/O to MTB 08 on the 27th April 1940 after having been the C/O of MTB 27. After 08 blew up on the slip at Aberdeen on the 16th December 1941 he briefly took over as MTB Officer in Aberdeen and Officer Commanding the RASC launch ML French before joining MTB 10 as 1st Officer.

He had a long discussion about the escape with his C/O Lt-Cmd Gandy and expressed his desire to stay with his wife, a military nurse at the Mount Kellett Army Hospital on the Peak, and young daughter of six months. Laurence transferred to MTB 11, just as Chan Ckak's advance party came over Aberdeen Island, and was taken to Telegraph Bay where MTB's 07 & 09 were alongside, and put ashore where he climbed up to the Peak.
The Kilbee family home was up on the peak.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

For more information on Laurence Kilbee click here.

Lt L D Kilbee's account of the battle, written shortly after captivity while POW.

Laurence Kilbee and fellow officers referred to the highly tuned thoroughbred boats of the Hong Kong Coastal Forces as the "Hong Kong Costly Farce"




The 2nd MTB Flotilla on patrol painted by Lt Kilbee in 1945 after being released from POW.     
    Photo from Laurence Kilbee's collection ©



The 2nd MTB Flotilla on patrol painted from memory by Lt Kilbee after being released from Japanese POW camp in 1945.

Laurence was a keen photographer and artist catching many sea scenes on canvas. All his pre-war works were lost after the fall of Hong Kong.

Photo from Laurence Kilbee's collection ©




MTB 08 alongside HMS Vernon



MTB 08 on sea trials and fitting out for Depth Charges and Torpedos at HMS Vernon, Portsmout, UK in 1937 before being shipped out to Hong Kong.










MTB 08




MTB 08 undergoing sea trials at HMS Vernon, Portsmouth after being completed on 3rd September 1937 prior to being shipped out to Hong Kong.










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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