Eric Cox-Walker HKRNVR - Escape from Hong Kong


Lt-Cdr GH Gandy RN.Photos from the Ashby & Ross collections ©

Eric Cox-Walker - Escape from Hong Kong

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E Cox-Walker HKRNVR (T546) Darlington UK

23/11/1901 - 06/08/1983

Eric Cox-Walker in Waichow. 
    Click here to return to the Waichow photo.     
    Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

Eric Cox Walker

Eric Cox-Walker embarked on board the SS Narkunda 13 November 1939 with his wife and daughter, bound for Hong Kong where he joined the international traders and shipping agent Jardine Matheson & Company. Eric, received his mobilisation orders on the morning of Monday 7th December 1941 with immediate effect. [46]

Eric, mobilised in the HKRNVR, rank & status unknown, was serving on HMS Cornflower. "We soon realised it was the real thing, and the HKRNVR ships were in action right away. Later that morning they were all shifted round to Aberdeen where they were moored single line ahead and presented such a target that of course we had two raids the following day with one or two near misses.  After that all ships were transferred to Deep Water Bay with the “Cornflower” as H.Q.

We received orders to scuttle all ships, so having done that we proceeded to Aberdeen Industrial School, where the HKRNVR were formed into a regular guard of the H.Q. there, and I was fortunate and lucky enough at the time of the surrender to be actually on the launch (C.410) that was requisitioned to join Admiral Chan Chak’s party and so I was one of the lucky ones who got away into China." On 21st Dec Eric was attached to the 150 ton diesel engined berthing tug Polly, AKA C.410 operating night patrols running ammunition to Stanley Point. Eric escaped from Aberdeen on Christmas Day with Commander Montague R N on board the Polly and joined up with Admiral Chan Chak's escape party with the MTB's at NanAo, deep behind enemy lines in China.

Eric's account of the escape has survived in the form of a letter he wrote in Bombay in 944 to the widow of Lt-Cdr Hugh Dulley HKRNVR, killed in action 19th December 1941.

Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

Waichow 30th December 1941 Lt-Cdr Gandy recorded in his journal that Eric along with Tel PO Dyer was reprimanded for being 'drunk while scuttling' in NanAo, after finding a bottle of gin left out from when the swimmers were hauled aboard the previous evening.

He was taken ill while traveling up the East River from Waichow and admitted to hospital at Longchuan with possible pneumonia along with Lt Pethick RNR . They caught up with the escape party in Kukong on the 12th January 1942. 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 air force parachutes. In March Eric was sent to myitkina in Burma with Mr Charlton to set up a two man office, from there they went on to Calcutta.[80]

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."

It is unprecedented in the annuls of the Royal Navy, that a Flotilla evaded capture to escape across an entire continent to fight another day.

Born in Darlington, County Durham, UK in 1091, Eric married and emigrated to Albury, NSW, Australia, taking lodgings with the Passant family, as listed in the 1932 state census.

Eric owned and ran the local bus (North Albury- Lavington Bus Service) service which he sold in the mid 1930's and with his wife and two children, Ian and Gwyneth moved to Tientsin in China to join his wife's missionary family. He and his family returned to the UK and in 1939 embarked on the SS Narkunda in 2nd class bound for Hong Kong.

Eric went on to become a sea Captain with Jardine's and eventually settled in Canada as a captain on the Vancouver Island ferries.

Date and place of death: Saanich, B.C. Canada 6th August 1983

Survived by two children: Ian (Deceased 2011 aged 84) and Gwyneth known as Wendy deceased (2007).

Eric Cox-Walker signed banknotes as souvenirs in Liuchow

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 Cox-Walker

H Christensen

A Pittendrigh

E H Brazel

A Kennedy

A L Marchant

Photo from the Hide family collection ©

The banknote under belonging to Lt Kennedy RNVR is signed by;

A Pittendrigh

R R W Ashby

C J Collingwood



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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