William (Bill) Dyer - Escape from Hong Kong


MTB 10. Photos from the Ashby & Ross collections ©


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William Charles Dyer; MTB 10 of the 2nd MTB Flotilla, Coastal Forces Hong Kong

P.O. William Dyer 
    Photos from Buddy Hide & Bill Dyer's collections ©Bill Dyer of the 2nd MTB Flotilla

Coxswain Petty Officer William C Dyer P/J97667 [MTB 10] (Ryde, I.O.W.)

1904 - 1991

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Photo from Buddy Hide's & Bill Dyer'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 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]

Bill Dyer trained for Motor Torpedo Boats at HMS Vernon 10th July 1937 - 26th August 1938 after which he was assigned to MTB 10 at HMS Tamar, Hong Kong under the command of Lt-Cmdr D G (Knobby) Clark RN also O/C of the 2nd MTB Flotilla. In November 1940. Lt-Cmdr John C Boldero DSC RN (Rtrd) Took over as O/C of MTB 10 and the Flotilla. Lt-Commander Gandy RN (Rtrd) then took over in February 1941 after Boldero was involved in an accident losing an arm.

After escaping on Christmas Day 1941 with Adm Chan Chak and the Chinese Liaison Party he stayed on in Burma with Lt Kennedy onboard the minesweeper Somagyi. They proceeded up the coast to Akyab with a flotilla of M. L's crewed by escape party ratings.

Bill 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."

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.

Bill had been away in Hong Kong for four years, and was mentioned in Lt Kennedy's self published book "Hong Kong Full Circle" covering the battle for Hong Kong and subsequent escape.

Lt-Cmdr Gandy recorded in his journal that Bill 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.


MTB 10 proceeding out from Kowloon




Left: MTB 10 proceeding out of the Kowloon camber.
Royal Navy etiquette of the day required the flotilla leader to wear a darker colour without a Pennant number on the hull.






MTB 10 on patrol in Mirs Bay     
    Photo from the Hide collection ©




MTB 10 patrolling in Hong Kong

Photo from Lt C.J. Collingwood's collection ©

MTB 10 laying off Stonecutters Island  
    Photo from the Hide collection &copy

MTB 10 laying off Stonecutters Island

Photo from Lt Ashby's 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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