Escape from Hong Kong

Charles Evans - Escape from Hong Kong

Escape from Hong Kong


Charles Evans with George Arnold in Kukong. Photos from the Hide & Ross collections ©


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Charles Evans  
    Click here to return to the Waichow photo.     
    Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©


Leading Stoker Charlie Evans D/KX86622 [MTB 07] from Gorton, Manchester.

Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

Charlie narrated his escape experiance in a recording for BBC radio on 25th July 1942 which is now held at the IWM in London : "I don't know what we would have done for food and drink if it hadn't been for the Chinese, they were wonderful. Why in one village they were so poor they had to make a collection from hut to hut so they could feed us, and they did it. A Jolly good meal it was too, mostly rice but I was full when we finished, rice never tasted so good, it was all boiled with bits of meat and fish." [12]

Evans returned to Akyab in Burma on the Heinrich Jessen with Lt's Collingwood and Kennedy along with the other Telegraphists for special duties.

Lt Collingwood stayed behind in 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 including Evans remained in Akyab and eventually left Bombay on 14th April and arrived back in the UK 1st June 1942.

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.


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.

The crew of MTB 07 in Kowloon 1940

Buddy Hide & the crew of MTB 07 in Kowloon 1940.  
      Run the curser over to identify individuals.       
      Photo from Budyy Hide's collection ©

Photo from Buddy Hide's collection©




Sub-Lt George McGill HKRNVR with Lt Ron Ashby HKRNVR and crew on patrol.  
    Run the curser over to identify individuals.  
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

MTB 07 led the daylight attack with 09 at full speed on Japanese landing craft crossing from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island, Lewis gunning and overturning the LCs with her wake. 07 returned and attacked a second time under heavy fire from Kowloon, sunken ships, Hong Kong Island as well as being machine cannoned by IJA aircraft losing two crew and all three engines in the process. 09 came back and took 07 in tow with the two engine room fatalities onboard. The action was dubbed "The balaclava of the sea"

Lt Ron Ashby HKRNVR with the crew of MTB 07

Photo from the Hide collection ©

PO John Prest on MTB 07 alongside HMS Robin in Mirs Bay.   
    Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

MTB 07 in Mirs Bay

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 motto was "Be Just and Fear Naught" 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 Coastal Forces world wide. They were hailed "The bravest of the brave."

A 1/24 scale model of MTB 07 takes to the water in 2009 in memory of Ron Ashby & the crew. MTB 07 on patrol in Hong Kong

MTB 07










Photos from the Hide collection ©

MTB 07 & 09 under camouflage in Telegraph Bay

MTB 07 & 09 under camouflage in Telegraph Bay by day  prior to the escape on Christmas Day 1941.    
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

Photo from the Hide collection ©

The day before the escape MTB 07 had only managed to take on one hundred and eighty gallons (818 litres) of petrol before being targeted by shell fire. This limited her range to less than one hundred miles (160 Km).

Lt Collingwood RN: "Each boat had been camouflaged according to the individual OC and we lay as close to the rocks and cliffs as possible. By Christmas Eve things were bad and we began to prepare for a getaway if possible in accordance with a pre-arranged scenario. We were no longer in touch with our base and we were all anchored off shore in different bays." [8]

Lt Kennedy RNVR (MTB 09) "About three o' clock the telegraphist gave an excited shout, 'I think I've just picked up a signal from the Commodore to V2.' V2 was the short title of the flotilla leader. 'It wasn't very clear and all I got was GO' he continued. 'Are you sure' Ashby and I queried, but the operator was listening intently again. 'Yes its just come through again, Sir. One word GO.'
The sight of the hillside with its little patches of white held our gaze for some time. No one said much. The time was three-fifteen, Hong Kong had fallen."


General Wu with the escape party at Guiyang 24th January 1942


General Wu with the escape party at Guiyang 24th January 1942

Ships Log: 24th Jan 1942 "Visit to Governor in the morning. Conducted tour of centre in the afternoon, followed by a tea, & movies after dinner." [5]

Huaxi Park near Guiyang

Hong Kong RN escape party in Huaxi Park, Guiyang 25th January 1942 ©

Lt-Cdr Yorath with officers & ratings visiting Huaxi park, Guiyang.

Dr Lim organized a seven-a-side football match against his training school team.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

Ships Log: 25th Jan 1942 "Visit to park in the morning. Soccer match in the afternoon, lost 6-1. Dinner in the evening given by the Governor." [5]

Charles Evans & the fortunate few.  
    Run the curser over to identify individuals.     
    Photo from the Ted Ross collection ©

St A/B Bones Arnold, Gen Au Yeung, & L/St Charlie Evans at Kukong 6th Jan 1942

Shiukwan [Kukong] 6th January 1942

A/B Stoker George [Bones] Arnold MTB 07, Mr Ow Young, & L/Stoker Charlie Evans arriving in Kukong.

The padded jackets were obtained by Colonel Owen-Hughes at Lung Chun. Owen-Hughes was the British Liaison officer to the Chinese army. The party later swapped the jackets with an incoming detachment of British Marines.

Research and web publication by Buddy Hide Jnr ©





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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