Norman Halladay - Escape from Hong Kong

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Norman Stanley Halladay M. N. (North Shields)

07/06/1892 - ????

Norman Halladay, aged forty nine, had served in the Royal Navy during the Great war of 1914-18 and afterwards worked for B&S (Butterfield & Swire) since 1919 in Shanghai before transferring to their Hong Kong branch.

Along with Lt-Cmd Yorath R. N, (Rtrd), aged forty three, rowed the lifeboat from the HY Ferry moored in Aberdeen harbour, round the west side of Ap Lei Chau to instruct Cmdr Gandy R. N. (Rtrd) to "GO" and at the same time requested to join the escape party with the MTB's.[15] Gandy did not see Halladay as an asset and reluctantly agreed, warning him that if he was not up to the task he would have to fend for himself.

Photo from Buddy Hide's collection©

Norman Halladay at Waichow 30th December 1941

Two days after arriving in Kukong Norman was admitted to the Mission hospital with malaria along with Holgar Christensen, Frank Penny, Arthur Goring, and Fred Quixall

After 3000 miles traveling overland through China and Burma he arrived in a deserted Rangoon. After five weeks he left onboard the Armed Merchant Cruiser Heinrich Jessen bound for Calcutta along with Lt-Cmd Gandy, Lt Collingwood, Lt Ashby & Jix Prest, Buddy Hide, Charlie Evans, Al Rutter, John pawley, Jack Holt, Les Barker, Ron Priestley, and others.

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.

Norman along with fellow merchant navy officers Charlie Skinner and Duggy Pethick re-joined the merchant service on arrival in Calcutta.

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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Music; Wild China by  Barnaby Taylor and performed by Cheng Yu and the UK Chinese Ensemble