Escape from Hong Kong - D Harley

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2nd Engineer Officer D HARLEY; S. S. Yatshing (Hong Kong)

 

2nd Engineering Officer Harley

Remembered with Honour

Harley, late 2nd Engineer of the 8,000 ton coastal freighter SS Yatshing, was hit by machine-gun fire and fell overboard from the launch in Aberdeen Channel. Sub-Lt Forster, & Captain Damsgard were also hit by machine-gun fire. The enemy were firing from the coast road below Brick Hill while they were crewing the launch of HMS Cornflower (II) taking Admiral Chan Chak and his party down Aberdeen Channel as the Colony succumbed to the overwhelming forces of the Imperial Japanese Army. Chan Chak and David MacDougall were both hit but managed to escape overboard.

Harley jumped overboard and drowned as Admiral Chan Chak calmly took to the waves.  
	Photo from Maj Goring's  article on the escape ©.  
	Click here for more information.Adm Chan Chak: "The Norwegian engineer (Damsgaard) was the first one shot dead, then the steer man. MacDougall and others were wounded. Most of the stray bullets had hit the boat and even some had hit my helmet.
Hsu was very wary about me the “One Foot Adm of 50” swimming such a far distance.
I took off my life preserver (which was the last one on board) and gave it to Yeung. As I raised my hand, a stray bullet went right through my left hand.
Yeung didn’t say anything anymore, he just jumped into the sea, followed by MacDougall with his wounded back.
YeeSiu-Kee and 2 other British soldiers had to remain on the boat. Yee could not swim and the 2 soldiers were badly wounded.
We were all sitting ducks in the water and non-stop bullets were flying everywhere.
I finally swam ashore on the small island right next to Apliechau."
[6]

Left: Photo from Maj Goring's published article on the escape. [17]

David MacDougall MoI: "The bullets came through the flimsy wooden hull as if it were paper.
The man next to me had his knee smashed, another got one in the stomach, the Chinese leader had his wrist shot away, and one or two (I couldn't see how many) collapsed and lay still.
Then some immense force struck me a paralyzing blow and rolling over, I saw my own blood trickling down the deck. Before I had quite taken this all in another bullet went clean through my steel hat and a third clipped the sole of my shoe.
A few seconds later a machine gun burst silenced the engine and we were thus left drifting helplessly about 200 yards from the shore under intense fire. I couldn’t take any clothes or shoes off and I simply flopped in as I was. A little behind me a man
(Harley) drowned noisily. He took a long time to go down and I could do nothing about it. "
[26]

South China Morning Post "Yee recalled how he was kept some days at Pak Sha Wan and subsequently he had to return to the church at Apliechau, which was then under the Reverend Cheng. He took shelter at the church for some days before making his final escape to Free China."

S.K. Yee: "I put the two others on a junk, asking the fishermen to take them to a hospital on the mainland in Kwangtung Province.
I was kept some days at Pak Sha wan and subsequently I had to return to the church at Apliechau, which was under the Reverend Cheng. I took shelter at the church for some days before making my final escape to Free China."
[62]

S.K, now wearing Hsu Heng (Henry)'s shoes and clutching his bible bible, sought refuge with the Reverend Cheng in the Harbour Mission Church on Ap Lei Pai opposite Aberdeen. He eventually made his way to Kukong in free China where Chan Chak was still recovering. SK arrived on 5th February 1942 still wearing Hsu Heng (Henry)'s shoes, only to leave two days later as mysteriously as he had arrived after falling out with Chan over the allegedly missing $40.000 (£2,500 GBP) They remained bitter opponents for the rest of Chan's life.

Admiral Chan Chak and Colonel S.K. Yee had led the internal war on the 5th Columnists from the front, killing hundreds personally.
Hong Kong had been ordered by the Imperial government in Londondon to extract the Chinese Military Council led by Adm Chan Chak back to Free China at all costs.

Harley managed to get overboard but drowned while trying to swim ashore.

 

The Cornflower launch survivors

Admiral Chan Chak & escape party at Waichow 30th Dec 1941
    Run the curser over to identify individuals.
    
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Supt Bill Robinson
    Click here to read more on Bill Robinson
    
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Captain Peter Macmillan RA
    Click here to read more on Peter Macmillan

Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Captain Reginold [Freddie] Guest 1st Middlesex
    Click here to read more on Freddie Guest
    
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Coxswain Yeung Chuen ROC
    Click here to read more on Yeung Chuen 
    
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Ted Ross, MoI, Colonial Service
    Click here to read more on Rossy
    
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © David MacDougall, MoI, Colonial Service
    Click here to read more on David MacDougall
    
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Admiral Chan Chak ROC
    Click here to read more on Admiral Chan Chak
    
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Major Arthur Goring, Probyns Horse
    Click here to read more on Major Goring
    
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Sqd-Ldr Max Oxford, RAF
    Click here to read more on Max Oxford
    
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Holger Christensen, Midshipman
    Click here to read more on Holger Christensen
    
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Lt-Cmdr Hsu Heng (Henry) ROC
    Click here to read more on Henry Hsu
    
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection ©

 

 

Back row: Supt. Bill Robinson, W. O. William M Wright HKRNVR, Capt. Peter Macmillan R. A., Capt. Reginald Guest 1st Mdsx, Coxswain Yeung Chuen ROC, Ted Ross MoI>

2nd row: David MacDougall MoI, Adm Chan Chak ROC, Major Arthur Goring Probyns Horse, Sq-Ldr. Max Oxford RAF

1st row: Cadet Holger Christensen, Lt-Cmd Hsu Heng (Henry) ROC.

Photo from Chan Chak collection ©

 

 

 

 

Audio by Lion Rock Films

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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