Hsu Heng (Henry) OBE - Escape from Hong Kong


Henry Hsu & escape party in Waichow. 
  Photos from the Chan Chak & Ross collections ©


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Lieutenant-Commander Hsu Heng (Henry) OBE ROROC

Honorary President and Commander in Chief of the Hong Kong Escape Re-Enactment Organisation (HERO) 2009

Born 6th December 1912 Canton - Died 3rd February 2009 Taipei

Henry was the last known survivor of the escape and passed away peacefully in the Taipei Veterans General Hospital aged 96

Henry Hsu  
    Photo from the Hide family collection ©

Hsu Heng known as Henry by the escape party was born in Hua County, Canton, now Huadu District Guangzhou in 1912.

Henry was 1.91m in height, a tall man by the standards of his race and had been an accomplished athlete in his early adult years playing soccer, basketball, volleyball and swimming.

1930 Gold medal in volleyball at the 9th Far East Games in Tokyo

1932 Graduated from Whompoa Naval Academy aged 20.

1934 Gold Medal in football at the 10th Far East Games in Manila.

1936 Graduated Jinan University with degrees in Economics and Political Science.

1937 Graduated Miami Naval training centre, Officer training course.

1938 Appointed Commander Humen Fortress headquarters Guangdong.

1940 Appointed Commander Guangdong Coastal Defence Fleet.

1940 Gold Medal in 50m and 100m freestyle swimming at the Hong Kong championships.

1941 Appointed Aid-de-camp to Vice admiral Chan Chak, Hong Kong

1942 Appointed Order of the British Empire, OBE, by the British Government for his work in Hong Kong and subsequent escape.

1942 Appointed Commander Guangdong Naval Mines Corps.

1944 Appointed Commander of the Yongning in the Yangtze Fleet.

1948 Appointed Rear Admiral, Deputy Commander, First Fleet. later he was appointed to the Naval Command Headquarters Taiwan.

1948 Gold Medal for the Hong Kong water polo championships.

1951 Retired from the Navy with the rank of Vice Admiral.

1951 Appointed Managing Director of Foshing Airlines, Hong Kong branch.

1952 Appointed Chairman and General Manager of the Fortuna Hotel, Hong Kong.

1953 Appointed Chairman of Fortuna Athletic Association, Hong Kong

1954 Appointed President of the Chinese Taipei Amateur Swimming Association (1954-1965)

1956 Appointed Olympic swimming judge, Melbourne.

1960 Appointed President of the Chinese Swimming Association, Hong Kong and Honorary President of the Hong Kong Volleyball Association.

1966 Appointed Vice-President of the Asian Amateur Swimming Federation and Council member of the Asian Games Federation (1966-1972)

1973 Appointed President of the Chinese Olympic Committee.

1974 Appointed International Olympic Committee Member.

1974 Appointed Member of the Legislative Yuan of Taipei, China.

1974 Appointed as Member of the 10th-13th Kuomintang Central Executive Committee.

1988 Appointed Chairman of the Taiwan Daily.

1988 Appointed Vice President of the National Athletics Federation.

1988 Appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Taiwan Red Cross Society.

1996 Awarded First Degree Education Culture Medal by the Ministry of Education of Chinese Taipei

1999 Sept 9th Special Contribution Elite Award by the National Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Executive Yuan, Taipei

2008 Appointed Honorary President & Commander in Chief of the Hong Kong Escape Organisation, HERO..

2008 Invited to participate in Beijing Olympic Games where Henry suffered a stroke.

2009 Feb. 3rd at 17:30 Henry passed away in Taipei Veterans General Hospital.

2009 March 16th State Funeral held in Taipei attended by President Ma Ying-Jeou. [6]


President attends funeral service for HERO honorary President

Henry Hsu OBE State Funreal in Taipai 
	Photos from the Hide collection ©

Photos from the Hide collection ©

Hsu Heng (Henry) was buried with full military honours in Taipei on 16th March 2009 aged 96.

President Ma Ying-Jeou attended the funeral service held in Taipei for the late International Olympic Committee (IOC)member and Hong Kong Escape Re-enactment Organisation (HERO) honorary President Henry Heng Hsu, who passed away at the age of 96 last month. Hsu's coffin was draped with the national flag of the Republic of China, the flag of the ruling Kuomintang, and the flag of the IOC, making him the first ever Taiwanese citizen to be honoured with an International Olympic Committee flag after his death.

The national flag was placed on the coffin by four government leaders, including Premier Liu Chao-shiuan and Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-Pyng, while the IOC flag was laid on the coffin by IOC member Wu Ching-Kuo, Sports Affairs Council Minister Tai Hsia-Ling, Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) Chairman Tsai Chen-chou, and Chi Cheng, a local 1968 Olympic bronze medallist, and the party flag was draped by four former and incumbent senior KMT officials.

HERO Crest. Beware the Sting in the Tail.  
	 Click here to read more

The 2nd MTB Flotilla which extracted the Aberdeen Island escape party under cover of darkness had taken a beating during the battle for Hong Kong.
When the Japanese started to invade Hong Kong Island, the 2nd MTB Flotilla was ordered to attack and shoot up everything in sight, and to expend all ammunition in the process. Unbeknown to the flotilla, the Japanese had already established a beach head on the Island west of the Sugar Refinery at North Point. Lt Ronnie Ashby whose motto was "Be Just and Fear Naught" led the flotilla in MTB 07, 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" back to base.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]

Lieutenant Commander Gandy R. N. (Rtrd) had prevailed against all the odds, and triumphed over adversity to deliver his people back to the UK 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."

Hsu Heng, an internationally renowned hotelier with a portfolio including the prestigious Los Angeles Airport Hilton, and staunch promoter of sports and education about Olympic activities in Taiwan, was an IOC member between 1970 and 1988 before he retired and became an honorary member of the world's top sports organization.

The IOC flag was flown at half mast at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland Feb. 3rd, the day the IOC learned about Hsu's passing.

Lt-Cmd Henry Heng Hsu ROC, was attached to the Chinese Liaison delegation in Hong Kong led by Adm Chan Chak who acted as the Chinese-British Commander-In-Chief. Colonel S. K. Yee of the Chinese Secret Service was the Admirals 2nd in command,  Flag Lt-Commander Henry Heng Hsu ROC was the Adm's ADC, and Coxswain Yeung Chuen, an expert in martial arts was the Admirals bodyguard. Henry had been instrumental in keeping civil order amongst the Hong Kong Chinese and dealing with the Triads. On Christmas Day with his delegation in the car he followed Ted Ross as they drove down Queens Road from the Kings Theatre heading for Aberdeen passing many dead bodies on the side of the road . Here they met Cmd Montague RN (Rtrd) and commandeered a boat leaving under heavy machine gun and mortar fire to make good their escape.

Lieutenant Commander Henry Hsu-Heng ROC was accorded an Honorary Officer of the Military Division of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) on 19th August 1942.  He was presented with the award by the British Representative at Chungking Sir Horace Seymour the British Ambassador to China on on 4th November 1942 on behalf of King George VI at the same ceremony as Vice Admiral Chan Chak ROC  for their assistance in controlling civil unrest within the colony, and subsequent escape with the 2nd MTB Flotilla.[62]

Born in Canton 6th December 1912 and married to Amy (deceased); one son, two daughters

Educated at Whampoa Naval College (1932), Canton; National Chi Nan University, Shanghai (Bachelor of Law 1935); US Naval Training Centre, Commanding Officer Class, Miami (1945)

CAREER; Member of Parliament at the Legislative Yuan, Chinese Taipei (1972-1986); National Policy Advisor to the President of Chinese Taipei (1987-2000); President of the Red Cross Society of Chinese Taipei (1988-2000); Advisor at the Legislative Yuan, ROC (2000)

Henry Hsu helped Admiral Chan Chak overboard.  
	Photo from Maj Goring's  article on the escape © 
	Click here for more informationAdm Chan Chak: "The Danish steer man was the first one shot, then the engineer. 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 Admiral of 50” swimming such a far distance.
I insisted to carry my own gun and passport. Yeung could not swim and he suggested that we should go back to Hong Kong. “Going back means surrender. I would rather die!” I said.
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."

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

Ted Ross MOI: "Well, we hadn't gone much more than five or six hundred yards when we were spotted from the shore and the Jap's let fly at us with everything they had, rifles, machine guns and small shells.
Several of our chaps were hit, and soon a shot put the engine out of commission, that capped it.
The machine gun bullets kept tearing in. Mac got one right in his tin hat, another cut through the sole of his shoe, and just as he was saying how close they were coming he got one right in the back.
" [28]

Along with S.K. were two severely wounded volunteer crew left in the boat, the tall forty seven year old Jutlander, Alec (Alexis) Damsgaard, late Master of the C.S. Store Nordiske, & Sub-Lt J. J. Forster HKRNVR from Northern Ireland. After drifting all night S.K. bribed a junk man to take the two wounded to a hospital.

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."

Of the sixteen who set out on "HMS Cornflower's" launch, two were killed, one taken prisoner, another made good his own escape while the remaining twelve made it to the MTB's.

S.K, wearing Hsu Heng (Henry)'s shoes and clutching his 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 & 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 ©

Cdr Henry Hsu ROC & Senior Sino-British navy officers and nursing staff at Waichow ©

Senior Sino-British Naval officers with nursing staff at Waichow

Back Row: Lt Kennedy RNVR, Lt-Cmd Hsu Heng (Henry) ROC, Lt-Cmd Gandy RN (Rtrd), Lt-Cmd Yorath RN (Rtrd), Cdr Montague RN (Rtrd), Lt Parsons HKRNVR, Lt Ashby HKRNVR, Lt Collingwood RN,

Front Row: Sub-Lt Gee HKRNVR, Sub-Lt Brewer HKRNVR, Sub-Lt Legge HKRNVR, and nurses at Waichow.


Shaoguan [Kukong]

Cmdr Henry Hsu ROC at Shuikwan [Kukong] 6th Jan 1942 
    Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©




Left: Lt-Cmd John Yorath RN (Rtrd), Major Arthur Goring Probyns Horse, Commander Hugh M Montague RN [Senior Naval Officer Aberdeen, & the escape] with Mrs Muriel Jones of the "Methodist Mission" wearing a Chinese favour on her  lapel, and Adm Chan Chak's ADC Lt-Cmdr Hsu Heng (Henry) ROC. Police Supt Bill Robinson of the Indian Police is behind with the white neck scarf.

Photo from Adm Chan Chak's collection ©

The New Zealand Presbyterian Church Methodist Mission at Shaoguan was run by Mrs Jean Martin & her Irish born husband known by his Chinese name Mooi with a staff of six missionaries and their wives. It was here that Adm Chan Chak finally had the bullet removed from his wrist by Dr S H Moore at the "Ho Sai" hospital. The Adm kept the bullet and had it mounted on a gold chain which he wore from his left lapel. Adm Chan Chak also had a blood transfusion here after his gastric ulcer flared up with Muriel's husband Peredur Jones donating his blood.

Max Oxford RAF, Chan Chak ROC, & Henry Hsu ROC 17th March 1944     
    Photo from the Hide collection ©





Wing Commander Max Oxford, Adm Chan Chak K.B.E. & Commander Hsu Heng (Henry) O.B.E. 17th March 1944.

Henry eventually retired as Rear Adm.

Photo from Adm Chan Chak's collection ©



Henry Hsu wrote a detailed account of the escape on his arrival in Chungking.

Henry Hsu talks about the escape in 2006     
    Photo from the Hide family collection ©

Henry Hsu recounting the epic escape with the 2nd MTB Flotilla in 2006 with Adm Chan Chak's sons Donald and Duncan. The webmaster is the sole copy write © owner of the Henry Hsu filmed recount of the escape.. Henry stripped down to his shirt and shorts before jumping overboard abandoning his diamond encrusted tie pin which was a treasured wedding gift. Later he met Colonel Yee Shiu Kee in Chungking wearing his shoes. Colonel Yee returned Henry's shoes and his bible, Henry never did get his tie pin back or Adm Chan's $HK200.000.

Photo from the Hide collection ©


Henry Hsu with Adm Chan Chak's twin sons Duncan and Donald Chan in 2006

Henry Hsu with Adm Chan Chak's sons Duncan & Donald Chan in March 2006     
    Photo from the Chan family collection ©




Hsu Heng (Henry) OBE with Adm Chan Chak's twin sons Duncan and Donald in March 2006

Photo from the Chan family collection ©



Members of the Christmas Day escape who returned to help rebuild the Colonony of Hong Kong after its return to British control in 1945 included

The SOE escape team

Mike Kendall

Colin McEwan

[John] Monia Talan

Click here to read The Guardian Obituary

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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