Lt Laurence D Kilbee HKRNVR 2nd MTB Flotilla Coastal Forces Hong Kong

 

MTB 08. Photos from the Collingwood & Hide collections ©

 

Lt Laurence D Kilbee

1914 - 2006

 

Lt Laurence D Kilbee HKRNVR MTB 08 China Station.   
  Photo from Laurence Kilbee's collection &copy

 

 

Laurence Kilbee enlisted with the Hong Kong Navy Volunteer Force with the rank of Lieutenant on 16th November 1937, seven days later Ron Ashby also enlisted . The Imperial Royal Navy loaned HMS Cornflower to the HKNVF for use as their headquarters and was moored south-west of Kellett Island where the RHKYC transferred to from North Point in October 1940. Yacht and boat clubs were the traditional recruiting grounds for navy volunteers, men with basic seamanship knowledge. There was also a shore-based office in the York Building on the north side of Chater Rd by Pedder St. As the clouds of war began to darken the HKNVF was mobilized into the Hong Kong Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HKRNVR in August 1939 with just one hundred and ten officers. His Excellency Sir Geoffry Alexander Stafford Northcote, K.C.M.G. was the Honorary Captain. [106]

Photo from Laurence Kilbee's collection ©

 

For more information on Laurence Kilbee click here.

 

 

Lt Laurence D Kilbee H.K.R.N.V.R. [MTB 08 & late of MTB 27]

MTB 08 Crest. Caudae Spiculum Caveo (Beware the sting in the tail)

 

One of two ships crests salvaged from the 2nd MTB Flotilla.
MTB 08 blew up on the slip at Aberdeen when hit by a bomb splinter as the IJA targeted HMS Thracian in the dry dock on 16th December 1941

The ships crest was salvaged by Lt Lewis Bush HKRNVR who in turn gave it to the Coxswain W Mitchell in Japan. It was sold by David Bond, an ex Clearance Diver in Hong Kong and now specializing in maritime artifacts.

The other crest was salvaged from MTB 09 by Sub-Lt Brewer HKRNVR on 26th December during scuttling off Nanao in Mirs Bay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MTB motto: Caudae Spiculum Caveo (Beware the sting in the tail)

MTB 07 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 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.
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]

 

 

Lt Kilbee & MTB 08 Crew in Oct 1941 ©

 

 

Left: Lt Kilbee with his dog and crew. Sub-Lt Lewis Bush with his dog is also front row 2nd from the left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MTB 08 covering the measured mile in East Lama Channel 1941
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

Lt Kilbee transferred as C/O to MTB 08 on the 27th April 1940 after having been the C/O of MTB 27. After 08 blew up on the slip at Aberdeen on the 16th December 1941 he briefly took over as MTB Officer in Aberdeen and Officer Commanding the RASC launch ML French before joining MTB 10 as 1st Officer.

He had a long discussion about the escape with his C/O Lt-Cmd Gandy and expressed his desire to stay with his wifea nurse, and young daughter of six months. Laurenence Transferred to MTB 11, just as Chan Ckak's advance party came over Aberdeen Island, and was taken to Telegraph Bay where MTB's 07 & 09 were alongside, and put ashore.
The Kilbee family home was up on the peak.

Laurence was taken as P.O.W. While there he kept a diary and recorded the events of the battle of Hong Kong.
His wife aged twenty four and young daughter Dorathy aged five months were interned at the War Memorial Hospital for the duration of the Japanese occupation.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

For more information on Laurence Kilbee click here.

Lt L D Kilbee's account of the battle, written shortly after captivity while POW.

Laurence Kilbee and fellow officers referred to the highly tuned thoroughbred boats of the Hong Kong Coastal Forces as the "Hong Kong Costly Farce"

MTB 27 ex Kuamintong CMB Kuai 20, XDO inspection. Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

MTB 27, a Thornycroft 55 foot ex Kuamintong CMB Kuai 20 completed 10th September 1938 loaded with depth charges and torpedo's getting an XDO inspection in February 1940 with Lt Kilbee as her C/O.

MTB's 26 & 27 were 55' Thornycroft CMB's bought back from China 4th Sept 1939

Photo from C J Collingwood's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lt Kilbee leaving harbour on MTB 27 for exercise in March 1940 &copy

 

 

 

MTB 27 underway with Lt Kilbee in command in March 1940.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

 

MTB 27 on patrol

Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MTB 27 alongside  HMS Robin in Mirs Bay
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

 

MTB 27 alongside HMS Robin in Mirs Bay

Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

 

MTB 27 alongside HMS Robind 
	Photo from the Hide family collection ©

 

 

MTB 27 loaded with depth charges in lieu of torpedo's alongside HMS Robin.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

MTB 27 & crew 
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

MTB 27 with crew members alongside the Camber in Kowloon

Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

MTB 08 as drawn by Lt Kilbee in 1945 after being released from POW.     
    Photo from Laurence Kilbee's collection ©.

 

 

MTB 08 painted by Lt Kilbee after being released from Japanese POW in 1945

Laurence painted many sea scenes especialy tall ships under full sail.

 

 

 

 

 

WDL French 
	from Hong Kong Recollections of a British Prisoner of War by Bill Wiseman

 

Lt Kilbee took command of the War Department Launch "French," operated by the RASC under the blue ensign, briefly between losing MTB 08 and being appointed 1st Officer on MTB 10.

The WDL's were from the same stable as MTB' 07-12.

Drawing from "Hong Kong Recollections of a British Prisoner of War" by Bill Wiseman.

 

 

 

 

The 2nd MTB Flotilla on patrol painted by Lt Kilbee in 1945 after being released from POW.     
    Photo from Laurence Kilbee's collection ©

 

 

The 2nd MTB Flotilla on patrol painted from memory by Lt Kilbee after being released from Japanese POW camp in 1945.

Laurence was a keen photographer and artist catching many sea scenes on canvas. All his pre-war works were lost after the fall of Hong Kong.

Photo from Laurence Kilbee's collection ©

 

 

 



MTB 08 alongside HMS Vernon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MTB 08

 

 

 

MTB 08 undergoing sea trials at HMS Vernon, Portsmouth after being completed on 3rd September 1937 prior to being shipped out to Hong Kong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lt L D Kilbee HKRNVR China Station
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

Lt L D Kilbee in 1940.

Photo from Lt Collingwood's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

MTB 27 launching a torpedo ©

 

 

 

MTB 27 launching a stern torpedo.

TheScott-Paine MTBs had to be stationary to launch their stern torpedos for fear of the engine room flooding through the open stern ports.

Photo from the Hide collection ©













Christmas Dinner menu in Shamshuipo POW camp 1943











Lawrence Kilbee and his crew spent nearly four years interned under the brutal Japanese regime as Prisoners of War.

The Christmas Dinner menu Shamshuipo POW camp 1943





























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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