Royal Navy Coastal Forces Escape from Hong Kong

 

Admiral Chan Chak. Photos from the Chan Chak & Collingwood collections ©

Royal Navy Escape overland to Rangoon from from Hong Kong

MTB's 07 & 09 under camouflage in Telegraph Bay on Christmas Day 1941 just hours before the escape.

MTB 07 & 09 under camouflage in Telegraph Bay on Christmas Day 1941 just hours before the escape.   
    Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

Powered by three Napier Sea Lion engines each delivering 500 HP, these were the fastest boats in the Royal Navy when they were commissioned. The two wing engines were inclined to drive directly to the outboard propeller shafts whilst the center engine faced the opposite direction and transmitted via a V-drive to the center propeller. This arrangement allowed for "cruising" on the center engine only, a range extending economy measure which retained a high degree of maneuverability.

T E Shaw, formerly known as T E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) joined the RAF after WW1. He was appalled at the high loss of life of sea-ditched aircraft. The rescue boats were slow due to having to push the mass of water aside as they cut through it. Shaw worked with the British Power Boat Company in the early 1930s to design a hull that could "plane" over the water rather than cut through it. Consequently Shaw was instrumental in the hard chine planing hull design used by their Air Sea Rescue Launches (ASR's) also known as High Speed Launches (HSL's), general purpose Motor Launches (ML's) and Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB's).

In early 1935 shortly before his fatal motor cycle accident he wrote; "I have been so curiously fortunate as to share in a little revolution we have made in boat design. People have thought we were at finality there, for since 1850 ships have merely got bigger. When I went into RAF boats in 1929, every type was an Admiralty design. All were round-bottomed, derived from the first hollow tree, with only a fin, called a keel, to delay their rolling about and over. They progressed by pushing their own bulk of water aside. Now (1935) not one type of RAF boat in production is naval... We have found, chosen, selected or derived our own sorts: they have (power for power) three times the speed of their predecessors, less weight, less cost, more room, more safety, more seaworthiness. As their speed increases, they rise out of the water and run over its face. They cannot roll, nor pitch, having no pendulum nor period, but a subtly modeled planing bottom and sharp edges." [68]

Waichow to Liucheng

Motor House Boat [MHB] towing Sanpan up the East River.    
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

 

Traveling by Sampans towed by a charcoal burning motor house boat [MHB] 150 miles up the East River from Waichow to Liucheng. The MHB's, known as Walla-Walla's by the locals were breaking down constantly and eventually they did away with the towed Sampans. This route out of Waichow was used many times by later escapees from Hong Kong.

 

 

 

 

 

Lt Ashby Kennedy taking a shore break on the mighty East River

 

 

 

Left: Lt's Ashby & Kennedy along with Chinese army officers take a shore break.

Ships Log: 2nd Jan (Fri) Early in the morning, 07 & 09 transferred to motor boat & sampan cast off. Somewhat cramped quaters, but warmer & pleasanter! Better progress made without tow, but engine still broke down frequently. At about 1pm stopped at Goonyumkok where practically all went ashore & stretched their legs – only a small town, but quite a quantity of toffee, oranges, etc was purchased. Continued up-river after some 30 minutes, fewer breakdowns, but more frequent groundings on sandbanks. [5]

 

 

 

The Mountains climb.  
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

 

View of the mountains the escapees scaled on the route from Nanao to waichow.

Photo from the Hide family collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The route from NanAo to Waichow led through some of the roughest terrain imaginable.

The Wong Mu Temple.  
    Photo from thr Hide collection ©

 

 

 

 

The temple at Wong Mu where the escapees slept on the straw covered stone floor.

Photo from Hide family collection ©.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waichow

Admiral Chan Chak's photo album showing the escape party at Waichow 30th Dec 1941 with names. 
	Click here to enlarge.     
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

Adm Chan Chak's photo album showing Waichow 30th December 1941 with names

Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

Back: Christiansen M.N,   A/B Pawley, A/P.O.Hide R. N, Ross B.M.I,  P.O. Dyer, W. O. Wright H.K.R.N.V.R, Cox-Walker M.N, P.O. Stonell R. N,  C.P.O.Thums R. N,   P.O. Tel Meadows,  Brazel M.N,   Gurd,   Arnold,   Hempenstall,  McQueen,  Foster,   Quixell

3rd: Halliday M.N, Marchant M.N, Skinner M.N,  Holmes,   Whatley,   Brogden,  A/P.O. Priestley R.N,   Kelly,   Downey,   Holt,  Evans,  Purchase,  Rutter,  Penny,  P.O. Moore R. N,  Thorpe, Barker,  Schillemore,  Carr,  Hill,  Charleson,  Burrows,  Rann,  Deatin, Gavaghan,  Pony Moore.

2nd: Capt Macmillan R.A, Supt Robinson I.P, Sq-Ldr Oxford R.A.F, Lt Pittendrigh R.N.R, Lt Ashby R.N.V.R, Lt Collingwood R.N, Lt-Cmd Gandy  R.N,  Cmdr Montague R.N,  Adm Chan-Chak CN, Lt-Gen Wong, Lt-Gen Chen, Lt-Cmd Yorath R.N, Maj Goring H.Q. Staff, Capt Guest HQ StaffLt Parsons R.N.V.R, Lt Kennedy R.N.V.R.

1st: Sub-Lt Gee & Brucey the dog, Maj-Gen Fu, Mr Au Yeung, Coxswain Yeung Chuen CN, Lt-Cmd Hsu Heng CN,  Maj-Gen Tung,  Sub-Lt Legge R.N.V.R,  Sub-Lt Brewer R.N.V.R.

 

 

 

 

Ready to March

Buddy Hide arriving in Kukong 6th Jan 1942. 
    Run the curser over to identify individuals.     
Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection &copy

 

 

 

 

Lt C J Collingwood with the ships company arriving in Kukong Kukong on the 6th January 1942

 

Photo from Adm Chan Chak's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

Lt-Cdr Gandy marching into Kukong 6th Jan 1942.     
    Photo from the Ted Ross collection &copy

Lt-Cmd Gandy with his back to the camera, A/PO Burrows, A/B Rann,
L/S Les Barker, & PO Carr falling in to march into Kukong on the 6th January 1942

Photo from Ted Ross collection ©

 

 

 

On the March

PO Buddy Hide marching into Kukong 6th Jan 1942.     
  Photo from the Hide collection &copy

Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

The Escape party marching past a welcome banner as they do a ceremonial march into Shaoguan (Kukong) 6th January 1942.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waichow bombed out main Street

 

 

The bombed out main street in Waichow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chan Chak arriving in Kukong 6th Jan 1942.   
  Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©

 

 

 

The escape party marching into Shaoguan (Kukong)

The Adm is feted on arrival in Kukong

Photo from Adm Chan Chak's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese HERO Rossete.   
  Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

Buddy Hide's Chinese HERO Favour/Rosette

Proclaiming "Loyal and bold in destroying enemy"

Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sub-Lt Brewer & officers relaxing with Dr Robert Lim during the escape. 
  Click here to see the Waichow photo.   
  Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

Resting at Guiyang

Dr Lim, Lt Pittendrigh RNR, Lt-Cmd Yorath RN (Rtrd), & Sub-Lt Brewer HKRNVR relaxing at Kukong

Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mission

Kukong Mission meet us 6th Jan 1942.   
  Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©

 

 

Photo from Adm Chan Chak's collection members of the Methodist Mission run by the YMCA greet the escape party entering Shaoguan (Kukong).

Photo from the Hide collection ©

The Methodist Mission in Kukong where Adm Chan Chak was operated on to remove the bullet he had been carrying since Hon Kong and have a blood transfusion from The Rev Peredur Jones standing on the right with his wife and probably Constance Green due to a burst ulcer and infection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PO Buddy Hide & party at Kweiyang 24th Jan 1942.   
  Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

 

 

48 Members of the escape party with General Wu in Kweiyang;

Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

Kweiyang 26th January 1942

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lt Legge & officers at Kweiyang 26th January 1942. 
    Run the curser over to see individuals identified. 
Photo fom Alex Kennedy's collection ©

 

 

 

Some of the Officers enjoying a day out in Kweiyang with their female hosts including Dr Lim's 15 year old daughter Effie in the tartan kilt. Sub-Lt David Legge in the center lived in Shanghai and spoke the language, and so was the interpreter.

The officers left to right are Sub-Lt Gee [MTB 07], Sub-Lt Brewer [MTB 09], Sub-Lt Legge {MTB 11], Lt Parsons [MTB 27], & Lt Alexander Kennedy of MTB 09, the author of the privately published book "Hong Kong Full Circle 1939-1945".

Photo from "Alex Kennedy's collection ©

 

 

Rough terrain on the escape.   
  Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

 

 

 

Photos from Ron Ashby's collection ©

If we are not going up we are going down and if not down then up

 

 

 

 

 

Adm Chan Chak

Admiral Chan Chak greeted in Kukong 6th Jan 1942.   
  Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©



 

 

 

Photo from Adm Chan Chak's collection ©

 

 

Adm Chan Chak being féted in Kukong

 

 

 

 

David MacDougall, Cdr Hugh Montagu RN, Admiral Chan Chak CN and Lt-Col Harry Owen Hughes with Chinese officers in Kukong 6th Jan 1942.   
  Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©



 

 

 

Photo from Adm Chan Chak's collection ©

Gen Chiang, David MacDougall, Cmdr Montague RN, Gen Yu Han Mow, Adm Chan Chak, Lt-Col Harry Owen Hughes, & Gen Wong in Kukong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ted Ross at Kukong 6th Jan 1942.   
  Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©David M MacDougall in Kukong 6th Jan 1942.   
  Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©

Ted Ross and David MacDougall, both of the Ministry of Information arrive in Kukong. David came back to Hong Kong in 1945 as Brigadier Colonial Secretary and accepted a Japanese sword on their surrender.

Photos from Adm Chan Chak's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sub-Lt Tommy Brewer HKRNVR arriving in Kukong ©

S.P.O. Charlie Moore, Sub-Lt Brewer, Tel Chris Meadows, & Cox P.O. (Jixer) Prest, arriving in Shaoguan (Kukong)

Run the cursor over the photo for more.

Lofty Gurd arriving in Kukong on the 6th January 1942

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 Australian Marines.

 Photos from the Ted Ross collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

The strain of the journey shows as the Royal Navy Matelot's disembark from the trucks at Shaoguan [Kukong] 6th January 1942

Buddy Hide & the fortunate few arriving in Shuikwan [Kukong] 6th Jan 1942.   
  Photo from the ILN 21st March 1942 ©  

 

 

 

Lofty Gurd, Bill Schillemore, John Pawley

Al Rutter, guerilla Leader Liang Yung Yuan, Buddy Hide, & George (Bones) Arnold disembarking from their truck at Shaoguan [Kukong].

Photo from the ILN collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Burma Road; Kunming to Lashio

The Burma Road.   
  Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

 

 

 

Hairpin bends winding down mountain, on road to Kunming (24 bends in all, now a listed tourist site) . 28 Jan ‘42;

Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buddy Hide & the Hong Kong escape party on the Burma Road.   
  Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

Enduring the treacherous conditions of the Burma road in the Red Cross trucks from Guiyang 3000 feet above the River Salwen, 5th February 1942

Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lt Ashby with officers & ratings at the Red Cross Centre near Guiyang.     
    Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

 

 

 

Guiyang

Lt Collingwood, Sub-Lt Brewer, Warrant Officer Wright, & Lt Ashby with ratings A/B jack Holt in the front row third from the left, & A/B Ed Brazel M. N. is front row right.

Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

 

 

 

Lt Ashby's surprise

 

Lt Ashby & Dodwell truck at Wantung on the China/Burma border.   
  Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

 

 

 

After crossing the border at 17.40 into Burma on the 6th February they messed in the army barracks and celebrated being back on British Sovereign Territory. Lt Ron Ashby had worked for Dodwell & Co Ltd in Hong Kong prior to the war and was most surprised when the four trucks commandeered at Wantung were Dodwell's. They departed on the 7th February 1942 and pushed on to Lashio where they arrived at 17.10. Here they messed in the RAF station for five days awaiting orders before boarding a train for Rangoon.

Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

On the train through Burma.   
  Photo from Ron Ashby's collection © 

 

 

 

 

Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

Train.   
  Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

 

 

 

Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The SS Heinrich Jessen later commandeered & re-named HMIS Barracuda

SS Heinrich Jessen/HMIS Barracuda.   
  Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

 

 

 

The armed merchant cruiser "Heinrich Jessen"

Photo from Ron Ashby's collection ©

The "Heinrich Jessen" under her 31 year old master Georg Hansen R.I.N.R. was the last ship to leave Rangoon, sailing out with members of the 2nd MTB Flotilla who from Hong Kong through the armada of Japanese war ships coming in. She was also the last ship to leave Singapore. Renamed HMIS Barracuda she served as a depot ship on the Arakan coast with Cmdr Ron Ashby.

HMIS Barracuda was the first ship back into Both Singapore and Rangoon after the Japanese surrender in 1945.

 

 

SS Narkunda in Bombay.  
  Photo from Lt Collingwood's collection ©

 

 

 

SS Narkunda ready for the last leg back to Blighty from Bombay via Durban, Cape Town, & Freetown before arriving in Glasgow on Friday 22nd May 1942.

Photo from C J Collingwood's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Contact | Mwadui | Guest Book | Top | ©1996 Hamstat Integrated Systems | Escape from Hong Kong

Site maintained by Hamstat Integrated Systems Inc

© Hong Kong Escape.org 1997