L/Tel Christopher Meadows P/SSX21494 [MTB 10] (Belgrave, Leicester)
10 Dec 1919 - 4 Sept 1981
L/Tel Chris Meadows
Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©
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." 
Lt-Commander Gandy RN Recorded in his official report "A further member of MTB 10 crew I consider deserving of mention is Telegraphist Christopher Meadows P/SSX21494 for his efficiency in keeping his W/T set in order and his willingness to work long hours as necessary in the leaders boat where W/T and visual was heaviest."
Chris returnd to Akyab in Burma on the Heinrich Jessen along with the other Telegraphists with Collingwood and Kennedy.
Lt Collingwood stayed behind in Akyab, eventually flying out from Chittagong to Calcutta on the 18th April. From there he went on to Ceylon before returning to the UK.
Chris along with the eight other remaining ratings in Akyab eventually left Bombay on 14th April and arrived back in the UK 1st June 1942.
Lieutenant Commander Gandy R. N. (Rtrd) had prevailed against all the odds, and triumphed over adversity to deliver the crews of the flotilla 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 recorded: "On the whole, the moral, spirits, and courage of the party was magnificent. I think it was the shear thoughts of beating the Japs, 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 Royal Navy history, that an entire Flotilla company evaded capture to escape across an entire continent to fight another day.
Left: MTB 10 proceeding out of the Kowloon camber.
Royal Navy etiquette of the day required the flotilla leader to wear a darker colour without a Pennant number on the hull.
MTB 10 on patrol
Photo from Lt C.J. Collingwood's collection ©
MTB 10 laying off Stonecutters Island
Photo from Lt Ashby's collection©
Sub-Lt Brewer with Telegraphist Chris Meadows, Coxswain P.O. Prest, & Stoker P.O. Moore arriving in Shaoguan (Kukong) 6th january 1942
Chris wrote an account of events during the escape which is held at the Imperial War Museum (London)
Click here to return to the Waichow Photo
Chris married in Banham in Norfolk UK 13 Oct 1944
Survived by Ingrid & Christopher
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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