Hugh Montague RN - Escape from Hong Kong


MTB 10 in Mirs Bay. Photos from the Ashby & Ross collections ©


Commander Hugh Monthermer Montague OBE R. N. (retd)

S.N.O. Aberdeen repair yard Hong Kong [106]


Cdr Hugh Montague RN (Retd) & Lt-Commander Hsu Heng (Henry) ROC in Kukong 6th January 1942 ©

Montague had served in the Royal Navy from 1904 through 1929. and retired to New Zealand to farm sheep. Monty, a keen sailor, later sailed his yacht to England with his young wife as crew. There he was called out of retirement as the clouds of war gathered over Europe. Montague was appointed Boom Defense Commander in Kowloon on 12th May 1938. [106]
Montague took command of HMS Robin (T65), a river class gunboat, now the boom defense depot ship and mother-ship of the 2nd MTB Flotilla on 10th February 1940.

Left: Commander Hugh Montague RN (Ret) with Lt-Cdr Henry Hsu ROC behind.

With the outbreak of hostilities with Japan on the 8th December 1941 Montague was appointed Senior Navy Officer Aberdeen.

Mentioned in Despatches

Click here for more information on Cdr Montague RN (Rtrd)

HMS Robin was scuttled in Aberdeen Channel on Christmas Day just prior to the surrender. The two 55 foot ex Kuamintong CMB's Kuai 19 & 20 completed in 1938 did not have sleeping quarters, and therefore the crews messed on board Robin. Montague was was also the Senior Naval Officer (SNO) Aberdeen and was responsible for commandeering suitable vessels needed for the hastily appointed dock.
On the 9th December the Tug C410, two navy lighters and the cabin cruiser Vanla which belonged to Chief Petty Officer writer Felix Hill moved from Victoria Harbour to Aberdeen. On the 12th Montague requisitioned the Vanla for running supplies between Aberdeen and Repulse Bay during the battle. [78].

Sub-Lt Bush HKRNVR: "There was one grand, middle-aged commander named Montague, who had been brought out of retirement. He'd entered the Navy at thirteen years of age, bred in the Nelson tradition. Just prior to the war he had sailed from New Zealand to England in a tiny yacht accompanied only by his newly-wed bride. The news simply dazed him for the moment; he then crashed down his fist upon a table and said: "Surrender! The Navy does not surrender. I fight on!"

I watched his bulky figure striding down the road towards the shore where lay an old ferry steamer, a rifle slung over his shoulder, two pistols in his belt and with a bag of hand grenades. He escaped to Free China and trekked across to India. I met him in a London theatre in 1946". [91]

Cmdr Montague escaped from Aberdeen on Christmas Day on board the 150 ton berthing tug Polly (C410) and joined up with Adm Chan Chak's escape party at NanAo, deep behind enemy lines in China.

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."

After reaching Shaoguan (Kukong) members of the Aberdeen Island escape party were flown to Chungking for debriefing. The arrival of Cmdr Hugh Montague RN (Rtrd), Police Supt Bill Robinson of the Indian Police Intelligence unit, Captain Peter Macmillan, Captain Reginald (Freddie) Guest, Sq-Ldr Max Oxford, all staff officers of HKBHQ, David MacDougall, and Edwin (Ted) Ross both of the Ministry of Information arrival in the early hours made the British national and regional press the same day 15th January 1942.

Later completing the 3000 miles journey across China and Burma and arrived in a deserted Rangoon. In March 1942 he was appointed Senior Naval Officer Chittagong before returning to New Zealand.

Commander Montague was appointed to Local Defence, and Commander Boom Defence in New Zealand in October 1942 "The preparation and installation of the booms were carried out under the superintendence of Commander H. M. Montague, OBE, RN (retd), Staff Officer (Boom Defence).Navy Office, Wellington, New Zealand [HMNZS Philomel II]"57

??/03/1943 - ??/07/1945 Commanding Officer, HMS Kirriemoor (boom carrier) 

Discharged 1951

Naval Record

For more information on Cmdr Hugh M Montague RN (Rtrd) Click here.

Commander Montague was Mentioned in Despatches "For good services in charge of a party who made a daring escape by Motor Torpedo Boat from Hong Kong" and honored with an OBE .

Montague was featured on the front page of the Daily Express along with Admiral Chan Chak during the escape.

Cmdr Hugh Montague RN with 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.

Click here to return to the Waichow Photo.

HMS Robin with MTB 27 alongside.  
	Photo from the Hide collection ©




HMS Robin with MTB 27 alongside. Robin was the MTB Flotilla's mother ship and as MTB's 26 & 27 did not have sleeping accomodation the crews messed on Robin.

Photo from the Hide collection©





MTB 26 or 27 alongside HMS Robin.  
    Photo from the Hide collection &copy

MTB 26 or 27 alongside HMS Robin

Photo from the Hide collection ©




HMS Robin with MTB 26 or 27 alongside. 
    Photo from the Hide collection &copy




HMS Robin with MTB 26 or 27 alongside.

Photo from the Hide collection ©



Shaoguan [Kukong]

Cmdr Hugh Mantague 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 ©



Cmdr Hugh Montague at Kukong 6th Jan 1942






Deputy Commander General Jiang Guangnai, David MacDougall, Commander Hugh Montague RN, C-in-C General Yu Hanmou, Adm Chan Chak, Lt-Colonel Harry Owen-Hughes, and Chief of Staff General Wang Jun at at Binlu, Shaoguan (Kukong) 6th January 1942.

Photo from the Hide collection © 











Admiral Chan Chak arriving in Kukong 
    Photo IWM ©



Left: Admiral Chan Chak with Commander Montague RN (Ret), Lt-Col Harry Owen-Hughes, David MacDougall, Ted Ross and Lt-Cmd Henry Hsu arriving in Kukong, Shaoguan, 6th January 1942

Photo IWM ©









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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