Douglas Stewart Pethick R.N.R. - Escape from Hong Kong

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Escape from Hong Kong Lt Douglas Stewart Pethick RNR

Lt D S Pethick RNR. Plympton, South Devon

**/**/1890 - 01/07/1942

Remembered with Honour

Pethick was born in Plymouth in 1890, aged 11 he attended boarding school in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

Pethick joined the Merchant Service and on 4th November 1912, aged 22 he was certified as 2nd Mate for foreign-going steamships only by the Privy Council of Trade. He spent most of his career operating out of Shanghai where he was certified as a Master Mariner. He was employed by Jardine Matheson & Company in Hong Kong when he was mobilized in the R. N. R. 21st January 1941

Duggy Pethick aged 53 was known by all as Captain Pethick of Jardine's, the international traders and shipping agent in Hong Kong. He was known to having a very competitive spirit and was not a man to cross swords with.

Lt Kennedy RNVR "Lieutenant Pethick, who was doing noble work in charge of the dockyard, owned a small a small, flat-bottomed dinghy, driven by a noisy outboard motor, in which he darted about the harbour. This outfit was affectionately known as the 'Flying Bedpan'! During one particular raid he was caught in the middle of the channel and apparently enveloped by a rain of bombs. To the anxious onlookes all seemed to be over, when out through the curtain of spray dashed the 'Bedpan', but with no sign of Pethick. He was there, however, his whole length miraculously coiled down in the sternsheets, lying soaked to the skin and expressing his views on the Japanese in the crudest terms. " [9]

22nd Dec saw Lt Douglas Pethick RNR appointed Master of the 150 ton diesel powered berthing-tug Polly, known as C.410.on which he later escaped from Aberdeen along with Commander Hugh Montague RN. (Rtrd) and caught up with Adm Chan Chak's escape party at NanAo, deep behind enemy lines in China.

On arrival in Calcutta Duggy sent a brief account of his escape to his parents in Yelverton which was published in the UK press.[93]
He then secured employment as Master of an old tramp steamer en route to the Middle East.

While Master of the S. S. Marilyse Moller (Shanghai) the ship was torpedoed by U-97 on 1st July 1942 North East of Port Said. There were no survivors.

Remembered with Honour

Photo from Buddy Hide's collection©

Lt Collingwood stayed onboard the Danish ship "Heinrich Jessen" and proceeded to Akyab, eventually flying out from Chittagong to Calcutta on the 18th April. From there he went on to Ceylon before returning to the UK.

The remaining nine ratings in Akyab eventually left Bombay on 14th April and arrived back in the UK 1st June1942.

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

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.



Banknotes signed as souvenirs by escape party members in Liuchow





Banknotes signed as souvenirs by escape party members in  Liuchow on 20th January 1942 while waiting for a train.

Among the signatures on this 10 Yuan banknote belonging to Lt Parsons HKRNVR are;

D S Pethick

E Cox-Walker

H Christensen

A Pittendrigh

E H Brazel

A Kennedy

A L Marchant

Photo from the Hide family collection ©

The banknote under belonging to Lt Kennedy RNVR is signed by;

A Pittendrigh

R R W Ashby

C J Collingwood

 

 

 

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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