Kukong HERO  RosetteAdmiral Chan Chak in Kukong;  
  Click here to read more © MTB 07. Photos from the Ashby, Chan Chak, & Collingwood collections © Admiral Chan Chak and party arriving in Waichow   
  Click here to
  Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©HERO Arthur Pittendrigh

Arthur Pittendrigh - Escape from Hong Kong - The Final Hours

Lieutenant Arthur Pittendrigh R. N. R. Hong Kong

1902 - 1968

Arthur Pittendrigh

Arthur Pittendrigh, Master Mariner, had lived and worked in Shanghai since 1924. Following the Japanese attack on Shanghai he, along with most of the european population made their way to Hong Kong.

Arthur was mobilised into the RNR with the rank of Lieutenant at HMS Tamar 1st November 1939.

In Dec 1941 he was 1st Lieutenant, Aberdeen Dockyard under Commander Hugh Montague RN. (Rtrd) Arthur escaped along with Cmdr Montague on board the 150 ton berthing tug Polly (C-410) and joined up with the MTB escape party at NanAo, deep behind enemy lines in China.

Mentioned in Despatches "For skilful and courageous services which enabled a party to make a daring escape from Hongkong"

He was able to get the right sleeve of his uniform sewn back on while in Waichow.

While in Kunming, Arthur, along with Sub-Lt Legge and Sub-Lt Gee received orders to fly to Chungking and report to the British Embassy to work in the cypher department. Arhur was seconded into the British Indian Army in 1942 with the rank of Lieutenant, rising to the rank of Major.

Arthur returned to Hong Kong in 1945 to command the Maritime Police Service with the rank of Colonel. Arthur retired to Safety Bay near Perth WA where he died in 1968.


Click here for more information on Lieut Pittendrigh RNR

"During the siege of Hong Kong this officer performed the duties of 'Lieutenant of the Dockyard' at Aberdeen.  He displayed exceptional utility and zeal and was cool and unshaken under repeated shelling and bombing. He is an excellent leader of men, resourceful in overcoming difficulties, and cheerful and resolute under trying circumstances.
He was one of the party which escaped from Hong Kong. It is recommended his further employment should be such as to fully utilize his excellent qualities".
- Commander Hugh Montague RN. (Rtrd)

W-O Morley-Wright HKRNVR: "Was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross with Lt Pittendrigh RNR and Midshipman Holgar Christensen being "Mentioned in Despatches" For skilful and courageous services which enabled a party to make a daring escape from Hong Kong" [105]

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 the Royal Navy that an entire Flotilla evaded capture to escape across an entire continent to fight another day.

Arthur returned to Hong Kong after the war and along with Harry Owen-Hughes joined Colonial Secretary David MacDougall's team getting Hong Kong running as a going concern again after the Japanese occupation. Arthur became the Commander of the maritime police with the rank of Colonal, where he was fully employed rooting out pirates from the dozens of surrounding islands. Among other Christmas Day escapees to return were Max Oxford as the Deputy Director of Civil Aviation, SOE agents Colin McEwan as Head of Physical Training and John Talan who went back into the travel sector before becoming a Director of a laundry business. Ted Ross along with S K Yee managed the transport division for the British Military Mission. Arthur Gee also returned to his pre-war employers as night editor on the China Mail. Adm Chan Chak became the first post-war mayor in neighbouring Canton.

Arthur Pittendrigh & Officers relaxing with Dr Lim at the Chinese International Red Cross headquarters in Guiyang 
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

Guiyang Red Cross centre

Dr Bobby Lim, Lt Pittendrigh RNR Lt-Cmd Yorath RN (Rtrd), & Sub-Lt Brewer HKRNVR relaxing during the escape

Photo from the Hide collection ©

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

Some of the RN party in Huaxi Park, Guiyang 25th January 1942 ©

Lt-Cmd Yorath with officers & ratings visiting Huaxi park, Guiyang.

Dr Lim organized a seven-a-side football match against his training school team.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

Members of the Christmas Day escape who returned to help rebuild the Colonony of Hong Kong after its return to British control in 1945 included

The SOE escape team

Mike Kendall

Colin McEwan

[John] Monia Talan

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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