Escape from Hong Kong

Eric Purchase - Escape from Hong Kong

Escape from Hong Kong

MTB 07 Crest. Caudae Spiculum Caveo
(Beware the sting in the tail)Admiral Chan Chak in Kukong;  
  Click here to read more ©MTB 07. Photos from the Ashby, Chan Chak, & Ross collections © Admiral Chan Chak and party arriving in Waichow   
  Click here to read more   
  Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©HERO Eric Purchase

 

Eric W J Purchase MTB 07 of the 2nd MTB Flotilla, Coastal Forces Hong Kong

Telegraphist A/B Eric W J Purchase P/SSX.30511 of MTB 07 the 2nd MTB Flotilla

1922 - 1964

Eric W J Purchase at Waichow 30th Dec 1941  
    Click here to return to the Waichow photo      
    Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

A/B Purchase in Waichow 30th December 1941

Photo from Buddy Hide's collection

Eric joined MTB 07 after Tel Tom Duckworth was killed in action on 19th December 1941.

 

 

 

 

MTB 07, with PO's John Prest and Buddy Hide at the controls, under fire.  
	Photo from Hong Kong 1941-45 published by Osprey Publishing. 
	Illustration by Giuseppe Rava. 
	Click here for more information

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 expend all ammunition shooting up everything in sight. 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." [9]

After 3000 miles traveling overland through China and Burma he arrived in a deserted Rangoon.

Eric returned to Akyab in Burma on the Heinrich Jessen along with the other Telegraphists with Collingwood and Kennedy.

Eric along with eight other ratings remained in Akyab and eventually left Bombay on 14th April and arrived back in the UK 1st June 1942.[82]

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"

PO 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.


MTB 07 & 09 under camouflage in Telegraph Bay

MTB 07 & 09 under camouflage in Telegraph Bay by day  prior to the escape on Christmas Day 1941.    
    Photo from the Hide collection ©











Photo from the Hide collection ©














The day before the escape MTB 07 had only managed to take on one hundred and eighty gallons (818 litres) of petrol before being targeted by shell fire. This limited her range to less than one hundred miles (160 Km).

Lt Collingwood RN: "Each boat had been camouflaged according to the individual OC and we lay as close to the rocks and cliffs as possible. By Christmas Eve things were bad and we began to prepare for a getaway if possible in accordance with a pre-arranged scenario. We were no longer in touch with our base and we were all anchored off shore in different bays." [8]

Lt Kennedy RNVR (MTB 09) "About three o' clock the telegraphist gave an excited shout, 'I think I've just picked up a signal from the Commodore to V2.' V2 was the short title of the flotilla leader. 'It wasn't very clear and all I got was GO' he continued. 'Are you sure' Ashby and I queried, but the operator was listening intently again. 'Yes its just come through again, Sir. One word GO.'
The sight of the hillside with its little patches of white held our gaze for some time. No one said much. The time was three-fifteen, Hong Kong had fallen."


The 2nd MTB Flotilla on the Road Across China

Shaoguan [Kukong] 6th January 1942

 

Albert Rutter, Chinese Guerilla Leader Leung Wingyuen & Petty Officer Buddy Hide.    
    Photo from the Ted Ross collection ©




Albert Rutter, Chinese Guerilla Leader Leung Wingyuen with Petty Officer Buddy Hide, Hanging out the truck are Les [Lofty] Gurd, Bill Schillemore, & John Pawley during the epic journey across China.

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 swapped the jackets later on in Kunming with an incoming detachment of British/Australian Marines from the 204 Military Mission in China. [46]

Photo from the Ted Ross collection ©

George Arnold with Buddy Hide & the fortunate few 6th Jan 1942 ©






 

Albert Rutter, Chinese Guerilla Leader Leung Wingyuen with Petty Officer Buddy Hide, & Bones Arnold. Hanging out the truck are Les [Lofty] Gurd, Bill Schillemore, & John Pawley during the epic journey across China.

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 swapped the jackets later on in Kunming with an incoming detachment of British/Australian Marines from the 204 Military Mission in China. [46]

 

 

Photo from the ILN collection ©







Guiyang



General Wu with the escape party at Guiyang 24th January 1942































General Wu with the escape party at Guiyang 24th January 1942

Ships Log: 24th Jan 1942 "Visit to Governor in the morning. Conducted tour of centre in the afternoon, followed by a tea, & movies after dinner." [5]


Huaxi Park near Guiyang

Hong Kong RN escape party in Huaxi Park, Guiyang 25th January 1942 ©






Lt-Cdr 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 ©










Ships Log: 25th Jan 1942 "Visit to park in the morning. Soccer match in the afternoon, lost 6-1. Dinner in the evening given by the Governor." [5]




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 | © MCMXCVI Hamstat Integrated Systems | Escape from Hong Kong

Site maintained by Hamstat Integrated Systems Inc

© Hong Kong Escape.org  2019

Audio by Lion Rock Films