William Douglas Robinson - Escape from Hong Kong


Admiral Chan Chak in Kukong   
  Click here to read more ©MTB cap tally, Photos from the Chan Chak & Collingwood & Ross collections © Admiral Chan Chak and party arriving in Waichow   
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  Photo from Admiral Chan Chak's collection ©

William (Bill) Robinson
    Click here to return to the Waichow photo 
    Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

Supt William (Bill) Douglas Robinson of the Indian Police born 1907 joined the Indian Police in Dehli at the age of twenty in 1927.

Bill was the son of Major General William Henry Banner Robinson (1863-1922), India Medical Service.

Supt Bill Robinson was drafted in from the Indian Intelligence Bureau at Delhi along with Major Arthur Goring and a Sikh Supt as part of the intelligence network on the rumoured Sikh army mutiny and 5th columnists. They were empowered to act as they saw fit.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

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.
Bill left Chungking on 31st January along with Freddie Guest and Max Oxford, bound for Delhi via Calcutta.

Freddie Guest last saw Bill Robinson in Delhi shortly after the escape according to his book An Indian Cavalryman "The first man I ran into was none other than Bill Robinson. He was dressed once again in the uniform of a Superintendent of the Indian Police, looking fit and well and as cheerful as ever.” [29]

Admiral Chan Chak calmly took to the waves 
	Photo from Maj Goring's  article on the escape © 
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Adm Chan Chak: "The Danish steer man was the first one shot, then the engineer. MacDougall and others were wounded. Most of the stray bullets had hit the boat and even some had hit my helmet.
Hsu was very wary about me the “One Foot Admiral of 50” swimming such a far distance.
I insisted to carry my own gun and passport. Yeung could not swim and he suggested that we should go back to Hong Kong. “Going back means surrender. I would rather die!” I said.
I took off my life preserver (which was the last one on board) and gave it to Yeung. As I raised my hand, a stray bullet went right through my left hand.
Yeung didn’t say anything anymore, he just jumped into the sea, followed by MacDougall with his wounded back.
YeeSiu-Kee and 2 other British soldiers had to remain on the boat. Yee could not swim and the 2 soldiers were badly wounded.
We were all sitting ducks in the water and non-stop bullets were flying everywhere.
I finally swam ashore on the small island right next to Apliechau."

Left: Photo from Maj Goring's daring-do article on the escape published in 1949. [17]

Maj Goring GOC3 BHQ "Bill the Policeman sank like a stone; but while under water quickly managed to divest himself of his shoes, fifty rounds of pistol ammunition, his revolver, tin hat, overcoat, and haversack. Then, in due course, he returned to the surface and swam bravely on." [17]

Along with S.K. were two severely wounded volunteer crew left in the boat, the tall forty seven year old Jutlander, Alec (Alexis) Damsgaard, late Master of the C.S. Store Nordiske, & Sub-Lt J. J. Forster HKRNVR from Northern Ireland. After drifting all night S.K. bribed a junk man to take the two wounded to a hospital.

S.K. Yee: "I put the two others on a junk, asking the fishermen to take them to a hospital on the mainland (Hong Kong).
I was kept some days at Pak Sha wan and subsequently I had to return to the church at Apliechau, which was under the Reverend Cheng. I took shelter at the church for some days before making my final escape to Free China."

Of the sixteen who set out on board the launch of "HMS Cornflower" (II), two were killed, one taken prisoner, another made good his own escape while the remaining twelve made it to the MTB's.

S.K, wearing Hsu Heng (Henry)'s shoes and clutching his bible, sought refuge with the Reverend Cheng in the Harbour Mission Church on Ap Lei Pai opposite Aberdeen. He eventually made his way to Kukong in free China where Chan Chak was still recovering. SK arrived on 5th February 1942 still wearing Hsu Heng (Henry)'s shoes, only to leave two days later as mysteriously as he had arrived after falling out with Chan over the allegedly missing $40.000 (£2,500 GBP) They remained bitter opponents for the rest of Chan's life.





Bill Robinson & escape party at Waichow 30th Dec 1941
    Run the curser over to identify individuals.
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection ©



Back row: Supt. Bill Robinson, W. O. William M Wright HKRNVR, Capt. Peter Macmillan R. A., Capt. Reginald Guest 1st Mdsx, Coxswain Yeung Chuen CN, Ted Ross MoI>

2nd row: David MacDougall MoI, Adm Chan Chak CN, Major Arthur Goring Probyns Horse, Sq-Ldr. Max Oxford RAF

1st row: Cadet Holger Christensen, Lt-Cmd Hsu Heng (Henry) CN.

Photo from Chan Chak collection ©

Shaoguan [Kukong]

Bill Robinson 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) CN. Police Supt Bill Robinson of the Indian Police is behind with the white neck scarf.

Photo from Adm Chan Chak's collection ©

The New Zealand Presbyterian Church Methodist Mission at Shaoguan was run by Mrs Jean Martin & her Irish born husband known by his Chinese name Mooi with a staff of six missionaries and their wives. It was here that Admiral Chan Chak finally had the bullet removed from his wrist by Dr S H Moore at the "Ho Sai" hospital. The Admiral kept the bullet and had it mounted on a gold chain which he wore from his left lapel. Adm Chan Chak also had a blood transfusion here, with Muriel's husband Peredur Jones donating his blood, after his gastric ulcer flared up.

Photo from Adm Chan Chak's collection ©

Audio by Lion Rock Films

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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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