HMTB cap tally

Lt Donald Wagstaff HKRNVR The Battle for Hong Kong

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Lt Donald William Wagstaff H.K.R.N.V.R. 2nd MTB Flotilla, Coastal Forces Hong Kong

1904 - 19/12/1941

Remembered with Honour

Lt D W Wagstaff HKRNVR MTB 26   
  Photo from the Hide collection ©

Lt D W Wagstaff H.K.R.N.V.R.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

Donald Wagstaff, a native of Lambeth, England, enlisted as a Probationary Cadet with the Hong Kong Naval Volunteer Force in November 1937. The HKNVF Head Quaters was HMS Cornflower, moored south-west of Kellet Island where the RHKYC transferred to in October 1940 and most of the recruits came from. There was also a shore-based office in the York Building on the north side of Chater Rd by Pedder St. As the clouds of war began to darken the HKNVF was mobilized into the Hong Kong Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, HKRNVR in August 1939 with just one hundred and ten officers. His Excellency Sir Geoffry Alexander Stafford Northcote, K.C.M.G. was the Honorary Captain. [106]

Wagstaff's father, William, sculptured the two bronze lions that now stand at the entrance to the HSBC headquarters.


 

 


MTB 07 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 shoot up everything in sight, and to expend all ammunition in the process. 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]

Remembered with Honour

MTB 26 Crew

Sub-Lt Jack Eager RNVR 
	Click here to read more. 
	Photo from the Hide collection ©

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Sub-Lt Jack Cawley Eager RNVR MTB 26

Remembered with Honour

John (Jack) Eager enlisted as a Probationary Cadet on 17th January 1939 with the Hong Kong Naval Volunteer Force, HKNVF. HMS Cornflower the HKNVF headquarters was moored south-west of Kellet Island where the RHKYC was based and most of the recruits came from. There was also a shore-based office in the York Building on the north side of Chater Rd by Pedder St.As the clouds of war began to darken the HKNVF was mobilized into the Hong Kong Royal Navy Reserve, HKRNVR in August 1939 with just one hundred and ten officers including their Honoury Captain His Excellency Sir Geoffry Alexander Stafford Northcote, K.C.M.G. 106]


Photo from the Hide collection©

 

 

 

 

 

 

MTB 26 on patrol 
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

MTB 26 was ex Kuamintong CMB Kuai 19

MTB's 26 & 27 were 55' Thornycroft CMB's bought back from China 4th Sept 1939

Photo from the hide collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

MTB 26

MTB 26 sister boat 27 under way. 
	Photo from the Hide collection ©

MTB 27 the sister boat to 26 under way.

Photo from the hide collection ©











MTB 26 alongside HMS Robin 
	Photo from the Hide collection ©

MTB 26 alongside its mother ship HMS Robin.

26 & 27 did not have sleeping facilities.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

 

MTB 26 alongside HMS Robin loaded with depth charges 
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

MTB 26 alongside HMS Robin loaded with depth charges.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 












MTB 27 alongside HMS Robin in Mirs Bay  
    Photo from the Hide collection ©

MTB 26 alongside HMS Robin in Mirs Bay

Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






MTB 27 XDO inspection 
	Photo from the Hide collection ©

MTB 27 the sister boat of 26 undergoing an Extended Defence Officer (XDO) inspection in March 1940.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

For more information on Donald W Wagstaffe click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Willy Wagstaff and fellow officers referred to the highly tuned thoroughbred boats of the Hong Kong Coastal Forces as the "Hong Kong Costly Farce"

MTB 26 alongside HMS Robin 
	Photo from the Hide collection ©

MTB 26 alongside HMS Robin Photo from the Hide collection ©

 

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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