Colonel Yee Shiu Kee (S K Yee) - Escape from Hong Kong



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Shiu Kee Yee 1904 - 1993

Thirty seven year old Colonel Shiu Kee Yee (S.K. Yee) known as S.K. by the British was educated at the University of Michigan was now Adm Chan Chak's number two in the Chinese Military Mission in Hong Kong. S.K. was instrumental in keeping the vast Chinese population of Hong Kong pro-British during the events leading up to and including the Japanese invasion of the Crown Colony.

Admiral Chan Chak had an office on the second floor,  at 24-32 Queen's Road Central, the Asiatic Petroleum Company (APC) building better known as Shell House trading in stocks under the cover of Wah Kee & Co. [China & Company] in 1938. S.K Yee spoke fluent English without any accent [11] and was also working under cover as an insurance broker, with the British Police and intelligence service since the Japanese occupation of southern China assisting David MacDougall of the Ministry of Information (MoI) in matters of the Chinese public morale within the British colony.

When Hong Kong fell to the Japanese on Christmas Day 1941 Admiral Chan Chak's delegation had pre-arranged an escape plan with the British authorities by sea with the 2nd MTB Flotilla.

Adm Chan Chak ROC : "At about 3pm, received the phone call from the Hong Kong Governor, he told me that the torpedo boats were ready and asked me to lead the senior officers of the British army to Aberdeen, take the boats and flee Hong Kong." [6]

Maj Goring : "At 2.45pm on Christmas Day the Commodore strode into the operations room, picked up the phone, called Aberdeen Harbour, and gave orders that the motor torpedo-boats were to sail instantly.
I looked up from my work, and the Commodore smiled at me rather sadly. 'Sorry', he said 'but they've got to go at once. They'll be sailing in five minutes'.[17]

Goring was busy with organising the surrender, so ordered the other officers who had permission to take a chance to make their way quickly down to Queens Road and meet the Chan Chak party. Captain Peter Macmillan went up to Chan's office in Shell House to collect the Admiral and his party.[30]

The escape launch from the scuttled HMS Cornflower



Left: HMS Cornflower launch that the Chan Chak pary escaped on.







Arriving in Aberdeen they learned of the surrender and were disappointed that the flotilla was nowhere to be seen. Major Goring arrived soon after, and finding a small launch at the pier being worked on by some navy ratings decided to make good their escape with it.

Upon leaving Aberdeen harbour they were soon spotted by some Japanese soldiers who opened fire hitting several onboard and the engine. The escape party abandoned the launch under a hail of machine-gun fire opposite what is now known as Ap-Lei-Pai the islet off the end of Aberdeen Island (Ap-Lei_Chau). Admiral Chan Chak was hit in his helmet and arm after he had removed his wooden leg, allegedly containing some $40.000.

Bill Wright dived overboard as Admiral Chan Chak calmly took to the waves 
	Photo from Maj Goring's  article on the escape © 
	Click here for more information

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]

S.K. claimed he could not swim and elected to stay onboard as Chan and the others swam towards the islet under a hail of machine-gun fire.

Adm Chan Chak ROC : "Hsu helped me in the water; we were both trying very hard to reach the shores of Ap-Lei-Chou. Ye-Siu-Ki and 2 other British soldiers had to remain on the boat. Ye could not swim and the 2 soldiers were badly wounded. [6]

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."


S.K, now wearing Hsu Heng (Henry)'s shoes and clutching his bible 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.

Admiral Chan Chak and Colonel S.K. Yee led the internal war on the 5th Columnists from the front, killing hundreds personally.
Hong Kong had been ordered by the Imperial government in Londondon to extract the Chinese Military Council led by Admiral Chan Chak back to Free China at all costs.

General Yee Shiu Kee, Chinese Peoples Army, was appointed an Honorary Commander of the Order of the British Empire on 16th July 1942. He was presented with the award by His Majesty King George VI's Representative at Chungking, Sir Horace Seymour the British Ambassador to China on 24th October 1942. [62]


The Cornflower launch survivors

Admiral Chan Chak & escape party at Waichow 30th Dec 1941
    Run the curser over to identify individuals.
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Supt Bill Robinson
       Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Captain Peter Macmillan RA
Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Captain Reginold [Freddie] Guest 1st Middlesex
    Click here to read more on Freddie Guest
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Coxswain Yeung Chuen ROC
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Ted Ross, MoI, Colonial Service
    Click here to read more on Rossy
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © David MacDougall, MoI, Colonial Service
    Click here to read more on David MacDougall
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Admiral Chan Chak ROC
    Click here to read more on Admiral Chan Chak
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Major Arthur Goring, Probyns Horse
    Click here to read more on Major Goring
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Sqd-Ldr Max Oxford, RAF
    Click here to read more on Max Oxford
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Holger Christensen, Midshipman
    Photo from the Chan Chak collection © Lt-Cmdr Hsu Heng (Henry) ROC
    Click here to read more on Henry Hsu
    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 ROC, Ted Ross MoI>

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

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

Photo from Chan Chak collection ©

The four who were wounded, killed, captured or escaped seperately

Alexis DamsgaardJJ ForsterDouglas HarleySK Yee

Alexis Damsgaard wounded POW. JJ Forster died of wounds. D Harley wounded/drowned. SK Yee escaped seperately

After the war SK returned to Hong Kong working in the transport division for the British Military Mission alongside fellow escapee Ted Ross, whose former boss in the MoI, David MacDougall, had returned as Brigadier Colonial Secretary. Max Oxford also returned as Deputy director of kai Tak airport. He remained life-long friends with them.[29] His former boss Admiral Chan Chak became the first post war Mayor of Canton.
SK went into banking with the independent United Chinese Bank in Hong Kong, now The Bank of East Asia Ltd.
Shiu Kee Yee. passd away 25th April 1993

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

In November 1983 he set up the S.K. Yee Medical Foundation with the considerable wealth he had built up from his banking career.

His wife Hannah founded the Hong Kong Family Planning Association.

Although he married a German-trained Methodist minister's daughter (one of seven) Hannah (Hu Zhujun), a medical doctor he met in the USA, they did not have any children. However his nephew (by marriage) Richard Hu Bellamy went on to become a celebrated New York art dealer in the 1960's. [75] SK was referred to simply as "The General" locally.



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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