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

逃離香港

 

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S K Yee 1904 - ????

Thirty seven year old Colonel Yee Shiu Kee (S.K. Yee) known as S.K. by the British was 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 in the Asiatic Petroleum Company building (APC) better known as Shell House in Queens Road 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 Adm Chan Chak's delegation had pre-arranged an escape plan with the British authorities by sea with the 2nd MTB Flotilla.

Adm Chan Chak CN : "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 involved with the escape to make their way quickly down to Queens Road where they had a car waiting. While they piled into the car Captain Peter Macmillan went up to Chan's office on the fourth floor of the Pedder building to collect the Adm and his party.[30]

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). Adm Chan Chak was hit in the head 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."
[6]

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 CN : "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, Alex Damsgaard & J. J. Forster. After drifting all night the launch fetched up on the shore and 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."
[62]

Wearing Hsu Heng (Henry)'s shoes and clutching his bible bible S.K. 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 $40.000 (£2,500 GBP)Chan Allegedly abandoned in the bullet riddled launch.They remained bitter opponents for the remainder of thei lives.

Adm 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 Adm 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]

Click here for a photo of the Cornflower II survivors who made it ashore

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 Adm 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.

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 MI9 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.

Audio by Lion Rock Films

Music; Wild China by  Barnaby Taylor and performed by Cheng Yu and the UK Chinese Ensemble

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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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