Escape from Hong Kong - Arthur Edwin Gee HKRNVR

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Sub-Lt Arthur Edwin Gee HKRNVR MTB 07 of the 2nd MTB Flotilla, Coastal Forces Hong Kong. 1914 - 1965

A/Sub-Lt Gee with the Ships dog Bruce at Waichow 30th December 1941.

Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

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. Lt Ronnie Ashby whose motto was "Be Just and Fear Naught" led the flotilla in MTB 07 with Jix Prest & Buddy Hide at the controls, pressing home the attack under withering fire from land, sea and air, suffering heavy losses in the process. Only three MTB's survived to limp back to base in Aberdeen. Lt Kennedy on MTB "09" towed the stricken "07" back to base.The attack was arguably the most daring daylight MTB attack of all time, and was referred to as The Balaclava of the 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]

Sub-Lt Gee manned a light machine-gun on the bridge of MTB 07 when they led the daylight attack on the Japanese crossing from Kowloon to North Point on Hong Kong Island on 19th December 1941.

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"

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 the Royal Navy, that a Flotilla evaded capture to escape across an entire continent to fight another day.

Sub-Lt Arthur Gee was born in Hong Kong in 1914 and was brought up in Shanghai along with his sister by their father, a Customs and Excise officer. Arthur later returned to Hong Kong to work on the China Mail as a journalist and witnessed the Japanese bombing of China. On the outbreak of war Arthur joined the HKRNVR as an Acting Sub- Lieutenant and replaced Sub-Lt McGill on MTB 07 just prior to the Japanese invasion. During the escape Arthur was seconded along with Sub-Lt Legge to work on ciphers at the British Embassy in Chungking. In June 1942 he was seconded to the Army until October. En route to the UK the ship was torpedoed and Arthur was adrift in a waterlogged raft splashing the water to keep the marauding sharks at bay. He was commissioned into the Imperial RNVR and in 1944 he served as 1st Officer on ML 237 and married. After the war Arthur returned to Hong Kong as night editor on the China Mail. [10]

Members of the Christmas Day escape who returned to help rebuild the post war Colonony of Hong Kong after its return to British control included:

Later Arthur moved to Canada and after a while joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Flight Lieutenant ground crew. Here his skills in ciphers were utilised and he went on to become an expert in Nuclear Warfare before he was medically discharged from the RCAF. Arthur then came back to England where he worked for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office as a Cipher Officer. Arthur passed away prematurely aged 51 in 1965 survived by one son & daughter.

Senior Sino-British Naval officers with nursing staff at Waichow

Back Row: Lt Kennedy RNVR, Lt-Cmdr Hsu Heng (Henry) CN, Lt-Cmdr Gandy RN (Rtrd), Lt-Cmdr Yorath RN (Rtrd), Cdr Montague RN (Rtrd), Lt Parsons HKRNVR, Lt Ashby HKRNVR, Lt Collingwood RN,

Front Row: Sub-Lt Gee HKRNVR, Sub-Lt Brewer HKRNVR, Sub-Lt Legge HKRNVR, and nurses at Waichow.

MTB 07 & 09 under camouflage in Telegraph Bay

MTB 07 alongside the stone pier with 09 under camouflage in Telegraph Bay on the day of the escape, Christmas day 1941. 07 still has a full complement of depth charges on deck.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

A 1/24 scale model of MTB 07 takes to the water in 2009 in memory of Ron Ashby & the crew. MTB 07 on patrol in Hong Kong







Photos from the Hide collection ©

Ships Log: 2nd July 1941

10.36; Dropped depth charges; 9 seconds.

10.40 -11.10; Fishing











MTB 07 on patrol with the 2nd MTB Flotilla in Tathong Channel Hong Kong

Photo from the Hide collection ©





Ships Log: Tues, 21st October 1941

1804. Stopped, cut engines to pick up 4 Chinese from smashed and overturned junk. Chinese said they were bound from N of Taishan Bay to Hong Kong with a cargo of sweet potatoes when they were stopped by a Jap trawler, their cargo stolen and themselves beaten before Jap's wrecked junk and left them.

1818 Proceeded into Deep Bay.

1828 Stopped to put 4 Chinese on a junk.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

Guiyang 26th January 1942



Enjoying a day out in Guiyang with their female hosts including Dr Lim's 15 year old daughter Effie in the tartan kilt who spoke Mandarin with a Glasgow accent and her friends the Chen sisters.
Sub-Lt's Gee & Legge were both brought up in Shanghai and spoke fluent Mandarin.

The officers left to right are Sub-Lt Gee [MTB 07], Sub-Lt Brewer [MTB 09], Sub-Lt Legge [MTB 11], Lt Parsons [MTB 27], & Lt Alexander Kennedy of MTB 09, the author of the self published book "Hong Kong Full Circle 1939-1945".

Photo from Alex Kennedy's collection ©



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

Photo from the Hide family 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]

Lt-Cdr Yorath with officers & ratings visiting Huachi park.

Dr Lim organized a seven-a-side football match against his training school team.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

25th January 1942

Sub-Lts Legge & Gee with Effie Lim and friend,

Sub-Lt George Spedding McGill HKRNVR (Shanghai)


Remembered with Honour


Sub-Lt McGill on 07. He later transferred to 12 & subsequently lost his life when 12 took a direct hit. George was on the Bridge wielding a Bren gun during the attack on the 19th December 1941.

Photo from the Hide collection ©

Originally from Scotland George played Rugby for the Treaty Port of Shanghai Rugby Football Club from 1924 aged just sixteen through to December 1939 as a flying winger when he moved to Hong Kong.
As the war in Europe erupted most of the Imperial Royal Navy commissioned officers were recalled and the Hong Kong Naval Volunteer Force mobilised into the Hong Kong Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, HKRNVR in 1939.
George arrived in Hong Kong in December 1939 and by 1941 he had joined the HKRNVR as a cadet. Completing his basic training he was commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant. He was assigned to MTB 07 for six month MTB training under the command of Lieutenant Ron Ashby HKRNVR before being injured on patrol.
Ships Log MTB 07 : Thurs Oct 16th 1941 2025. "Slipped "Tern" proceeded past Lamg Tong point to intercept destroyer coming in from Ninepins. Sea 5, wind 5, no attack made, returned to harbour when 1st Lieut was injured and damage sustained by boat owing to extremely bad weather." [5]

After convalessin George transferred to MTB 12 under the command of Lt John Baxter Colls HKRNVR and was subsequently killed during the battle for Hong Kong on the 19th December 1941

Sub-Lt G S McGill on the bridge of MTB 07

McGill was lost in action on MTB 12 on 19th Dec 1941

Photo from the Hide collection ©

MTB 07 led the daylight attack with 09 at full speed on Japanese landing craft crossing from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island, Lewis gunning and overturning the LCs with her wake. 07 returned and attacked a second time under heavy fire from Kowloon, sunken ships, Hong Kong Island as well as being machine cannoned by IJA aircraft losing two crew and all three engines in the process. 09 came back and took 07 in tow with the two engine room fatalities onboard. The action was dubbed "The balaclava of the sea"

Lt Ron Ashby HKRNVR with the crew of MTB 07

Photo from the Hide collection ©

Sub-Lt McGill on 07. He later transferred to 12 & subsequently lost his life when 12 took a direct hit during the battle for Hong Kong on the 19th Dec 1941.

Photo from the Hide collection©

MTB 07 Ship's Log :

Thurs Oct 16th 1941
Slipped "Tern" proceeded past Lamg Tong point to intercept destroyer coming in from Ninepins. Sea 5, wind 5, no attack made, returned to harbour when 1st Lieut was injured and damage sustained by boat owing to extremely bad weather.

To read more on S-Lt Gee click here.

Sub-Lt McGill, originally from Scotland George played Rugby for the Shanghai Rugby Football Club from 1924 aged just sixteen through to December 1939 as a flying winger when he moved to Hong Kong. .

It's a Rough Game but Good Sport:

Click here to return to the Waichow Photo

Research and web publication by Buddy Hide Jr ©

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, a book published, with a movie drama and a documentary in the making.

© Hong Kong Web Master 1997 

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