Arthur Goring - Escape from Hong Kong

| Contact | National Archives | HKMCD | Hong Kong War Diary | HERO Media Page | HERO Face book | Home | Guest Book | Contact |


Major Arthur Goring, General's staff Hong Kong

Major Arthur Goring; 11th King Edward's Own Lancers Probyn's Horse

Born 25th January 1907 Rugeley, Staffs

Photo from Buddy Hide's collection ©

Click here for more information on Major Goring

Major Goring's official title was GOC II sec

Upon hearing the plans to get the Chinese Military Mission staff led by Admiral Chan Chak back to Free China, approached Maj-Gen Maltby the GOC tor permission to flee the Colony which was granted along with three fellow staff officers. He then proceeded to organise a plan involving staff officers to accompany Admiral Chan Chak to his rendezvous with the MTB's at Aberdeen. [31]

Father: Major Alan Goring frm Northurst near Horsham (West Sussex)[17]

Education: Cheltenham College at Christowe 1920-24 (following his elder brother)

Royal Military College, Sandhurst; Staff College (psc) (following his elder brother)

30/08/1926 Lieutenant

30/08/1926 Royal Fusiliers

24/03/1930 Transferred to Probyn's Horse, India

15/09/1934 ADC to General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command India

30/08/1935 Captain

16/07/1940 General Staff Officer 3rd Grade (GSO 3) Directorate of Military operations & Intelligence, General Staff Branch, HQ staff of the army in India.

30/08/1940 Major

07/12/1941 Transferred to General Staff, Intelligence Hong Kong. GOC II sec.

01/05/1942 A/Lt-Colonel

01/08/1942 T/Lt-Colonel

1954 Fruit Farm & Nursery at Dinoe Hill, Whimple, Devon

28/06/1957 OStJ

**/12/1960 CStJ

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 rumored Sikh army mutiny and 5th columnists. They were empowered to act as they saw fit.

Maj Goring BHQ: "At 2.45pm on Christmas Day the Commodore (Capt Collinson RN) 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'
Five minutes! Five minutes in which to get the Admiral (who had a wooden leg) down three flights of stairs, into a car, and along eight miles of road to Aberdeen! Forthwith I grabbed my phone. 'Bill' I said to the policeman. 'Scram like blazes! get the Admiral to Aberdeen in five minutes, and step on it'. 'Right' returned Bill. 'And where shall I meet you?' 'Scram' I roared, and slammed down the phone. I wasn't going to meet anyone anywhere; our cherished plan had miscarried.

Goring along with three other B.H.Q staff had approached the Chief of Staff GOC1 Colonel Newnham for permission to flee the Colony in the event of surrender. [31]

As the surrender order went out Goring was busy with surrender matters and left Oxford along with Captain's Guest and Macmillan to climb up out of the Battle Box HQ into the bright sunlight and make their over to Garden Road.

Maj Goring BHQ: " An hour and a half later I knocked at the General's door and went in.
My information was that the enemy was within 400 yards of Headquarters on three sides. The General was smoking a cigarette and reading a magazine. He glanced up. 'Hullo!' he said quietly in some surprise. 'You oughtn't to be here. The Governor ordered the cease fire an hour ago, and we are now waiting for the Jap's to come and lead us away.'
I think I must have goggled; then I pulled myself together, trying hard not to be melodramatic.
'In that case, Sir, I'll say good-bye! 'Are you going to try to escape?' he asked, as he held out his hand. 'Well good-bye and good luck!'"

After climbing up the steps rising fifty feet from the underground Battle Box HQ, Goring could see Japanese troops coming down the peak. It was a warm sunny afternoon as he hurried down Garden Road with the ominous sound of sporadic gun-fire coming from the Wanchai district as the enemy advanced towards the city center.

Maj Goring BHQ: "When I emerged from Battle Headquarters there was a good deal of bombing and shelling going on and the Cathedral (St John’s) was in trouble.
I walked past it, then past the Bank of China hoping to find a car which I might drive to Aberdeen. The Japanese were about 400 yards behind me and I could see columns of them descending the Peak to my left and front. When I reached Ice House Street, round the corner came an Austin seven saloon, driven by a private of the Royal Scots.
Hailing him, I asked where he was going. I'm trying to find A.R.P. headquarters Sir, he told me. I pointed towards the Gloucester Hotel. A.R.P. Headquarters is over yonder, I said, but I am very anxious to get to Aberdeen. Could you take me there? Jump in, Sir, he replied, and I scrambled in almost on top of his Sealyham terrier."

David MacDougall MoI: "At Aberdeen we learned that it was all over; the colony had surrendered at 3:15. This left us free to board the speedboat – if we cd find it."

Cmdr Montague RN (Rtrd): "At 16.15 on the 25th December, His Excellency Admiral CHAN CHAK, accompanied by members of his Mission, and by officers from Fortress Headquarters arrived at the Naval Base, Aberdeen, in order to proceed to MIRS BAY in the boats of the 2nd MTB. Flotilla, according to pre-arranged plans. I was most surprised to see them, as I had already passed orders to the Flotilla to go. I took the party to the Dockyard to see if a boat could be obtained. The only boat immediately available was a motor boat belonging to the CORNFLOWER. She had insufficient range to make the passage to MIRS BAY, but could take the party to the MTB's if they were nearby." [1]

Capt Freddie Guest BHQ: "Presently another car came along and stopped and out stepped two Britishers. One turned out to be Major Arthur Goring, an Indian Cavalry officer on the General's staff who had been sent from H.Q. Delhi some months before." [30]

Maj Goring BHQ: "When we got there Aberdeen was under heavy shell-fire from enemy guns firing over open sights. We pulled up in the lee of a wall and I got out. 'Look lad,' I said to the driver. 'The garrison has surrendered. I am going to try to escape across to China. Would you care to come with me?' But the Royal Scot replied that he couldn't swim, and thought he'd better go back and look for A.R.P. Headquarters. With that he drove off; I felt terribly alone. We came across quite a good motor-boat----one of two belonging to the old HMS Cornflower." [17]

Ted Ross MoI: “We saw a boat tied up to the pier, so I pulled up there and ran down to the boat and said “Have you seen an MTB around here?” There were a couple of Englishmen working on this boat and they said no, it was here but it’s already taken off. So I went back to the car and said to MacDougall “It looks like the bloody MTB’s taken off before we got here. So MacDougall said ‘well drive us up the hill’...only five or six hundred yards away - that’s where the naval commandant was. We got a hold of Commander Montague - he was a great fellow, a retired naval captain. He said ‘I’m afraid it’s gone (the MTB)’. MacDougall said ‘we’re escaping, we’ve got the Chinese Admiral and we’ve got to get out of here’ Montague said ‘Well there’s that little boat down there but it’s not much of a boat’.
He said ‘if you can wait 4 or 5 hours when the high tide comes in we’re going to re-float the boat
(C.410) that we’ve been using to run the supplies into Stanley and that’s a good substantial boat.” [29]

Capt Freddie Guest BHQ: "The harbour had been shelled heavily and was, in fact, still under spasmodic fire as the Jap's were taking no chances. We were lucky to come across an old motor cabin launch. It was about twenty five feet long with a small engine capable of doing not more than six knots an hour. We decided to try our luck with this small vessel." [30]

Ted Ross MoI: “Although the white flag had been hoisted nearly an hour before, there was still heavy rifle and machine gun fire to be heard all around, and an occasional burst of artillery. Jap planes overhead were still dropping bombs. I said to MacDougall “God, we can’t wait 4 or 5 hours” So we decided to take a chance on the small boat. We raced down there and I said to these guys “what’s wrong with the boat, can you get it going” and they said yes, all it needs is a battery. Another chap and I jumped back into the Buick and tore down to the naval store just along the road a bit and managed to dig up a battery and sixteen gallons of gas. By the time we got back the other chaps had located a food dump and filled the boat with water, canned food of all kinds, rifles, pistols and ammunition. So we got the battery out of the Buick, and gasoline in, and pushed off at a quarter to five.” [29]

Admiral Chan Chak CN: "When arrived at Aberdeen, there was one speed boat waiting for us. The other boats were instructed to wait for us away from the shoreline. We went on board the speed boat and left. It was 4:10pm in the afternoon." [6]

Capt Freddie Guest BHQ: "The harbour had been shelled heavily and was, in fact, still under spasmodic fire as the Jap's were taking no chances. We were lucky to come across an old motor cabin launch. It was about twenty five feet long with a small engine capable of doing not more than six knots an hour. We decided to try our luck with this small vessel." [30]

Wearing their tin helmets they boarded the launch with the Admiral in the small cabin. Damsgaard started the engine which was very loud, and prepared to cast off. Aberdeen harbour and channel was full of Chinese junks and scuttled wrecks, HMS Robin the MTB flotilla's mother ship being the last of the river gun boats scuttled in the channel near Staunton Creek that very afternoon.

Sq-Ldr Max Oxford RAF: "We found a motor boat which was thought capable of going to sea if it had petrol, we filled it up, put in water and food, called for a volunteer crew and set out in brilliant sunlight and a dead calm at about 6 knots."

Ted Ross MoI: "It was a bright sunny afternoon and the ocean was as calm as a millpond; visibility was perfect and the Jap's could spot us miles away. The boat was a flimsy wooden affair, with a speed of about seven miles an hour. Our party had now grown to sixteen, the extra five being naval volunteers who had been working on the boat and others who had just happened to wander along and decided to make the dash with us." [29]

Capt Freddie Guest BHQ: "We were now all set to go and, as the little engine started up it seemed like the roar of a motor-cycle without an exhaust. Progress was slow as the motor-boat was of six horse power and only capable of about five or six knots, so it seemed ages before we got clear of the harbour, chiefly due to the Norwegian engineer helmsman who was doing a miraculous piece of steering by finding his way through the sunken craft of all descriptions.
His next job was to get through the mass of Chinese fishing junks which had been forced to stay in harbour throughout the siege. This part of the harbour was simply packed with them.
At last we cleared the harbour mouth and headed due south into the channel running between the Peninsula of Stanley, away to the east, and Brick Hill Point to the west."

Cmdr Montague RN (Rtrd): "I then left the dockyard and went to the pier near STAUNTON CREEK to see how the salvage of C.410 and the scuttling of ROBIN were progressing. The Japanese battery shelled the pier heavily and I was forced to take cover in a lighter. When the barrage of shells moved west I returned to the dockyard. Meanwhile the motorboat had left, but unfortunately chose to leave by the South East Channel." [1]

Capt Freddie Guest BHQ: "The boat was only a twenty-five footer, so what with the food, water and petrol stores it was rather crowded. The Admiral and Colonel Yee went inside the cabin with most of the others. Peter Macmillan, Bill Robinson and I, crouched, down outside the cabin with the engineer, helmsman, and the crew." [30]

Maj Goring BHQ: "As commander of the party I told the coxswain to keep to the right of the channel, as close as he could to Aberdeen Island, which I believed to be clear of Japanese. I thought it probable that the left bank of the channel, on the Brick hill promontory, was in enemy hands.
The coxswain, however, insisted on going to the left, because there was said to be another boat down there, the C.410, lying somewhere on the rocks, which he said would be a better craft for our purpose if we could get it off."

After going past Bennet's Hil l [15] they were spotted just 200 yards from the Hong Kong shore as they rounded the north point of Ap Lei Chau when a shot rang out, quickly followed by another. "Sighting shots" yelled Guest. Then came the rattle of machine-gun fire hitting the boat.

Lt-Cmdr Hsu Heng (Henry) CN: "We had not even gone out of the harbour at that time and we got attacked by the Jap's." [7]

David MacDougall MoI: "It was then 4:45 and in a few seconds it seemed every rifle and machine gun in the Japanese army had opened fire on us. The bullets came through the flimsy wooden hull as if it were paper; and presently they opened up with artillery as well.
The man next to me had his knee smashed, another got one in the stomach, the Chinese leader had his wrist shot away, and one or two (I couldn't see how many) collapsed and lay still. We were crouching in the bottom of the boat holding onto our tin hats.
Then some immense force struck me a paralyzing blow and for a moment I didn’t know what had happened until, rolling over, I saw my own blood trickling down the deck. Before I had quite taken this all in another bullet went clean through my steel hat and a third clipped the sole of my shoe. Neither touched me.
A few seconds later a machine gun burst silenced the engine and we were thus left drifting helplessly about 200 yards from the shore under intense fire."

Sq-Ldr Max Oxford RAF: "After ten minutes we were greeted by rifle fire, followed by machine gunning, the engine was hit and there we lay between Hong Kong and Aberdeen Island with bullets ripping through the boat. We took to the water and swam in a hail of fire about 600 yards to the island." [31]

Maj Goring BHQ: "We had not gone far when the enemy opened up on us at sea level with two machine - guns and about forty rifles." [17]

Cmdr Montague RN (Rtrd): "Here they came under heavy fire from the Japanese who had captured the A/A battery on the South West Point of Brick Hill. The boat was riddled and disabled." [1]

Lt- Cmdr Gandy RN (Rtrd): "Admiral Chan Chak's party whose motor boat had been machine-gunned while mistakenly passing Bennet's Hill on their way to join MTB's." [15]

Another few minutes and the launch would have been beyond the range of the guns trained on them from ground level. As it was they were near the end of Aberdeen Channel, and drifting out into open water rapidly.

David MacDougall MoI: "There was nothing for it but to surrender or to swim the 500 yards to Aberdeen Island and try to gain shelter on its far side. So over the side we went. Owing to the wound in my back I couldn’t take any clothes or shoes off and I simply flopped in as I was. I swam first on my face and then, as I tired, on my back." [27]

The boat was riddled, with Damgaard shot through both legs, Sub-Lt Forster who had served on HMS Cornflower took a bullet in the stomach, Harley was shot after going overboard and drowned.

David MacDougall: "A little behind me a man drowned noisily. He took a long time to go down and I could do nothing about it. I don't know why I was not hit again. I had no serious hope of gaining the island. I had lost some blood and was hard put to it to keep afloat." [27]

Capt Freddie Guest BHQ: "The channel widened rapidly the further we cruised, and we were soon leaving Brick Hill Point behind us. It was all very quiet except for the throb of the engine and I was beginning to think we were safe, at least from the land, when suddenly through the stillness of that lovely evening, there came a crack of a single shot, quickly followed by another.
In the next second came the frightening rattle of a machine-gun. Their first burst was just short of the target which caused the water to splash only a few yards away, thereby giving them their range. With the second burst they succeeded in hitting the petrol tank which made the engine give out immediately.
The next burst was disastrous as several of the crew were hit and the Norwegian engineer who was actually steering the boat was killed outright.
" [30]

Admiral Chan Chak CN: "At that moment, my Coxswain Yeung Chuen walked by my side, “Admiral, I can’t swim, what should I do? I just handed the life-ring to him. Then my left wrist and my head got shot, fortunately I was wearing a helmet but my wrist started bleeding, I used a handkerchief to wrap around it, then jumped into the sea, swam to the shore, the enemy’s target now moved to the sea, shooting at the other escape party members." [6]

Ted Ross MOI: "Well, we hadn't gone much more than five or six hundred yards when we were spotted from the shore and the Jap's let fly at us with everything they had, rifles, machine guns and small shells. The bullets simply whizzed through the side of the boat as if there had been no side there at all.
Several of our chaps were hit, and soon a shot put the engine out of commission, that capped it. There we were, just sitting like ducks on a pond.
The machine gun bullets kept tearing in. Mac got one right in his tin hat, another cut through the sole of his shoe, and just as he was saying how close they were coming he got one right in the back.
" [29]

Capt Freddie Guest BHQ: "However, a party of us at last reached the island and I was thankful to be able to pull myself out of the water onto the rocks where I flopped down completely exhausted. There was no beach at this point and it was indeed an effort to climb out of the water." [30]

Maj Goring BHQ: "When I got to the shore I was so exhausted that I could not crawl up onto the rocks. Bullets spattered all around, flinging up the stones and splintering the rocks.
Just then Holgar Christiansen, the Cadet, announced that he could hear motor-boats. He dashed down to the water's edge, while, as a mere landsman, I went up the hill, followed by the rest of the shoeless brigade, hobbling painfully along on their blistered toes over the sharp rocks.
The grass was on fire from the incendiary and tracer bullets, and some of them had their bare feet badly scorched."

Sub-Lt Legge HKRNVR: "Suddenly over the top of the hill appeared about five heads. “The Jap's,” we all thought. I happened to be on aircraft watch at the time with a loaded stripped-Lewis gun in my hands and without any more ado I let them have the whole of tracer. They bobbed down pretty quickly and I fairly sprayed the rocks behind which they were hiding." [18]

Capt Freddie Guest BHQ: "
We pulled off our shirts and waved to them, at the same time letting out a series of shouts and yells to try and attract their attention. In the eerie darkness they apparently mistook us for Japanese and with a mighty burst opened fire at us with a machine-gun!"

Christiansen who was already swimming out to the MTB's was shouting for them to stop, the sailors thought he had shouted "There are ten Jap's following with machine-guns." Christiansen eventually identified himself as a member of Chan Chak's party, and with that two of the boats put to sea side by side. What in fact he had shouted was "There are ten chaps following being machine-gunned."
Making their way down to the tombolo adjoining Aberdeen Island to Ap Lei Chau they too began to swim out to the remaining MTB.

Maj Goring BHQ: "I waved a hankerchief wildly as I lay hugging the ground on that abominably steep, bare hill.
I slipped into the water and struck out. Getting alongside I managed to crook my fingers into the exhaust pipe. Just then some of the crew looked over the side. "Come on Sir!" they cried, encouragingly.
Next moment strong arms caught me and hauled me up onto the deck of the MTB, and thrust a cup of hot tea and rum into my hands "

Goring along with the remainder of the Cornflower party who had survived the shooting made good their escape under cover of darkness in the MTB's making landfall at NanAo on the Dapeng Peninsula in Mirs Bay deep behind enemy lines in mainland China.

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."

The 2nd MTB Flotilla which extracted the Aberdeen Island escape party out under cover of darkness had taken a beating during the battle for Hong Kong.
When the Japanese started to invade 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, 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]

Goring wrote an account of the escape in "The Wide World" magazine in 1949.[17]


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

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

1st: Cadet Holgar Christiansen MN, Lt-Cmdr Hsu Heng (Henry) CN.

Photo from Chan Chak collection ©

Shaoguan [Kukong]

Lt-Cmdr John Yorath R. N. (Rtrd, Major Arthur Goring Probyn's Horse, Police Supt Bill Robinson, Commander Hugh M Montague R. N. (Rtrd) [Senior Naval Officer Aberdeen, & the escape] with Mrs Muriel Jones of the "Methodist Mission" wearing a Chinese favor on her  lapel, and Admiral Chan Chak's ADC Lt-Cmdr Hsu Heng (Henry) C. N.

Photo from Admiral 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 Goring was admitted to hospital with fever, and 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. Admiral Chan Chak also had a blood transfusion here after his gastric ulcer flared up with Muriel's husband Peredur Jones donating his blood.

For more information on Arthur Goring click here.

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

© Hong Kong Web Master 1997 

Contact | Home | Guest Book | Top | ©1996 Hamstat Integrated Systems | Mwadui | RHS | Antarctica | HMS Victory's Cutter | Ham Radio | Continental Removals | Property Maintenance |

Site maintained by Hamstat Integrated Systems in conjunction with Eastbourne Computer Services Ltd |