When the first issue of the 'Volunteer' Journal of the
Hong Kong Regiment was produced, it was felt that a professional publication
service would be capable of producing a journal of the high standard befitting
a publication of this kind. You are all aware of the result. This year when I
was given the task of editing the 'Volunteer' for 1965 I was of the opinion
that since it was a journal about volunteering, the job should be undertaken
as far as possible by Volunteers, for what we might lack in journalistic and
printing knowledge, we would more than make up the deficit by the enthusiasm
of those who 'volunteered' to produce. The result you see here.
To the Committee, therefore, all of whom were coerced rather than co-opted,
without protest I might add, we must give our grateful thanks for their
efforts, and it would be remiss on my part if I were not to give them the
publicity which is their due. Under the Chairmanship of Major I. G. Daniel
they are, C.S.M. D. Crowther, HG, Cpl. M. O. I. Lyen, Pay Section, and L/cpl.
POW Kai-Ming, Pay Section. To Cpl. Lyen we are especially grateful, as he was
responsible for the block making and printing details in liaison with the
printer, and for the arrangement and liaison with our advertisers. His
knowledge of the printing trade has been invaluable, not only for ensuring
the high standard of the publication, but also for the economies which have
been made through his advice. And to Major Daniel, whose enthusiasm affected even
the most tardy of our contributors, for without his efforts the journal would
not have gone to press on time, nor would we have had the number of
interesting articles which have been published.
Our grateful thanks are also due to our advertisers, whose names are listed
at the end of the journal. Without their faith and support of the Regiment
the 'Volunteer' could hardly have been produced. That over 60 such firms
should sponsor this production shows that there are still many in the Colony
who recognize the high value of their Volunteer Forces.
Our sincere thanks are also due to those who contributed to these columns.
Their support is much appreciated.
Finally, the publishing of the 'Volunteer' must be with a means to an end.
Not only is it instrumental in recording the history of the Regiment, and in
providing interest for its members, but more important, it provides a medium
for publicity in recruitment. It may be widely read outside the Regiment, and
by publicizing our activities, both in training and in social life, it will
make our local citizens aware of our high standard of training and esprit de
corps, and this in turn should encourage the right type of person to
volunteer. It follows, therefore, that the standard in the production of the
journal should be equally high, and this year we have attempted to set an
example of the standard required, and which our successors in the future
should strive to maintain.
Why Walk to War?
Volunteer Armoured Vehicles 1925-1965
the early 1920s the British Army had occasion to send one of the old Armoured
Car Company's to Shanghai, to lend a little weight to the authorities in that
rather turbulent area.
Their vehicle were noted with envy by the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps,
and it was not long before they decided that they also should become mobile.
Armoured Car Section was first formed as the Mounted Infantry Transport
Section where Lieutenant Dowbiggin was commanding the Mounted Infantry
Company. Sir Paul Chater donated $1,500 to purchase a Ford Chassis on which a
body was built and equipped with two Vickers machine guns. The unit quickly
proved its usefulness and so HE The Governor was convinced of the necessity
of having the cost of an Armoured Car included in the yearly estimates.
Then, in 1925, a Dennis chassis was obtained and converted into an armoured
car in the yards of the Hong Kong & Whampoa Dock Co. (see photo 1).
Later, when (by then
Capt.) Dowbiggin was ADC to Sir Cecil Clementi ( 1930-35), he managed to
persuade HE to purchase a six wheeler Thornycroft chassis which again was
armoured by the Hong Kong & Whampoa Dock Co. (see photo 2). These two cars, in fact had so much ship's
armour incorporated that it was a toss-up whether they were driven or sailed
In 1933, a second Thornycroft chassis was obtained and car No.3 (see photo 3) came into being. For
some obscure reason, the very first armoured car was not called No. I. So in
fact No.3 was really the fourth. (This is the kind of thing that drives
Records show that the
years 1934-1939 were spent in the true Volunteer spirit. Exercises were
carried out in the New Territories, and a very dear old lady, leaping Lena,
managed to hit the headlines time and time again. Digressing slightly, I can
assure the old stalwarts of the Armoured Car Section - Platoon, that although
we don't say 'Gadzooks' nowadays, you can still hear strong language
addressed to armoured cars round the Fanling area at weekends.
In 1939 the Armoured Car Section became a platoon in the Mobile Column.
They'd had with them for about four years by this time, a number of motor
cycle combinations mounting a Vickers machine gun (see photo 4).
Mobile Column was a happy outfit, with much friendly rivalry between the
Armoured Car and the Motor Machine Gun Sections.
In 1940 and 1941 four new armoured cars were added to the Platoon, these were
built in the K.C.R. on Bedford chassis (see photo 5). The old, as ever, then bowed out to make
way for the new. During this year also, the manpower increased from around 20
to double this figure or more, as the Colony prepared itself for war.
Unhappily this wasn't
long in coming, but during the battle for Hong Kong the Armoured Cars fully
justified their existence. Commanded by the then 2/Lt. M. G. Carruthers, the
cars started their operations in the forward area around Fanling and
valiantly fought their way back to the Island.
They didn't all survive. Starting with 5, the 4 Bedfords and 'Leaping Lena'
the old Thornycroft, by the 21 st of December only two were left, cars having
been knocked out at Kowloon Tong, near to the Hong Kong Electric Co.
building, and a third at the Wongneichong Gap. The H.Q. chariot, 'Leaping
Lena', was still going strong, but was finally knocked out at the end of
Happy Valley in Ventris Road. During these few hectic days Lt. Carruthers was
awarded a very well deserved Military Cross. The last armoured car was
finally destroyed by its crew, near the Queen Mary Hospital, rather than allow
it to fall into enemy hands. So none of these old Ironsides struck their
colours to the enemy, setting a tradition for the present day 'armourites' to
uphold. No mention is made in this exposition of the carrier section, which,
commanded by 2/Lt. R. Edwards did sterling service in the various battles,
particularly around Repulse Bay Hotel. They were under command of 1 Coy of
the H.K. V .D.C., and as such I'm afraid outside the scope of this article.
And so to
1963-January 15th to be exact (see
photo 6). On this day, in a simple ceremony at Happy Valley, 6 Ferret
Scout Cars were handed over by the Regular Army to The Hong Kong Regiment
(The Volunteers). Not exactly handed over, as they cost £40,000! (just over
100 years before, the then Governor, Sir Hercules Robinson had reluctantly
agreed to allow an annual outlay of £195
for the upkeep of The Volunteers!)
To form the new 4 Recce Squadron, who were to operate the Ferrets, the old
Support Company gave of its best.
Today 4 Recce
Squadron is commanded by Major I. A. Fortune. It has 3 troops, each of two
Ferrets and two Landrovers (carrying the assault section). Squadron
Headquarters has a further two Landrovers, for command and liaison purposes.
Firepower of the squadron now includes 6 X .30 Browning M.Gs - 7 G.P.M.Gs
& 6 X 2" Mortars. The Ferrets have also multi-barrel smoke
dischargers, capable of lobbing white phosphorous bombs 100 yards! The
soldiers in the squadron carry also a Stirling SMG as a personal arm. The
last photograph (s) (photo 7)
in this article shows a 4 Recce Ferret in the Wong Nei Chong Gap area, and we
would like to use it as a tribute to those old 'armourites' who fought and
(This article could not have been written without the great assistance given
by Col. H. B. L. Dowbiggin, O.B.E., E.D., Lt. 'Mike' Carruthers M. C., Mr.
Reg Butler, and all those others whose records and information were made so