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
During 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
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
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
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
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 historians mad.)
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
the 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.
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.
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.
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 died there.
(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 readily available).