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Epic wartime escape brought back to life

The two-year exhibition, entitled "Escape from Hong Kong - the Road to Waichow", jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Hong Kong Escape Re-enactment Organisation (HERO), formed earlier this year by descendants of the original escape party, will run at the museum from December 25 to December 31, 2011.

The 68 escapees included China's top representative in Hong Kong before and during the war, Admiral Chan Chak, whose son Donald Chan, the President of Hong Kong Escape Re-enactment Organisation, was one of the officiating guests at the opening ceremony. Other officiating guests included the Deputy Consul-General and Head of Political, Economic and Public Affairs, British Consulate-General in Hong Kong and Macao, Mr Neale Jagoe; the Chief Curator of Hong Kong Museum of History, Ms Esa Leung; and widow of Lt Col John Collingwood, Captain of MTB 11 of the Escape Group in 1941, Mrs Kay Collingwood.

Chan Chak, a veteran of 1911 Revolution, was China's top representative in Hong Kong when the Japanese, who had been waging war on China since 1937, launched their long-expected attack on the British colony on December 8, 1941.  Officially he ran an ordinary trading company, based on the 2/F of the Asiatic Petroleum Company Building, or Shell House, Queens Road, Central.  But in fact he had been liaising with British police and intelligence, carrying out undercover work against Japan and using both legal and illegal means to ensure China remained supplied with fuel and other essential materials despite the Japanese trade embargo.Chan Chak, a veteran of 1911 Revolution, was China's top representative in Hong Kong when the Japanese, who had been waging war on China since 1937, launched their long-expected attack on the British colony on December 8, 1941.  Officially he ran an ordinary trading company, based on the 2/F of the Asiatic Petroleum Company Building, or Shell House, Queens Road, Central.  But in fact he had been liaising with British police and intelligence, carrying out undercover work against Japan and using both legal and illegal means to ensure China remained supplied with fuel and other essential materials despite the Japanese trade embargo.

To tie with the exhibition, the Museum of Coastal Defence will organise a lecture entitled "Why We Decided to Re-trace the Route of the Escape Group of Christmas Night 1941?" at its Lecture Hall on Saturday, January 9, 2010. The speakers will be the President of the Hong Kong Escape Re-enactment Organisation, Mr Donald Chan, and experienced journalist Tim Luard. The lecture, to be mainly conducted in Cantonese and Putonghua, is admission-free with a capacity of 50 seats on a first-come-first-served basis.

The Museum of Coastal Defence is located at 175 Tung Hei Road, Shau Kei Wan, Hong Kong. It opens from 10am to 5pm. It is closed on Thursdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of Chinese New Year. Admission is $10 and half-price concessions are applicable to full-time students, people with disabilities and senior citizens aged 60 or above. Admission is free on Wednesdays.

For details of the exhibition, please visit the museum's website http://hk.coastaldefence.museum or call 2569 1500.

A group photo of the escapees in Waichow, 1941.
A group photo of the escapees in Waichow, 1941.

Source: GovHK (www.gov.hk)