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Sat February 28 2015 - Shing Mun Redoubt battlefield site visit

posted 5 Feb 2015, 22:55 by John Leighton

We will join with Asia’s Finest Old & Bold to a visit to the Shing Mun Redoubt lead by our own Martin Heyes. There are two options to meet up for this one:


(a) at 11:00 hrs at Tsuen Wan MTR station at Exit D from where we will get a Green Minibus;


(b) at 11:45 hrs at the Pineapple Dam at the top of Shing Mun Reservoir Rd, for those not taking the MTR.

For those in category (a), we will take the minibus up to the dam, meet up with those in (b) then walk to the southern tip of the Reservoir where people could have lunch (bring your own) while Martin will  give a talk & distribute handouts etc. before walking up to the Redoubt.

People are advised to: -

(a) wear old, scruffy clothes and bring a change of clothes as we will be scrambling thro' tunnels, (changing facilities are available); and 

(b) bring a torch - very necessary if going into the tunnels.

Cleansing ale available afterwards at the kiosk at the Pineapple Dam.

Please reply to the Secretary if you will join


Looking ahead to June we have booked the SOs Mess on the evening of 19th June for an OMRS Hong Kong Branch 

Weds 8th October - OMRS Visitor Social at RHKR clubhouse

posted 7 Oct 2014, 20:19 by John Leighton

A gentle reminder that tomorrow’s meeting, Weds 8th October, will be at the Royal Hong Kong Regiment Association Clubhouse in Happy Valley racecourse, details are as follows


9th Floor, Happy Valley Stand, Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, Hong Kong
Telephone Office: (852)2966 7895
Telephone Bar: (852)2966 7881


No permit or badge is required for access.


We have Glen Jones, the Secretary of the OMRS Kent Branch, in Hong Kong to informally talk on Malakand 1897.

OMRS - 2014/2015 Programme

posted 31 Jul 2014, 04:20 by John Leighton

The provisional programme for the next year is seen below.  Please share this information with others with interest too!

July 2014

Peter Hunt - Draco Badges and Indochina

27th August 2014

Members’ Own – Great War

September 2014

Visit Whompoa Academy

October 2014

Glen Jones – Talk by Kent Branch Secretary

November 2014

Visit to Tsing Tao

December 2014

Christmas Dinner

January 2015

Peter Makant – The Falkland’s War

February 2015

Gavin Cooper – naval Gunnery

March 2015

David Wilmshurst– Sino French War

April 2015


24 July 2014 - Vive La Différence! French Insignes de Tradition in Indochina.

posted 15 Jul 2014, 00:49 by John Leighton   [ updated 30 Jul 2014, 19:56 ]

Vive La Différence!

French Insignes de Tradition in Indochina.

A talk for

The Orders And Medals Research Society (Hong Kong Branch)


Thursday 24th July 2014


Gerard Prime and Peter Hunt

7.30 p.m. for 8.00 p.m.

History Room, Police Officers Club, Causeway Bay


            In the bedroom, the kitchen, and on the football pitch the French do things differently, and many, including the French, would say better. It should come as no surprise then that when it comes to building esprit de corps the French military have their own unique way of displaying unit identity: the insignes de tradition. These badges, (often known a “Drago Badges” after one of their major manufacturers,) identify units from company size up to armies. They fulfil the same function in French military team building as a combination of a distinctive cap badge; a shoulder title; and a brigade, division or army flash would do for a British soldier.


Although insignies de tradition were, and are, issued in relatively large numbers, the passage of time and specific historical context makes them eminently collectable. Whilst the origin of some badges can be traced for a hundred years to their lineal unit descendants still serving in the French army today, many insignia were created for ephemeral units that only existed for a short time in specific theatres or campaigns, which gives them added collectability. But sadly, as with all collectables, rarity value also promotes a thriving trade in forgeries.


Whilst the study and collection of insignies de tradition offers an interesting sidelight on any French campaign since the First World War, the Corps Expéditionnaire Français en Extrême-Orient (CEFEO) in Indochina between 1945 and 1955 used some of the most colourful and eclectic badges as French, Foreign Legion, Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian, Senegalese, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Lao units of all sizes sought to demonstrate their military and ethnic identity.

In this talk Peter Hunt will describe the various types of insignies de tradition and how they were supposed to be regulated; and the nature of the CEFEO that spawned so many unique designs. Gerard Prime will introduce members to part of his extensive collection of badges and discuss the thorny issues of sources, prices and forgeries.

March 2014: The history of HMS Queen, British WWII aircraft carrier

posted 10 Mar 2014, 18:41 by John Leighton

                The March meeting will take place on Wednesday 26th March at the Reading Room of the Police Officers’ Club, please note the earlier commencing time of 7:30 pm.        

We are fortunate to have David Weaver to give a talk on HMS Queen a lend lease escort aircraft carrier which docked in Hong Kong shortly after the liberation en route back to UK. Dave has published a book entitled ‘The History of HMS Queen’ which contains detailed accounts of daily life on board, operations and crew an includes trans-Atlantic aircraft deliveries to the UK and Casablanca, Fleet Air Arm strikes on the Norwegian coast and post war voyages to Murmansk and trooping voyages to Australia, Hong Kong,  and Ceylon.

In addition to covering HMS Queen Dave will also be displaying some of his photo collection which includes Hong Kong harbour scenes.

Guests are welcome, as ever. Please contact the Secretary in advance if you are not accompanying a branch member.

Feb 2014: Police in Stanley Camp 1942 - 45

posted 9 Feb 2014, 22:46 by John Leighton

The next meeting of the Hong Kong Branch of the OMRS will be on Tuesday 25th  February at the Police Officers’ Club Reading Room, we will meet in the bar at 7:30pm for an 8:00pm start.


We are fortunate to have our very own Martin Heyes to lead an interactive meeting on "Police in Stanley Camp 1942 - 45.". Martin will lead off with research on James Hill a Scottish pre-War Hong Kong policeman who joined the Force after service with the Scots Guards from 1923-27.  He served during the battle for Hong Kong and was subsequently interned in Stanley. He left the Force having reached the  rank of Detective Inspector and having served in Special Branch. I will then follow up with the medals and stories of several wartime policemen and it is hoped that members with similar medals or research will follow on. At the conclusion of the meeting Martin will present copies of his research on James Hill, which includes documents and photographs, to a representative of the Hong Kong Police Archives and Museum.


Guests welcome.

2014 Programme

posted 23 Jan 2014, 02:44 by John Leighton

The 2014 series of meetings started on Wednesday 23 January with a most excellent lecture from Prof. Gregory James on the Chinese Labour Corps.
The programme for the year is still being worked up, but it is looking to be an excellent one.
The next planned events will be a lecture on the Sino-French War by Dr. David Wilmshurst, and a visit to the former British colony at Weiheiwei and nearby Qingdao.
Ensure that you are on the mailing list - all details of upcoming events are sent by email.  To join the mailing list with no obligation click the button to the left "Join Our Mailing List!".

September 2013 meeting - Sam Olsen: Liaison Officer in Kosovo and Iraq

posted 29 Sep 2013, 19:00 by John Leighton

The OMRS Hong Kong Branch September meeting will be a presentation by Sam Olsen on 24th September which was postponed from earlier in the year. Sam Olsen will talk about his experiences in the British Army of being an Allied Liaison officer to numerous NATO countries in both of the recent conflicts in Iraq and Kosovo. He will speak about attachments to different armies, and the way that their attitudes and adopted cultural postures can have a real effect on operational execution. Some of the anecdotes about armies that will be mentioned include:

·         French: drinking in enemy bars

·         Russians: kidnapping Finns, shopping for their ladies of ill repute

·         Americans: Burger King, helicopters and accidentally invading Serbia

·         Czechs: shocking practical jokes and burly check points

·         Aussies: SAS and drinking

·         Norwegians: Christmas dinner and saunas

·         Italians: rockgardens and no translators

This promises to be a lively and interesting presentation. 

We will meet as usual in the Reading Room of the Police Officers’ Club, Causeway Bay… meeting in the bar at 7:30 pm for a 8:00 pm start on Tuesday 24th September.

Liberation Day - Sunday 18 August 2013

posted 10 Jul 2013, 03:54 by John Leighton

21 May 2013: The Naval Career of Chang Man Ying, Royal Navy.

posted 22 May 2013, 23:17 by John Leighton

 We are very fortunate to have an informal evening with retired Petty Officer Steward Chang Man Ying, Royal Navy. Mr Chang joined the Royal Navy in Hong Kong in 1947 and is veteran of the Yangtze incident on HMS Black Swan, the Malayan Emergency, the Korean War and the Borneo conflict.


Mr Chang is the holder of the Naval General service Medal and two clasps (Yangtze & Malaya), Queen’s & UN Korea Medals, Campaign Service Medal for Borneo and the Naval Long Service Medal.


On 20 April 1949, HMS Amethyst steamed up the Yangtze River to relieve the guard ship HMS Consort at Nanking, preparing to evacuate British and Commonwealth citizens caught up in the advance of the Chinese Communist Forces. At about 0830 hours, Amethyst came under fire from Communist shore batteries positioned on the north shore of the river opposite Low Island. Amethyst was hit again by several shells wounding Amethyst's Commanding officer, who died from his injuries a day later. The ship managed to send off a signal to all ships in the area, "Under heavy fire, am aground, large number of casualties". Amethyst received over 50 hits and holes below the waterline. During this time HMS Consort was sighted, flying 7 White Ensigns and 3 Union Jack flags, steaming down from Nanking at an incredible 29 Knots. Consort came under fire from the shore batteries but her 4.5-inch guns managed to knock out the enemy shore batteries and she attempted to take Amethyst in tow. HMS Consort  turned about with all guns blazing at the north bank batteries, destroying an enemy position. As she steamed up river for the second time she was fired on by a concentrated number of 37mm anti-tank guns.

She had taken 56 hits and lost 9 killed and 30 wounded. On the 26th of April, after being aground for six days and in the dead of night, a second attempt to free the Amethyst from the mud was successful after she had been lightened forward. She then proceeded to move up river and anchored off Fu Te Wei. Later that day a signal was received: "HM ships London and Black Swan are moving up river to escort the Amethyst down stream. Be ready to move." But concentrated fire from batteries near Bate Point hit both ships; HMS London was holed 12 times on the port side and lost 12 killed and 20 wounded. HMS Black Swan had 7 wounded. Reluctantly the order was given for both ships to return down river. Finally Lt. Cdr. Kerans decided to make a break for open waters. On July 31st under cover of darkness, Amethyst slipped her cable and proceeded down stream to begin a 104-mile dash for freedom running the gauntlet of Communist guns on both banks of the river.The Amethyst, at full speed ahead, passed through to the mouth of the river and made contact with HMS Concord and sent the time-honoured signal. "Have rejoined the fleet off Woosung...God save the King."


In an informal setting Mr Chang will share his experiences in the Royal Navy as a locally enlisted seaman as well his recollections of the Yangtze Incident. Mr Chang’s medals, which are probably unique, will be on display.


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