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Branch Christmas Dinner 2018

posted 11 Dec 2018, 02:55 by John Leighton   [ updated 12 Dec 2018, 23:47 ]

On Friday 7 December 2018, a little over 20 members, guests and friends of the Branch enjoyed an excellent Christmas Dinner at the United Services Recreation Club, Jordan, Kowloon. 

A sumptuous repast was provided and, as always, the lucky draw proved to be a popular attraction.
Our thanks to Mike Broom for facilitating this wonderful venue.

Next month we look forward to the return of Branch stalwart Angus Stevenson-Hamilton for a visit to Hong Kong, during which he will host at least one talk to members.

Photos of this fine event can be seen here.

Talk by Lt. Col. Nigel Collett

posted 11 Dec 2018, 01:25 by John Leighton   [ updated 11 Dec 2018, 02:57 ]

The Branch organized a very well-attended talk held at the Royal Hong Kong Regiment (the Volunteers) Clubhouse on the evening of Thursday 25 October 2018.

Over 30 Branch members and guests attended a very interesting presentation given by retired Lieut. Colonel Nigel Collett on his experiences serving with the Regiment into which he was commissioned, (1st. Bn. Devon and Dorsets); the Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces and finally, 1st. Bn. 6th Queen Elizabeth’s Own Gurkha Rifles.

Nigel supplemented his talk with a power point presentation, and a lively question and answer session followed. Great use was made of the cash bar provided by the Volunteers Association, and the Branch thanks the latter for very generously allowing us the use of their wonderful facility located in the Happy Valley Racecourse.

Finally, Nigel has very kindly agreed to give another talk to the Branch in the new year on a date to be decided. The subject of Nigel’s next talk will be the Amritsar massacre at the Jallianwala Bagh in the Punjab, about which Nigel has written a detailed history.

2019 is, of course, the 100th anniversary of this landmark event in British military history.

Photographs from the event can be seen here.

La Fronde Restoration Ceremony

posted 15 Jul 2018, 07:13 by John Leighton   [ updated 15 Jul 2018, 22:46 ]

La Fronde was a French torpedo destroyer which was sunk in Hong Kong during “the great typhoon” of 1906, resulting in the death of 5 sailors. Following this tragedy a memorial was erected to the incident, which now stands in the HK Cemetery in Happy Valley.

Over the years the monument had deteriorated quite alarmingly, but thanks to the efforts of a number of people has now been restored.

A re dedication ceremony was held at 11:00 hrs in the Cemetery on Thursday 5 July 2018, at which a number of branch members were present, including Paul Harrison who was involved professionally with the restoration work.

Background information can be found in an SCMP article linked to here, a copy of which is attached to this web page below.

The event was hosted by the Consul-General of France, M. Eric Berti, and many of the sizeable French community in Hong Kong attended, including M. Xavier Pech, who spoke at the ceremony wearing his uniform as a Lieutenant Commander. Both M. Berti and M. Pech serve in the French Navy Reserve (citizen service), with M. Berti holding the rank of Commander.

M. Pech referred to the vessel as a frigate in his short talk at the memorial, whereas other references to the warship refer to it as a “torpedo destroyer” - it is referred to as a destroyer on the monument.

M. Berti mentioned that although the monument highlights the part played by the British community in Hong Kong when it was first commissioned, sight must not be lost of the efforts made by the French community; not only in Hong Kong at that time, but also the part played by French citizens of what was then known as French Indo-China, in its construction.  And, of course, the role played by the modern French community of HK in terms of fund-raising to have it restored.

Photographs of the occasion can be seen here. M.Berti is wearing the grey suit and red tie, and M.Pech is wearing naval uniform.

Tony Banham book talk "Reduced to a Symbolical Scale"

posted 29 Apr 2018, 23:20 by John Leighton

On Saturday 28 April the Branch hosted a talk by local historian and author, Tony Banham, on his latest (and perhaps NOT now final) book, entitled “Reduced to a Symbolical Scale.”

The book details the evacuation of thousands of British subjects from the former Crown Colony of Hong Kong, to Australia, in the face of Japanese aggrandizement ahead of the Pacific War in 1941.

The talk was held in the wonderful venue of the Volunteers Association Clubhouse in the Happy Valley Stand of the Happy Valley Racecourse. It was apparent, from the interest shown by many attendees in the many artefacts held by the Association on display, that this was the first time that many people had visited this venue.

Out thanks to the Royal Hong Kong Regiment (the Volunteers) Association for kindly allowing us the use of the Clubhouse.
The provision of a cash bar also proved to be a popular decision!

The event was a great success with over 40 people present. Attendees included not only Branch members, but also many people with a general interest in this turbulent but fascinating period in Hong Kong’s history.

Photographs of the event may be seen here.

Stanley visit with David Mahoney

posted 30 Jan 2018, 05:45 by John Leighton   [ updated 29 Apr 2018, 23:20 ]

The Branch organised a wartime walking tour of Stanley on 14th January 2018 to mark the visit to Hong Hong of David Mahoney, a branch founder member and Past President. On a perfect Hong Kong winter’s day our own Martin Heyes led the way taking us to St Stephens College (where many wounded soldiers and nurses were massacred on Christmas Day 1941), Stanley Prison (the wartime civilian internment camp) and Stanley Military Cemetery.

As we moved through the cemetery members were able to relate accounts of individuals resting there as well as accounts of the fighting at Stanley which was the final stand of the British garrison in December 1941.

The day concluded suitably with a few ales at almost historic Smugglers Inn – a regular haunt of the British Stanley garrison before the change of sovereignty. Needless to say, a certain amount of medal battering was conducted over the ales.

 Photos of the day can be seen here.

Talk by David Wilmshurst on the Japanese Invasion of Taiwan of 1895

posted 9 Jan 2018, 23:44 by Stephen Verralls   [ updated 9 Jan 2018, 23:44 ]

 On the evening of the 23rd November 2017 at the Banyan Room of the United Services Recreation Club David Wilmshurst, historian, author and former Government Administrative Officer give a fascinating talk on the Japanese invasion of Taiwan of 1895. Being a subject on which David has written on, a full house heard David explain the background to the campaign as well the politics of both sides in the conflict. For those not familiar with the campaign:

 The Japanese invasion of Taiwan (May–October 1895) was a conflict between the Empire of Japan and the armed forces of the short-lived Republic of Formosa following the Qing Dynasty's cession of Taiwan to Japan in April 1895 at the end of the First Sino-Japanese War. The Japanese sought to take control of their new possession, while the Republican forces fought to resist Japanese occupation. The Japanese landed near Keelung on the northern coast of Taiwan on 29 May 1895, and in a five-month campaign swept southwards to Tainan. Although their advance was slowed by guerrilla activity, the Japanese defeated the Formosan forces (a mixture of regular Chinese units and local Hakka militias) whenever they attempted to make a stand. The Japanese victory at Baguashan on 27 August, the largest battle ever fought on Taiwanese soil, doomed the Formosan resistance to an early defeat. The fall of Tainan on 21 October ended organised resistance to Japanese occupation, and inaugurated five decades of Japanese rule in Taiwan.

Christmas Dinner 2017

posted 24 Dec 2017, 03:20 by OMRS Admin   [ updated 6 Jan 2018, 15:37 ]

A balmy evening on Friday 15 Dec 2017 saw the Branch hold the 2017 Christmas Dinner in the delightful Garden Room of the United Services Recreation Club, Jordan Road, Kowloon.

A total of 22 Branch members and guests enjoyed a sumptuous repast of traditional Christmas fare, having met for pre-dinner drinks on the open-air deck outside the room beforehand.  A truly lovely setting!

Those attending were called to dinner by Branch stalwart Colin Aitchison in traditional fashion, although unfortunately Colin was unable to stay for the dinner due to work commitments.

Prior to the meal Branch President Steve Verralls displayed a fascinating group of medals awarded to a former soldier of the Lincolnshire Regiment, consisting of both gallantry and campaign medals.

This display was followed by a presentation by Angus Stevenson-Hamilton, back in Hong Kong from his home in Devon, of a group awarded to a very thankful winner.

A highlight of the evening was the ever-popular lucky draw, and some amongst those attending were fortunate enough to win some lovely prizes donated by generous members and guests.

At the conclusion of a very successful function, a few stalwarts adjourned for a nightcap in the Club’s Gunners Bar.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to Branch Committee member Mike Broom, without whose contribution the USRC venue would not have been available to the Branch.

Photographs of the event can be seen here.

A walk along the Border with MacIntosh Forts - 31 January 2015

posted 5 Feb 2015, 22:57 by John Leighton   [ updated 24 Dec 2017, 03:17 by OMRS Admin ]

 A group of 16 enjoyed the Border walk and many thanks to John Holmes for being our guide as well as to police Station Sergeant Jimmy Pang of Lok Ma Chau Division for his assistance. Philip Cracknell has included an account of the walk in his blog Divertissement : A walk along the border - Hong Kong  As Philip had to leave immediately after the walk he was unable to include details of the six hour de-brief held in the Better ‘Ole, which is unfortunate as those who attended have little recollection of it.  Philip's blog post is well worth a read.
Our branch Secretary has put a nice photo album together here as well. 

Friday 19th September 2014 - Visit to Sun Yat Sen Museum

posted 21 Sep 2014, 20:12 by John Leighton   [ updated 24 Dec 2017, 03:20 by OMRS Admin ]

There was a good turnout for a weekday visit to the Sun Yat Sen Museum in the Mid-Levels in Hong Kong, including a couple of our local friends.
It was an enjoyable visit on a very hot day, scheduled at somewhat late notice given the rescheduling of the previously proposed visit to mainland China, to the Whampoa Military Academy.   The museum, recently opened, is very good in an interesting historical building.  Those interested in the history of nationalist China will be aware of how closely Hong Kong (and indeed the UK) was
involved in influencing many of the key figures of the enormous changes in China over the past 120 years or so.
Afterwards, a number of those present went on the for the curry buffet at Zetland Hall, with a few whiskies afterwards to celebrate the continuation of 'the "Union', following the Scottish referendum. 

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

posted 30 Jul 2014, 19:55 by John Leighton   [ updated 24 Dec 2017, 03:21 by OMRS Admin ]

A splendid evening with our lecturers Peter "Bertie" Hunt and Gerard Prime.  See here for the details of the lecture advertised in advance.

It was a most convivial occasion with a good crowd of about 12 people with plenty of informed conversation before and after the lecture over refreshments. 

Gerard brought his most splendid collection along of Insignes de Tradition, and we all learnt much about French forces in general, as well as more specifically their insignia and of their Indo-China experiences.  Peter related how he has been interested in researching French Indo-Chinese history for some time and has recently come back from Dien Bien Phu. 

A hearty thank you to all who made this special and unusual occasion possible.  

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