On 25 December 1941, the day of Hong Kong’s surrender to the Japanese, Admiral Chan Chak – the Chinese government’s chief agent in Hong Kong – and more than 60 Chinese, British and Danish intelligence, naval and marine personnel made a dramatic escape from the invading army. They travelled on five small motor torpedo boats – all that remained of the Royal Navy in Hong Kong – across Mirs Bay, landing at a beach near Nan’ao. Then, guided by guerrillas and villagers, they walked for four days through enemy lines to Huizhou, before flying to Chongqingor travelling by land to Burma. The breakout laid the foundations of an escape trail jointly used by the British Army Aid Group and the East River Column for the rest of the war. Chan Chak, the celebrated ‘one-legged admiral’, became Mayor of Canton after the war and was knighted by the British for his services to the Allied cause. His comrade in the escape, David MacDougall, became head of the civil administration of Hong Kong in 1945.
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