Royal Navy Hong Kong 1951-54 | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Royal Navy Hong Kong 1951-54

My fatherw as based at HMS Tamar during teh Korean War, he got polio wnd was assigne dto the Navy Station instead of going to Korea. He was a Lieutenant RNVR George William Maycock. My elder brother Nicholas was born there in 1953 an dhe had quarters on the Peak.

He made reference to an attack on a Patrol Boat by Chinese pirates who slaughtered the crew but I can only find reference to the ML1323 taht was sheleld by Chinese forces. Can anyone enlighten me as to the date, location and casualties involved please.


Many thanks


For the past Ten Years at Double Hills, the last in the wreath ceremony is quietly laid. It is for fallen Shipmates of the Royal Navy Hong Kong Flotilla. We hope it is not inappropriate for those to be included with our Airborne Sappers, Glider Pilots, and Army Air Corps tribute. Today is 60 years on and it is time to remember those crew of HMML 3523 that were killed by enemy action on September 9th 1953.

The untold story is known only to a few of us, but the grief pain of the families and their Shipmates continues. They were young to die, so very young. They did not come home, as we that are left came home, to live our lives to the full. Thanks to Double Hills, we can join in memory on a lovely green hillside, and we few shall remember them.   This year is a special year. It is 60 years since our Shipmates died in action. They were cut down by merciless Communist shellfire. They were attacked without warning, and quite unprovoked, they had no chance to come to action. So there is a small group of those aging Shipmates at 2013 Double Hills, with the relatives of the fallen.

When the Far East Fleet moved to Singapore in the late 1940’s, Hong Kong was left with a small unit of the Royal Navy, to defend the colony. They were to be called "The Hong Kong Flotilla". This flotilla consisted of 10 Seaward Defence Launches, 4 Motor Minesweepers, Inshore Minesweepers and 8 Landing Craft Assault these craft were based at H.M.S. Tamar, or at the Small Ships Maintenance Based in Kowloon.

The purpose of the flotilla was to assist the Hong Kong Government and the local police force in controlling smuggling, illegal immigrants and defence of Hong Kong, and during the Korean war when the United Nations were fighting Red China and North Korea, not an easy task at any time.

The active service life of the Hong Kong Flotilla was only from 1949 when the menace of Communist Red China invading Hong Kong and then in 1959 when  finally the last Motor Launches were “paid off”. New more modern Squadrons of Patrol craft followed, and the protection of Hong Kong by the Royal Navy continued until our departure in 1997.


The commencement of the Korean War added to the real danger of being on active service in Hong Kong. In 1953 the Hong Kong Flotilla Motor Launch P1323 was attacked suddenly by a Communist Red Chinese Gunboat. The heavily armed Communist Boat attacked without warning the small Royal Naval Motor launch 1323, which had no time to respond. Within minutes the Captain of the Boat was severely injured, legs and limbs shattered, and was dying at his command post. Another shell instantly killed five crew members. This left one brave young man at the wheel, and Leading Seaman Cleaver B.E.M in command. The brave young man at the wheel was Able Seaman Ralph Shearman. With the dead and dying five of his shipmates surrounding him, he carried on, steering the launch until another round killed him.

The shellfire also left a severely injured seaman lying on the upper deck. Leading Seaman Cleaver continued steering the boat from a makeshift tiller at the stern. The carnage was awful, and the boat was hardly underway. The frequency of small arms fire has recently increased on the patrols between the British Patrol craft and the Red Chinese. It was a hazard of patrol, but this awful incident was totally unexpected. No return fire was possible. Emergency steering was rigged, the dead and dying attended too, but the morphine could not be found. Engine Room Chief Stoker Mechanic Eric Milner, with his Stoker Mech. maintained the fuel lines and clearing debris from his engines, very slowly the launch resumed steaming, and made a very slow return to final safety in a small harbour of Tai’O on the island of Land Tau.


This little Patrol craft was in fact saved by two unarmed Royal Air Force Hornets patroling overhead and saw the gunfire, buzzed the Communist Gunboat, and it diverted it off up the Pearl River towards the sinister island of Lin Tin.

Now the Hong Kong Flotilla Shipmates are no longer young, but they remember with affection and pleasure, the days of duty and leave they spent in Hong Kong so many years ago. Their Reunions are time for telling the same stories, and recalling the past times of which they are very proud. They also remember with pride the sacrifice their Shipmates made in 1953.


Leading Seaman Gordon Cleaver was awarded the BEM for his bravery in bringing ML1323 back to harbour.

The young Able Seaman Shearman received commendation for his bravery, and mentioned in despatches. Chief Stoker Mech Eric Milner was also mentioned in despatches, and he attends our reunions, the last survivor alive. Ralph’s sister Mrs Ruth Long together with her husband Tom are members of the Association and have attended our last Annual Reunion and will be at the Double Hills 2013 when it will be 60 Years since the incident.

At Double Hills Peter and Brenda Yeates together with their Shipmates, Chief Petty Vince Hart, Able Seaman John Metherell, Able Seaman John Watts and Mrs Watts, Mr Tom and Mrs Ruth Long the Hong Kong Flotilla Association will remember. CPO Vince Hart will lay the Flotilla Wreath.

Hong Kong Flotilla Association

'Lest we forget'

This tribute is dedicated to the memory of:-

Lieutenant G.C.A. Merriman, R.N.

Petty Officer R. Keyte, R.N.

Able Seaman R.G. Morris, R.N.

Able Seaman A.C. Knight, R.N.

Able Seaman R. Shearman, R.N.

Able Seaman W.D. Parnell, R.N.

Captain E.F.Gower, The Royal Hong Kong Defence Force

Hello Jerry,

Do you think the incident that your father mentions could have been the attack on the ML 1323 that Peter describes? Did he give any date for when it happened?

I wonder if your family were up at Mount Austin Mansions (, as Martin Booth mentions living there at about that time and his father was in the Navy.

Regards, David

The incident my Father refers to was indeed the attack on ML1323. I found his diary. The entry reads

'9th September 1953. ML1323 shot-up. Geoff Merriman +6 killed. Returned to harbour late evening. Very upset. An extremely bad day'.

10th September 1953. Busy on 1323- a horrible business. Everyone upset and terribly angry. How can one ever be friendly and trustful with Communists?

11th September 1953. Attended Court of Enquiry AM. Funeral at Tamar+ Happy Valley PM. Now the politicians take over.

He was billeted at 5 Peak Mansions from December 1953 till leaving on July 1st 1954 on Empire Trooper with my mum and older brother. He was posted to Tamar 7th April 1953 i/c LC1682; 1684; 1163, 1965, 1891 then when the Squadron was paid off 1st June 1954 he was atatched Tamar till sailing a month later. Believe the LCs were LCAs fitted with 20mm Olerkons and flame throwers. Welcome any additional info about that period. and the LCs

RIP Crew of ML1323, gone but never forgotten


Good to have Jerry Maycock's post. Jerry suggest you log in again to - we have recent re-enacted a typical Patrol by surviving Shipmates of the famous Hong Kong Flotilla ML MFV IMS MMS LCA Squadrons.Your Father's comments were typical of our emotions then and somewhat now. This post will be of great interest to the surviving family of the sister of AB Ralph Shearman, one of the men who were killed that day without warnng. AB Ralph Shearman bravely stayed at the wheel under fire, with the dead and dying around him, until he too was killed. The action merits a VC - if he had not stayed at the wheel the ML would have been destroyed and the opportunity for Leading Seaman Cleaver ( Our Late Chairman) to bring it back to safe haven, would have been lost. The Association hold regular Reunions we would like to see you there, and learn more about the Flotilla and your Father's station. Moreover you would have an enjoyable time. The LCA's were indeed fitted with flame throwers, lethal to operate, brave men stripped to the waist operating equipment .that emitted vast swathes of flame from a wooden LCA. Sometimes the mechanisim jammed with the lethal fuel...a Skipper of the LCA used to clear the flame throwing nozzel with a hairpin, suggested by his wife..Contact Peter Yeates Treasurer  HKFA 

Your sentiment: Gone but nor forgotten is absolutely correct. Ruth & Tom Long will be at a Memorial Service in the village of Paulton Bath Somerset where 23 Glider Soldiers will be honoured- they were the first to die in the Battle of Arnhem  How ? When their Glider crashed into my village Sunday 17th September 1944 en route to Arnhem...Because I organise this Memorial- a marvellous Memorial Srone and statues of the brave men...I incorporate the Remembrance of those brave Shipmates lost in Hong Kong -a wreath is laid-the story told-they are thus remembered... we need to hear more of your stories of your family in HK on this site

I served in Hong Kong myself, though as a Probationary Inpsector in the then Royal Hong Kong Police 1975-77 mainly at Mongkok. Very proud of that Service and extremely proud to have been a member of the World's best Police Force. Learnt so much so quickly.

I have some negative photos of Hong Kong from the period 1953-4 that I will get printed, scanned and posted in the coming few weeks. Aslo dig my own photos out not that I took many. Wish I had.

Finding out bout my late Father's Past is hard but hopefully more fruit will be borne from this angle.

The World's best Police Force. You are so correct Jerry.

We worked closely with the Marine Police.

On our HKF  returns in 2003 and 2005 we had great nights out with some good chums in Victoria's Police Force.

The icon background of the Hong Kong Flotilla was the Police HQ next to HMS Tamar. Built in 1955. Brand New still there.

Good news you will delight us with reminders of "Our Hong Kong" looking forward to it. Where is Mongkok ?. Did you visit the islands ? 

Welcome great contribution, these sories and interchanges seem never to end, it joins us altogether




Hi there, If yours are 135mm films or slides, suggest to consider one of those inexpensive film scanners these days so you can scan the file directly into data files. Last time I saw these machines in Hong Kong they are under HKD1,000.- If you have a lot of rolls of films, it is worth the investment. Thanks & Best Regards, T

My Father's dairy mentions the hijacking of PL28 in 1954 and I believe PL17 was the boat that brought ML1323. Sadly I didn't do any sea time with Marine District but I do know that they are now regarded as an elite unit, especially the fast intercept craft. Most of my time was in Mongkok which is the area south of Boundary Street and North a Yamati, Sham Shi Po to the west and KC the east. Station is at the junction Nathan Road and Prince Edward Road. Mainly (understatement) Chinese but a great place to work

I am a former member of the RHKP / HKP and I served for 26 years from 1975 before retiring in the rank of Chief Inspector. I knew Jerry Maycock in the 1970's but not very well. At the time I was an Inspector in what was then called Marine District but which was later upgraded to Marine Region.

I am now a licensed tour guide in Hong Kong and one of the tours which I conduct is to what was originally called the Colonial (now Hong Kong) Cemetery. The men listed above who were killed in this tragic incident are all buried in one row in the Cemetery and next time I am there I can take a photograph of their graves. Not sure if I can upload it however; technology and I don't always get along together!

One man who knows a great deal about this incident, who was I believe a good chum of both those who were killed and survived and who has written a book on the subject, is an ex-matelot named John Henry Fleming. As far as I am aware John is still alive and living here in HK. Having left the service John then joined the HK Government as a prison officer in what was then called the Prisons Dept - now the Correctional Services Dept.

I am quite sure that if you could track down John Fleming he would be quite happy to give you the benefit of his knowledge. I do not have a copy of his book or his contact details, unfortunately.


Forgive me for going off topic, but are you descended from John and Yoshino Maycock and perhapsa  nephew of Ernie and Tommy Maycock about whom I enquired on  ?


If your branch originated from Byfield in Northamptonshire then we could well be related. My late Father was born there in 1926 to William and Elsie Maycock. William was born around 1885 serving in the Machind Gun Corps in WW1 and later atrain driver, including the famous Mallard , Hope helps. Quite a few Maycocks come from Northants

I'm not actually from the Maycock family myself but I made an enquiry about the Maycock family who lived in Hong Kong before WW2 - more details on They seem to have been close friends with my own (Warren) family, about whose life in Hong Kong I was trying to find information, but it sounds as if you are from a different branch.