Lecture: The One-legged Admiral’s escape from Hong Kong: Chan Chak’s Christmas Day Dash, 1941


 Conference room 2B Research Center on Humanities and Social Sciences (building 31 on the map) Academia Sinica

11 05 2015


It was one of the most remarkable adventures of the Second World War. On Christmas Day 1941, within hours of Hong Kong’s surrender to the Japanese, Admiral Chan Chak (陳策 Chen Ce) and a group of 68 mainly British companions staged a dramatic breakout through enemy lines. In one of the most remarkable adventures of the Second World War, they swam through a hail of gunfire, went by torpedo boat through the night to the mainland and marched for four days across Japanese-occupied Guangdong province to the nearest Nationalist Army stronghold. Local guerrillas carried Admiral Chan in a bamboo sedan chair, as Chan had lost his wooden leg while he swam for his life.

Tim Luard, author in 2012 of the book Escape from Hong Kong (HKU Press), has given a number of lectures on the subject in Britain, Hong Kong and China, but the 1941 escape has received very little attention in Taiwan, even though the one-legged Chinese Admiral was a very senior figure in the KMT – as well as being a very colorful character – and though his aide de camp Henry Hsu 徐亨went on to become a prominent figure in political, business and sporting circles in Taiwan. The Jan. 2015 release of the paperback edition, the forthcoming publication (announced for Sept. 2015) of the Chinese translation of Tim Luard’s book by Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense (under the title 1941 – 香港大突圍), and the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII have led CEFC Taipei and Institute of Modern History to host a lecture to discuss the historiography of the event at Academia Sinica.

In his lecture, Tim Luard will be using rare photographs from the time, describing the background to the Fall of Hong Kong and show how the various members of the escape party came to be among the lucky few who got away. Chan Chak, who was Southern President of the Kuomintang and China’s senior representative in the colony, received a British military knighthood for his heroic role in the colony’s defense and for leading the escape of key personnel when further resistance proved impossible. Seldom if ever had the two peoples joined forces against a common enemy – and certainly not with a Chinese at the helm.

The epic escape came at a crucial juncture in international relations, within a few weeks of Pearl Harbor, as China was finally taking its seat alongside the British, Russians and Americans as one of the four main Allies in what had now become a global war. In his description of the event, Tim Luard will try to assess the geopolitical forces and pressures at play during this crucial year of WW2, 1941, including regarding the strategic and political background, and how such an unlikely and fascinating array of Chinese and British characters came together in the final hours before surrender and launched their dramatic escape.

More on the book can be found at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tim-Luard-author-of-Escape-from-Hong-Kong/150150171722167


Tim Luard 先生在這場演講中將用珍貴的檔案照片來敘述香港淪陷的背景以及上述軍官們如何成為少數順利逃出香港的人。陳策當時是國民黨香港總支部總書記及國民政府駐港代表。因為他在突圍中的英勇抵抗以及成功帶領英軍撤退的行為,獲得英皇頒賜軍事爵位。他當時的副官徐亨後來成為台灣政商界與體壇的重要人物。在這群參與突圍的英軍裡,包括了日後的香港總督、資深情報人員以及皇家海軍水手們。這些人後來花了五個月輾轉從中國戰地經由緬甸回到了家鄉。這個大突圍發生在國際情勢變化最關鍵的時刻:日軍剛在數週前偷襲珍珠港,中國終於加入英國、蘇聯與美國的陣營成為四大同盟國,第二次世界大戰也名副其實成為真正的全球戰爭。

中英聯手並且在中國人的領導之下對抗敵人的行動,幾乎是史無前例的。今年正逢抗戰勝利七十週年,Luard先生著作的英文版於一月由港大出版社發行平裝本,其中文版也正由中華民國國防部積極翻譯中(書名為《1941 – 香港大突圍》),因此法國現代中國研究中心與中央研究院近代史研究所特地邀請Luard先生來講述這段幾乎被遺忘的抗戰歷史。


Tim Luard read Chinese at Edinburgh University and spent the next seven years working as a journalist in Hong Kong. He was later posted in Beijing as Correspondent for BBC World Service Radio, travelling widely in China and covering the events in Tiananmen Square in 1989. He spent a further 17 years with the BBC as a presenter and editor of current affairs programs such as “East Asia Today” and “The World Today”. He is the author of Escape from Hong Kong. Admiral Chan Chak’s Christmas Day Dash, 1941, Hong Kong University Press (Paperback, 2015).

Tim Luard 在愛丁堡學習中文並在香港當了7年記者。他後來成為BBC國際新聞廣播駐北京記者,在中國各地旅行並且參與了1989年天安門事件的報導。接下來的17年他擔任BBC時事節目,如《今日東亞》“East Asia Today” 與《今日世界》 “The World Today”,的主持人與編輯。他的書Escape from Hong Kong: Admiral Chan Chak’s Christmas Day Dash, 1941的中文版《1941香港大突圍》2015.09 即將發行)。

The lecture will be introduced by Stéphane CORCUFF, director of the Taipei office of the French Research Center on Contemporary China, and Max HUANG, Director of the Institute of Modern History at Academia Sinica.  You will be able to listen to the conference on our website after the seminar.

Contact: HUANG Shih Hsien, [email protected] Tel: +886 2 2789-0873 https://www.cefc.com.hk/centre/taipei/

Room B110, RCHSS (building 31 below) Academia Sinica, 128 Yanjiuyuan Road, Sec. 2, Nankang, Taipei

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