1941 ? Police reserve ? | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

1941 ? Police reserve ?

1941 ? Police reserve ?

Photo received from Gordon Randall via Henry Ching:

Gordon's father, a member of the HK Eurasian community, was Benjamin Cutler Randall. 

Unfortunately, he can give us no information on the photo, other than it is a postcard he found in his father’s papers. His father was in the Police Reserve in 1941, and so he assumes that the photo is of the Police Reserve although his father does not appear to be in it.

I have identified the background building as Police Headquarters.  The civilian sitting in the centre of the front row I am unable to identify, but the uniformed man to the right of him (i.e sitting on his left) looks like the Commissioner of Police, Pennefather Evans. The CO of the Police Reserve appointed in 1936 was Deputy Superintendent C. Champlin and perhaps he is sitting on the other side of the civilian.

Two interesting features – there appear to be an unusual number of sergeants, and those sitting seem to be wearing a different uniform without metal buttons, and their cap badges are different from the standing men. Perhaps they were officers – i.e inspectors and above.

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Wednesday, January 1, 1941


Inspectors and above wore shoes,those beneath ( rank and file ) wore boots though the sergeants here appear to have these.

Inspectors and above wore ' Sam Browne ' type black leather belts, rank and file wore the ' snake belt ' fastener style of revolver belt though here the sergeants sport the SB belt.

Cap Badge of rank and file was a white metal King's Crown,senior officers cap badge was a Royal Cypher ( ornate voided G V1 R ),often in silver.

Ratio fo Sergeants to constables was generally One to Eight but varied dependant on Unit and it's function.Note stripe on trousers of R&F and good conduct stripe on Sgt at Right.

Thanks for the very detailed observations. Are the unusual dress for the sergeants (shoes and SB Belts), and the stripes on the trousers the clues that this is a photo of the Police Reserve, not the full-time Police?

Regards, David

The civilian in the photo was Dr. S. W. T'so, Honorary Commissioner of the Police Reserve. The history of the Police Reserve can be read in this issue of the Police Magazine here. ((The article starts at page 111 of the linked document.))

Based on the Ride Papers of the BAAG, a large group of former Hong Kong Police Reservists formed Group M of the BAAG under the leadership of David Loie (code name M.S.) aka Lui Fook-wing, a Reservist Assistant Superintendent, 2 i/c of the Chinese Company, originally commanded by Tso Tsun-on ASP(R), son of Tso Sin-wan, Hon. Commandant.  At first, they offered their service to British SIS, but was referred to the BAAG by Thompson because SIS was not operational in S. China at the time. Group M which was formed circa Feb 1943 was soon purged by the Japanese in May 1943.  Residual members tried to reform in early 1944 as BAAG Group P, designated to function in the Secuity & Counter-espionage work; but it would appear that activation was not successful.

It would be very good if David Loie could be identified from the group photo.  He committed suicide after being arrested, rather than submit to torture and disclosure of other members of Group M still at large. 

The trousers stripe was common to both regulars and reserves in winter uniform.Their sole distinguishing feature being the chrome shoulder titles.( The same applied,up to 1997 at least, vide RHKP and RHKAP.The sergeants in shoes were probably on office duties.It should be remembered that the Reserve,like the latter day Auxilliaries,were somewhat of a law unto themselves and perhaps didn't always follow the good book if it didn't suit the.