1997 St. Barbara - Garrison Church of Stanley Fort | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

1997 St. Barbara - Garrison Church of Stanley Fort

1997 St. Barbara - Garrison Church of Stanley Fort
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Photo taken in 1997 before the handover.

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Saturday, May 10, 1997
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Some years ago I visited Stanley with a long-retired British Army soldier named Jack Etiemble, on his first visit back here since he left the Colony on the ill-fated Lisbon Maru. Jack had joined the Royal Artillery as a boy soldier and in Dec 1941 had been serving as a Trumpeter in Stanley Fort.

Whilst we were walking around Stanley Cemetery, we saw the grave of one Gunner Flanders. Jack told me that Flanders had been the “old hand” who took him under his wing, as was apparently the practice in the Army at that time. Jack went on to explain the circumstances of Flanders’s death.

Gunner Flanders was a “bit of a lad,” it would seem. During the course of the 1941 battle it was his custom to get a card school going, (whilst stood down from the guns), and on one such occasion that was exactly what he did - in St. Barbara’s Church! Obviously the Padre was more gainfully occupied at the time, so Flanders knew it would be safe to gamble in the church.

Call it Divine retribution if you like, but whilst the card school was in progress a Japanese shell or bomb landed in the vicinity of the church, killing Flanders.

St. Barbara is the patron saint of the Royal Artillery, and a memorial plaque listing all the gunners killed in the battle and occupation used to be located in the church. This plaque was moved to St. Stephen’s Chapel within the College campus ahead of the 1997 reversion of sovereignty.

Listed on this plaque is the name Flanders, and immediately beneath his name are inscribed the words: -

“killed in this church.”

I believe Flanders was the only fatality resulting from the Japanese shell on that occasion. Sadly Jack was reunited with his old pal not so long ago.