HMT Oxfordshire | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

HMT Oxfordshire

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HMT Oxfordshire

Conditons on board all the troopships were rather basic and crowded for other ranks - but it was probably the first time manyof them had been abroad so it was probably a very exciting experience.

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Tuesday, January 1, 1957

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HM hospital ship “Oxfordshire” left Kowloon Wharf, headed for Australia, on 3 September 1945 carrying the absolute sickest of the internees and POWs.  Reports vary, but it is believed there were 319 of them on board when they docked at Manila on 6 September.  They were all severely malnourished, many with beri beri, several with TB, festering sores, amputations and other injuries.  Six people died on the voyage and one baby girl was born.  Those who died were:

 

FORSEY, W., charge man at Hong Kong Dockyard

JONES, F.J.R., of the naval dockyard

KAHN, Akran, Indian soldier of the 2/14th Punjab Regiment

MANGOLD, A., civilian

McFADYN, A., Hong Kong Government pensioner

SMITH, J., civilian

 

The Oxfordshire arrived in Brisbane on 20 September where most of the Australian POWs as well as 45 Indians disembarked, including 87 on stretchers.    She then docked at Circular Quay in Sydney on 22 September where another 163 people disembarked, including my grandfather Major John Hubert Bottomley, an architect with the Hong Kong Government, who had also been with the HK Volunteer Defence Corps and was interned at Shamshuipo and Argyle Street camps.   From Sydney they were all initially taken to a Royal Navy hospital in Herne Bay (now Riverwood).  My grandfather then spent about 4 months in a military hospital in Concord, Sydney, before eventually returning to Hong Kong where he remained until his retirement in 1956. He never fully recovered from his physical injuries. Major J.H. Bottomley (1899-1964), a Yorkshireman, was the father of Marjorie Bray, David Bottomley and John Bottomley, all three children Hong Kong born.

 

Much of this information was compiled from various newspaper articles found in the free digitised newspapers online at Trove, part of the Australian National Library: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/

 

Thanks for the extra info about the Oxfordshire. I've made a page for your grandfather at https://gwulo.com/node/45460, and linked it to the other family members listed on the site. It's under your account, so you can edit it if you'd like to add any information.

I understand that the troopship HMT Oxfordshire, in service on the Far Eastern run in the mid to late 1950s, was only launched on 15 December 1955, so I think that the hospital ship mentioned as being in service in 1945 must have been an earlier vessel fitted out as a hospital ship. Andrew

Here is a link to a photo from the Australian War Memorial Collection of the British Royal Navy ship HMS "Oxfordshire" manouevering in Sydney Harbour in September 1945 (when my grandfather and other HK POWs would have been on board).

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C221403

I think you're right - it does look like a different vessel.  No idea how to upload this photo - but feel free!

 

 

 

 

Thanks David, I have put in a short bio of my grandfather.  Wish I knew more about his time in camp but he died when I was 4 years old.   I will see if my father has any anecdotes.  At some point I would like to also be able to edit the profile of my mother Corrine Bottomley (nee Ellery) who sadly died last year. Robin

Thanks Robin.

I'm sorry to hear that your mother died recently. I've made you the owner of her page so you can update it.