R.A.F. Sunderland maybe at Hong Kong. | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

R.A.F. Sunderland maybe at Hong Kong.

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R.A.F. Sunderland maybe at Hong Kong.

This photograph looks more like Singapore, and I believe that Tony was repatriated via there.  (Andrew S)

Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Wednesday, October 1, 1958


With the presence of the hills and built-up area, it looks more like Kowloon rather than Seletar or Changi. Perhaps the view is more towards the east as the reclaimed runway is not visible.

Hi Moddsey.  That was my first thought, but there are no high hills in the background.  Maybe they were hidden in low cloud?  The Sunderlands certainly moored in that part of the harbour. Regards, Andrew

Yes, Kai Tak was susceptible to low cloud which shrouded the hills. A bit more on 88 Squadron:

No. 88 Squadron RAF based in Hong Kong operated Sunderlands up to 1954 and played an important role, particularly in reconnaisance and search and rescue. Due to cost-cutting, the Sunderlands were then transferred to Malaya and Singapore but paid frequent visits to Hong Kong. I think the last operational flight by a Sunderland to Hong Kong was in 1958 with the last flypast of 3 Sunderland aircraft being flown on 21 April 1958 over the Harbour and Kowloon for the Queen's Birthday Parade.

As for the Sunderland in the photo, ML797 "Papa", there were plans for the aircraft to be flown  back to the UK from Singapore for museum preservation. Unfortunately, it met with an accident and struck off charge in mid 1959. Further info https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/documents/collections/71-A-1408-Sunderland-ML824.pdf


Thank you Moddsey for such a comprehensive reply.  The late Ken Sly, who was the Commanding Officer of the Batty’s outpost from about 1956 until the early 1960s, told me that, as an ex R.A.F. pilot and qualified flying instructor, he flew various planes to keep up his flying hours (and pay).  He had flown Lancasters during the war and also Catalina flying boats in the Western Pacific in the late 1940s.  He sometimes flew the Sunderlands out of Kai Tak and also the early jet fighters, and he also did the initial flights into and out of the new runway to determine safe flight paths onto and off the runway.

Shortly,  I shall be uploading a few aerial photographs taken from a Sunderland over R.A.F. Little Sai Wan.

Regards, Andrew


Enjoyed reading your posts Andrew - many thanks. 

This looks like Hong Kong to me - picture is taken looking north in Kowloon Bay. 

My statement is based on the long rectangular building silouhetted on the horizon on the far left of the photo. This building has a three storey central tower flanked by two wings - each comprising nine windows  - this matches King George V school. It looks like the first storey is only partially visible in the photo. 







Hi Andrew,

Pleased to hear that you enjoy reading my comments.  Your positive identification of the King George V school in Kowloon supports Moddsey's comment that he felt Hong Kong was more likely than Singapore.  With hindsight, I should have doubted whether Tony would have been anywhere near the flying boat base in Singapore if, as I believe, he was routed via Singapore on his repatriation.  So, Hong Kong it is.

I originally wondered whether the shoreline on the photograph might be the edge of the new runway jutting into the harbour but I decided against that as the buildings beyond it were too near and didn't look anything like the Kai Tak buildings.  The photograph seems to have been taken from a small boat and the beret visible at bottom right is almost certainly an R.A.F. one. The only time when Tony could have been close up to a Sunderland and on an R.A.F. launch was if he was one of several airmen being repatriated. In that case an R.A.F. gharry would have taken them to North Point from where a launch would have taken them to Kai Tak.  I think that is quite likely, in which case the photograph dates from some time in Octyober 1958, when Tony's National Service was ending.  In my case, I was initially bumped off a flight at the end of August ('Suddaby' is always towards the bottom of lists!) but when  a spare seat was found, I had to make my own way over to Kai Tak having been dumped by R.A.F. Land Rover at the Central Star Ferry pier.  The R.A.F. clearly wasn't inclined to pay for a return crossing on the vehicle ferry!

Best wishes, Andrew

By 1958, visits by Sunderland aircraft to Hong Kong were few and far between. Managed to view an article about it. See here

Hi Moddsey,

Fairly soon I’ll be uploading a few photographs taken from a Sunderland over Little Sai Wan in April 1958. I believe that they occasionally came up from Singapore on special operations.

Regards, Andrew