CCDO Staff Hong Kong 1940 - IMG_20211006_0001.jpg | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

CCDO Staff Hong Kong 1940 - IMG_20211006_0001.jpg

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CCDO Staff Hong Kong 1940 - IMG_20211006_0001.jpg

David Green, an old friend has asked if anyone can shed any light on this photograph taken in 1940. It shows a group of C.C.D.O. staff and the photograph was shown to David by his neighbour.  As far as is known the only person named is the central figure on the photograph known as 'Uncle Billy' by the relatives in the UK.  It's not much to go on but perhaps somebody in the Gwulo family can let us know what C.C.D.O stood for and perhaps name the location and any of the others on the photograph.  Is the 'C.C.' a reference to Cheung Chau?


Date picture taken (may be approximate): 
Monday, January 1, 1940


C.C.D.O. is not an abbreviation that readily comes to mind. Is there information about "Uncle Billy'" like his full name, occupation etc ? 

Just curious why the suggestion Cheung Chau - oral history from owner of photo?

Cheung Chau District Office? 

If so, what is the organisation? A branch of the HK civil service/Government department as there is a good mixture of western and Asian personnel? 

Billy = William. Lots of Williams on Jurors Lists 1939/1940. And the JL is not comprehensive so a full name would be useful.

Cheung Chau was just suggested to me as a possibilty.  So far, no information fothcoming about a surname, but I hope that the photograph's owner might be able to supply other information and images to help.

As an ex-draughtsman very many years ago, the 'D.O.' would signify to me 'Drawing Office' so perhaps they are a group of drawing office staff'.

Pre-covid I seem to recall signs on Hong Kong contruction sites relating to 'C.C.E.D', or a similar combination of letters, presumably a government civil engineering department, which might explain another letter or letters in C.C.D.O.

If I am seeing it aright, it seems to me there is a gap between CC and DO, so two abbreviations, "CC" and "DO". That doesn't add a lot, but might close off some blind alleys.


Cheung Chau District Office also crossed my mind but in the Royal Asiatic Society  ( HK Branch) Journal of 1977 , W Schofield,  who served as Southern Islands Disrict Officer in the 1920s -1930s describes how the D.O's travelled by ferries or hired private launches from their office in the Post Office Building in Central.when required to visit Cheung Chau or the other outposts..  He wrote that the only substantial Western style  buildings were a Community Hall set among the European bungalows on the hillside and the heavily fortified police station. 

Also, in the 2011 Journal of the RAS (HK Branch)  there is a review of a book by John Strickland on Southern District Islands District Officer Reports but I do not have access to this book at hand. This book might conclusively rule out that there were District Office buildings on Cheung Chau during  1940s..  

Glancing through HKGRO, it would appear that the New Terroriies in 1940 was divided into two large districts - the Northern District and Southern District. I think that rules out Cheung Chau. The men also appear to be very well-dressed for the occasion.



Thank you all for your suggestions.  I have zoomed in on the slightly higher resolution copy that I have on my computer and there is indeed a very small gap between CC and DO, but that might not be significant. My R.A.F. friend David Green will check with his pal David Stone as to whether there is any more in the way of material, either photographs, written documents or in family memory, that might narrow the search.  

David Stone has very kindly agreed to the following information being added to the discussion, along with his telling me in his email that the family has no knowlege of William being interned during the war, and that David has a recollection of briefly meeting him in Egland in the early 1950s.

Many thanks for your rmessage.  As we were then seeking the additional information for which you asked, I delayed replying to you until I was able to provide this.  However, having received just yesterday a copy of the subject's certificate of marriage (which took place at Pennycross, Plymouth, Devon in August 1915), I can now provide you with the following amplifying information about the gentleman in the centre of the front row of the 'CCDO HONG KONG 1940' photograph:

Name:  William Joseph Webber.

Age:  Twenty-seven in 1915 (therefore about 52 at the time of the CCDO HONG KONG 1940 photograph).

Profession:  Ship's Draughtsman (and I would therefore speculate that in1915 he was possibly employed within or in connection with the major Royal Naval Dockyards organisaton at Plymouth.  I have no evidence of any subsequent service by William Webber with the armed forces during the first World War, but perhaps ship's design and draughtsmanship were critical skills in wartime Britan, and therefore 'Ship's Draughstman' may have been designated as a reserved occupation?

Additional Information:  It may be noteworthy that the profession of William Webber's father (John Webber) as shown on the marriage certificate was 'foreman RN Dockyard - retired', which might reasonably indicate the involvement of both father and son with the Royal Navy and/or merchant marine spanning at least two generations, from the late nineteenth to the mid twentiethcenturies.  Accordingly, perhaps the 'DO' of 'CCDO' might possibly be 'draughting office', 'design office' or similar?  I have no further information to offer at this stge, nor do I realistically anticipate finding more.  However, if any more should come light, I shall of courselet you know.

Good luck with identifying the meaning of 'CCDO', although based upon the foregoing information I do now believe that a maritime connection must surely be a distinct possibility and a likely direction for any further research?

Linking David's comments to the photograph and with the information that the family members have no recollection of William having been interned, I wonder whether William might have been recalled to England in 1940 to be involved with the prioritised work being done here to increase the supply of warships for the Royal Navy.  The photograph has all the hallmarks of being taken to commemorate his leaving office in Hong Kong.  If so, do the buildings on the photograph resemble any in one of the dockyards - Tamar, Kowloon or even Aberdeen?  Returning to 'CCDO', the 'DO' seems to fit with 'draughting office' or some such title, and I now speculate whether 'CC' might stand for 'China Command'.

In an article in the newspapers of the day of the passing of W. Redwood (Barbara's father) in 1940, the attendees at the funeral came from the Naval Dockyard. Mention is made of staff from the Drawing Office, Constructive Department and C.C. Department.


The fact that there is no obvious record or that no one seemingly knows what CCDO stands for in a group photo of well dressed gentlemen is in itself a big clue. 
As in, it's probably a mundane non-official self-titled social group photo as a memento for Uncle Billy before his return to Blighty. Something like 'Cricket Club, Drawing Office' or some other 'Club.'. 

On second thoughts, the fact they added the redundant word 'Staff' in the placard and they're well dressed (as opposed to casual for a social club photo) would suggest a work-related 'committee' as one of the 'C's.

A little reminder about the civilian status of naval dockyards may help here (see a Gwulo reference below to more on that topic). 

Moddsey's point is therefore the important one because that report in the newspaper directly referred to the naval yard's civilian organization and the existence of a CC Department.

What was that?

Happily I have a sticky memory (aka dustbin mind) and I recalled a previous Gwulo discussion at There you will note that Uwe Aranas asked a question anent a newspaper clipping from Borneo. This was answered in part with a map from David dated 1911 (see also in which, if you zoom in, you will see on the east side of the dry dock the "Chief Constructor's Workshops".

The Chief Constructor was a title bestowed on the chaps in each dockyard, who used to be known, pre-1875, as the "Master Shipwrights" - i.e. the chaps in charge of building and fixing ships. It was also the title of one of the elements of the main, London HK organization of naval dockyards as that existed, in its varying forms, until 1969. In the wondrous manner of bureaucracies, and especially the British military's civilian elements, pretty much at the same time as Master Shipwright became Chief Constructor, the TITLE "Chief Constructor" morphed into "Manager, Constructive Department" although, as we can see from the newspaper story and the map, the use of "Chief Constructor" as the name of what should have been the "Constructive Department", endured. That's probably because "Chief Constructor" continued as a title of an office and a department in London.

If you look at the 1962 organogram of the incessantly mucked about (whoops, intelligently reorganized on sound managerial principles) RN dockyard system, you will see that the Office of the Chief Constructor had continued as part of the Director-General Dockyards and Maintenance until that post was abolished in 1964. In 1969 that whole load of historical baggage was jettisoned with the spinning off of the dockyards under a new Chief Executive, Royal Dockyards. Ah well.

So, as a hunch, what we may have here is the Chief Constructor's Department Office staff as they were in 1940.


WOW!  Thank you all for coming up with such a satisfactory soloution to the problem of CCDO. Your knowlege and perseverance in seeking out answers to seemingly minor questions is a constant reminder of how dedicated a team David B. has pulled together in recording even the minute details of the history of Hong Kong.  As neither David Green nor David Stone have been able to follow the detective work first hand, I shall try to copy all the comments in this thread and forward them to both these Davids.  I know that David Stone, an ex military man who is now an author specialising in military history, will be very grateful to have an answer to his family's question.

A final thought - is anyone able to  say where the photograph was taken.  Logically it was on the premises of the Naval Dockyard so perhaps somewhere there might be a photograph showing those same buildings.

Keep up the good work.  Andrew S

I realize I failed to address the suggestions that the 'D' related to the specialist occupation of draughtsman, so offering a possibility the the 'DO' was the 'Draughtsman's (or) Drawing Office".

My inclination to exclude that is that, within the complex naval dockyard administrative hierarchy of the hierarchy's Dockyard Division, there was a separate department, the Draughtsman's Department, with its gaffer, the Chief Draughtsman with his Office of the Chief Draughtsman, which had rather commandeered that use of 'D'.

Of course that doesn't definitively rule out that the CCDO in HK's naval yard in 1940 was the Chief Constructor's Draughtsman's/Drawing Office, just makes it less probable.

The Chief Constructor at the Naval Yard in 1940 was Mr G.W.R. McCammon (SCMP, 01-05-1940, p.5 - naval wedding, and SCMP, 7-6-1940, p.2, advert for caulkers). He had been Chief Constructor in HK since at least 1938 (see SCMP, 18-06-1938, p.2), before that being the Senior Constructor at the new Singapore Naval Base, (SCMP, 26-08-1936, p.21).

It turns out that G.W.R. McCammon MBE had been appointed to Hong Kong on 11th March 1938 in an acting capacity, and his deputy, a Constructor, L.T. Carter, Esq., BSc, had been appointed on 27-01-1939 (both details, The Navy List, Bi-monthly, Feb 1941, p.892). 

George William Richardson McCammon had been appointed an Assistant Constructor 1st Class at Chatham Dockyard on 27 November 1912, by which time (see below), he was 28, married and a father. He had been awarded the MBE in the 1918 King's New Year's honours list, civil division, "for services connected to the war in France, Salonika and Egypt" (Supplement to the London Gazette, 7-01-1919). His obituary appeared in the Journal of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors' Association, vo. 27, 1953.

He had been born in 1884, in Eastney, Portsmouth, UK to James McCammon and Jessie Maud Jenkins Richardson. In 1910, in Chatham, he had married Winfred Emily Rayner and in 1911 their only child, Eileen Rayner McCammon had been born. Although by inference from the obit, McCammon survived the war (how and where I don't know) the date and location of Mrs McCammon's demise I haven't traced. 

Neither McCammon's nor Carter's names are still in the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors roll in the Navy List in 1945.

For those officials to have had a department they ran, see the curious story from Singapore, SCMP, 30-01-1941, p7, of an ex-Admiral and Governor of Fiji's son, one Thurston, being done for petty theft, who worked in the  "Chief Constructor's Department" in Singapore, so by inference there was one in HK too.

William Joseph Webber (Jan 1888 (I think Stoke Damerel) -?), as far as I can work out was the youngest son of John Webber (c.1851-1927), an ex-foreman of joiners, HM Dockyard, Devonport (whose father William Treary Webber (1816-1870) had served 22 years with the RN), and Hannah (Viggers) Webber (both of Cornish origin).

William J was one of five children (1 girl, Elizabeth, b. c.1880 in 1901 working in a milliner's; 3 boys, Frederick, b.1877 (in 1901 a commercial accountant); John Francis 1885; William Joseph 1888; and the youngest Herbert James (1889-1986)). In 1911 only William J and his brother, John Francis, were still at home. Both worked at the dockyard, John Francis (1885-?) was a "Draughtsman (fitter, ship)" and William Joseph (Jan 1888-1969) a "Draughtsman (shipwright)". Not sure what the parenthetical qualifications imply. The probability is that draughtsmen specialized in the drawings for the bits and pieces of specialist parts of the ship. William J married Elizabeth Ann Lamerton (1882-1970) in Devonport in the October to December quarter, 1923.

In general I think dockyard workers were in reserved occupations during both WW1 and WW2, shipbuilding and repair being high priority needs. There is no record of a William Joseph Webber who served in the RN in WW1, and there is no army medal card in his name, so he pretty certainly didn't serve.



The location of the photo is possibly the North West corner of the North Barracks building in the Dockyard complex. This is mainly due to the set of stairs in the background with the half landing.

On the below map the North Barracks are middle left, labeled Main Offices & Residences: the stairway is an attachment on the north west corner with a 90 degree turn at the top. The tree on the right of the picture also matches to the map as well as the verandah/cut through on the left of the picture. The many building around the stairs are labeled offices, so I would assume the CCDO would be based in this area and this corner is a convenient, close to the office spot to take department photos. 

Dockyard 1950s upload.jpg
Dockyard 1950s upload.jpg, by Crown Lands & Survey Office

Terrific...and thank you because that also, I think, answers a question that has resulted from my work with Shun Chi-ming and Willie Yip Tsan-pong on the HK meridian marks. In that work we mention (which I've looked at in more detail elsewhere) the USS Palos Palos Pier, a masonry pier built for the transit instrument used in the establishment, by electrical signal using the submarine telegraph cable, of HK's longitude in 1881. 

I'd discovered in an SCMP op ed. piece from the 1930s (doing other work on HMS Tamar's figurehead (article forthcoming - the only RN ship ever known to have changed sex) that showed with a photo that, at least until the 1930s, the Palos Pier had been preserved.

I think your detailed 1956-57 map shows that it survived WW2 and the post-war period only to succumb, in the transformation of the closed naval yard and Wellington Barracks-become-HMS Tamar, to HK's history indifferent civil engineers, who clearly bulldozed it, probably into the old dry dock as part of the fill. 

For, if I am right, not far from where you deduce the CCDO photo to have been taken, there is an open space with, in the middle, a 'monument' marked. This seems to me (haven't done the necessary detailed work) to be pretty much where Palos Pier stood, arguing that until only 65 or so years ago a monument to a key moment in HK's surveying, mapping and time history still existed.

No one at the time cared of course (or probably would now unless caught in time). Boring old stuff. Bulldoze it.


Thanks Stephen.

I am a bit out on a limb here, tryng to tie in information in emails that I have received from David Stone with your and other comments on Gwulo.  Things have become rather confused as David's account of his Uncle Billy do not tie in with those that you have researched and he tells me that the family records are good.  So, I am confused and suggest that I shall now stick to the more recent comment by Herostratus regarding the location of the photograph and the latest photograph from David showing William standing on the gangplank of a ship moored alongside one of the Kowloon Warves. As David Stone is not familiar with Gwulo, I have been copying and forwarding the correspondence about William to him and hope to continue this if my brain stays intact!  Best wishes,  Andrew

Thank you Herostratus.

What an amazing section of the map!  I think that you have probably identified the location of the photograph.  The building and tree fit the map very well and as you point out the location would make for an excellent spot to have the photograph taken.  I shall now try to pass all this information, along with the comments on his other photograph that shows William standing on the gangplank to David S.  Thank you for all your help.  Incidentally, I think that the map shows that the old building just visible in the backgrond of Peter Keeley's photogarph taken showing the shop signTADPOLE AH YUEN was probably one of the following Nelson, Howe, Wardroom or Blake blocks as shown on the map, but the angle of the photogarph needs to be checked out mor accurately.  Linking comments relating to two different threads is rather tricky! Regards Andrew

Thanks Andrew. It's the usual I suspect - some collateral rellie finding stuff not all of which is kosher (my source was, hence the confusion. The 1911 census data seems pretty solid though, since all the names and details tally. I've bumped into similar problems before, so just disregard where better data is available.

It's a bother that the juniors never have the salience in source material that their bosses have unless they do something that draws attention. Hence knowing about the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors 'officers' McCammon and Carter (even though they were civvies they appear in The Navy List), but not about the chaps who worked for them.


H.M. Dockyard Staff, Hong Kong, 1937.
H.M. Dockyard Staff, Hong Kong, 1937., by Adrian F
Drawing Office, Murray Barracks.
Drawing Office, Murray Barracks., by Adrian F

I have been reading all the comments with great interest and thought I would add a bit more fuel to the fire!  A few years ago I purchased a 1937 photograph of the Naval Dockyard Staff, or at least the senior staff members, the general dockyard workers were obviously not included in this group photo. Whilst I realise that military postings are only of a few years duration and the ''CC DO Staff'' photo dates to 1940 no person in the latter photo appears in the 1937 photo. What is also noticeable in the 1937 group are the very few local chinese staff members present.

I have no idea if the ''CC DO'' 1940 photo relates to the Naval Dockyard Drawing Office or not, but I will make a few observations. The detailed plan of the dockyard indicates all the functions of the various buildings even down to the latrines, but no mention of a Drawing Office. But if you cross over Queens Road to Murray Barracks there is a Drawing Office!

As I understand it the Naval Dockyard was more of a repair facility rather than new construction of vessels. How many drawing office staff would be required just for ship repair?  What is also noticable when comparing the two photos is the lack of at least one Naval man in full uniform who is involved in the department. It would be surprising if the Navy just left it all to civilians to get on with the job.

Just for the record my late father was a civilian ships surveyor working for the British Government who spent a total of nine years in Hong Kong looking after the British Army vessels, landing craft, fast launches etc.  On many occasions as a young lad I used to go with him to the various shipyards in H.K. and witness the work of the highly skilled men involved in all aspects of this heavy engineering.


Mr William Joseph Webber departed Hong Kong in late August 1940 on board S.S. Narkunda and arrived in Liverpool, UK 29th October 1940. Given the group of men were all dressed cosily in shirts, ties, sweaters and blazers etc, it would have to be a 'cold day' in HK and not the height of summer, so likely the group photo was taken in the first few months of 1940. 

Thank you for your interesting comments about William Joseph Webber.  I have forwarded them to David Stone.  Andrew

I have been asked by David Stone, who started this thread with his enquiry about CCDO, to thank you all for you contributions.  The Gwulo team is a good one!  This is the email that he sent to me:


As you are already aware, a considerable amount of updated, recently consolidated and well-researched information concerning the 'CCDO STAFF 1940 HONG KONG' enquiry has now come to light. All of this evidence about William J Webber and his wider family - irrespective of whether it has been documentary, factual, tentative or speculative - has been informative, fascinating and most enlightening!

Consequently, this is an appropriate moment at which to pass on my sincere thanks to you and the 'Gwulo team' for the time and effort so generously expended on this matter over the last few weeks. The clear interest and informed enthusiasm in seeking to resolve this query have been much appreciated, as well as proving thoroughly productive.

Accordingly, I should be most grateful if you would please forward my thanks to all those who have been involved in researching and otherwise contributing to this matter.

Best wishes,

David Stone