Where was Royal Engineers HQ in HK 1955?

Submitted by Virginia J on Fri, 10/28/2016 - 14:46

Good afternoon all.

Am on brief and unexpected visit to HK, staying above Sha Tin in the New Territories. Have just received long letter from my 86-year old mother recalling her life here with my father and my older sister between 1955 and 1958. Am trying to locate a couple of the places she mentions but there are info gaps in her story after 60 years...

She writes about living in a bungalow in the New Territories where it took my father - Lt Col John Jealous - about half an hour to get to work (at the combined RE and Gurkha barracks/HQ I think?) 'close to the border' which was patrolled by tanks.

If anyone has any idea where this was and if it still exists (the barracks, I mean, not the bungalow) do please let me know! Am in HK until Tues 1 Nov. No local phone contact, pls reply to this post.

Many thanks! Virginia

I'm not exactly sure, but Fred Evans was in Hong Kong at that time and was a soldier in tanks. He was based at Shek Kong, see http://gwulo.com/shek-kong-army-camp-barracks

If your mum is online, you could ask her to look at the list of military sites in the New Territories listed at http://gwulo.com/node/33573 in case the names or photos ring a bell.

Good luck, and please let us know how you get on.

Regards, David

Thanks for prompt response David.

Someone has also just suggested the old barracks next to what is now Gold Quest BBQ area at Tuen Mun. Correlates with 'near a fishing village' and across from Lantau where they went at weekends. 30 mins from border fence. Does anyone know if there are still barracks (old or in use) there? Glad for any futher hints...


Thanks for comments.

I emailed my mother and a description of Tuen Mun/Castle Peak prompted her to remember:

"a nice hotel on the hill opposite the village. and right behind our house and garden, with a tortoise of a very great age and huge to boot - people would come specially to see it!!!!!"

Has to be Dragon Inn, built in 1939, I reckon. I'll go Tuen Mun on Tuesday 1 Nov for a look around the area.

If anyone knows of any old bungalows still existing there, or remnants of, please let me know. (And/or do join me there for a couple of hours fossicking around.)

Cheers, Virginia


You can get a good idea of the terrain where Perone Barracks was here


Go to Full View, then Zoom in.

Perone Barracks is hidden in the trees

Dragon Inn is just off to the extreme right and below, in the panorama image, see also


The lights on the cone shaped hill in the foreground are from the Dragon Inn.

Low rise apartments lined the old Castle Peak Road towards to seafront

There should be other images available of the Dragon Inn by searching on gwulo



If your parents were living in Army Barracks, the two nearest camps to the Dragon Inn were Cafeteria Camp and Tai Lam Camp, which later changed its name to Perowne Camp/Barracks. Perhaps your mum remembers them? Though it sounds as though they may have lived in a private bungalow?

Good luck with tomorrow's hunt. Please let us know if you find any matches.

Regards, David

A quick follow-up note...

Had chat with a member of Dragon Inn staff who's worked there for 40 years. Interesting talk but no revelations. Old photos in the lifts show the place in the early 1960s, so pretty much as my family would've known it.

At 118 Castle Peak Rd two 'old' style houses are visible through the trees. Chatted with the caretaker and then, luckily, a bloke drove up who lives there. He told me they are two of four 1970s houses on the block of land, and that up the driveway behind those four is an older colonial bungalow in ruins (overgrown, roof fallen in) that is privately owned, fenced off and not possible to see. By his reckoning that would be about 100m as the crow flies from Dragon Inn, so a good candidate for my family's house or at least similar in age. He suggested a walk up the next road on the left (which dead-ends overlooking Dragon Inn) to peer over the edge and see if I could pick out the old house. No joy, even with binoculars, way too overgrown. Pity.

Had been told of two old ruined bungalows up near Harrow School above CP Rd but couldn't find them - roadside is a construction site at the mo and it was simply too hard.

Nothing useful at the barracks, though had nice chat with Crossroads staff.

Enjoyed the quiet weekday beach, the fishing boats, the cannons along the waterfront, the jetty on Tsing Bik Rd. This would look familiar to my mother, I think.

Thanks for your help and suggestions. I leave tomorrow, look forward to the next visit.


I served with 54 Independant Field Sqn RE at Tailam 1959/1960 which was then the engineer element of 48 Independant Gurkha Brigade based at Sek Kong. 54 Sqn was formed out of 24 Field Engr Regt RE which ŵas disbanded in 1958. The main camp was Tailam (later part of Peroowne Barracks,) the Officers Mess was half mile up the road towards Castle Peak at Gordon Camp (which also became part of Perowne Barracks). Opposite Gordon Camp on the seaward side of Castle Peak Rd was Gordon Hard now called New Cafeteria Beach.With demise of 24 Regt there was no post for someone of Lt Col rank in the NT though therewsu a CRE attached to CBF staff in Hong Kong.From the Mess you could see Lantau and the Brothers.


When RE took over Cafeteria Camp it was probably rapidly renamed after General Gordon (Gordon of Khartoum, also known as Chinese Gordon) one of the most revered of all Sappers. I trained as an RE officer at Gordon Barracks, Gillingham and most RE establishments had a building or a road named after him.


We lived at Dunrose (18.5miles) Castle Peak Rd, flanked by Army Barracks 1950-52.  I believe they were the RE. The bungalow was the official residence of the District Officer.  Catholic Officers attended Mass at our dining room on Sundays.  Fr. McAssey SJ was Chaplain. Dunrose was opposite what became the Gold Coast Resort Hotel.


Virginia J.

I was in the RE. in Hong Kong from Feb 1959 to Aug 1960. We were stationed at Tai Lam camp which was where I beleive you may mean. It is roughly in the place which was where Perowne Barracks was later built. We were in Nissan huts whereas Perowne, I believe was concrete buildings.

Cafeteria Beach which has been mentioned several times on here seems to be in two parts, and the space between the two parts is where Gordo Hard was. Gordon Hard was our boatyard. We had several large boats with inboard engines which were used in rescuing people in flooded areas and so on. We were part of the Gurkha Infantry Brigade. The unit was 54 Independent Squadron.



I was at TaiLam camp, RE, 1959/60. As you say the Officers Mess was a little way up the road towards Tsun Wan/ Sek Kong. Our OC at that time lived in a house on the opposite side of the main road. I know this because, as a driver I had the task of ferrying some of the wives of the troops to a Coffee morning at the OC's house. This house, I'm fairly sure (it is nearly 60 years ago) was about halfway between the main camp and Gordon Hard, our boatyard.I know this is too latew for your visit but I only saw your request after you'd gone..


Hi David

I was with the Royal Engineers in Hong Kong from early 1956 until late 1959. I was staioned at Gordon Camp with 56 Field Squadron, part of 24 Field Engineer Regiment, and later with 54 Independant Squadron when the regiment returned to blighty in July 1957.

The regiment was made up of HQ which was housed in the 54 Fld Sqn camp about half a mile or so down the road from 56. 56 Fld Sqn was in the Gordon Hard camp with 15 Fld Pk Sqn. We were part of the 48th Gurkha Infantry Brigade

I have quite a number of photos of my stay in the New Territories and when I find how to include them I will.

I note that in a reply you say that you have updated the page for that camp. I would appreciate it if you could bring me up to date on the page and where it is.

You will also find me on Face Book under my name Bill Purcell.




Hi Bill,

Good to hear from you, and we'll enjoy seeing your views of Hong Kong in the 50s. Here's how to upload a photo to the site: https://gwulo.com/node/2076

Here's the page for Gordon Camp: https://gwulo.com/node/33253 If you can add any memories of the site in the comments there, they'll be gratefully received.

And here are some more military sites from the 50s you may remember: https://gwulo.com/node/33573

Regards, David


I was connected to 54 Sn from Sept 59 to end Sept 60. I was attached to HQ Troop and worked with Spike Winn, and lived in the Officers Mess oppposite Gordon Hard. About half my working time was spent with the DCRE West at Sek Kong. I did odd jobs and a long detachment with the Sn, I did the occasional Orderly Officer, did the high speed march from Star Ferry as part of the Squadron team, and helped out (?) with signals. As I was not a troop commander only a limited number of members of the Sn knew me. SSM Abbot knew me in the way SSM’s know and love junior officers, and I remember Spr Stubbs who drove me fairly regularly. I can remember 3 Corporals and a Rhodesian Lance Corporal who worked with me, in particular on the detachment to Ap Chau / So Lo Pun on the top north east corner of the New Territories, though their names now escape me. Obviously I knew the Officers who were around at the time, Spike Winn, Gerald Blakey, John Palmer, Ian Dickinson, Andrew Wade and Francis Walker. Andrew, Francis and I were National Service. It was all a very long time ago in a very different world.


Thanks for your reply. I'm sure we have 'spoken' before (on another website) where we have used different names. Can you confirm that the OC's house was where I said, on the other side of what was then the main road in the area between the main camp and Gordon hard? 


Odd though it may sound I was never aware of (or have completely forgotten) the location of the OCs lodgings. I was aware that there were a number of Army hirings in the Tai Lam / Castle Peak area but that is as far as it goes.


my father served in 54 as a plant opp, we lived in flats off camp and i was born in Bowen road hospital 14th August 1960, my father served in Korea and went to the malaya crisis from Hong Kong. he also worked on the preperation of the atomic bomb testing where they were crushing on the island to prepare for the works, i also believe he was present when one of the tests took place as i can remember him telling me that he was ordered not to look at the light and sit down in his shorts and no shirt.

my father passed away 11 years ago now, he left the corp in 1972 where his last post was training sergeant at the ponderosa in chattenden barracks plant park. I know this is a long shot but i have very little in the way of information or photos of him as he never spoke to much about his service although he served 22 years. any information would be greatly received many thanks.


Robert Evans sgt 33 engr reg EOD.

We lived in a bungalow in Sanhui- 20 1/4 mile castle peak rd. It was up a lane and there were about 4 or five bungalows on the right hand side. My father was in the army and looked after the boast at Gordon Hard. This was 1960-1962


My late grandpa used to work at the British Officers' Mess at Perowne Barracks in the 60s. (it's likely to be "Silk Road Cafe". With the power of the World Wide Web I cannot believe I got some surprising facts from users in this community! https://gwulo.com/comment/51549#15/22.3754/113.9919/Map_by_ESRI-Markers/100

Captain D.M. Roberts (54/55 Gurkha Independent Field Squadron) had personally written a reference letter to my grandpa (https://i.imgur.com/bL3leAa.jpg). I also have two photos of him with the officers :) 


Not sure if the information is of any help but I do hope so!



I can't say I knew your father well, but I'm sure I know who you mean. I was in Tai Lam as a driver and I drove the Kowloon LOP's(living out personel) down into Kowloon at the end of each day and back to camp early next day. As I say I was in MT troop and Taff was in Plant Troop but I do recognise him in your photo. I also met him when the squadron built a mockup of the loading bay of an aircraft on Sek Kong airfield so they could practice loading and unloading equipment after the move to Borneo, which happened after I finished my NS time.

Not really any help with your search for photos but the one you uploaded reminded me of those wayoff times.


Chihawk, sorry it's me again, but I've been trying to remember the OC's name who was therte when I first got to Tai Lam. He was a Major but he left after a while and the post was taken, temporarly, by Capt. Morrison, but the Major's name has escaped me and I am trying to help a colleague with some research he has been doing.



Thanks for that, I obviously got it all wrong. Maybe the OC went away for a while and came back again. I remembered CApt. Morrison because he collared me to drive hin to Sek Kong swimming pool in a Land Rover, I usually drove a 3-tonner. When we got to Sek Kong it turned out to be a water polo match he was taking part in. He said to me ''We are a man short in my team and Capt. Wynne told me you are in the squadron swimming team so get changed and join us for the match''. I had no idea of the rules, nor how rough they could get and at times thought I was being drowned by members of the other team. He never asked for me again so he must not have been impressed. Problem was I only swam breast stroke and against freestyle swimmers that is not good.


I was in 54 ind. fld sq. in 1959/60 and Lt. Blakey, as he was then, joined us replacing 2nd Lt. Wade. He was allotted to HQ/ MT troop which I was in being a driver. He was very popular with the lads as he was reasonably friendly towards us all. I remember he organised a trip on the squaron's chinese junk which was kept at Gordo Hard, the boatyard just up the road from Tai Lam camp where we 'lived'. The trip was a visit to see a French company who were building a large reservoir to help with the water shortages that Kowloon had every summer. The French were really organised to the extent they had their families along with the workers and had a real 'village' on site including a club house and a school for the children. 

We spent the evening in the club house (obviously) and most of our lads had a lot to drink, so much that most of us swam back to the junk still fully dressed. 

During the evening I wasintroduced to a lot of the French people, mainly because Lt. Blakey and I were the only ones who spoke French which wentdown well with the 'locals'.

Lt. Blakey was not a stand off sort of officer and if we had to build a Bailey Bridge to bypass one washed away in a typhoon he rolled his sleeves up and got stuck in with the rest of us.

I know you asked for people who went to Borneo, But that was where the squadron were to go next. We were told it was to build an airfield and docks but I don't know if that is what happened. 

I was used as a driving instructor in the daytime, with instruction that ''we need as many as possible to be able to drive', not necessarily to driving test standard but to be able to move things around during the job. 

 I understood that Lt. Blakey came to us following a posting with the French Foreign Legion as an explosives expert, again only hearsay.


Hi Teejay, thank for the info and a bit about you and Lt Blakey. Our book in progress about history of Kota Belud and Tamparuli, heard of it? Tamparuli?

For those who served in Kota Belud and Malaya after Japanese invasion in WW2. Thank you so much! You and other units working hard to regenerate roads, bridge, airstrips after Japanese invaded.

We are from North Borneo never forget and never will. Not only 54 Independent, RAAF, 11Independent Field Squadron etc.

By the way, heard about tragedy of Tamparuli in 1960? Two British soldier's, Cooper and Hall were drowned and the lady from Kampung Sayap Kota Belud.



I have now retired (not surprisng at 86!) and live in Yorkshire.  I was in 54 for over three years andwent with it to build an airfield at Kota Belud.  Whilst there, my troop was detached  to the other other side  of the embryo airfield, away from the OC with whom I did not get on very well, so I consewuently called our location Paradise Camp.  The name stuck and a small village sprang up over the years, still called Paradise Camp.  My wife and I visited it three years ago.  The airfield and additional buildings are now the site of a sizeable Malasian military establishment.

I served in the army for 33 years, including in the Falkand Islands during Op Corporate - several re-unions this year for its 40th aniversary;  I left the army in 1985 and worked in West and Central Africa fo r27 years.

Gerald Blakey

Hi, not sure if this is the right place for this question but does anyone remember my father Maj Terry Steadman? We went to Hk on the Empire Fowey in 1955 and flew back via India in 1957 or '58, we were housed at Dover Castle for a while before moving to Hermitage near Newberry.  My father was a boy soldier and arrived in England from India when he was very young. He served in India during Partition and then South Korea. Any info would be much appreciated, it's too late to ask all the questions one should have asked when they have gone. 

Anyone remember Henry Qualtrough RE, bomb disposal man and rugby referee.

After  Gordon Hard was closed the mess moved to Victoria Road on the island for a short time before the building was taken over by the police perhaps at the time of the Borneo problems.

My father was a very private man who spoke little about his life and it was only after he passed away that I discovered photographs which I would love to have been able to talk about. I cannot add much to your knowledge about your father other than I believe he and my father were brothers! My father's name was Hector Staunton Steadman and he too was born in India and my second christian name is Terrence. 

My only contact with your father would have been at the funeral of our grandmother Mrs E M Davey who died in Greenwich Hospital.