Peninsula Hotel airport bus-11 December 1937

Mon, 04/04/2016 - 16:25

The right-hand side of this photograph reveals just the front of the Hong Kong & Shanghai Hotel’s {Peninsula} airport bus at Kai Tak.

A picture of the whole vehicle with its airline signboards has yet to be found.

The related microfilmed newsprint has been transcribed below.


SCMP 11 December 1937


Further facilities for Air Travellers to Hong Kong

Arrivals on the Clipper from America and Manila tomorrow will be the first to use a new motor coach which has been provided by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels for transporting air liner arrivals to and from Kai Tak to the Peninsula Hotel and the Star Ferry.

The coach, which is a 25-passenger Bedford, is a similar, though larger edition of the present buses run by the Hotel company. It is distinctive in appearance, however, being painted in a pleasant blue and silver, while inside it is furnished with air cushion seats and has rugs on the floor. There is provision for a large amount of baggage to be carried on the roof.

The coach is also provided with slots in the side into which boards bearing the names of the airways companies using it may be slid.


Also related to &

Date picture taken
11 Dec 1937


I should imagine it highly likely that this is the bus that businessman Jan Marsman boarded to go to Kai Tak aerodrome on the morning of 8 Dec 1941.

Marsman, whose family owned wolfram (tungsten) mines in the New Territories, was a millionaire who was in HK staying at the Peninsula on business when the Japanese attacked the Colony. He had arranged an early call on 8 Dec to catch the Pan Am clipper to fly to the USA, but something went wrong and he didn't receive the call.

He was subsequently late boarding the hotel bus and he describes the other passengers glowering at him when he finally made an appearance. However, whilst on the way to Kai Tak aerodrome they not only heard about but witnessed the Japanese attack, which resulted in the Pan Am clipper being shot up (and / or bombed) at its mooring. As a result, those passengers never made it to the clipper, which was subsequently destroyed at its mooring with no passengers on board.

I don't know what happened to the crew.

Marsman was convinced, (and stated it unequivocally in his book), that had they made it to the clipper they would all have been killed - either shot down in the air or at the mooring.

He was not interned in Stanley, claiming Filipino nationality on very dubious grounds. However, he escaped from HK whilst the Japanese were investigating his nationality claims. Undoubtedly internment would have followed had he stayed in HK much longer.