Illustrated London News-bombing of Hong Kong

Fri, 01/19/2018 - 19:05

A page spread from an original Illustrated London News dated February 1942.

Some of these images of the bombing around Kai Tak we have seen before in various qualities and from a number of sources.

The people on the page are CNAC pilot Hugh Chen and mechanic Lee Taylor, the last to fly out before the airport was over-run by Japanese troops. Taylor’s face has been scarred by acid from bombs that dropped through the hangar’s roof. They successfully navigated their way to “Free China” using the 10- cent ‘toy’ compass they are looking at, avoiding marauding Japanese fighter aircraft on the way.

In a time, long before the internet, its interesting how such “on-the-spot” high quality images could have reached the Illustrated London News so relatively soon after the event.

These do not appear to be “wire” transmitted pictures that were an early means of transferring images long distances. These usually show distinct ‘lines’ or ‘bands’ similar to old TV screen images.

Date picture taken
26 Feb 1942


That's a great set of photos, thanks.

I guess copies must have been sent out of Hong Kong on one of the last CNAC planes, and made their way on from China back to London. Quite a journey!

This link gives more background to the Kai Tak images.

Although they are attributed to Harrison Forman in the Illustrated London News and elsewhere, he was not the person who actually took the pictures.

The link also mentions that the pictures were conveyed by Pan American Airways to the USA although by this time the airline's service to the USA had been severed by the fall of Hong Kong.

More likely they were sent in one of the many transport aircraft flying over "The Hump" to India from Western China and then onwards to the USA