BAAG stand down, 31 December 1945, Lindsay Tasman Ride

Sun, 08/02/2020 - 16:45

This is the original of a circular sent by Sir Lindsay Ride to each BAAG member on 31 December 1945 upon the end of the BAAG era. Note that it was personally addressed to my father Leung Chung-Yee. I would image he would have done it for every member of the group.

Date picture taken
31 Dec 1945



The day that I have rather dreaded for some time, the day when I write you my last letter as your Commandant, has now arrived. It is often said that no one can consciously do a thing for the last time without a tinge of regret; how true that is I know full well to-day. But fortunately there is more in life than regrets, more room in our hearts than for the mere sadness of farewell.

To those of you who shared the heavy burden of laying the foundations of the B.A.A.G. early in 1942, I can only say that time and results have proved how well and truly you carried out your task; to those of you who joined us later and who carried on the work so successfully, I want to offer my thanks and my congratulations. We cannot claim, like the armies and armadas of this war, to have altered the destiny of nations nor to have even shortened the conflict in our own little area; but nevertheless we can make this modest claim that although the B.A.A.G. was a wartime machine— and a valuable one too—the results of its work will not and must not end with the coming of peace. You lived and worked for 4 years in the closest contact with our Chinese and American Allies; you shared the results and the discomforts of their reverses, you shared with them the fruits of their victories; you tended the Chinese wounded and sick, in famine you fed their helpless and starving; you came to know the full measure of their lavish hospitality and you learned to understand and appreciate their point of view. As a result of all this you built up a fellowship with Hong Kong’s neighbours that will not easily be made to cease bearing fruit; therein lies the lasting value of your labours which were performed in a world where international understanding and goodwill are so essential and yet so rare. This was achieved because you first learned to understand and appreciate your fellow workers inside the B.A.A.G. Chinese, Portuguese. Indians, British; Navy, Army, Air Force; officers and other ranks; civilians and services; as a result of the unity of effort derived from these varied and diverse sources there gradually emerged an organisation which provided an outstanding example of what can be achieved by brotherly concord between men of different races with different customs and different outlooks.

At midnight to-night, as the B.A.A.G. joins the ranks of things past, it will be but natural for us to pause and relive some of the days that have been. I shall look back on these four years with three main thoughts uppermost in my mind. Firstly the wonderful esprit de corps and spirit of cameraderie you built up amongst all ranks, amongst all nationalities. This tided us over many a weary and troublesome period and itself was responsible for much of your success. Secondly, basically the B.A.A.G. was a Hong Kong effort. It was Hong Kong’s sons and daughters who were the real B.A.A.G., and the rest of us are more than proud to have been associated with you when you won your spurs. With those of you who worked in free territory, I shall think of the early days in Kukong, the development of your work in the East River and Toishan areas; of the important days of expansion in Kweilin; of the recruiting, training and despatch to India of the China Unit; of your care of Chinese wounded and sick and of your humanitarian work in time of famine; of the long and weary four months evacuation of hundreds of souls over hundreds of miles of Chinese roads from Kweilin to Kunming; of your demolition operations during the enemy advance on Kweilin and Liuchow and of your work in Canton after the surrender; these form but part of your record of which you have every reason to be proud. With those of you who voluntarily endured the untold dangers of working in enemy territory, I shall never cease to marvel at your long sustained bravery and the calibre of your work, things which cannot be adequately described in mere words. I shall cherish the hallowed memory of those of our number who paid the supreme sacrifice for their loyalty and devotion to the cause; I shall remember in sympathy the bereaved.

Thirdly—and this I look on as being by no means the least outstanding—your achievements in time of adversity of which we all had more than our fair share; it is easy to produce good results when fortune is smiling on one’s efforts, but to work better than ever throughout the dark days of despair, disappointment and defeat is the hallmark of a great team. That is my summing up, you were a great team and in every real sense of the word, a unit.

And now, as the B.A.A.G. stands down, my regrets are more than compensated for by the knowledge that you will embark on your new and several tasks with a confidence born of achievement and with that same spirit of devoted service that you so consistently displayed in war; and may your labours be as successful, your courage as high and your determination as steadfast as they were with the B.A.A.G. I can think of no greater or more appropriate New Year wish than that.

To you, one and all, “Well done, thank you and farewell.”

<Handwritten: Leung Chung Yee>   

<Signed: L. T. Ride>

Commandant, B.A.A.G.

B.A.A.G. HQS.,
31st Dec., 1945.