William Joseph Webber at Hong Kong docks

Thu, 10/21/2021 - 22:45

David Stone kindly allowed me to upload this photograph of his Uncle Billy (Willian Joseph Webber) standing at the top of a ship's gang plank.  I suspect that the ship was moored alongside one of the Kowloon jetties but have not checked out the outline of the distant hills.  It could be at the shipyard at Taikoo but as far as I know passenger vessels did not sail from Taikoo. The people on the quayside are clearly there to wave farewell to some passengers and it is thought that the photograph was taken in 1940.  This is probably the year when William returned to England to continue his important work as a draughtsman in the Royal Naval dockyards at Plymouth or Portsmouth.  His skills would have been much called for during that period of the war, particularly in England, whereas Hong Kong was still not immediately threatened.  So, was the photograph taken as he was about to enter the ship or was he perhaps there to say farewell to another person making the voyable?  Both are possibilities.  Is he holding his hat ready to put it on before going back ashore?  My guess is that he was seeing somebody off, and having heard the usual siren warning visitiors to clear the ship he was about to go.  More importantly, can anyone confirm that the vessel is lying alongside one of the piers roughly where the Ocean terminal now is?

Date picture taken


The picture is looking south from the Kowloon Wharves, with HK island in the distance. From the number of ships in the picture its probably one of the more northern wharves closer to the Torpedo Depot/Kowloon Naval Yard. Technically the most northern pier was not part of the Kowloon Wharves complex but its not clear to me exactly which pier the ship is moored at.  

My hunch would be No.2. The ship two over looks to be on the south side of No.1 with the clock tower of the KCR immediately forward of its funnel (I think). I haven't done a drawing, but the relative angles would suggest the ship WJW looks like he is just leaving from (he looks like he's answering someone on board) is closer to the end of the peninsula than further up. 

Just a hunch.