F. W. WRIGHT (aka BAAG No. 41 / Shiner / Shinah) [????-????] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

F. W. WRIGHT (aka BAAG No. 41 / Shiner / Shinah) [????-????]

F. W.
Alias / nickname: 
BAAG No. 41 / Shiner / Shinah

F W Wright was interned at Stanley, but escaped and went on to join the BAAG in China.



Colonel L T Ride, 1944:  "From November 1942 to March 1944, Captain Wright has been in charge of our Forward Post at Samfou.  He set up`this post at a time when the prestige of the British Army in this area was at a very low level.  By his zeal and his judicious method of dealing with our Chinese Allies, Captain Wright has not only been able to restore our prestige in the eyes of the local authorities, but he has been ableto build up a forward post whose usefulness in our work is second only to Advanced Headquarters at Waichow.  His long and unbroken period of service there, for many monthsof which he was entirely alone, and the great help he has been to the Chinese, have formed the subject of many letters of thanks which I have received from Chinese Generals."  

From Wright's report in the BAAG pepers of his escape from Stanley:  Escaped 18th March 1942 with Epstain, Cholmondeley and Van Ess in a small rowing boat "Vanda".  Landed on a small island near Cheung Chow, where they spent some hours with friendly villagers, then hired a small junk to take them to Macao, where they eventually arrived having passed Tai.Ho en route. 

There are three entries for F W Wright in the staff lists of the China Maritime Customs (CMC)

They show him joining in October 1929 as a "Probationary Tidewaiter", and having the Chinese name "胡礼德".

They give different descriptions of how he left though:

  1. "Name removed from Service List" in December 1941. Position: "Boat Officer, B". Location: Kowloon.
  2. "Permitted to withdraw" in December 1949. Position: "Surveyor, B". Location: on leave.
  3. <no reason given> in February 1950. Position: "Assistant Surveyor, A". Location: <not given>

The first would be when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong. It appears he re-joined the CMC after the war, and continued working there until the CMC was dissolved in 1950.

Here is Colin McEwan's note about him:

"Capt (Shiner) Wright) started another advanced HQ in Samfou with his main line into Hongkong through Macao, the neutral Portuguese colony.   Shiner had, some years previously when stationed with the KOSBs, taken his discharge there and joined the Chinese Maritime Customs. He had been engaged mainly in preventive work with a mounted patrol in the Hongkong / China border area until the Japanese occupation of South China and, being in Hongkong when the Japanese took over, was interned but as a civilian, in Stanley on the island. By use of an old pleasure canoe he had managed to get away, and by a bit of island hopping had managed to get himself into Macao.

By virtue of his China Customs background Shiner, like Maxie Holroyd, spoke fluent Cantonese and knew the Canton delta really well. From Macao he had managed to get himself away to Free China, where like the rest of us, Doc Ride had laid hands on him. Shiner had suggest that in his opinion there was a potential route for small parties of escapees by the Canton delta/Macao/West River route as opposed to our Mirs Bay/Waichow/East River one. Although not in good health he returned to the Canton delta area with a radio set and a telegraphist and picked on Samfou as his base. His China Customs days had provided him excellent contacts, and in that area there was one great advantage.

It was far away from any area with Chinese regular units as, with the West River and the Canton area being under Japanese control, there was no land link with the 7th War Zone HQ at Kukong. As a result, such Chinese control as existed lay in the hands of a collection of so-called guerilla groups who had, in former times, been the organised smugglers. They, in turn, were loosely grouped under a guerilla general who was there with Chungking's blessing and was in radio contact with the 7th War Zone but, in all effects, was the local war lord."

There is some interesting correspondence about getting his family out of Macau from which I quote:

"A problem has arisen in connection with the GSI(e) [MI9] accounts.  ... It concerns expenses for the family of F W Wright.  ... We have been asked whether we consider the expenses a fair charge against GSI(e)."   "It is obviously most undesirable for the family of any BAAG  to fall into the hands of the enemy. ...  The BAAG are supposed to arrange the escapes of military personnel only. It is not part of its duties to arrange escapes if civil personnel [Foreign Office funds].   ... Getting these families out of Macao is expensive.  Can these expenses be charged against GSI(e) funds?".

Notes on  F W Wright:

June 1942 - Permission  sought by BAAG to Maritime Customs for the secondment of Wright.

31.8.1942 - letter from Wright to Ride headed 'Chief Tidesurveyor's Office, Custom House, Wuchow'.

2.11.1942 -   MOST SECRET

Orders for Capt F W Wright

1.   You are appointed Intelligence Officer for the Macao area.

2.   You will proceed to Wuchow and contact Mr Manuel Chan and take over from him all arrangements for forwarding of Chinese and Portuguese ex-Volunteers ex Macao to Kweilin.  You will bew given a letter to Mr G white of the Chinese Maritime Customs, Wuchow, who holds certain funds for this purpose.

3.   Thereafter, you will proceed, at your discretion, to Toishan or some other equally suitable centre and set up you r headquarters.

4.   Your duties will include

       (a) facilitating the entry into Free China of Service escapees, civilian internees etc ex Hong Kong and Macao;  and

         (b) )ntelligence work covering Japanese activities in Hong Kong, Macao and adjacent Japanese-occupied territories.

5.   As regards (a) above, it will be necessary for you to contact the local Chinese  Military authorities (with whom you should work in close co-operation, full confidence, and harmony), guerilla leaders etc.  It may also be necessary for you, on occasion, to contact smugglers and political groups who are not  in favour with the Chinese Government at Chungking.  With such you must avoid discussions of a political flavour and any actions which might later compromise you (and the British Government) with the Chinese Authorities.

6.   As regards (b), you will prepare and forward to Headquarters periodical (say fortnightly) Intelligence Reports and Summaries on the lines already indicated to you.  The close questioning of escapees and others passing through  your hands will form an important part of this work.

7.   Funds will be remitted to you from time to time and you will open a Banking Account in your name, at your HQ, with the local branch of either the Kwangtung Provincial Bank, the Bank of China, or other Government Banking institution.

8.   You will register your Telegraphic address (say SHINAH) with the local Telegraphic Office.  All important items of Intelligence and urgent messages will be communicated by you to HQ, and from HQ to you, by an au clair Code, copy of which will be supplied to you.

9.   You will be provided with the necessary staff to carry out your duties, viz  office staff, agents and Runners between your 'AHQ and HQ.  You are also authorised to engaage a Confidential Clerk, at your discretion, at a salary not exceeding NC$ 1000,- per month plus keep.

10.   You will keep simple accounts and render them monthly to HQ.  The Schedules should cover<:

Schedule "A" - Salaries
Schedule "B" -  Travelling Expenses
Schedule "C" - Office Expenses
Schedule "D" - Cable Expenses
Schedule "E" - Staff Living Expenses
Schedule "F" - Advances as Relief       

and so on as necessary.  Wherever possible, receipts and vouchers must be produced.

11.   You are authorised to draw your Special China allowance at NC$ 80.- (equals £1) per day, plus NC$ 60 (equals 15{-) when travelling from funds at your disposal.  Your Army Pay will be paid into your private account in India, as requested by you, less the allowance ro your wife in Macao, arrangements for which are being made by the Military Attaché.   Your messing is a charge on your own pocket but the messing of your staff is paid from the BAAG funds.

12.   The necessity for the utmost SECURITY at all tijes cannot be over emphasised.  The lives of yourself and the men under your direct charge may depend on this.

13.   You will bear in mind that you are responsible for your actions to me solely (as Officer Commanding the BAAG) and to no other authorities.

(signed) EDG Hooper  
 for Lt.Colonel, OC, British Army Aid Group.