Marksman Unit RHKP 1974 onwards. | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Marksman Unit RHKP 1974 onwards.

One Sat morning early 1974 in the Officers Mess PTS Wong Chuk Hang I heard loud gun fire. Walking up to the firing range I saw a small unit of specialist shooters going thro their training. As it followed my specialst training in the UK firearms unit I was interested and opened my mouth about certain aspects of their training/shooting that I knew wouldn't work in the real world. Thats when I met Bill Duncanson and the other members of the RHKP Marksman Unit. Putting me to the test I put 5x .223 thro each ear-lobe of the bad-man target at 100mtrs followed by 100x100 in revolver and Stirling SMG. I then joined the unit for the next 3 years going for medic and bomb disposal as my other specialist qualifications. We then experienced many adventures together which people don't know existed. If not told now then we go one by one. Others briefly Ray Shar. Yam Man Yau. Au Ting. Paul Deal and others.


Hi raycarpenter,

I remember reading a book about the history of the RHKP, and it states that the Marksman Unit is the predecessor of the Special Duties Unit (特別任務連), also known as the Flying Tigers (飛虎隊) among the locals.  Is that true?

I look forward to more of your stories!

It is nice someone remembers us. In 1974 I started up the first ever RHKPTS shooting club and upon leaving was replaced by the very able Pete Dawson. About 1978 I was approached by an English writer on the stories of the unit but at that time the work was still sensitive and nothing was divulged. But the new training I introduced to the MU became of interest and I attended Fan Ling to prove the point and teach, not only to shoot but to stay alive. (stress fire training) These units then became the SDU then later the FT.

Some time down the line the SDU thought themselves top dog as they were in the public eye whilst we were doing jobs out of sight. However Bill Duncanson (boss of the MU) got tired of the of the negative verbals now coming down from SDU so he arranged a training session with the SDU/FT at the now empty Stanley Police Station. I went inside and the FT had to come in and get me. We were using wax rounds to indicate a hit. The FT came in and in the course of the exercise I took out 24 FT officers before being ordered to take a hit because the FT moral took a dive. After this, serious consideration was given to new up to date training for FT officers and that is how the FT took off really.

Late 1976 we blew open the underground entrance to the Brit. Army war command HQ  caves in Northern Dist. 20' down and complete dark, silted up and no footprints since the war. I then helped train the unit in dark hunting terrorists techniques. The Commissioner was then considering disbanding the MU unit due to costs/politicals (we were police and not for the exclusive use of political desires) and just having one visible SDU. Our advantage was we were everywhere and we could be on site within 20 mins of call and then link up in operational 2 man and upwards units for obs. intel and action. The SDU/FT had to be mobilised from the N.T. and then they had the negligent discharge of CS gas rounds by PC's fooling around and that put the armoury out of use for the clean up.  However I digress. The Comm. and Mr. Duncanson went into the underground caves and hid. Myself and Yam Man Yau had to go in  the sort them out. Within 20 mins. In total darkness and no noise at the click of the tongue (signal) Bill switched the torch on. Yam had his revolver 12" from Bills head and I had the Comms head in one hand and the barrel of mine pressing between his eyes. The comm. went all funny and had to be helped outside where he recovered. Bill was all smiles and we got the funding. After this the Comm. always seemed to have to sit down whenever we later met.  

That then leads on to the raid of the Communist secret service base, SDU breaking down and I had to pick up 3 of them in my car, as well as the 3 of us already in there, the picking of our way thro the detection devices and the Communist boss, asleep in his room, opening his eyes and looking down the barrel of my Sterling, to the use of the Gurkas metal detectors finding their arms/expl. in buried drums. Thats it for now.

Bet you never thought RHKP had such exploits and thats why the stories have never seen the light of day. Got invited to the Royal Hong Kong Gun Club for a combat shoot. My VW beetle pulling up next to Rolls and Mercs. I had to shoot my practise course "to get to know the course in case the club members had an unfair advantage over me". My practise shoot was 37 points over their course record. I never was invited back. Stay safe.

Hi Ray, Thanks for the stories, and for the photos. (You can see Ray's photos at

Regards, David

Hi Ray,

Thank you for sharing your stories!  Taking out 24 SDU members (probably more than half of the entire unit at the time) is a major achievement!  It would be great if you can write a book about your experiences with the RHKP, as there is next to nothing about the history of elite units in the RHKP.  You may want to approach the Police Museum, or publishers like the University of Hong Kong Press.

In terms of the lineage of MU and SDU, I thought MU became SDU, but from your description it seems that they coexist.

Looking forward to more good stories from you.

The MU unit existed as capable, fully authorised "to do what you thought necessary"  1-2-3-upwards man units, they were highly trained in radical new manoeuvers. It was operational and quick and covert, on scene in an instant. The PTU was at Fan Ling and had to be mobilised. They also answered/contained emergency calls via Land Rover Patrols in the districts. Then due to the delicate nature of some of the calls the police were now called upon to attend, (terrorist) trainers at PTU realised that tactics and units similar to ours were needed to handle the fast, intense nature of some of the incidents. A fast delicate touch to finish it instead of a landrover and 6 officers arriving, standing around and being told what to do, where to go. This was the wisdom of the PTU trainers at that time. Instead of being at elitist logger heads with us over this new type of SWAT/urban unit, they invited us to Fan Ling, looked, learned and took part/training and changed and developed even more into the SDU. Beside which the curries in the Officers Mess on Friday afternoon was something you didn't miss. Then we co-existed with SDU with each unit having their own areas of expertise. If you wanted a fast surgeons knife, covert, that was us because of sheer numbers of men. If you needed areas cordoned off and contained then dealt with-with the press and public looking on then that was the SDU. (numbers again) But we were in there somewhere with them as well. In our time we were very good because even one man was a fast authorised, capable, functioning unit and that was our strength and besides no one had seen the likes of us before and no one knew we existed. Hope this helps. 

Opps Sorry C, In answer to your comment above "taking out 24" etc. above. It wasn't a boast/achievement at all. It brought shock to the elitist attitude of the PTU senior training staff at the time, but most of all it highlighted the failing of the Police PTU training at the time to adopt/answer the new urban terrorist/ robber/threat /nature/ techniques now appearing on the street and the existing, plodding, mundane nature of regimented tactics taught by the old school. Officers were changed at the PTU (thank god) they mixed with us and they learnt. The above SDU officers were considering, We are the elitist SDU and if one baddie can take out 24 in one go whats going on that we are so vunerable. This was the point Bill Duncanson was trying to make out to them and he did. He didn't let on about my UK training, as given to the MU he just said to me, "now is your chance, show me what you can do". so I did and even he changed his training. As the Israel military say "Adopt, Adapt, Improve". and they did. Both MU and SDU and thats what you have today. Interesting isn't it.

Ghosts...A little story. 1974-on. The shooting range at PTS is at the side of the drill square and when the trainee PCs did night guard duty on the gates and grounds they became concerned and then frightened over strange ghost noises and whisperings coming from the range area. So much so they wouldn't venture there to patrol and the sightings of ghosts and frightening experiences became more and more vivid with stories of dead mutilated policemen haunting the range. We visited and stuck our noses in and found the noises only came on the nights following a shooting training session at PTS.   Invisible and cam'ed up at night we discovered that the ghosts and noises were the local people from Wong Chuk Hang Estate climbing over the security fence roping down to the range displaying horrific ghosts costumes and effects and all the while sifting the backstop sand for the lead bulletsto be used as scrap metal. We used some of our own mild special effects on them and had a word and it stopped. That put an end to The ghosts of PYS range but the PCs still only went there in 2 or 3 men patrols. You can never be too sure with ancesters. Enjoy that? Who would have known/remembered a simply story like that yet history, it did happen.

Being an old Tiger at Kowloon Zoo and finding the cage door open invites one to go for a stroll and meet the locals. As it was a nice day in the nearby park area and with the locals running off and leaving you alone it was time for a rest. Marksman Unit was tasked with the capture job. As it was a police open fire situation in public, Al Chimino (Force Ballistics Officer) and the Gov't vet and zoo persons came out. Mark Godfrey of the unit got the new type of zoo dart gun straight out of the box (for test and evaluation I suppose) and I had the M16 full auto as his back man. We went stalking and found toothless dozing. We got in close and Mark put a dart in him and it fell out. So did the other 3 that the vet told us (radio about 200 yds away) to put in him. We were of the opinion that they stayed in while they delivered the sedative. I was ready for action in case the Tiger got mad and turned on us but toothless died. What the instructions didn't say...The darts were a new kind, they hit, injected and fell out (in case the animal falls on them and pushes it further into himself). What Toothless got was a 3 x overdose and passed on. I suppose that just put an end to the News famous Kowloon Tiger Hunt myth.

Anyone remember the Singapore Elephant team that came to HK? Kowloon.. 4 x a side and a ball the size of a car.  The organisers charged too much for the tickets and the team went broke. The bosses left HK and the Elephants and their mounting bills. As the days wore on a Kull was considered as a last resort. The airline Cathay Pacific came to the rescue and arranged a ship back to an Elephant sanctuary in Singapore. We escorted the animals thro Kowloon down the docks. A goods lighter would float them over to a ship and away. For the job fully auto M16 armour piercing rounds covert carry and thro the city we went. The kids on the Elephant backs doing a magnificent job of control and the animals no prob. When thrown a bottle of coke to swig on their journey, they took the metal cap off with their teeth. Nice people though.... Down at the docks how do you get an Elephant from the pier down onto the lighter? A cargo net up and over. An Elephant isn't used to being lifted off its feet straight up. The Alpha Male Bull was steered onto the cargo net, the piermans arm went up, the cargo net went up, the Elephants legs went thro the net and he was bodily lifted off the floor. The cargo ropes at the back went between the legs and for a short time the weight of the Elephant rear pressed against the rope (Ice cream joke here ... crushed nuts) There was a second of peace.. then his legs went stiff, his trunk shot out straight and he trumpeted loud and clear. (I suppose I would as well) Now then, we on the floor were suddenly faced with the rest of the herd getting jittery and jumping about with their boss in terror it was now a dangerous situation. However the Elephant boys came to the rescue exercising animal control and a disaster was diverted. Face to face with an indecisive elephant knowing that the thing can do 0 - 20mph in 5 strides. Makes you think things. But all went well and that was it. Plenty of stuff for the roses.

Thanks Ray, it's good to hear there were some lighter moments for relief.

Regards, David

The first two teams of the SDU were in training when I was a Platoon Commander at PTU in mid-1975.  I returned to PTU HQ as a Training Staff mid -1976 and stayed until I got my two pips.  The SDU was under the command of Gus Cunningham, CIP.  One of the Team Leaders was Denis Cunningham IP who was HK Rep in Olympic Fencing.  He was one taken hostage & released at the Munich Olympics (the HK Team, being H, was in the same dorm with the Israelis).  The person behind it all was Dave Holroyd SP, Deputy Commnader, PTU HQ.  He is one of the most switched on guy I know in this direction.  He later became Deputy District Commander, Marine, bringing the formation to its modernity.  

The SDU was formed as a contingency to respond to rising threat of trans-national terrorism.  The Marksmen Unit preceded it.  The Police Negotiator Cadre was later formed as another wing of the Counter-terrorism Incident Management Contingency Plan.  While the SDU was the ultimate force, there was a need for softer approach to get hostages released, to discern tactical intelligence, to defuse the situation, ... as well as to stall for time for forceful action by the SDU.  Under the guidance of Holroyd, the Negotiators trained themselves.  They also exercised together with the SDU frequently in some almost real-life situations, often with no end-scripts.

As a one pip Bong Baang at PTU HQ, I was amongst the first volunteers.  I remember Eric Lockeyear SP, Tom Delbridge SP, Benny Ng CIP, Gerry Frith SP, Steve Corrick SIP, Spencer Fu CIP, Terry Olser SP, ... and many more in later intake, all volunteers.  We also received some training by the SAS as well as a Special Division of the US Forces (I beleive they were part of the Delta Force since they informed us, while we were being trained, that their Iranian operation encountered the dessert storm and was a failure It was at the first instance before the media got the news.  There is always a 20% chance of accident in any surgical operation so we were taught from the beginning.

Every time the Negoatiators had an exercise and I was sent forward, I got shot for saying the wrong things.  One day, while at my office in Wan Chai, I received a mobilisation order from the Police HQ Staff Officer in charge to proceed to a real incident at Central ('No Dove' was the signal that it is not another exercise).  I went there with Lockyear as Team Head, Delbridge as Debriefer, Frith as Techical Support.  The Psychologist from the British Forces also joined us later to render analytical support.  Oh boy, I was the Negotiator as the culprit was Chinese-speaking.  SDU was on site in the high rise, ready to act. The first face-to-face negotiation in a gunman hostage-taking situation undertaken by the Negotiator Cadre ended after 4-5 hours; with a surrender and release of four top female executives of the company unharm.  The Negotiators left quietly as others were quick to grab credit when the CP arrived.  There were even some top level bickerings that PHQ should not have mobilised members of different formations without first consulting the respective Commanders... Well all in a day's work I suppose...

The RHKP rendered some of the most exciting experiences in my life.  It has given me the best training anyone could ask for.  Being there when it was transiting to its modern professionalism was simply marvelous.




About 1975 the unit did a 2 day exercise with the SDU, Police and local authorities. The Brit. Army were the terrorists and it was held at an army compound HK side. This was to test the response of the various depts. when faced with the unknown situation. The Brit. Army sappers laid hidden/ concealed boobies, trips, mines, flares, flash bangs, and a load of other exotic equipment to protect their locations. As night came on we and other units were under a central control and told to settle down for the night. Obs posts were set up and we settled in. We were given police radios monitored by control for the exercise. Now the Marksman Unit came into its own.Via the night obs I began to see little holes in the baddies set up and via our own code speak arranged a meet with Bill Duncanson and pete Mullins (sb)- after all if our radios were being listened in to by control then the baddies prob. had similar ears to be aware of goings on. After a quick brief the 3 of us got to work and actually ghosted into the baddies set up, picking our way through all the trips and mines as we went and we ended up in the rooms with them, looking at them and, with the poss. of putting an end to the exercise there and then...... Bill stood us down..... Control was the overall boss this time and our little excursion was not authorised or considered in the first brief. So we would be seen in a bad light, a loose cannon, as it were. Not adhearing to established chains of command etc. We were there to be told what to do by someone who had no comprehension of our capabilities. Anyway retreat we did BUT as we did we took with us all the booby traps we could see, find, detect, EVERYTHING and told no one. We even ghosted around the baddies site collecting booby traps as we went. At the end of the exercise we all went home and the army came to collect all their toys and couldn't find a thing. Not wishing a loss of face they kept quiet, searched about and put feelers out but found nothing. Us? we went home with about 72 exotic devices to play with and used to good causes later. I think that this was the start as Lawence says above, seniors taking control of unusual circumstance incidents, for their own glory, no one does anything unless I say etc...and taking too much time to make decisive decisions in a fluid situation in case egg on face, no immediate actions to end it there and then, but wait and gets drawn out and protracted and press and news and more glory. So you get the insight of where this is going with regards to quick decisive individual units as ours with the ability to end things now.. How did it end? The baddies got dug in, established, and got what they wanted via the contacts (now called negotiators) who had very little training except their rank. So if anyone remembers this they now know where the toys went.

The Marksman Unit, all of us, were out covert with the Gurkas near to the Mainland Border in the NT. Tracking some illegals from over the border who may not be who they pretended to be. (SB Intel) At the end of the day at base we were visited by the Americans who were special trained in jungle stuff etc etc. short hair and muscles? who were going to show us all how to and a few (American SF)  things we were lacking in and sort of disregarded the Gurkas. Anyway to welcome  and to pass the time the Americans were invited to go out into the rough dense landscape and hide from the Gurkas who would come and try and find them  and off they went. The Gurkas gave them 1 hour whilst we had a field curry with them cooked in a hole in the ground. Experience still tasted today. So the Gurkas went off after these SF. Sp. Ops men and 3 hours later the last of the Americans was being led back into base by a grinning Gurka who to make matters remembered had hog tied the Americans thumbs to the lace of his boot so he had to hobble into base. The Americans said good night and that was the last we saw etc. I saw a young Gurka in the Army Garage one day scrounging the broken suspension leaf spring off an Army Lorry. He said that the beating this steel receives in its life pounds the metal into a dense springy bar that holds an edge. He spent the next months filing and shaping until he had got his famous Gurka knife. All his with his own hand. and to think the Brit. Govt. tried to abandon these people. Thanks to the actions of the actress Joanna Lumley then obtained the right to live in the UK.

To follow on from the above now that I'm in full flow as it were and got diverted. Us, the unit, and Gurkas with SB intell. tracked down some illegals from the Mainland. They gave up without fight and detained with nothing nasty (terrorist) found on them and that was it. Something not quite right but we couldn't find it. Detained and taken back to Police Station, documented, printed and readied for return back to the mainland via a linkway that doesn't exist. At pre-arranged times the illegals are handed over together with their documentation and away they go in to the interior. A few days later my friend Dick House (IP or SIP NT) got the invite to go to the linkway and there met by the Chinese Army rep. They went into the mainland to an outpost and given tea. During which a man, bare chested was led out onto the round parade ground, knelt down and had his noggin chopped off. One of the illegals (sb intel) above something wrong but don't know what, was a convicted escaped murderer and we caught and documented him, he just had his sentence carried out. Some more tea then back home for Tiffin and several stiff drinks.  Which leads to the question that if the death sentence was still being carried out, what happened when the Mainland took over HK and reviewed the Murderers held in HK prisons. Interesting? or not.

Hi Ray,

A video about SDU training was released by the government:

I thought you might be interested in what SDU training is like today!

Al's surname is correctly spelt as Cimino. There is a funny anecdote about the spelling which I may put up in due course.

Surely there is a bit more to the story. Could you elaborate on the matter of the tiger skin if you happen to know the background.

Dave W


Ray, I am assuming that I am the stated friend in the above story, although my surname has been incorrectly spelt - there should be a 'w' instead of a 'u'.

Clearly you have mistaken me for someone else. My one and only visit to China was some 4 years ago when I accompanied a Chinese firend to view his new Hotel. In respect of executions I have certainly never witnessed any.

Ray, it is some 40 years since we last met up.  Please get in touch so we can have a chat.

Regards, Dick Howse

Hi Ray,


Just doing an idle google search of my Dads name (Paul Deal) and your post popped up. Sounds like you have some stories to tell!! I have some vague memories of PTS from when I was no more than 6 or 7.  I seem to remember a table top Pac Man game or something like that in the Mess.  Have plenty of pics of dad in Khaki shooting guns.  So many happy memories... 70's 80's Hong Kong was the best Hong Kong.

Pauls son doing a HK name search came across my reference to him as a member of the Marksman Unit RHKP. Paul was an SB Officer and into the secret stuff. Together with Hugh Brown they were the 2 x 2 ic of the unit and we all went on operations, day and night, together. Nick will have to read the allowed stories I have put together under the Marksman Unit banner to appreciate what we experienced. There are other mentions of his name there. To repeat an amusing one was when I produced non-lethal training bullets for the unit to consider and to see the effect first hand, unknown to us, Hugh followed Paul into the gents at PHQ officers mess and as Paul stood there unaware, Hugh shot him twice in the ass to see what happened. What happened was Hugh came charging out of the gents and through the mess with Paul chasing and bellowing after him. After that we all took it in turns to examin the 2 bruises on Pauls rear. It put us off beef for a month. At one incident we met at a car park for a sit-rep prior to dealing with the situation. As Paul was the intelligence officer as well, SB had given him a driver and an unmarked Ford Cortina. The driver all excited by the guns and the heat of the moment wanted to do a Steve McQueen burn off from the car park. Paul got in, the engine reved up and shot off backwards for 8 feet, the rear wheels went over a 10" curb stone and as the ground at the back was lower- it grounded the car on the curb. The engine was still reving the rear wheels still going round and completely stationary and the look on Paul face as he looked out the window at us needed a camera. It took all of us there to lift the Cortina back over the curb and onto the car park which then made a proper exit.  Magic...Paul was there with us at the take down of the secret base in the NT doing his intelligence thing and he was with us when we nicked all the booby traps from the other mob. He was concerned what would happen if we got caught, but we didnt, they didnt even know we were there. The elephants down on the pier and the lifting of the bull elephant.... And those are just some of the things Paul was involved in that we are allowed to talk about. Last of all he made a wonderful chicken curry that he would cook for some 4 days.....The chicken was so fresh it got out the pot twice to go to the toilet...Nick read the MU stories, your dad was there with us. Even down to snuggling up in the early hours with Bill and me on a strip of concrete complete with machine guns.The stories have to be included in the HK history before time takes us and they are lost.( which is the reason why I put them on the site- the Marksman Unit RHKP did a lot of significant things which no one knows about)......If you go to the Marksman Unit site look for the photo title Chief of the Marksman unit which shows us in group on a bank with a flag flying... Your dad is on the left of the group.. Love to all Ray.. 

Chief of Marksman Unit
Chief of Marksman Unit, by raycarpenter