Robert Basil LEVKOVICH (aka Boris Vasili) [1915-????] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Robert Basil LEVKOVICH (aka Boris Vasili) [1915-????]

Robert Basil
Alias / nickname: 
Boris Vasili
Birthplace (town, state): 
Birthplace (country): 

Robin Basil Levkovich was a policeman of Russian origin who had become a naturalized Briton in the years preceding the war.

During the hostilities he worked for Food Control and was captured by the Japanese while on a mission to Kowloon. He was held in the Kowloon Hotel for a number of months after the surrender on the grounds that he'd worked for the British Government, but was released in March 1942 due to the intervention of his family dentist, who was in fact a Japanese officer.

Thereafter he worked as a driver for Dr. Selwyn-Clarke and helped in his illegal relief activties. He was caught while attempting to escape (on a mission from Selwyn-Clarke the main point of which was to contact Dr Gordon King) and interrogated. Nevertheless, he managed to escape to Macao after his release and was eventually debriefed by the British Army Aid Group in December 1942.




Paul Leslie, this gentleman's son, has been in touch with additional information:

Name is incorrect     
Should read:        
Name:    Robert Basil Levkovich  (Boris  Vasili Levkovich)
Born:        Kiev, Ukraine, 1915

I've updated the details above. (Previously the name was entered as Robin Boris LEVKOVICH).

Regards, David

I am curious about the Lefkovich and would like to make contact with this gentleman's son, who I believe is residing in Australia. I received a large envelop of old family photographs many years ago from R.B. Leslie with an address of 57 Nicholson St., Strathfield 2135 NSW, Australia. In this package I have photographs of childrens' party in HK sometime between 1948 and 1950 (I think it was in Prince Edward Road) of the Levkovich family.

Paul Leslie has sent a copy of a document about his father:



Full Name - Robert Basil LESLIE

Date and Place of Birth -    29 Jun 1915 KIEV UKRAINE

National Status - British Subject (Imperial Naturalisation Certificate 84A Issued In LONDON May 1937.

Family Particulars

Father - Colonel, Horse Artillery. Naturalised British Subject - killed in 1944.

Mother - Doctor - Naturalised British Subject. Living with Lt Leslie in Australia.

Sister - Vera - Born 1913 - Married to Mr G Gavriloff, Engineer China Light and Power Company, HONG KONG. At present with husband in HONG KONG.

Past History

  1. Lt LESLIE arrived with his parents and sister in HONG KONG in 1920, where his parents settled and where his father was employed in the Public Works Department of the HONG KONG Government.
  2. Lt LESLIE was educated at the Central British School and sat for Cambridge Junior, Cambridge Senior and Matriculation Examination.
  3. He was a member of the Volunteer Defence Corps and joined the Colonial Police in HONG KONG in 1934.
  4. In 1937, Lt LESLIE was transferred to the SHANGHAI River Police and returned to HONG KONG in 1940.
  5. He was appointed Inspector-in-Charge of the P.E. Department and remained in charge until the outbreak of hostilities with JAPAN in December 1941.
  6. Lt LESLIE saw action in HONG KONG and after surrender of the Colony on Christmas Day 1941, was taken POW and escaped in the beginning of 1942, from Japanese occupied territory to MACAU a Portuguese Colony not far from HONG KONG while his parents and sister remained in HONG KONG.
  7. After reporting to the British Consul General (Mr REEVES) at MACAU Lt LESLIE was given a sum of money, a revolver and with an identity card and certain documents to deliver to the HBM Embassy in CHUNGKING was smuggled to the mainland of CHINA at PAU SEK, from where he made his way to the British Army Aid Group at KWEILIN where he reported to Colonel RIDE, the Commanding Officer and delivered the documents.
  8. Lt LESLIE was sent by air to CHUNGKING, and after reporting to the HBM Embassy was flown to INDIA and reported to GHQ GSI (e) at DELHI, (Colonel RIDGEWAY).
  9. He was attached for Records Purposes to the 6th Rajputana Rifles and served in various appointments in the Intelligence Corps and the Special Investigation Branch of the Indian Army.
  10. Lt LESLIE married Sister LAVINIA CHARLOTTE LESLIE (nee GODMAN) of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service in INDIA in 1944, and on his release from Active Service in the United Kingdom at the end of 1947, he returned with his wife to HONG KONG in 1948. Finding that his father had been killed in 1944, and his home lost, he left for AUSTRALIA, arriving In SYDNEY in May 1948.
  11. He was employed by the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission of NSW in the Staff Office, and then joined the Department of Education as an Instructor in the DP Migrant Centres of BATHURST and BONEGILLA, and also joined the 1 RNSWL (CMF) in May 1949.
  12. Lt LESLIE was employed in GS (Int) E Comd on full-time CMF duties in connection with I(a) Information until October 1951, when he was transferred to the Interim Army.


And a copy of his passport photo:

RBL Passport-photo


Hi David,


As promised here are some of my notes on Robert Basil Levkovich.

His father, is recorded as Basil Ivanovitch Levkovich in the 1931 List of Jurors, and as being an Engineer at Texas co. Ltd., living in United Terrace Homantin. I have read a remark on a genealogy site that his father died in Shanghai. I am not sure about that, but he has a grave in the Hong Kong Cemetery “B. I. LEVKOVICH” followed by his name in Cyrillic, 27.1.1888 – 17.12.1944. (also listed on Gwulo in Patricia Lim’s list.)

The notes on this site provided by his son, Paul Leslie, indicate that Robert joined the HKP in 1934. I cannot confirm the date he joined, but his naturalization document, which is in the UK  National Archives ( dated 22nd May 1937) confirms that he was a member of the HKP.

The certificate records his original name as being, Boris Vasilievich Levkovich commonly known as Robert Basil Levkovich. Occupation - Police Constable, Hong Kong Police Force. Born Kiev, Ukraine, 29th June 1915. Living at 2 United Terrace, Homantin Street, Kowloon. His father’s name is Vasili Ivanovich Levkovich and his mother Ekaterina Stanislevovna Levkovich.

As far as I know, all of the other members of E Contingent - originally for the Anti-Piracy Guard - were recruited in Shanghai, which makes Robert unique, as he lived for many years in Hong Kong before joining, and this was later to be a factor in his activities during WWII, when he was able to avoid internment and eventually leave Hong Kong.

It seems at some time after 1937 he left the HKP. The notes mentioned above indicate that he went to Shanghai.

He next appears in Hong Kong on 3 April 1941. A Gazette Notice (No. 390), announces his enrollment in the Hong Kong Defence Reserve, B Group, Key-Posts. In his statement to the BAAG, which would have been in March 1943, he records his post as Inspector, Pool Exchange Department, Food Control Office, based in the Union Building. The Food Controller was Mr. Newbigging. ( So the P.E. was not to do with physical exercise, and this was not a Police position.)

He records that during the invasion his mother and sister were working (as nurses?) at the C.B. School Hospital, which was near the Kowloon Hospital. I think this is the Central British School, now known as KGV School. At the time he gave his statement to BAAG (in Kweilin I believe), he recorded that his mother was in Macau, with his father and sister in Hong Kong. His brother in law was a prisoner of war. (From the POW list and the name above, this would be Corporal G J Gavriloff HKVDC).

His Commission is in the London Gazette for 23 April 1943. He was commissioned on 20 April 1943, using the name Robert Basil Levkovich.

He next surfaces making sea passage from UK to Hong Kong on board the S.S. Lancashire which left Liverpool on 21 November 1947. He is still using the name Levkovich, and is accompanied by Lavinia Charlotte, his wife and Michael James (aged one) his son. He is recorded as being a “Police Officer”, but I suppose this was a cover, he was not  a member of the HKP post-WWII. There were HKP officers on board the vessel, including Leo Karpovich from E Contingent, who would have known him very well, so he was not travelling incognito.

There is more, but I will send you a separate message for his family.

Interestingly in the portrait photograph he wears what appears to be the medal ribbons of the 1939-45 Star,the Burma Star and the Defence Medal.There is also a silver rosette on his Burma ribbon,indicating a Mention in Despatches. Anything known of the reason for this award ?

I consulted a medal expert about the clasp when the picture was posted. He thinks it is the Pacific Clasp to the Burma Star and not a Mentioned in Despatches clasp.

That fits,many thanks.

Dad with Gun
Dad with Gun, by Paul B Leslie


Introduction from British Consul in Macau
Introduction from British Consul in Macau, by Paul B Leslie


Medal ribbons
Medal ribbons, by Paul B Leslie


I May be related to R.B. Levkovich. I am new to this site and would like to make contact with any relatives or friends of R.B.

Thank you,


Hi Monica,

R. B. Levkovich was my Father....why do you think you are related?





Robert married my grandmother Alexandra on March 8, 1940 in Shanghai at Union Churchl, registered under the American consulate.  Additionally, it appears that they rented an apartment together in HK in April 1941. They had one child, my mother. I imagine this may come to you as much of a shock as it all this has come to me. For that, I am sorry. I would like to take the discussion privately to honor that.  I can be reached at flagrant12 at M(mylastname) dot org.

Thank you,

Monica Wells


I shall contact you via your email directly.



I was suprised to see Robert's name on a poster at an exhibition this week. The exhibition shows the contents of the Deacons Archive, which includes a copy of his naturalisation certificate:

Certificate of Naturalisation for Robert Basil LEVKOVICH


I scanned through the HKUL index for the Deacons archives, which is in an online excel spreadsheet. It seems they were dealing with something very specific during the period June-October 1940, not the original naturalisation application. Indications are that he was attempting to have his wife returned to HK after she was evacuated to Manila. Amongst the documents they are holding, are letters from his wife, and also his certificate of service from the HKP, issued in Aug. 1937 ( hopefully this will have his service dates and no.) Also there is a certificate of service from the Chinese Maritime Customs in Shanghai, which clears up which organisation he work for between 1937 and 1940. I'll try to view these documents when I have the opportunity.

Thanks for the update.  I'd be very interested to get copies of the doc's and letters written by Alexandra (his wife) to my father whilst she was in Manila. These could certainy assist to shed furher light on the situation and circumstances that existed at that time.

I've also been communication with the granddaughter of my father’s first wife, (who resides in the USA)  - she too has some information relating to her grandmother (Alexandra) whilst in she was in Manila.

There are a few more details of Alexandra, and her divorce from Robert, in the article HK MP's Daughter "Not Kidnapped" on page 1 of the The China Mail, 1947-02-03.