John Bechtel's memories of Hong Kong

Submitted by Admin on Thu, 06/23/2016 - 16:31

I was born in Matilda Hosp in 1939 and left HK on the last US ship before the Japanese invaded. My father spent the war in Stanley Camp.

In 1947 my mother, father and I arrived back in Hong Kong. We lived in little Tao Fung Shan in Shatin. We would take the train from TST to Shatin. There were no windows in the train cars as they had been broken during the occupation. The black smoke from the steam engine practically choked us to death in the Lion Rock ((tunnel)) and when we reached the other end, we were covered with black smoke.

Shatin, at that point was a very small fishing village and there was a spitfire airport in the Shatin valley.

Each morning an army truck with an armed British soldier and a driver, both in battle gear, came up the hill to pick me up for KJS which was on the corner of Boundary Street and ………  across from LaSalle College on the hill which became a British Army hospital during the Korean War. In the truck with me was a girl of my age (7) whose dad was the police officer in charge of the area. The soldiers were protection from the Japanese soldiers they thought were hiding out around Kowloon Reservoir. Found  dozens of Canadian helmets in the area..I still have one of them. Story was that the Canadians were put to death there by the Japanese.

We were in a small house with a very small swimming pool.. a little down the hill from Tao Fung Shan proper where the Lutherans held their mission  etc..I am sure you know all about that place.

After two years in Shatin, Dad bought house #23 on Kent Road from a Mr Fattydaddy for $17,000US..  Moved in and lived there through KGV. (I was head prefect in KGV)  The house sold 15 years ago for US$5 million plus..The money went to the mission my Father worked for.

My father started the Kowloon Tong Church of the Chinese Christian and Missionary Alliance which is on the corner of Lancaster Rd and Waterloo Road. He started it just before the war in a little garage on Cumberland Rd (I think #23) Now there are 134 Christian and Missionary Alliances Churches in HK, a large Seminary on Cheung Chau Island and a school system with close to 20,000 students. 

I was captain of the schoolboys interport hockey team which represented HK and on many other teams in sports. 

I spent my summers on Lan Tau at the camp on Sunset Peak. We owned House #10 up there. I owned the house until 1981. Dad also owned a house on Cheung Chau Island. Spent some early summers there.

Went through KJS and KGV and to US for college. Returned to HK 1966 and worked in the mission there until 1981. Superintendent of CMA schools as I had been a school principal in the US for two years.

Book type
Diary / Memoir
Dates of events covered by this document


"little Tao Fung Shan" in Shatin the author lived in 1947 was located near the present day Kunkle Student Centre of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The university had this to say:

"The late Rev. Dr. John Stewart Kunkle dedicated his life to Christian higher education in southern China. During their stay in Hong Kong, The Rev. Dr. Kunkle and Mrs. Kunkle (Dr. Julia P. Mitchell) invited The Rev. Hurbert Pommerenke for the purchase of "Little Tao Fung Shan", and the three built houses for their own residence. Their land and properties were then gifted to the College in the 1970s, and later developed into a low-density private housing estate, bringing a reserve fund for College's later development. The College resolved to name the Low Block, which is located right next to the University's Pommerenke Student Centre, after The Rev. Dr. Kunkle, to commemorate their contributions to the College."…

2023 google map

2023 Kunkle Student Centre
2023 Kunkle Student Centre, by simtang


1963 map:

1963 little tao fung shan
1963 little tao fung shan, by simtang